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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!


3 things to do when you’re the only noypi on site

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[ Please enjoy the slideshow while playing Pinoy Ako by Orange & Lemons. Thank you for the YouTube video to YouTube poster John Kenneth, and thanks so much to our kabayan for allowing use of their photos. Mabuhay! ]

LATE 2000s, YOUR KABAYAN was leaving for New Zealand and while I wasn’t aware then, I was starting a new chapter of my life working in NZ. In the process I never got to be a Pinoy Big Brother fan. the soundtrack of “Pinoy Ako” by Orange & Lemons has stuck to my mind and spirit all these years though.

Every time I think it’s not worth it anymore working as a Filipino in faraway New Zealand and showing our hosts what we’re all about, I just hum through the song to myself, get a little emotional, think of how lucky I am being an OFW with the job I have, and renew my reserves of energy for work.

For Pinoy Ako, intentionally or not, embodies how proud the Pinoy migrant and / or migrant worker should be in his/her work ethic, his dreams and his craft, anywhere in the world. It’s almost like the song is talking to each and every Filipino worker, telling us: You’re not perfect. But with all your faults, you’re the best the Inang Bayan has to offer, you shine brightest away from home, show the whole world the best face of the Filipino, and come back home to your country’s warm embrace.

But enough of that, I just wanted to show you how in my experience we best showcase our Pinoyness when we’re the only Filipino in our workplace, as is often the case in New Zealand (unless you’re a nurse in a big hospital or a builder in a big construction worksite). If we can just manage to do these three things we balance being the best Pinoy version of ourselves and at the same time show how good we are as interdependent  citizens of our adopted New Zealand:

Highlight the positives, downplay the negatives. As any sociable person would do, when we meet someone new, we talk about the good things first, we put all negative aside for a more candid moment later. As a people, facing other races, we do likewise. We are hardworking. We get along. We smile regardless of the occasion. We make friends with other races easily, and so on and so forth.  Then of course the negatives. We are gossipy. We suffer from crab mentality. We don’t support our own. But the nega, these don’t need to be broadcasted to Kiwis and fellow migrants. When we are in front of others, we put our best foot forward, represent ourselves with the best characteristics ever. As it should be.

Never be ashamed of ourselves. For a long time, I was not only the only Pinoy at our work site, I was the only Asian, probably the first full-time worker who wasn’t European New Zealander (which really means white), Maori or Pacific Islander.

Then a funny thing happened Around a year and a half ago, a Punjabi Indian assumed the role of assistant plant engineer , decent enough, but when I mentioned to him that we were the only pair of Asians on site, he matter-of-fact corrected me.

I’m not Asian bro, he said.

What ??? What are you then I asked, knowing full well the answer.

I’m Kiwi of course. Everyone within earshot laughed, but I knew he meant it. He probably considered himself Indian before, but that was a thing of the past, he was a Kiwi now.

But whether he was just joking, half-meant it, or was serious, I myself would never deny my Filipino origins and ethnicity. The unchanging nature of his appearance only added to the absurdness of his claim, but in my case, brownness or no, I will forever remain a Filipino first, and maybe New Zealander second. I suspect many other kabayan feel this way, without explaining why, and I feel we will be respected more this way.

Stop riding the stereotypes. There was a time when our womenfolk were popular as “mail-order brides” as a way to escape poverty and lack of opportunities back home, and this dubious distinction made its way to New Zealand shores. When one of my colleagues remarked that he might ask a favor from me to procure himself a Pinay bride, I went along with the joke, and promised to look up a prospect or two. I later regretted it, as it didn’t help our image as a decent, hardworking people any. Of course our Filipinas continue to be popular as partners to many New Zealanders, but never let it be said that any of our Pinays are for sale.

There are many other stereotypes. Our being little brown brothers to white colonizers, our  being entertainers of the world at the expense of our equal abilities as scientists, tradesmen, artists, and entrepreneurs. Our being bad drivers. The list goes on, and we don’t need to perpetuate these stereotypes at all. Just be ourselves.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat!


