nang nakuha ni Kiwi ang kiliti ni Pinay (when Kiwi tickles Pinay’s fancy)




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[ Note : the title above you see is an attempt to use our beloved pambansang wika (national language). since I’m not comfortable using purely Tagalog (an irony because of my brown skin), my makabayan (nationalist) self made a compromise with my blogger self by using Taglish. the original title was paano nagkikilitian ang Pinay at Kiwi but it sounds too dodgy or awkward, thus the result you see. thanks for reading, and thanks so much for the couples who allowed use of their precious photos! ]

YOU’RE PROBABLY tired of hearing this from this space but it bears repeating : the length and breadth of New Zealand (1600 km and 400 km respectively) is dotted with the most quaint and pleasant phenomena: Kiwi (New Zealander) and Filipina couples, known also as “blended” couples, accompanied by their cute and mestizo (biracial) children. They are anywhere and everywhere, in the malls, churches, parks and of course, schools.

Something that’s always intrigued me is what in the Kiwi’s character or personality attracts so many of our kabayan Pinays. Filipina women are attractive, speak English well, and know how to take care of their partners. These qualities make them popular with potential husbands all over the world. What makes them choose New Zealand men? I crowdsourced a few Pinays in my immediate circle for answers, and a few responded:

intelligence. Some qualities stand out over others, and if you were to listen to some women in Kiwi-Pinay relationships, it’s what Kiwi men have between their ears that’s more important than the rest of the body. An ability to talk about anything under the sun, a keenness to discuss the technical, the complicated, and the creative, and a willingness to discuss topics most people don’t have time for is superattractive for many Filipinas. If you ask me why, I think it’s because it indicates to a potential partner that a person is willing to first listen to the other’s point of view and then counter with an alternative point of view, and so and and so forth.

Alam nya lahat, napakatalino nya, he’s so smart and knows everything, I’ve heard not just once, twice or even thrice from my on-the-spot, spontaneous talks with kabayan I’ve just met in the mall with their smiling hubbies and supercute babies in tow. The ability to acquaint her with the Kiwi environment and world in general seems to be a super turn-on with the Filipina when describing her man, and it’s not hard to wonder why: we leave the Philippines for a strange country like babes in the woods, helpless and new to everything. Our mates are like intimate tour guides that open our eyes to everything wonderful and new. slowly and carefully lest we get a rude awakening to the Kiwi universe. To us they seemed like benevolent superhumans that knew and reacted to everything well, not just to their own environment but to a tiny little Asian girl that just got here.

At the end of the day, the mental part is what carries a relationship past the physical, when we’re old and wrinkled. This is true with Kiwi-Pinoy couples as much as with everyone else. What are you going to talk about when you come home from work, both tired and cranky? After the intimacy, the energy of your youth and the physical activity, the inevitable letdown will be there and the true meaning of companionship, communication skills and friendship will be crucial. Intelligence and EQ (emotional IQ) are important tools that many Pinays think Kiwis use well.

Empathy. Like any other relationship, there is a getting-to-know-you and preliminary phase, and again Filipinas usually like what they see in Kiwis, based on what we’ve heard. Helping around the house, babysit with kids (if one or both have kids from a previous relationship, obviously), a backrub or massage when needed, anything actually to make life easier, no traditional you do this and I do that setup where the male just provides financial support, food and shelter and everything else is done by the female sort of thing.

Even better, according to my respondents, many Kiwi partners husbands also double as hands-on dads, no practice needed, just be ready and hit the ground running, be it cooking, cleaning round the house, grocery shopping and changing diapers. That about completes the list of essential chores if you ask me, and the particular Pinay I chatted with , as of last count, is happiest with the choice she made, as she thinks Kiwi guys are keepers.

Empathy also means adapting and adjusting to the Pinoy tradition of sending money home to the relatives, for big and small reasons, every occasion, and without anyone asking for it. In virtually all the stories I’ve heard, Kiwis either fully support or at the very least tolerate our practice of remittances, because of our strong concept of filial piety and love for extended family.

Commitment. In two examples out of ten I’ve examined, the Kiwi guy went straight for the jugular (main artery), so to speak: even before consulting the Pinay girlfriend and as soon as he thought SHE was the one, he packed his bags, booked a flight and told the girl he was visiting in the Philippines, as soon as he was sure there was nothing she could do about it.

Buti na lang (just as well) in 100% of the cases I’ve known and heard about, the visits turned out successful, as the Kiwi ended up tying the knot with our kabayan. That would’ve been awkward otherwise 🙂

But the ideal of commitment goes far beyond turning on the charm offensive, putting your best foot forward and asking for the Pinay’s hand in marriage via pamamanhikan. In a few of the cases, when our kabayan gets sick or becomes temporarily handicapped, the Kiwi unhesitatingly stands by her side, ready to hold her hand and support her in every way possible. Especially knowing that she would do the same if the shoe were on the other foot.

There are so many things that make Kiwis and New Zealanders ideal mates for our kabayan Filipinas, intelligence, empathy and commitment just three out of dozens. But at the end of the day Pinays are still old-fashioned. A Bicolana friend summed it up for me. Every day when I wake up, I know he is there to be my knight in shining armor.

Well said, and to all the Kiwi and Pinay couples, mabuhay kayo!



nearly useless jobs I’m good for

another of my skills, finding our way back after getting lost, esp great considering I got us lost in the first place 🙂

ALL OVER THE WORLD, Filipinos, whether as OFWs or migrants, distinguish themselves by their resourcefulness (maparaan), resilience (matiyaga) and improvisational ability (maabilidad). We thrive under the most trying circumstances, we conjure practical solutions for challenging problems, and what we lack in material wherewithal we make up for in out-of-the-box thinking.

