dodging awkward situations with your pinay wife / gf / partner


awkward!

awkward!

[ Maraming maraming salamat Arlene and Jun Ahorro, Arlene Gill and Aline Parrone and George and Hazel Bautista for their supreme kindness and hospitality during our trip to Auckland, may we return the favor someday soon! ]

WE DON’T guarantee 100% success; in our fallible imperfect world, nothing does.  But having had the benefit of experience, knowing our Pinay sisterhood since we were very young (and that was quite a few summers ago), we believe we are eminently qualified to help you,  precious reader, from as my audacious title suggests, dodging potentially awkward situations with your Pinay loved one.

The fundamental disconnect between cultures and values, the yawning divide between races and religions (or lack of same) and the clash between generations and familial priorities are some of  the sources of friction between Pinays and their significant others, who would otherwise be genuinely and sincerely in love, but it could be anything, as little as a momentary or wayward glance to an innocent phrase or comment that could open the proverbial can of worms.

First awkward situation.  While you are in the company of Pinay loved one, you encounter a pretty lady.  Do you (a) strike up a conversation, attract her attention and hope your Pinay loved one doesn’t notice, (b) be friendly in a guarded manner, but only if the hot lady is herself friendly first (although that’s highly unlikely), or (c) ignore her completely.  If the answer isn’t obvious, I’ll tell you what I’d do.

This was what happened: on our way to Auckland to catch the Ogie Alcasid concert, a very rare appearance by a world-class Filipino performer in this part of the world by the way, and on the discount flight to the City of Sails, I found myself seated next to a very attractive Kiwi woman.  From my peripheral view, she was slim, smartly dressed and didn’t seem to have any companion.  Of course, to my left was Mahal, who was ready to raise an eyebrow and flash a pout of disapproval if I so much as turned my head and display my famous Pinoy charm on said Attractive Kiwi Woman.

The flight was sixty-five minutes long, Mahal fell asleep somewhere between Wellington and Auckland and there was little reading matter to occupy my wandering mind, save for the usual glossy airline/travel mag that wasn’t exactly in the John Grisham or Stephen King neighborhood.  Did I talk to or even attempt to look at Ms Attractive Kiwi Woman?

The short answer is no. 😉

Common sense, a desire to not stoke any embers of  the time my conscience was less than virtuous and my eye was a little more than wandering, and the recognition that I was much better off letting sleeping dogs lie, were compelling reasons for my course of action, despite the fact that outside Mahal, encountering pretty young women and sitting this close to them was about as often as seeing more than a handful of stars as well as the moon on a clear Manila night, the odds of which is the equivalent to slim to none.

Which brings me to my valuable lesson : whenever you are with the love of your life, specifically your Pinay love, and you meet at close quarters a female topping 8 out of 10 on the hotness scale, ignore said female.  Pretend that she doesn’t exist and devote even more attention than usual on your beloved.  Whether or not she notices, it’s a win-win.  If she does, well you get a good-little-boy pat on the back.  If she doesn’t, well all you lost was the chance to admire a fine young thing while testing your steely resistance to temptation; you can always ogle the next nice-looking lady the next time, of course this means the next time you’re not with your Pinay Lady.

even more awkward!

even more awkward!

Second situation.  You are the judge-by-default when your Pinay love selects dresses and stuff for her party / night out.  She asks you in succession does this dress highlight my assets, de-emphasize my less flattering parts and in general, make me look prettier?  The good news is the answer is easy, the dress does none of those things.  The bad news is she’s right there’s waiting for an answer in a New York minute.  What to do?  Do you (a) tell her all is good, yes yes yes and she looks like a supermodel; (b) bite the bullet and tell her the dress doesn’t do anything for her, she looks 10 years older in that awful dress and please donate it to the needy or anyone else who’ll want it, or (c) tell her exactly how the dress might have been good for her, had she had the right skin color, height and vital statistics?  Remember, there’s no middle ground and you can’t give her a safe, wishy-washy opinion.

You want her to look at her best but at the same time you don’t want to hurt her feelings and ruin her day.  The problem with Pinays is they take their appearance very seriously and believe that, though they already look good on their own and are as beautiful as any other race on the planet, they have to trounce the competition and must claim their birthright of being the most desirable women on Earth.

