SINCE MY accidental migrant adventure that started nearly five years ago, I’ve been home to the Philippines four times but I’ve never returned after leaving Auckland in June 2008. Don’t say I haven’t missed Auckland though, it’s the one balm that soothes the homesick Pinoy who doesn’t have the wherewithal to revisit the homeland.
The City of Sails has the dizzying skyline, the peripatetic and unrelenting colonies of Asian worker bees everywhere you look, multicultural and cosmopolitan mindsets taking over the territory, all hallmarks of Manila and other Asian cities in which you’ve been born and bred.
You’re everywhere and anywhere in one place, a Babel of tongues and rainbow of races overwhelm all five senses, but when you’ve lived in the Third World most of your life it feels, more than anywhere else in New Zealand, amazingly like home.
Naively I thought I would be able to visit at least the majority of those people who had extended hospitality and kindness to me when I was still between visit and work visa status in Auckland, but the reality was I hadn’t enough time to even see the most basic sights in the CBD.
As it turned out, I could only show esposa hermosa Newmarket, which reminded me most of Glorietta in Ayala Center Makati City, Sky Tower which was the subject of many NZ postcards, Sylvia Park which was the weekend catchbasin for many Asian, Islander and migrant mallgoers, and of course the nationally famous Auckland CBD. Everything else would have to wait for another trip.
Unexpectedly, the things that would serve as mementoes of Auckland were a skinny jeans purchase she made from a Korea-HK fashion dominated mini-mall that you couldn’t find anywhere else in New Zealand, a short snack we shared in Wendy’s, a popular fast food franchise back in the Philippines but unable to gain a foothold in Wellington where we lived, and finally, Dunkin’ Donuts takeaways that likewise weren’t available in Windy Welly.
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Even in 2007 when I left there were already so many fellow Pinoys, and I have not the slightest doubt that our demographic is the fastest growing among the top five migrant groups (among which are Chinese, Indian and of course ourselves), notwithstanding the fact that there are many kinds of migrant Chinese (from Mainland China, Taiwan, Hongkong, etc.) as well as migrant Indians (from the subcontinent, Fiji and Malaysia, to name just three).
I don’t have the citation right now, but an article in the Dominion Post has found it remarkable that from nowhere, Filipinos have soared to the third largest migrant community after the Chinese and Indians. Sorry for belaboring it, but the point is I saw even more Pinoys than I thought I would see, and I was already expecting lots of kabayan.
In the CBD, the university areas, and of course the malls, everywhere esposa hermosa and I went, there they were, hurrying to work, talking amongst themselves and with Kiwis, and of course, returning our smiles.
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I regretted not seeing my buddies at the PBA (Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland) who were holding their regular tournament, Efren and Butchie Pascual, who helped me up when I was down, Pinoy friends I made through blogging, and of course my brother George who stood by me in good times and bad. One good thing though, we were able to enjoy the hospitality and warmth of couple Jerome and Lady Jalbuena, who showed off their elegant newly purchased home. Mabuhay ang lahing kayumanggi! Thanks for reading !
PS. If ever Jollibee makes it to Auckland, let’s hope there’ll be showdowns like this, pampaalis boredom lang po …
- Pinoy Reveries Biking Home One Wintry Night (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Manila (wagle.com.np)
- Post – Birthday Apologies / Pls Humor Me (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Back in the Philippines (buencarmino.wordpress.com)
- Kia Ora Aotearoa! (noworriesstateofmind.wordpress.com)
- Stop 7 – Auckland, New Zealand (travelpod.com)
- Cold, Cold New Zealand – Auckland, New Zealand (travelpod.com)
- Pre-birthday drinks – Auckland, New Zealand (travelpod.com)