Kulong or uwi? (or both) : wag sayangin ang pinaghirapan sa NZ, part 2


TULAD NG SINABI NAMIN NUNG huling blag, nakakahinayang mawala lahat ng pinaghirapang luha, pawis at dugo dahil lamang sa kahinaang laman.

You borrowed a small fortune from family and friends to apply to get to New Zealand. You left a decent job, a promising career, and your kids left barkada, school and church groups, all to pursue the migrant dream of better jobs, safe communities and cleaner air for breathing. All worthy goals and solid dreams.

Now, in a moment of madness,  collapse of conscience and surrender to sex , you cancel all the hard work, sacrifice and planning you and your family have done. No amount of justification, good character or other excuses will erase what happened. One crazy act of sexual assault and pfffft, it’s over. Sa presinto ka na lang magpaliwanag.

Buti na lang, may awa ang sistema ng hustisya sa New Zealand. Hindi ka mabubulok sa kulungan. Imprisonment in prisons behind bars last only a fraction of what they are in the Philippines. BUT there is a big chance as we said in the previous post kabayan that, after your last day in prison, you will be sent home to the Philippines, which you ironically no longer call home. For some, this is the bigger punishment, the almost unthinkable banishment for you and your family.

To your kabayan blogger, almost central therefore (but still not as important) to the question of why Pinoys get drawn to sex-related crimes in New Zealand is the secondary question: is deportation after imprisonment the fair punishment for our kabayan offenders? (We won’t extend or expand this topic any further.)

We organized a small chatgroup for Pinoys  asking whoever had an opinion to share it among the rest of the group. No hard-and-fast rules, but for their privacy I’ve decided to shroud their identities. Up to you to decide Precious Reader how to take their opinion/s selected from the many given,  although we personally believe each opinion is valuable. (Some opinions edited for brevity.) All respondents are Pinoy.

[ Just a spoiler though : If the crime meets the criteria (standard), NZ laws provide that deportation is available for the judge as an imposable punishment. ]

YOUNG LAWYER :  Although New Zealand prides itself as advocating for human rights and humanitarian concerns, it has very wide grounds for deportation. It can deport someone who is convicted of a crime punishable by 3 months and this easily includes rape. But before one is issued of the deportation notice, they would have gone through the court trial, then got ‘convicted.’

The burden of proof (government’s job to prove the rapist is guilty) is really high: beyond reasonable doubt. once convicted, the notice is issued, although there is a right to appeal. One way to appeal is through the humanitarian ground which is a very high threshold or degree of proof ( 69% likely denied for non-residents, 59% for residents appeals denied).

For me it all comes down to a balancing act: personal rights vs public interest. When one commits a rape  I ask whether this person’s right to residence outweighs the danger he or she poses to the public? How much will it cost taxpayers for this person to stay in NZ? Odds of reoffending? The appeal process provides opportunity for the individual’s circumstances to be heard.

So that’s why it is also important for non-citizens, including resident visa holders to obtain advice of the immigration consequences of their criminal offending before entering a plea.   New Zealand has lots of obligations before international law but when it comes to deportation, this falls within State Sovereignty which means that New Zealand has almost absolute freedom on what and who it wants to be included or excluded in its political and economic life.

I do not really know much about the data or decisions of the immigration regarding deportation but from the little I know, I trust the New Zealand’s deportation process at the moment. So, yes. I agree that anyone who is convicted of sex crimes and has lost the appeal should be deported.

COMMUNITY LEADER :  I agree with the more general point that sexual crimes should be a basis for deportation – but for ALL non-citizens. Also, penalties for sexual crimes should be made more stringent. Parole, in my opinion, should be abolished. Don’t forget the case of Blessie Gotingco!

 Statutes of Limitation (or deadline beyond which criminals may not be prosecuted) for sexual crimes should also be abolished. I don’t believe in the death penalty – not because it is “inhumane” but because mistakes can be made. Sentences should be tough, and life sentences should mean exactly that – for life. Also “concurrent service of sentences” is ridiculous and should be abolished as well.  This also points to the need to overhaul the preparation of OFWs for deployment overseas. Not only are many unaware or unappreciative of how serious sexual crimes are and what they are exactly – many of our kabayan here are arrested for drunk driving and other avoidable offences. PDOS (Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar) must be made more serious.
I encourage all to join and support is White Ribbon NZ, and Womens Refuge NZ.
CHRISTCHURCH VEGAN: So this is as far as as I know, punishment wise: Scenario 1- X got convicted with sexual harassment at work because he deliberately grabbed someone’s ass. He lost his work after and now has struggled to find work with no referee. Was he deported ? No.

Scenario 2 – Y spiked the drink and raped his neighbour during a housewarming ; got convicted. Deportation? Yes .
Scenario 3 – Step father shot a video of a minor when she was having a bath using a hidden camera (pen) . Reason why he did it? Apparently he was only testing the pen? 🙂   Was he deported ?  No. instead couple split and custody battle started.