I’m not sure if my answer fits into the category of (a), (b) or (c), but I would tell my Pinay love that whatever she wears is immaterial to me, because she is the only beautiful woman in my life, and ultimately the opinion of others does not count.  Of course in reality this answer will not be the one she is looking for, but this is one case where what you think isn’t as important as how the other person feels, and believe me, dear reader, how your Pinay love feels is very important.

Thanks for reading!

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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!

you don’t alter your pinayness, you alter yourself to fit being a pinay


NOT ONLY did esposa hermosa not find a recent article I read about bridal tube feeding an alarming commentary on the lengths women will go to look “acceptable” on her wedding day, it actually inspired her to do something similar to fit into a picture-perfect party dress that she declared was the ONLY outfit that would satisfy her norm in looking good for an event.  I didn’t believe there was actually a pop culture adage to the effect that you don’t alter (a certain fashion designer’s dimensions), you alter yourself to fit (that designer), certainly commercially-conceived consumer hyperbole, but I saw it brought to life by esposa herself, declaring a one-day fast (save for smoothies and crackers) just to look fabulous (she already looks fabulous to me) for said event.

Which just brought to mind the various pressures women are subjected to just to prettify themselves and therefore give themselves the veneer of acceptability (let alone beauty) in civilized society.  It would all be very well in absolute terms, but we all know that men are not subjected to this pressure to paint our faces, finger nails and toe nails, put on at least half a dozen different substances on multiple layers to moisturize, lighten and strategically shade spots on their faces, specifically eyes, cheeks and noses;

Routinely in weddings, debuts and formal occasions, nobody gives us men a second look (even in our supposedly virile 20s, 30s and 40s) with our beer bellies and five o’clock shadows, but these same men would thumb their noses at their mates if the latter came out with anything less than flawless complexions and hourglass figures.

Obviously with my resume’, I can only speak for Pinays, so I hope there are some parallels you can draw if you’re other-Asian, Caucasian or of some other persuasion.

Depending on the amount of time a poor girl has before a big event, she can either pick out an outfit she’s never worn before or buy a brand-new one, usually worth several paycheques, pick out or buy shoes that match said outfit, replenish her store of makeup and hair care products or outsource the hair-and-makeup job to a professional who’s paid by the minute, and don’t forget the sidetrip to buy accessories, real jewelry and fashion jewelry, all the above to attend an event that besides the celebrant, no one will remember, to partake of food that will be a distant memory the morning after, and attended by people half of which she doesn’t even know.

And her boyfriend / date / partner?  He gets to wear the same suit he’s worn for Junior-Senior prom, graduation, his wedding, and probably the same suit he’ll be buried in (sorry to be morbid).  A sprinkle of face powder, deodorant and some after-shave, if he’s saved some from last time comprises the full range of aesthetic preparation he will undertake for the same occasion.

Nothing new for him, but hopefully everything will be freshly laundered.  All he needs to do is keep his shirt free from wine and ketchup stains, prevent scuffing the dull sheen of his loafers, and comb his unruly hair every now and then to avoid negative comments about hair gone awry.

On the other hand, his mate, harrassed Pinay, has a thousand-and-one items on her inbox.  Hair in place?  Check.  Face perfect?  Awesome for now.  Gown, bag and shoes coordinated? OK.  Now just hold that pause for the next three hours for the pics and Facebook posts so we can get this show on the road.

Sigh.  It’s hard enough to be pretty and sexy.  Harder when you’re young and eligible.  But it’s truly a challenge to be all that, and Pinay.

ate Shawie Stone, her yaya/nanny, & the basic instinct about Pinoy stereotypes


Yayas, nannies and maids. Also known as our modern OFW heroines. Thanks and acknowledgment to kerrycollison.blogspot.com !

[ Note : congratulations to Kinoy Wellingtonian Julianne Alvarez for her nomination as finalist for Emerging Sportswoman of the Year at the Wellington Sports Awards ! Woohoo! ]

IF STEREOTYPES are to be believed, then the typical Pinay-Pinoy is a perfect nurse / caregiver / nanny, is also an above-average seaman / IT engineer / call center agent, speaks understandable English, is good enough to be an American Idol finalist, is a Nike endorser-level athlete, is God-fearing, can work anywhere in the world and gets along with a rainbow of races, and never forgets to return the bag containing personal effects you misplace, whether it’s yesterday’s leftovers or US$250,000 cash.

