proud to be a pinoy tradesman

that's me right on the bottom, but still proud as anyone on the list. :)

that’s me right on the bottom, but still proud as anyone on the list. ūüôā

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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here's a screen shot of the tv3 news segment, thanks to for allowing us to share!

here’s a screen shot of the tv3 news segment, thanks to for allowing us to share!

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!

into each life some rain must fall

satellite images showing the onward march of debilitating New Zealand drought this year.

satellite images showing the onward march of debilitating New Zealand drought this year.

WORST DROUGHT in 70 years declared the paper here in Welly. ¬†You can’t get any more eloquent than that. ¬†The Philippines may have its problems, it may be a daily overdose of drama back home and more than half of us live below the poverty line, but few problems are more urgent and gamechanging than the consequences of weather extremes, and this definitely qualifies as one here.

I have three memories associated with the extremes of weather, the most recent of which was when it rained for two days straight and then some some ten years ago, cutting off first our subdivision, and then our little group of houses from the rest of the subdivision, which was already cut off from the rest of the world.  What little provisions we had at home were all but used up, and we relied on radio news to find out when we would rejoin the world.

"thank you master, I will guard your house for life." :)

“thank you master, I will guard your house for life.” ūüôā thanks and acknowledgment to!

When we were brave enough to venture out after a maya returned with an anahaw leaf :), we saw cars floating in miniature ponds, swollen streams and streets that were rendered impassable because the latter were even lower than the already-low main street of our subdivision.  Our row of houses was fortunate enough to be sitting on the higher areas, but many others were not so lucky.  Furniture, appliances and everything of value sitting on ground floors were damaged beyond repair, and this among many was the harvest of one of the more brutal storms that decade.

Another strong weather-related memory was an unlucky combination of a suffocatingly hot summer and the power crisis somewhere between the late Cory Aquino and early FVR years. ¬†It was so hot you couldn’t even move, and unmercifully there was no power during much of the day for either electric fans or if you could afford it, air conditioners (we couldn’t). ¬†It became fashionable and quite practical to purchase backup generators for the home and industrial ones for businesses, hospitals and the malls. ¬†The only good thing I remember about that time was the 50% discount on ice cream; practically given away by blackout-conscious shopowners who didn’t want an inventory of melted sundaes and popsicles messing up their freezers.

it happened again in the Central Luzon-Metro Manil area July 2010, thanks and acknowledgment to!

it happened again in the Central Luzon-Metro Manil area July 2010, thanks and acknowledgment to!

Two things I actually welcomed during that water-starved and blackout-weakened summer were (1) going to work where the offices were at least air-conditioned before the power outage was scheduled, and (2) the monsoon rains which brought a welcome relief from the blistering, exhausting and sweltering heat of the dry, dry summer which incidentally I always identify with Semana Santa where either you meditate in the city or vacation in the beaches.

The last memory is that of our very own drought back home (a year or two before Y2K), where literally the ground turned to dust and every breeze threatened to mutate into a sandstorm, the soil cried out for moisture and leaves turned orange, yellow and finally into brown, months before harvest time. ¬†I don’t think anyone would say I’m exaggerating, but it was a good ten months before anyone saw a drop of rain that year, and considering that the Philippines receives so much rain on an average year, the drought must have been catastrophic for agriculture, not to mention industries and manufacturing that need agricultural products as well.

Here in our part of New Zealand, it will take a good number of years to recover from the drought, and the dairy, beef and lamb and downstream industries have been all but written out of medium term planning until they have been properly resuscitated, rehabilitated and nurtured back to life after literally drying out from the drought.

Because the Wellington region (as opposed to Wellington City) is relatively compact and everything, including water consumption is easily measurable and desperate times call for desperate measures, government, media and every usyusero has understandably become OC over the issue.  I overheard my favorite deejay broadcast optimistically that due largely in part to the total effort, weekly consumption has gone down from 128 million liters to 120 million, truly mindboggling both in the amount saved and the dedication to monitoring the figures. (imagine the time spent counting those liters!)

Daily radio broadcasts here remind us that all outdoor activity requiring water, washing of cars, etc. have been banned until further notice.  Only the most crucial water needs like bathing, cooking and drinking are allowed now, and for good reason : for Wellington region, water has been free to household consumers for the longest time, and everyone wants it to remain that way, most of all Asian migrants like Your Loyal Blogger.

