YES, life is getting better and better all the time back home in the Philippines. And yes, Your Loyal Blogger and each kabayan I know miss the old country terribly. But not a day passes when each migrant I know here in New Zealand is so grateful we are here to live better lives for ourselves, our families and the loved ones we have left back home.
No one here shares this view more strongly and similarly as I do than wife Mahal, who joined me in Aotearoa (New Zealand’s name in the local Maori language) five years ago last Tuesday the 10th, on a windy overcast Wellington afternoon, typical for this part of the country. It was her first trip to New Zealand, her first trip abroad, her first EVERYTHING, but Mahal faced the brave new world of a New Zealand migrant as fearlessly as a veteran climber at the foot of Mayon Volcano. At the airport, I didn’t find her, she saw me before I did. 🙂
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Mahal wasn’t so sold on the idea at first. When I told her I would be staying a bit longer after a visit to a brother in Auckland in 2007, she was in parts, surprised, confused, and then heartbroken. In so many words, she was convinced I was preparing for a future thousands of miles away with scant regard for her, and probably without her. None of my entreaties and sweet nothings could convince her that this wasn’t the case, and that it was precisely for her that I was embarking on an extemporaneous adventure as a New Zealand guest worker and hopefully future migrant.
Truth of the matter was, I was making it up as I took each uncertain step towards gaining a foothold in New Zealand. Given the fact that she was initially unconvinced in my plans, would you be surprised to know that I didn’t tell her that the chances of getting a work visa only a few weeks removed from a visit visa here weren’t that hot. I mean, would you? See what I mean?
But after a few months of selling the idea, I finally convinced her that either (1) if my plan was successful she was following me here one hundred percent, or (2) if plans went awry I would surely come home. In any case, she gave me a year to get my immigration status organized, plus another year to get her back by my side.
It took a little more than the two-year quota she imposed. And I would not be exaggerating if I told you that there were more than a few twists and turns in my journey (in fact it continues to this day) and many times I had no recourse but to go back with my tail between my legs, but Mahal persevered together with me and my reward to her is the warmth and embrace I provide each night we go to bed in this strange but friendly land.
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I am actually trying to make this long story short, but I would be remiss in my storytelling duty if I didn’t tell you at least two more things.
First, from the preparation of the papers, to the collection of supporting documents, to the arduous legwork, Mahal was a one-woman team on the Philippine side. Yes, we had an immigration adviser, but esposa hermosa (another colorful name I have coined for her) reduced time and money requirements with her blood, sweat and tears. Of course she had a personal interest in a favorable outcome, but still she outdid herself in doing everything required, and then some.
Second, she has taken to migrant life here like the proverbial fish to water. Would you believe she started working no more than a week after she arrived in Wellington, has worked two part-time jobs for more than six months before her first full-time job, has probably made more friends than I have here in the relatively short time she’s been a Kiwi-Pinoy, and has earned her full driving license in record time.
There, I think that’s enough. What I’m trying to say is that I’m so proud of you Mahal, and on your 5th anniversary in New Zealand, you continue to amaze me. Love you always, and congrats from all of us!