helping the migrant in a sea of uncertainty


 

Goodheart in Auckland

Speakers at the insurance forum sponsored by Goodheart coalition and the Philippine Embassy: (from left, back) Eddie Katigbak, Ulrike Yukei and Romy Udanga. (from left, front) Dennis Panes Magcalas, Alicat Lozano Edgar Rondon Calapati, Cora Sitchon-Laquindanum, Lani Larsen, Mary Ann Guiao and Steven Friedland, Thanks for helping our kabayan!

IMAGINE GETTING INVOLVED in a car-and-train accident, less than a month after you arrive in New Zealand. Imagine suffering a brain aneurysm as a new OFW in this country. Or, imagine falling from scaffolding while hard at work a few days into your job, despite all the health and safety precautions taken.

Now, imagine having no protection at all against the health and financial (and other) consequences of these terrible events.

Pwera usog (knock on wood) and huwag naman sana (God forbid), we hope and pray these things won’t happen to us. And God willing, they probably never will. But believe it or not, to an unlucky few of our kabayan, those exact misfortunes described above happened to them barely getting their feet wet, or getting the shoe-polish aroma out of their shiny new workboots.

The effects of these accidents and health episodes were profound and long lasting, affecting the lives, careers and families of our kabayan long after the incidents. But equally terrible , due to the suddenness and unexpectedness of the events, were the loss of life, jobs and income to our fellow OFWs and migrants that will never be replaced.

Which is why, even at the cusp of a new life abroad and with your dreams almost within reach, OFWs and new migrants alike are constantly advised to protect against uncertainty and plan for the future. And the best way to do this, according to experienced and expert kabayan advisers in New Zealand, is to purchase insurance.

At an insurance forum organized by a new Pinoy initiative, Goodhearts Coalition, experts and insurers from different areas of insurance expertise spoke last weekend before an audience of new migrants and OFWs not to sell their products but to explain they whys and hows of insurance protection in New Zealand.

For instance, the health insurance speaker, Bobby Chua of Peak Insurance informed us that because the population pressure on the public health sector increases by 40,000 per year (from migration alone), delays in receiving badly needed health services are becoming  a problem. Ordinary, non life-threatening surgery might require anywhere between six months to one year of waiting. Bone surgery or those more urgent (but still not life threatening) would require a two to six-month waiting period. There have been cases of patients dying a day before their scheduled surgery.

The best way to lighten the risk of aggravating health problems from undue waiting, would be to purchase health insurance available to anyone with at least a work visa for the last two years.

Funeral insurance also helps prevent the double tragedy of first, the loss of life and second, the problem of returning the deceased’s remains to the Philippines.

Good if your parents are wealthy and can afford to spend at least NZ$20,000 in shipping the remains home, but the overwhelming majority of our Filipinos do not have this luxury, according to Romy Udanga, financial planner and specialist.

His Excellency Ambassador Gary Domingo also pointed out that the Philippine Embassy cannot be expected to be a source of funds every time tragedy befalls our Pinoy brethren, as it is not in mandate of the Embassy to provide such. Insurance protection therefore becomes just as important to the migrant as basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.

So the next time you sit down and make serious planning, please remember our kabayan who suffered serious accidents, not just for the sacrifices they and their families continue to make, but the example they set. Migrant life is full of surprises, but we needn’t face them unprepared.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay and thanks also to the Goodheart coalition for this initiative!

 

3 ways pinoys are hurt/offended by others & why we shouldn’t take offense


[I originally wanted to entitle this post “silly ways Pinoys are offended…” but realized it doesn’t help to label us in negative ways. What’s silly for one person may not be for another. thanks and acknowledgment to YouTuber and influencer Jessica Lee for the video, which I don’t own. Thanks for reading! ]

A GOOD WAY to realize that Filipinos (Pinoys) are more “hurt” than “offended” by perceived slights by other races is to use Google Translate, English into Tagalog. Type “offended” into the English box for translation and you’ll see “nasaktan” which, as every bagoong-blooded Pinoy knows, translates to “hurt” more than anything else.