I’d like to say I’m typically competent and capable in this regard, but since joining me in New Zealand, Mahal my wife has made me about as useful as a Sony Betamax video player.  She learns how to operate gadgets intuitively, has embraced the DIY culture of our Kiwi hosts like a native, and has the energy and enthusiasm of any male twice her size.

Which leaves me, her prince consort, in the awkward position of being her decoration, outdated appendage if you want, holding her tools and implements and wiping her brow in her difficult moments, and knowing even less than she does when she can’t make head or tail of the User’s Manual for the newest whatchmacallit (does anybody still use that word?) bought on sale from that giant department store chain.

Rarely though I find a chore or two that I’m good at, and surprisingly, Mahal lets me do it because there’s not much more I can do around the house. Literally. I try to focus on the things I can do and stick to them, leaving the heavy lifting and major tasks to Mahal.  I know this is a role reversal of sorts and it certainly sounds like I’m emasculating myself, but I’m a realist:

for copyright reasons, this pic might disappear anytime. 🙂

Folding laundry. This is by far the task Mahal pretty much leaves for me, because, after all, she does the washing, does the drying (via sampayan or clothesline drying, no less) so I should at least be able to ready the shirts, pants and underwear before they return to the closet, fresh, crisp, fragrant and clean. It would be the height of selfishness for me to do my clothes only, so I do hers right after I do mine. Her clothes are actually easier to sort, just get out the hangers and hang her dresses, office wear and blouses. I can actually do these while watching my favorite sports and quiz shows on TV, but it slows me down, as if I weren’t slow enough. (Actually I don’t care, as long as I don’t look totally useless around the house.)

Killing flies and slapping mosquitoes. It being summer, our temperate Wellington is filled with the buzzing sound of unwanted visitors who hover around sweet-smelling nilagang saba, ginataan and other tasty treats. At night, there are mosquitoes, gnats and sand flies that suck the hard-earned blood off our sweaty skin. Yes, this part of New Zealand is chilly-windy the rest of the year, but for a few weeks it’s just like the Philippines with its humid afternoons and rainy-yet-sticky weekends.

Because no one else is up to it, and I have lots of idle time while Mahal cooks, cleans and does the laundry, I pick up the battle-scarred fly swatter and swat, swat swat away at the winged demons that frequent our kitchen and bedroom during the hot days and nights. I even count said microbe-carriers and bloodsuckers, all the better to justify to Mahal my existence.

Thawing frozen food. Yes, there is no limit to the depths I will descend in pretending to actually do something. Mahal always has a razor-sharp sensor for any frozen food on sale, and likes to defrost these at the very last minute. Because our work schedules frequently complement each other, meaning I am at home when she’s at work, I am very conveniently able to bring out the chicken nibbles with plenty of time to naturally melt the ice, so that it’s just right for cooking by the time she comes home. All because of me.

Return dried dishes to cupboard. It’s simple enough, the post-meal ritual. Wash dishes, dry the same, and return them to the drawer. Since it’s my only participation in the whole process of preparing dinner and cleaning up after, I do my best to do all these properly. The washing must be thorough, no stain spots and greasy spoons. No smudge marks on glasses. and wash everything, including pots and pans. And after the washing and drying comes the icing on the cake:  putting, and arranging said dishes and utensils in their proper place.

If it all seems trivial and mundane, it’s because drying and storing dishes is comparatively less crucial than cooking, though according to Mahal, no less important.  She inspects my handiwork, and would do the dishwashing and drying herself (one of her favorite chores) if I wasn’t going to be completely left out of doing anything except eat.

I’m glad I do these little things and get better at them, day by day. Still not that useful, but getting there.

Thanks for reading!


holding stones in front of a katutubo’s glass house

any stone will do. :)  thanks and acknowledgment to

any stone will do. 🙂 thanks and acknowledgment to

I HAVEN’T updated you for some time now, so this will be haphazard and harrassed, sorry in advance.  Just this morning echoes of my ATM sentiment was laughed at by a co-worker, who said that men who turned over their entire wages to their spouses were like men who didn’t wear the figurative pants in the family.  For him, women possessed a wide latitude of functions and privileges in the conjugal partnership, but handling the treasury wasn’t one of them.

I hasten to tell you that this co-worker is definitely not a Pinoy, not Asian, is talented and skilled in his own right but belongs to one of the races in NZ that is popular for appearing in  courthouses, Work and Income New Zealand and Child Youth and Family.  I respect this co-worker but I often remember him for his strong opinions.  Today was no different.

[ In other words, I don’t say he’s one of those people that he represents, but just the same a lot of his people are like that.  So there. ]

I told him almost immediately that a majority of Pinoy husbands surrender the budget management prerogative to their better halves because the latter are closer and more familiar with the essential purchases of the family, and because these procurements make up the lion’s share of the weekly earnings, it’s practical and convenient to just give them blanket decision-making powers at the soonest time.

That’s not the point, Mr NZ Katutubo said.  Since you and your wife are both working, you should both decide jointly and as a team how you spend your money, and meekly handing over your plastic to your esposa sort-of emasculates your income-earnerhood.  Strong words, I know.

I didn’t want the discussion to get complicated, but I seemed to remember that when he was married (and he was, once upon a time), my colleague had weekly arguments over the phone with his wife (within earshot of everybody else) over how money was being spent.  Truly he was hanging on to his wages, but every time payday arrived, there she was his missus ready with her harangues of pay this, pay that, when will you come up with enough money for your children and other sweet nothings.