3 ways pinoys are hurt/offended by others & why we shouldn’t take offense

[I originally wanted to entitle this post “silly ways Pinoys are offended…” but realized it doesn’t help to label us in negative ways. What’s silly for one person may not be for another. thanks and acknowledgment to YouTuber and influencer Jessica Lee for the video, which I don’t own. Thanks for reading! ]

A GOOD WAY to realize that Filipinos (Pinoys) are more “hurt” than “offended” by perceived slights by other races is to use Google Translate, English into Tagalog. Type “offended” into the English box for translation and you’ll see “nasaktan” which, as every bagoong-blooded Pinoy knows, translates to “hurt” more than anything else.

There’s no scientific evidence backing it up, but I believe Filipinos are among the most “emotionalized” people on Earth. Instead of getting offended, we are hurt by certain things, because we “emotionalize” things, meaning we have to like or dislike things, not just interpret everyday things and gestures as what they are, things and gestures. When you think about it, people don’t do things for us to like and dislike, they just do.

One way to describe it is our tendency to be hurt rather than offended , a kind of “cognitive bias” (or slightly wrong way of seeing and perceiving things), although to other cultures and races it would be a reason to be offended, outraged or embarrassed. It’s important to remember that bukod-tangi (uniquely) here are a few ways this may happen:

When Filipinos smile to someone, and that someone doesn’t smile back. Filipinos are big smilers. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with my day, or my world is being turned upside down (to use a mild hyperbole), ) nearly always smile at whoever I encounter. Not so with other people, or other races, as I have come to observe living in New Zealand more than a decade.

Before, when I smiled at someone and that someone didn’t smile back, I immediately put it down to something being wrong, e.g, I did something wrong to or for that person and that person was trying to make me realize such. Or, that that person hadn’t been having a good day, or was in an otherwise bad mood.

Those are two out of many, many possibilities, but Filipinos like me, for some reason or other, tend to focus on the above. Indeed, I pass by friends, acquaintances and workmates who hardly acknowledge me when I smile at them, and after a few moments we engage in serious communication. I have gotten used to this now, the lack of smiles in the workplace, and everywhere else. It’s no longer a biggie for me.

When a person is eating, and doesn’t invite you to join him/her in the meal. Ewan ko (I don’t know) how it started or when it became a cultural thing, but inviting someone present or passing by to partake of your meal is automatic to a Pinoy. It’s probably a history of common hardships and barangay (village) fellowship combining to evolve into a pleasant, altruistic tradition.

Modern living and realities of privacy have in time caught up with other cultures and even our own. It’s no longer unusual for diners in an office lunch room to eat together and exchange pleasantries without sharing food. Similarly, when I pass by someone having a late lunch or early merienda, I don’t expect that person to offer me his/her food. And anyways, even among fellow Filipinos, I don’t expect to actually share in the meal, just be asked.

Raising the voice and being argumentative either during discussions or stressing a point. Let’s all admit it, almost unanimously, that Filipinos are a bit on the sensitive side. As in first point above, di mo lang ngitian (just forget to smile), and misinterpretations are bound to arise. Malimutan mo lang batiin (just forget to greet), and hurt feelings are sure to follow.

What more when voices are raised, sometimes in passion, sometimes for emphasis. Among  colleagues, contemporaries and co-workers, you can’t avoid this. It’s part of human nature, across genders, races and generations.

Just not among Asians, particularly East Asians. The Confucian orientation of so many countries this part of the world defines gentleness, subtlety and tactfulness as the ideal way of communicating. So that brusqueness, bluntness and directness are seen as being uneducated, rude and just not the way to do things.

For Pinoys in a discussion and everyday communication, you may get your point across and (apparently) win arguments, but you won’t win hearts and minds. Arguing for argument’s sake is a good skill for lawyers and debaters, but it’s not gonna make you many friends among Filipinos.

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I think the most important lesson that Pinoys, friends of Pinoys and other Asians could take from these observations is to never take things personally. There are a thousand and one interpretations of a person’s actions and gestures and yours is only one of them. For all you know, a person might not even be thinking of you when you are confronted with what you think is a hurting, or offensive gesture.

