DON’T PANIC yet regarding new visa rules, says Maricel

Maricel with her business partner and hubby Holger Weischede (photo credit to Maricel’s FB photo library, thanks)

[ Paunawa at babala : This blog / blogger is NOT giving out immigration advice or any other kind, this is just a post po and purely in the nature of opinion and reporting what we have heard from the subject matter of the post. Maraming salamat po! ALSO: There’s another e-meet on FB  1st October 2019 8pm New Zealand time. Please visit the FB pages of Maricel Weischede or New Zealand Immigration Help Service, cheers! ]

MADALING MA-STRESS sa anunsyo nung 17 Sept ng bagong rules hinggil sa work visa kung panauhing obrero ka sa New Zealand.

( Translation: It’s easy to get stressed over the 17 Sept announcement of new work visa rules if you’re a guest worker in New Zealand, Taglish na lang po from hereon.)

You need increased wages to justify staying in New Zealand! Employers, start getting accredited, otherwise your workers go home! Workers, if you don’t start acquainting yourselves with the new rules, might as well give up and go home! And so on and so forth.

These are the stuff of bangungot (nightmares), the kind to destroy even the fondest hopes and most optimistic dreams of many Pinoys and other work visa holders hoping to someday live in Aotearoa permanently, raise families and live the migrant dream.

Not scaring anyone, but despite all the reassurances and spin (restatement of negative news) of Immigration New Zealand, these have been foremost in the thoughts of not just many Filipino guest workers, but of their families, loved ones, and those they’ve left behind in Pilipinas, as well as peers, bosses and employers who’ve come to depend on them the weeks, months and years they’ve put in as hardworking, no-nonsense and team-oriented Pinoy workers.

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Not to worry and don’t panic, says, probably the most hardworking (and surely the most energetic) Filipino-Kiwi kabayan immigration counselor Maricel Weischede, who along with her husband Holger and staff at NZIHS have helped thousands of Filipinos achieve the New Zealand migrant dream.

Well, not to worry too much (because the Filipino worker never stops worrying), but not to worry like the sky’s falling and there’s no tomorrow.

Besides the need for employers to be accredited soon, the change in wages for purpose of permanent residency and the stand-down period for low-skilled workers, most of the new rules announced don’t take effect any time soon, the earliest around next year pa, according to Maricel.

Referring to the increase in wages (from around $55,000 annually to $79k), this refers to workers who were already going to apply anyway, which means you either qualify or you don’t, you just need to hurry up a bit, in less than 10 days to be exact. This is about the Work-to-Residence (WTR) work visa policy under Accredited Employer.

(For more details, please call Immigration New Zealand or refer to your adviser, disclaiming right NOW to be advising anyone, just recounting an e-meet we were lucky enough to attend with Maricel recently.)

Referring naman to the proposed, three step “employer test, job test, worker test” gateway for work visas, kabayan Maricel said that informally this is already being done anyway and it’s just a more orderly way of making sure everything’s being done to protect both employer and worker.

And about the new mandate for ALL employers to be accredited, it’s a rule that was going to be inevitable (mangyayari kahit papano) anyway. If your employer doesn’t want to be accredited with Immigration NZ, it’s probably time to change employers while you still can, and if you’re already in New Zealand, you’ll be given time naman for the duration of your visa. (again, subject to more detailed advice applying to different situations of different workers.)

But Maricel saved the best for last. Just testing Precious Reader if you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, but when asked about the distressing three-year stand-down period for low-skilled workers, she connected such policy with the recent decision removing the restriction against low-skilled workers bringing family to New Zealand.

[The three-year stand-down period is the rule forcing work visa holders earning below $21.25/hour to return to their country of origin after three years holding a work visa ]

Why would Immigration New Zealand allow workers to bring family while working in New Zealand if the entire family (including the worker) were going to be forced to go home after three years anyway?

Maricel stopped short of saying the three-year period will be reconsidered, there is nothing to support this. But reading between the lines, there is nothing wrong with hoping. And for a lot of us workers, hope is all we have.

Madami pang pinag-usapan si Maricel, but for now,  in that e-meeting we attended on FB, the biggest message was: if you can do something about the proposed new work visa rules, DO IT, AND DON’T PANIC, because there’s still time. At the same time, just work hard, keep working, and listen to advice from your adviser.

