Kiwi Pinaylover vs Accidental Migrant: Q&A Just B4 End of Shift

Perhaps the wisest and most well-known choice among high-profile mixed marriages : wife na, adviser pa, bodyguard pa !

[ Note from Noel : So many more important things we could talk about, like Pedring and the tsunami-like visit to our shores, or the Festival of Carnivale performance of FILINARTIZTS in Wellington CBD, but instead we hope not to bore you to death with another of our late-night tales. Belated happy birthdays to Mr Martin Go (19th Sept), Ms Feli Tan-Co (28th)and Mr Jimmy Sy (30th) Woo-hoo! ]

JUST BEFORE OUR FALLING-OUT, the last four words outstanding that I saw on SuperBisor‘s search box were Pinay, Cupid, Datesearch (please don’t ask if there’s such a word) and the synonym-conscious love, I pretended not to be amused, and you can imagine how difficult this might be, as SB is a super-serious person, and I beheld his handheld by the most serendipitous of accidents : I happened to pass by his table when he thought I was nowhere near.

So it didn’t take a Ms Universe finalist-cum-board topnotcher to surmise that SB was on the hunt for a Pinay significant other, never mind that tens of thousands of other virile Caucasian males were in the same wolfpack (awooooo…), I wanted to wish him good luck, but remember I wasn’t supposed to know his honorable intentions, so I just smiled knowingly (to myself) and hoped he didn’t fall in love too hard and too soon.

Fatefully, I got it wrong on both counts, but before that, I said earlier that we had a falling-out diba, albeit a minor one.  Last time I tried to remember, it had to do with one too many Asian jokes, I actually asked for a new shift partner, and of course this didn’t sit well with him.  After some time apart, I realized most of the time he didn’t really mean it, and if he really was on the hunt, then the joke was on him right?  And so without even knowing it, we kissed and made up.

And so in the meantime, would you believe it?  He had met (online naturally) the love of his life, gone home to our very own Philippine Islands and visited the girl and her family.  And so right in my own backyard was an honorary Pinoy who was moving heaven and earth to get his Pinay love here.  And so out poured the torrent of words and phrases about his quest for love, but mostly out-of-this-world questions about our land and our way of life.

Some of them are funny, others are downright outrageous, and I’ve selected only a few of them below.  They are united by a singular theme : a search for meaning in our unique Pinoy world.  By the way, he tries not to ask me for the whole shift, but when the night grows deep and there’s nothing to do when log-out draws near, he can’t help himself :

Question # 1 : Noel, how do people justify homecooking when eating out is so tasty and so cheap ?  The rhetorical nature of his question struck me, as I rightly assumed that he wasn’t really looking for an answer, merely a discussion, but I attempted to respond anyway.  Seems that he, together with his Mahal, had been eating at Gerry’s Grill almost every day his final week back home, and he estimated that the awesome meals he had been served, if done so with equivalent quality and quantity in NZ, would be priced around five times (no exaj) what he paid.

This was how I answered him : Boss, remember that the great food you had was created by Pinoy Moms (and Dads) at home, and the recipes we enjoy all over the country can be found in every Filipino home.  Moreover, despite the reasonable prices you’ve seen, wages are quite humble in the average Pinoy household, so we can’t eat out with our pay.

Question # 2 : Why do Pinoys text so much, and why are there so many numbers in our words?  Its hard to divorce the Pinoy’s environment from the virtual world of texting, where every Filipino is an avatar of messages flying around millions of other mini-missives sent by tens of millions of other avatars.  I didn’t need to explain this to him, as he noted that the humble vendor, office girl, university student and everybody else was immersed half the time in a crouched texting posture.  I told him that SMS texting is a practical, cheap and instant, though admittedly generic form of social intercourse without which daily Pinoy life would be unthinkable.  And the numbers?  I explained that like English, some number words (represented by digits) are homonyms or parts of homonyms like 8 for it, 2 for to and 4 for for.  Numbers also refer to the number of syllables repeated, which is how Tagalog verbs are often conjugated.  Bottom line, I told him, is that every character is important in every SMS message for the load (or phone credit) conscious Pinoy.

Question # 3 : How do Pinoys survive the smog and pollution in Metro Manila, for all its attractions ?  He had to ask this as I often commented on how clean Wellington air was to me, and to many other Asians born and bred in megacities like Hongkong, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok.  The three weeks he spent in Manila, he hardly saw blue skies (not that he spent that much time outside the hotel 😉 ), the carbon monoxide and soot content was a bit too much for his taste, and while the weather was ten degrees friendlier than NZ’s early spring, he wondered why not more was being done to keep the air clean.