Second is, the way you and I and fellow filipinos take things is different from the way other people take them. You may be 100% familiar with the way your countrymen, kabayan and compatriots. There is no right or wrong way of interpreting actions and gestures, but we spend so much energy second guessing our encounters with others. In the end, our happiness (or lack of it) depends only on ourselves.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!


ang sampung utos (10 commandments) ng “pastoral care” sa NZ

[Not only is it a longish post, it’s also in Taglish. If enough of you Precious Reader request, I’ll repost one in predominantly English. hello and welcome to Wellington Mr Mel Fernandez! Thanks in advance for reading, and thanks in advance too to the kabayan subjects of the pictures as well as the owners of the same! Please send in your names should you wish me to identify you, to both subjects and owners! ]

KASAMA NA  sa pagsalubong at pagwelcome sa bagong salta mong pinsang galing prubinsya ay ang pakikisukob nya sa iyong munting dampa, pagsukob nya sa inyong hapag kainan, at paggamit nya ng lahat ng iyong gamit at kung kailangan, damit at kung anu-ano pa.

In other words, you tell your country cousin, what’s mine is yours, mi casa es su casa, and to a reasonable extent, feel at home (but don’t wear out your welcome). Because you’re new in my town, and it’s my town, it’s my responsibility to put out the welcome mat, get you settled, and make your entry into a new country as easy as possible.

Though it’s often taken for granted, for Filipinos in New Zealand we call this simple act (or acts) of kindness “pastoral care” although it’s done in the spirit of bayanihan (“townmate-ship” for lack of a better term) and pakikisama (“getting along”) but recently here it has been prone to abuse, for financial gain, taking advantage of the ignorance and vulnerability of the newcomer.

Do we have to mention that it’s un-Filipino, un-Christian and downright mean?

Just to help all of us along, handed down to us from our elders and ninuno (ancestors) are the sampung utos (ten commandments) of pastoral care:

I. UNANG UTOS : unawain ang pagkabaguhan ng bagong dating. (sympathize with the unfamiliarity of the newcomer) Parang sanggol (baby) ang bagong dating. He/she has to deal with the newness of his/her dwellings, the people around him/her, his / her new job, even the weather. (Suko na po ako, from hereon I’ll just use the male pronoun sorry.) Everything is new to him! So the biggest favor we can do for our kabayan is to recognize that he is just starting to take it all in, for the first time, ever. A little more patience, a little less hurry to settle him in, and unless it’s absolutely necessary for him to hit the ground running, a little more wisdom in letting him absorb things at his own pace.

II. IKALAWANG UTOS : ipaliwanag lahat ng pangunahing pagbabago sa pamumuhay sa New Zealand. (explain the basic changes of living in New Zealand a Filipino should make). Basic Kiwi English, getting around, life skills like cooking, using basic appliances, and driving are things that slowly but surely need to be learned by the bagong dating. There are no ifs or buts for this, if he is to survive and get by on his own, as anybody should. For sure it’s good to ease the kabayan into the new environment, but just as crucially, things like crossing the street (look right instead of left first) and avoidance of sir and mam, etc. should be learned. Dressing for the weather, avoiding dangerous areas and a little briefing about Kiwi’s do’s and don’t’s (it’s almost embarrassing to have to say this, but  knowing  that urinating in public will actually get you arrested might be important to many Pinoys of drinking age) . And things like that.

III. IKATLONG UTOS. Get the basic needs right. Yes, he is skilled. and yes, he has a little money for the first few months. But our newcomer needs a basic checklist sorted, and we need to help him out here. He needs to have a decent place to stay, a comfortable bed, basic kitchen and toilet facilities and a little moral support while he looks for his first job or on his first few days on the job. 95% of the time these needs are filled by the employer if he already has a job, relatives if he’s lucky enough to have some in the new city, or friends made from before the migration. Otherwise, kind souls like yourself from his church, or volunteers who specialize in “pastoral care” are his only way to adapt and adjust.

IV. IKA-APAT NA UTOS.  if it’s your duty or obligation to help him out, do it the best and most efficient way possible. If you’re the kabayan’s employer or his representative, make his transition into New Zealand living as enjoyable and pain-free as possible. It will come back to you in the form of employee gratitude and efficient work. If you’re the recruitment agency or latter’s representatives in New Zealand, then by gosh please do your job and provide every care and comfort.

