pagod puyat & ginaw challenge d pinoy worker, but d appreciation is appreciated

I wasn't even around when the token of appreciation was given. huhuhu :(

I wasn’t even around when the token of appreciation was given. huhuhu ūüė¶

[Note : sorry for the long title, and sincerest condolences to the family of Mimi and Jarvis Laurilla, your Tatay looks over you fondly and with love! ]

AS ALWAYS, I tip-tap the words almost as they come out of this addled and burned-out brain, with as little filtering as possible, it is a GP-blog after all. ¬†To be as candid and as real as it gets is the raison d’etre for filling the blanks in this blog service, as important as recording things for my personal posterity and the therapy it affords Your Loyal Blogger. ¬†(By the way, if ever you’re taken by the aesthetics and workings of this blog site, 99% of it is possible thanks to the WordPress creators, admins and staff, woohoohoo; I’m only responsible for the frail content, and everything’s for free, too, perfect for the Pinoy/Asian in those wanting to start their own blogs, it’s never too late! )

But I just want to tell you how tired I was after nearly two weeks of mostly 12-hour shifts, something I hadn’t experienced as far as I can remember five-plus years as a New Zealand worker. ¬†Before anything else, it was the first time since forever that there was no down time almost throughout the shift. ¬†Now, anyone who’s worked in a job knows that there are busy times and there are down times, no matter where or what you do.

Because there was extra volume coming out of the machines (they’re called dust-collectors) getting rid of the waste product that naturally gets extracted from the raw material, I had to transport the bins containing them to a receiving area some 50 meters away, roughly once every half-hour. ¬†Multiply this by the number of hours in the shift, and you get the idea.

But that’s not all. ¬†More tests, more checks, more adjustments to the water (an essential part of the substance before it’s transformed into the final usable commodity ), more cleaning, and just about more of everything that we usually do. ¬†And over a longer period of time.

In addition, SuperBisor who I actually prefer working with over any other shift boss, was climbing up the corporate ladder and was now attending site meetings and production meetings, for only a few minutes at a time of course.  His level of vigilance would not allow the factory to go unmonitored even for a few minutes, so it was up to me to step up and pinch-hit for him, even though he was only meters away from the machinery.

I knew the intensity of the cold, springtime shifts were getting to me, because in usual hectic days, all I would need to stay alert and keep up with the pace was a glass of water to hydrate and grease my tubes. ¬†It really does wonders to your system when you drink an extra glass of water whenever and wherever, I thought it was an internet fad, but it’s not.

The water was still helping, but only for a while. ¬†A second trick I’m used to doing when my batteries are flat is getting a coffee/sugar rush, which is common sense for anyone at work. ¬†Again, the rush was there, but it was a big letdown when it wore off, almost counterproductive.

Working a full revolution of the short hand round the clock (7 am – 7 pm) is OK when you’re a desk jockey, you can pace yourself, do stretches and take reasonable breaks. ¬†It’s not quite the same when the factory is four levels, you go up and down the stairs roughly twice an hour, you go around machinery every now and then just to make sure there are no chokes and blockages, you measure 30-ton bins to update production boards, and generally combine the functions and activities of a cleaning person, security watchman, quality assurance person and amateur troubleshooter for the better part of 720 minutes, nearly every second of all those minutes.

I’m definitely not complaining especially since my boss and department head have both reposed a lot of trust and confidence in my modest ability (or lack of same), and particularly since there are so many unemployed here in New Zealand who would probably kill for an opportunity to prove themselves equal to the tasks required in my job.

It’s just that extra production demands on the site, key personnel on leave or unable to report to work, and long hours being unavoidable, all of us on staff were asked to go the extra mile for the company, who had been doing the same for us in terms of better working conditions, more communication with the bigwigs, and more concern in general for grunts like me.

First proof. Now I can tell you how intense it was for a former white-collar worker like me. ¬†First,, towards the end of the shift, my myopia was getting more pronounced, almost like I needed new glasses. ¬†I don’t know if this was just eyestrain or the general tiredness I was enduring, but as far as I can tell it never happened before. ¬†It was both amusing and scary, and I had to wipe my spectacles to see if anything was wrong with them.

Second proof. ¬†Second, the last hour of the last day of my workweek, I was beginning to feel like a zombie that you see in shows like Walking Dead. ¬†I was getting light-headed, my limbs were turning to lead, and I just wanted to melt away. ¬†Of course I couldn’t, because there were still chores to do, and my shift partner and I still had to turn over the site to our night shift counterparts, who actually had it worse : they were doing everything we were doing, except that instead of 7 am to 7 pm, they were doing it 7 pm to 7 am in the dead of night.