Thanks for reading and Happy Easter to all!

when see hear & speak no evil won’t do : confronting nega press on phils

34513ACCEPTING ALL the opprobrium that I expect will be flung at Your Loyal Blogger kabayan, I admit that I’m as non-partisan as non-partisan gets. ¬†Despite matriculating at the so-called bastion of student activism (true only during the early Marcos years) and apprenticing under the school paper, I hold no strong worldview and just want to live out the rest of my years earning my bread, enjoying sparklingly entertaining books, living long enough to see my grandchildren and playing Tri-Peaks Solitaire. ¬†And maybe filling in the blanks in this DIY and user-friendly blogsite.

But like many non-partisans out there (whether or not you admit it) I love my country, and still feel a lump in my throat when a countryman/woman does well in the sports / cultural / scientific fields and chafe at the worn points when any of us Pinoys, individually or collectively, fall into shame or disrepute. ¬†Within our circle and among ourselves it might not hurt so much, we after all know each other cheek by jowl and can’t deny our warts and moles.

To strangers and outsiders though, it stings through and through, knowing that other peoples and races know of our faults and inner rots.  It hurts even more when, seeing but not understanding, they only see the results of our complicated cultures, hierarchies and histories.  Like any other tribe, Pinoys are the product of their assimilations, subjugations and contradictions.  Can we explain why we are Catholic, modern, pro-American, anti-American, Islam, autonomous, secessionist, protectionist, populist, elitist (and sometimes a combination of some, most or all of the above), and never seem to be able to decide what we are?

Most of all, we are onion-skinned (I know I am), when we hear of negative press about the Philippines overseas :

How do we explain this in one paragraph? ¬†Muslim rebels engaging in the kidnap-for- ransom industry can do as they please because they are the proxies of military, police and political officials in the South. ¬†The warriors of Islam are actually slaves of the almighty dollar, who know only too well that dangling a sword over captives from the First World is the surest way of earning foreign exchange, without forgetting of course that their ¬†bemedalled, khaki-clad and high-handed masters claim their share first…

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center.  thanks to for the pic!

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center. thanks to for the pic!

This will take a little more than a paragraph, but still I will try.  Because many of our statutes are remnants of an era where civil and criminal laws had the same purpose, specifically the protection of the propertied and the landed, we often punished the commission of crimes against property as severely as those of crimes against persons.  One of these is fraud or deception, which to this day is punishment-wise on a level with attempted homicide and serious physical injuries.  Another special crime is illegal recruitment, probably because so many Filipinos want to go abroad to earn money.

The result? ¬†A visitor unfortunate enough to be caught committing both those two crimes will probably rot in jail for the rest of his life, like the Kiwi pictured above. ¬†It’s so hard to explain that it’s not just the NZ$5,000 owing to the Pinoy duped but the fact that through sweet enticements and trickery, such an amount changed hands, that caused the New Zealander to languish behind rusty bars, but the law is the law. ¬†That, and the fact that just returning the money will effectively restore the status quo. ¬†It’s that bizarrely simple.

[our friends overseas might also want to remember that the amount is about half a year’s pay for many of our kabayan back home, not that we’re nitpicking but it does make a bit of a difference for a family of six or seven struggling to make ends meet. ]

Surreal, inexplicable, upside-down bizzaro-type situations like the above two happen everyday in the Philippines, yet Pinoys like myself blush and grope for words when the rest of the world finds out about them. ¬†What to do, what to do? ¬†At this moment I’m not sure, but one thing I do know. ¬†Instead of aping (pun intended) those three chimps covering their eyes, ears and mouths, we would do better to confront, verify and spin these facts, and indeed show them our true (Pinoy) face, nunal, kulugo, and balat, moles, warts and all.

Thanks for reading!

we are all in this (food safety audit) together

this is how clean it should be.  thanks to for the pic!

this is how clean it should be. thanks to for the pic!

BAR NONE, it was the most emotional meeting I had attended in our workplace, and the odd thing was it was about a rather unemotional event that had just transpired.  But it was a good result, and any good result about work, to a work visa holder, is on top of the weekly news cycle, to be replayed, reviewed and savored, again and again.

The emotional meeting was an impromptu one conducted by the national food safety manager after a huge effort by the entire team doing remedial measures required by, quite frankly, a pasang-awa (barely passing) food safety audit conducted by a major client, a top supermarket chain with stores all over NZ.

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even the shrink wrap is inspected.

even the shrink wrap is inspected.

