bakit mahiyain* ang Pinoy ?


[ Note : We use mahiyain not as “shy” as it’s often translated but more as “timid” or “subdued” and “deferential”. Thanks for reading! ]

KABAYAN, HOW OFTEN HAVE you done the following: (1) refused to ask any more questions for further explanation, after something complicated was explained to you? (2) keep silent after a dinner served to you wasn’t great, even after the waiter asked for feedback? (3) wait more than half an hour at the doctor or dentist, despite you being early for your appointment and despite someone getting in ahead of you (and obviously late for their own appointment)?

If you’re a Filipino and you said yes to one or more of these situations I’m not surprised, because I’m no different. in fact, each of the above situations has happened to me multiple times, and while I blame

the short explanation? Nine times out of ten Filipinos will default to whatever the situation is and accept what is given, I could be wrong but we’ve seen throughout my long years as a child, an adolescent, a young dad, an OFW and finally as a migrant.

There could of course be many reasons, not just peculiar to Filipinos but it happens a lot with us.

Colonial subject of multiple empires. As a territory on the outer reaches of the Chinese Empire prior to Spanish conquest, the Philippines absorbed Chinese cultural influences, among which was teachings from the great philosopher-teacher Confucius. One of the greatest pillars of Confucian philosophy is the hierarchy of obedience putting the state above self and family. This means your highest value regardless of love or religion is the central authority. This may translate to modern times as assuming that the government, as representing the state, is nearly always correct.

But Filipinos continued this tradition of bowing to government (at the expense of free will) even when it became a colony of the Spanish Empire, which at the time was a global power. Things evolved to obeying the laws of a democracy as a member of the American Commonwealth (an empire with a PC sounding name), but by then it became second nature to place one’s own  choices and religious values below the laws of the state, represented by a popularly elected government.

Today, unless it’s a matter of life and death, an OFW will always assume that the order and instruction coming from a person or office claiming to have authority is lawful and will not raise much of a protest, in almost any situation. Old habits die hard.

Visitor giving way to hosts. Then there’s the nearly universal notion of “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, which is just a better of saying a visitor should always respect the home of his hosts by doing what is done. As a sign of respect, we take off our slippers (or sandals) upon entry of a home not ours or never criticize the hosts’ provision of a meal or refreshments. On a bigger scale, the guest worker or OFW will as a rule respect the laws of whatever country he is in and do his or her best not to embarrass his own country or even complain when the laws of the host country are sometimes different or even unfair to Filipinos.

This is why you sometimes wonder why at the hands of employer abuse in countries all over the world, OFWs suffer so long before the abuse is discovered. New Zealand as a whole is a law-abiding and compassionate host when it comes to labor laws, but the exceptions can still be horrible at times. Many times, OFWs have kept quiet, fearing that they themselves may be accused of being lawbreakers and then sent home. Employers take advantage of this reluctance to speak out and abuse our workers. Not all the time, but it happens.

Human nature. Nine times out of ten we listen to authority. Nearly all the time when someone tells us something is correctly done and every rule was observed our tendency is to believe. And when we are given a reasonable excuse we hardly question it, especially when we are in unfamiliar surroundings. Call it a trusting nature, a fear of upsetting the apple cart or disturb the status quo, or a preference not to appear “difficult” or argumentative: we would rather not be too blunt or straightforward, especially when it would potentially start an argument. It’s not Filipino, Asian or even wanting to get along.

Because we’re Pinoys, and because we’re OFWs, it just seems that it happens more often or even most often with us. 

in this case, we’re no different from everyone else, other migrants included.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!

 

 

Kung di ngayon kailan pa? kung di tayo sino pa?


NOT MANY REMEMBER THIS but during the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, which then Prime Minister John Key called “the darkest day of New Zealand,” 11 nurses numbered among the 185 deaths.

Among the numerous work visa holders living in squalid conditions, a significant number are in the building industry.

And among those with a right to return to New Zealand post-pandemic, many are work visa holders and those waiting to become permanent residents stranded in their home countries.

A common denominator in these three cases? In the nurses case, these 11 were Filipinos/Filipinas. And an overwhelming number in the last two cases are Filipino.

There’s a growing need to address these realities and situations. But independent of this growing need, we absolutely need Filipinos in the New Zealand Parliament, a timely idea as general elections are less than a month away. Why do we need one or more kabayan in Parliament?

SYMBOL OF PINOY POWER IN NEW ZEALAND. More representation in Parliament symbolizes and confirms Pinoy presence in New Zealand. Many of us have heard that after European White New Zealanders, Maori and the major Pacific Islander groups (Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islander Maori), Filipinos trail only the Chinese and Indians in population presence in our adopted country.

