mGa KuRo-KuRo Ni Ka UrO

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"From Carabao to Sheep" Wins Print Journalism Award

Email from CFO notifying AKLnzPINOYS that the migrant handbook "From Carabao to Sheep" is the winner of the Print Journalism Award:

Dear AKLnzPINOYS Moderators:

Greetings from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas!

We are pleased to inform you that AKLNZ’s publication “FROM CARABAO TO SHEEP” was chosen as the winner for the Print Journalism Award, one of the seven categories of the first Migration Advocacy and Media Awards. This year’s awardees were chosen for having raised public awareness on issues on Filipino migration, advocated the cause of Filipinos overseas, and promoted a positive image of Filipinos overseas, and migration and development

We hope that you will be able to receive this award during the Awarding Ceremonies on 15 December 2011 (Thursday), 5:30 pm at DM Hall (LandBank Auditorium), LBP Plaza, Malate, Manila. Should you be unable to personally receive the award, you may delegate a representative in behalf of your group to accept the award.

Please be informed that awardees are allowed to bring a maximum of five (5) representatives or guests during the Awarding Ceremonies. Kindly provide us the complete names of those who will be receiving the award (maximum of three), as well as your guests on or before December 10.

May we also invite you to participate in the different activities organized by the Inter-Agency Committee in line with the celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (MOF) in December and International Migrants Day on December 18. Please find attached the confirmation slip, which include the MOF activities, in which you could participate.

For more information, you may contact Mr. Frencel Tingga at telephone no. 552-4766 and at his e-mail address .

Congratulations and we look forward to seeing you this December.

Thank you and best regards.

Very truly yours,


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

From Carabao to Sheep, An Information Booklet for Pinoy Migrants in New Zealand

Mabibili na po sa

LOVE Electronics (SM Cubao)
Stall 2 SM Arcade SM Cubao, Quezon City. Ph. (02)912-5243 sa halagang P350 po lamang.

Or go to our online store:

Why a new migrant’s booklet?
An inventory of the internet for materials catering to new migrants to NZ reveals a vast amount of information already available out there. From official advisories and step-by-step instructions from government websites to online guides and migrant packs from websites of private organisations. The amount of information is enormous such that it is very easy to be overwhelmed and end up being even more confused and lost.

Furthermore, most of the materials available publicly tend to be broad in scope; catering to all migrants from different parts of the globe. Some information are also most likely to be more applicable for those coming from the UK, USA and Europe, or Asian migrants in general. There is none written specifically with Filipinos in mind.

The main aim of this booklet is therefore twofold. First, simplify the complexity of settling in NZ; and second, tailor it for Filipinos. By only including the most important aspects in settlement, and by arranging the topics in more or less chronological order; from pre-departure to attaining permanent residency and assimilation with the community-- this booklet aims to provide an easy to follow and yet complete recipe a new migrant could use as a guide in the journey towards living a happy life in New Zealand. While a great deal of effort has been made to simplify the materials in this booklet, readers are nonetheless encouraged to do further readings by referring them to links to relevant websites all throughout this booklet.

Who is this booklet for?
Much of the information contained here was based from experiences and points of view of Filipinos currently living in Auckland. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that this booklet best suits Filipino new migrants intending to settle in Auckland. All the same, new migrants regardless of nationality and regardless where they want to settle in New Zealand should find most of the materials written here to be useful.

Who is this booklet NOT for?
This is not for visa or NZ Immigration applicants looking for tips and guidance on how to go about their applications. This is a settlement guide; NOT an immigration guide.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Migrants Handbook for Pinoys in NZ

Excited ako na ibalita sa inyong lahat. AKLnzPINOYS is publishing very soon a migrants handbook for Pinoys in NZ. New migrants, as well as those still planning to immigrate to NZ will find this handbook very informative. The topics on pre-departure, arrival, housing and accommodation, childcare, driving, WTR to PR conversion, etc. were written by Pinoys who've lived in New Zealand for some time.