To put it in perspective, we had been losing clients left and right to the opposition the past 12 months, and this, one of our few remaining institutional clients, controlled roughly half of the retail market, so we were certainly hovering on the precipice the time the boardroom biggies decided to take a closer look at our operations.

If you’re gonna forget everything else about food safety audits, just hold onto these two things: food safety is the paramount consideration in food manufacturing, and everything that goes into and touches the product must be top quality and, almost equally important, traceable. ¬†Would you believe we need to produce records not just for product but for packaging?¬† The whole article is sold, and we need to account for every part of it when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Our product is all right, but foreign matter, byproducts from the manufacturing process, and as I mentioned, the packaging itself sometimes taints the pristine nature of the product. ¬†The ideal is to get into the consumer’s hands the item as it is produced and manufactured, untouched by human hands.

But that’s just part of the formula. ¬†The second thing you have to remember is that image is everything. ¬†The wares may be clean but if the conveyors on which they’re transported, the pallets on which they’re piled and the shrink wrap with which they’re packaged aren’t themselves spotless and hygienic, then it just won’t do.

they did this, all over the site too :(

they did this, all over the site too ūüė¶

And that’s why everyone, and I mean everyone who drew a pay packet from our employer chipped in that day and grabbed a mop, broom, vacuum cleaner and air hose to bridge the gap between passably clean and industry-standard clean the day the auditors arrived.

Janee, who got special mention during the meeting, did her part by ensuring that paperwork, fumigation and procedures were all followed, and that any traceability as regards product and packaging was provided in case any goods sold didn’t pass muster.

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they may not have had workplaces issues like we did, but I don't envy their jobs.  kudos to their nerves of steel!

they may not have had workplaces issues like we did, but I don’t envy their jobs. kudos to their nerves of steel!

Remember what I said about the emotional meeting? ¬†Right after the decision-makers said we weren’t doing what was needed, that our food safety standards were dodgy, and that failing this audit would be ominous for the site and its workers, the entire work force went ¬†beyond the call of duty, went the extra mile and did what was needed to pass the audit.

We hadn’t had a lot of good news for a long time, went through a lot of rough spots recently, and passing the audit, keeping the client, and ensuring ourselves continued production and work was the best news we had in ages.

Long work hours were ahead, and the war to keep our clients needed all our energies, but today’s battle was fought well. ¬†The day’s work had been done.

Thanks for reading!

cheat sheet red flags for pinay admirers

Probably the most famous Pinay wife in NZ, Mona Dotcom, wife of Kim, facing charges of racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

Probably the most famous Pinay wife in NZ, Mona Dotcom, wife of Kim, facing charges of racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

I KNOW it’s a cheesy and clumsy-sounding title, but I couldn’t do any better with the limited title-giving time available, apologies. ¬†The way Pinays are growing as favorites among Kiwi men, you’d think our kabayan Pinays had a new gayuma, aphrodisiac or guy magnet combination, literally dozens of Kiwis are linking up with Pinays everyday online, and eventually bringing them over here to start new lives and new families in an environment that encourages blended families scattered all over the New Zealand landscape.

And why shouldn’t they? ¬†Filipinas are generally attentive, affectionate, loyal and resourceful girlfriends, qualities that are universally appreciated by menfolk, not that we aren’t supposed to be the same ourselves. ¬†But Pinays are also fiercely protective of their families, deeply religious and expect the same loyalty that they shower over their mates.

There are some constants that are immutable for our girls; some values, virtues and even institutions that have weathered the onslaught of change and the tumult of migration.  These they bring to whatever shore they migrate, and their husbands, boyfriends and partners would do well to recognize these constants.

So whether you’re considering a romantic adventure with our Filipinas, just seeking friendship, or already doing your best to improve a budding relationship with your Pinay girlfriend, here are areas over which you would do well to tread over lightly, if at all :

religion and tradition are nearly indistinguishable in the Philippines.  :)

religion and tradition are nearly indistinguishable in the Philippines. ūüôā

Religion, specifically positions on social issues taken by the Roman Catholic Church. ¬†Imagine the force of tradition that’s lasted for centuries handed down from generation to generation. ¬†That’s what you contend with when you so much as attempt to discuss religion with Pinoys and Pinays, and although the latter are one of the most modern of their species on Earth, Catholic traditions die hard. ¬†They’re not so much manifestations or gestures of devotion as they are living proofs of what Catholic Spain influenced our forebears to do.