But not many of us may know that Pinoys by far are the fastest growing ethnic population among all ethnic groups, nearly doubling in number between the 2013 and 2018 censuses.

Having more than one current Member of Parliament will affirm and add on to our growing presence in New Zealand. It’s symbolic of the demographic reality, but it’s a reality that we have to fight for using your vote as the best and only weapon available.

PRESENTING THE PINOY VIEWPOINT AND SOLUTIONS TO NATIONAL ISSUES. Okay, now we have the symbol and presence in our highest policy-making and executing body in the country. What then follows?

It’s this kabayan : whenever there are issues confronting the New Zealand community as a whole, policies should be formulated with Filipinos in mind. This is fair and practical, as we form a good solid chunk of society. We also punch above our weight (do more than our share) when it comes to contributing to the wealth or economic output of New Zealand.

When it comes to taxation policy, Filipinos should have a voice, as we are among the most efficient and productive sources of tax as a demographic group. When it comes to welfare policy, Filipinos should be considered, as we contribute to the national coffers without which welfare programs wouldn’t be possible. And of course, when it comes to immigration policy, Filipinos should be consulted, because if there was no immigration policy, there would be no Filipinos in New Zealand.

The best way to make the above possible would be to have ethnic Filipinos in Parliament. There’s no way around that, and it’s an idea whose time has come.

GIVING A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS. If there’s any sector of society that is most vulnerable, ironically in a country with a tradition of helping the helpless, these are the migrants. They have no vote, the least benefits, and enjoy the least priority when it comes to welfare and support. And that’s the reality of life, because Government after all listens first to voters, who put it in power. But what about our guest workers, seasonal workers and anyone else who haven’t acquired a right to stay here? Don’t they have rights as well?

This hits quite close to home, as many of our migrant workers and guest workers are from our Inang Bayan, our Motherland. The only thing that differentiates them from us is we have gotten here earlier and received a warmer welcome because of friendlier times and friendlier laws. Otherwise, they deserve a representative and voice just like us.

Who is the best person or persons who can recognize them and give them what they deserve in terms of laws and representation? Who knows their situation best? That’s right, it’s a kabayan. A kabayan who’s also a Member of Parliament.

We have a kabayan Member of Parliament today, but tomorrow we may have multiple voices to recognize our pressing and growing needs. It all starts with your vote next month.

Vote Labour, vote National, party-list or personally if you’re in their districts, but please vote for our kabayan. It’s Monina Hernandez (East Coast Bays), Romy Udanga (North Shore) for Labour and Paulo Garcia (New Lynn).

Our time has come. Mabuhay!

ano’ng maaasahan namin sa yo kapag nahalal ka sa NZ Parliament kabayan?


Kabayan Monina Hernandez, running under the NZ Labour Party in East Coast Bays Auckland, is a Massey University lecturer where she leads teaching teams across three campuses and is a clinical nurse specialist for infection prevention and control tackling CoViD 19 in New Zealand.

If there was any defining moment that marked you for a career of public service what would it be?

Here in New Zealand, that defining moment was when someone attempted to bully me years ago. It happened my early years as an immigrant. My job security was threatened and racism was involved. It felt like a do-or-die situation because I had dependent children. I told the bully that I will never let them rob me or my children of hope for a better future. So I fought and I won, an incident giving me the strength to speak up not just for myself but for other nurses. After that, it just became natural for me to be the support person of nurses who are being bullied. Then, I was elected director of the nurses’ union – the New Zealand Nurses Organisation. Then membership in the Labour Party came in 2016. So I stand here with a purpose, to be a loud voice for the vulnerable and to fight for equity.

How long have you wanted to serve in government?

This desire to serve did not just happen at that time. I’ve always been interested in politics and how it impacts health even when I was still in the Philippines. I have a history of fighting for social justice in the Philippines, having worked among indigenous communities, rural and urban poor, organizing students and unionizing underpaid health workers.

How does your experience help you to do your job, if elected, in Parliament?

I came face to face with inequity in New Zealand when I worked as a hospital nurse between 2010 – 2016, I was really surprised because social welfare has always been an important part of the society. However, I also realized that prioritization of social welfare is dependent on the government in power. It just felt really sad because I had requests from new mothers to have their babies bathed before discharge for the reason that they have no warm water from the tap and they do not have adequate heating at home. I have had patients who requested to be given extra nappies, beanies, and baby sweaters because they cannot afford them. I also cared for young mothers who have nowhere to go home to after having a baby. You see, these experiences hit home and continue to inspire me to work for better services and policies.

For your interest groups, your constituents and the Pinoy community, when elected, what in a nutshell is your vision?