Third proof. And lastly, I got so tired nearly every day of the week that if you can believe it, I didn’t think of sex for at least 48 hours! ¬†This indisputably was a world’s first and a world’s record for me since puberty, and that my friends was how tired I am.

The pic you see above is a small token of appreciation given by SuperBisor for the long hours I’ve done. ¬†A lot of the fatigue, including the first and second proofs was dissolved not just by the treat itself but by the appreciation it symbolized.

Something I can’t ignore, and which I hope won’t be a problem next time we do long hours, is of course, the third proof. ¬†Man doesn’t live by bread alone, and all that. ūüôā

Thanks for the appreciation SuperBisor, and thanks everyone 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 ūüôā

[ 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. ūüôā

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.

***               ***            ***

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 for allowing us to share!

here’s a screen shot of the tv3 news segment, thanks to 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!

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. ūüôā

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!

a family reunion. Thanks and acknowledgment to!

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!

live as a / work as a / ache as a migrant

my brothers-in-arms, a century ago.

my brothers-in-arms, a century ago.

To me, growing old is great. ¬†It’s the very best thing — considering the alternative. – actor Michael Caine, on turning 80.

I’m a solid 70… I’m not getting old, I’m getting dead – Sixto Rodriguez, also known as the Sugarman.

IF EVER we needed confirmation that we were well past the starting gate of Middle Age-hood and not far from Senior Years, this was it. ¬†Sore back, stiff joints, clockwatching a minute after halftime, blisters and bunions on the weary toes, ankles and heels, and redness on the forearms caused by hot surfaces. ¬†It might not have been that stressful if I’d done this twenty or thirty years ago, but when you get to be my age, you feel every pain, ache and soreness every day of the year, especially when the source of those aches and pains are from work.

I know how it sounds, but I’m not complaining, 21st century New Zealand is probably one of the best milieux to be working in, safety- and welfare-wise. ¬†Despite the fact that I have been a white-collar worker most of my life back home in the Philippine, deskbound and unaccustomed to flexing my little-used muscles and stretching my untested ligaments, the legal and safety environment surrounding manual work in the Land of the Long White Cloud provides for every defense against potential hazard and long-term work-related condition, not just out of concern for workers but also to protect itself from liability when things get FUBAR..

I’ve mentioned it in this space so often it already sounds immodest, but at 47 I am reasonably fit, exercise as often as I can, obediently perform my household chores and moderately active as any person of my age. ¬†I’ve fought against the norm of a medical family history of hypertension, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes (but who hasn’t?), likewise battled against sugary and fatty fast-food dominated diet (again, anyone out there who didn’t?) and emerged battered and bruised after decades of tobacco-choked, alcohol-slurred and sedentary 20’s 30’s and 40’s lifestyle (admit it, lots of us did). ¬†For better or worse, I’m still standing.

Some people say it’s better to start a career of manual labor and intense physical activity while you’re young, the muscles are better acclimatized and become more durable when you stretch yourself (literally) while you’re still growing and elastic. ¬†Since I don’t have the benefit of hindsight, and didn’t know I’d be performing physical activity rather than mental calisthenics for my bread at my advanced age, I can’t rely on that piece of wisdom.

Using all the tips and tricks, and toughening myself to the tasks and routine of my job, it had become a source of comfort that I knew how to warm up for work, rest at the appointed hour, listen to the signals of my arms and legs, and schedule work to be done when and where it had to be done.

each dot you see is a sore area for me :(

each dot you see is a sore area for me ūüė¶

Trouble was, I was moved around in the workplace and placed in an unfamiliar post that required moving about more than I was accustomed to, where time was measured in the seconds and minutes rather than in the quarters and halves of hours.  I had little time for thinking and less time for reaction, and needless to say had to be quick on my feet and ready for an emergency, usually minor but sometimes major.

The result?  The activity I was used to doing in an 8-hour shift I sometimes did in 4 hours, I walked, sometimes ran the equivalent of a 3-k fun run before it was time to go home, and at least once or twice a shift I had to replace a shrink-wrap plastic roll that weighed around 20 kg.  It was good for a teenager trying to look buff for the ladies but torture for a fortysomething who never did more than sit-ups, push-ups and jumping jacks thrice a week in the bathroom.

As of now, the only therapy on the menu is Salonpas and extra long hot showers, which seem to iron out the kinks for a while, but long term I either need to lose weight, strengthen my muscles, or buy a few years back from the Creator.  Suggestions anyone?

why Zenie Lorenzo Low is our favorite Kinoy*

Zenie with OgieEVEN THE faintest awareness of the Pinoy community in Auckland New Zealand will tell you that Zenie Lorenzo Low, or Tita Zenie is one of its best and brightest. ¬†She has always lent her considerable energy, talent and presence to most of our big, big, Kinoy family’s plans and projects through the years.