So much so that if your Pinay girlfriend insists on attending Holy Mass every Sunday, refuses to cook any meat dish on Lenten Fridays (between Feb and April, it changes yearly) is set on marrying you before consummating your relationship (yes, there are still those who insist on that), chalk it up to Catholic upbringing and Catholic guilt.  Fighting her on these issues might win you the battle, but it will cost you the war.  So choose your battles carefully, mate.

a family reunion.  Thanks and acknowledgment to!

a family reunion. Thanks and acknowledgment to!

Family. ¬†At least once in this space I’ve mentioned that if you marry a Pinay, to a certain extent you marry her family, but that’s mostly an exaggeration. ¬†Still, Pinays before they become wives and lovers are first daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins. ¬†The ties that bind are for life, and though they are the most loyal of partners, they will never forget welfare and well-being of family, most especially parents, siblings and elders.

Just the slightest whiff of dissent on your part if she ever decides to help monetarily the people who gave her life (that’s her parents, bro), or if she decides to underwrite the tuition expense of a fave nephew or niece will bring about a full-blown confrontation, so better think twice before making so much as a negative comment about family, particularly helping family.

Better than thinking twice is understanding that family is first second and last on the list of priorities of a Pinay, more so since your girlfriend / spouse / partner has the inside track or  has already reached NZ shores, perceived to be a bottomless source of financial assistance and wherewithal.  Unfair for you my Kiwi friend, but as they say, no money, no honey (sorry for that).

peekingLoyalty. ¬†And since the closeness and tradition of family ties is so important to your Pinay love, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that loyalty and faithfulness is, as well. ¬†What I’m trying to say is your days of being a player and connoisseur of nubile beauties, as soon as you’ve declared your undying love for your Binibining Pilipinas, are long gone. ¬†If you are still entertaining thoughts of playing the field while enjoying the role of Mr Husband of Pinay Beauty, you might succeed for a short, short while but you will soon be reaping the whirlwind.

Reason? ¬†Pinays possess the skills of James Bond, CSI experts and Criss Angel (the mind reader) in one scary package. ¬†They use their powers of intuition effortlessly, pick up the most miniscule clues like they had microscopic vision, and can literally read the thoughts off your forehead like an LCD display, and additionally they are relentless in their pursuit of getting to the bottom of how you can’t account for an hour last Thursday afternoon after you got off work. ¬†Like Chris Rock says, they may not make a big deal of of any indiscretion you commit, but they reserve the right to bring it up between the moment of discovery and whenever she feels like it.

The easiest way to avoid the Pinay counterparts of Dan Craig, David Caruso and Criss Angel (I know they’re only actors and fakes, but it’s easier to visualize this way) is simple : stay true and loyal to your Pinay love throughout the life of your relationship, tell her everything she needs to know, the absolute truth and no prevarications, concealments and misrepresentations, and you can’t go wrong. ¬†When in doubt, just tell her what the facts are, and what you think is right. ¬†I know this sounds simplistic and you might think you can get away at first, but do you know the saying : you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time? ¬†Just substitute your Pinay loved one for all of the people, and believe me, your relationship will flourish swimmingly.

These are just three areas where you should exercise extra care, but they take up a meaty share of what NOT to do if you treasure the Pinay in your arms.  Vaya con Dios my son!

live as a / work as a / ache as a migrant

my brothers-in-arms, a century ago.

my brothers-in-arms, a century ago.

To me, growing old is great. ¬†It’s the very best thing — considering the alternative. – actor Michael Caine, on turning 80.

I’m a solid 70… I’m not getting old, I’m getting dead – Sixto Rodriguez, also known as the Sugarman.

IF EVER we needed confirmation that we were well past the starting gate of Middle Age-hood and not far from Senior Years, this was it. ¬†Sore back, stiff joints, clockwatching a minute after halftime, blisters and bunions on the weary toes, ankles and heels, and redness on the forearms caused by hot surfaces. ¬†It might not have been that stressful if I’d done this twenty or thirty years ago, but when you get to be my age, you feel every pain, ache and soreness every day of the year, especially when the source of those aches and pains are from work.

I know how it sounds, but I’m not complaining, 21st century New Zealand is probably one of the best milieux to be working in, safety- and welfare-wise. ¬†Despite the fact that I have been a white-collar worker most of my life back home in the Philippine, deskbound and unaccustomed to flexing my little-used muscles and stretching my untested ligaments, the legal and safety environment surrounding manual work in the Land of the Long White Cloud provides for every defense against potential hazard and long-term work-related condition, not just out of concern for workers but also to protect itself from liability when things get FUBAR..

