pinoy denture redux

would you believe he has less than perfect teeth? as if he needed them, no?

TRUE TO the spirit of keeping it real, stream of consciousness-unedited except for funny typos and subject-verb disagreements, I rant and rave about yet another fact of life for me: a denture maintenance appointment back home that would otherwise cost and arm and a leg in our adopted foreign workplace.  Inasmuch as I benefit from said workplace in so many other ways, I offer no excuses, no apologies.

I had been needing major overhauling of my incisors and molars way before, but a bicycle accident brought the urgency to sharp relief : one front tooth mangled out of commission, and another chipped almost beyond recognition.  Besides that, I’d been forever suffering from overworking one side of my jaw muscles because of a sad lack of personnel on the “weak” side, and I needed porcelain reinforcements like yesterday.

Two dentists and two shattered denture plates later, I was both frustrated and bank account-challenged with my experience.  The hard surface occasionally pinched my gums, and the first one I chewed on after it dislodged from an over-enthusiastic encounter with spare ribs, the second one I also cut in half with my misguided masticating.  I’m not exaggerating on the price tags : I don’t earn a lot of bread, and each plate cost me about a week’s wages, not a pretty sight for my Minister of Budget, that meant postponing the oil change, augmenting our balikbayan fund, and other modest expenses.  Because this was just as much a cosmetic as it was a medical/dental expense, it bothered the eff out of my conscience.

But the dentist was ultra-smooth and personable as a PAL flight steward with his presentation, which helped a lot.  I’m not knocking my NZ colleagues Noel, but we don’t make those kinds of dentures anymore, slightly raising his eyebrows at my pitiful looking poshtesho.  The grip is total, and you’ll never need to worry about breakage again, noting my tragicomedic tales about two successive shatterings and driving esposa hermosa to her wits’ end with her attempts at repair with airplane glue and quick-drying Mighty Bond.

So, your wife is also a dentist, Doc Guerrero said, feebly attempting a joke in reference to esposa’s repair skills.  I merely rolled my eyes partly because I was helpless to say anything else, and partly because I couldn’t talk with my mouth open.  (What would I do without her?)

Even with the impressive sounding quotation for the dentures, it was still not even a quarter of what it might cost in Wellington, but of course I didn’t tell Doc (if you’re reading this Doc, well the cat’s out of the bag isn’t it?)  Either way it would cost me humongously, but it was a huge help having it done by a kabayan.  And the newer denture technology didn’t hurt either. 😉

As soon as I get the results I’ll update you (if you’re interested), but in the meantime would you believe Tom-Kat calling it quits after five years?  Maybe I can borrow their perfect, close-up smiles while they respectively look for new partners…

Thanks for reading!

mga tala ng barat sa himpapawid (or notes on flying on the cheap)

AWAKE FOR 31 hours might be an equally dramatic title for this distracted blog but it wouldn’t be accurate, I caught snatches of sleep here and there throughout the maze.  But, just before I forget it, the biggest differences between points of origin and destination that I immediately noted: everything is back to the correct side, meaning you are always on the right side of the road, and look left before right while crossing said road; children can sell cigarettes, that’s probably the craziest thing, and you’re not asked for ID when you buy alcohol and cancer sticks.  Those struck me, but as usual they’re non sequitur and I’m getting ahead of myself.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and you never get something for nothing.  In return for a ridiculously cheap airplane ticket, you get aggravation and annoyance that ages you twice the normal rate.  I don’t know if that’s OK with you, you may probably be stressproof or young as a babe, and these don’t matter to you, but eventually it did to me, and I’m one of the (maybe the) cheapest persons I know.

Only a few things trump getting the juiciest bargain, and I just learned this recently : quality and uninterrupted rest, and the muck of insufferable boredom.  Because I’m an inconsistent traveller and haven’t adhered to any frequent flyer program, and because the budget pie often results in a sliver-thin slice for jetsetting, any chance to get flight bargains is grabbed in nanoseconds with no hesitation.  And the bargain I beheld online was too good to be true: for roughly the price of a business-class ticket (which I’ve never purchased), I could have two, countem two coach tickets, literally unbelievable!  Today however, I humbly stand before you to say it’s a price paid in both coin and aggravation.  Again, I get ahead of myself.