My values define my vision and my policy interests lie in health, education, environment, immigration, and ethnic affairs. I envision a New Zealand with stronger public services, more importantly health services that would help us get out of this CoViD crisis; equal opportunities for all, including immigrants; more job opportunities for those out of work; increased support for small businesses and entrepreneurs especially those affected by the pandemic; quality education and better opportunities for training and retraining to support CoViD recovery; environmental protection while ensuring that we get our economy back by focusing on both local businesses and boosting export and global trade deals.

Lastly, what policy would you push for Pinoys on WVs your first few months in Parliament? 

I am advocating for a fair, timely and humane immigration policy which is in tune with Labour’s policy. For residents and citizens, this means that they should be reunited with their loved ones while keeping COVID 19 contained. For residents who are stuck offshore, this means that they should be supported to keep their residency status while COVID travel restrictions are in place. For temporary work visa and essential skills visa holders who are overseas and who have strong links with NZ, this means that they should be allowed to return to New Zealand.

thank you very much kabayan Monina, for your vision and energy in representing not only kabayan in Auckland but ALL Filipinos too, whatever status, in all of New Zealand. We hope to hear from our other kabayan presently or soon to be in the New Zealand Parliament, including Paulo Garcia (National, list) and Romy Udanga ( Labour, North Shore) soon. Mabuhay and thank you for reading kabayan!

the last gift between father and son


THE TEMPTATION to compare children when you’re a parent is bad enough, but when you have five (5) sons born in a span of 13 years, it becomes overpowering. Strengths, faults, weaknesses and quirks, these all inevitably surface in a single-gender, largely homogenous brood.

My father (or for that matter our mom) never played favorites, it just wasn’t in his DNA. it was almost like he had one son, and the way he treated any particular son was the template for all the other offspring, nothing personal. He was warm and nurturing, and always encouraged us. but more than anything else he was consistent, never loved too much, never too little.

Through the years, as our fortunes varied and relationships changed, I began to realize who began to impact most on him, whether he liked it or not.

Two brothers combined to give him the best financial and logistical support late in his life, important at any stage but doubly so when the going got tough; another brother, a doctor, gave all the medical attention he needed before he got sick, and yet another brother who never married stayed by his side until the very end.

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

I earned no generous income to give his twilight years extra comfort, had no special skills on which his last few years depended for a pain-free existence; and lastly my job and geography prevented me from even attending to his final days, a privilege denied those who nearly always don’t realize it until it’s too late.

I delude myself into thinking that in my own way, we gave each other a mutual gift unique from my other brothers.

My last two visits home from New Zealand I was able to sit down and just listen to whatever my father wanted to tell me. He earnestly told me his worldviews and prejudices, his proudest and weakest moments. He was frank enough to tell me how disappointed he was how I turned out, but alos optimistic enough to tell me that not everyone measures up to greatness (small comfort, that).

In turn, i gave him the greatest treat of a respectful audience: I would give him the floor nearly all the time, pausing only for him to catch his breath, ask a question here and there to confirm what I already knew to be his point (for I had heard his stories many times), and to help him embellish first-person accounts of him as a child of the Japanese Occupation, the postwar boom, the psychedelic 60s – 70s and everything that followed.

Constant themes in his life? Never be afraid of hard work, and never doubt yourself, for in the end, there’s just you and only you that you live with. In so many ways and stories he told me this again and again.

I missed his dying days but in the end I gave him the only gift I knew: whenever I was home and whenever I had time, I listened to him, just as he listened to me all those years ago.

Happy father’s day Dad. You are missed.

mahirap lasahan, mas mahirap lunukin (subtle to taste, ugly to swallow)


 

You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt –Exodus 22:21 (New Living Translation)

[ Although outright or confrontational racism is contemptible, there is also subtle racism, and even casual racism. Each kind when exposed should  be rooted out and allowed to expire in the sunlight of universal brotherhood / sisterhood. The video above has nothing to do with the blog by the way, just liked it enough to repost here. mabuhay! ]

THERE WAS A REASON THE CONTRACTOR and his team (one of many on our site, please don’t ask me which) took to me a little more easily than everyone else on staff, even though he himself was European New Zealander (that means white / caucasian, for the uninformed). The reason was his wife who helped him often was Thai, and many on his team were Thais, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders. When they learned my ethnicity, that was close enough.

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

And yet, not close enough. We were discussing the family of four that were “Patients Zero” on the so-called “second wave” of covid19 positives, re-raising of Covid19 Alert Levels and lockdowns in Auckland and potentially the rest of New Zealand. It mystified the media and the public that there seemed to be no source of infection for the family, who it must be stated this early are Pacific Islander. They didn’t come from overseas, were not even close to any known positive cases, and it was nearly impossible for them to have been infected from their community.

