[ Note : Sincerest apologies if we sound a bit sensationalist, but politically correct NZ is not immune from the blight of indentured or involuntary servitude, as seen in this TVOne latebreaking newsclip surely making the rounds here. On behalf of Pinoy migrants and guest workers in dire straits they have helped and continue to help, we thank Dennis Maga and Migrante Aotearoa! To be a migrant, like many things in the drama of life, is fraught with danger and challenges as it is with hopes and dreams. ]
PASAWAY MAY mean anything from cheeky to outright belligerent. It could be edgy, dodgy and shady but could also mean audacious, fearless and brashly creative. Thanks to Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempengco, Lea Salonga and Arnel Pineda and similar heroes and heroines, Pinoys have more or less captured the popular imagination of many New Zealanders : a smiling, improvising and English-speaking Asian race capable of punching above their weight, proud of their good work attitude and engaging (if accented) conversation, but beyond that, questions about us keep recurring. To stamp my personal punctuation mark on these FAQs, (and maybe to discourage duplicate questions), here are my pasaway answers :
Why are there many different kinds of Pinoys (Malay, Chinese mestizo, Spanish mestizo, Indian, etc) ? Don’t know if Kiwis realize it, but just as NZ will be a melting pot of races in a decade or two (if it’s not already), the Philippines‘ long history of intercourse with myriad cultures and porous archipelago make our sunny islands a kaleidoscope of race, color and language. There are our ethnic minorities, mestizo groups, hybrids of various Southeast Asian nationalities and even those with traces of Hindu, Arabic and other races of the Near East. Because of all these influences on our gene pool, we end up with a special mix of beauty unique to any eye but universally admired. Behold breathtaking sights like Margie Moran, Melanie Marquez, Chat Silayan, Miriam Quiambao and of course Ruffa Gutierrez. These are only the most well-known of the eye candy known the world over, thanks to our intermarriages and assimilations that are an accepted part of Pinoy society.
Why do Pinoys speak relatively better English than other visitors / migrants / guest workers ? I was surprised to hear that a former flatmate, who did tours of duty in Riyadh, Qatar and Dubai, was usually appointed the unofficial spokesman for his colleagues, most of whom were Pinoy, Hindu, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan, but it didn’t matter anyway, since anytime the Caucasian employers needed someone to discuss a pressing labor issue with, my flatmate was summoned as he could best articulate the sentiments of the workers. We all have our native tongues, and we all profess to speak (our version of) English, but by default and because we are the last man standing, Pinoys often become other races’ interpreters when speaking with the so-called “native” English speakers. Perhaps this is because of one of the last vestiges of American colonial rule (1898-1946) using English as a medium of instruction, as well as the fact that Pinoys are one of the most Westernized cultures in Asia, exposed to Western cuisine, show business and fashion. As a result, we are frequently confident English speakers, and even if we aren’t, like to boast that we understand foreigners who visit us and who have no choice but to communicate with us in English. An unintended consequence is wherever we travel, work or migrate in the world, we become better understood than other travellers, workers and migrants because of our facility in English, although sometimes we may overdo it.
(and last but not the least) why do more and more Pinays end up wives of Kiwis? this is the question that I keep hearing not just from Kiwis themselves but from countrymen who’re beginning to notice a trend. It could be a number of factors : that Pinays are predisposed to take care of their men, that Pinays are above-average cooks, that they are relatively efficient English speakers, and that in general they are faithful and devoted to their partners. Your guess is as good as mine, but the obvious answer is economics and practicality make it imperative for many Pinays, who are also mothers, daughters, sisters and granddaughters, to make a go of it in a better life abroad. Being a dutiful wife to a hardworking Kiwi is a good start, and Pinays know that the better they do their job loving and taking care of their husbands, the better their chances of attaining long-term goals.
That’s the pragmatic answer, but of course, you could always select the romantic alternative : that Pinays are the type who fall in love, fall in love hard, and want to live happily ever after, whether they fall in love with fellow Pinoys, Americans, Europeans, Australians or Kiwis.
thanks for reading !
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