I’ve mentioned it in this space so often it already sounds immodest, but at 47 I am reasonably fit, exercise as often as I can, obediently perform my household chores and moderately active as any person of my age. ¬†I’ve fought against the norm of a medical family history of hypertension, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes (but who hasn’t?), likewise battled against sugary and fatty fast-food dominated diet (again, anyone out there who didn’t?) and emerged battered and bruised after decades of tobacco-choked, alcohol-slurred and sedentary 20’s 30’s and 40’s lifestyle (admit it, lots of us did). ¬†For better or worse, I’m still standing.

Some people say it’s better to start a career of manual labor and intense physical activity while you’re young, the muscles are better acclimatized and become more durable when you stretch yourself (literally) while you’re still growing and elastic. ¬†Since I don’t have the benefit of hindsight, and didn’t know I’d be performing physical activity rather than mental calisthenics for my bread at my advanced age, I can’t rely on that piece of wisdom.

Using all the tips and tricks, and toughening myself to the tasks and routine of my job, it had become a source of comfort that I knew how to warm up for work, rest at the appointed hour, listen to the signals of my arms and legs, and schedule work to be done when and where it had to be done.

each dot you see is a sore area for me :(

each dot you see is a sore area for me ūüė¶

Trouble was, I was moved around in the workplace and placed in an unfamiliar post that required moving about more than I was accustomed to, where time was measured in the seconds and minutes rather than in the quarters and halves of hours.  I had little time for thinking and less time for reaction, and needless to say had to be quick on my feet and ready for an emergency, usually minor but sometimes major.

The result?  The activity I was used to doing in an 8-hour shift I sometimes did in 4 hours, I walked, sometimes ran the equivalent of a 3-k fun run before it was time to go home, and at least once or twice a shift I had to replace a shrink-wrap plastic roll that weighed around 20 kg.  It was good for a teenager trying to look buff for the ladies but torture for a fortysomething who never did more than sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks thrice a week in the bathroom.

As of now, the only therapy on the menu is Salonpas and extra long hot showers, which seem to iron out the kinks for a while, but long term I either need to lose weight, strengthen my muscles, or buy a few years back from the Creator.  Suggestions anyone?

holding stones in front of a katutubo’s glass house

any stone will do. :)  thanks and acknowledgment to

any stone will do. ūüôā thanks and acknowledgment to

I HAVEN’T updated you for some time now, so this will be haphazard and harrassed, sorry in advance. ¬†Just this morning echoes of my ATM sentiment was laughed at by a co-worker, who said that men who turned over their entire wages to their spouses were like men who didn’t wear the figurative pants in the family. ¬†For him, women possessed a wide latitude of functions and privileges in the conjugal partnership, but handling the treasury wasn’t one of them.

I hasten to tell you that this co-worker is definitely not a Pinoy, not Asian, is talented and skilled in his own right but belongs to one of the races in NZ that is popular for appearing in  courthouses, Work and Income New Zealand and Child Youth and Family.  I respect this co-worker but I often remember him for his strong opinions.  Today was no different.

[ In other words, I don’t say he’s one of those people that he represents, but just the same a lot of his people are like that. ¬†So there. ]

I told him almost immediately that a majority of Pinoy husbands surrender the budget management prerogative to their better halves because the latter are closer and more familiar with the essential purchases of the family, and because these procurements make up the lion’s share of the weekly earnings, it’s practical and convenient to just give them blanket decision-making powers at the soonest time.

That’s not the point, Mr NZ Katutubo said. ¬†Since you and your wife are both working, you should both decide jointly and as a team how you spend your money, and meekly handing over your plastic to your esposa sort-of emasculates your income-earnerhood. ¬†Strong words, I know.

I didn’t want the discussion to get complicated, but I seemed to remember that when he was married (and he was, once upon a time), my colleague had weekly arguments over the phone with his wife (within earshot of everybody else) over how money was being spent. ¬†Truly he was hanging on to his wages, but every time payday arrived, there she was his missus ready with her harangues of pay this, pay that, when will you come up with enough money for your children and other sweet nothings.

I was also itching to ask my workmate of 5 years that since he felt so strongly about maintaining his financial independence from anyone, if he had reaped any success by way of savings, investments, or money set aside for a rainy day.