 

My point is,  being in NZ you are legally obliged to follow the rules. If you don’t follow the rules and  commit crimes there are consequences. The crimes don’t have to be sexual for one to be deported.

Deportation is just if the crime alleged is proven. Whatever residency status you have in NZ (or any other country) deportation to me is just! But then again being locked in NZ jails for 30 years with no bail, no parole is equally fair.

As someone said already (in the chatgroup) its a privilege to be here. Make the right choice and live with it. Rules are made for a reason.  so we can all get a chance to live a life free from fear and anyone who breaks it should simply be removed.

*****     *****     *****

All strong opinions, and all valid, though made in different ways. Need we say anything more?  Thanks for reading kabayan!

 

 

“naobsess po ako” – huwag sayangin ang pinaghirapan sa NZ (part 1)


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some NSFW and adult themes in this blog post! for Taglish phrases, helpful translations (not literal ones) follow immediately in parentheses, thanks for reading!

BEFORE WE LEFT FOR NEW ZEALAND on an unexpected journey a little over 10 years ago, nausong pagusapan  mga pasaway na ginagawa ng kabataan sa mga inuman nila. (it became trendy to talk about dodgy things young people did). Almost every month we would hear of an anecdote about people carrying half-drunk, half-unconscious women home from bars and raves around Metro Manila, too intoxicated to go home on their own. Whether or not these helpless women were actually brought home, or were at the tender mercies of their apparent knights in shining armor, no one ever knew. All we knew was, some if not most of these good Samaritans all-too-often succumbed to the opportunity of taking advantage of those they helped, who ended up getting sexually assaulted for sure, but too embarrassed to bring their predators to justice.

We learned two things from this social phenomena back home, the equivalent of  date rape or opportunistic sexual assault. First, a surprising number of young Filipinos (almost all male) have no qualms using alcohol to stupefy, sedate and subdue members of the opposite sex for their dark deeds. Sure, females share some of the blame but to take sexual advantage of a woman in this manner is truly a despicable, evil act.

Second, because of the Maria Clara or dalagang Pilipina (Filipina maiden) culture critical of anything less than the traditional “proper” behavior of Filipinas (chasteness, morality, etc) very few of these cases of date rape made it to the courts. My guess is, outraged as they were from their assault, women would still rather suffer in silence than endure the scrutiny and silent judgment of the community.

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

Left unsaid here is, Pinoy men are no more virtuous than their counterparts of any other race when given access to sex. Whether or not it’s a fair generalization, the Precious Reader knows we have no motives other than to discuss Pinoy licentiousness or lewdness (kahalayan) in the migrant setting.

It seems we Pinoys have brought our bad habits to New Zealand. We are hardworking, team players and family oriented. The only thing is, we have had a little more than our share of naughty offenders when given the chance. What do we mean?

No less than three kabayan have been convicted on cases of sex and sex-related crimes in the last two years. you’ll probably want to be spared the details (it’s all on Google for the curious), but they are similar in one respect : besides the sexual nature and perversion, in  two out of three crimes proven, there was the opportunity or access by chance. (The third Pinoy had sex with a minor too young to give consent.)  If not for the fact that coincidence brought predator and victim together, the crime would never have been committed.

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

Which brings us to our point. Pinoys have invested too much time, energy, skills and hard-earned money to get to New Zealand, just to waste it all because of one ill-advised, lustful act. Consider please the following:

When you commit a sex crime, it’s not just against the victim but also against the community. The nature of your crime is an offense not just against your victim but each member of the community, which as a whole promotes decency and respect. In time, the victim may or may not forgive you, but the outrage or offense to good morals will be a permanent stain on your record kabayan. And that’s why any form of reparations or payment to the victim isn’t enough, and imprisonment is the proper punishment.

Even more profound a punishment than imprisonment is deportation. But what about after imprisonment? Kulang pa ang parusa at higit pa sa bilanggo ng nahatulan dahil sa ilang saglit ng kaligayahan, because the supreme punishment of being returned to the Philippines is reserved for those who aren’t yet citizens of New Zealand.

Imagine:  after investing so much time, effort, energy and skills towards fulfilling the dream of living permanently in New Zealand, such dream is taken away. This is the very real consequence of sex crimes because New Zealand immigration law provides for deportation of the offender when the crime is serious enough. You undo all the hard work you’ve done all those years. And for what? for a few moments of pleasure, if you can call it that.

The effect of your crime affects not just you but your family, extended family for at least this and the next generation. In one of the cases decided on this year, not just the convicted offender but his entire immediate family was sent home. The lost chances, potential incomes and even the missed educational opportunities are incalculable. All because, as mentioned above, of a single mistake. The far-reaching consequences of one misguided act cannot be overstated.