I was also itching to ask my workmate of 5 years that since he felt so strongly about maintaining his financial independence from anyone, if he had reaped any success by way of savings, investments, or money set aside for a rainy day.

It would be poor form for me to recall it at the time, but he told me once that his credit card debt was so serious (nearly six figures, dollars yun ha) that his wages were devoted just to paying the minimum payment due.  Just when he would be able to pay off his credit card debt, well only God knew.

I also noticed that his car, iPod, and just about every newfangled gadget and item on the market he simply had to have as soon as it was advertised; that was just the way he was and nobody could convince him otherwise.

No wonder he guarded his purchasing and budgeting habits so jealously I silently concluded, particularly against his wife or rather, his ex-wife.

So I could surmise that although he felt strongly against surrendering impulsive and non-essential spending to a more conscientious spouse, he probably was a traditional, albeit reluctantly compliant husband before.

Against his arguments, I wanted to tell him that Pinay wives are typically more responsible financially (though not always), prudent and by nature think of the family first.  Therefore any potentially frivolous spending is cut down in favor of the essentials like food, petrol, maintenance of house and car, and appliances.

I also wanted to argue that men are predisposed to making rash decisions when exposed to eye candy and stimuli like flashy ads, gaudy promotions and curvy salesladies.  In this regard, I bow to common sense and better judgment and just consult anything that requires fishing out more than coins and small bills from my threadbare wallet to the lady that has computed my weekly wage even before I receive it.

Lastly, I wanted to tell him that just by looking at his car (third in 18 months), celfone (late model Samsung Galaxy) and his apparent savings (slim to none, just guessing), he was in no position to make snap judgments of how people manage their funds, whether by cutting up their plastic or by abdicating decisions in favor of the marital common good.  As they say, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

But, him being all of 100-plus kilos, my senior at work and super-willing to give out an opinion but not so willing to hear one, I guess it will have to wait another day.

Thanks for reading!

holding on to my hard-earned barya

because even the Dark Knight needs some comfort shopping every now and then.

because even the Dark Knight needs some comfort shopping every now and then. thanks and acknowledgment to

UNLIKE A growing number of obedient and dutiful Pinoy husbands, I still carry my ATM card around with me; I like the feel of carrying money around, and this day and age, carrying your automatic teller machine card is the equivalent of lugging around your worldly goods with you, the sum total of your honest toil and the wages paid after the day’s work.

There are however a few exceptions as to when I reluctantly surrender my card in favor of expediency and practicality whenever esposa hermosa needs instant access to the family jewels especially to purchase provisions needed for our sustenance, comfort and convenience :

Payday, when everything that’s been waiting for the cash to come can now be paid.  This is a motley group of things like utility bills, a small petty cash fund to be replenished, something that’s been waiting to be bought but had to wait cuz of the cash-flow situation, top-up of the petrol (gas at home) tank, this and that.  I can’t object to this, giving up the card because either the missus has advanced the coin needed for the commodity required, or is in the better position of acquiring the same immediately, remember she works at the mall and also uses the car?  So that’s that, just zip it Noel.

Day before payday, or what we call in the Philippines mga alanganing araw.  These are the twilight days during which all resources must be marshalled as funds are lowest, and when as you feared, supply cannot keep up with demand.  There must be something to sustain us just before the pantry is restocked, and Mahal has no hesitation about scraping the bottom of the barrel so to speak, and any dollars and cents resting on the bottom of my payroll account are fair game for the resourceful eye of my maybahay.

Early days after payday, when things we might have forgotten during the first grocery day come to mind and need to be acquired, like supplies that are important but aren’t urgent, long term provisions that are updated albeit less regularly, rainy-day and piggy bank funds that hardly get noticed unless you find unexpected sources of funds like the Lotto (yeah right) or winning in bingo or paluwagan (dream on).

Unexpected events like emergencies in the province, maintenance surprises, upkeep of household stuff and whiteware repair, yup, those can be unpleasant but they have to be done, so out goes the ATM and into the general fund, meaning Mahal’s wallet, since she has the skill to swiftly scrutinize every expense necessary for fund disbursal, yup, the loose change remaining in my proverbial worn pocket.

All of which leaves me a grand total of one or two days the ATM card is actually in my pocket, not that I miss it much anyway; the wifey advances so much that I’m in debt to her till the next Olympics (and maybe after); and by the time the card returns to me it doesn’t have much except for those lonely figures after the decimal point.

So, the unspoken deal is I get to say that I keep the card in my wallet, while the love of my life gets to keep everything else inside.  Just like the saying she loves to use, what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine. 🙂 Such is love!

thanks for reading!


Doin’ the Nasty : this Pinoy’s rules of engagement

I promise, promise to be a good boy. Tomorrow!

[ READER’S DISCRETION ADVISED. Many, many thanks for all your diligent readership, will be temporarily signing off for a while; I’ve always been grateful for you being a sounding board off my rants and raves.  It’s been therapeutic for me, and if you’ve gotten anything out of it, I admire you for patience and finding value in oxygen-wasting blogs like this, and if any of you know esposa, it’s just delaying the inevitable but don’t tell her about this episode, heh heh. ]

DON’T BELIEVE couples when they tell you it’s the companionship, intellectual stimulation or growing old together that’s the primary reason for marriage.  You can get companionship from a cat, if that’s what you really want.  Go to the library for intellectual stimulation, cuz I think it’s another kind of stimulation that drives the diehard marriage advocates.  And growing old together is all very good, but 99.9% are more interested, frankly, in the here and now.