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

SuperBisor was taking us to the airport, and that definitely was one less thorn on our sides.  Checking in and waiting for the flight in Wellington was understandably the easiest and non-defining part of the trip: we were still fresh and excited to travel.

I didn’t realize that any laptops needed to be taken out of their bags and because we had two (esposa hermosa was bequeathing one to a younger bro), we held up the long line behind us on the metal detector conveyor while extracting said laptops from their sheaths.  That was the awkward highlight of our first leg.

Auckland however was an entirely different kettle of fish as regards stress.  To begin with, the City of Sails was the gateway outside NZ, and therefore the airlines strongly encouraged  (hint words for required) its passengers to show up at least 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time (earlier than domestic boardings), which was nearly impossible since we were arriving from Wellington barely one hour and forty minutes before the next leg.

That means between claiming our luggage, checking it and ourselves in, finding the boarding gate in the cavernous mall-cum-airport (seems that all airports look like malls nowadays), clearing immigration (as a guest worker like me, you want to look financially capable enough to leave and sane enough to be welcomed back, both excruciatingly difficult for me) and avoiding at boarding the aura of a drug mule, terrorist or conscript for white slavery, we had an eternity of 10 minutes.  How’s that for an instant prescription to prematurely gray your hair?

The Auckland connecting flight experience was like an unedited 30 minutes of The Amazing Race, and despite a fortuitous delay that stymied airline staff and frustrated passengers, we were still one of the last passengers to board.  Bags to chuck, boarding passes to read, jam into pockets, fish out again and jam into pockets again, corridors to lose ourselves in, horizontal escalators to hesitate using, and eventually overtaking, and finally repeating the cumbersome voiding-and-swallowing of laptops from and into bags, and we hadn’t even left Enzed yet.

Following was the exact opposite.  Eleven hours and change of doing nothing, and if you’ve ever come across Teddy Boy Locsin saying in a long flight, you eventually breathe in everyone else’s farts and exhalations, you knew it was olfactorily not a pleasant experience.  The Asian / Pinoy in me could not fathom the pay-as-you-use nature of everything : earphones (Aus$3) to understand the mindless movies airing; bottled water (A$4) just to avoid parched throat and chapped lips; muffins more precious than gold (A$10) just to stanch the flow of hunger juices; and instant noodles (A$5) worth probably 50 times their sari-sari (corner store) levels, just to persuade guts from persisting with their peristaltic movement, these little comforts that we took for granted the shifty-eyed stewardesses sold for a king’s ransom.  And did we have any choice?  Yes, if we could suspend our physical needs for half a day like yogis, monks and pilgrims do.  No, if we were like the rest of the world.

I was glad I insisted on bringing along not just one but two thick volumes to while away the endless hours waiting to land.  I finished a 400-page political satire entitled Running Mate by Anonymous (Joe Klein) just as our incomprehensible-sounding pilot (I think they do that on purpose, they don’t really want us to know what’s happening) was preparing our descent, and at least I could start Under The Dome by Stephen King at Changi International, where we would spend the next 8 hours sitting on our fat behinds.

To be fair, as airport malls go, Singapore’s was among the world’s best, not that I’d seen many (only HK and Sydney and oh, Melbourne), but it was literally a mall, as in there were stores and stores that stretched forever, a level above for conferences and meetings, esoteric (to me) store names like Longchamp, Dunhill and Longines, and endless corner monitors that extolled hermetically-sealed Singapore tourist spots.  It was a self-contained traveler’s idyll that you didn’t even need to venture out of.

But even the most interesting mallworld had its limits, and by the end of the first hour, esposa and I were all walked out, jetlagged and staggering around like zombies.  There was no choice but to improvise, and the nearest bench served as our temporary domiciles, bed, side table, reading lamp and all.  It didn’t matter that scores and scores of fellow wayfarers (with earlier flights) passed us by and sniffed at our temporary vagrancy.  We had made our (makeshift) bed, we had eight hours to lie in it, too.

So compared to both the previous leg and interminable wait, the last phase of our travel saga was a breeze : three hours between the Lion City and Manila, city of our birth.  It didn’t matter so much anymore that everything we asked for (food and small comforts) was for sale, it likewise didn’t matter it was a smaller plane (an Airbus I think) more sensitive to turbulence and changes in the weather.  Nearly everyone on board was a brown brother or sister and I counted myself lucky that seatmates in front of, behind me and at my sides were nearly catatonic with fatigue, hunger or boredom.  I had already started on Stephen King.