In a casual conversation with our contractor, he ventured this opinion, not verbatim, but I got his meaning instantly: in so many words, he said that the reason contact tracing isn’t working on this family is because they’re not telling the truth.

And the contractor didn’t end there; he even had a sub-theory, which was that one of the family members probably broke into a quarantined area for purposes of material gain, got infected, and because such an act would earn him/her more criticism, chose to hide it from the authorities.

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

Never mind that it’s almost certain that asymptomatic cases have caused multiple generations of infections after the Alert Level was first lowered in June, and never mind that there is no factual background for these theories. This person, who seemed pleasant enough, was oblivious not only to the fact that the person he was speaking to (me) was in terms of race practically a Pacific Islander, but that his wife, and nearly all his staff, were the same. Obviously the irony was lost on him.

(Would he have formulated such a theory if the family of four was Pakeha/white? Would he have been as willing to believe, as he did believe, such a scenario, if the family remained anonymous, which some had recommended?)

Shocked as I was, I’m ashamed to say I let it slide, for multiple reasons. I was not about to start an argument with him as it wasn’t the time and place, and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, based on our previous pleasantries. But it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

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

I was sad not just because of his subtly racist opinion, but because I know deep down that many of our white friends and neighbors believe the same thing. The unknown often breeds fear, and fear is one of the best friends of racism.

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

On a Filipino Facebook page, a group of mask-wearing Filipinos reported that at a major hardware store checkout counter, they were greeted with snide remarks (parinig in Tagalog) from fellow customers.

Why are you wearing masks? they were asked.

Why, Jacinda (Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister) recommended it as soon as Auckland entered Alert level 3 they said.

No, you’re wearing masks because you guys are spreading covid all over again! Just go back to where you came from! Making matters worse was that no staff stood up to defend these brown brothers and sisters.

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

One of our kabayan (fellow Filipino) couriers was delivering a package when the receiver upon receipt asked him if his ethnicity was Filipino. Upon answering in the positive, the inevitable comment came: you guys are bringing back the virus here, why did you have to come back? You should have stayed in the Philippines. Such incident was also reported in a Facebook post.

There is a very thin line between bullying and racism, but because we give these misguided people the benefit of the doubt, as race (our race) is somewhat involved, let’s call it subtle racism.

But subtle racism is just a slight push away from the ugly kind, the one that comes from the angry mob. Whether or not it’s from lack of knowledge, fear or the pandemic, we can’t idly watch it fester and grow. I admit I should have talked to that contractor above, and given him a piece of my mind.

Because it starts with you and me.

di lang pinoy o asyano ang madaling masaktan sa work (being sensitive is not exclusive to Pinoys and Asians)


sensitive person

[ Ang common misconception ay madaling masaktan (emotionally sensitive) ang mga Pinoy sa New Zealand workplace, at ang mga local at ibang lahi ay di masyado. I don’t think this is always true. Thanks for reading! ]

UNTIL RECENTLY IN NEW ZEALAND I used to work with someone who used to be bullied at work (but not in my workplace). It took him a little longer to learn things, and he wasn’t the best in communicating things, and understandably he wasn’t a typically sociable person.

The problem was , because he became paranoid about being bullied, and often questioned assessments about his work quality as he believed he was unfairly targeted (he probably was, but no longer by the time we worked together), he had reached a point where even those who supported him, including his direct supervisor, had a hard time justifying their support. He was turning people off. Sometimes it actually seemed he was the bully, when he asserted himself and threatened a personal grievance (a legal tool against management which in this case would ultimately go nowhere, but the trouble wasn’t worth it). It had become an uncomfortable situation, to say the least.

The irony of the situation was, looking back, that we had to understand him first as a bullied person and secondly as an unlikely bully, for lack of a better term. We had to understand that the different way he perceived himself from many others; how the trauma from past instances had affected him; and his inability to cope with different personalities at work, all combined to create the awkwardness around us.

In the end, it was too much work for all of us. He didn’t do himself any favors, and before he was invited to too many disciplinary meetings, he took the easy way out and resigned. Or at least he was given the option, let’s give him that at least.

*****      *****     *****

But the story doesn’t end neatly tied up in a forgotten folder at the bottom of the filing cabinet, else it wouldn’t be a good story. A few months after he left work, Dale (itago natin sa pangalang Dale) emailed one of the guys who he liked the least (I’m being diplomatic here) using an email account he deleted / deactivated as soon as he sent it, made sure, Snapchat style that the text of the email would dissolve / disappear and be unreplyable, if there was such a term, and to just to make it more confusing (though no one doubted it was him), translated his email into an unknown language and Google-translated it back to English. The email shown below is certainly a piece of oddity:

How are you mate? I’m laughing why. It’s been almost 20 years since I was in the tools. So glad I am not running that boring stupid machine and having people run me down in that dump with unfriendly horrible people. Now working in a engineering job LOL.