How do you answer that?  I had to tell him that living in the city meant you had to tolerate certain realities in return for higher wages, amenities you take for granted, and access to services like transportation and health care.  In the long run it wasn’t healthy, but (as I winked to him) that’s why Pinoys keep searching for a better life overseas, and hope against hope that realities change back home.

Question # 4 : Why do Pinoy men sometimes do their private business (Number One, as it is sometimes euphemistically called) in public, in full view of pedestrians and children?  Obviously, this was discomfiting as much to him as it was to me. In NZ, one would easily be placed under arrest by a constable who happened to pass by, as much for indecent exposure as for littering.  Overlooking both a major Makati thoroughfare and the busiest artery in Metro Manila (equivalent to the liveliest intersection in Wellington, probably) his hotel window was once witness to a man painting a building wall in full view of schoolchildren crossing the street at 9 in the morning.

Again, what could I say?  It’s very hard to remove or reform certain bad habits that clutter our backyard of odd Pinoy ways, and this, relieving ourselves, is certainly one of them.  The bad habit is a remnant of the days when there was a talahib or group of bushes in every block of houses, and nobody bothered if we wanted to “fertilize” the plants.  He could not relate to this explanation, until I admitted to him that most of the guilty parties were also drinkers who after one too many beers had to unload.  Any healthy Kiwi who loves any of the 50-plus NZ beers could understand that, and he did.

And I didn’t need to ask him if this changed his view any of Pinays and his Pinay girlfriend, as he is already organizing her maiden voyage abroad, and straight into his arms.

I would say lucky girl, if I didn’t think SB was so outrageously lucky himself. 🙂

Thanks for reading !


If Inner Beauty Exudes Feel-Good, Why Does Ugly Feel So Awful?

[ Note from NoelMiss you so much Ganda and Bunso, thanks for the belated Fathers Day greeting to Wilma “Mimi” Chua of Newmarket, Auckland, and belated and advance birthday greetings to Archie Mallari (15th Sept), JB Baylon (25th) and Ms Pilar Ang-Si, Mr Amado Cobankiat and Mr Jose Evangelista, all on the lucky 26th of September ! Last but not the least, kudos to kabatch Mr Dennis Sy on copping the Outstanding Artist Award from the Filipino-American National Historical Society (FANHS) Metro New York Chapter! Proud to be SJCS Batch 82! ]

PART OF THE REALITY of an accidental migrant is reducing your intake of news from home to Yahoo! Philippines and informal updates from friends and relatives.  Sidebars to interesting news-of-the-day sometimes evolve into urban legends and take on lives of their own.

Which was why we accepted as gospel of truth, beholding the magic and Cinderalla ride of Shamcey Supsup to the 2011 Ms Universe Finals, the following : (1) that kabayan judge Ms Lea Salonga, she of Ms Saigon and Tony Awards fame, didn’t give the same Ms Supsup her due owing to reverse favoritism; (2) that Oprah Winfrey, the richest African-American woman in history, felt that if the title should’ve gone to the finalist who aced the interview portion, then interpreters and unintended precious extra time to answers aside, Ms Supsup rightfully deserved to win the Ms U tiara, and finally (3) our bet herself let go a sigh of frustration-cum-regret (rather than accept whatever decision the judges arrived at) the split-second after her 3rd-runner-up finish was announced.

To this day we haven’t confirmed to ourselves if any of these are true, only that Lea couldn’t have influenced the results even if she wanted to (that we realized was from common sense), and that the Oprah item is highly unlikely, as none of her official communications channels (her website, for one, and her spokesperson, for another) confirmed said urban legend.  And we invite any of our esteemed readers to find sources to confirm the third.

Almost forgotten amid the brouhaha regarding our predictable outrage whenever we perceive one of our own is  robbed of international fame and glory, and by osmosis robbing us of said reflected glory, was the common-sense question : Who could say with unassailable authority that our bet indeed deserved the title any better than Ms Angola, or for that matter, Ms Ukraine, Ms China, or Ms Brazil?

In other words, how can anyone in a room full of beauties from all over the world say who is fairest, not-so-fair, less than fair and plain-Jane-homely (with apologies to anyone named Jane) ?