Effect on the Filipino community. It’s sad to state the reality, but an act of one often characterizes his race and community. Unfairly, human nature stereotypes or generalizes an action, especially a negative action, so that all persons of similar race or community are assumed to act the same way. How outrageous is that?

Such a generalization is so ridiculous it defies explanation, but we’ll try to describe it. If members of a certain race are known as alcoholics or drug abusers, then the employment prospects of everyone in that group is imperiled as businesses don’t like hiring undependable workers, and alcoholics and drug users are typically undependable. And just like that, the job prospects of an entire ethnicity suffers.

The reality is a little more complicated, but you get the idea kabayan. Have one offender from a particular community, that’s a one-off or outlier. Two, a super coincidence, but still acceptable within the realm of possibility. But three? Three offenders of the same nature, from the same community? Hard to defend, kabayan.

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

In his defense, one of our kabayan rationalized his behavior when asked why he violated his victim. “Naobsess po ako” (I got obsessed), he said, hoping for some mercy or forgiveness (which by the way he didn’t get from the victim).

We see in this an admission that not only us Pinoys but all humans are inherently weak against temptations of the flesh. It should be part of our preparation to resist this temptation, our persistence in being the best versions of ourselves at all times, and our humble reliance on the Divine Creator to give us strength in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Thanks for reading, mabuhay!

 

naipit ba ang iyong kinabukasan sa NZ ng Covid19 kabayan?


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Maricel with her business partner and hubby Holger Weischede (photo credit to Maricel’s FB photo library, thanks)

[ nagkataon na wala naman akong magandang sasabihin, pero napakahalaga ng aking balita sa inyo kabayan. ]

ARE YOU in the Philippines and your migrant journey to New Zealand postponed by the global coronavirus pandemic?

Are you a temporary visa holder (work visa, student visa or visit visa) and unable to use your visa as borders have shut on both the Philippines and New Zealand?

Are you a permanent resident candidate in NZ and unsure of how the crisis has affected your chances?

Understandably, we are all stressed by the unintended (but expected) effects of the virus, which we don’t need to tell you has infected and struck down two million and cut down 233,000 worldwide?

In the dark lonely night of the virus, a tiny candle in the wind shines bright, and this is the online open forum Q&A conducted by Ms Maricel Weischede and her husband Holger. Maricel is an immigration lawyer licensed to practice in New Zealand while Holger is a licensed immigration adviser. Together they have helped fulfill the migrant dreams of thousands of Filipinos now in New Zealand.

The problem is, the meet is TODAY and will take place in less than two hours, sorry.

Please visit Maricel and Holger’s Facebook page , called NZIHS,  New Zealand Immigration Help Service, right now!

‘sang tanong kay ma’m Jacinda…


repatriated OFWs

[No medical, legal or immigration advice is offered here, and none should be taken. Thank you and thanks for reading! ]

A FAMOUS ACTRESS once said, ask the right questions if you want the right answers. To me then, the right question at this moment isn’t when is the lockdown gonna be lifted, when are we getting back to work, how long will the wage subsidy last or even when will the virus be contained? (Although that last one, if answered, would solve a lot of problems.)

The right question varies person to person and is different in every situation, but in mine, it’s kailan ako makakauwi nang matiwasay? When will I be able to go home without fear of displacement?

To a lot of migrants as well as OFWs aspiring for permanent status, while we eventually align ourselves with our adopted countries, we never lose love and loyalty for our original flag and country. We derive pride and strength, draw memory and tradition from where we were born and raised, and fell in love. ( I realize not all may share the intensity of emotion, but you know who you are, smiley face.) We may be citizens or permanent residents of the country we’re now in, but we will always be Filipinos.

*****     *****     *****

Under New Zealand’s general lockdown rules, all commercial flights out of the country are impractical and ill-advised, as any kind of non-essential travel is discouraged and people required to stay within their “social bubble” at home. Besides, although there is still international travel allowed in Auckland Airport, these would mostly be for repatriation purposes only, for foreigners in New Zealand wishing to return to their countries of origin.

 

NAIA-3

Even if by some minor miracle you’d be able to leave New Zealand, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and all Luzon airports have been closed to all commercial flights between March 17 and April 13, subject to review (which was extended to the end of April). Mahirap talaga. It’s really hard.

How long before you revisit the chaos and endless traffic of EDSA? How long before you witness another Santacruzan ? Or even the local dawn Mass (Misa de Gallo) nine straight days up to Christmas Eve?

Likelier than not, not this year. (How about next year? Iffy, malabo pa sa sabaw ng pusit.) Even if you had the chance and travel restrictions were lifted, would you recklessly leave under the cloud of so much uncertainty, especially those holding temporary visas and tenuous work arrangements?

