bato bato sa langit… trusting our own kabayan, in cash and in kind

[ thanks and acknowledgment for the video to  ilovejamich, thanks for reading! ]

SA MGA BLOG post natin, hinikayat ko at pinilit ko na sa habang panahon, laging positive ang mga paksa at usapin dito. I’ve always tried to highlight the good side of migrant life, the positive attributes of the Pinoy migrant, how well we get along with fellow Pinoys and with others, our famous industriousness, sociableness, civic mindedness etc.

But like any other migrant community in New Zealand, there is always a shady, darker side.

People taking advantage of newcomers’ ignorance or lack of experience as migrants. Migrants stealing from fellow migrants. Enterprising members of the same community pretending to help newcomers, or even countrymen back home, only to be exposed later as using the kindness of others to line their pockets with ill-gotten cash or property.

The basic theme is this: where there are people to be taken advantage of, there will be people to take advantage. Where there is a thriving migrant community such as ours, kapwa Pinoy (fellow Filipinos) “off-the-boat” (recently arrived from the Philippine), less-informed or less sophisticated financially or professionally will always be easy targets for the unscrupulous or looking to make a quick and dodgy dollar. Cheating and thievery are universal across all cultures, and we Pinoys are no different. The temptation is simply too much.

It doesn’t even have to be illegal or criminal to qualify as migrants taking advantage of fellow migrants. It might be too sensitive to specify a particular good or service so I won’t. Say for example a desirable item or service is offered by a kabayan (literally “townmate” but used by all Filipinos to refer to each other) to his fellow countryman, a recent arrival to New Zealand. The latter, trusting the word of his new friend not only because they are both Filipinos but come from the same province and city, speaking the same dialect, immediately and gratefully accepts the offer, believing it to be a superior, or at least competitive price.

What newcomer kabayan doesn’t know is that the price that he is paying to his new kabayan friend is not only uncompetitive but is much higher than market price, or what the fairest price would be. But because he trusts his countryman, he will pay the price for his naivete. A costly lesson, which he could’ve avoided had he not been so trusting or at least used the internet to check prices and the friendship of his new-found and soon-to-be ex-friend.

Over the last few summers and autumns (it’s summer now in Wellington), we’ve dealt with and been exposed to many kinds of Pinoys, mostly good and a few not-so-good, and for what it’s worth, bato-bato po sa langit, ang tamaan wag sana magalit (nothing directed against anyone) here are my five centavos’ worth of advice:

Maintain a healthy sense of scepticism, no matter how much you share in region or dialect with a goods or service provider, or the things (hometown, schools attended, sports teams you follow) you have in common. So you grew up within 5 kms of each other, went to the same mababang paaralan (primary school), follow Ginebra, follow Pacquiao, follow everything. You just met five minutes ago, and you’re like twins in likes and dislikes. Soulmates! Does it follow then that you should buy his 1998 Mitsubishi Pajero that has only logged 200,000 kms but has years of life left (based on the optimist’s assessment) in it?

This is only a random example but it has happened many, many times in New Zealand (with facts and details slightly changed of course). Make a new friend, discover all the things you have in common, learn how similar your likes and dislikes and inevitably the subject of things you need and will purchase soon will surface in the kilometric conversation. The other guy might not have even intended to make a quick dollar or pull a fast one, the temptation is just too much. But the situation presented itself, and by the bare facts presented you just seemed too eager to believe everything he said, so…

understand that as a newcomer (if you’re a newcomer), everything is new, including pricing and the market. respect your ignorance, for lack of a better way to say it. Not only the currency and exchange rate are something to be learned when a migrant is FOB (fresh off the boat), everything is new. From basic commodities like groceries and fuel to rent and basic services, each item must be learned and taken to heart price-wise, not just by the primary income earner but also the homemaker and the elder members of the family. The market (forces of supply and demand) determines price, but what is the market? Like the Philippines, New Zealand has its own set of peculiarities that every Pinoy learns automatically, but some learn faster (or slower than others).

And this different rates of learning is what some unscrupulous Filipinos take advantage of. Again we go to the example of the car, which to 85% to 90% of people living in New Zealand is an absolute necessity. (If you have no family and live in highly urbanized areas like Auckland, Christchurch or Wellington, maybe you won’t need it. But as a Filipino migrant, you’re part of a very small minority.) As in the Philippines and nearly anywhere else, a car is the costliest purchase you will make after buying your house. BUT there is a wide range of choice, from brand-new luxury cars to cheap utility second hand models.

To a relative newcomer straight from our homeland, who knows next to nothing about buying a car in NZ, he or she is an easy target for people who will take advantage, selling to them overpriced, low-quality cars that they can ill-afford to buy and use for the next five years. The question is, are those who take advantage of these newcomers our very own countrymen? I leave this question unanswered, and just advise Precious Reader to pass it on, think ten times before making a big purchase. Whether or not you are buying from a kabayan. And finally…

Do your research. This tidbit of commonsense advice is companion to the first two above, but it can stand alone. Do you check prices before buying anything you like? Ask around for word-of-mouth tips? Of course, we all do! Doing so, we help prevent people taking advantage of us, kabayan and others alike. We spot outrageous offers instantly, know a bargain when we see one, and we also don’t need to be a manghuhula (psychic) to know if someone is trying to help us out with a purchase or just unloading an unwanted and outdated item on us, leaving us with the proverbial empty bag.