It’s the intimacy that’s the bread and butter of any coupling (maybe that’s why it’s called coupling) and although there are many kinds of intimacy, the intimacy of touch, thoughts and deeds, it’s the intimacy involved in the heat of the night, the passion in front of the fireplace (the heat becomes self-generated) and the satisfaction of giving pleasure to each other that drives the engine of marriage and cohabitation.  I don’t go so far as to use the word / concept love, it probably exists and survives parallel to companionship and intimacy, and I don’t doubt it thrives in a marriage, but it’s a bit too abstract to discuss in this rant and rave.

As the relationship matures and the passion finds its comfort level, we make compromises with each other on what each is comfortable with, but with many men (and a good number of women) the perennial staple is the sex, there’re no two ways to say it (and so I won’t be misunderstood).  You can take away the trimmings, the fancy cooking, the yearly cruises, and the fancy hi-tech gadgets that drive away the boredom that inevitably sets in, but you can’t take away the sex.  Because when you take that away, the three of you (you, your spouse/partner, and the relationship) are in trouble.

Wow, that was a LONG intro.  I just wanted to tell you my rules of engagement as regards Doin the Nasty, use of the latter term is encouraged as there are still a few delicate ears out there and quite a few aunts and grand-aunts email me every now and then to complain about grammar and spelling, I’m sure they notice the content as well.  By the way, they aren’t really MY rules, they’re esposa hermosa’s.  When you think about it, she cooks the great-tasting and never-boring meals, she supervises the laundry ( I just assist half-heartedly unless we’re about to do the nasty), supervises the housecleaning (I just assist half-heartedly unless you know the rest), wakes me up for work and puts me to sleep every night, and does just about everything else to make me happy, so I supposed it would be small payback to let her handle THIS aspect of Living With The One You Love.  I just pretend to co-sponsor the Doin the Nasty legislation :

Never on consecutive days.  This is probably the most important rule of the kingdom, I guess it’s her kingdom so it’s a queendom, argghhhh.  Why so, you must ask?  Well, it’s a hard and fast rule for her that if you do it every day, before long it becomes tedious boring and bereft of meaning, because doin the nasty must of course be consummated with love and passion, which is just about the most ridiculous rule for me, and I guess 99.9% of the men out there (that 99.9 number keeps popping up), cause re doin the nasty, I subscribe to the pizza rule, which I once saw on a gamey T-shirt, saying something like Sex is like Pizza : when it’s good, it’s great, but when it’s not so good, it’s still very good, and if you’re like me, you probably got the meaning instantly.  Nevertheless, she’s the coach, and I’m just the star player.  The second-best player, I mean, cuz she’s also the playing coach. Ayayay.

Never when she has an early shift the next day.  How bout MY early shift, you might ask?  Well, I never complain about the risk of not getting enough beddy-bye after Doin the Nasty, and once I complain, there’s the grave danger of her changing the mind about Doin the Nasty, so once a Nasty’s scheduled, I just keep quiet.  And concentrate on preparing for Doin the Nasty.  Notice how focused I get when it comes to Doin the Nasty? 🙂  Other notes : it follows that because any nocturnal activities are performed with a view to the next day, there is also a reasonable curfew to be followed (usually 12 midnight, but negotiable), after which no Doin the Nasty is to be allowed.  Such is life !

Miscellaneous rules.  Kiss and makeup Doin the Nasty and Pity Doin the Nasty is heavily discouraged, let me explain.  If we have an argument or tampuhan and make up later, Doin the Nasty is a way of one or the other doing it as a favor (so she says), so it loses its importance as a meaningful act, OK I get that.  Neither of us too (usually me) should use pity as a way of getting to Do the Nasty, as it also cheapens the act (really?)  Common courtesies like hygiene and being pleasant to the senses should be observed (I try not to forget that too often), and conscientiously observing the noise level while Doin the Nasty (usually my problem, but she has her moments as well) is strongly recommended, for the continued peace and harmony of the household.

All told, if I remember the Rules and stay out of trouble on the right days (remember the first rule?), I get to Do the Nasty and keep my pistons humming, figuratively speaking OK? There might be a few other rules, but these are the ones I remember for now.  Esposa hermosa is usually no-nonsense and runs a tight ship, but she also has a golden heart, and I never miss the twinkle in her eye.

Do you have your own rules for Doin the Nasty?  I would love to hear them sometime.

Thanks for reading!

Welcome 2 Barangay Pitong Gatang mate !

Loosely translated means no humans allowed 🙂

Dear mate :

So you’ve finally made the big plunge.  Good on you, good luck and welcome to the club !

I say welcome because like you, I also have a Pinay wife.  I know it’s different cuz I can almost hear you say, you’re Pinoy too bro but it’s the same banana through and through my friend.  We may have been born and raised worlds apart, have different tastes and ways to amuse ourselves but in the end, we’re spending our lives with the same species of lovable, irrepressible, category-defying and and life-changing human, the Pinay wife.  We are bonded forever.

Just thought that having spent a little more time than you have with these Pinay indefinables, I’d share with you the little aphorisms and insights I’ve learned not just about married life, but about Pinoy married life as well.

You marry me, you marry my family.  Oddly enough, this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, as a lightheared commentary on how close extended families are in the Philippines.  But it’s true in practice just as it is in theory.  Especially in families who’ve gone through hard times, the problems and challenges facing any of its members are assumed by the rest of the family, or better yet, as a whole.  Career choices, financial issues, milestone events like weddings and migrations, etc are all deliberated upon by families in general assembly, even though ultimate decisions are left to the person concerned.  So don’t be surprised if you see your wife consult and be consulted on anything from how to match sofas and curtains to which school is best for her nephew or niece.  Another way to say it is ang problema ng isa ay problema ng lahat.  It’s obvious, but the load is lightened when it is borne by all.