After all the brainfreeze inducing trips and waits, the best surprise of the journey was at NAIA.  If you can believe it, it took us all of five minutes to wait for and sort our generic luggage from the carousel, a hearbeat in time; immigration practically waved us through ( I felt like a VIP, rather than the anonymous OFW proletariat that was ready to be bullied by apparatchiks), customs didn’t even look at our baggage declaration, and the airport taxi driver didn’t even ask for a TIP!  It sounds naive, but the feel-good, no-drama treatment we received from border patrol made up for everything else.

I’m not going to double back and sugar coat / edit all the silliness we endured, all in the name of pinching pennies and scrimping on comfort.  We got what we asked for, and we have learned from or experience.  Between waking up in Wellington and hitting the mattress back home, more or less 36 hours had passed.  For good or ill, this was what we bargained for, literally.  Would you do it?  Would we do it again?

Yes we are, honestly.  Deduct a few hours waiting time, and we are going through the exact same itinerary returning to the salt mines in Windy Welly.

Thanks for reading !

happy birthday Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!


Tessie with her date, I think. If you can look this good after 3 decades of married life with kids, it’s probably as good as it gets. Woohoo!

Happy happy birthday (27th June) to a beloved kabatch, Ms Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!

BY HER lovely self, Tessie would’ve been enough to have been one of our most popular batchmates, I’m referring of course to SJCS Batch 82.  Without trying too hard, she was one of our loveliest, most charming members, not to take anything away from our other kabatch, who do stand out among many batches as one of the prettiest Judenites bar none.

But Tessie has added value to her luster by being one of the most dedicated, pro-active and self-driven batch officers around, always giving 101% of herself in each and every worthy project of the batch.

She is never absent from any batch party or reunion, whether it be Christmas / New Year’s, Mooncake Festival, or any other commemoration, and is one of the prime movers behind this years 30th Anniversary reunion.  She and her fellow officers certainly deserve our kudos.

But for today, the stage is hers alone.  Thanks so much for the wonderful memories classmate, for giving our batch your blood sweat and tears, and just as awesomely, for being our friend.

Happy happy birthday, have a great one, and many happy returns!

happy birthday Carmi Sio !

Carmi is second from left, back row with other batchmates during a reunion for a States-based kabatch, Ms Jocelyn Sy !

Happy birthday (27th June) to kabatch Ms Carmi Ching – Sio !

Carmi has always been the owner of one of the brightest smiles in Saint Jude Catholic School batch 82, so it’s no wonder we remember her easily.

She is a regular face on all those reunions and batch events pictures, and is always ready to lend a helping hand.

Between our high school years and today, there is almost no trace of the decades that have passed, a tribute to how well Carmi has passed the time, and how elegantly she has handled the roles of career woman, wife and mother.

Warmest birthday greetings to you kabatch, God’s blessings to you today and every day thereafter, regards to your loved ones, and many happy returns!

from dusk till dawn : this pinoy’s heretofore unexamined sleep habits

I HOPE not to turn you away off the bat, but I have never let indelicateness get in the way of a good rant n’ rave, which usually results in a weekly blog.  I do have a glass ceiling for good taste and discretion, but sometimes I have this distressing habit to launch into a discourse of aimless verbal wanderings, and in a few cases said glass ceiling is shattered, causing blushing faces and awkward moments all around.

It’s this twitch to talk about anything and everything that yet again brings me to the keyboard and screen, and talk about a fact of life I literally wake up with and take with me to bed everyday, YLB’s sleeping habits and the observations I have made surrounding such.  I sincerely wish I don’t say too many cringe-worthy things, but I have to add that I do so all in the name of frivolous blogging and good fun :

I’ve always been a tosser and turner, and this ranges from the mildly frisky, kicking blankets and pillows around, to actually falling off the bed.  I suspect that sometimes I even sleepwalk, but of course this can’t be proven.  This may or may not be connected to the intensity and activity I encounter and generate in the dreamworld, but nevertheless the evidence for my sleep-related restlessness is solid.  Siblings, roommates, bed co-occupants and even my children have all reported my abnormally boisterous activity in bed, there is little I can do to control this behavior.