[the only reason this was saved by the way was the quick thinking of the recipient, who screen-grabbed the message. ]

*****     *****     *****

I won’t try to interpret, translate or give context to the above, just that the people he clashed with the most were engineers who he insisted fix his machine frequently, when all that was needed was a few adjustments he could’ve made himself. He tried to show he was just as good as the engineers he didn’t like (in our workplace), by saying he was himself in the engineering department of his new employer. Hmm.

It took him a while, and he was still careful NOT to be responded to, but our departed workmate made sure he had the last word, long after he had left, and in his narrow perspective he always did his best, was always misunderstood, and was seldom given the benefit of the doubt. Not surprising, as don’t most of us do the same?

I just wanted to show you kabayan and friends that it’s just not us Filipinos and Asians who are traditionally prickly and sensitive when it comes to work situations. Our hosts and peers (New Zealanders and others) are just as pigsain (tender) and we should all be mindful of the feelings of our colleagues. Always.

 

 

kung bakit di mawawalan ng trabaho ang Pinoy sa New Zealand (on why Pinoys will always have jobs in New Zealand)


Aotearoa

MAY NAGCOMMENT sa post na nabasa ko sa Pinoy community Facebook page (maraming salamat sa mga comment sa sarili kong blog, positive at negative) na matagal-tagal na rin silang naghihintay maging permanent resident nang walang asenso, at taon-taon na lang  nanganganib sa pabagu-bagong patakaran ukol sa work visa:

Sila (mga politicians) din naman po ang nagpapahirap sa mga migrant para makakuha ng visa. Lalo ang residence visa. Tuwing papasok ang November ang mga temporary work visa hindi na makatulog kakaisip ano na namang pagbabago sa immigration policy ang mangyayari, sabi ng isang kabayan.

That’s true Kabayan Commenter. Your situation is multiplied many times over as there are between 5,000 and 10,000 Pinoy work visa holders, and that’s in the building and caregiving industries only. Sa mga ibang industry baka may isa o dalawang libo pa.

Surely we have paid our dues. Surely we have made our contributions to New Zealand. For those who’ve stayed here a good part of the last decade, we’ve more than proven ourselves through earthquakes, a rebuild (twice), storms, tsunamis and now a pandemic that has all but crippled the rest of the world (but not New Zealand).

I’m not an immigration expert, and I don’t claim expertise in migration. The only thing I can offer is that I observe behaviors of both individuals and the Government, and with a modest level of confidence I can tell you, Kabayan Worker and others in similar situation, not to worry too much. 2020, or even 2021, will not be our last year in New Zealand. Whatever our job, and whatever our wage level. For the following reasons:

The rules themselves, and what they imply. Visa pathways specific to Filipino citizens remain in immigration rules in professions that encourage Pinoys to continue trying to work in New Zealand. If you are a registered nurse, farm manager or engineering professional from the Philippines with credentials and experience, you may be granted up to a three-year visa with family allowed to apply to arrive with you, as long as you have a job offer.

With a visa pathway specific for our countrymen effective throughout the global crisis, and no sign of backtracking on this, it’s a strong sign that we are dependable for this specific kind of job or jobs. Note that Pinoys may still apply outside these pathways, for as long as conditions are complied with on those other pathways. You don’t need to be a fortune teller to know that confidence in our brown brothers and sisters remains strong from Kiwis.

In practical terms, it’s easier to keep those who are already in, and prioritize those who are tested and trusted. It’s too bad that borders are temporarily closed and applications put on hold for our kabayan and colleagues back in the Philippines, because eager, skilled and hardworking Filipinos will always be available from our Inang Bayan. But because of the obvious need to guard against covid19, it’s just too risky to reopen New Zealand with its hard-fought near-zero transmission. The urgent  question New Zealand immigration policymakers need to ask is how do you compare between new, untested arrivals and those who are already here, tested, vetted and cleared to be both dependable and law-abiding ? It shouldn’t be a debate, and guest workers already here, not just Filipinos, should be given either longer-term visas or friendlier terms for permanent residency. It makes sound business sense and is the fair way to go.

we fill jobs that Kiwis do not traditionally work in, and when we do, we tend to specialize and don’t disrupt the job market. Alam na alam na natin saan tayo may kakayahan, at saan tayo mahina (We know very well where we excel, and where we don’t.) The reality is, we apply for jobs where the demand is, where there is not much interest from New Zealanders, and where they no longer need to train us. If anything, we just need to acclimatize ourselves with Kiwi English, the local culture, and how things are done here.