No such thing as privacy.  This sounds a bit like an exaggeration, but when you marry into a Pinoy clan, expect to know and be known by everyone else down to the last uncomfortable detail.  Even more scrutiny is on you since you’re from a different culture, but that’s obvious right?  Every fact is fair game, no subject is sacred, no topics are taboo.  You would be well-advised to use discretion during those weekend family dinners where everyone is present and everything under the sun is discussed; all it takes is one careless comment, or a joke about something personal between you and your Mahal.  You can expect not only repartee and commentary from unsolicited advisers, but a thousand-and-one discussions beyond earshot on ganito pala si sis at kanyang mister and raised eyebrows and double meanings passed around.  It’s mostly in good fun, at your expense of course.  Sorry for that.

Emphasis on the extended.  Don’t be surprised when you see in gatherings third cousins removed from previous marriages, godchildren had from baptisms and confirmations years and years ago, or in-laws off-the-boat from the provinces.  Don’t be too surprised as well when you see both branches of the family of your loved ones gathered together, whether or not they barely tolerate each other’s company and come from regions of the country known to dislike the other’s famous character flaws.  When it’s a family gathering, there’s no such thing as by invitation only, everyone who’s related whether by blood, affinity or by accident will show up, if only for the free food and drink, but usually for the company as well.  You also realize of course that being a visitor from White Man’s Land, you’re the main attraction? 😉

These are just samplings of what you’re about to encounter as an official member of the Pinoy version of Cosa Nostra, and it will only get better (or worse).  By now, you will have learned to accept every aspect of being half-Kiwi, half-Pinoy, and reading these probably just confirms your best hopes (or worst fears).  Just think how broad your in-laws’ smiles will be when you and your Mahal have little Kinoys of your own to show off!

Haere mai, welcome and maligayang pagdating!

Relearning the Dance of Cohabitation

[ NOte from NOel : Am momentarily stumped for accidental migrant

topics; I ran out of batch stories a long time ago; and for the

(fleeting) moment I’ve decided to temporarily stop writing senti letters to the anakis. Since I have committed to bother you more often this year (via my crazy site and these quite sociable Yahoo!groups), I have to extend the reach of my self-proclaimed expertise, which you will shortly read about below. Happy reunion to Judenite Batch 82 kabatch at John and Caroline Sy‘s residence, munch munch munch, welcome back to Tom & Ineng Agustin of Johnsonville, happy 18th wedding anniversary to Ambassador Anthony and Mary Ann Mandap, and don’t worry about those temporary stumbles on your way to keeping your 2011 resolutions, the best part of falling down is getting back on your feet ! ]

The past meets the present: Mahal, your crazy blogger and son Nigel

Dear batchmates, schoolmates, brods, officemates, kabayan and friends :

WE ARE, all of us, creatures of habit. Everything that gives us the foothold of familiarity, the rote of routine, the monotony of muscle memory, is what we usually go with, three-quarters of the time. Unless you’re the flaky fellow who does the same thing 99 straight times and expects a different result on the hundredth, we are nearly everyone of us addicts to repetition, human GPS jitterbugs when it comes to our regular haunts and places of work, residence and repast.

For this reason, I have had to unceremoniously unlearn all the things, habits and quirks I had accumulated when I officially re-tied the knot after 10 years of binatahood. For reasons of modesty, I refrain from mentioning the other half of my new partnership (unless totally necessary). The most symbolic of reminders, the ring that sits on my finger, is there everyday to tell me that my life is no longer just mine, but there are other things I must get used to.

SLEEPING HABITS. What has taken the most out of the way I have expected to live with myself is the way I sleep. This is harder than it sounds. Do you see in cinema the way some comedians toss and turn as they zzzz through their eight hours? How about the inert way some sleepers just curl up in a corner, hibernating between midnight and dawn?

Well, I’m somewhere in between, not needing a whole length of mattress as I’m not an “active” sleeper, but not a single-position “mantika” sleeper either. I adjusted somewhat the last few years of being a stowaway, hitchhiker and parttime rodent wherever my gigs have taken me in my temporary adopted land;  taken whatever bedspace available, whether it’s half a single bed, a sofa, or the unoccupied corner of a Pinoy boarding house, having learned not to move too much wherever my back hits the bedding, never to complain, and to wake up whenever my snoring gets too loud.

As you can imagine, this bohemian lifestyle has presented some practical problems as soon as I decided to remarry: in the first place, the marital bed can no longer be the solitary hole-in-the-wall I have gotten used to.

Now, whenever I turn, I consciously rotate on an invisible axis without taking up any more space lest I disturb my nighttime companion; I try not to flail arms and legs too much despite the natural need to stretch and curl even while in deepest sleep; I tended to do this as evidenced by memories of my teens and 20s, when upon waking up, I would see blankets, pillows and even books and magazines flung to the floor. My unruly limbs no doubt being the guilty parties.

This deserves a separate paragraph : Most of all, I have told esposa hermosa never to hesitate and wake me up whenever my snoring bothers her, I have even contemplated those devices that inhibit or totally prevent snoring, my sinusitis, semi-obstructed airway and probably the reality of aging have aggravated this somewhat. She has gamely complied, and has even taken to taking her revenge during our waking hours. I just have to be on my toes for a night’s raucous snoring.

EATING HABITS. But there has to be a high point when you shift your paradigm of living : since getting re-domesticated, I’ve been a spoiled sow, running the gamut of Pinoy turo-turo : adobo, sinigang, menudo, kaldereta, paksiw, binagoongan, you name it, I’ve had it. It’s just my luck that asawak (Pangalatok for the wifey) grew up watching Mom work in a karinderya and has itchy cooking fingers all the time, every time.