The answer is : with growing accuracy and ruthlessness.

By a lightning-strike stroke of luck, I came across a recent article while having merienda (morning tea to my workmates) last week, and while there are quite a lot of revelations the article provides, the most important (to me) are below :

First, that a surprisingly solid majority of people agree as to what is pretty, and moreover define almost homogenously what is superlatively pretty, moderately pretty and pasang-awa pretty.  This is of course contrary to the politically correct view that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

The unspoken truth here, based on the article’s findings, is that most people are in agreement as to what is ugly, or homely.  I don’t mean to make any judgments here, just stating what the story says.

Second, that as you and I have probably known since childhood, those perceived prettier and handsomer in any social, professional, community or other group, are more successful, get chosen first for promotions / advancement and obtain higher rewards than anyone else (which are of course, the less handsome, less pretty or not handsome and/or not pretty at all).

I wish to qualify here that in case you don’t click on to the link above, that the article’s writer doesn’t conjure any opinions out of thin air or the deep recesses of his mind and memories, he cites at least two scientific / academic studies that have collated data over a period of years, if not decades.

Third, and probably the most interestingly of all, that businesses, employers and evaluators of all sorts have incorporated the idea of “pogi points” and “ganda points”, for lack of a better term, into how they assess candidates for hiring, promotion, advancement and yes, wage increases.

I hate to admit it, but a lot of what the writer sez, I’ve known intuitively at the back of my mind, like something that I should’ve digested hours ago but my ego couldn’t completely swallow as edible.

I’ve harbored secret and not-so-secret crushes since I stopped wetting my pants (and even shortly thereafter), and abandoned them moments afterwards when colleagues and kababata told me matter-of-factly “off limits na sya Emmanuel.  dami nang nauna sa yo kay Classmate X ! ”  Deep sigh.

Yup, as much as half the male population in class saw themselves as Prince Charming for the same Princess-in-Distress.  What a crowded throne that would’ve made.  Funny thing was, as soon as my bee flitted off to another flower, there they were, the same hive of bees that I left trying to pollenate the previous blossom.

Later in my mediocre elementary and high school career, whether it was recitation, team leadership for projects, extra credit for helping the teacher, or whatever extra feathers in the cap that didn’t depend on pure merit and performance, it was more often than not the fairest in the land (or classroom) that found favor in the Almighty’s eyes (which at the time were eyes that belonged to the teacher).  Would you blame the teacher if among a class population of 50, his/her eyes usually rested on the faces that were the nearest thing to eye candy?

At work, and I’ve worked across two countries in diverse industries, if it boiled down to the boss choosing between Brad Pitt and Rob Schneider for a job opening, both Brad and Rob equally proficient as explained by their CVs and references, who do you think would get the job?

Even for promotions and selecting the acting team leaders in sales-related jobs, there would be lots of ways to justify selecting the fairer aspirant.  This would be especially true if peers were there to influence the decision, and of course we all know that there are always “x factors” that come into play in situations like these.  Well now we know.  X factors are usually the higher cheekbones, the double eyelids, the narrower nose, and no flared nostrils please.

As I implied earlier, I’m not accusing anyone in my past of subjective astigmatism.  Actually, I’m stating it as an obvious truth for the future, the way employers blatantly choose better-looking and sexually engaging prospects for employment.  By sexually engaging, I don’t mean promiscuous or lascivious individuals, rather those who have no qualms about using their sexuality or sexual attractiveness, overtly or covertly, as aids to better chances for employment.

Which brings me back to Ms Supsup, the jilted finalist who will however find no dearth of consolers back home.  I would bet my bottom OFW peso if upon returning home she will not find at least 50 offers of employment on her desk, at least half of which providing for remuneration at least 10 times her expected salary as an Architect, the trade she will undoubtedly excel at but which she will never need to practice the rest of her life.

All because she came within three pretty faces short of becoming, arguably, the Most Beautiful Single Woman In The World.

Thanks for reading !

Why Norman Latosa is my Favorite Kinoy*

El Presidente

Whenever I see a Johnny Walker Black Label or Jim Beam bottle, one of the first memories that comes to mind is that of probably the first Pinoy (outside of family) that I met in New Zealand, in Auckland 2003, Engr Norman Latosa.  We weren’t drinking then, and he was still quite formal and polite, having just been introduced to me by my brother George, but after that, we had lots of quality time spent over many a bottle of liquid fire, as it loosened tongues and made every joke funny.