It took us six months to complete the write-ups, few months to lay-out the book. We had to sell bingo tickets and concert tickets to raise funds towards this project. Now we are completing the last section of the book - a Pinoy Businesses (in NZ) Directory (PBD) where any business supporting Pinoys in NZ can either list for free or buy a page or portion of a page to place an advertisement.

To see a preview of the handbook, go to
To have your business listed in the PBD, simply fill up the online form at

Friday, January 01, 2010

For Pinoy Migrants and Tourists to NZ

I'm not resuming my blogging yet. However, I've considered Bogs's suggestion for me to compile all my previous posts that may be useful to migrants and tourists to NZ into a book. Sorry I don't have the resources to do that, but I'm doing here the next best thing. I've listed them below and tried my best to categorized each one.

Just a disclaimer though that any information derived from these posts should not be taken as professional or legal advice. Furthermore, some of the information provided may already be out of date and therefore could be inaccurate.

Still Deciding on Migrating to NZ

Migrants BEWARE!

Some Useful Information about NZ

Moving to NZ

Migrant Experiences

Life at Home

Interacting with Others

Cars and Driving Around

House Buying, Flat Renting

Kids and Schooling

Life in Auckland


Buying Stuff

Cellphones, Calling the Phillipines

Monday, October 05, 2009


AKLnzPINOYS has organized a free seminar for migrants to NZ in Manila and in Cebu.

Co-organizers for the Manila seminar are CFO (Commission on Filipinos Overseas), CMA (Center for Migrant Advocacy Phil) and YMCA Philippines.

Manila Seminar
Nov 14, 2009
Saturday 1PM to 6PM (Session 1 starts 1PM, Session 2 starts 3PM)
YMCA Phil (Near SM Manila)
8th floor Hotel Indah Manila
350 A.Villegas St, Ermita, Manila

Cebu Seminar
Nov 21, 2009
Saturday 8AM to 11AM
3rd floor Don Sergio Osmena Building
corner Juan Luna and D. Jakosalem Sts.
Cebu City

The purpose of the seminar is
  • to give an explanation of the NZ Immigration process
  • help applicants do a self assessment of their chances of migrating to NZ
  • describe some of the important requirements for migrating, studying, or for working in NZ
  • explain what the WTR visa is and how to convert it to a permanent resident permit
  • give new migrants a clear picture of the challenges they will be facing when they arrive NZ
  • describe some pre-departure decisions, would be migrants should think about
  • describe the possible scenarios that could happen to migrants
  • give new migrants tips on how they can minimize risks and avoid common mistakes

It is NOT the intention of the seminar to

  • provide legal advice - nothing from the seminar should be taken as legal advice
  • sell NZ - this is not a marketing or sales seminar. If your intention is simply to know more about NZ as a country of destination, you would learn more by reading materials about the country from books or from the internet.

The seminar will be divided into two sessions.

Session 1 : Will discuss topics relevant to applicants
  • who don't know anything yet about migrating to NZ
  • who are in the EOI stage of their application via the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)
  • who are Nurses planning to work in NZ
  • who are coming or planning to come to NZ with a student visa, work visa or being hired directly by a NZ employer/recruiter
Session 2 : Will discuss topics relevant to those who applied under the SMC, specifically those
  • who already submitted an EOI
  • who already received an ITA
  • who already received or just waiting for a WTR visa

These seminars are free and open to anyone. So please feel free to pass this invite to your friends and network.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Migrant Nightmares: Dreams Turning to Nightmares for WTR visa Holders

The following is a letter from one of our countrymen in NZ. After spending all their life savings, selling their properties at home, in the pursuit of their NZ dream, the WTR visas they acquired are now about to expire. Because they failed to get their WTR visa converted into PR visa on time, they now face the prospect of going back to the Philippines, empty-handed.

Sadly, not only a few are experiencing or have experienced the same plight. Marami pa!

