perchance & happenstance: daig minsan ng swerte ang maagap at masipag


backgammon-precision-dice-saffron_primary

[  Wish there was a happy ending to this story.  I still continue to fight the good fight, solider on, and live every day as if it were my last.  But in the game of life, don’t we all?  ]

SHOW ME an overseas Pinoy worker (OFW), and I’ll show you a migrant-in-waiting.  Behind every successful migrant was once an aspiring OFW willing to try his luck anywhere he (or she) is wanted.

It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s much easier to migrate when you condition yourself to be an OFW first.  A host nation is much more welcoming to potential migrants who look for work first before attempting to become one of its citizens.  But one needs to be hyperalert, hypersensitive and hyperaware of all opportunities that lead to the OFW’s ultimate goal, which is to work in an ideal situation abroad…

…or, you could be lucky, and just be at the right place at the right time.

THE FIRST LUCKY BREAK.  It all started with a generous aunt, who brought a different set of nephews and nieces each time she went on a vacation overseas.  That particular year I was lucky enough to be taken along, and because she had a nephew there (my brother), she chose to visit New Zealand.

After we had seen the sights and enjoyed our reunions with relatives, my brother asked me, if ever he gave me the initial assistance (board & lodging, initial paperwork, etc), I would fancy finding work in New Zealand.  It wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.  But then, given that I didn’t exactly have the awesomest job back home, what did I have to lose?

*****          *****          *****

Inside and out, I don’t come across as a typical OFW.  I don’t have the marketable skills in the medical, construction and technology industries that are so desirable all over the world.  I’ve never been tech-savvy, I’ve got little to no aptitude in health care, and I definitely don’t possess the particular strength and skill that serves well in housebuilding occupations.

No coincidence, these are among the skills prioritized under the umbrella  Skilled Migrant pathway, on the premise that jobs that fuel the economy can’t be filled by locals alone and the backlog must be picked up by migrant labor.  These skills are listed, unsurprisingly, on what’s called a Long-Term and Short Term Skills Shortage List.

Nope, I didn’t have any of the skills on either list.  And that’s where my second lucky break came…

*****          *****          *****

THE SECOND.  Almost a year after my first work visa was issued, my luck was running out.  The company that hired me under that visa went out of business, and the position that I was hired for (something that I barely qualified for) no longer existed, so I of course had no more job.  I was back to square one, in fact one step backwards, because like I said above, I had already abandoned my last job in the Philippines (not that it was any great loss) and had already used up a lot of favors getting my first visa.

At the last moment, barely weeks before my only option would be returning home, one of my brothers acquaintances from church gave me a referral to an employment lead.

With the slimmest of hopes I snagged an interview with the site manager.  I would be trained from the ground up, with minimum wage but on a case-to-case basis (not based on general work visa policy), I had a chance at a visa.  Biting the bullet and kapit sa patalim, I took a leap of faith, and cursed the darkness…  (any more dramatic idioms, kabayan?)

*****           *****          *****

That was 2008, nearly eight years ago.  The good news is, I’m still here in New Zealand.  The bad ?  Well, there is no bad news.  Only a slight disappointment, in the sense that I’m still on a work visa.  But given all that I’ve been through, I’ve been very lucky.

I’ve trained as hard as I can in all aspects of my work, so that (surprise!) I’m now a qualified tradesman in my line of work.  But because it’s such a specific specialty, unless I go out of the country (again), my employment prospects are quite limited.

Oh yes, it’s true that I’ve been at the right place at the right time, picked my spots and played my cards right.  (What if my aunt brought another nephew or niece with her the year she vacationed in New Zealand?  What if I was introduced to my brother’s friend a week or two before or after the job opening surfaced?  And so on and so forth.)

But I also persevered, perhaps more than I thought I would.  Many, many times I thought I would give up.  A quarter of my job involves manual labor, another one-fourth  a little discipline,  plus a little pakisama. That adds another quarter.  Most of the time, it’s just showing up, and showing up on time.