For sure, the benefits of closing borders are universal in the time of the Virus. Health after all is wealth, and without health, work, social interaction and the simple pleasures of life wouldn’t be possible. And the migrant / OFW, above all, is in New Zealand for work and the immediate needs of his family.

But what about the long-term? We want to stay here of course, lahat na including the healers, the builders, the coders and kusineros. But at some point we need to go home, recharge and regroup.

*****     *****     *****

It might be too early to talk about these things, but for nearly three months now, the whole civilized world has been turned upside down, New Zealand included. nearly half a year’s plans have been put on hold (affecting the rest of the year, too). Schedules have been crushed and dreams have been put in limbo. in the meantime, savings have dwindled to almost nothing, incomes shrunk beyond recognition, and assets reduced to values almost unthinkable a few months back. What to do, what to do?

Going back to an almost visceral need to return to one’s native soil, I’ve a cousin whose mother suddenly died after a failed recovery from emergency surgery. The mother (my own mother’s first cousin) had daughters in Wellington and Dallas, Texas but neither daughter had a ghost of a chance kissing their last goodbyes to their mahal na ina.

Adjusting to the realities of the times, an online memorial service was held among my aunt’s five children and dozen grandchildren and extended family. No one tried physical attendance or arrangements, only prayers, testimonies and their mom’s earthly remains on Zoom was available.

Death is probably the ultimate reason for an urgent or sudden trip home, despite the lockdown. But there may be other reasons as well. Illness in the family, births, or how about the need to donate rare blood type or even an organ?

*****     *****     *****

It’s often repeated, but we are all in uncharted territory. How we manage a balance between lockdown and normal life, including business and yes, travel, will determine whether survival, now an if, becomes a when.

Stay safe everyone, thanks for reading and mabuhay!

 

 

 

 

 

ginigisa ng kabayan sa sariling mantika (when your countryman fries you in your own juices or oil)


Cannibalsstock_Cannibals_34640741[back home we have a saying: ginigisa sa sariling mantika; literally, being fried in your own juices or oils, when your own resources are used to take advantage of you. Doubly worse when a supposed friend or ally, your own countryman or compatriot, does the dirty deed. Thanks for reading, stay safe everyone!]

NAIVELY PERHAPS, I’VE ALWAYS been faithful to the notion of the good nature of the Filipino overseas. Sociable, team-oriented, friendly, ready to help, all embodied in our beloved term bayanihan

…and above all honest and decent. Or at least, fair.

Even when I hear about how kabayan (countrymen) take advantage of fellow kabayan in our major population centers in New Zealand, I usually dismiss this as a unique, embarrassing one-off or outlier behavior of misguided Pinoys.

That was till recently when a new flatmate of ours recounted how, regularly and as part of everyday life, Filipinos and even those he trusted took advantage of him, overcharged him and never looked out for his welfare.

Dodong* was a late and unexpected addition to our household. The previous occupant, an architecture student going to Weltec suddenly changed her mind and decided to leave last week to study medicine back home in Colombia. So Mahal and I didn’t expect a new room aspirant, much less a Filipino, to ask around for it (we put up an ad just in case, but got a reply within 24 hours) so soon. Seemed that he answered an advertiser (also Filipino) who declined because they needed a female flattie.

He asked our rate (market rate), declared he would take the room sight unseen, and would move in the same day. Wow, my maybahay (wife) told herself mentally, no one does that, told Dodong there was a bond and advance, which the kabayan accepted without batting an eyelash. He moved in with his tools and bed linen later that day.

*****     *****     *****

First chance I got, I asked Dodong, who I found out had been working on short-term projects as a carpenter the last five years in Dunedin, Christchurch and now Wellington. I believe in the wisdom of settling board and lodging as soon as possible, but why didn’t he shop around?

This was what he told me: with another carpenter he paid $160 a week each to share a room, definitely above market rates (nearly double) but because the agent herself procured the room, he had little choice but to comply.

Worse, barely a month after he moved in, the agent decided that there was enough room for two more Pinoys and the two-to-a-room became four-to-a-room, without even notice or a sori ha? from the agent. And the best (worst) part? The $160 rent obligation didn’t change, he had to continue paying the same.

The most incredible part of this OFW horror story wasn’t any of the details above but the fact that Dodong wouldn’t have left if not for two things:  first, that being on night shift, Dodong had to wait until one of the two new occupants woke up and gave him a decent space to snuggle in (!), and second, even on the days he slept nights, at least one of his three roomies had a severe snoring problem, and that, to him was the final straw. Wow.

*****     *****     *****

I wish I could tell you that this was an outrage to Dodong, but to him it was no worse than his work experience in Christchurch: there were 12 of them in the house, and four to a room was quite common during his Christchurch gig. Everything was in-your-face, no privacy at all, and although there was never a lonely moment, he didn’t miss it.