He was (and is) such a first-rate drinker that he could nurse his drink without finishing even half of it (if he was driving home later) or, he could outdrink half a dozen men twice his weight and towering over his modest frame.

But that w0uld be unfair to him, remembering him only for his love for wine and good company.  He has since the early part of the previous decade been organizing basketball tournaments for the Auckland Pinoy community, particularly in and around the North Shore City area.  He has successfully managed year-round basketball for youth, inter-color, age-group, over-35 and, the most competitive of all, the Men’s Open version of Pinoy basketball under the aegis of Pinoy Basketball sa Auckland (PBA), one of the pioneering Pinoy sports organizations that have spun off into various tournaments and clubs throughout the Auckland region, and probably elsewhere in NZ.

Largely because of the talent development spawned by the PBA of Norman and his group of merry men, Auckland has sent several quality teams to the annual nationwide Pinoy sportsfests held during the Queen’s Birthday in June and the Labor Weekend, when by rotation, different NZ cities like Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch (among many others) host multisport extravaganzas, including of course basketball.

Either because of the quality of basketball talent, or just the fact that Norman’s PBA has always attracted the best players, Auckland teams have usually fared well in these NZ wide Pinoy sportsfests.  But more importantly, the friendship and camaraderie that sports and athletics foster are the best results of the Queen’s Birthday and Labor weekend events.

As usual, with people like Norman, the honor and recognition associated with leading basketball clubs is secondary to the sense of accomplishment of having served community and countrymen, and this we guess is what keeps him going after so many years.  He doesn’t receive anything for his time and effort and yet he continues to hold tournament after tournament without expecting anything in return.

And that’s why Norman Latosa is my favorite Kinoy !

PS. You can read about current activities and tournaments of the the PBA on their website,  Mabuhay!

*Kinoy is a contraction for Kiwi-Pinoy, a non-racial term for Pinoys who live, permanently or otherwise, in New Zealand.

Nang Madatnan Si Gollum Papuntang Middle Earth (Bumping into Gollum on the way to Middle Earth)

There's something about memorabilia and authentic collectibles that make you savor the film and book experience.

[ Note from Noel : Happy birthdays to batchmates Raul delos Santos, Andrew Ong, Wilson Ong and Stephen Liao, kudos to the FILINARTIZTS group for their Festival of Carnivale participation in Wellington, interpreting an Ati-atihan inspired performance.  Mabuhay and thanks for making us proud to be Pinoy ! ]

WE GOT lost three times despite Google Maps and checking out the site, but getting there and taking it all in was worth it, and the pics are here to prove it.

I’m referring to the Weta Cave, the mini-museum and shrine put up by the partnership led by Oscar-award winning director and New Zealand icon Peter Jackson, and which is something no one visiting Wellington can afford to miss.

As you might guess, the mini-museum houses several life-size dummies used in Jackson’s obra maestra, the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy  (the majority of which was shot on location in NZ), including Gollum, Orcs (a warlike subhuman species created by LOTR author J.R.R. Tolkien), the creations of several Jackson collaborators (artists, special effects engineers, screenwriters, etc.) and quite a few mementoes of a few of his films before and after LOTR.

The star of the show with a great looker, bahala ka na lang kung sino ang alin 😉

If you’re a science fiction and fantasy buff, it’s a feast for the eyes and mind that you will not be able to replicate unless you visit a Comic-Con or similar multi-media extravaganza available only in the Americas or Europe.

If you’re an Lord of The Rings and / or Narnia fan and lap up anything connected with Middle Earth, alternate worlds or glorious wars of various ages before Man ruled the planet (it’s figurative language only 🙂 ) then the Weta Cave is probably on both ends of your There And Back Again itinerary.

But most of all, if you’re a Peter Jackson diehard and you’ve followed his work even before Lord of The Rings and have seen every item on his filmology, whether he’s contributed as screenwriter, producer or director, then this is a shrine that is the focal point of your pilgrimage.

Now, I don’t even consider myself a serious afficionado or any of the above (some people actually studied Elven, spoken by some of the LOTR characters), although I’ve read and watched the books and movies at least twice (Ganda and Bunso have done so more than double that), and didn’t even realize I’d seen quite a few Peter Jackson movies, but together with good bro Jude I’ve never strayed too far from the sci-fi and fantasy genre, and seeing the compact film and alternative culture-inspired museum was quite a treat.