It would be poor form for me to recall it at the time, but he told me once that his credit card debt was so serious (nearly six figures, dollars yun ha) that his wages were devoted just to paying the minimum payment due.  Just when he would be able to pay off his credit card debt, well only God knew.

I also noticed that his car, iPod, and just about every newfangled gadget and item on the market he simply had to have as soon as it was advertised; that was just the way he was and nobody could convince him otherwise.

No wonder he guarded his purchasing and budgeting habits so jealously I silently concluded, particularly against his wife or rather, his ex-wife.

So I could surmise that although he felt strongly against surrendering impulsive and non-essential spending to a more conscientious spouse, he probably was a traditional, albeit reluctantly compliant husband before.

Against his arguments, I wanted to tell him that Pinay wives are typically more responsible financially (though not always), prudent and by nature think of the family first.  Therefore any potentially frivolous spending is cut down in favor of the essentials like food, petrol, maintenance of house and car, and appliances.

I also wanted to argue that men are predisposed to making rash decisions when exposed to eye candy and stimuli like flashy ads, gaudy promotions and curvy salesladies.  In this regard, I bow to common sense and better judgment and just consult anything that requires fishing out more than coins and small bills from my threadbare wallet to the lady that has computed my weekly wage even before I receive it.

Lastly, I wanted to tell him that just by looking at his car (third in 18 months), celfone (late model Samsung Galaxy) and his apparent savings (slim to none, just guessing), he was in no position to make snap judgments of how people manage their funds, whether by cutting up their plastic or by abdicating decisions in favor of the marital common good. ¬†As they say, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

But, him being all of 100-plus kilos, my senior at work and super-willing to give out an opinion but not so willing to hear one, I guess it will have to wait another day.

Thanks for reading!

girls’ night out

THE ABOVE ad is 99% tongue-in-cheek, but it rings with a bit of truth.  Men like me are effectively handicapped and disadvantaged without our better halves, not because we are inherently useless and disabled, but because their efficiency and dexterity dooms us to a life of dependence and vestigial extremities (when it comes to cooking), not that we mind a lot.

I already had two left hands save for boiling water and boiling eggs before Mahal arrived in NZ, but it got worse because every time I tried to help her in the kitchen, she just rolled her eyes and said magsaing /maghugas ka na lang ng pinggan Mahal. ¬†That’s how awful I was.

So Saturday evening when she went on those very rare girls’night out, I was left with an embarrassment of riches : leftover sinigang, leftover tocino, leftover crab-flavored empanada-like pastries, day-old KFC, actually anything else I might like, as she asked me well in advance what I might want for dinner.

Her dabarkads parried my iuwi nyo sya nang maaga (come home early) with bukas nang maaga namin sya iuuwe (OK, early tomorrow morning)¬†ūüė¶ I took this half-seriously, as they were going to seriously celebrate a much-deserved furlough from their kids (every one of Mahal’s posse has at least a kid; one has three.)

I had so much to do, I didn’t know where to start. ¬†Finish A Game of Thrones so I could start with A Clash of Kings; rearrange my Batman action figure collection; run around the block where we just moved in to check out the sights; take a nap so as to catch the NBA rerun on the Maori channel, the list didn’t end.

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Before the last minute of the first hour past Mahal’s departure time, I already missed her. ¬†We hardly shared any quiet time anymore, especially the last month. ¬†Combine me switching to a new department, our moving house, and erratic work skeds, and although we share a roof, a bed and soap/shampoo, I saw and heard next to nothing, nothing that was worth seeing and hearing, from esposa hermosa. ¬†She prepared my baon, did the laundry, woke me up and lullabied me to sleep, but we hadn’t exchanged innermost thoughts or fondest dreams lately.

The sad part was I didn’t realize this till I was totally alone, staring at a bland CSI show and listening to white noise for the last 30 minutes. ¬†You can be alone without being lonely, but try telling that to newly divorced spouses, widowers and househusbands who haven’t seen their wives for some time. ¬†Just the sound of her voice, her puttering around, and her constant attention to you makes it all worthwhile.

She promised she’d be home midnight, but she deserves a little more down time with her girls. ¬†No one knows it better than Your Loyal Blogger.

Have a good time Mahal.  And come home tired, but happy.

belated happy birthday Stefanie Victorino!