Good advice. Besides for now, all we can do is work, work, work.

Thanks for reading, thanks Maricel, and mabuhay po tayong lahat!



paano tayo naiiba: how pinoy flatmates differ from others

IN AN OVERWHELMING majority the last decade-plus Mahal and I flatted (rented) around Wellington, our flatmates have been fellow Filipinos, kabayan that we’ve shared a flat (apartment) with both out of choice and necessity.

Choice because it’s easier to get along with people you’re already familiar with, their likes, dislikes, food, habits, culture and other things that define race.

Necessity because we know the likelihood of fellow Pinoys (Filipinos) getting along with us long-term is more than non-Pinoys doing so (nothing against non-Pinoys), so to avoid constant changes and abrupt departures, we usually advertise for, and get, kabayan flatmates.

But we’ve had our share of flatmates around the world.  A Canadian model from Toronto wanted to try his luck here, a Punjabi  lady who talked about India all day long, and currently a Colombian student who talks Spanish on Skype with her parents as fast as she does her chores before work and school (as she is a parttime working student).

This is what we observe with how our own kind get along as flatmates, we can’t vouch for the accuracy but, after nearly a dozen flatmates from the Islands, we can certainly vouch for the authenticity:

85% to 90% of all Pinoy flatmate behavior is influenced by their sensitivity to smell and hygiene.  Doing their share around the house. Taking daily showers, if not more often. Doing the laundry at least once a week, more during summer and hot weather. While these may not always be the regular expectation with Kiwis and other nationalities, it is unspoken behavior among most, if not all Filipinos as flatmates.

And we don’t just do it to be good neighbors. We do it for ourselves, because it’s how we were brought up, how it’s part of our personality and attitude, and because we want to smell good all the time, maybe a bit more than everybody else. I proved it to myself when, in an elevator with many other occupants from different origins, I later asked Mahal who was in the elevator with me “was it just me or did a lot of the other occupants smell funny?” Mahal vigorously agreed, but we suspected we were the only ones who felt (odor-wise) offended as nobody else seemed to mind on the elevator. Indeed, what bothers Pinoys may not always bother other people, certain races even less than others.

[ Let met tell you how sensitive Mahal is to odors: she once left her workplace at the mall for a toilet break at the same time a woman of indeterminate race ran across the mall to chase her restless child. She passed right by Mahal and because of the combination of the warm weather and the fact that the woman was tightly wrapped in garments and sweating, she exuded such an odor that Mahal felt nauseous (no offense)  almost immediately. In her own words, “baka matagal nang di naliligo at pawis na pawis sa kakahabol ng bata, nahilo talaga ako sa amoy nya.” So there, please let the nearest Pinoy translate for you. 🙂 ]

Usually (but not always) Pinoy flatmates are quiet until they call or Skype home. Nearly all Filipinos in New Zealand are employed, study or both. The time they spend home or away from work they use to rest, or spend quality time with family, who may or may not be physically present in New Zealand. In our experience, this means our flatmates, unless they’re heavy metal fans, vigorous rappers or extremely sociable types, spend a lot of down time sleeping, resting and just recharging themselves.

This changes when they have the time or have scheduled to talk with family they dearly miss back home. Doesn’t matter if it’s parents, spouses or kids, the joy is palpable and the change in sound level instantaneous. It’s almost as if Pinoy flatmates make up for the quiet and silence prior to the regular call to family with all the possible laughs, jokes and even tears making up for lost time with family.  Pardon me guys, while I call Mom.

A lot of Pinoy flatmates will wear religion on their sleeves but most will not hard-sell you on their faith, with very little in-between. All of the flatmates we’ve shared a roof with attend church on Sunday. Not all, but most of them are Catholic, but the born-again Christians are quite hardline as well. With their outward actions and behaviors, their Sundays are full-on (full-speed), and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pinoys are quite active in church activities, especially because church is closely connected to Catholic schools where many Filipinos enrol their kids. Choirs, fundraising activities, feast day celebrations and similar stuff are days regularly marked on Pinoy family calendars, not to mention couples’ bonding and counseling groups, youth groups and children’s groups.  I know, because a couple of our flatmates have been deeply immersed in these schedules the time they were with us.

