[My life wasn’t that hard back home, but this scene reminded me of difficult times in younger years, and I couldn’t help but smile at the work of art of Mr Chaplin. Time for a laugh, kabayan ! ]
ANOTHER NO-BRAINER among the many gems I’ve come up with lately (tongue-in-cheek) , I’ve come to the astounding conclusion that the overall benefits I enjoy go far beyond the monetary rewards currently received on Middle Earth, where hobbits, elves and orcs gambol in J.R. Tolkien‘s and Peter Jackson’s eternal imagination.
A better way to put it would be, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve never earned as much in my life as I’ve done here, I would need to earn even more money if I wanted to enjoy the same or equivalent benefits back home.
It’s not easy to quantify the benefits to which I refer; there are accurate ways to measure them but it’s done on a macroeconomic or economy-wide level. (That’s probably the first and last time I use that word in a blog. ;))
Rather than try to enumerate such benefits according to specific areas, I think it would be less boring if I come up with specific examples of why I think I have just as much to lose (besides the income) if I were to go home abruptly without a smooth transition or a buffer fund against financial displacement.
On night shifts I can go home from work on a bike without too much worry from motorists and other nocturnal hazards. There are peace and order and crime-related issues here like any other cosmopolitan and highly-urbanized nation. But they (such issues) pale in comparison to how it is back home, where ordinary citizens fear not only common criminals and organized crime but also hulidap specialists in the police, incorrigibles in the military, gangsters in politics and hoodlums in (judicial) robes. I regret the generalization here but the disparity is too much.
To reduce it to the ridiculous : besides one isolated bike accident I attribute more to stupid negligence than anything else, I haven’t suffered anything untoward cycling to and from work for nearly three years, but if I had the same opportunity to bike the same distance on a night shift back home, I would decline every single night, although I would gladly ride the taxi or FX on a well-lighted bus stop.
I can run and exercise to my heart’s content in relatively pollution-free air, relatively safe streets and sidewalks that are more-or-less friendly to joggers. Let me try to illustrate this opinion in another way. For me to enjoy running in approximately the same way back home, I would have to run in a gated community, far from the center of Metro Manila where all the work is done, with as little traffic as possible (unlikely anywhere urbanized), and preferably with wide cinderpaths, greenery and tree-lined lanes.
Because of my financial circumstances (very modest), residential location choices (very limited) and career options (very narrow), you probably come to the conclusion that I won’t get those running conditions. While I’m not an obsessive runner, I do enjoy its universal appeal and undemanding nature (you can stop and start anytime), and the fact that you don’t need to much equipment (shoes and shorts lang) and companions (running alone is enough company most of the time). Wellington seems to be very runner-friendly even without trying to, if you can hack the initial chilliness and the rare unfriendly dog-walker (and their dog/s, of course), and I appreciate very much the unintended benefit my adopted abode has provided my fitness and general appearance. I don’t foresee the same enthusiasm if I had to repatriate in a hurry, unless I had extra cash for a flashy treadmill or gym membership (improbable).
Esposa hermosa and I can enjoy quality groceries and commodities at reasonable prices despite our humble wages. The best cuts of meat, the cleanest and most healthy vegetables, succulent fruits and hygienically-baked bread products are available from all the supermarkets at reasonable prices. Not dirt-cheap OK, because NZ has to support its agrarian industries at a certain prices, and taxes, a living wage and realistic overhead are all factors we have to live with, but as long as you have a decent job, you don’t have vices and you keep eyes peeled and ears pricked for the juicy sales, you will have nutritious and clean meals on your dinner table every evening. If Kiwis and locals can do it, you can imagine the miracles dollar-conscious and creative Pinoys can do with their food budgets. Sadly, a living wage back home is no longer deserving of the modifier “living.” You probably know what I mean, the peso can only stretch so far and can you imagine a four-or five-person household surviving on P1,500 – P2,000 pamalengke a week? Honestly, I can’t.
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I could go on and on beyond these three examples, but I’m sure you know what I mean. If you have other ways to show how non-monetary factors make it extremely hard to consider going back home, I would gladly hear them.
I’ve said more than once that among my siblings, I’ve been the most wayward and hard-headed, and this has resulted in my enduring a harder life than theirs. The only good thing that’s come out of it is that I’ve seen and gained an appreciation for how the greater part of our kabayan live, and how unsurpassed we are in our blessings and good fortune, to live the way we do, not least of which being the simple but comfortable way of life of Pinoys in NZ.
Thanks for reading !
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- ‘Hobbit’ Cast Is A ‘Little Family,’ Luke Evans Says (mtv.com)
- J.R.R. Tolkien’s Never-Bef0re-Seen Drawings Of Middle Earth (buzzfeed.com)
- Forty-eight cents is forty-eight cents, take it or leave it (with a smile) (ylbnoel.wordpress.com)
- Peter Jackson: Filming The Hobbit In 3D Is A ‘Dream Come True’ (gizmodo.com.au)
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