Otherwise, with our work ethic, our team play, and our willingness to get along, it’s not exaggeration to say we hit the ground running. Many Pinoys start working the week they arrive, and take care of other details on the fly.  Even if we do excel, we often take care not to outshine the master or our seniors, sometimes at our expense. In some cases this is bad for us, but usually it strengthens our reputation as good for the company, good for the industry, and good for New Zealand.  We often undersell, and deliver more than we promise. Diba ganyan ang Pinoy? (Aren’t Filipinos like that?)

The ethnic Filipino vote is growing in NZ, and politicians know that pro-Pinoy immigration policy will help their chances getting to Parliament. Right now we have the Honorable Paulo Garcia, List Member of Parliament based in Auckland, is a rising star for the National Party. Two Labour Party candidates, Romy Udanga for East Coast Bays and Monina Hernandez for North Shore, are strong selections and at least one, or both will win in their constituencies.

Beyond their physical presence in Parliament, these candidates symbolize the growing political power of our Filipino ethnic community in New Zealand. Before either Party endorses a policy that will affect all of us Pinoys, whether as guest workers, students or permanent residents / citizens, our voting power is an assurance they will consult us . first. Hopefully this translates into better and friendlier policies that will lead to more work visa holders becoming New Zealanders.

New Zealand benefits and enjoys from most of us Filipinos here. Why not do more to show it, New Zealand?

Mabuhay, thanks for reading!

 

 

beh buti nga, pero wag mo akuin lahat ng sisi (serves you right, but don’t cop all the blame)


iain-lees-galloway-1120-facebook

[ although based on facts, this post is 99% feelings and illogical reactions and is also written in Taglish (Tagalog + English). thank you for reading, maraming maraming salamat! ]

ANG DAMI MONG PINAIYAK na asawa ng temporary visa holder (work visa, student visa and working holiday visa) nung sinabi mo nung 2018 na kailangan na nilang mag-qualify sa sarili nilang skills, at di na pwedeng manirahan sa NZ porke’t work visa holder ang asawa. Buti na lang at naglagay ng exception mga spouse visa holder before 2018. Pero andami pa ring galit sa yo.

Andami ring halos mabaliw-baliw nung sinabi mong dahil sa bagong three-year stand-down period, kailangan nang umuwi ang mga earning below $25.50 dahil ito ay considered unskilled, kahit na kailangang-kailangan sila ng employer at walang gagawa ng trabaho nila. Wala kang pakialam.

Lastly, sinabi mo sa mga stranded work visa holder sa labas ng NZ na baka wala na yung mga jobs na ginagawa nila bago magpandemic, at yung mga “gaps” o labor shortage na dating umiiral sa NZ ay napuno na ng mga New Zealander. In short, wag na kayong bumalik.

So walang umiyak or nalungkot nung pinatalsik ka ng Prime Minister dahil sa isang extramarital affair  o karelasyon na isang staffer or empleyado sa ilalim mo. PM Jacinda said she wasn’t basing her decision on morals, but on trust.

Nonsense. What her decision was based was almost purely on POLITICAL considerations, mawalang-galang na po. With the elections less than three months away, what was thought to be a victory lap for the incumbent Labour Government is actually closer than many think. The looming intergenerational debt created by covid19, the lack of results in housing, and the quality of life that was promised did not materialize.

*****     *****     *****

Sa kabila ng lahat, kahit personal kong ipinagdiwang ang pagsipa kay kagalang-galang Iain, alam ko ang realidad. He is only a mouthpiece or voice of the Coalition’s immigration policy.

Every time Government changes the rules, every time Government makes it harder for migrants, and every time Government breaks our hearts and denies us the migrant dream, it’s NOT Iain Lees-Galloway. Or at least, it’s not just him.

He just happens to be the one we see on TV, talking to media, and reading out the words that prevent us from realizing our goal: permanent residency, and being accepted as New Zealanders.

Pero di lang yon. Wag nating kalimutan na ang pagtalsik or pagsipa kay now ex-Immigration Minister Lees-Galloway ay di tamang pagsukat ng kanyang pagkatao.

Magnifying lens of campaign season. Oo nga at nagtaksil sya. At oo nga at matagal nya itong tinago sa kanyang boss (si Prime Minister), ang kanyang partido at ang kayang pinaglilingkuran. But the truth is, attention wouldn’t be so focused on the issue of being a good example to all if it weren’t the election season. if both major political parties weren’t so desperate for clinging on to or regaining power, neither party would be acting so righteous, and desperate for getting both the good side and attention of the media. Because at least during the election season, the good side and attention of the media is equal to the good side and attention of the New Zealand public.