Lastly, something odd struck me with Dodong’s length of stay in New Zealand. Five years! No plans to make it permanent? As in permanent residence? After all, he was contributing to the engine of growth of Aotearoa, had a squeaky clean record, paid his taxes, and of course, always went to work as a skilled worker.

Dili man, Dodong told me. He never considered any status other than guest worker / work visa, as no one ever told him he might be eligible, and that his day consisted only of getting to work , doing the work, and getting home to work. He never thought he might be welcome in New Zealand.

*****     *****     *****

The common denominator in all these, kabayan? You don’t need to be a genius to guess it, and I’m guessing you have: He has, and has always had, a Filipino agent, and moreover a Filipino organizing his stay whenever he moves from project to project. The faces and places may change, but the system remains the same.

Squeeze the last drop out of your kabayan, and if he or she never complains, so much the better.

God bless you Dodong, you suffer in silence, but the laws of karma and the universe will never change.

Thank you for reading, mabuhay!

*not his real name.

Love (for kabayan) in the time of coronavirus


call center agents

NO MATTER how many times I show off my Pinoy accent to the call center person (clipped vowels, unexaggerated consonants and unaspirated p’s and t’s), they won’t volunteer to ask, or even assume, that I’m a Filipino. This call was no exception.

CALL CENTER PERSON (Itago natin sa pangalang “Jennifer”) : Ah, before I can rebook your ticket Mr Noel, you have to accept the price addition and change fee and also the change name and I also have to confirm your personal details and flight details to make sure the new flight time is available.

ME : Yes, I’m aware of that Jennifer. I also want to make sure I can transfer the ticket to my wife’s name with the correct spelling and details without too much hassle, and I also hope it’s not too expensive.

JENNIFER : I’m sure I can help you with that Mr Noel, may I have the full name of your wife as appears on her passport please?

I give her Mahal’s details and surely, coupled with my own Pinoy sounding name, assume she will start talking in Tagalog, to make things easier for both of us.

JENNIFER : Thank you very much Mr Noel, now let me repeat your requested rebooking details together with the details of your transferee, which is of course your wife. Is that OK?

Hmmm. Kahit na di naman sya hirap sa English nya, parang mas madadalian kaming dalawa kung pareho na lang kaming managalog.

ME : You know Jen, I have a funny feeling you’re from the Philippines and you’re probably aware I’m also from the Philippines too. It might be better for us to talk in Tagalog na lang.

JENNIFER : That’s OK sir, you can speak with me in your preferred language as long as I can understand you. However since I’ve already started speaking to you in English, if you don’t mind I’ll continue, but I’m glad to know we can both speak and understand Tagalog. Now, here are the details . . . 

Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I can feel the relief and warmth in her voice now. I want to ask her why she doesn’t just switch to our native language but thought better of it, thinking both of the rules in her workplace against speaking in Tagalog and the fact that most likely, our call was being recorded. Instead I just spoke to her one-sided in Tagalog.

ME : Curious lang ako Jen, naapektuhan ba ang calls or business nyo sa coronavirus? Nabawasan ba ang travel and bookings mula nung pumutok mga cases ng virus sa China?

JENNIFER : Not that I can tell sir, as far as we can see, business is business as usual, we handle the same volume of calls although I can see quite a few cancellations in particular destinations.

I can’t ask which, as I know she will decline to answer. I decide to not pursue that line of questioning.

ME : Anong gagawin nyo kung magsara mga principal nyo at mga business na pinaglilingkuran nyo? ( I know that as call centers, they are “outsourced” by the actual businesses)

JENNIFER : Honestly sir, nothing changes. We just do lateral training and move fluidly between one industry to another. We’ve been doing this for years and my team and I have worked for dozens of accounts in different industries. The only thing we can’t do is move from one account to its competitor. As long as there’s work, we just keep working.

Impressed lalo ako di lang sa English nya kundi sa bilis nyang sumagot. She’s not only smart, she’s quick on her feet in responding to different questions. Parang beauty pageant contestant.

ME : Great to know Jen, pero paano naman sa Pilipinas? May nagbago na bang malaki sa mga nakikita mo?

JENNIFER : As far as I know sir nakikita ko sa mga airport may mga check sila at mas strict sila sa mga overseas travellers, nakamask na rin mga checkers sa mga mall at crowded areas. But other than that I don’t see much changes anywhere else. Won’t you be seeing these things for yourself Mr Noel?

Before answering I make a mental note to NOT notice that Jen made a “slip of the tongue” and actually spoke in Taglish for a few sentences. Just hope it doesn’t get her in trouble.

ME : I actually went home three times the last year Jen, for family reasons. For that reason alone I’ll have a hard time returning to the Philippines, payat na’ng budget. But even if I had the money, because there’s so much uncertainty surrounding public health, I’ll think ten times before going home this year. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

JENNIFER : (quickly recovering from her lapse in Taglish) That’s too bad sir. Your family will miss you here. Meanwhile your kabayan will keep the struggle alive sir, don’t you worry.

