the Dayrit-Garcias. From left: Maxine, Ramil, Marie, Alex, Danielle and Kirsten. Landmark not included 🙂
[ Note from YLB : thank you, thank you, thank you Didith Tayawa-Figuracion, Meia Lopez and the rest of the editorial staff of Pinoy Stop, a tentatively-named Pinoy newsmag in the Wellington region (in its maiden issue) for allowing me to repost a story I did for them. The section is tentatively entitled Tao Po, where Pinoy families allow me to visit them and ask them about migrant life in Wellington. Salamat rin kay Ramil, Marie and kids for graciously allowing us into their lovely home ! Thanks for reading! ]
UNLIKE MANY Pinoy migrant couples embarking on the New Zealand magical mystery tour, Lower Hutt
couple Ramil and Marie Garcia knew exactly what they were getting.
This couple, who already had three daughters (Kirsten, Alex and Maxine) when they landed in Wellington in 2001 and added one more to their brood (Danielle) eight years ago, chose New Zealand over Australia
for the more relaxed pace of life and lifestyle, access to benefits like health insurance and social security, a standard of living that allows decent shelter and car ownership, and fresh food, cleaner air and a comfortable retirement.
Obviously, not in that order.
But coming here, Marie noticed and experienced something different in health care, particularly in obstetrics. While quality maternal and neonatal care in the Philippines
is costly, Marie is thankful it is free for residents and citizens here. Another point of difference is the emphasis on the natural and avoidance of too much anaesthesia here which is something many Pinay mothers need to get used to. Marie knows what she’s talking about, having given birth to three kids back home and one here.
If it’s a toss-up between native land and adopted land for the wife, the husband is almost completely sold on New Zealand. The laid back life, clean and green environment, honest government, anything and everything ticks all the boxes for him.
Ramil and Marie are able to supervise their children every day, go hiking on a nearby hillside trail most weekends, visit Marie’s parents and two sisters (and families) anytime they want (the majority of Marie’s siblings migrated to NZ
soon after the Garcias) and just as important, enjoy quality time with each other nearly twenty-four seven. Needless to say, almost none of these would be possible on a regular basis in the Philippines.
Icing on the cake is their recent acquisition of the home of their dreams, functional for their six-person family but quite easy on the eyes as well.
New Zealand has been everything this Pinoy couple has asked for, and more. So far, they have been able to raise their children in a clean and healthy environment, put them through quality schools under the New Zealand educational system, have both acquired fulfilling jobs that, though not the ones that would have earned them the income of a lifetime, have given them the chance to live the life many would be envious of back home.
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For the observant ones out there, did anyone notice that among their goals and dreams, not a single one mentioned saving a bunch of dollars, bringing it home and having the holiday of their lives?
It’s not a typo. Both Ramil and Marie, like you me and most other Pinoys, love an extra bit of money and enjoying the fruits of their labor. It’s just not a big deal for them, and raising their daughters properly, enjoying their lives together and keeping fit and healthy are what count most. After that, maybe a trip back home every now and then to visit Ramil’s relatives might be in order.
As you might guess, that’s the only thing on the other side of the scale that Ramil misses, not hard to imagine since most of Marie’s sisters and both her folks are already here.
Yun lang ang nakakamiss, sa aming lahat ako lang ang nandito. Silang lahat (ng kapamilya) nasa Quezon province
, Ramil says with a little lump in his throat. The consolation is he sees his brothers, sisters and parents in each of the faces of his daughters.
And when you do see the smiling faces of his daughters, the cozy facade of their bungalow, their two-car garage and the cork board full of school athletic and extra-curricular activities
, even the sleek but modest entertainment center side-by-side with their wicker/rattan lounge set, what more could you ask?
Just a loving spouse, family close by, and everything else to remind you that home is in the heart. Kudos and maraming salamat po, Ramil, Marie and kids!