Snoring.  I am a notorious snorer, there I said it.  There is no way around this, I confess that sometimes I snore so loud that people in the next room hear me.  Once, a pre-teen Panganay even thought there was a wild animal in the garden, and I had to let him hear me to convince him it was me, and disabuse him of the horrifying prospect of keeping vigil over the gumamelas.  That was both embarrassing and amusing, to say the least.

Up and about going bump in the night.  This is a condition that probably comes with age, but hardly a night goes by these days when I don’t get up at night at least once.  Sometimes it’s because I need to go to the bathroom, but not always.  On occasion I get the munchies and raid whatever’s left over from dinner, or even what esposa’s prepared for breakfast in case either of us have early early morning shift.  On at least a third of the times I get up I have difficulty getting back to sleep, either I read a book or check my inbox, or if I’m really spontaneously attacked by insomnia, try to start a blog, like I’m doing now.

Miscellaneous.  Have you ever woken up to a serious cramp in your leg or foot?  It’s happened to me, and I was so helpless because it (the limb) was immobile, painful and I didn’t know what to do.  When I was younger, I also talked in my sleep, and even more stangely, conversed with my brother, who was also a sleep talker.  (This was witnessed by a third brother.)  And every now and then, I wake up with extreme emotions, sometimes laughing but also crying.  Needless to say, when I laugh, it’s a great incentive to go right back to sleep to find out what tickled my funny bone.

I almost forgot : two “artificial” factors that have affected my sleep recently : I am scared to death of missing log-in time when my shift starts 5 am. that I almost always wake up too early, half-past three to four in the morning, even before the alarm clock rings.

And the second?  When Panganay comes in late and I forget to leave the key under the mat, I have to open the door after midnight.  If he rouses me then, right after I’ve tried so hard to capture precious sleep, I just give up and call it a night.

Thanks for reading!

belated happy birthday Kathryn Que !

Dragon baby Kathryn in one of her many trips abroad, I think she’s based in Chicago USA..

INTERNET AND FACEBOOK bring to life the science fantasy of not only returning through mileposts of time, you can also freeze memories and, in special cases, bring them forward to the present.

Even before I had the chance to reconnect with Kathryn my friend from fourth or fifth grade, I already preserved good memories about her.  We weren’t BFFs or anything, but it was remarkably easy to remember her.  She was like me one of the smallest in class, so we always had to sit in front, she was one of the prodigious note takers on whom a good portion of the class depended for accurate recording, this was way, way before the era of iPads and touchscreen tablets.  And lastly, she was one of the friendlier classmates we had, with whom we exchanged more than just routine conversation or humphs and grunts, and more like how your day was going and wonder how long the rain was gonna last.

Years and years later, we were amazed to know that through instant emails and status updates, she not only remained the same person we knew from SJCS, we also retained the same golden memories that we knew about each other.

The only slight difference in the time intervening being that, she evolved into the successful career person that we always envisioned her to be.

So sorry to have missed your birthday (18th May) big time Kathryn, thank you for being the same wonderful classmate we’ve known through the years, hope you had a wonderful birthday, and many happy returns !

YLB Noel

what to expect when you’re expecting, and not getting, a jay-oh-bee

I’M CURRENTLY under a media embargo against spilling silly facts, useless details and meaningless statistics and keep the same to myself.   But really, you can only stay purposely vague for so long before you go nuts.

As a compromise between my pseudo-journalistic ethics and finding something to blog about (and keep my pathetic blog-tummy filled), I’ll just chronicle the last 48+ hours of YAPECTOM (a deceptively Russian sounding acronym for Yet Another Person Close To Me), scrupulous readers beware.

***     ***    ***     ***     ***

Even for YAPECTOM (Yap for short)’s  humble standards, he had become insufferably difficult.  Hardly visible on the premises, he had cocooned himself further into his cave, had become (to me) more withdrawn than usual, failed to do even the minimum chores that he occasionally did, woke up late and burned the midnight oil, and lately didn’t even bother to get along with the few inhabitants of his physical and social world.

I wanted to bare my fangs and snarl him into reality, but esposa hermosa held fast my trigger finger.  Sunud sunod na syang bigo sa interview, awat ka muna sa mga sermon.  Bayaan mo munang manumbalik ang kumpiyansa nya, cautioned my Muse and Voice of Reason.  OK, but who’s gonna take out the rubbish again tonight, my dear?

