[thanks and acknowledgment for the pic to productsfromnz.com! ]
SHAY MITCHELL of the world-famous TV hit Pretty Little Liars said it best, even if it was a little rude : when the half-Pinay was asked if her mom was a yaya (nanny or babysitter), she was reported by Cosmopolitan to have answered no eff-er, but even if she was, so what? Do you know how hard it is to be one? Being yayas, nurses and construction workers is just one of the multi-faceted dimensions of being a Filipino, and we do other things as well. But people all over the world have preconceived notions of us Pinoys, and it’s up to us to disabuse them of those notions.
As usual, I don’t claim to be an expert in what non-Pinoys think of us, but I DO have an advantage in that I’ve been living in New Zealand albeit as a guest worker, and I do have encounters and interactions with New Zealanders regularly, but admittedly not as much as I’d like (I usually work in two-man shifts every other week). Here is a short list of some of the things Kiwis observe about us, but of course the list is not exhaustive:
Pinoys are team players in the game of nation building and just want to do their bit while raising families and developing careers. Sometime in the 1990s, New Zealand decided to meet the (then) labor deficiency challenge head-on and opened their doors to migration. The result has been mixed, but Pinoy migrants have made New Zealand decision-makers look like geniuses. Pinoys are productive members of the workforce, are not generally known to be troublemakers or criminal offenders, and you will hardly see any Pinoys unemployed or on the (employment or sickness) benefit.
These will be supported by statistics, but on personal experience, I can confidently tell you that no Pinoy wants to be seen as idle by choice. There’s always work to be had in New Zealand, as long as you’re not choosy. And it’s part of the migrant way of thinking that, because you’ve been granted the privilege of living in a country, you do your part by pulling your weight, even if it’s doing jobs you don’t particularly fancy. This way, you participate in the economy, at the very least pay taxes that run the engine of government, and don’t become a burden to your hosts. Just common courtesy, actually.
Someone very close to me (please don’t ask me to identify him/her, as doing so would jeopardize my life 🙂 ) had just become a permanent resident a few years ago but had had a particularly difficult time finding a job that matched his/her skills. When I half-joked that at the very least, being on the dole (unemployment benefit) would be an option, he/she indignantly retorted, I didn’t come to New Zealand to be an unemployment beneficiary or words to that effect. I then realized, belatedly, that such an option, option though it was, would be unthinkable for me as well.
Among a diverse group of migrant workers, Pinoy workers respond best to specific instructions and orders rather than a general set of goals. I’m not entirely sure why this is so, just guessing that Pinoys prefer as little room as possible for doubt in executing tasks and plans especially when in an environment they’re not used to.
But probably the better reason Pinoys do better under detailed directions, and so have the tendency, over other migrant nationalities, to ask for such level of detail, is the fact that most Pinoys as OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) speak fluent English, almost as a first language (after of course the native Tagalog, Bisaya, Ilokano or other dialects ). Having heard and spoken English most of their lives, they are eager to show their Kiwi employers the relative ease in assimilating into and adapting to their new work environment, compared to other, non-English speaking races.
Kiwis think Pinoys try hard to get along with everyone not only to be part of the team but to be likable by everyone. This is, not just easily explainable but also understandable not only if you’re a Pinoy but also if you’ve worked with anyone Pinoy, half-Pinoy or married to one. It’s part of Pinoys to work as part of a team, and consider all members of the work team (weeeeeell, anyone who WANTS to be part of the team) to be part of the family.
It’s second nature for a Pinoy to look out for each other in the work team, to fill in or help out if someone needs a hand, so to speak. It’s natural for Pinoys to consider the office, workplace or factory as like a second home, where the inhabitants are totally comfortable and treat all the co-inhabitants as family members.
The downside to this is that, if Pinoys can’t convince themselves to like certain members of the workplace, they believe that they can’t work well with the same unlikable workmates as well. Which is also probably why, on the assumption that liking Pinoys will foster mutual likability, Pinoys try quite hard to make themselves liked at the workplace.
Do you agree? These are based on specific experiences, quotes and anecdotes learned and earned here and there, so the above are highly subjective and easily proven (or disproven). But if it can contribute, even just a bit, to a better understanding of the lives Pinoy migrants have led in New Zealand, then it would have been worth it. Just sayin’.
Mabuhay and thanks for reading!