So my advice to all our countrymen planning on immigrating to NZ or anywhere else: huwag isugal ang lahat nang dahil lamang sa isang pangarap. Dapat parati kayong may backup plan para kung ano man ang mangyari hindi kayo magising na luhaan.

Hi Everyone,

Sa lahat ng mga makakabasa nito humihingi ako ng inyong pang-unawa at konsiderasyon. Alam ko pong may kanya-kanya tayong mga problema, magkaiba man o magkaparehas man, minsan depende ito sa nagdadala kung gaano kabigat at kagaan ito para sa kanya. Kung sa iba maliit at magaan lang, sa iba naman ay napakabigat at napakalaking suliranin sa buhay.

Sa 22 August 2009 na ang expiration ng aming WTR extension. Dahil sa nadecline kami sa aming residency application gumagawa kami ng paraan na makakuha ng work permit. Sad to say, hindi pwedeng ipangwork permit ang trabaho naming mag-asawa. Isa akong independent contractor as a Home Educator with PORSE at ang asawa ko naman ay Assistant Retailer sa $2 and More Shop. Tinulungan na rin kami ng iba nating kapwa Filipino upang makahanap ng bagong trabaho, kaso kadalasan walang makapag-offer sa amin ng job dahil sa kaunting oras na lang ang natitira sa aming WTR extension.

Masyado na kaming apektado sa problema. Hindi madali sa aming tanggapin na umuwi na lang ng Pilipinas dahil nawala na sa amin ang lahat. Naubos na ang aming pera, nalet go na namin ang aming mga ari-arian at wala na rin kaming trabahong babalikan. Kahit pamasaheng pauwi ay wala kaming magamit. Hindi na kami nakakatulog sa kaiisip ng mga paraan na pwede pa naming gawin. Unti -unti nang nauubos ang lakas namin sa paharap ng problema. Kahit gusto naming matulog, di kami makatulog sa sobrang bilis ng kaba ng aming dibdib. Di na rin ako makapagtrabaho ng maayos kaya nagdesisyon akong tapusin ang kontrata ko sa pamilya ng mga bata na I look after. Hindi na namin alam kung papaano kami ulit mag-uumpisa sa buhay. Di ko na rin maintindihan ang aming pakiramdam. Magkahalong kaba, takot, hiya, lungkot at kung anu-ano pa ang nararamdaman namin.

Sa mga may kakayahang tumulong nagpapakumbaba kaming mag-anak na pakitulungan niyo kami in any way na kaya niyong maitulong sa amin. Nagpapasalamat din kami sa mga tumutulong at nagbibigay na ng mga pamamaraan upang kami ay makasurvive. Salamat sa inyong pang-unawa at pagmamahal.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Migrant Tales - Kwento ni NB (Dead Man Walking)

This is an update from NB, 16 months after his first narration (read Kwento ni NB in previous post) of the difficulties and challenges he faced in his attempts to start a new life in NZ. This time around due to the economic downturn, Noel's chances of getting employed had simply become bleaker. Real-life drama, the true ending of which is still in the making.

Dead Man Walking

[ Note from Your Loyal Batchmate / Schoolmate / Kabayan : could've written this sooner, but there would've been no happy ending. ]

For the second time in 16 months, I was Dead Man Walking.

Apologies for the drama, but for all intents and purposes, I no longer belong among the people I walk, for the simple purpose that I had lost my right to stay in The Land of Milk & Honey. ( Not any particular place, actually, just any environment where your desired future becomes more distinct and reachable. )

* * * * *

A DEPRESSION cum recession is never so treacherous as when an incumbent or sitting government defends itself for it, or looks around for excuses and scapegoats to deflect attention from itself.

As you may guess, migrants and and temporary workers are an easy target, once the local populace looks for the usual suspects for their lack of disposable income.

