JUST BEFORE and during the Easter weekend, two separate events made me proud to be a tradesman, defined as a person who earns his living from manual skills like carpentry, masonry, baking, milling and plumbing. The first was very personal to me, as you’ll read below, and the second should put a collective lump in the throat of any Pinoy worthy of his / her kayumanggi skin.
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The e-mail was posted without incident and even less fanfare, probably because people like me were hurrying to our posts or commuting home between shifts at the time. But it was one of the more pleasant messages on the bulletin board that I’d read :
“The xxx service recognition program aims to recognise employees’ service milestones and reward their loyalty, contribution and commitment towards the business. I (the Managing Director) would like to extend my congratulations to those who have received service awards in the last quarter :
“xxxNoel B (that’s me) : Wellington : 5 years of service in March 2013”
I hadn’t been keeping count, but I knew it was some time since I started with my employer. It was doubly significant since it was the employer who had been keeping me in New Zealand, so I guess I should’ve been at least a little more vigilant in anticipating the milestone.
Moreover, I was on my last legs as a temporary migrant when I got the job, didn’t have an ideal background, and not only had to move halfway across the country, but I also had do shift work, get used to manual labor and do everything my superiors asked me to do.
But when the job is the only thing keeping you in the country, you try your best to do everything in the job description, and get on the boss’s good side, everytime, all the time.
I did a lot of this the last five years so often it actually became part of my routine, and in the process I learned a trade. Five years from taking on the job in South Auckland, I’m in the unlikely position of being a service awardee, a gypsy journeyman who’s still learning something new everyday. Thank you all my colleagues, thank you bisors, and thank you Mr Employer across the Tasman.
And Tuesday is the first day for the rest of my working life.
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This is one of those cases where words don’t do justice, and so I just direct the Precious Reader to the video which for copyright reasons (actually I violate this a whole lot) I can’t post directly, but can still share indirectly.
Our karpentero kabayan good at kalikot and kutingting were sought out by Kiwi construction companies contracted for the Christchurch rebuilding project, and, up to the challenge, many many carpenters tried out for 20 jobs back home, and are now here to provide carpentry services for the duration to the project. Well, you’ll see all about it in the vid.
The work conditions aren’t world-class, but our countrymen are comfortable, as the footage attests. They are also provided Pinoy food (prepared by a kabayan co-worker with cooking talents) and adequate internet services to communicate with their families back home. Best of all, their talents and skills are valued, and if ever projects are awarded anew, will be engaged again.
For now, we don’t know if this is the start of something big, but one thing for sure : the Pinoy tradesman is and has always been welcome in New Zealand.
Kia ora and mabuhay Kiwis, Pinoys and Kinoys!
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