V. IKALIMANG UTOS. Don’t take advantage. Especially if there is a conflict of interest, please do NOT do business or offer goods or services to the newcomer for gain. You are the first point of contact (well, besides the employer if one exists) of the newcomer. He owes you a lot, and human nature dictates that he will trust you. Please do not take advantage of this trust for your gain. Do not sell him goods that you yourself wouldn’t buy or you know he doesn’t need (yet), and if selling can’t be avoided, don’t sell at an unfair price. Don’t offer to do things for him, then charge him for services rendered later. Worse, don’t attempt to recommend things for him he’s not ready for, in the guise of trying to help, when you’re actually profiting from such transaction. A good example would be convincing him to buy your car, or a car you recommended, when he is as yet unqualified to drive. At the very least, this goes against the spirit of being a good neighbor and kabayan, and at worst it’s criminal and unkind.

VI. IKAANIM NA UTOS. Don’t exploit for other kinds of gain. Helping out is a good thing, but don’t do it for the wrong reasons, like for appearance’s sake, to look good for your other kabayan, your organization, your church or your community,  We all want to look good, but pride is always lurking behind every good deed. Let’s try to do goodness, for goodness’s sake. I know this is better said than done, and I’m no angel myself. But it’s still worth aiming for.

thanks and acknowledgment to!

VII. IKAPITONG UTOS. Don’t help in expectation of a favor to be repaid in the future. We all believe in good karma. Bad karma as well. But if you believe in the law of the universe, we might as well follow the rule that if things will happen, they will happen, especially in the case of positive things. Pastoral care is no different. Please don’t lend shelter, clothing or food to a bagong dating thinking that the same person or his family will help you out later. It is better to think, well, hopefully they will pay it forward to someone else who will need the same kind of help later. As you were helped, so shall you help, parang ganun.

VIII. IKAWALONG UTOS. Share the effort. I’ve heard it said once in New Zealand, many hands make light work. Same is true when you provide care for a newbie. If he and his family need temporary lodgings, a couple of families could put up the dad and a son and the mom and a daughter in separate houses, kung kulang ang kwarto (if there’s not enough room). A car pool could be set up to bring parents and kids to work and school, respectively. And so forth and so on. It’s more economical, and more sociable. Besides, Filipinos like to do things communally anyway, so it’s no biggie. Resources are saved, people are cared for, and the community is stronger. Everybody wins!

IX. IKASIYAM NA UTOS. Don’t spoil the newcomer. Give a man a fish, and feed him for a day. You know the rest. Encourage the new guy to start absorbing things and learning like a sponge from day one. It can’t be done any other way. Try to lead him out of his comfort zone. If things are TOO easy for him, he won’t be encouraged to do things on his own, and that’s when trouble starts. Driving, learning to interact with locals, and getting around are all things you can learn only by doing it yourself, it can’t be taught. And that’s why before long, the newcomer must be pushed to go it alone.

X. IKASAMPUNG UTOS. Encourage the newcomer to pay it forward. This is just a reiteration of the seventh rule, but it’s worth restating it: the way of life of people helping people, bayanihan, getting along, whatever you call it, is a never-ending cycle. It works because people pass the good vibes on. Backwards is good, but forward is even better. The best way to recognize and acknowledge the good that was done for you is to do the same, for the next guy. That’s how it works. And that’s how pastoral care lives on, hopefully with the purest of intentions and bringing out the best in all of us.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat, thanks for reading!


bakit apihin ang Pinoy sa NZ atbp (why Pinoy workers are easily oppressed in NZ)

thanks and acknowledgment to!

[ Strong opinions sometimes in this humble blog of ours, occasionally without even any research or facts to back them up, please feel free to interact or discuss with respectful language, mabuhay!]

ALMOST TO A FAULT (halos kasalanan na), Filipinos (“Pinoys”) are crowd pleasers, moderators, facilitators and coordinators. We are eager to please, loathe to disagree or argue, and doggedly try to take one for the team at all times, at risk of life and limb. Masyado tayong magaling makisama.

