Mga Pintados ng Wellington 3 : Mike & Cy’s store is also our tambayan, atbp


cy and mike

Above : Cy and Mike in their beloved store. Below: the store premises on 245 High St Lower Hutt.

AN ONLINE ROMANCE ACROSS THE SEAS, a job rejection, and an earnest desire to create a Filipino community tambayan: in themselves individually they don’t mean anything, but taken together these events influenced our kabayan to put up one of the most popular Pinoy stores in the Lower North Island: the Philippine-Pacific Products store in Lower Hutt.

Online romance. But let’s backtrack a bit, to the first factor, the online romance. Nothing blends better together (sampaloc/tamarind, green chili, tomato and onion for sinigang, so to speak) than a Pinay (Filipina), an overseas guy, and a laptop/smartphone. Hundreds of thousands of happy couples worldwide get linked up, figuratively and literally, through the magic of online dating.

Cyrell and Mike were no different, except that they were both in it for the long-term. No isang-linggong pag-ibig, Tinder swipes or rash decisions for them. The online acquaintance became a relationship, and the relationship became a commitment culminating in Cy (as Cyrell’s called) arriving in Wellington May of 2012 after getting married in the Philippines, right into Mike’s waiting arms.

Job setback. Shortly after a sweet sweet (and much anticipated) honeymoon, Cy our kabayan set about to find a job to support Mike as provider. Would you believe, with two Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a masteral degree, Cy scored only two interviews out of 50 responses to her job applications, and landed zero acceptances? For such an academic background, the Filipino-Kiwi couple didn’t expect such a setback, but decided to turn it to their advantage.

They realized that the lack of job openings for Cy was a strong sign for them to look for business opportunities just waiting to be discovered — preferably one taking advantage of Cy’s Filipino connection.

Then, it was as if the sea parted, the trees bent and the grass bowed to make their store possible. After a fruitless search for potential stores and locations in Wellington proper, Newlands and Tawa, the former owner of Filipino Mart in Lower Hutt, after being referred to them, asked Cy and Mike if they were interested in buying the store, assets and all. The rest was history.

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philippine pacific storeCommunity tambayan. Yet, the story wouldn’t be complete without the third factor we mentioned upstairs: the couple’s wish to create a Lower Hutt  tambayan (literally “waiting area,” but evolving to community center) where everyone, being welcome, could spend a couple moments meeting kabayan before heading home.

It’s a natural catchbasin for human overflow: Pinoy tradesmen coming home from work, Pinay nurses finishing their shifts, and Pinoy kabataan (youth) leaving class. Even the latter waiting for rides from their parents can wait at the store.

No numbers are taken, but dozens and dozens of Filipinos and Kiwis go through the doors of Philippine-Pacific store daily to shop, browse, just see how things are going with the rest of the grocery buying community, and even ask about services offered and enjoyed by many Pinoys in our Lower Hutt barangay.

And by the way, every sort of Pinoy product can be found here. UFC ketchup, del Monte spaghetti sauce, Star Margarine, Lady’s Choice sandwich spread and Magnolia ice cream are just a few of the well-loved Filipino brands not usually found in New Zealand supermarkets but readily available here. Even ingredients for menudo, sinigang, dinuguan and all other traditional Philippine dishes are regularly sold in Philippine Pacific Products.

But back to the couple’s vision. Mike and Cy want the store to be a community hub or center.

Said Cy: “we want our store to be a place where people stop over not just to buy or shop for things but to share their day with me and (her husband) Mike, to swap stories and tell us about their daily lives. We love that part of her job and business, just as much as making a living and earning a profit at the end of the day.”

Well said Cy and Mike, and mabuhay Philippine Pacific Products!

PS. for more info on our favorite store, please visit thanks and maraming salamat po!