[ Careless Edit : a loose translation of the above Tagalog phrase : he’s had a brush-off burnout the last few interviews, go slow on the scoldings and allow him to regain a bit of confidence pretty please?  That’s translated a bit too sweetly, but there you go 🙂 ]

It didn’t help that his defense mechanism and natural bravado annoyed me incessantly.  No jobs for me other than the ones I schooled foranyone who discourages me (from what I want) is a hater (his world and the Facebook world of likers and addicted post-ers had become startlingly similar), I’ve gone this far, might as well hold out for the ideal job for me.  The longer he stayed unemployed, the more unrealistic his array of cushy gigs and juicy wages became.

To top it all, I was copping the flak for his avoidance of household duties, and the last straw was his failure to clean up after himself.  When I asked him what was up, he simply mumbled studying for Java as a cryptic clue.  This simply would not do.

***     ***     ***     ***     ***

Just when I was at my wit’s end, wondering what was up with Yap, a sudden news flash came from an unlikely source, flatmate, who mentioned to us that Yap might have finally resolved his employment challenge.  And suddenly it started to add up.  He had kept to himself all this time preparing for his shortlisting and final interviews.

We had mistaken his cramming for an IT admission exam (the Java excuse suddenly made sense) as inexplicable reclusiveness; his decision to totally focus on the task at hand, a momentary descent into anti-social behavior.  I was a bit taken aback that he didn’t tell me first about probably the defining milestone of his young life of migration, but I realized that I myself had been misjudging him for the few days past.

When you’ve been vainly searching for livelihood for more than a year, success must feel so earth-shattering that you’d feel like telling the first person available, who just happened to be our flatmate.

***     ***     ***     ***     ***

The corner takeaway that doubles as a Korean resto after dark was the consensus choice for a belated celebration of Bunso’s 17th, and because we had to fish coins from the piggy bank to celebrate, the guest list was the barest minimum.  Yap, Ganda, the celebrant, esposa hermosa, and me.  Japchae, bulgogi, and deep stir fried veggies and meats, liberally sprinkled by kimchi everywhere.

The mood was cautiously confident, and the air doubly celebratory.  One young man was at the brink of adulthood, while the other youngster was at the cusp of earning serious bread doing the work he loved.

Being wrong about Yap didn’t sting as much as it pleased me to be proud of him.

Thanks for reading !

between dreams & wakefulness, on edsa, ayala, philcoa, paco, marikina & cainta

[ Note : If you’re reading this you have to indulge me yet again, this is a blog exercise on dreams and post-dream remembrances.  Thanks for reading and your patience ! ]

DO YOU sometimes wake up from the half-awake / half-asleep world (not from a dream) and discover that you’re in a dream? You know you’re not awake, but you’re not so sure if everything’s just in your mind either.  I’m not smoking funny cigarets, and I haven’t had one too many brown bottles.  Come on, you know you’re sometimes in a very vivid halfway inn-type of situation between our world now, and what many of us perceive as our nocturnal habitat (unless you’re a forever night shift person, in which case it’s the opposite of nocturnal I guess).

To proceed, this neverwhere-sort of place that I’m always just leaving or just entering, one time seemed remarkably like the place I grew up in, Metro Manila in the Philippines.  I knew I wouldn’t be here for long, so I thought of doing five things which I hoped I could stretch out along the few moments I would be here :

Buy lunch for one in Dencio’s.  I almost instinctively willed myself ( I didn’t need normal transportation) to that area between Buildings A and B of Megamall in Mandaluyong / Pasig Cities, have they decided where it is actually?  I knew that was where I saw Dencio’s the last time, and when I came in I didn’t even have to order, because inexplicably the waiter knew what I wanted : the house specialty of crispy pata and kaldereta.  I wanted more, but (1) I didn’t how how well the food in this Bizarro Dencio’s was going down my tubes, and (2) I had other things to do.  Use all the right words : crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, pork skin baked just right, vinegar with garlic combined with fragrant, perfectly boiled rice.  And the kaldereta melted in your mouth, with the ideal blending of tomato, pepper / capsicum and potato, of course supplemented with rice.  That was the easiest part of the sort-of dream.