But do we sometimes go too far in playing the nice guy? Do we too often risk our dignity, self-respect and well-being in our desire to defer to our boss and peers, keep our head down and maintain good relations?

Put another way, how many times have you seen kabayan  (countrymen or women) suffering from timidity, low self-esteem and an unusually high dose of self-deprecation?

I may be wrong, but the weight of tradition and culture bears heavily on typical Filipino  behavior. Tradition dictates that we respect or defer to our seniors and elders (at home and at work), to “never outshine the master,” to avoid direct confrontation unless totally necessary, and all these combine to produce a typical Filipino prone to bullying and harrassment.

May I offer a few examples or reasons of the above?

thanks and acknowlegment to!

ang Pinoy masyadong matiisin. Google Translate offers a few translations (“patient,” “stoic,” “long-suffering”) but none quite captures all the nuances and layers of meanings involved in matiisin. In a concrete example: If as a worker you were paid 35% to 40% less than your non-Filipino counterparts, bunked at least four to a room in crappy quarters,  charged exorbitant rent and interest by landlords and lenders, and yet chose not to divulge such distressful circumstances to anyone in authority, that would be an outrage, but not for your fellow Filipinos in the same boat.

You might find it hard to believe this actually happened, but this was the finding among a significant number of Pinoy builders (carpenters, masons and scaffolders)  in the ongoing Christchurch rebuild program in the southern part of New Zealand.

In many situations, in someone like me (a blogger) lies the responsibility to explain, give more details or at least shed some light on a situation I read about. But not here. Just read the story and everything is self-explanatory. Ginigisa sila sa sariling nilang mantika, and not one word of complaint will be heard from them.

Matiisin in this case might be seen as a virtue by our countrymen back home, but given the suffering, relative unfairness and lack of response by the NZ government, I’m not so sure. And remember, beyond the sacrifice of every Pinoy worker here, there are at least two more people (a spouse and a child) back home.

thanks and acknowledgment to!

ang Pinoy madaling magtiwala ng kapwa Pinoy. Here’s another shocker. Imagine working at least 10-hour days with no breaks for six days a week (and getting paid for only 40 hours), living in a makeshift room in your employer’s garage (and paying $150 weekly for such spartan lodgings), and not getting paid the last 3-and-a-half months of your 18 month contract. Worse, you would be “reported to the police” and sent home if you didn’t perform well in your job.

And the reason you naively believed and abided in such work conditions ? Mainly because you were a guest worker in faraway New Zealand and, worse, you trusted that you would be taken care of by fellow Filipinos, who ultimately took advantage of your trusting nature.

You can read all about this shocking case of exploitation here.

it’s good that kabayan Juliet Garcia loves caring for Switzer resident Kathleen Bowater. but our nurses can excel elsewhere too! thanks and acknowledgment to Northland Age!

ang Pinoy di marunong halagahan ang sariling kakayahan.  All over the world, you hear of the excellent and world class quality of our Filipino nurses. Not only are our nurses hardworking, dedicated and treat their patients like family, nurses are skilled enough to specialize. We have Filipino surgical nurses, cardiology nurses, neurology nurses, pediatric nurses who are trusted by doctors and medical teams the world over, who have the technical and professional expertise well beyond their years.

And yet, inexplicably, these same Filipino nurses are being set aside to work almost exclusively in aged care wards and institutions in New Zealand. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but our nurses can do so much more. We are kind, compassionate, treat our wards and patients like family, but that is not enough reason to employ our nurses for aged care alone. It sounds like we are being underutilized and at worst, tolerates a mild form of racism.

Again, because Filipinos are grateful just to work in New Zealand, don’t complain until we are in the most desperate of circumstances, can’t assert ourselves the way other nationalities do, and are respectful, sometimes too respectful to our hosts, you will never hear anything about this form of inequity until someone takes a very close look at the situation.

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So there you have it, both direct and indirect exploitation of Filipino labor in what is supposed to be one of the best places in the world to work in, New Zealand. I still believe in the fairness and justice of the latter, but definitely these situations above are no longer just the exceptions to the rule.