But these are only the sunny side of stereotypes, the side we love hearing about and showing off to our non-Pinoy friends, hey look this is my countryman / countrywoman, but what we’re really saying is hey look this is me, ain’t it cool

The flip side of the stereotype, the one so prominently displayed in a recent article I read about an imminent legal confrontation between a former A-lister Sharon Stone and her former nanny, is the one we would rather not hear about.

For now, the stereotype I prefer focusing on his the one/s that refer to nannies, who we affectionately call our yayas (and which term I’ll use, if you don’t mind) till the end of this page).  And as it turns out, the stereotype my memories are summoning are not really stereotypes, but things the Pinoy yayas are actually known for.

When my yaya took care of me, she bathed me, dressed me, wiped my bottom, brought me to school, took me home, read to me, put me to sleep, went to sleep herself, and did the whole routine again until I could do these things myself.  I think it speaks for itself how important she was to me.

Years and years later, at the swanky retirement village in our suburb (which isn’t really swanky cause old people are abandoned there by children who can afford a slightly better retirement home than normal), Pinoy caregivers bathe their patients, dress them, wipe their bottoms, bring them to the park, take them home, read to them, put them to sleep, go to sleep themselves, and repeat the whole thing the next day.  They do this lovingly as if the patients were parents of their own, without complaint, go far beyond the requirements of fifteen dollars an hour, and by far are the most requested nationality when it comes to choice of caregivers, and I suspect this is true in many many places in New Zealand.

The difference between my yaya of 1970s and the retirement village yayas of 2012?  Besides the temporal gap of 40 years, absolutely nothing.

Tita Shawie, for all her linguistic, intellectual and non-sectarian requirements, could’ve gotten a British governess, French chef and an expert on political correctness to take care of her children for her, and with due respect, the level of care provided by her Pinay yaya would not have been possible.

Two caveats here : the facts as alleged by her former yaya may or may not be accurate, as most lawyerly allegations should be taken with a grain of salt.  Secondly, as mentioned, Pinoy stereotypes are always two-faced like a coin.  We love the positives but hate the negatives.  We speak great English but not without our unmistakeable twang, whether we admit it or not.  We love our indigenous home-grown Pinoy wisdom, but can’t deny the naivete and ethnocentricism it resonates with.  We take pride in our Pinoy traits of industriousness, religiosity and loyalty, but gloss over our love of gossip, parochialism, and crab mentality.  We can’t have our puto and kutsinta, and eat it too !

They’ve all put their foot in their mouth before.  Liam Neeson and bound PinaysClaire Danes and her cockroach phobia, and now Sharon Stone and why she inexplicably stood by her Pinoy yaya despite the latter’s imperfections.  They are all unfair, generalized and race-insensitive comments.  But they all contain all contain a kernel of truth in them, or at least a morsel of commentary about Philippine reality.

Each time we bathe in the glow of a positive Pinoy stereotype, it would do well for us to remember that there is most likely an equal and opposite negative stereotype lurking in the shadows ready to strike.  Forewarned is forearmed.

Thanks for reading!

The last day before the rest of your life


Note :Because of recent events, two years to plan for NZ has become two months.  In the haze of applications, transitions and goodbyes, it will probably be a good thing for them, and I’m writing a letter before things finalize for Ganda and Bunso.  Hope you don’t mind proofreading for me! 🙂 ]

Dear Ganda and Bunso :

WOW, SO glad you breezed through your medicals.  For a while I thought Bunso’s ECG was going to be a source of worry, but I’m glad the doctor signed off at the last moment.

I’m sure you think that it’s a pity that you can’t say proper goodbyes to your friends, relatives and classmates, monies for get-togethers and shindigs have all but dried up, I hope you understand that as it is, I’ve effectively set aside any hope of saving for the next few months, as your mother has likewise, I’m sure.

But the prize is great, that is seeing you here sooner rather than later, allowing you career and educational opportunities that wouldn’t be available back home, and of course seeing you grow into young adults full of hopes and dreams in a brave new world.  Neither your mom nor I would think twice about the little sacrifices needed, in comparison.