Most have moved on into their own homes, but the practice has been preserved regardless of who our flatmate is. Everyone reserves a day for Mass during the weekend, you don’t actually need to be a Pinoy to do this as New Zealand is still by and large a churchgoing country.

Like we said, Pinoy flatmates don’t go aggressive in talking about their faith and their culture, it’s an internal thing, actions always speak louder than words.

Do you have anything remarkable to say about Filipinos as flatmates?

Thanks for reading!



great in his time, great for all time

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thank you for reading. Short remarks given during the necrological services for my father Joe last 2nd September at the Santuario de San Jose, Greenhills East Mandaluyong. Congratulations for a life well-lived, mabuhay Dad!

GOOD EVENING. Thank you all for coming and giving Dad a grand hello and goodbye.

First things first. My second son Bunso, one of Dad’s seven grandkids, beat me to it and posted about his lolo on Facebook ahead of me.  In his post, he used his lolo’s graduation picture. My wife Mahal took one look at the graduation pic and said, walang nagmana ng kagwapuhan ng dad nyo. I looked at Dad’s pic, and said nothing. I had no answer to that.

Next. Many of the speakers ahead of me have already said all good things about Dad. I’m therefore going to turn around, and find fault with Dad, just to make things interesting.

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It’s not easy to find fault with someone like Dad. He doesn’t have many faults, but if I had to say something, it would be about Dad’s healthy sense of vanity.

One of Dad’s favorite things to do was to take long walks around our neighborhood. Sometimes I would join him.

At least once during every single walk we took, he would nudge or elbow me. He would then point me to a girl, usually an attractive one. Then he would tell me, Noel, do you see that girl? I caught her looking at me and smiling at me. I think she likes me.

Upon hearing that, I would then give me the only response possible : I would smile and nod approvingly, because whether or not Dad was imagining things, a good son should always support his dad.

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A lot of you know that the majority among us brothers have been living abroad, and I am one of those. I’ve been working the last 10 years as an OFW.

I’m going to take a risk, and bet my last OFW dollar that every person can say, at least nine-and-a-half out of ten, that they have, or have had a great dad.

in my humble opinion, this is because of two things.

First, because of human nature. Who wouldn’t want to let people know that they’ve had great parents? Success begets success, and behind you praising your parents, you imply that they’ve raised their children well. Which of course, speaks volumes of YOU.

Secondly, because of the  awesome responsibility of parenthood and the magnificence of living up to it, we cannot help but be awestruck of anyone who does well as a father. Being the recipient of this love, nurturing and caring, when someone does well as a dad, his children have no choice to see it as GREAT. To a son or daughter, just having a good dad is the greatest thing ever.

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but in his own way, our father is and has been great, and I speak not only for my brother Tim, Doc Donald, George and Jude, but for our mother as well.

He has been a great father, and a great husband.

He is great because he has always been there for us. Not just during our childhoods, or part of our awkward adolescent years, and some of our adult years when we ourselves became parents.

But for all of our lives he has been there, quietly in the background, careful to balance between imparting the wisdom of his years and allowing us to grow and make our own mistakes.

He is great because of his uncompromising work ethic that values work to justify you, work to dignify you, and work to complete you.

He is great because of his rock  solid devotion to God and his church, kindness to his fellow man and his conviction that actions always speak louder than words. He lived his faith, and lived it till the last day of his life.

I could go on and on for the rest of the day about Dad, but the most remarkable thing about him is that, like a Dad checklist, he checks all of these things, and more.

If it’s true that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then that is Dad.

Just two more things. I could not end this without mentioning Dad as a husband. I will do our Mom a favor and affirm what most of you already know. Dad is the gold standard, as good as any, when we talk about husbands.

While it’s true that we tend to idealize or see only the good things after a person is gone, I could tell you that Dad was in love with Mom from the time he first met her in 1959, 61 years ago, to just last week, when in between fitful moments of sleep, all he would do was look for Mom and say, “honey, honey, honey.” An incurable romantic, Mom was and is the love of his life, such a rarity these days.

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I missed the old dad the last few times I spoke with him: he was irritable, lost his easy charm, and was often at a loss for words. I choose to remember him based on the entirety of his life.

All that I am, and all the good in me, I owe to Mom and Dad, and today we say goodbye to Dad.

Thank you for everything Dad, and keep singing for all of us up there.