She didn’t know it but that short reply of hers brought a lump to my throat, I suddenly became emotional. I thought of her daily struggles going to work, keeping body and soul together, working overtime just to make ends meet, and helping her entire family while being a productive member of 21st century Philippines. Love for country, love for kabayan.

ME : God bless you Jen, and God bless your family. Sige, maraming salamat sa tulong mo. Kung dadalaw ka rito sa New Zealand, maraming magbibigay sa yo ng mainit na pagsalubong. You know my details, heh heh heh!

JENNIFER : Maraming salamat sir.

Was that thank you a lapse or intentional? Mabuhay ka Jen!

 

fighting the urge to say “buti nga sa yo”(serves you right) to fellow migrants from China


[thank you for Al Jazeera for the video, I’m not the owner, and thanks to Filipino Migrant News for naming http://www.ylbnoel.wordpress.com as one of the Social Media Influencers in the Pinoy community in New Zealand! Grateful and humbled po, please continue to visit our site kabayan and friends ! ]

IF YOU. Precious Reader, thought that there were (are) a lot of Filipino migrants in New Zealand (at least 35,000), there are even more Chinese migrants (at least 171,000 as of a 2013 census), outnumbering us at least four to one.

Our migrant counterparts, fellow immigrants from China, are like Filipinos. They’re sociable, work hard, pursue the New Zealand dream of health, contentment and safety from war and violence, and just try to get along with everybody.

Actually, that’s a white lie. I’ve stretched the truth a bit.

Using a very subjective standard (subjective because I can only compare everything else to myself), Chinese are not that sociable  (I’m being honest now), definitely not at all the way Filipinos are. There are two main reasons for this:

First, they don’t make too much effort to learn or improve their English. Whatever the reasons are, they just don’t. (No value judgment in this) And second, related to the first reason: because they don’t familiarize themselves with the local language, they tend very strongly to keep among themselves. It’s a fact that despite their numbers, the Chinese are quite a closely-knit community, in New Zealand or wherever else.

Whether it’s intentional or just a character of the Chinese, we can’t fault them for it. In recent times, because of the Chinese incursion into our waters, the way Chinese workers show disrespect for our surroundings in the Philippines, their (admittedly) poor hygiene practices, and the general way we are given less than our due respect between sovereign states, we have apparently even more reason to gloat and say buti nga sa yo (serves you right or you deserve it) when so many Chinese (more than 30,000 now as of last count, and definitely more coming) are suffering from the coronavirus originating from animals and now confirmed to be transmitted human to human.

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

They won’t admit it, but the Chinese economy will be affected for months to come. Because the Chinese economy accounts for at least 15% of the world economy, probably more, with all its generation of products, services, consumption and ultimately wealth,  everywhere around the world, all economic activity is expected to experience a downturn, tourism especially, not the least in both the Philippines and New Zealand.

If ever there was a time to gloat, point to karma for all their bullying ways and shout to the whole world that what comes up must come down (or that the good times must end sometime) it would be NOW. It’s so easy to tell the Chinese, get the eff away from my country, I don’t want your money or business, and keep your virals and infected away from our country (just like zombies in a sci-fi movie or TV series), be like gone for the next couple years OK?

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

But it’s not right. Just like it’s not right for China to be stepping all over us figuratively and literally the last few years in the South China Sea (only named such because they named it)? you may ask? Yes kabayan, it’s not right, but just because somebody is wrong doesn’t mean it’s alright to be wrong too.

I refer specifically to the way Chinese overseas (not Overseas Chinese, the term some Filipino Chinese use for themselves, but Chinese from Communist China) are being treated, in the Philippines and elsewhere. Being kept away from crowds. Being discouraged from entering restos and malls. Being talked about right to their faces and frankly, being asked to leave because they are, by association, an infected nation.

Nothing could be worse in this day and age, and Filipinos should know better. First place, hindi naman porke’t Tsino ay may virus na. (Being Chinese doesn’t mean you’re sick.) We all know that. Secondly, there are a group of reasons why we shouldn’t behave like racists and treat Chinese in New Zealand and the Philippines (much as it’s our human nature to do so) as second-class, sick and deserving of our insults.

It’s good business. Besides “Winter is coming,” do you remember the House sigul (motto) of House Stark in Game of Thrones? (I’m pretending everyone is a GoT fan.) Yes, it’s “The North Remembers.” Well, using our real-life example, China remembers. It will remember who treated it well and who didn’t. Because we’re already bending over backwards and being extra-nice to China (for all the wrong reasons) we might as well do it for the right reason. China is down, and you don’t hit somebody when he or she’s down. 101%, China will rise again, very shortly, and it will to reiterate, have an elephant’s memory. I’m not saying set up hospitals and take all their sick, just treat them decently, allow their citizens the same rights and privileges as any other visitors here (with the exception of letting in travelers from infected areas, iba na ‘yon), and it will be to our advantage. It’s good business to treat others decently.