It would sound arrogant if I didn’t admit that I’ve been blessed to find work as an unskilled tourist coming from the Philippines, to First World New Zealand.  But I would be less than candid if I didn’t say that sipag at tyaga has played a major part.

Diba, sometimes they mean the same thing?  Luck and good fortune.  Sipag at tyaga.  Sometimes we make our own luck.

Thanks for reading kabayan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

why walking (& even running) is better than standing for this middle-aged OFW


lower-back-pain-2

thanks and acknowledgment for the photo to spinecarechiropractic.com.au!

[ Prayers and concern for our brother and sister kabayan in Davao City and environs. ]

THE FIRST TIME i felt the pain was when I was carrying a moderately heavy load, a half-bag (sack or supot) of product, between 5-10 kg I think.

Aray, ouch, not a sharp twinge of traumatic impact pain but rather a dull bag! of discomfort, more like a heavy knock between my upper thigh and buttocks, classically where sciatic nerve pain occurs.  The pain wasn’t remarkable enough for me to cry out and complain the usual way I do (I’m a neurotic complainer), but it was enough for me to stop and take stock of the situation.

Now, that’s different.  I don’t remember anything like it before, although I’m used to fatigue, bumps and bruises and other pains associated with specific events.  This one happened out of nowhere, although at the time I had been performing a manual task.

The pain lessened somewhat after a break, one I took every two hours on this longish 12-hour night shift. (I’m assuming it was on nights because I do a night shift every other week now).  But as soon as I resumed regular work and chores, the nagging pain returned.

*****

The irony was (is), as long as I walked or even ran (except for the first few minutes, I always suffer a little stiffness coming from sitting or prone positions), I was fine.  The pain, which now alternated between dull throbs in my upper thigh-buttock area (left leg only) and pinpricks on the lower thighs to upper legs, was most prominent when I was stationary, a position I now logically avoided at all costs.

But as we workers, Pinoy,  OFW or otherwise, all know, work involves a thousand and one positions of the standing, sitting and mobile human body.  We are forever finding new combinations of  bodily activity to adjust to our multi-tasking, enhanced-activity, productivity-greedy jobs.  We stretch, crouch, squat, half-sit, half-stand, kneel, crawl all the time, every hour of the day, without a second thought.

All of which is murder, one killing blow at a time, to our lower backs.

*****

I can’t blame anyone for my suspected sciatica (suspected cuz it hasn’t been confirmed, but the signs are pretty clear).  All my life, I’ve been abusing my body beyond reason, beyond repair.  I remember staying awake 48 hours, smoking used butt of cigarets, and drinking alcohol well beyond my limits.  But this was during my failed experiment with youth.  The rest of my working life, my abuse has mostly been walking too much, standing too long, and spending too many days (nights) on physically exhausting extended shifts.  My body is only responding to the wear-and-tear I’ve exposed it to.

I can still work normally, but I need to take regular breaks now, apply warm compresses to my back on those freezing Wellington nights, and use my days off for quality breaks.  As any middle-aged person in his/her right mind should be doing.

The most important things I can do now regarding my pinched-nerve situation are specific stretching exercises that seem to relieve the pain and tightness in the area, rest whenever I can, and STAYING AWAY from the stationary, standing position.

If I can remember to do these simple things, then for the rest of my so-called life, I’m good.  For now.

Thanks for reading and mabuhay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kwentong obrero nitong biyernes ng your loyal kabayan (blager)


Sam the Tongan always makes my day.  Whether or not he knows it. :) Malo lelei!

Sam the Tongan always makes my day. Whether or not he knows it. 🙂 Malo lelei!

[ Note : This has nothing to do with being Pinoy.  Nothing to do with being migrant either.  Well, in a way it has a little to do with both, because anything to do with me right now has to do with being a Pinoy migrant, so parang ganun na rin.  Happy birthday Kuya JB Baylon! ]

Health and safety meeting.  I’m seated next to Sam, who because we’re from different departments I don’t see everyday, but who always makes my day with his size and attitude.  I say size because his biceps are the size of my thighs, and his thighs are the size of my torso (in diameter), and I say attitude because he’s always cheerful and upbeat.