To allow me (and herself, by extension) to go hungry is unthinkable, and she constantly thinks up and revives every recipe you can think of, my tum-tums and I can’t conceive of a more ideal situation.

For perspective, I went to McDo probably five times a week prior to her arrival, and it wasn’t just for the free morning paper. The last three years in NZ I’ve never gotten tired of the McDo merienda of cheeseburger, fries and frozen Coke, the McDo Big Breakfast of hash browns, white coffee, bacon McMuffin and jam on toast, it was Ronald McDonald, HamBurglar, Grimace and Birdie all the way, every day. Would it then be a surprise that I’ve gained at least five kilos of “happy fat” since the Big Plunge?

Obviously I have to strike a balance between eating happily and living healthily, but for now I am not complaining. It’s just that for every hard run or grueling night at the mill, I end up with comfort food of my childhood, a mountain of rice, and I end up fighting a losing Battle of the Bulge. Oh well, there are worse problems.

FREE TIME. By far the most dramatic part of getting married again is the realization that your time, especially your free time is no longer yours to spend. Those endless hours reading, watching every stupid rerun on TV, watching mediocre sports matches just because your favorite team/s is on, and playing Mahjong Solitaire and TriPeaks Solitaire are no longer lazy options (thanks for reminding me, Atty Lilibeth Cueva ) whenever you’ve got nothing better to do on the rainy weekend.

It’s a fair exchange really. You go on endless window shopping sprees, stalk weekend markets for knick-knacks and bric-a-bracs that no one wants, take endless walks on hillsides and meadows, in short drive yourself crazy when you should be napping to your heart’s content.

In return, you get to live with someone who knows how to make you happy, and when you grow old, you get help when you misplace the dentures or forget your daily medication.

**               **               **                  **

In our day and age, we no longer expect our kids to take care of us after we get sent out to pasture, or even depend on the tender mercies of extended family when the haze of forgetfulness sets in. In the end, we either look out for ourselves, or tough it out with the love of our lives.

 More than a fair exchange, really.

Thanks for reading !


Hihirit Pa Si Manoy, At The Very End of 2010



waiting for the celebrant, too late to change your mind, Hazel mwahaha 🙂


[ NOte from NOel : Many many thanks for all the kind greetings from friends, relatives, brods, officemates, kabayan and everyone else who’s been a part of my dysfunctional world ; a safe, prosperous and healthy 2011 to all ! ]

Dear anakis :

LIKE many wonders of the 21st century, Facebook has a way of overtaking me far, far beyond what my myopic eyes can see. I initially thought that posting a few pictures of my recent happy event was just a courtesy I was extending to relatives, friends and people who’d been in my corner rain or shine, and been there through every joy and pain.

By recent happy event, you know what I mean. Sure I told you that I (or rather, we) had been planning to make the big step, but I would’ve wanted to tell you about every detail, show you every picture, and maybe tell you about the mementoes of our wedding.

There, I said it. Even if your Tita H and I had gotten married last week, I would’ve wanted to tell you that day, call you before we went to the Registrar of Marriages, and call you again afterwards during the modest gathering that we organized. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

But that’s what I mean about The Social Network. Barely a few hours after posting (which was previously done by Tita H on her FB page), it was all over, and you probably saw the pics before I did. I’m just happy I was able to tell you a little about it, tell you who were going to be there (your bro, Tito George my bro, Tito Eric my cousin and Tita Maya another cousin; Tita H’s bosses and workmates) and where we would be later.

I know it sounds corny, but I wanted you to know that I did not arrive at my decision spur-of-the-moment or without more than a little deliberation. Tita H came at a time when I had all but given up on love, and was ready to face the rest of my life solo flight.

I will say this only one more time, as if I haven’t said it enough times : Tita H is wise beyond her years, looks after my health and well-being (not that I’m too old to do it myself), understands completely that I have three almost grown-up kids, and is well aware of the realities of a 40something tying the knot with someone in her mid twenties.

That’s it. All I have to say about her is limited to the above, and I’m quite thankful that the few times you met her back home, you were able to spend some quality time and make a connection, even if it was on the not-so-serious things.

I probably need to say something about your mother at this point, and I need to tell you that there will always be a bond between your mom and me, and that bond is YOU.

Whatever happens, we will always be your folks, and neither of us ( or at least I ) will ever use you to score points or get back against the other. If there is one issue on which we will not argue, it is your welfare and future. I have to add ( and she deserves this ) that she has always been a good parent to all of you, something I wish I could, but honestly can’t, say for myself.

Well, that’s about it. This e-mail I should’ve sent you at least a week ago, but things kind of got in the way.

Oh, two more things. DETAILS. First, we got married in a place called the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, where as the term connotes, people go to have births, deaths and marriages registered, or where they announce the same to the world.

We got married in a room that seated 16 people max, and we invited 100% Pinoys, including your brother, uncle and my two cousins. The celebrant (the person officiating) was casting-wise, the unlikeliest sort of person, not a Yoda-looking, naphthalene smelling oddball, but someone who looked more like a Prince William-type of guy (blond, six-foot plus, and baby blue eyes) that the girls checked out more than once. The one time I needed to look dashing, I failed miserably, next to this guy.

But your Tita H more than made up for it, going above and beyond the call of duty with her shoestring budget, and looking every bit the blushing bride. After the simple ceremony where we exchanged I do’s and rings (hulugan sa alahero), we proceeded to a Chinese resto for a small reception.