Just as a First World country welcomes its migrants, expats and seasonal workers in times of plenty ( as productive additions to its evolving workforce ), it sees them in hard times as pabigat, liability & usurpers of their natural resources. Namely, their right to the life to which they are accustomed, viz comfy homes, a pair of cars, and sturdy paychecks.

By way of explanation. . .

Like many citizens of the Third World, we set up camp via the time-tested and honored manner: the back door. This was the visit / tourist visa, then found a reason for overstaying legally. In my case, a helpful brother who'd been here the last 14 years produced for us the precious job offer that produced a work permit.

Welcome Noel, you accidental migrant you !

Unluckily, my employer ran into hard times as well and went bankrupt a few months into our new job. Redemption came in the form of another company looking for someone to train from the ground up, no skills necessary, just someone willing to learn, take instructions without question, and work for minimum wage.

Not that I had much choice, and it sounded good to me.

Well, stranger things have been known to happen, but the job kept us from leaving here. We learned the ropes, improved our work ethic, and allowed us to send home much needed foreign exchange in the meantime.

We were also able to start the first of a series of qualifying exams that would certify us in our trade, assuming we passed of course.

Eerily, early this year, the country began to suffer from one of its worst unemployment droughts in history, no doubt an aftershock produced by the worldwide economic downturn. Also, various industries the country relied on were taking a turn for the worse, the dairy industry not being the least .

The media wasn't much help, either. Headlines like Nine Filipinos Retained in New Plymouth While Locals Made Redundant were both race-insensitive and inaccurate, and only served to unfairly cast us in a (more) negative light. Was it our fault if we reported to work unfailingly, on time and volunteered for overtime work whenever? Sure, it made them (everyone else) look bad, but hey, don't know bout you, but I could certainly use the extra money. On the other hand, locals never thought twice about taking time off, weren't always tardy but sometimes cut it close when giving notice they were coming late, and were always on the lookout for a better job. Didn't look very good against the spectrometer of job loyalty.

Too, the usual 45 working day lead time for applying for a new work permit / visa no longer applied, not only because there were lots and lots more refugees reaching the gates of the palace, but also because each application was being scrutinized as new, never mind that you'd been working here a year or more, back to zero lahat. The waiting time to clear your papers now stretched to three, maybe four agonizing months.

I didn't want to rush the ops manager into producing an endorsement letter and supplementary form (where the employer provides additional information about your work details, something you can't furnish without being self serving) as he was presiding over, in no sequential order : potential redundancies , major repairs (the machinery was reliable but needed constant maintenance), visitors from the main office (we were sort of in the boondocks) and swiping business away from competitors. A work permit renewal, I thought, didn't rank high on a list like that, but I reminded him just the same. I couldn't blame him if the letter, a pro forma one actually, wasn't prepared till around two weeks later, but it was two weeks that was lost forever.

Then came the long wait. A total of five weeks passed before we were told, in a phone conversation ritual we held daily (Please, has my case been allocated to a case officer? Well, may I know when it will?) that Client Number 27948091 (that's me) had been assigned to an Immigration Officer, whose name I was familiar with, that person having handled a few Filipino applications here.

The ritual, however, didn't stop, in fact in only became more purposeful and frenetic as I was not only chasing a deadline ( I committed to attend my folks' 50th wedding anniv June ), I also didn't want a gap between the expiry of my old permit, and the issuance (if I was lucky) of a new one.

Turned out that that was the LEAST of my problems.

I would have found out later rather than sooner (by mail), but my persistence brought me the needed information first hand:

In light of the current (economic) situation, and the fact that your position doesn't meet the minimum Skill Level 6, I honestly feel your job should be given to a (local) citizen, and therefore I cannot issue you the work permit you seek.


In those few words, as I said, I became Dead Man Walking. Frankly, throughout the 11+ months I was bundying in and out, I hardly gave a thought to working anywhere else, at the same time I hadn't been able to save a cent. The case officer's words came out in slo-mo, like an audio tape slowing down. I was hearing them, but belief was temporarily suspended. Life as I currently knew it was over.