If I may say so, you have the best of both worlds.  I say this because you have grown up in the country we will love the rest of our lives, P.I. of course, and you will never forget how it is to have grown up there.

On the other hand, you have the rest of your lives to build your careers, your families and things you can be proud of in a country that rewards you for hard work, initiative and honesty.

I see lots of kids here who are lucky the way you will be lucky, but they missed out on Pinoy culture and values, which is for me something like a vacuum considering they are dyed-in-the-wool offspring of Pinoys and Pinays.  They still speak Tagalog, but haltingly and would rather just reply in English in what usually turns out to be one sided Tagalog conversations.

On the other hand, there will be your contemporaries who are equally talented and hard-working as you, but will never have the opportunities and jobs that you will have.  That’s why I believe you have the advantages of dual cultures and multiple options.  You have an amazing view looking forward, but you have a rich vista of homeland memories as inspiration for fulfillment and success.

In return, all you need to do is be the best that you can be, be passionate about things you enjoy doing, and not be afraid to start the adventure of a lifetime.

I love you always and can’t wait for you to get here.  Kaawaan kayo lagi ng Diyos !

Papa

PS.  Just a few reminders :  soak up your telenovelas, they don’t air here; munch up on those chichirya, Piattos and Nova aren’t available except in Asian stores; and don’t fill orders for any pirated DVDs; they’re not worth the hassle 🙂  take care!

surviving 2day’s Pinay Code of Kalantiaw, doublespeak & other cues



[ Note : This might someday save your life, in advance you’re very welcome.  🙂 ]

THAT COOL, efficient-sounding word code enjoys in modern usage at least two common meanings.  The first as I have grown to understand it is a loose association of verbal and non-verbal words, phrases, symbols and signs that have an obvious meaning, but emit a second and less obvious, but oftentimes more useful meaning.  The second is a compilation of rules and regulations set by people in one group, for the rest in the group to follow.

As regards the relationship between men and women, that crazy word code in today’s rant might as well apply to both.

I happen to be a man, so whether I like it or not, 99.9% of my perspective is shaped by my Y chromosome.  We heterosexual men all love women and as such get along with them hunky-dory, OK, but ultimately everything goes swimmingly only as long as we follow their rules, right?  Secondly, because of the rituals of society and keeping appearances (or what Asians sometimes refer to as saving face), men often need to discern the meaning behind the meaning in a lot of what women say or do.

it’s because you did something wrong, and she’s wise to your ways bro

This truth of the universe occurred to me after the Kiwi cleaning lady I meet during afternoon shift remarked that one of the things Kiwi men hated hearing from their spouses / girlfriends / partners (based on a survey) is the catchall phrase we need to talk.  It sounds innocuous enough, but it’s actually an all-embracing doublespeak for trouble is a-brewing, something very similar to a summons to the principal’s office, an unscheduled performance review, or a doctor asking for more tests or that you file a lengthy medical leave after your annual physical.  I immediately followed up on that remark, telling Kiwi Cleaning Lady that, for our culture at least, similar phrases and signals coming from women often trigger the fight-or-flight, and tingling spider-sense response in hapless male partners. 🙂 And that’s how I surmised that this phenomenon of female doublespeak cuts a wide socio-economic swath across many cultures and races.

But I’m not going into the why, merely my empirical observations on such, and because we’re Pinoy, our expertise (at least for the next 15 mins) is our experience with Pinay doublespeak, and (when I feel like it) the rules of engagement for hidden meanings :

we have to talk Norbit, so shut up and listen 😦

Mag-usap (nga) tayo.  The connecter nga is optional but it adds oomph to the imperative, very similar to adding punk at the end of any command-disguised-as-request (as in, are you feeling lucky, punk?).  Literally, it sounds nearly identical to its English counterpart we have to talk, but in reality it’s a bit more menacing to the addresee.  It often suggests that (1) you need to sit your sorry ass in my office for a good whupping, (2) you haven’t got your head on straight in the last 24 hours and it needs urgent straightening, and (3) you are so busted, you probably won’t see the welts subside until the ice thaws.  The problem with this statement is that it encompasses a wide range of time-space trouble, for stuff you might have failed to conceal three years ago, before your hair started thinning, to less than five minutes ago, before you walked in on the newly shampooed carpet in your garden shoes.  Now that is a surefire recipe for a lovely day.  Pardon my pessimism, but the odds of mag-usap tayo not becoming a one-sided tongue lashing is about as certain as you doing the nasty tonight, which is, optimistically, less than zero.