It’s good manners. As a member of the family of nations, it’s our duty to extend a helping hand, to the extent reasonable, when someone needs help. China obviously is in dire straits now, and though its pride won’t let it do so, China needs all the help it can get. The Philippines may not be in a position to be altruistic and generous, but we do have human resources available if the need arises, in the form of medical expertise and skills. Subject of course to our own needs and the requirements of health and safety.

It’s good for the soul. When all else fails, we can use the golden rule. No, it’s not the Chinese version (“He who has the gold, makes the rule.”) but “do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” Simply put, you scratch my back, I scratch yours. If we were in deep doo-doo, we would ask help from anybody and everybody, and China isn’t there yet, but getting there. Let’s not wait to be asked and just help anyway we can. It’s good for our soul. It’s good for karma. It’s good for neighborliness. Believe what you want, but it’s a good look. Not just a good look, but it’s good. Period.

And that’s why, we shouldn’t turn our backs now on China and its migrants and overseas workers. Not in New Zealand. And not in the Philippines.

 

 

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 trademe.co.nz 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!

 

Pinoy message in a (Kiwi) bottle 1


FRA110116bottle4.jpg

NOBODY WRITES LETTERS anymore, least of all Pinoys. Instant messaging, social media, Skype and even SMS for the older guys have all but sliced the world in half, no matter where we move ourselves to overseas. We are spoiled by the technology of fiber optic superfast and lightspeed communications, demand world-class service and often get it, when we compose, deliver and exchange messages with our loved ones.

It’s a sign of the times when NZ Post, the equivalent of the PhilPost or Philippine Post Office here is in danger of losing so much money that it will cease to exist and surrender all its functions to the private sector.

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

It was therefore a surprise when I saw an enveloped letter given to me by a friend of mine who picked it up in, of all places, a post office. The address was incomplete except for the word “PHILIPPINES” at the bottom, the detailed address probably meant to be filled out later.

Poor guy, nageffort na nga magsulat ng liham, di pa nakarating sa pinaroroonan. When I opened the contents to help see identify the sender, it was no help. It was in a dialect I was unfamiliar with. To those who don’t know, the Philippines is chock-full of sub-languages spoken by even more people than the Tagalogs in Manila. Bisaya, Ilokano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Pangasinense and Chabacano are only a handful out of the dozens of brogues spoken all over our archipelago.

As a tribute to the effort of our kabayan I am reproducing the letter here, hope he doesn’t mind. If you Precious Reader can help translate, please do, send it back to us in the comments (thanks in advance), while we also figure out how to best reach the original intended recipients (it’s not a long letter):

different races

Mama og Papa kumusta namo diha? Buotan mga tawo dinhi sa NZ, ganahan kaayo sila og pinoy, mo respeto sad sa mga asian, tungod kay kita kahibaw mo respeto sa usag usa dali ra kaayo ma hire, bisan gamay rame sa amo company.

Taking a wild guess, given my total lack of knowledge of dialects outside Tagalog, Pangalatok (my wife’s tongue) and Bikolano (my mother’s childhood language), I’m going to say this paragraph is a positive one, and it’s obviously about employers hiring more of us, probably because of Pinoys’ sociable traits (but I could be wrong).

multiraces

Tungod kay kamao ta mo halobilo makig timbayayung, ang mga tsino kay deli makigkuyog sa deli nila kalahi, mga bumbay sad kamao sila mag paraya pero suheto sa tanan, puti sad buotan, unya taas og pasensya, mo tudlo sila sa angay buhaton, kusog lng mo inum nya usahay tapolon mo trabaho, kay taga dinhi man,

Here is a candid depiction of various races and nationalities I think, with the Chinese not too friendly with those not of their kind, is that right? Indians I’m not sure what the letter-writer thinks of them but it can’t be that good 🙂 I’m guessing “puti” refers to European Kiwis who whether good or bad, are so because they’re locals.

mga langyaw ang ng maneho sa mga farm, kay ang mga puti deli ganahan  dinhi na lng kutob, e.kumusta na lng ko sa tanan natong kaparentehan og ka igagawan nato diha, pasensya gyud wala koy pamasko sa inyo og sa mga barkada ko.

The last paragraph is an obvious commentary on the dairy industry: because locals don’t like working on farms, the vacuum is taken up by Pinoys, and this I know because a special visa pathway has been set up for our own kabayan, just to work on farms. The letter writer is obviously a relatively young person, as he is still close to his group of friends (barkada) that he made during his youth.