Before I nod off to dreamland, I whisper something to him.

“Any chance you’ll get it soon Sam?” 

“Easier to squeeze blood out of stone, Noel.”

I sigh at that.  By it I mean getting regular status, because if any temp at the work site deserves it, it’s Sam.

Other things I know about him :  He’s Tongan, and loves rugby, almost as much as he loves his wife and daughter, but not quite.  He’s also downed 36 bottles of beer.  In one sitting.  And played rugby the next morning.

Lastly, when it still wasn’t politically incorrect, Sam (around my age) once ate a platter of whale meat, freshly caught and for breakfast.  Breakfast!  Probably more than a few years ago.

One more thing.  On longevity alone, Sam certainly deserves more than a serious look by way of becoming regularized.  I can’t tell you how long he’s been on site, but let’s put it this way.  He was already the champion in drinks our last Christmas party.  And we’re almost there again around this time.  As Kris A. would say, deserving naman, daba?

*****     *****     *****

Union meeting.  Time to negotiate another CBA again.  Of course, there’s the pay rise, lagi namang kasama yon sa bagong kasunduan between labor and management, but there are a few other items.  Shift allowances, confined space allowances, working at heights allowances, redundancy packages, and all that.  You might never get anything, but it never hurts to ask.

All the time the union rep was consulting us prior to negotiations, my thoughts kept returning to Sam.  Here we were on the gravy train talking about getting an extra 12 dollars an hour just for using the forklift, and outside the room he was working today, not even sure if he was gonna be on the roster next week.  Wasn’t very comforting.

[  We’re not getting into the nitty-gritty legalese of this situation, kabayan.  Company has its reasons for regularizing any warm body doing work.  Or not regularizing.  On the other hand, if Sam wants to come to work anytime his bisor texts him, good for him and God bless him.  Just sayin, you know? Wala lang.]

*****     *****     *****

Uwian time.  Nauna na ako sa locker room para di makalanghap ng mga amoy bawang at sibuyas, and that’s putting it mildly.  Springtime pa lang, but it’s already getting sweaty around the work site.

Curiously, I see Sam, still not going home though, because there’s still overtime work available.  No one wants to work overtime on a Friday (everybody’s already drunk thinking of their first brewski watching the All Blacks thrash Namibia, kahit replay), but beggars can’t be choosers, and Sam at least for today, isn’t a chooser.  He will grab any overtime within 10 meters.  I’m happy for him (that he has overtime money coming) but I would be happier if he was seriously considered for regular status.

Hey Sam, have a great weekend.  May I take I picture of you I ask on a whim.

“If you’re gonna take my picture Noel, make sure I look good.”

The result is the pic up there.  Does he look good kabayan?

Thanks for reading!

reblog from Pinoy Stop : Tao po, Ramil & Marie Garcia and kids of Lower Hutt Wellington


the Dayrit-Garcias.  From left: Maxine, Ramil, Marie, Alex, Danielle and Kirsten.  Landmark not included :)

the Dayrit-Garcias. From left: Maxine, Ramil, Marie, Alex, Danielle and Kirsten. Landmark not included 🙂

[ Note from YLB : thank you, thank you, thank you Didith Tayawa-Figuracion, Meia Lopez and the rest of the editorial staff of Pinoy Stop, a tentatively-named Pinoy newsmag in the Wellington region (in its maiden issue) for allowing me to repost a story I did for them.  The section is tentatively entitled Tao Po, where Pinoy families allow me to visit them and ask them about migrant life in Wellington.  Salamat rin kay Ramil, Marie and kids for graciously allowing us into their lovely home ! Thanks for reading! ]