There’s no scientific evidence backing it up, but I believe Filipinos are among the most “emotionalized” people on Earth. Instead of getting offended, we are hurt by certain things, because we “emotionalize” things, meaning we have to like or dislike things, not just interpret everyday things and gestures as what they are, things and gestures. When you think about it, people don’t do things for us to like and dislike, they just do.

One way to describe it is our tendency to be hurt rather than offended , a kind of “cognitive bias” (or slightly wrong way of seeing and perceiving things), although to other cultures and races it would be a reason to be offended, outraged or embarrassed. It’s important to remember that bukod-tangi (uniquely) here are a few ways this may happen:

When Filipinos smile to someone, and that someone doesn’t smile back. Filipinos are big smilers. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with my day, or my world is being turned upside down (to use a mild hyperbole), ) nearly always smile at whoever I encounter. Not so with other people, or other races, as I have come to observe living in New Zealand more than a decade.

Before, when I smiled at someone and that someone didn’t smile back, I immediately put it down to something being wrong, e.g, I did something wrong to or for that person and that person was trying to make me realize such. Or, that that person hadn’t been having a good day, or was in an otherwise bad mood.

Those are two out of many, many possibilities, but Filipinos like me, for some reason or other, tend to focus on the above. Indeed, I pass by friends, acquaintances and workmates who hardly acknowledge me when I smile at them, and after a few moments we engage in serious communication. I have gotten used to this now, the lack of smiles in the workplace, and everywhere else. It’s no longer a biggie for me.

When a person is eating, and doesn’t invite you to join him/her in the meal. Ewan ko (I don’t know) how it started or when it became a cultural thing, but inviting someone present or passing by to partake of your meal is automatic to a Pinoy. It’s probably a history of common hardships and barangay (village) fellowship combining to evolve into a pleasant, altruistic tradition.

Modern living and realities of privacy have in time caught up with other cultures and even our own. It’s no longer unusual for diners in an office lunch room to eat together and exchange pleasantries without sharing food. Similarly, when I pass by someone having a late lunch or early merienda, I don’t expect that person to offer me his/her food. And anyways, even among fellow Filipinos, I don’t expect to actually share in the meal, just be asked.

Raising the voice and being argumentative either during discussions or stressing a point. Let’s all admit it, almost unanimously, that Filipinos are a bit on the sensitive side. As in first point above, di mo lang ngitian (just forget to smile), and misinterpretations are bound to arise. Malimutan mo lang batiin (just forget to greet), and hurt feelings are sure to follow.

What more when voices are raised, sometimes in passion, sometimes for emphasis. Among  colleagues, contemporaries and co-workers, you can’t avoid this. It’s part of human nature, across genders, races and generations.

Just not among Asians, particularly East Asians. The Confucian orientation of so many countries this part of the world defines gentleness, subtlety and tactfulness as the ideal way of communicating. So that brusqueness, bluntness and directness are seen as being uneducated, rude and just not the way to do things.

For Pinoys in a discussion and everyday communication, you may get your point across and (apparently) win arguments, but you won’t win hearts and minds. Arguing for argument’s sake is a good skill for lawyers and debaters, but it’s not gonna make you many friends among Filipinos.

**********          **********          **********

I think the most important lesson that Pinoys, friends of Pinoys and other Asians could take from these observations is to never take things personally. There are a thousand and one interpretations of a person’s actions and gestures and yours is only one of them. For all you know, a person might not even be thinking of you when you are confronted with what you think is a hurting, or offensive gesture.

Second is, the way you and I and fellow filipinos take things is different from the way other people take them. You may be 100% familiar with the way your countrymen, kabayan and compatriots. There is no right or wrong way of interpreting actions and gestures, but we spend so much energy second guessing our encounters with others. In the end, our happiness (or lack of it) depends only on ourselves.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!