We had to wind up soon as I had early morning shift at the mill the next day, while Tita H had her parttime job at the nail salon. But not before we had a few pictures taken near Parliament, a durable tradition for couples who don’t have much to spend.

PROMISE. Second : In advance I am allaying your concerns about me having a wife again. My priorities have not and will not change, and you may rest assured that whatever support (or lack of it) you have enjoyed from me, shall remain the same.

As to whether you will have a brother or sister in the future, there are no firm plans as of now 🙂

I love you both very much, wish you were here, and I hope you will enjoy 2011, if possible visit here later in the year.

Kaawaan kayo lagi ng Diyos.


The Amazing (Kiwi) Race to Bring Pinay Brides Home

Traditional dance of the Philippines.

Image via Wikipedia

[ NOtes from NOel : umaapaw po ang aking pasasalamat sa mga dalangin at mga bati sa pagisyu ng panibago naming WP  (Work Permit) nakaraang buwan, mabuhay kayong lahat. Abot-abot sa Diyos ang aking thank you, no words can express my gratitude. (Although I’m trying now.) One of the few times I’m speechless, actually, and you know what a blabbermouth I am . If you will indulge me in the near future by continuing to patronize my rants and raves, I will have ample opportunity to thank you, but for now, just to be a Filipino, just to be lahing kayumanggi na tinimplahan ng dugong Tsino, just to be lucky enough to be a member of the uring manggagawa in NZ as well as the Pinoy community and subcommunities with its intricate overlapping circles of trust and friendship, I am proud to be . . . btw, kudos to all-around nice guy and schoolmate Mr Sam Dignadice for being accepted to the prestigious University of Auckland MBA program, itaguyod po natin ang bandera ng kapwa Pinoy ! ]

Dear batchmates, schoolmates, kabayan, officemates, and friends :

Prior to my close call, close shave, tightrope walk and hanging bridge adventure (of waiting to exhale between Work Permits) a few weeks ago, I had occasion to contemplate one of the more thought-provoking questions that both well-intentioned Pinoy and Kiwi minds pondered :

Why are Filipinas, especially as wives, so desirable to Kiwi men?

Everyone in my workplace either personally knows someone who has a wife, Pinay girlfriend, cyber girlfriend (or at least, that’s what they are told by such girlfriend) or are looking for a Pinay themselves. This is no exaggeration. We, or rather our countrywomen, are simply THAT popular.

Before we go further, we have two caveats : we claim not an ounce of objectivity in trying to answer the question we just posed, and second, we limit all our comments to our first-hand personal knowledge and verifiable hearsay material. Maybe later, I will explain.

But for now, we refer firstly to the scores of happy Kiwi husbands we’ve chanced to meet and befriend in our first few years in NZ, mostly in Auckland. Some I met through other Filipinos, others by chance, and still others professionally. The common denominator is that the wife keeps them happy, with one raised eyebrow discouraging any domestic mischief (kids’ as well as dad’s) and a hand always holding the kawali (frying pan) for those tasty and addictive Filipino dishes about which no elaboration is necessary.

It may be a slight exaggeration, but the way most Pinays cook for, wash and iron for, and groom their husbands, the latter are practically a spoiled lot. We have no empirical data on how Kiwi women go about their day, but we daresay that their male counterparts who’re lucky enough to find Pinay mates have never had it so good.

We know a countrywoman who cuts her hubby’s hair, manicures his nails, prunes his unruly facial hair and does all the other household things with verve and elan the way only Filipinas do. And believe me, the bloke knows how lucky he is.

Not to be sexist about it, Kiwis can do these things on their own, as most of us Pinoys know and do. But because our kababayan sisses and kumares do such a great job taking care of their spouses, it’s so easy to just sit back and enjoy themselves.

In Windy Welly, the situation is no different. We know practically of no case where our hosts aren’t kept happy by their darling from the Islands, whether the introduction was made through the internet, by a common friend, or by a lucky encounter at work or at play. In turn, through word of mouth, referrals and friends of friends, the reputation and renown of the world-class Filipina wife/partner worth her weight in gold is perpetuated and spread far and wide.

Again, this is probably a unique case/s, but I know of at least two Kiwis who married Pinays, one for his first marriage and the other on the rebound, but the relationship unfortunately turned sour and they broke up after the birth of one child. Guess what? Both guys had second relationships with Pinays, now how’s that for the proverbial repeat sale?

This can only help the reputation of us Pinoys. First, Kiwis invariably ask us, after realizing we are Filipino, if we know of any eligible Pinay bachelorette. It’s not a frivolous or light-hearted question that they ask; frequently they are always on the lookout for such opportunities. Understandably, they prioritize potential mates that are already known by acquaintances or friends from the Philippines as well.

I say this because not every encounter with Pinays is ideal. Unfortunately, it has to be said that out of every dozen, one or two Pinays seek relationships for reasons other than romantic. This is no judgment on them; life is hard enough back home for us to criticize anyone for wanting to seek a better life overseas.

But there are compatriots who want to skip several stages in the pursuit of happiness (work, love, marriage, wealth-building, and so on), and if in the process they happen to break the hearts of guys gullible enough to believe their sweet nothings, so be it.

That last sentence was written in irony, not as straight opinion. While it’s true that no one ever enters into a relationship without eyes open, sadly, some Kiwis are naive enough to believe that the first Pinay they meet, especially in the virtual world, will love them for being lovable ( ? ) forever and ever. The moment they fall into that mode, they are in for a rude awakening, and the only difference between one case and the next is the amount of time before they guy knows he’s been had.

But back to the positives. The trickle down effect is that a Pinay wife who’s been true to her spouse, does the right thing and preserves the good image of the Filipina, is that future spouses get an edge and a head start towards better lives abroad.