     UNLIKE MANY Pinoy migrant couples embarking on the New Zealand magical mystery tour, Lower Hutt couple Ramil and Marie Garcia knew exactly what they were getting.
     This couple, who already had three daughters (Kirsten, Alex and Maxine) when they landed in Wellington in 2001 and added one more to their brood (Danielle) eight years ago, chose New Zealand over Australia for the more relaxed pace of life and lifestyle, access to benefits like health insurance and social security, a standard of living that allows decent shelter and car ownership, and fresh food, cleaner air and a comfortable retirement.
     Obviously, not in that order.
     But coming here, Marie noticed and experienced something different in health care, particularly in obstetrics.  While quality maternal and neonatal care in the Philippines is costly, Marie is thankful it is free for residents and citizens here. Another point of difference is the emphasis on the natural and avoidance of too much anaesthesia here which is something many Pinay mothers need to get used to.  Marie knows what she’s talking about, having given birth to three kids back home and one here.
     If it’s a toss-up between native land and adopted land for the wife, the husband is almost completely sold on New Zealand.  The laid back life, clean and green environment, honest government, anything and everything ticks all the boxes for him.
     Ramil and Marie are able to supervise their children every day, go hiking on a nearby hillside trail most weekends, visit Marie’s parents and two sisters (and families) anytime they want (the majority of Marie’s siblings migrated to NZ soon after the Garcias) and just as important, enjoy quality time with each other nearly twenty-four seven.  Needless to say, almost none of these would be possible on a regular basis in the Philippines.
     Icing on the cake is their recent acquisition of the home of their dreams, functional for their six-person family but quite easy on the eyes as well.

     New Zealand has been everything this Pinoy couple has asked for, and more.  So far, they have been able to raise their children in a clean and healthy environment, put them through quality schools under the New Zealand educational system, have both acquired fulfilling jobs that, though not the ones that would have earned them the income of a lifetime, have given them the chance to live the life many would be envious of back home. 

***               ***              ***

     For the observant ones out there, did anyone notice that among their goals and dreams, not a single one mentioned saving a bunch of dollars, bringing it home and having the holiday of their lives?
     It’s not a typo.  Both Ramil and Marie, like you me and most other Pinoys, love an extra bit of money and enjoying the fruits of their labor.  It’s just not a big deal for them, and raising their daughters properly, enjoying their lives together and keeping fit and healthy are what count most.  After that, maybe a trip back home every now and then to visit Ramil’s relatives might be in order.
     As you might guess, that’s the only thing on the other side of the scale that Ramil misses, not hard to imagine since most of Marie’s sisters and both her folks are already here.
     Yun lang ang nakakamiss, sa aming lahat ako lang ang nandito.  Silang lahat (ng kapamilya) nasa Quezon province, Ramil says with a little lump in his throat.  The consolation is he sees his brothers, sisters and parents in each of the faces of his daughters.
     And when you do see the smiling faces of his daughters, the cozy facade of their bungalow, their two-car garage and the cork board full of school athletic and extra-curricular activities, even the sleek but modest entertainment center side-by-side with their wicker/rattan lounge set, what more could you ask?
     Just a loving spouse, family close by, and everything else to remind you that home is in the heart.  Kudos and maraming salamat po, Ramil, Marie and kids!

are you ready for Afterglow Arcade this saturday?


I CAN no longer relate to current OPM (if ever I did) the way the present generation does,   but I certainly know if somebody deserves attention from their kabayan Pinoys.

I was lucky enough to attend the Rivermaya-Bamboo-Gloc9-Loonie concert held in Wellington last November.  Fronting for them was an energetic indie fusion band that seemed to combine all the right influences into their sound.  They were doing all the obligatory cover songs, but they were doing quite well on their own with a couple of catchy original numbers.

I wasn’t surprised upon knowing of their success afterwards.  Afterglow Arcade has won 1st place in the 2007 and 2008 Rockquest regional finals, a youth band competition in New Zealand.  Being a partly Kinoy band, they’ve visited their homeland the Philippines and have done the rounds with variety shows on GMA7 and TV5.  They’ve also provided street entertainment for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Fanzone, and have as I mentioned fronted for various superstar Pinoy bands and artists visiting the Wellington region.