Needless to say, these are gathered not just from stories and anecdotes from our kabayan and colleagues, but from actual newspaper reports, interviews and surveys. Please add any of the horror stories you know in the comments section below.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat, at mabuhay ang New Zealand!

Thanks for reading!



how OFWs make good husbands (or life partners) and fathers

OFWs coming home from Libya. thanks and acknowledgement to!

[Note : please read the companion post how OFWs make good wives or life partners in coming out very soon, maraming salamat po!]

AFTER FINDING LOVE, FAMILY AND GOOD HEALTH, for many Filipinos (Pinoys) what  remains on top of the list of desirable things ? I can hazard a few guesses, like a job you like, fulfillment in your career, and travel. Put this all together in one situation, and you get the life of an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) right?

Well, not all the time. Often, our countrymen pick up the first job available overseas, borrow money from family members, and send money home to their young and growing brood as soon as they can. They work long hours, sometimes under hostile conditions, and just get by and do the best they can. All for the people they love. This is why I know, deep in my heart, that Filipinos make good husbands and fathers.

Still I’d like to make a list detailing the relationship between being an OFW and being a good husband. It is completely unscientific, unsupported by any evidence. Just good old haka-haka and asking around:

Responsibility –  You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. If you asked for her hand in marriage, did the wedding video and got a dozen pairs of godparents, afterwards you have to be a dutiful husband. If you gave your gorgeous wife three kids in two years, took all the perfect baby photos and posted the binyag (baptismals) on Facebook and Instagram, you have to match it with good, solid head-of-the-family work: provide for your family.

Because the type of income you need won’t be generated by trabahador work in the Philippines, you have to be more creative and look for better work overseas. A short vocational course can lead you anywhere in the building industries worldwide. If you’re not choosy, you can work on a ship, lead a lonely life a couple years, but come back to a healthy wife and bouncing toddlers to meet you at the airport in what you’ll later realize was just a wink of an eye. All because you did your job, literally, and got responsible.

Being responsible is probably the one good asset all husbands need to have in their back pockets if they want to impress the wife, the wife’s barkada and the future in-laws. You can be a slob, have a ten-word vocabulary, or be a charmless caveman. If you’re responsible, know what you need to do, and do it every day of your life, you will have a happy wife. And as Confucius say: happy wife, happy life.

Discipline – Work is work, anywhere and everywhere. You wake up early just to be at work on time.  You get along with people you don’t like. And you listen to the boss and do everything he/she says, even though the latter is frankly, someone who got the job just because he/she put in more time at the company before everyone else. If you think it’s hard, imagine the same situation, except for the fact that nobody else is Filipino. That’s right, there is only one or two of you in the group, no one is cutting you any slack, and if anything, because of the famous work ethic of Pinoys, your being brown is actually an expectation that you will work at least as hard as anyone on site.

AND SURPRISING EVERYONE, most of all yourself, you DO work hard, because you want to to keep your job, because everyone thinks that you, being the smallest, lightest and scrawniest worker, will give up and give all sorts of excuses to leave your job. But you don’t, leave, you don’t complain, and in fact you do your job quietly, patiently, and without incident. You become the hardest worker, and actually (though it’s not noticed), the best worker. All because you stuck to your guns. All because of discipline.

Transfer this discipline to married life, and you’ve got it made. Do the chores. Wake up on time. Work every day of the week (act like you love your job, because it’s the only job you’ve got). Hug and kiss your wife as if you appreciate her (because you do!). Marriage is like a muscle. If you keep working out on your discipline, sooner or later, you won’t need to flex your marriage muscles. You’ll be so impressive, you look good just standing there.

Patience. So you’re the most junior worker around. So you’re the least impressive looking. And so you’re the one with the least credentials. Of course, without saying a word, everyone else makes you aware of your junior status, least impressive stature, and least credentials tag. You don’t care. You just do your thing, go the extra mile when needed, smile everytime you’re asked to communicate, and be a team player.