Relatedly, all things being equal, I would probably have gotten my present job anyway, but I didn’t realize that at least one of the senior personnel where I started my training was married to a Filipina, and it was such a natural thing to him that Filipinos were all-around good people that he didn’t even bother to tell me.

But from day one, I had a good feeling, because no less than three kabayan had been hired by him recently, and he didn’t need to play favorites, he just treated Pinoys as fairly as he did anyone else.

** ** ** ** **

As we said earlier, it’s hard to be objective and dispassionate when talking about people of your race and nationality and at the same time assess a social phenomenon like blended marriages and families that are, so to speak, spiking the curve in terms of incidence and preference.

We don’t need stats to see that Pinoys have emerged stratospheric in terms of migrant growth rates in NZ. We just need to open our eyes and look around. And one of the biggest reasons for this is the fact that Pinays as wives are first, or at least near the top, in terms of preference and desirability.

A last word? I had a chance to talk to a Kiwi missionary who spent some time evangelizing in the Philippines, and of course he fell in love with, and married a Filipina. He was not a starry-eyed lover, having gone through a previous marriage and several children. Inevitably I asked him how Pinays differed from his life’s loves.

NOel, the best way to sum it up (on why Kiwis gravitate towards Pinays) is Filipinas take good care of their men. Of course, it helps that you guys (figuratively, guys include girls) speak English well, but the attraction is universal. My wife knows instinctively how to make me happy, and it wouldn’t be right for me not to at least try to do the same for her. I’ve been lucky and unlucky in love, but knowing my (Pinay) wife has made up for everything else.

Wow, not much you can add to that. Cheers to Pinay wives everywhere !

Thanks for reading !


The Moment That Defines a Kinoy

We've never been to this part of NZ, we're waiting for you :)

Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

[ NOte :  Just to be asked to contribute a piece for the Pistang Pilipino 2010 sa North Shore ( Auckland ) Labour Weekend event  ( 22nd-24th Oct ) is certainly an honour for us ; whether or not it’s actually used we don’t know, but it appears below.  We did our best to stay close to the theme of capturing what it means to be a Kiwi + Pinoy. Thanks for reading ! ]
THERE are many emotional highs and few lows when one contemplates what it means to be a Kiwi + Pinoy — or as more popularly known these days, a Kinoy.
Is it when one is granted, after a dramatic Work-to-Residence period, life-changing Permanent Residence (PR) status, the crowning achievement of every Kinoy migrant?
Is it when one receives the acknowledgment of both Kiwis and fellow guest workers in the workplace, crystallizing the overachieving role played by many kabayan in various fields of endeavor in the Land of the Long White Cloud ?
Is it the extended blessings enjoyed by every Filipino family whenever one of their own marries a Kiwi, who is only too willing to share the benefits and benevolence of a First World country with his new relatives?
Since the answer to all of these is undoubtedly yes, we can’t help but select instead a defining moment that links all who seek a second life as members of one of the most hospitable nations in the First World.
What captures the moment, as one searches through the personal adventure of heartaches, dreams and hopes towards being a Kinoy?
Again, it could be a thousand and one scenarios, too many to mention. 
Attaining an NZ driver’s license, a first Kiwi home, or even a first child born on Aotearoa shores?  Just three of the numerous benchmarks that indelibly mark our album of memories.  But do they define one’s existence here?
Arrayed against the good memories are the painful ones : for every permanent resident status awarded are ten rejections, equals 10 kabayan going home starting from scratch. 
 For every work permit granted are probably a dozen expired and unrenewed, sending home our frustrated countrymen despite excellent work and an even more admirable work ethic. 
And everyone knows that not every mixed-culture marriage between Kiwi and Pinoy ends in permanent residence.  All the signs of love and commitment must be there, lest the institution of marriage be abused for less romantic ends.
Now that we have the wide-screen view, having witnessed the peaks and valleys of the Kinoy migrant experience, we ask anew what moment for us defines being Kinoy?
It’s a bit more abstract than all those previously described, and it can happen any point in the migration timeline. 
But it seems to be this : when you discover that you are no longer just part of your homeland, but evolving into someone part of a new land; not merely Pinoy but not fully a New Zealander; not yet a transplant but no longer rooted in the land of your birth… this particular moment in time, whenever it may be, defines your existence as a Kinoy.
It is being part of both worlds, yet laying claim to none.  For that is the blessing and curse of migration, of coming and going, leaving and arriving.  More particularly, it is the essence of being Kinoy, a mixture that we don’t mind at all.
               **               **               **                **                **
The interesting part of our Kinoy adventure is that we have yet to reach our goal.  For three years running, we have held a work permit, but not fortunate enough to deserve permanent resident status.
No rush though.  Just as success is a journey and not a destination, so is migration.  If being Kinoy means taking Life’s best shots and taking advantage of every break that goes our way, so be it.
There is a confident sign that aspiring  to be a Kinoy is consistent with the Pinoy spirit of migration.  This is the fact that despite the ambiguous policy adopted by the NZ government, our numbers continue to increase.  Each of the 40,000 Filipino souls in the land of our hosts serves as an inspiration for more to come.  Like an idea whose time has come, Kinoy growth is strong and for the moment, has no limits.
God bless each and every one of the 40,000 Kinoys ; may there be 40,000 more.  Mabuhay !
[ Noel B is a work permit holder currently based in Wellington, but still holds out hope that some day, the permit will transform into a Returning Resident’s Visa.  In the meantime, he thanks every Kiwi, co-migrant and kabayan who has taken time to enrich his life by showing him their personal version of New Zealand.  Maraming salamat po! ]