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

Well, I’ll be very surprised if I hit the mark on even 50% of my amateur translations. I’m shortlisting the dialect used to between Cebuano and Hiligaynon, and I think it’s Cebuano. To the parents of this mystery letter-writer, you should be proud of your son/daughter, who I think is hard-working and misses you very much. So sorry if I can’t translate efficiently.  Guys, please help translate on the comments below if you can.

Mabuhay, thanks for reading!

 

 

DON’T PANIC yet regarding new visa rules, says Maricel


Maricel with her business partner and hubby Holger Weischede (photo credit to Maricel’s FB photo library, thanks)

[ Paunawa at babala : This blog / blogger is NOT giving out immigration advice or any other kind, this is just a post po and purely in the nature of opinion and reporting what we have heard from the subject matter of the post. Maraming salamat po! ALSO: There’s another e-meet on FB  1st October 2019 8pm New Zealand time. Please visit the FB pages of Maricel Weischede or New Zealand Immigration Help Service, cheers! ]

MADALING MA-STRESS sa anunsyo nung 17 Sept ng bagong rules hinggil sa work visa kung panauhing obrero ka sa New Zealand.

( Translation: It’s easy to get stressed over the 17 Sept announcement of new work visa rules if you’re a guest worker in New Zealand, Taglish na lang po from hereon.)

You need increased wages to justify staying in New Zealand! Employers, start getting accredited, otherwise your workers go home! Workers, if you don’t start acquainting yourselves with the new rules, might as well give up and go home! And so on and so forth.

These are the stuff of bangungot (nightmares), the kind to destroy even the fondest hopes and most optimistic dreams of many Pinoys and other work visa holders hoping to someday live in Aotearoa permanently, raise families and live the migrant dream.

Not scaring anyone, but despite all the reassurances and spin (restatement of negative news) of Immigration New Zealand, these have been foremost in the thoughts of not just many Filipino guest workers, but of their families, loved ones, and those they’ve left behind in Pilipinas, as well as peers, bosses and employers who’ve come to depend on them the weeks, months and years they’ve put in as hardworking, no-nonsense and team-oriented Pinoy workers.

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

Not to worry and don’t panic, says, probably the most hardworking (and surely the most energetic) Filipino-Kiwi kabayan immigration counselor Maricel Weischede, who along with her husband Holger and staff at NZIHS have helped thousands of Filipinos achieve the New Zealand migrant dream.

Well, not to worry too much (because the Filipino worker never stops worrying), but not to worry like the sky’s falling and there’s no tomorrow.

Besides the need for employers to be accredited soon, the change in wages for purpose of permanent residency and the stand-down period for low-skilled workers, most of the new rules announced don’t take effect any time soon, the earliest around next year pa, according to Maricel.

Referring to the increase in wages (from around $55,000 annually to $79k), this refers to workers who were already going to apply anyway, which means you either qualify or you don’t, you just need to hurry up a bit, in less than 10 days to be exact. This is about the Work-to-Residence (WTR) work visa policy under Accredited Employer.

(For more details, please call Immigration New Zealand or refer to your adviser, disclaiming right NOW to be advising anyone, just recounting an e-meet we were lucky enough to attend with Maricel recently.)

Referring naman to the proposed, three step “employer test, job test, worker test” gateway for work visas, kabayan Maricel said that informally this is already being done anyway and it’s just a more orderly way of making sure everything’s being done to protect both employer and worker.

And about the new mandate for ALL employers to be accredited, it’s a rule that was going to be inevitable (mangyayari kahit papano) anyway. If your employer doesn’t want to be accredited with Immigration NZ, it’s probably time to change employers while you still can, and if you’re already in New Zealand, you’ll be given time naman for the duration of your visa. (again, subject to more detailed advice applying to different situations of different workers.)

But Maricel saved the best for last. Just testing Precious Reader if you’ve read all the way to the end of this post, but when asked about the distressing three-year stand-down period for low-skilled workers, she connected such policy with the recent decision removing the restriction against low-skilled workers bringing family to New Zealand.

[The three-year stand-down period is the rule forcing work visa holders earning below $21.25/hour to return to their country of origin after three years holding a work visa ]

Why would Immigration New Zealand allow workers to bring family while working in New Zealand if the entire family (including the worker) were going to be forced to go home after three years anyway?

Maricel stopped short of saying the three-year period will be reconsidered, there is nothing to support this. But reading between the lines, there is nothing wrong with hoping. And for a lot of us workers, hope is all we have.

Madami pang pinag-usapan si Maricel, but for now,  in that e-meeting we attended on FB, the biggest message was: if you can do something about the proposed new work visa rules, DO IT, AND DON’T PANIC, because there’s still time. At the same time, just work hard, keep working, and listen to advice from your adviser.

Good advice. Besides for now, all we can do is work, work, work.

Thanks for reading, thanks Maricel, and mabuhay po tayong lahat!