[ material for Pintados ng Wellington? Pintados was one of the first terms used by the historian Pigafetta for the early inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, a term we now proudly use for overachieving, friendly and nationbuilding Pinoys in Wellington and the larger New Zealand. Please send us your material and data for anyone or any group you want featured here, kabayan or not! ]

Mga Pintados ng Wellington 2: kahanga-hangang 3-in-1 kabayan superdad

NOT A TRICK SHOT. Our kabayan Carlo carrying his Vietnamese bride Jessica, almost reaching Sky Tower!

MOST PINOYS (Filipinos) are quiet achievers in New Zealand. Whether as professionals, tradesmen or miscellaneous workers, we take our jobs and contributions seriously (but never ourselves seriously), generally keep our collective heads down, and just try to get along.

But every now and then you see remarkable kabayan (countrymen or women) doing unexceptional things in an exceptional way. He’s very modest in ways and means, but it doesn’t make him any less cool as a 2nd generation migrant in Middle Earth.

It’s amazing when you’re make it to the gym regularly, but it’s even more amazing when you’re mistaken as the gym trainer and resident beefcake more often than anybody else, including the actual gym trainer.

And those making the common mistake actually have a point, as you have less than 5% body fat, know all the basic techniques for fitness and bodybuilding beginners, and frankly look more chiseled and cut than any gym staff on the roster.

Nothing surprising really, when you take a hard look at Carlo Sevilleja’s daily disciplines of diet, exercise and fitness. In an indirect manner the pic above shows how advanced he is in developing each and every muscle group in the body, as he maintains a careful carbo-protein balance every meal, every day (except on cheat days at our place, heh heh), and he has achieved such a high level of bodybuilding excellence that he has qualified in national competitions for his weight class without too much heavy lifting (pun intended). On his own, and with the littlest fanfare possible, Carlo has become the Wellington Pinoy community’s best bet for bodybuilding glory in New Zealand.

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But like every sports activity outside rugby in New Zealand, to get ahead, you need to fund your own equipment, training, competition fees, not to mention related and incidental expenses. If you’re not a high-income earner like the 99% of the population, you become a weekend warrior, do an honest day’s work, and find some other way to augment your daily bread, like Carlo.

Except that Carlo, besides his Mr Universe aptitude, has very special skill set. You see, he is fluent in guitar, piano and drums. That’s right, because he has theoretical and artistic backgrounds in the major musical instruments, he can after a couple minutes listening to a random tune, strum it out and play it back to you in either strings or keyboards. (He also plays the ukele  and is learning the violin.) Sort of like a kayumanggi Ed Sheeran without the red hair or the musical genius, but with the ability to make good music nevertheless.

So that’s how he has augmented his income, by teaching piano and guitar lessons to whoever might be inclined, and whose unintended consequence brought him to meet his future wife and daughter. So whichever way his fame and fortune goes, his being a music teacher has already brought him the loves of his life.

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“this is C Major . This is A Minor. Ok, ok enough na, here’s your dede…”

And finally, as you might guess, being sportsman, musician not to mention workingman (he is nightfill (stocking) manager in a major supermarket in town) is evidently not enough for him, as he is also superdad to his daughter, a budding gifted child herself. Brings her to daycare, takes care of her all his waking hours, and as seen in this second pic, teaches her the basic keys, chords and keystrokes and the best available music tutorial to a 2-year old that’s possible.

He made the almost effortless transition from happy-go-lucky gamer, bodybuilder and musician to disciplined dad as soon as Maxine (his daughter) came along, and every day brings new challenges.

So between the gym, the sound studio, hatid-sundo to Maxine and his job, there’s not much time left for our kabayan Carlo. But he wouldn’t want it any other way. Which is why he’s our coolest Pintados ng Wellington selection this time, a classic talentadong Pinoy every which way.

Mabuhay ka Carlo, and mabuhay tayong lahat!

Thanks for reading!

[Shameless plug : For those needing a gym trainer or piano / guitar lessons in and around the Wellington region, Please contact Carlo 022 1702855. Cheers! ]