There is a wealth of information at our fingertips. Literally, there is an ocean of information on the internet, all you need to do is surf and google the information you need for links to further sites who specialize in analyzing the market for the goods and services requested. Every supermarket and sometimes dairies (small grocery) provides bulletin boards and price guides for cars, applicances and garage sales. On and Facebook Marketplace everything is offered on sale everyday. There is no excuse for not using this available data to just take a deep breath, read, and make an informed decision on anything you buy.

Filipinos are naturally sociable, willing to help each other out, and have the best intentions. But let’s not always be too trusting, and use common sense. That way, we don’t have kabayan, and later only ourselves to blame.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!


Pinoy message in a (Kiwi) bottle 1


NOBODY WRITES LETTERS anymore, least of all Pinoys. Instant messaging, social media, Skype and even SMS for the older guys have all but sliced the world in half, no matter where we move ourselves to overseas. We are spoiled by the technology of fiber optic superfast and lightspeed communications, demand world-class service and often get it, when we compose, deliver and exchange messages with our loved ones.

It’s a sign of the times when NZ Post, the equivalent of the PhilPost or Philippine Post Office here is in danger of losing so much money that it will cease to exist and surrender all its functions to the private sector.

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

It was therefore a surprise when I saw an enveloped letter given to me by a friend of mine who picked it up in, of all places, a post office. The address was incomplete except for the word “PHILIPPINES” at the bottom, the detailed address probably meant to be filled out later.

Poor guy, nageffort na nga magsulat ng liham, di pa nakarating sa pinaroroonan. When I opened the contents to help see identify the sender, it was no help. It was in a dialect I was unfamiliar with. To those who don’t know, the Philippines is chock-full of sub-languages spoken by even more people than the Tagalogs in Manila. Bisaya, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Pangasinense and Chabacano are only a handful out of the dozens of brogues spoken all over our archipelago.

As a tribute to the effort of our kabayan I am reproducing the letter here, hope he doesn’t mind. If you Precious Reader can help translate, please do, send it back to us in the comments (thanks in advance), while we also figure out how to best reach the original intended recipients (it’s not a long letter):

different races

Mama og Papa kumusta namo diha? Buotan mga tawo dinhi sa NZ, ganahan kaayo sila og pinoy, mo respeto sad sa mga asian, tungod kay kita kahibaw mo respeto sa usag usa dali ra kaayo ma hire, bisan gamay rame sa amo company.

Taking a wild guess, given my total lack of knowledge of dialects outside Tagalog, Pangalatok (my wife’s tongue) and Bikolano (my mother’s childhood language), I’m going to say this paragraph is a positive one, and it’s obviously about employers hiring more of us, probably because of Pinoys’ sociable traits (but I could be wrong).


Tungod kay kamao ta mo halobilo makig timbayayung, ang mga tsino kay deli makigkuyog sa deli nila kalahi, mga bumbay sad kamao sila mag paraya pero suheto sa tanan, puti sad buotan, unya taas og pasensya, mo tudlo sila sa angay buhaton, kusog lng mo inum nya usahay tapolon mo trabaho, kay taga dinhi man,

Here is a candid depiction of various races and nationalities I think, with the Chinese not too friendly with those not of their kind, is that right? Indians I’m not sure what the letter-writer thinks of them but it can’t be that good 🙂 I’m guessing “puti” refers to European Kiwis who whether good or bad, are so because they’re locals.

mga langyaw ang ng maneho sa mga farm, kay ang mga puti deli ganahan  dinhi na lng kutob, e.kumusta na lng ko sa tanan natong kaparentehan og ka igagawan nato diha, pasensya gyud wala koy pamasko sa inyo og sa mga barkada ko.

The last paragraph is an obvious commentary on the dairy industry: because locals don’t like working on farms, the vacuum is taken up by Pinoys, and this I know because a special visa pathway has been set up for our own kabayan, just to work on farms. The letter writer is obviously a relatively young person, as he is still close to his group of friends (barkada) that he made during his youth.

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

Well, I’ll be very surprised if I hit the mark on even 50% of my amateur translations. I’m shortlisting the dialect used to between Cebuano and Hiligaynon, and I think it’s Cebuano. To the parents of this mystery letter-writer, you should be proud of your son/daughter, who I think is hard-working and misses you very much. So sorry if I can’t translate efficiently.  Guys, please help translate on the comments below if you can.

Mabuhay, thanks for reading!



mga pahabol na pamasko sa ating kabayang naka WV

[I’ve said this many times before, but this blog is definitely not meant to be advisory in nature, we can’t be responsible for any action arising from reading this crazy blog. Please engage the services and advice of a licensed immigration adviser in New Zealand. Thanks for reading, and thank you to
YouTuber amadeusiom for the awesome video!]