Tao ka lang, to err is human and to forgive is divine. It’s really bad when you’ve had an affair with a staffer, worse when a lot of people in Parliament have known about it for some time. But to belabor the point: sino ang di nagkamali sa haba ng buhay? To be sure it’s a major lapse of judgment, and public officials in high positions are rightfully subjected to a higher standard of acting decently, but we have forgiven people who have done shockingly more.

Like we said earlier, we’re no fan of the good minister, ex-minister now, and ex Member of Parliament soon. But if we were to condemn him to the same degree as those officials who scoff at obvious conflicts of interest, who have no respect for the people they serve, and who take advantage of exceptions to the law,  it would be hypocrisy. We all make mistakes, and the man, who is like all of us, imperfect, deserves a second chance. Just not now.

Bottom line. The bottom line is, Iain Lees-Galloway was a hard worker, and he had talent. He worked in immigration and labour for the Labour Party for 10 years. He was the Immigration and Workplace Relations minister-in-waiting for so long, he could give you the party’s policies in his sleep. He had the talent to articulate and develop them, and he had a bright future as a public official. Because to repeat, he worked hard, and he had talent.

Hopefully, people will remember him more for the good than the bad. Which is not unlikely.

The next time Iain Lees-Galloway gets to a position of power (and he deserves it), hopefully he will look at migrants and migrant workers with a kinder eye. And he probably will, because he will have done so from the outside looking in, which migrants are used to, all the time.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!

“nandito na rin lang kami,wag n’yo na kaming paalisin” (we’re already here, don’t ask us to leave)


 

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[ no research, just Google, and I don’t own any of the pics above, thanks and acknowledgment to stuff.co.nz, newzealandnow.govt.nz, and csrhealthcare.co.nz! ]

THERE ARE more than 197,000 work visa, student visa, working holiday visa and other temporary visa holders currently in New Zealand now. In my humble opinion we can safely assume that at least a quarter of this number are our kabayan (countrymen) Filipinos.

Some of these may have been in New Zealand for a while as skilled workers, some may have just arrived. Some might be trying their luck and applying for permanent resident status, while some might be classified unskilled but nevertheless doing important work for their employer and just waiting before they are forced to leave New Zealand under the stand-down rule. Whatever their status or visa type, they all share one characteristic:

They all deserve to stay in New Zealand indefinitely, as guest workers, and logically, as permanent residents later.

I know this is a bold statement, foolish even for some. But for the reasons below, and taken together I think present a sound argument :

It’s good for business. Let me explain, in my own fifth grade method: In the next few years, New Zealand’s borders will be very tight, very strict to many many countries of the world for obvious reasons. For continuity of business and smooth operations, it’s far better to retain the workers we have here now, regardless of status. After all, they’re already skilled, already screened legally and medically, and because most of their countries of origin have themselves covid19 issues far far worse than New Zealand’s, it’s quite unlikely that New Zealand’s guest workers will go home within the next couple years.

I’ll humbly use my own example Precious Reader. My wife Mahal had our scheduled vacation, my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and my father passed away all on 2019, the year before The Year of the Virus. We had our chance to reconnect with family and country last year, and we won’t be going home any time soon. We also feel that instead of spending money for tickets and travel, our savings would be better spent sending them home to help out relatives. Multiply our situation a thousandfold, and it’s a good bet that very few Filipinos will be going home this, next or even year after next.

So labor demand and labor supply can be reconciled, in our limited view, through extended stays of our work visa holders. It’s already been done twice, with the later one extending all visas expiring the last day of 2020 another six months. Whether because of the massive backlog of visa applications or because of employers clamoring for guest workers, the fact is New Zealand may as well keep the workers they already have, for as long as the pandemic exists. It’s good for business, and that’s the reason everyone understands.

Our temporary visa holders deserve it, for two reasons. Majority of the Filipino guest workers in New Zealand have been working very hard and making a major contribution to its economy as health workers, builders, IT workers and in many many other capacities. With very little exception we have followed the law , paid our taxes, been active participants in our respective communities and have enthusiastically taken part in nation building.

During the coronavirus lockdown, our guest workers, particularly the essential workers in industries that needed to continue operating, quietly continued their work without incident or drama, maintained their productivity and in some cases did more than what was normal.

It’s not at all frivolous or facetious to mention that many of New Zealand’s allied medical (or complementary to medical) and caregiving workers are made up of Filipinos.