Visit Ninang.  I did this right after the meal, cuz I might forget later.  Mom had a best friend during her dalagahood, someone who didn’t have her luck with the love of her life, or a family, or health.  Hard-luck, no?  Golden heart that she is, Mom, remained her best buddy and confidante through Ninang’s best and worst times, and was seeing her through a rough spot, maybe her last.  I was also Ninang’s godchild (of course, that’s why I called her such), and she was very nice to me.  I visited her and even brought her meals homecooked from Mom’s kitchen, and I was happy to see she still recognized me.  She asked me where I had been all these years, and I gave her the short version : raised a family, worked, got out of work, went abroad, now in a sort-of dream visiting her.  Something told me this would be one of the last times I would see her, realworld or otherwise, so I went beyond the small talk and told her how sorry I was we didn’t bond more often, because she really was a decent, always-positive and compassionate friend that depended on my mom, and vice-versa.

After that, I flew over Philcoa, College of Arts and Sciences or A.S., the Narra Dorm, Vinzons Hall, School of Economics and the College of Law, all lining the the Academic Oval on Diliman where the University of the Philippines campus had been sitting since the 1950s.  I never excelled in what started out as a promising academic career, but there were certainly good memories there.  I had an even better time chuckling to myself going around good old Saint Jude Catholic School near Malacañang, where I experienced a wonderful high school life, warts and all.

After that, I went to all the places I lived in right after I became a family man.  Before settling down in Cainta, we moved in and out of quite a number of places, including Caloocan, Sta Mesa, Marikina (twice), and Paco with my folks.  I loved living in each of those places.  Well, except Caloocan, which was right along EDSA, which was the equivalent carbon monoxide wise of smoking two packs of cigarets daily.

The last place I visited and I knew the meter was running out was to Oroquieta St on Sta Cruz where I lived as a toddler.  The apartment adjoining ours shared a small vacant square into which windows looked down on and on most mornings I did so, and each time there was a young boy roughly my age ( I later learned he was a year older).  We would talk the way six or seven-year olds do, full of hot air and empty boastings, yet eager to learn about each other and the rest of the world.  Looking back, he reminded me of a Chinese Filipino Bart Simpson : hair slicked back everywhere except the top, Oriental eyes but bugged out in the middle, and he had a small Buddist talisman pinned to his tank top.  He had all the great toys which I could only look at but sometimes he let me touch them, and he would cry insufferably for the silliest things, sounding like the siren of an old firetruck with the switch stuck, so that he would go on and off forever.  His yaya would, everytime he launched into this acting-out phase, dutifully ignore him but never slapped or hit him, something I always marveled at considering his neurotic weeping.

I never dreamed about him before, and so I told him that after 1972 when we moved out of the apartment I always thought of him, and although I had a vague idea of where he went to school after that (St Stephen’s in Chinatown I think) I never saw him again.  True to form, he ignored my senti statements and just continued playing with his toys.  His name I won’t easily forget, Henry Chong.

Soon after that neither-here-nor-there episode, I either woke up or entered into real, actual sleep.  Funny though, I knew there was a clear demarcation between that halfway stage and actual, more fantastical dreams, because I clearly discerned (in the first stage) that I was back home in the Philippines.

Thanks for reading !

why the AKLnzPINOYs family are my favorite Kinoys*

Unfortunately this is not a complete picture of the AKLnzPINOYs family. Included here are (clockwise from left) Jinkee Say, Ervin Llacuna, John Veloira Ferrer, Mauro and Jean Oreta, Beah Ulama, Carina Mendoza-Ferrer and Jun Dolon, who graciously allowed use of this beautiful pic

I MET my first flatmates (Jerome and Lady Jalbuena) through them, a pair who turned out to be one of the most outstanding Pinoy couples in New Zealand.  On my way to Wellington from Auckland, I picked up some of the best personal and professional contacts for a thousand-and-one situations that were important, useful and incredibly helpful to me, then and now.  And in my new city, I continue to make new friends and touch base with friends in the first NZ town I settled, because of them.

But I’m just one person.  Multiply the good vibes generated above by around ten thousand, and you get a rough idea of how beautifully the concept of Yahoo!group communities has been applied by the creators of Pinoys sa Auckland, or better known online as AKLnzPINOYs.