What to do : the basic response is to hang your head, make sympathetic, vaguely agreeable sounds (without conceding agreement) like uhm, uh-huh, and blink-and-purse your lips, wait for the anger to subside, then quietly disappear into the shadows.  Repeat procedure until she gets wise.  There are infinite creative variations to this, newbies just go with the flow for now. 🙂

don’t let her indifference fool you. 😦

Bahala ka sa buhay mo.  Again, the literal connotation of this shrug-inducing utterance is so far-off from the actual meaning, distance-wise, that you might need Hubble’s Space Telescope to measure it.  It sounds like she doesn’t give a flying fig what you do about your supposed night out with the boys on her  poetry reading finale, but in actuality it will determine your physical and mental well-being for the rest of your natural life, only you’re not that aware of it for now.  Well, be afraid, bro.  Be very afraid.  Bahala ka sa buhay mo is the dead-sure way of women making their men know that they are not in control, bahala ka is hindi ka bahala, forewarned is forearmed.

What to do : This phrase has special reference to : time together (as in bahala ka sa gusto mong gawin), advice untaken (as in bahala ka kung ayaw mong makinig), warnings unheeded (as in bahala ka kung ayaw mong maniwala).  The phrase acquires more dread (to you) when it is accompanied by alternately arching eyebrows, strategic pouts and dismissive nods.  Repeat, I shall and will never underestimate Bahala ka sa buhay mo.  Good boy !

Ayokong makialam.  Again, this is code for her laser-sighting, infrared and subsonic monitors on you, and everything you will be doing from hereon.  Ayokong makialam is code for she already knows what you will do, feigns disinterest in how you decide, but in reality is obsessed with the outcome. Ever heard of pre-approved applications and actions?  Well, she has pre-disapproved whatever you are considering, because she has the benefit of hindsight and afterthought, and sadly for us men, she is usually correct.  Ayokong makialam often has that microdot-sized pero… (but) at the end to save you from your unwise decisions and so she can gloat and remind you of such for years and years to come.  In short, ayokong makialam actually means makinig ka na lang sa akin, huhuhu.

What to do : Please refer to Magusap (nga) tayo above.

Hulaan mo anong nalimutan mo?  Sorry to sound repetitive, but this is an all-purpose tool to grab your attention, generate instant guilt feelings from you, raise your  hackles and supersensitive antenna to, get ready, anything she wants and feels like at the moment. (underscoring mine, who else?)

guess which unimportant state you forgot to visit, dawg? jus’ mine?

This sounds unfair, but as regards women to men they are in a current relationship with, they are entitled to do this anytime they want, better that you get this in your head right now kapatid.  It is wired into their DNA, that it is their God-given, inalienable and historical right, to make you remember things you never knew, know things that are unknowable, feel womanly feelings or emotions (that men commonsensically cannot feel or emote), or discern womanly discernments (that men chromosomically cannot discern).

Men by nature wouldn’t remember birthdays, anniversaries and similar stuff if their lives depended on it, eschew thoughtfulness like the common cold, and get in touch with their emotions as often as the planets align, if not less.

Women take it upon themselves to correct these cosmic wrongs, and the generic phrase hulaan mo anong nalimutan mo is designed to elicit the familiar dread that an antelope senses when the lion starts charging, that Babe feels when his Master starts sharpening the knives, or when Missus starts bringing up those text messages on that simcard you thought you cleverly concealed in your billfold.  Hulaan mo… refers not only to dates and events but to documents, conversations, old flames (and even current ones), mistakes that you omitted to declare, and bad memories that no human should be forced to relive, but which you are numbingly being asked to recount at this very moment.  Hulaan mo anung nalimutan mo is not only excruciatingly cringe-inducing, but is a manifestation of her superior memory and application of that memory to current events, namely what she is to do with you.