Underneath a likeness of the Uruk-hai, one of the Orc subspecies used by Saruman in LOTR : The Two Towers

Along with rugby, its world-class dairy industry and an adventurous spirit (think Sir Edmund Hillary), Enzed is known for its cutting edge film and downstream industry, and the high point of global recognition it received came during the decade dominated by LOTR and the torrent of adulation that followed.

To be sure, and to avoid offending Tolkien fans, Jackson’s creations, collaborations and filmology are not synonymous with the great body of work of Tolkien, who is considered one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.  But it can’t be denied that Jackson’s efforts have entrenched the genre, and by extension reading even more deeply in popular culture, and in the process put NZ on the map.  That’s why you can’t help but feel he’s such a great guy, even if he’s a filthy rich multi-millionaire 🙂

But enough of that.  I could talk about all the ultra-cool busts of every major LOTR character, the prosthetics used in some of his movies, and best of all, the glittering future of more movies, notably Tintin (the comics versions of which I read in the 1970s and which will use hypermodern motion capture technology popularized by Avatar) and mouth-wateringly, The Hobbit, an LOTR prequel, but I wouldn’t be able to stop.  Let me just try to post a pic or two here, don’t have to tell you it was an eventful day for this accidental migrant.

Thanks for reading !


Is That Dad In The Mirror ?

Senti Fathers' Day moment : Luke and Dad, revelation time !

[ I know Dad’s birthday was just around the corner, because I’d been dreaming of him.  Here’s a report below. ]

AT FIRST, I thought I was Dad’s favorite because I resembled him, but through the years, I realized that almost all of us  5 brothers reminded people of different parts of his physical and non-physical whole.  Then I thought it might be because I was the most charming, sociable or personable, positive traits that he liked to think he owned.  After a while again, I realized my 4 siblings and I more or less possessed the same interpersonal qualities.  Finally I guessed that, like him, I showed great potential to be smart, successful or attractive, which time and again was proven to be plain wishful thinking given the sharper minds, successful careers and solid relationships, in perspective, that my brothers have enjoyed.

No, I concluded.  A more accurate self-revelation I think, a veritable epiphany I’ve had regarding why Dad and I have bonded so well, is that I have always been enraptured by his every word and deed, and that he has always owned alpha-male status to me.  Not that my other bros haven’t admired him, but in many ways he has always seemed larger than life to me, and many times I didn’t bother to hide such admiration.

One of the defining values of Dad that I came to fully appreciate only recently (that of giving priority to fitness) came in the form of a dream,  which I thought was due anyway since his birthday was less than two weeks away.  A few nights ago, I dreamt he was trying to wake me by alternately sprinkling fistfuls of water in my face, and tickling the soles of my smelly feet.  He was doing so, expectedly, because he wanted me to go jogging with him Sunday morning.

A backgrounder if I may.  During the fitness craze of the 1980s that was spiked by Dustin Hoffman‘s Marathon Man and the blossoming of various fun runs and half-marathons year-round (no seasonal constraints in humid Manila), jogging to Roxas Blvd from our house in Paco began as a family affair.

Before long though, both First and Second Brothers got preoccupied by university, Mom progressed to aerobics, and only the last three sons were Dad’s faithful seconds from Grandstand to Cultural Center.  Finally, there was Dad by his solitary self, hoping even one of his medium-sized brood would jog with him on bright Sunday mornings.

Atypically, he never gave up on indolent me, long after every one of us had given up on the regular weekend seaside route.  It became an almost weekly routine for us, his waking at half-past five on Sunday, and spending at least 30 minutes trying to rouse me, before I myself surrendered and donned shorts and sneakers to jog behind his confident gait, if not astride him sometimes, from sunrise until it was too hot to run.

So along with jogging, these days I find myself more and more enjoying things my Dad did, and appreciating his passion.  Just three of them, besides the Sunday jog, are never going through the hour before bedtime without a good book, starting the day with breakfast porridge, and seeking conversation (virtual or otherwise) with at least one of his children daily.  As we age, we truly become our parents.