Slowly you’re appreciated. Slowly you’re acknowledged. Before anyone knows it, you’re up for supervisor, without asking for it, without lobbying for it, and without brown-nosing for the post (well, a little food-sharing here and there never hurt). And you know what?  Everyone likes you, everyone approves of you, and you end up being the team leader. You’re the natural choice, and everyone wonders why you didn’t get there sooner. But you don’t wonder. You got there because you were patient. After everyone else effed up on the team leader job, you were the last man/woman standing, and you just opened your hands to receive the promotion.

If you wait for the right moment, don’t fall or trip over yourself trying to develop a relationship, believe me kabayan, it will show. Patience is  a virtue not just at work or in your career, but in everything you do. Sure there are situations where going for your gut and following your impulse is a good thing. But unless you’re a psychic and know that the girl in front of you is the love of your life, patience works and works nine times out of ten.

And that’s why women love patience, too. OFWs who do well overseas are usually responsible, disciplined, and patient, and will almost always make good husband material. Too bad, because at that point, most of them are already taken. Word of advice for those with OFW suitors: snatch him up, sis, before somebody else does!

Mabuhay, thanks for reading!

extending mary jane veloso’s Day of Miracles to other kabayan on Death Row

Taken only a few days before her execution, Mary Jane is inexplicably all smiles.  Perhaps she had the foreknowledge that God and her kabayan would not abandon her.   Thank you Indonesia!

Taken only a few days before her execution, Mary Jane is inexplicably all smiles. Perhaps she had the foreknowledge that God and her kabayan would not abandon her. Thank you Indonesia!

[ Note : sorry for the typo and errors, I was so excited to post this.  The first miracle was that the person who tricked Mary Jane into becoming a drug mule surfaced, and the second miracle was that the Indonesian Government listened.  Hopefully other miracles will follow.  Today is a great day! ]

TO BLOG is essentially a self-centered enterprise.  No matter how much you want to help your fellow man, do the right thing, etc., you want to do it on your own terms and via the things you love doing, not the least of which is blogging!  But that’s alright, that’s the way the world works, you have to get at least something out of doing your thing, even if it’s the thrill of being read by at least one other person.

I blog about a motley group of things, mainly about my own life, and how I cope as a middle-aged Overseas Filipino Worker, that’s OFW.  But every now and then I concede that there are things bigger than me, more important than me, and things that will outlast most of us long after we’re gone.

One of those things is the universal respect for human life.  I don’t want to go into platitudes, motherhood statements that you already have heard enough of.  I just want to say that no matter what the crime is, no matter what you’ve done, the punishment should fit the deed.  And no crime deserves the punishment of taking away life.

You may or may not have your exceptions, I respect that.  And obviously the Indonesian people, represented by its government and laws, has seen it fit that self-preservation (of the state) warrants any and all forms of deterrence, the most powerful of which is the Death Penalty, in caps.

One of our very own, until a few ours ago, was to have received that harshest of punishments, along with eight other unfortunate individuals from Australia, Brazil, France and another country or two.  Out of those nine, no one received a last minute stay of execution, a reprieve, pardon, or any other act that would stop the legal murder of those unfortunate enough to have been convicted of a capital crime.

Except one.

Except our Mary Jane Veloso, who until a few hours before her execution was condemned to die by firing squad for the improbable commission of drug trafficking, considering her circumstances in life, her previous criminal record, and the simple unlikeliness of her being able to do what she was accused of doing.

The media reports will better explain the minor miracle of her survival, but for now suffice it to say that the person who actually caused the circumstances for her to land in her sticky situation has surfaced, and contrary to all expectations, the Indonesian Government has relented.  The day has been saved, and our kabayan lives!

*****     *****     *****

As of this date, around 800 Filipinos worldwide are currently being prosecuted, have been convicted or are awaiting sentences to be carried out, for capital crimes.  This is an outrage, and the only ones who are in a position to do something about it is the Philippine Government, and of course, the various governments of the countries where Filipinos are being prosecuted.  Our kabayan (countrymen) may or may not have committed the crimes charged, but most certainly they don’t deserve the supreme punishment.

By agitating our Government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and various Embassies, let’s extend our kabayan Mary Jane Veloso’s Day of Miracles to all our other kabayan.

Mabuhay po tayong lahat!