Their signature blurb sounds so good I just have to repeat it :

Forming in late 2005, the Wellington based band has been engaging audiences with their intense live show, original compositions and spreading their love for music to eager ears all over the world.

Combining their love for sports fitness and music seem to be the common thread of the Afterglow band members. 

Camille / Jaycee , an athletic, K-Pop-loving Victoria University sophomore, enjoys writing music and playing instruments like the guitar, piano, bass and drums.  Her brother Mike, a Victoria University IT grad is also athletic, but loves music even more.  In between developing software for various industries, he runs, plays basketball and collaborates with bands from multiple genres.

Kervin on his final year in Victoria University doing Bachelor of Business Information Systems, combines music, sports and the technological aspect of improving the Afterglow sound. Drummer Von started playing in his late teens and has never  looked back. Besides music, he’s also very fanatical towards basketball, beats and drum solos. 

Wellington Soundcheck, their April 6 (Saturday) concert will be at the St Bernard’s College auditorium on Waterloo St Lower Hutt, and performing with them are an equally awesome band the JAMBLN juaNZ. Fronting them are Paulo Canlas, Bhren Barot, Lyn & Peach Bobis, and SIMPLY MelOdDi.  Each and every artist is Kinoy in word and in deed.

If you’re free this Saturday, how about giving our kabayan musical artists some of our time?  Tickets are available at the gate, or with Carol at 021 408588, Lev at 021 2167041, Neil at 0210355880 or Precy at 021 127927.

proud to be a pinoy tradesman


that's me right on the bottom, but still proud as anyone on the list. :)

that’s me right on the bottom, but still proud as anyone on the list. 🙂

JUST BEFORE and during the Easter weekend, two separate events made me proud to be a tradesman, defined as  a person who earns his living from manual skills like carpentry, masonry, baking, milling and plumbing.  The first was very personal to me, as you’ll read below, and the second should put a collective lump in the throat of any Pinoy worthy of his / her kayumanggi skin.

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The e-mail was posted without incident and even less fanfare, probably because people like me were hurrying to our posts or commuting home between shifts at the time.  But it was one of the more pleasant messages on the bulletin board that I’d read :

“The xxx service recognition program aims to recognise employees’ service milestones and reward their loyalty, contribution and commitment towards the business.  I (the Managing Director) would like to extend my congratulations to those who have received service awards in the last quarter :

“xxxNoel B (that’s me) : Wellington : 5 years of service in March 2013”

I hadn’t been keeping count, but I knew it was some time since I started with my employer.  It was doubly significant since it was the employer who had been keeping me in New Zealand, so I guess I should’ve been at least a little more vigilant in anticipating the milestone.

Moreover, I was on my last legs as a temporary migrant when I got the job, didn’t have an ideal background, and not only had to move halfway across the country, but I also had do shift work, get used to manual labor and do everything my superiors asked me to do.

But when the job is the only thing keeping you in the country, you try your best to do everything in the job description, and get on the boss’s good side, everytime, all the time.

I did a lot of this the last five years so often it actually became part of my routine, and in the process I learned a trade.  Five years from taking on the job in South Auckland, I’m in the unlikely position of being a service awardee, a gypsy journeyman who’s still learning something new everyday.  Thank you all my colleagues, thank you bisors, and thank you Mr Employer across the Tasman.

And Tuesday is the first day for the rest of my working life.

***               ***              ***

here's a screen shot of the tv3 news segment, thanks to tv3.co.nz for allowing us to share!

here’s a screen shot of the tv3 news segment, thanks to tv3.co.nz for allowing us to share!

This is one of those cases where words don’t do justice, and so I just direct the Precious Reader to the video which for copyright reasons (actually I violate this a whole lot) I can’t post directly, but can still share indirectly.

Our karpentero kabayan good at kalikot and kutingting were sought out by Kiwi construction companies contracted for the Christchurch rebuilding project, and, up to the challenge, many many carpenters tried out for 20 jobs back home, and are now here to provide carpentry services for the duration to the project.  Well, you’ll see all about it in the vid.