BASED ON GOVERNMENT records, of the 193,000 plus plus work visa holders (also known as guest workers) in New Zealand right now (I say plus plus because expanding the strict definitions in practical ways may make it much much more), between 11,000 and 21,000 (based on approvals the last two years, it could be a little more if you include three year visas) are our very own kabayan, or brown-skinned brothers and sisters.

It’s common sense to assume that these work visa holders want to be permanent residents after a while, after all that’s the reason most of them (99.9%) came here to work in New Zealand. At the very least, you sacrifice the best years of your life away from family, friends and loved ones in the Inang Bayan in hopes of giving your children and grandchildren a better life. For the hard-working guest worker, becoming a resident and eventually a citizen allows him/her access to decent retirement benefits, a decent health care system, and a simple but comfortable way of life in New Zealand.

BUT THE RULES KEEP CHANGING FOR THESE GUEST WORKERS. Not just the actual requirements, like the conditions of work, amount of wages, how badly you’re needed by the business or employer, but how these requirements are determined, the way they’re assessed, and terms or definitions of these requirements.

It’s almost like, you start a tournament basketball game with the standard goal 10 feet above the ground, and referees to officiate the game. At half time, the officials’ table suddenly decides just for the heck of it to raise the goal another foot (to 11 feet) and change both referees from professional to amateur, just to show that they’re worth the talent fees they’re paid. Nakakabaliw (crazy), right?  The analogy is a bit extreme, but every now and then, to keep numbers down, and to keep the balance between inward and outward migration, the rules are constantly changed for residency hopefuls.

It’s long past the season of giving, but we thought up a short list of giveaways that would help our kabayan work visa holders:

Expand ANZSCO, or get rid of it. I’m no expert, but I do know that ANZSCO is a list of occupations defining all kinds of jobs in both Australia and New Zealand. It was created in one of those countries, Australia I think, and was adopted by New Zealand to make it organized, easily classified for jobs useful for both countries. The problem is, New Zealand is not Australia, and I’m willing to bet my last peso that there are jobs currently filled by work visa holders not on this list.

ANZSCO might be helpful but there are lots of jobs that fall between the gaps, and therefore make it more difficult for residence applicants. If your job isn’t on ANZSCO, you will have a harder time applying, unless there is a special residence pathway for you. There have been a couple of new versions of the list, but I’m guessing there are a few more jobs that aren’t included.

Retain remuneration bands for purpose of defining skill levels. To be considered skilled and therefore deserving to be invited to apply for residency in New Zealand, working an  ANZSCO listed job isn’t enough. (See what I mean about ANZSCO?) You have to be earning a decent enough wage to show you’re important to your employer and that your job is valued enough to be paid serious coin. Fair enough. But you know what? Just because a rule says it’s a hard enough job and complicated enough job to be paid a certain rate per hour doesn’t mean those working that job are actually being paid that amount.

That’s right. If a scaffolder from Butuan, based on industry rates, should be paid around $27 an hour , enough under the current rules to classify him as mid-skilled and therefore a possible candidate for residency (assuming he complies with other requirements) , it doesn’t mean he actually gets that. He may have signed a contract giving him less, or he may have to earn his desired rate after some experience or qualifications reached. And because he earns less, he is considered unskilled. (So unskilled kinuha pa sya from the Middle East ng recruiter, but I’m being sarcastic OK?)

In a perfect world, sana ifreeze muna ang remunerations to give time, at least to those who’ve already been working here a couple years, to apply first. But no. Next month, after only two years, the rules on this topic are changing again. And if you blink, you might miss the next change…

Make it easier for parents to get in.  This is not really for work visa holders but all migrants, but then again we all want our parents to be with us, so… The latest change in the parent visa category have all but made it impossible for parents of regular migrants to become New Zealand residents. You have to be earning like a senior, senior manager or tops in your field, like a PhD or doctoral degree holder AND earner before your parents can be considered.

Family is very important for many, many migrants in NZ. Having immediate family, and after this extended family is among the priorities for many migrants, among them Asians and Filipinos, when considering New Zealand as a migrant destination. The stereotype of bringing in grandparents to help take care of toddlers and growing children is seriously misplaced and hinders New Zealand from genuinely understanding family as part of the equation in migrating to New Zealand.

The Labor Government made it look like they finally reopened the parent category that was suspended for so long, when actually,  by (again) drastically changing the rules and making it possible for only the fewest of the few (maybe less than 10%) of migrants to bring in their parents, they just broke a lot of hearts. Maawa naman kayo Labor Government, bring back the old rules!

So many late Christmas wishes for our kabayan guest workers in NZ, and chances are they’ll remain just that, wishes. But to get what we want, we sometimes need a rebellion. And as one of the most memorable Star Wars quotes go, rebellions are built on hope. And for now, hope is all we have.

Maligayang 2020 sa lahat! thanks for reading!