She said that of course, I could still appeal or ask for a reconsideration, but not only was the issue pretty cut-and-dried, lots of Filipinos being in the same boat, there was also the trip back home, for which I hadn't been able to save. I should start worrying about that daw.

At this point, I must admit that from time to time, especially during my first long wait for a work permit, I took on casual jobs that were in the gray area of semi-legal, to keep body and soul together. Working in the same environment wasn't anything new for me, but for how long could I do the same?

First, I planned what I would do when I got home, where the prospects weren't many : my last jobs were in a law firm, a multi-national and finally a call center, where the dead end moods associated with the job / s became deader and deader. For my colleagues, mostly career lifers (in the first two gigs) and people half my age (in the last, who called me dad and tatay ) who were just happy with a job, the situation / s was OK, but for me, 40something and no easily marketable skills, how could you stay perky? Being an accidental migrant was the thing that saved me from an even more uncertain retirement, but obviously I didn't realize how lucky I was to stay here.

And now I was being asked to leave.

Back to the casual and semi-legal, I subscribed to the view that there is honor in hard work, and I joined the ranks of the day-to-day conscripts while waiting for good news from the case officer. Chinese takeaway, fruit stalls, weekend markets, whose exact locations will remain a secret forever locked away in my heart, were my sometime employers practical enough to take in manpower at a sidelong glance at my gaunt desperation, and Asian enough to look the other way when time came to ask for (any) documentation. We do after all come from the same continent, Comrade ? Hard-earned cash at day's end, no questions asked, just stay scarce when anyone gets too nosy.

A lifejacket came a few days later (although at the time we didn't know it yet) in the form of a brief email from our main office HR Advisor, who asked us: didn't you know that your item (position) has always been Skill Level 6, anywhere on either state (the skill level assessment scheme binds two countries) ? And why didn't u cite in your form that you took the first 2 exams of the Certification Course?

But I hadn't passed them yet, I feebly protested.

Well, start acting like you have! And winked at me she did, electronically of course.

It was too late by then, sadly. The manager of our out-of-the-way post had no choice but to cut me loose, as my Wapa (what a Kapampangan friend called his Work Permit) had finally expired. He had already cut me some slack by way of "neglecting" to attend to office matters the first 72 hours, but the risk was, like an infected boil, accumulating more pus by the day : a hefty fine, and censure on the firm (if I was discovered) hung above all our heads like Damocles' Sword.

With a heavy heart, I left midday with my knapsack carrying my safety gear, hi-viz jacket and workboots out of the factory, probably for the last time. Sad smiles and words of encouragement (we'll be waitin' for ya mate) was my sparse menu for the day, as I had little appetite to see what lay ahead.

But feeling sorry for myself were not items on my forced agenda, as I had an urgent email to write to the immigration officer. I had the required Skill Level, and (wink-wink) sat the exams on my way to certification. Wala pa lang nga results, though it was a real start.

** ** ** **

12 HOURS before the 6th of June (the olds' anniversary), when I had officially reached Day 8 of becoming a McDonalds bum, the e-mail came.

"Please collect your passport here asap Noel, as I am issuing a work permit and you will need a work visa if you want to go home soon? "

OMG. From down-in-the-dumps with aimless wanderings scheduled for the day, I instantly morphed into a Tasmanian devil with a jillion-and-one things to do without a clue on what to do first.

But what had just transpired?

The case officer obviously had on her own reconsidered, owing to the sterling advice our HR person had offered and the fact that I had already embarked on steps to qualify myself towards certification.

Just as obviously, me awa pa rin ang Diyos as she could've have just thrown my paper in the rubbish bin and consigned my fate to those of scores and scores of other nameless migrants sent back home as it was of course the politically expedient thing to do.