One of the most brilliant unintended consequences (or perhaps it was a twinkle in the inventors’ eye) of the Internet has been the founding and proliferation of online communities.  You can dwell on all the evils of the information highway, its access to forbidden fruit made available, fraud and criminal enterprise now  made as easy as playing video games and sending email, but you can’t discount the networking, people-helping-people and good works paid forward by the groups of people connected by the keyboard, screen and modem, people who sometimes have never met in their lives and will never meet if not for altruism social concsiousness and kindness flying through cables and internet lines.

These goals inspired the creation of the AKLnzPINOY team led by Ka Uro or Mauro Oreta and his wife Jean formed on Valentine’s Day 2006, and its mission statement was quite straightforward :

As with other egroups, we intend to help our kababayan here and coming to Auckland to: – meet old and new friends; – expand one’s networking (very useful ito for job hunting, house hunting etc); – compare notes; – share experiences on job seeking, settlement, PR visa processing; – disseminate useful tips and information to kababayan wanting to go auckland, so new comers don’t commit the same mistakes and bloopers.

In truth, they have done much more than that.  In a very real sense, they have united a huge chunk of the Filipino community in Auckland, reaching out to much more than its 1,818 member community (as of last count) and helping connect, reconnect and link further individuals, groups and spin-off e-groups throughout the Pinoy barangay in New Zealand, which today numbers around 70,000 strong.

Need a new flat?  Leave a message on the AKLnzPINOYs e-group.  Looking for a team to play basketball, badminton or volleyball for?  There are many options, but asking the group at the e-group is a great start.  Lonesome for Pinoy food, bakeoffs or just curious as to where Pinoy foodies congregate?  Again, just check out messages and replies to food-related queries there.

To use the showbiz quote, AKLnzPINOYs has become bigger than life now.  Because the Pinoy community is so vibrant, fluid and multi-dimensional, there will be so many ways of penetrating it, and this e-group is just the tip of the iceberg.  You might just make one friend from the AKLnzPINOYs experience, or just use it a few times, but the impact on your life as a migrant will be tremendous.  I know, because the e-group has helped me so much.

The people behind this group will never ask to be recognized and would rather work behind the scenes, so I will just mention them here without their knowing it : Mauro and Jean Oreta, Anthony Patricio, Carlo Jaminola, Ervin Llacuna, Carina Ferrer, Jim Tenedero, Beah Ulama, Jinkee Say, Peachy Deles, Jun Dolon, Chichi Abadingo, Cherry Thelmo-Fernandez, Weng Docot, Roger Tenedero and Atty Manuel Jose (Manjo) Oyson.

If I have omitted any name and/or misspelled or put in a wrong name, please accept my profuse apologies and advise the necessary corrections.

And as if they hadn’t done enough, their labor of love, From Carabao to Sheep, a primer for new Pinoy migrants to NZ, was awarded the “Print Journalism Award” by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas Migration Advocacy and Media Awards “for its significant role in raising public awareness on issues on Filipino migration, and the promotion and advocacy of migration and development.”  Icing on the cake, is what I’d say.

Overall, the team behind AKLnzPINOYs deserves the highest recognition and commendation for all their unsolicited efforts for helping the Pinoy community change their lives for the better in New Zealand, in the process uplifting all of us.

And this is why, unqualifiedly, the AKLnzPINOYs admins and moderators are my favorite Kiwis today!

Mabuhay ang Pinoy !


*Kinoy, a contraction for Kiwi Pinoy, is a non-racial term for Filipinos who’ve either been born or have migrated to New Zealand

happy birthday Dr Evelyn Venes – Catuira !


Doc Evelyn (center) with (from left) Annette Sy, Arlene Ayuste and Oliver Uy !

Belated happy birthday (19th June) to Dr Evelyn Venes – Catuira !

She was my classmate only once but it was enough to remember her for life.  She owned one of the most radiant smiles in school, possessed an indescribable charisma that attracted quite of few of the dashing members of the male species in and out of batch 82, and was tomboyish enough to laugh hard at your corniest antics between classes.

It didn’t hurt that two of her brothers were our buddies in the school drum and bugle corps, and that she also lived in our neighborhood.  So that meant free rides home and lots of snacks courtesy of the fresh bread from their family-owned chain of bakeries.  It also meant being an official member of her tight-knit family, an experience we will always treasure.

So  many good memories we have of you achie Evelyn, and the best part is there are more to come!  So great to see you happy with your awesome family, and working in a profession that you love.  God bless you always and have a great birthday !

YLB Noel