the five people you meet in the barangay


FOR SOME time, a very long time in fact, my passport was the only acceptable means of identification that I had while in New Zealand.  I suffered such a deathly fear of being accosted by policemen / constables as a newbie work permit / visa holder in NZ (despite the fact that I dared not consider any intention of pursuing any criminal activity) that, just to prove my legal status and that I was a productive contributor to the NZ economy, I carried my passport on my person at all times every day, every week and every month for more than a year, even when I was doing such mundane activities as reporting for work, buying groceries or even jogging around the block.  Yes, I was that paranoid, perhaps remembering scary stories of OFWs in the Middle East and domestic helpers in HK, Singapore and Malaysia.

It was only when a fellow Pinoy told me that hindi naman kapatid, unless you are a recidivist offender, you will not be harrassed and questioned about your migrant status, and even then you will never be summarily deported without your side and your defenses first being heard by a court with due notice to you.  Such rights, so rare and precious in kingdoms and autocratic states, are as natural as the air we breathe in democracies like New Zealand.

Such quirks and similar anecdotes like these I can only remember with bemusement, but when you think about it, we Pinoys bring to our adopted lands facets of our quirks and character that are difficult to forget and dispose of, probably because they are such an important part of our personalities as Asians, Pinoys and hardy migrants that have made such an impact in First World host countries like New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US.

Below are only a few stereotypes of the Pinoys I have seen in my big little community, the profiles strike me not so much in their attributes but by the way they remind me of home :

The joinerIndependence Day celebrations?  His kakanin booth is there.  Misa de Gallo and Christmas gatherings?  They’ve never missed a dawn Mass.  Flood victim fund and relief goods collection?  Always first in line to volunteer.  If there’s a group to be joined, an event to be staffed, or an activity to be scheduled, you can bet your bottom peso that Ginoo and Ginang Joiner will be there, for no better reason than it’s there to be joined.  You may or may not always like their busybody ways, their tendency to sometimes get in your face, and their preoccupation to give out unsolicited (especially migrant) advice, but you can’t question their sincerity.  They always want to help their kabayan, and if in the process they make a little extra money, make a new friend and expand their network, why the heck not?  That’s the joiner for you.

The zealot.  The zealots belong to a subset of the above group, except that they tend to focus their activities on, you guessed it, religious activities like Novena Masses, special activities of the Filipino Catholic community like block rosaries, novenas and visits of church officials like bishops, monsignors and healing clergymen and women.  There are also other groups like non-denominational Christians, JIL Fellowships and simple Bible study groups that meet in members’ homes, but the common denominator is : their devotion and dedication to what they do is total, they welcome new members (non-Pinoys probably) but adding to their group size is not essential; the preparation is ultimately for the next life.  You can’t help but admire these people, because their cause is unseen and their goals intangible: saving souls and reaching heaven.

The gossip.  Truthfully we all have a bit of the gossip within us, YLB certainly no exception, and the Pinoy community wherever the milieu teems with gossips with multi-senses alert for the latest news, and in turn ready to spill to the nearest gossip-receiver.  Not all gossip as you may think is negative, and gossip per se is not bad, it merely reflects the vibrancy and willingness of Pinoys to connect, interact and network with each other, the juicyness of gossip being the coin of the realm.  It only becomes dismaying when negative and personal, particularly false and character assassinating items are circulated without regard to families and feelings involved.  Character defects, family problems, even the veracity of whether an altered appearance has anything to do with cosmetic surgery,  all are fair game for the gossip, and as they say, bato-bato sa langit, ang matamaan wag magalit.

the fanatic.  Anything to do with sports, particularly basketball, is the focus of the fanatic, and he seeks to transfer his enthusiasm for the same from TV and multi-media to tournaments during special Pinoy occasions, like Queens Birthday, Labor Day Weekend, and similar events.  Used to be, basketball was the main attraction first, second and last, but in recent years, badminton, volleyball, golf and other ball sports have been used to generate competition and interaction between Pinoys of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and other cities in New Zealand.  Needless to say, the same sports fanatics will be seen in these sportsfests year in and year out, first as participants, then as organizers and patrons of future sports fanatics like themselves.

the organizer.  Then there will always be the leader and alpha-male / female stereotype who will organize Pinoys into geographical, professional and interest groups, no matter how small the town and no matter how small the Pinoy community is.  They see it as their obligation as natural leaders to share their skills, energy and enthusiasm with others, with of course the side outcome that they will lead whatever enterprise they create.  Since they provide the boat, the bait, and train the fishers out of men, shouldn’t the organizers decide how the fishes will be distributed ?  They do everything from start to finish, draw up the incorporation papers, schedule the meetings, pick out the worthy causes and goals to pursue, and in the end is it so outrageous that they claim the credit?  As long as good is being done, and everybody’s happy, then give the medal to the worthiest performer, diba?

There will always be other stereotypes and many of us are probably a combination of one, more or all of the above.  These I gathered from my humble experience in Auckland and Wellington, but these categories will look familiar anywhere in the global Pinoy barangay.

Thanks for reading !

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11 thoughts on “the five people you meet in the barangay

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