Just to show that not every bureaucrat was of the cold-hearted, clinical type, she told me :

It's not the easiest thing to do, take away a person's job as this sometimes has the effect of changing the lives of many more people back home (Top 10 Understatements for 2009 yan, Ate ! ) But all factors considered, and admitting that it is not that easy to train someone for a semi-skilled job like yours, and hoping that you will continue to work towards certification, consider yourself welcomed back to our country.

If I could kiss a government officer over - the - counter, I would have, just that protocol might not allow it.

** ** ** **

6 hours later, after last-minute confirmations, rushed goodbyes and listings of pabilin, I was sleeping on plastic benches in the cavernous waiting area of the airport, which, if you can believe it, was closed (as in doors locked and windows shuttered) between 11 pm and 4 am... not enough flights to keep it open ( I told you it was a small town ) . I was on my way to join 4 bros, 3 kids, and 4 nieces and nephews and catch the tail-end of my folks' 50th, which probably won't be celebrated in as grand a fashion till the 75th, a good quarter-century away.

From Dead Man Walking I was granted a reprieve, a new lease on Life if you may. Given all the sad news about recession related lay-offs, retrenchments, redundancies and closures of businesses, this was one scary tale that ended happily . At least for me, and not a local who might have, in his dreams , applied for my job.

Not for this makulit na Pinoy.

Thanks for giving me the time of day, everyone, and don't ever give up hope.


PostScript. Salamat sa Diyos, we passed the
first 2 exams. Kudos to Ross C, Rey G and Juanito C, and all
other compatriots who aced their exams with flying colors ! Mabuhay

Monday, May 26, 2008

Migrant Tales - Kwento ni NB

With the expiration of his work permit fast approaching and still no firm job offer, NB begins to doubt himself and contemplates on going back home. One obstacle after another can often break one's spirit. It is during those situations that one feels it easier to give up than to carry on. But it is also during those situations that you'll find that some luck, a little support from strangers and a regathering of one's determination can often be the difference between failure and success.
Early this year I had a valid work permit running, as I do now, however time was running out on my employer. It was going through dire straits, and I was one of the few employees remaining in the office. Partly for loyalty and gratitude but also because, my WP being one limiting which employer I could work for, I didn't have much choice but to stay on.

My worst fears were confirmed when the company folded late Feb. Like some of our kababayan, my meager Filipino credentials were not suited to the Kiwi setting and though I have had a rich resume of varied jobs and work experience, I found myself turned down, one job after the other, nahilo ako sa rejection.

Redemption came in the form of a miracle referral, when a compassionate Pinoy who remembered me asking around for a job rang me, saying there was an opening in their company.

Incredibly, NO qualifications were necessary, since all training was to be provided, and even more incredibly, training included "guild qualifications" that, once attained, could be helpful in the event of an Expression of Interest under the Skilled Migrant Category. All I needed to do was show up and apply for the position. Wow.

It was here where a series of delays served to frustrate me and cast doubt on whether I could go through the gauntlet of staying in NZ beyond my WP's expiry.

First, I lost my passport. I went through the employer's application process and got accepted, and though the employer initially didnt see the loss as a problem, the prospect of reapplying for a new passport and the hassles associated with it raised issues later as the employer's admission procedure would be lengthened.

Fortunately, I found my passport a week later but all the same, a week had passed. I almost didn't start but, the training being extensive, started one week after i was hired.

Again, I just couldn't get a break. After only four days, it was found out that my medicals needed to be renewed under work permit policy, and more disappointingly, my immigration consultant warned me that until I had a new WP, I couldn't work for any other employer except the one that had already gone under. The egg couldn't come before the chicken, despite my new employer's best intentions.

So I left abruptly (midday) on just my fifth day with my new employer, almost crushed but still determined to get a new WP. This started the second delay. At least, I had time to take a new physical.

Incidentally, even before that I had already been declared good to go by the company's own physical. From their resume check, I also had no ACC claim pending, no criminal record, and didn't care that I had to join the union, all elements important to the employer. Too good to be true nga eh, on both sides.

