[Not only is it a longish post, it’s also in Taglish. If enough of you Precious Reader request, I’ll repost one in predominantly English. hello and welcome to Wellington Mr Mel Fernandez! Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks in advance too to the kabayan subjects of the pictures as well as the owners of the same! Please send in your names should you wish me to identify you, to both subjects and owners! ]
KASAMA NA sa pagsalubong at pagwelcome sa bagong salta mong pinsang galing prubinsya ay ang pakikisukob nya sa iyong munting dampa, pagsukob nya sa inyong hapag kainan, at paggamit nya ng lahat ng iyong gamit at kung kailangan, damit at kung anu-ano pa.
In other words, you tell your country cousin, what’s mine is yours, mi casa es su casa, and to a reasonable extent, feel at home (but don’t wear out your welcome). Because you’re new in my town, and it’s my town, it’s my responsibility to put out the welcome mat, get you settled, and make your entry into a new country as easy as possible.
Though it’s often taken for granted, for Filipinos in New Zealand we call this simple act (or acts) of kindness “pastoral care” although it’s done in the spirit of bayanihan (“townmate-ship” for lack of a better term) and pakikisama (“getting along”) but recently here it has been prone to abuse, for financial gain, taking advantage of the ignorance and vulnerability of the newcomer.
Do we have to mention that it’s un-Filipino, un-Christian and downright mean?
Just to help all of us along, handed down to us from our elders and ninuno (ancestors) are the sampung utos (ten commandments) of pastoral care:
I. UNANG UTOS : unawain ang pagkabaguhan ng bagong dating. (sympathize with the unfamiliarity of the newcomer) Parang sanggol (baby) ang bagong dating. He/she has to deal with the newness of his/her dwellings, the people around him/her, his / her new job, even the weather. (Suko na po ako, from hereon I’ll just use the male pronoun sorry.) Everything is new to him! So the biggest favor we can do for our kabayan is to recognize that he is just starting to take it all in, for the first time, ever. A little more patience, a little less hurry to settle him in, and unless it’s absolutely necessary for him to hit the ground running, a little more wisdom in letting him absorb things at his own pace.
II. IKALAWANG UTOS : ipaliwanag lahat ng pangunahing pagbabago sa pamumuhay sa New Zealand. (explain the basic changes of living in New Zealand a Filipino should make). Basic Kiwi English, getting around, life skills like cooking, using basic appliances, and driving are things that slowly but surely need to be learned by the bagong dating. There are no ifs or buts for this, if he is to survive and get by on his own, as anybody should. For sure it’s good to ease the kabayan into the new environment, but just as crucially, things like crossing the street (look right instead of left first) and avoidance of sir and mam, etc. should be learned. Dressing for the weather, avoiding dangerous areas and a little briefing about Kiwi’s do’s and don’t’s (it’s almost embarrassing to have to say this, but knowing that urinating in public will actually get you arrested might be important to many Pinoys of drinking age) . And things like that.
III. IKATLONG UTOS. Get the basic needs right. Yes, he is skilled. and yes, he has a little money for the first few months. But our newcomer needs a basic checklist sorted, and we need to help him out here. He needs to have a decent place to stay, a comfortable bed, basic kitchen and toilet facilities and a little moral support while he looks for his first job or on his first few days on the job. 95% of the time these needs are filled by the employer if he already has a job, relatives if he’s lucky enough to have some in the new city, or friends made from before the migration. Otherwise, kind souls like yourself from his church, or volunteers who specialize in “pastoral care” are his only way to adapt and adjust.
IV. IKA-APAT NA UTOS. if it’s your duty or obligation to help him out, do it the best and most efficient way possible. If you’re the kabayan’s employer or his representative, make his transition into New Zealand living as enjoyable and pain-free as possible. It will come back to you in the form of employee gratitude and efficient work. If you’re the recruitment agency or latter’s representatives in New Zealand, then by gosh please do your job and provide every care and comfort.
V. IKALIMANG UTOS. Don’t take advantage. Especially if there is a conflict of interest, please do NOT do business or offer goods or services to the newcomer for gain. You are the first point of contact (well, besides the employer if one exists) of the newcomer. He owes you a lot, and human nature dictates that he will trust you. Please do not take advantage of this trust for your gain. Do not sell him goods that you yourself wouldn’t buy or you know he doesn’t need (yet), and if selling can’t be avoided, don’t sell at an unfair price. Don’t offer to do things for him, then charge him for services rendered later. Worse, don’t attempt to recommend things for him he’s not ready for, in the guise of trying to help, when you’re actually profiting from such transaction. A good example would be convincing him to buy your car, or a car you recommended, when he is as yet unqualified to drive. At the very least, this goes against the spirit of being a good neighbor and kabayan, and at worst it’s criminal and unkind.
VI. IKAANIM NA UTOS. Don’t exploit for other kinds of gain. Helping out is a good thing, but don’t do it for the wrong reasons, like for appearance’s sake, to look good for your other kabayan, your organization, your church or your community, We all want to look good, but pride is always lurking behind every good deed. Let’s try to do goodness, for goodness’s sake. I know this is better said than done, and I’m no angel myself. But it’s still worth aiming for.
VII. IKAPITONG UTOS. Don’t help in expectation of a favor to be repaid in the future. We all believe in good karma. Bad karma as well. But if you believe in the law of the universe, we might as well follow the rule that if things will happen, they will happen, especially in the case of positive things. Pastoral care is no different. Please don’t lend shelter, clothing or food to a bagong dating thinking that the same person or his family will help you out later. It is better to think, well, hopefully they will pay it forward to someone else who will need the same kind of help later. As you were helped, so shall you help, parang ganun.
VIII. IKAWALONG UTOS. Share the effort. I’ve heard it said once in New Zealand, many hands make light work. Same is true when you provide care for a newbie. If he and his family need temporary lodgings, a couple of families could put up the dad and a son and the mom and a daughter in separate houses, kung kulang ang kwarto (if there’s not enough room). A car pool could be set up to bring parents and kids to work and school, respectively. And so forth and so on. It’s more economical, and more sociable. Besides, Filipinos like to do things communally anyway, so it’s no biggie. Resources are saved, people are cared for, and the community is stronger. Everybody wins!
IX. IKASIYAM NA UTOS. Don’t spoil the newcomer. Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. You know the rest. Encourage the new guy to start absorbing things and learning like a sponge from day one. It can’t be done any other way. Try to lead him out of his comfort zone. If things are TOO easy for him, he won’t be encouraged to do things on his own, and that’s when trouble starts. Driving, learning to interact with locals, and getting around are all things you can learn only by doing it yourself, it can’t be taught. And that’s why before long, the newcomer must be pushed to go it alone.
X. IKASAMPUNG UTOS. Encourage the newcomer to pay it forward. This is just a reiteration of the seventh rule, but it’s worth restating it: the way of life of people helping people, bayanihan, getting along, whatever you call it, is a never-ending cycle. It works because people pass the good vibes on. Backwards is good, but forward is even better. The best way to recognize and acknowledge the good that was done for you is to do the same, for the next guy. That’s how it works. And that’s how pastoral care lives on, hopefully with the purest of intentions and bringing out the best in all of us.
Mabuhay po tayong lahat, thanks for reading!