The work conditions aren’t world-class, but our countrymen are comfortable, as the footage attests.  They are also provided Pinoy food (prepared by a kabayan co-worker with cooking talents) and adequate internet services to communicate with their families back home.  Best of all, their talents and skills are valued, and if ever projects are awarded anew, will be engaged again.

For now, we don’t know if this is the start of something big, but one thing for sure : the Pinoy tradesman is and has always been welcome in New Zealand.

Kia ora and mabuhay Kiwis, Pinoys and Kinoys!

when see hear & speak no evil won’t do : confronting nega press on phils


34513ACCEPTING ALL the opprobrium that I expect will be flung at Your Loyal Blogger kabayan, I admit that I’m as non-partisan as non-partisan gets.  Despite matriculating at the so-called bastion of student activism (true only during the early Marcos years) and apprenticing under the school paper, I hold no strong worldview and just want to live out the rest of my years earning my bread, enjoying sparklingly entertaining books, living long enough to see my grandchildren and playing Tri-Peaks Solitaire.  And maybe filling in the blanks in this DIY and user-friendly blogsite.

But like many non-partisans out there (whether or not you admit it) I love my country, and still feel a lump in my throat when a countryman/woman does well in the sports / cultural / scientific fields and chafe at the worn points when any of us Pinoys, individually or collectively, fall into shame or disrepute.  Within our circle and among ourselves it might not hurt so much, we after all know each other cheek by jowl and can’t deny our warts and moles.

To strangers and outsiders though, it stings through and through, knowing that other peoples and races know of our faults and inner rots.  It hurts even more when, seeing but not understanding, they only see the results of our complicated cultures, hierarchies and histories.  Like any other tribe, Pinoys are the product of their assimilations, subjugations and contradictions.  Can we explain why we are Catholic, modern, pro-American, anti-American, Islam, autonomous, secessionist, protectionist, populist, elitist (and sometimes a combination of some, most or all of the above), and never seem to be able to decide what we are?

Most of all, we are onion-skinned (I know I am), when we hear of negative press about the Philippines overseas :

How do we explain this in one paragraph?  Muslim rebels engaging in the kidnap-for- ransom industry can do as they please because they are the proxies of military, police and political officials in the South.  The warriors of Islam are actually slaves of the almighty dollar, who know only too well that dangling a sword over captives from the First World is the surest way of earning foreign exchange, without forgetting of course that their  bemedalled, khaki-clad and high-handed masters claim their share first…

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center.  thanks to tv3news.co.nz for the pic!

Vernon Gardiner in a Catanduanes detention center. thanks to tv3news.co.nz for the pic!

This will take a little more than a paragraph, but still I will try.  Because many of our statutes are remnants of an era where civil and criminal laws had the same purpose, specifically the protection of the propertied and the landed, we often punished the commission of crimes against property as severely as those of crimes against persons.  One of these is fraud or deception, which to this day is punishment-wise on a level with attempted homicide and serious physical injuries.  Another special crime is illegal recruitment, probably because so many Filipinos want to go abroad to earn money.

The result?  A visitor unfortunate enough to be caught committing both those two crimes will probably rot in jail for the rest of his life, like the Kiwi pictured above.  It’s so hard to explain that it’s not just the NZ$5,000 owing to the Pinoy duped but the fact that through sweet enticements and trickery, such an amount changed hands, that caused the New Zealander to languish behind rusty bars, but the law is the law.  That, and the fact that just returning the money will effectively restore the status quo.  It’s that bizarrely simple.

[our friends overseas might also want to remember that the amount is about half a year’s pay for many of our kabayan back home, not that we’re nitpicking but it does make a bit of a difference for a family of six or seven struggling to make ends meet. ]

Surreal, inexplicable, upside-down bizzaro-type situations like the above two happen everyday in the Philippines, yet Pinoys like myself blush and grope for words when the rest of the world finds out about them.  What to do, what to do?  At this moment I’m not sure, but one thing I do know.  Instead of aping (pun intended) those three chimps covering their eyes, ears and mouths, we would do better to confront, verify and spin these facts, and indeed show them our true (Pinoy) face, nunal, kulugo, and balat, moles, warts and all.