Extra feathers in her cap are her labor of love, the Filipino Herald and ZLL Productions Ltd, which through print media and homegrown talents seek to showcase the best that the Philippines can offer.  She almost never seeks recompense for her efforts, asking only that she breaks even for her modest investment, spread happiness among her co-migrants in Aotearoa, and helps spread the word about how good we are in what we do, which is a little of everything.

Yet another milestone in her long line of achievements bringing A-1 local talent to NZ shores is her grand project, Ogie Alcasid : Boy Pick Up, Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang Sa New Zealand?  Bringing to Auckland probably the pre-eminent musical and performance talent of our generation, Tita Zenie has succeeded in bringing the multi-awarded, multi-talented and universally admired Ogie A to our neighborhood for a one-night-only performance, April 20 at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane, Auckland.   The achievement speaks for itself.

While it would not be fair to use this endeavor to define the sum of Tita Zenie’s business, marketing and promotional genius, it certainly comes close. ¬†With due respect to every artist who’s come before and after, Tita Zenie has certainly pulled off a coup, and this is one event that needs little help to get off the ground.

It would be a mistake to think that this is the grandest and ultimate effort in Tita Zenie’s impressive career as an impressario. ¬†More like a continuing show of dazzle and brilliance that will shine in our Kiwi-Pinoy milieu for years to come.

For this and many others reasons, Ms Zenie Lorenzo Low is our favorite Kinoy!

Thanks for reading!

*Kinoy, a contraction for Kiwi Pinoy, is a non-racial term for Filipinos who’ve either been born or have migrated to New Zealand

the couple who thinks of themselves least now need our help the most

IN THE unwritten code of bayanihan (neighborliness), the visitor is not just an honored guest, he is treated like a cherished member of the family.  It is common for hosts to offer the best room in the house, and it matters litle that such room is the master bedroom.  No comfort, as long as it is available, is too luxurious, no detail too small to be attended to.  Distant relations, friends of friends and townmates are all welcome; no one is turned away.  It sounds impractical in our hurly-burly workaday age, but some Filipinos as far away in New Zealand still practice this.

Such a couple is Jerome and Lady Jalbuena from Auckland, NZ and Lucena Quezon.  The short time I shared a flat with them at the City of Sails my first year as a migrant, theirs was a revolving door of guests, acquaintances and newbie migrants from the homeland.  They never hesitated to share their home with anyone, particularly those who needed temporary shelter desperately.

It was not unknown for them to take in more than one family at a time, especially when the request was urgent.  Jerome would often pick up the family at the airport himself, and Lady would share their modest warm clothing to children who were unaccustomed to the New Zealand biting cold.

It is therefore the saddest news to hear that this selfless couple is facing a challenge of sorts these days.  To ensure accuracy and the exact words of their Facebook page :

Lady Jalbuena, 35 years old was diagnosed with adreno-cortical carcinoma (cancer of the adrenal glands) three years ago. It is a rare form of cancer in that it occurs in approximately 1 in every 1 million of population. She has undergone surgery and all other relevant treatment since then. Now, her doctors have advised that, at this point, all they can offer is palliative care, i.e. keep her as comfortable as possible. Her husband, Jerome sought alternative treatments here in New Zealand but there is nothing available for her current condition. He found one that seems promising called New Generation Photo-Density therapy and so they are going to China to try this. Three cycles of treatment are needed so they will have to go to China 3 times for 2 weeks at a time.

They need to do this quickly before her condition deteriorates and she is unable to travel or become not fit enough for the treatment. They are scheduled to go on their first trip on Thursday, 6 September. Although they now have funds for the first cycle, there is still the 2 cycles that need to be funded.
This young family, with two primary school-aged girls (Juliana 9 and Leila 7), is facing considerable costs. I hope you can find it in your heart to help them in their desperate bid to prolong the life of their mother. Any help will be greatly appreciated. ( thanks to Beck Destura Garcia for allowing us to repost! )

If there’s anyone who deserves your help, no one deserves it more than this couple.¬† Please visit¬†for additional details.

Thanks for reading and let’s all offer a prayer for Jerome and Lady !

seeing three of my four brothers after three years

Farthest is Donald, in the middle is the distinguished looking Tim, and nearest is hyperkinetic Jude ūüôā

this is the best picture i have of my first meeting with everyone back home, so I use it.  The report is a bit late, and so the recall may not be total.

the time/place vortex was Choi Garden 1st of the month, which seems to have acquired the preeminent, first-among-equals stature of Chinese restaurant of choice shared with Gloria Maris in Greenhills, a Chinese-Filipino enclave in Metro Manila.  It was an overcast but very humid Sunday, nobody seemed to mind, and the lunch was attended by my parents, favorite aunt Lily, two guests brought by my sister-in-law Joy from her church group, a nephew, and as you can see above, my three brothers.