Stef is in the middle between Maribeth Ang-Wong (checkered blouse) and Arlene Ayuste (denim blazer), among high school batchmates. ;)

Stef is in the middle (in white) between Maribeth Ang-Wong (checkered blouse) and Arlene Ayuste (denim blazer), among high school batchmates. ūüėČ still pretty after all these years!

I’d like to say I’m good at remembering birthdays, but that would be stretching the truth. ¬†In fact, it would be a real whopper, since besides my own, my immediate family and a few others, anything with a month and a number besides it are good only as holidays, discount-voucher deadlines and due dates for library books I haven’t finished.

It happened again last month when I completely forgot the birthday of a dear friend, Stefanie Victorino. ¬†I’ve known her since late primary school, and she has been a funny, thoughtful, and constant companion in the journey of life. ¬†I have not always benefited from her physical presence the last few years, but because of the magic of the internet and SMS messaging, she has provided a ready ear and her unfailing counsel almost instantly, as if we ¬†had never been apart.

Whenever I come home and visit the homeland, she is always among the first to organize a get-together with contemporaries during which we laugh, rebond, and share thoughts with friends who have always been such and will be friends for life. ¬†As a friend, you can’t do much better than that.

Stef has always aimed for and earned the best, whether at school, at work, or anything she has attempted in life.  So much so that she has met with success in academics, her job, and in social life.

The only area where I can claim to be a bit better than her is in selecting bosom buddies.  I can safely claim that this is the solitary activity I have bested her.  Because in Stef, I can have the best possible friend there is.

Belated happy birthday, my dear dear friend. ¬†I’m sorry to have missed dropping you a line on your special day, and I hope you had a great time with loved ones and (of course) your friends.

Love you always!

holding on to my hard-earned barya

because even the Dark Knight needs some comfort shopping every now and then.

because even the Dark Knight needs some comfort shopping every now and then. thanks and acknowledgment to

UNLIKE A growing number of obedient and dutiful Pinoy husbands, I still carry my ATM card around with me; I like the feel of carrying money around, and this day and age, carrying your automatic teller machine card is the equivalent of lugging around your worldly goods with you, the sum total of your honest toil and the wages paid after the day’s work.

There are however a few exceptions as to when I reluctantly surrender my card in favor of expediency and practicality whenever esposa hermosa needs instant access to the family jewels especially to purchase provisions needed for our sustenance, comfort and convenience :

Payday, when everything that’s been waiting for the cash to come can now be paid. ¬†This is a motley group of things like utility bills, a small petty cash fund to be replenished, something that’s been waiting to be bought but had to wait cuz of the cash-flow situation, top-up of the petrol (gas at home) tank, this and that. ¬†I can’t object to this, giving up the card because either the missus has advanced the coin needed for the commodity required, or is in the better position of acquiring the same immediately, remember she works at the mall and also uses the car? ¬†So that’s that, just zip it Noel.

Day before payday, or what we call in the Philippines mga alanganing araw.  These are the twilight days during which all resources must be marshalled as funds are lowest, and when as you feared, supply cannot keep up with demand.  There must be something to sustain us just before the pantry is restocked, and Mahal has no hesitation about scraping the bottom of the barrel so to speak, and any dollars and cents resting on the bottom of my payroll account are fair game for the resourceful eye of my maybahay.

Early days after payday, when things we might have forgotten during the first grocery day come to mind and need to be acquired, like supplies that are important but aren’t urgent, long term provisions that are updated albeit less regularly, rainy-day and piggy bank funds that hardly get noticed unless you find unexpected sources of funds like the Lotto (yeah right) or winning in bingo or paluwagan (dream on).

Unexpected events like emergencies in the province, maintenance surprises, upkeep of household stuff and whiteware repair, yup, those can be unpleasant but they have to be done, so out goes the ATM and into the general fund, meaning Mahal’s wallet, since she has the skill to swiftly scrutinize every expense necessary for fund disbursal, yup, the loose change remaining in my proverbial worn pocket.

All of which leaves me a grand total of one or two days the ATM card is actually in my pocket, not that I miss it much anyway; the wifey advances so much that I’m in debt to her till the next Olympics (and maybe after); and by the time the card returns to me it doesn’t have much except for those lonely figures after the decimal point.

So, the unspoken deal is I get to say that I keep the card in my wallet, while the love of my life gets to keep everything else inside. ¬†Just like the saying she loves to use, what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine. ūüôā Such is love!

thanks for reading!