***         ***         ***         ***         ***

But back to the dream.  Dad was as usual waking me up, unmindful of the fact that I was bone-tired from either work or traveling home ( as far as I could remember, I just came from overseas diba? ), and insisting that I join him on one of his interminable runs.  No amount of lame excuses, whining and sleep-pretending (which I thought I was good at) would dissuade him from appropriating my company on this trek.  Sighing, I acceded to his request, asking only that in exchange, he answer a simple question from me : Dad, how do I age as gracefully as you have (he’s a juvenile 79 going on 39, the age of Youngest Brother) ?

“OK, but get your Nikes ready Son Numba Three.  Predawn run is not a good time for question-and-answer.”

I dutifully complied.

“The answer to your question is divided into three parts :

“First, you can’t eat the way you ate 25 years ago.  You are now as old as I was when I started to watch what I ate.  There is no way around that.  Ignore this at your own peril.  You know what’s good, and what’s bad for you.  Moreover, you should know what your limits are as to the quantity of your food intake.  Just do that, and you can’t go wrong.”

Wow, great advice.  Watch what and how much you eat.  That is so enlightening.  What’s next?

“Don’t rush me.  Sleep is underrated, but is key to great health.  Get the right amount of sleep, and sleep at the right time : just when the cricket chirps, and greet the rising sun.  DON”T sleep when the midmorning sun is everywhere, and DON’T sleep when you could be running, like now.”

I smirk at that segue, and concede that his pearls of wisdom come from experience.  But what’s the last tip, Dad?

“The last is the most important, Numba Three : Stop harassing your wife for sex all the time, OK?  Sex is as important as food and exercise, but too much of anything, even a good thing, can be counterproductive.  And don’t ask how I know, because I know.”

I look at Dad incredulously, and again he reads my mind.

“Yes Noel, I know it’s a dream, but the advice is good.  Take it, if you want to live.”

***               ***               ***               ***               ***

Happy birthday Dad, love you always !


Why Didith Tayawa – Figuracion is my favorite Kinoy*

She will almost surely not be able to read this given Didith Tayawa – Figuracion‘s very hectic schedule for the next few weeks, but she already knows what we will put here : we know of no other Filipino in New Zealand who, with his/her own personal efforts, has done more to promote Filipino arts and culture.

With the rest of her co-members, Didith has funneled her creative energy through the aptly named Filipino Artists in New Zealand (FILINARTIZTS) and they have through sheer talent and force of effort outdone themselves in the Filipino Labour Weekend Reunion,  Philippine Independence Day celebrations, and hosted its own radio programme with Wellington Access Radio.

But deserving special mention is FILINARTIZTS’s participation as actors in the Ati-atihan Festival performances at the Festival of Carnivale, a multi-cultural showcase for visitors and locals alike coinciding with the Wellington schedule of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

We may be exaggerating a bit, but the moving force, vision, logistics not to mention funding for the latter event would be insufficient without Didith and the 101% love and effort she has put into it.

(The YouTube clip above is a sample of what FILINARTIZTS will do during the festival, but it will a little more elaborate  than this, I think.  Thanks and acknowledgment to “damarkez”, who produced the clip.)

The best part of all these is that she doesn’t seek any attention or recognition for all her good works, preferring to let our country and our people take all the benefits that emanate from the positive image that the Ati-atihan production will produce.

As if these weren’t enough, Didith is also a major actor behind the Philippines‘ participation in the Society of Southeast Asian communities (SSEAC), which promotes friendship and understanding between Southeast Asian people and migrant communities in New Zealand.  Among their activities has been the ASEAN Night Market held in Wellington recently, an event that presented the culinary talents of volunteers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

We wish to emphasize that efforts from the other FILINARTIZTS members are no less awesome, but Didith, with the support of her devoted husband Clark, have been so impressive that we’ve found it particularly timely, with the ongoing Rugby World Cup, to recognize her achievements in our small corner.

Other kabayan may be equally as committed or do as much for Filipino arts and culture in the future, but for now no Pinoy or Pinay shines brighter than her in making all of us in NZ proud of our culture.  We would do well to take off our salakot for her, and say kabayan, maraming salamat po.

And that is why she is our favorite Kinoy.


*Kinoy is a contraction for Kiwi-Pinoy, a non-racial term for Pinoys who live, permanently or otherwise, in New Zealand.”

From Megamall 2 Downtown Wellington : Mahal’s 1st full-time gig

Clothes, accessories and things that make a girl prettier. It won't really be work for her.