Thanks for reading!

cheat sheet red flags for pinay admirers


Probably the most famous Pinay wife in NZ, Mona Dotcom, wife of Kim, facing charges of racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

Probably the most famous Pinay wife in NZ, Mona Dotcom, wife of Kim, facing charges of racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering.

I KNOW it’s a cheesy and clumsy-sounding title, but I couldn’t do any better with the limited title-giving time available, apologies.  The way Pinays are growing as favorites among Kiwi men, you’d think our kabayan Pinays had a new gayuma, aphrodisiac or guy magnet combination, literally dozens of Kiwis are linking up with Pinays everyday online, and eventually bringing them over here to start new lives and new families in an environment that encourages blended families scattered all over the New Zealand landscape.

And why shouldn’t they?  Filipinas are generally attentive, affectionate, loyal and resourceful girlfriends, qualities that are universally appreciated by menfolk, not that we aren’t supposed to be the same ourselves.  But Pinays are also fiercely protective of their families, deeply religious and expect the same loyalty that they shower over their mates.

There are some constants that are immutable for our girls; some values, virtues and even institutions that have weathered the onslaught of change and the tumult of migration.  These they bring to whatever shore they migrate, and their husbands, boyfriends and partners would do well to recognize these constants.

So whether you’re considering a romantic adventure with our Filipinas, just seeking friendship, or already doing your best to improve a budding relationship with your Pinay girlfriend, here are areas over which you would do well to tread over lightly, if at all :

religion and tradition are nearly indistinguishable in the Philippines.  :)

religion and tradition are nearly indistinguishable in the Philippines. 🙂

Religion, specifically positions on social issues taken by the Roman Catholic Church.  Imagine the force of tradition that’s lasted for centuries handed down from generation to generation.  That’s what you contend with when you so much as attempt to discuss religion with Pinoys and Pinays, and although the latter are one of the most modern of their species on Earth, Catholic traditions die hard.  They’re not so much manifestations or gestures of devotion as they are living proofs of what Catholic Spain influenced our forebears to do.

So much so that if your Pinay girlfriend insists on attending Holy Mass every Sunday, refuses to cook any meat dish on Lenten Fridays (between Feb and April, it changes yearly) is set on marrying you before consummating your relationship (yes, there are still those who insist on that), chalk it up to Catholic upbringing and Catholic guilt.  Fighting her on these issues might win you the battle, but it will cost you the war.  So choose your battles carefully, mate.

a family reunion.  Thanks and acknowledgment to philstar.com!

a family reunion. Thanks and acknowledgment to philstar.com!

Family.  At least once in this space I’ve mentioned that if you marry a Pinay, to a certain extent you marry her family, but that’s mostly an exaggeration.  Still, Pinays before they become wives and lovers are first daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins.  The ties that bind are for life, and though they are the most loyal of partners, they will never forget welfare and well-being of family, most especially parents, siblings and elders.

Just the slightest whiff of dissent on your part if she ever decides to help monetarily the people who gave her life (that’s her parents, bro), or if she decides to underwrite the tuition expense of a fave nephew or niece will bring about a full-blown confrontation, so better think twice before making so much as a negative comment about family, particularly helping family.

Better than thinking twice is understanding that family is first second and last on the list of priorities of a Pinay, more so since your girlfriend / spouse / partner has the inside track or  has already reached NZ shores, perceived to be a bottomless source of financial assistance and wherewithal.  Unfair for you my Kiwi friend, but as they say, no money, no honey (sorry for that).

peekingLoyalty.  And since the closeness and tradition of family ties is so important to your Pinay love, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that loyalty and faithfulness is, as well.  What I’m trying to say is your days of being a player and connoisseur of nubile beauties, as soon as you’ve declared your undying love for your Binibining Pilipinas, are long gone.  If you are still entertaining thoughts of playing the field while enjoying the role of Mr Husband of Pinay Beauty, you might succeed for a short, short while but you will soon be reaping the whirlwind.