What to do : Make a great show of exhaling deeply, feign complete surrender, show your best disarming smile, and the most important step : run for your life, don’t look back, and don’t stop running.

The sooner you master these non-verbal cues from The Love of Your Life, the better.  Vaya con Dios my son!

Thanks for reading !

Noel

PS.  Here’s a funny NZ ad on the perfect man:

Tips & tricks 4 aspiring Pinay GFs/spouses/mates of Kiwis


 

Not as perfect as this, but it's the love and commitment that counts 🙂

[ Note : In no way do I intend to demean the romance of courtship, especially between Kiwis and Pinays, with such a blog title; it’s just borrowed from a gaming magazine that focuses on tips and tricks for getting ahead in wins, levels and scores.  Sorrys all around for all those unconvinced.  Belated happy birthdays to Wilfred Chua (1st Jan), Hilton Ngo (1st Jan), Ong Bun Hua Jr (2nd Jan), and Dr June Tiu-Lim (5th Jan). Thanks for reading ! ]

AT WORK, in the mall, at the Asian store, in church, and everywhere else people gather, you see them.  Usually, it’s the Kiwi husband and Pinay wife, but sometimes it’s the mirror reverse, the Kiwi wife and Pinoy husband.  They’re not many, but their numbers are rising.  The common wisdom is that Asians make good partners because they take care of their spouses, are good around the house, and rate high on the loyalty area.

But the reality is each happy couple is happy in its own way,  and it wouldn’t take too much analysis to predict that racially mixed or “blended” families in NZ are the wave of the future.  And if the dating websites, dating services and personal ads on mixed media have anything to do with it, that wave of the future will be one that a lot of our kabayan will be riding on, as more and more Kiwi men look for engaging, romantic and loyal counterparts from the Pearl of the Orient.  Not just because we come from the same place, but we think our Pinay compatriots, positioned in an array of beauteous Asian candidates, enjoy a decided advantage over many other sisters of the yellow, brown and mocha races.

I won’t get into that, because you and I already know about those advantages.  Stay with your strengths, and gloss over your weak areas seems to be the can’t-miss advice for Pinays who’ve suddenly caught the eye of a lonely Kiwi internet surfer.  But there are certain pearls of wisdom, tried and true, which if you abide, will jack up the odds in your favor.  The odds, that is, of getting here with the greatest ease and the least drama :

Don’t push it.  Don’t talk like you’re eternal soulmates fated to find each other in this frozen moment in time, or that there’s not a minute to waste before your bodies are joined in an inseparable embrace and that you can’t wait to bridge the distance between Manila and Auckland, in the first five minutes of live chat.  Trust me, that is probably the surest way to never see or hear from him again.  This is the best advice I can give you, because while Mr Kiwi Guy is viewing you (or your photo) and trying to come up with something cool and politically correct to say, fate, soulmate or marriage are not in the list of desirable chat words and replies at the moment.  So, again : don’t push it.  For now.

Learn and/or practice EnglishOo naman, I know you already speak English, and good English at that. But two qualifiers.  First, iba po ang English spoken with fellow Pinoys versus English spoken with foreigners.  Second, Kiwi English is a bit different from American English, the latter being the English we’ve learned from school, absorbed from media, and acquired from the internet.

These two qualifiers will hit you like a bucket of ice water if you’re not ready for it, and it will do you a world of good to be ready.  High on your to-do list is to conduct an English-speaking campaign with yourself (if you talk to yourself) and with friends family and everyone else you interact with.  Believe me, every little bit helps.  Next on the list, and I’m assuming you don’t have many Kiwi friends (yet) is to visit the NZ news websites like http://tvnz.co.nz/ or http://3news.co.nz/  which have newsreaders born-and-bred in NZ.  Bottom line is Kiwi English isn’t that different from what we know, but learning it makes a difference.

Get to know him.  Making yourself easy on the eyes, ears etc is a two-way street, he should be good enough for you too.  I hope you don’t scare easily, but it’s important likewise to know within the first 15 mins if he’s not a crazy; the lights could be on but he might not always be in, if you know what I mean.  The good news is the most helpful clues are the most obvious ones, and the best impressions are the first.  Whether or not it’s intended, the first virtual date will tell you if he has a tendency to be a womanizer, sex-crazed, or worse, a pervert.  And in many cases, tendencies are more than enough.