The place that offered Mahal her first full-time job. Medyo malayo lang. McDo above is a bonus. 😉

[ Pssst… if you read this and are a friend or acquaintance of the subject of this particular blog, don’t tell her OK?  🙂  Belated happy birthdays to dear friend and Blitz-mate Dodie deGuzman – Gutierrez, and kabatch Danny Lua and Michael Tan, now let’s cross our fingers for the All Blacks ! ]

IT”S BEEN a whirlwind 18 months for esposa hermosa, time almost seems to have flown by (forgive the trite hyperbole), but how else would you have described it if in said span of time you experienced your first international flight, settled in her first foreign home, worked in a first-ever foreign job, gotten married, a first in almost everything in fact, and had she not paused in her spinning-top daily sked to take stock of what she’s done so far, wouldn’t even have realized the enormity of what she’s done.  Still it’s worthwhile to celebrate a milestone here and there, and probably as good a milestone as any is her first offer of a fulltime job.

To put it in context, NZ is currently suffering one of its worst unemployment situations in recent memory, hovering between 6 to 10 percent the last eight quarters, and superskilled and ably skilled Pinoy compatriots have endured the Sisyphean dilemma of choosing between vacancies that require unrealistic qualifications and accepting job offers that are several notches below professional and educational credentials.

Perhaps it was just as well that E.H. wasn’t aware of these realities, because she was prepared to accept the first gig that came her way.  I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising that anything involving fashion, cosmetology or the various arts dedicated to prettifying the fairer sex would be close to heart, she is after all a typical Pinay who loves looking and feeling confident, and what better way than to make herself look beautiful?

Nope, Gwen S wasn't their client, but this type of nail art was available in her first gig.

That’s how she got her first job as a nail technician, needing only skills that she’d been familiar with since her teens.  But because the idea of pre-set, template-style nail designs didn’t catch on, after a few months it became obvious to her that she needed more income and the only way to do this was either get a second gig or work more hours from her present job.  Since the second alternative wasn’t about to come soon, she sharpened her eyes for a vacancy.

It hadn’t occurred to her that her skills and confidence level were good enough for a full-time job, and when I mentioned the tantalizing prospect to her, she merely shrugged her shoulders que sera sera-style and said kung uukol bubukol.

An unlikely gig prospect revealed itself : somebody had been looking for a no-nonsense, energetic and preferably Asian worker to fill shifts at the neighborhood mall’s biggest sushi bar.

Why no-nonsense?  There was no time for banter, clockwatching or long breaks, as the sushi bar was a pagoda of activity (a little pun there) from opening to closing,  Kiwis having found out the little secret of the Japanese : sushi rolls are an inexpensive, nutrition and energy filled lunch takeaway ideal for every sort of meal away from home.  And the famously tasty wasabe and soy sauce combination certainly didn’t hurt.

Why energetic?  Well, in the nature of non-stop, New York minute type of jobs, there was an excess of activity involved, and if you were the brooding, deliberate kind of worker, you probably wouldn’t last long in the job.

From sunup to sundown, the sushi rolls flew off the counters...

Why Asian?  The answer, as Mahal beheld the Pinoy, Korean and Chinese (but curiously, non-Japanese) roster, simply lay in image.  Just as staffers without olive skin wouldn’t be a good fit for Indian restos, anyone who didn’t remotely look like someone from the Land of the Rising Sun didn’t lend much authenticity to the product.  I know it’s a subjective comment (like all my other comments) but that’s how I rationalized it.  So E.H. familiarized herself with the sushi rolling pad, the giant rice cooker and the bento bar, and joined the ranks of sushi soldiers while serving the hungry but taste-conscious Kiwi workforce Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.

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The most recent job offer as you might think appealed to her womanly inclinations almost instantly.  Retail selling of fashionable Clothes, bags and accessories.  Would you know any Pinay who wouldn’t be attracted to such a job?  Nope, she answered, and she was certainly no exception, as she marveled at her good fortune.  All it would take was more than a passing interest in the merchandise, to be a quick study in the pricing and size definition of the brand, and an eye for whether the item of sale looked good on the potential buyer.  Could Mahal nail the requirements?

Hello? and raised eyebrow were all I got from her.

Given the pamasahe, the long-term consequences, and job stability issues, Mahal is as of now still deliberating between her present job, which she loves, and her new job offer, which she suspects she will enjoy.  Whatever she decides, all I know is that she has already gone far beyond the first few steps she made on the Wellington tarmac,  just a year-and-a-half ago.  Congrats, Mahal !