Only one brother was absent, George who is in Auckland.

Timothy (Tim) is the eldest, a cable-TV industry executive, was full of questions for me about New Zealand, mainly about my job, career prospects (one of his many expertises is human resources), the NZ Filipino community, and how I was adjusting to married life.

Donald, a doctor, was quite interested in health care, care for the elderly (for personal as well as professional reasons, our brood is getting on in years), advances in occupational and physical therapy, also a hobbyhorse for him, and his passions, like cheese, New Zealand sweets, and other stuff.

Jude is the outdoorsy type, and asked about hiking, tramping and other activities like bungee jumping, white-water rafting, rock climbing and activities that I got tired just talking about.

It had been ages and ages since I saw them and shot the breeze with them without thinking about anything else.  Only a glass of beer, peanuts (not too much though) and raucous laughter were needed to make it ideal.

Next time, it will be funnier with brother George around!

Thanks for reading!

why Mimi & Jarvis Laurilla and the KASAGIP Charitable Trust are my favorite kinoys*

Mimi and Jarvis and KASAGIP help migrants of all kinds and situations, because they know how hard it is to pass through the eye of the needle.

MARICEL (NOT her real name) was three days away from an expiring work¬†visa, and all her dreams 72 hours from similarly dwindling down the drain.¬† Because of a lucky referral, she rang the subjects of today’s blog.¬† Each hour¬†from then on¬†was crucial, but they were well-spent.¬† Clever paperwork was lodged, a proper job offer produced, processed and verified, Maricel saved from a one-way ticket home, and 24 months later the latest in a proud tradition of deserving Asian permanent residents, each day contributing to the choo-chooing of the resurgent New Zealand economy.

Maricel’s is an exceptional case, because she would’ve spent the last iota of her strength to stay in Aotearoa¬†anyway, her friends were prepared to see her through her immigration adventure, and she was fortunate enough to benefit from the passion and zeal of KASAGIP volunteers led by Mimi and Jarvis Laurilla, who have braved fate, fickle bureaucracy and the sometimes treacherous tides of career and fortune, to help new migrants in New Zealand, as they were once migrants themselves.

KASAGIP is shorthand for Kapatirang Kabalikat sa Kagipitan, which loosely translated from Tagalog is community partners (or brothers/sisters) in times of need, but SAGIP, the root word, also means rescue.¬† KASAGIP¬†is a label “of those who rescue”.¬† The name of their devoted team is both an acronym and a keyword for the passion of those who help with and rescue from, the challenges and obstacles of migration.

It would be misleading to say Mimi and Jarvis have done all the work, but they are the driving force of a potent group which has literally brought out of the deepest hole 20 migrants or hard-luck “cases” of which Maricel is only the latest.¬† The Skilled Migrant Policy stream that provides NZ migrants with livelihoods is double edged, as it sends home those who fail to find jobs that fit the would-be migrant’s skill set.¬† Kasagip takes this quirk of fate to heart, as it is prepared to help those who fall between the cracks of good intentions and well-meaning opportunity.

Mimi, Jarvis and their corps of hardy volunteers have undergone no formal training as immigration consultants, counselors, lifesavers or employment advisors, only the hard-knock realworld lessons of experience applying for legitimate migrant status themselves.  Add  to that, a vocation to help those similarly situated, and wanting a better life for themselves in foreign shores far from home.

To finance the logistics of helping hardluck migrant wannabes, the Laurillas and KASAGIP conceived of a thousand-and-one ways to raise money, not the least being the KASAGIP annual garage sale, grants and funding from city governments and foundations, and the goodwill donations of the KASAGIP Golden Club, anything to maintain liquidity and independence from the profit motive.

In return, this incredibly inspiring organization ask for nothing except the satisfaction of seeing an aimless, wandering and hopeless migrant brought back from the depths of despair and into the land of the living.  That is, the land of hope and new life, in New Zealand.

Each migrant sent home represents a dream extinguished, a dream that Mimi and Jarvis are not ready to give up, as long as they have the minimal requisite of passion and initiative.  Without this, KASAGIP would not survive.  And neither would the many migrants it helps.

For this and many other reasons, Mimi and Jarvis Laurilla, their comrades in KASAGIP, and their converts, are truly my favorite Kinoys.  They deserve to be your favorites, too !

Thanks for reading !

PS.  For more info and if you want to help them help others, pls email, visit their Facebook page (Kasagip Charitable Trust) or simply ring them (04)528-5238 in NZ.  Gain the goodwill and pay it forward, woohoo !

*Kinoy, a contraction for Kiwi Pinoy, is a non-racial term for Filipinos who’ve either been born or have migrated to New Zealand