Learn his culture, faves and hobbies.  This isn’t as much a biggie as the others, but they might help.  Many Kiwi blokes are DIY and car enthusiasts, I’m afraid I’m not much help there, but I do know that they love to talk about tools, car races and tinkering with their engines.  Kiwis love rugby, cricket and sports in general, but are particularly fond of rugby union, as New Zealand recently won the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and are certainly proud of that.  These are by the way sports that are hardly followed, much less played in the Philippines, so expect a little disconnect whenever he raves about his favorite players and teams.  And that’s why it might pay to look them up, the sports I mean, on Google and Wikipedia and other sites.

Don’t be a hard-sell.  You’re not selling encyclopedias, vacuum cleaners or insurance.  Which means you don’t have to hard-sell him.  You are essentially selling him the concept of a Pinay relationship, which when you think about it, isn’t a hard-sell at all; if anything, he should be selling to you a Kiwi relationship. (I’m just boosting your morale kapatid)  This means on your qualities alone you have more than enough.  Therefore, it’s strongly advised that you don’t use pity or compassion to go to the next level; don’t talk about invalid relatives, tuition fees needed for siblings or convalescing elders.  Don’t insist on a face-to-face unless he asks for it first, and even then make sure he’s serious.

Above all, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t ask for money for any reason unless it’s a life-or-death thing, and even then think many times before doing so.  You might not appreciate erring on the side of caution for now, but in the long run it will be worth it.

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

That’s it.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on Kiwi blokes, but I am a guy, and I know quite a few Kiwis in happy relationships with kabayan.  I’ve also seen two people hook up from day one, so I know a little whereof I speak.   The fact that you are chatting and talking at all is a clear sign that he is interested in you, and from there only good things can follow.  Not everything ends happily but it’s pointless not to be optimistic at this time.

Good luck, and God bless !

Noel

Kiwi Pinaylover vs Accidental Migrant: Q&A Just B4 End of Shift


Perhaps the wisest and most well-known choice among high-profile mixed marriages : wife na, adviser pa, bodyguard pa !

[ Note from Noel : So many more important things we could talk about, like Pedring and the tsunami-like visit to our shores, or the Festival of Carnivale performance of FILINARTIZTS in Wellington CBD, but instead we hope not to bore you to death with another of our late-night tales. Belated happy birthdays to Mr Martin Go (19th Sept), Ms Feli Tan-Co (28th)and Mr Jimmy Sy (30th) Woo-hoo! ]

JUST BEFORE OUR FALLING-OUT, the last four words outstanding that I saw on SuperBisor‘s search box were Pinay, Cupid, Datesearch (please don’t ask if there’s such a word) and the synonym-conscious love, I pretended not to be amused, and you can imagine how difficult this might be, as SB is a super-serious person, and I beheld his handheld by the most serendipitous of accidents : I happened to pass by his table when he thought I was nowhere near.

So it didn’t take a Ms Universe finalist-cum-board topnotcher to surmise that SB was on the hunt for a Pinay significant other, never mind that tens of thousands of other virile Caucasian males were in the same wolfpack (awooooo…), I wanted to wish him good luck, but remember I wasn’t supposed to know his honorable intentions, so I just smiled knowingly (to myself) and hoped he didn’t fall in love too hard and too soon.

Fatefully, I got it wrong on both counts, but before that, I said earlier that we had a falling-out diba, albeit a minor one.  Last time I tried to remember, it had to do with one too many Asian jokes, I actually asked for a new shift partner, and of course this didn’t sit well with him.  After some time apart, I realized most of the time he didn’t really mean it, and if he really was on the hunt, then the joke was on him right?  And so without even knowing it, we kissed and made up.

And so in the meantime, would you believe it?  He had met (online naturally) the love of his life, gone home to our very own Philippine Islands and visited the girl and her family.  And so right in my own backyard was an honorary Pinoy who was moving heaven and earth to get his Pinay love here.  And so out poured the torrent of words and phrases about his quest for love, but mostly out-of-this-world questions about our land and our way of life.