We have quietly and dutifully answered our host nation’s call, when it needed us most and desperately, because a guest returns the favor to the host (meaning, our host country), and well because it’s what we do. I think it’s not too arrogant of us to expect that those who stayed here during New Zealand’s critical hour be asked to stay for as long as we are useful, and for as long as we are needed. Is that too much to ask?

and lastly…

We have proven ourselves. As good guests, as good workers, and as good global citizens. To be honest, Filipinos everywhere have overachieved during the pandemic, doing what they can and doing what they do best: work. Yes, we are good nurses, medical technicians and medical workers, but we are also good scaffolders, good carpenters, good dairy workers, good everything. may dahilan kung bakit andami-dami natin dito kabayan. (there’s a reason Filipinos are plentiful here.) it’s because as if you didn’t know, we speak above average and understandable English, we don’t make trouble, we are good team players, and above all, we are good workers.

Since New Zealand has opened her borders to immigration and guest workers, we have proven ourselves over and over again. Sure, it’s a critical time and New Zealand needs to be extra careful with immigration.

But critical times call for critical measures. We already work, act, believe and think like New Zealanders. We know we make a difference.

All we ask is what most of you are already thinking: why don’t you let us stay?

Thanks for reading!

Note : do you feel the Filipino community as a whole needs to represent and articulate visa issues of Pinoy temporary visa holders? Please answer below in the comments section, mabuhay kayo kabayan and friends!

passing my medical WOF with lots of kms left


[ Note : in New Zealand, a WoF is a Warrant of Fitness certifying that you’re still roadworthy. Lots of workers in NZ, OFWs especially aren’t that young anymore, but still have lots of miles left in the tank. Please listen to our story on the day we applied for our latest WoF. matira ang matibay! ]

WE’RE THANKFUL EVERYDAY that we have a job in New Zealand, but we also (winkwink) welcome any unscheduled break from the tedium and organized chaos of our chores and tasks in the factory where we work.

Not today though. Being in the same age group ( if you don’t know our age group, it’s too late to ask ), I and a lot of our co-workers were all apprehensive of our company physicals that management conducts annually. Most of us were/are confident, but you could see the nervous twitch on the corner of some smiles of my production colleagues. I know, cause I owned one of those nervous twitches.

You see, healthwise and otherwise  we can say it’s been a little more stressful than usual for Your Loyal kaBayan (YLB). Our dad left this world middle of last year, and we’ve suffered palpitations and hypertension around the same time. We also didn’t get the best numbers our last physical, and there was no assurance we could even maintain our number this year.

*****     *****     *****

A little backgrounder kabayan on our company medical checkups. It’s not comprehensive like the visa medicals or the executive checkups back home in the Philippines, where every metric associated with physical health and major organ function is measured. It’s very basic, questions are asked interview style about how your job, particularly the manual handling and physical exertion impacts your body, and how you’re coping with your work environment.

Then there are the actual tests. For some reason, the company focuses on these numbers : your blood pressure, your lung function, your hearing, and your eyesight.

We can guess why, but am still not sure the focus is only on these numbers : BP (blood pressure) is the ideal (but not the only) indicator of heart health, which after all is first though co-equal among the many organs in the body. You can have sub-par performance for a few of your organs (knock on wood) but not for your heart.

Lung function is a close second to the previous test, where our work is concerned, because obviously you need enough force and energy to complete the jobs expected of you. In our factory it’s not so much one job as a series of many little jobs – monitor a machine here, replenish or top up the oil on a gear there, test the product somewhere else – that makes up most of our work day. To do this, move from one small job to another with speed and endurance, often for more than eight hours, requires a steady reserve of strength and resistance that is fueled by the oxygen from our lungs.

If we’re lucky enough to show that our blood pressure is normal and lung function is likewise, it’s on to the eyesight and hearing tests. Being mortal humans we’re definitely not expected to possess perfect eyes and ears (though it’s a plus). But we’re expected to see and comprehend signs and images a certain distance, and failing that, we’re expected to use aids like eyeglasses or declare such defect. Same with hearing, although it’s a given that with age we lose a little of our hearing every year, especially to sounds on the very low decibel level.

So that’s it. The nurse was quite engaging, and we suspected she was at our age level because she could relate to many of the age-related and occupational issues of our narrative, though she could just be very good at her job.

I’m sure you’ll be curious to know how I fared: after carefully monitoring my own BP with meds and beetroot, I had the best result in years : 110 over 80, surprising everyone but the beetroot. Amazingly, my hearing powers remained the same over the last 12 months.

The best result was my lung function test : I was able to blow 110% capacity over the first few seconds of my test blow, and I repeated it, no “fake news” result.

The world may be going to pieces around me, but I’m staying healthy (knock knock).

Thanks for reading!