Reason?  Pinays possess the skills of James Bond, CSI experts and Criss Angel (the mind reader) in one scary package.  They use their powers of intuition effortlessly, pick up the most miniscule clues like they had microscopic vision, and can literally read the thoughts off your forehead like an LCD display, and additionally they are relentless in their pursuit of getting to the bottom of how you can’t account for an hour last Thursday afternoon after you got off work.  Like Chris Rock says, they may not make a big deal of of any indiscretion you commit, but they reserve the right to bring it up between the moment of discovery and whenever she feels like it.

The easiest way to avoid the Pinay counterparts of Dan Craig, David Caruso and Criss Angel (I know they’re only actors and fakes, but it’s easier to visualize this way) is simple : stay true and loyal to your Pinay love throughout the life of your relationship, tell her everything she needs to know, the absolute truth and no prevarications, concealments and misrepresentations, and you can’t go wrong.  When in doubt, just tell her what the facts are, and what you think is right.  I know this sounds simplistic and you might think you can get away at first, but do you know the saying : you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time?  Just substitute your Pinay loved one for all of the people, and believe me, your relationship will flourish swimmingly.

These are just three areas where you should exercise extra care, but they take up a meaty share of what NOT to do if you treasure the Pinay in your arms.  Vaya con Dios my son!

holding stones in front of a katutubo’s glass house


any stone will do. :)  thanks and acknowledgment to alloveralbany.com

any stone will do. 🙂 thanks and acknowledgment to alloveralbany.com

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!

we’re number one in rotorua!


H.E. Ambassador Virginia Benavidez with the understandably happy IPSC 2013 champions, the Philippine team. Yehey!

H.E. Ambassador Virginia Benavidez with the understandably happy IPSC 2013 champions, the Philippine team. Yehey!

UNBEKNOWNST TO many kabayan in New Zealand, the Philippine team was stamping its class all over the Australasia 2013 International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) Handgun Championships (also known as AA 2013)  in Rotorua, one the country’s most famous tourist spots.

And just to make it more interesting, our boys and girls from Team Philippines won first or second place in no less than eight events, besting their counterparts from Australia, Hongkong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and guest competitors from Europe.

Gold medal performances in the Classic, Open, Production, Revolver and Standard events, silver medal finishes in the Open-General, Open-Ladies and Open-Senior events as well as outstanding individual performances by many of our kabayan simply overwhelmed the event, as so many of our athletes came up to the podium over and over in an embarrassment of riches.  As a result, the Philippine national anthem was also played around a dozen times to honor the winners.

Standing out for Team Filipinas were Kenneth Ray Agustin, Sonny Cu, Lydia Cuyong, Edcel John Gino, Nolito Ladroma, Nelson Uygonco, Jerome Jovanne Morales, Edwin Peter Lim, Suharto Al Wali Mangundatu, Mariam Mangundatu, Agustin Morales III, Christopher Panganiban, Angela Mariz Ramos, Mary Grace Tan, Daniel Torrevillas, Tilton Yohan Tsoi and Keo Dayle Tuan.

A member of the Wellington Pinoy community, our very own Lt Col Marcelo Esparas (Phil Army Reserve – Inactive) served as a member of the AA 2013 Secretariat (as Traffic Control Officer during registration), and was Committee Finance Assistant in the said event.

Her Excellency Ambassador Virginia H Benavidez also graced the event and served as an inspiring cheerleader for the Philippine team, while Datu Suharto T. Mangudadatu (Al-Haj), Provincial Governor of Sultan Kudarat & Philippine Practical Shooting Association President  provided leadership as head of the Philippine Delegation.

Our countrymen emerged as the most bemedalled and recognized team, finishing with the most number of 1st place finishes in both team and individual events.

Mabuhay ang International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) Philippine team!