Some of them are funny, others are downright outrageous, and I’ve selected only a few of them below.  They are united by a singular theme : a search for meaning in our unique Pinoy world.  By the way, he tries not to ask me for the whole shift, but when the night grows deep and there’s nothing to do when log-out draws near, he can’t help himself :

Question # 1 : Noel, how do people justify homecooking when eating out is so tasty and so cheap ?  The rhetorical nature of his question struck me, as I rightly assumed that he wasn’t really looking for an answer, merely a discussion, but I attempted to respond anyway.  Seems that he, together with his Mahal, had been eating at Gerry’s Grill almost every day his final week back home, and he estimated that the awesome meals he had been served, if done so with equivalent quality and quantity in NZ, would be priced around five times (no exaj) what he paid.

This was how I answered him : Boss, remember that the great food you had was created by Pinoy Moms (and Dads) at home, and the recipes we enjoy all over the country can be found in every Filipino home.  Moreover, despite the reasonable prices you’ve seen, wages are quite humble in the average Pinoy household, so we can’t eat out with our pay.

Question # 2 : Why do Pinoys text so much, and why are there so many numbers in our words?  Its hard to divorce the Pinoy’s environment from the virtual world of texting, where every Filipino is an avatar of messages flying around millions of other mini-missives sent by tens of millions of other avatars.  I didn’t need to explain this to him, as he noted that the humble vendor, office girl, university student and everybody else was immersed half the time in a crouched texting posture.  I told him that SMS texting is a practical, cheap and instant, though admittedly generic form of social intercourse without which daily Pinoy life would be unthinkable.  And the numbers?  I explained that like English, some number words (represented by digits) are homonyms or parts of homonyms like 8 for it, 2 for to and 4 for for.  Numbers also refer to the number of syllables repeated, which is how Tagalog verbs are often conjugated.  Bottom line, I told him, is that every character is important in every SMS message for the load (or phone credit) conscious Pinoy.

Question # 3 : How do Pinoys survive the smog and pollution in Metro Manila, for all its attractions ?  He had to ask this as I often commented on how clean Wellington air was to me, and to many other Asians born and bred in megacities like Hongkong, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok.  The three weeks he spent in Manila, he hardly saw blue skies (not that he spent that much time outside the hotel 😉 ), the carbon monoxide and soot content was a bit too much for his taste, and while the weather was ten degrees friendlier than NZ’s early spring, he wondered why not more was being done to keep the air clean.

How do you answer that?  I had to tell him that living in the city meant you had to tolerate certain realities in return for higher wages, amenities you take for granted, and access to services like transportation and health care.  In the long run it wasn’t healthy, but (as I winked to him) that’s why Pinoys keep searching for a better life overseas, and hope against hope that realities change back home.

Question # 4 : Why do Pinoy men sometimes do their private business (Number One, as it is sometimes euphemistically called) in public, in full view of pedestrians and children?  Obviously, this was discomfiting as much to him as it was to me. In NZ, one would easily be placed under arrest by a constable who happened to pass by, as much for indecent exposure as for littering.  Overlooking both a major Makati thoroughfare and the busiest artery in Metro Manila (equivalent to the liveliest intersection in Wellington, probably) his hotel window was once witness to a man painting a building wall in full view of schoolchildren crossing the street at 9 in the morning.

Again, what could I say?  It’s very hard to remove or reform certain bad habits that clutter our backyard of odd Pinoy ways, and this, relieving ourselves, is certainly one of them.  The bad habit is a remnant of the days when there was a talahib or group of bushes in every block of houses, and nobody bothered if we wanted to “fertilize” the plants.  He could not relate to this explanation, until I admitted to him that most of the guilty parties were also drinkers who after one too many beers had to unload.  Any healthy Kiwi who loves any of the 50-plus NZ beers could understand that, and he did.

And I didn’t need to ask him if this changed his view any of Pinays and his Pinay girlfriend, as he is already organizing her maiden voyage abroad, and straight into his arms.

I would say lucky girl, if I didn’t think SB was so outrageously lucky himself. 🙂

Thanks for reading !

Noel

The Amazing (Kiwi) Race to Bring Pinay Brides Home


Traditional dance of the Philippines.

Image via Wikipedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

** ** ** ** **

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading !

NOel

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