Of course, I had to wait another 10 days to find out what I already knew: I was in good health, physically fit, and agile enough to hold up to the requirements of the job, which involved going up and down stairs, a bit of running from time to time, and prolonged periods of standing. Desperation and urgency are good incentives to keeping fit pala.

Guess what? After completing my physicals and submitting my WP application, my application papers were returned just a week after, with a note stating that I had no qualifications or experience necessary under NZ policy. The letter furnished by the employer offering to provide all training was ignored. Another week's delay.

Fortunately, a second and more enlightened V.O. took note of the letter and the fact that all of the employer's new hires did not require experience, and six weeks after I was engaged for work, I finally got my new work permit. The day I received the package, I was already starting to make plans going home, to disappointment of family and friends, and worse, to my own disillusionment. Amazingly, the package was even delivered by a Pinoy courier, who winked at me saying, "mukhang good news, kabayan."

During those six weeks, I admit I had my darkest doubts on whether or not I could stay here, and even though I had earlier resolved to stay under the most trying of circumstances, I never knew if I could ever stay beyond the 30th of June, the last day of my old WP.

It appears I have been given a second chance here. I join those AKLnzPINOY members who say that, for good or ill, we have been adopted (or are trying to be adopted) by this overachieving little country, and for as long as we stay here, we can say nothing bad about it. Otherwise, nothing stops us from returning home, in my case, returning to little or no opportunity.

That's my little tale. Pasensya na po kung medyo mahaba.

Mabuhay ang AKLnzPINOYs ! Kudos to the organizers and moderators, you do the Filipino community an excellent service. Probably more than you will ever know.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Migrant Tales - Kwento ni CB, isang CPA Lawyer

It is a known fact that migrant lawyers, accountants and doctors are often under-employed in New Zealand. So why still migrate to New Zealand? Read what CB, a CPA Lawyer had to say about this.

I am a CPA Lawyer in the Philippines. Had a promising career back home. I even declined an offer to work as a Tax Lawyer for one of the top banks in the Philippines because they were much interested with my connections rather than my ability. I got disappointed and frustrated with the corruption. Up to now, it makes me sick.

I have always been an idealistic person. I have always wanted to be a lawyer since I was a kid. When I finally became one, I was shocked with the realities of law practice in the Philippines.

Corruption is one of the compelling reasons why my family and I decided to emigrate from the Philippines.

My family and I have been here for 7 months now. We received our residence permits late last year. We immigrated to New Zealand under the Work-to-Residence Permit (6 months).

Settling here was tough. But, we came prepared. Before coming here, we armed ourselves with "sensible" information and the right attitude. We knew that we will encounter challenges and difficulties. We also relied on our FAITH.

My husband and I both resigned from our work and decided to come here together with our son. We arrived in Auckland in July last year. We do not have relatives or close friends in New Zealand. We stayed for 2 weeks with my husband's former officemate. It was a big risk coming here all at the same time under a 6month-WTR.

On our first week here, my husband was able to get a job that satisfied all the conditions set by the NZ Immigration. We found a place in the North Shore and bought a car. We enrolled our son in a nearby public kindergarten.

Since most of our belongings were still on their way to Auckland, we had to sleep on an inflatable bed. We survived winter with no heater (we just all cuddled up under our duvet =)). We had no couch, no television. We just had a monobloc table and 4 chairs my husband bought from a garage sale for only $5. We rented out a fridge and washing machine from an appliance rental shop. I had to do most of the household chores. This was a big adjustment from having "assistants" back home. It was different from what we were used to in the Philippines. But, we never complained. It was one of the happiest moments of our lives.

Now, we have brand new furnitures and appliances. Some we bought in cash, some by installment. In the Philippines, you can only experience this if you're extremely rich or if you just got married (wedding gifts). We're also proud to say that we have gained new friends

When we realized that our medicine supply is running low, we scheduled an appointment with the nearest Filipino GP. It came as a surprise but I learned that I am entitled to subsidised consultations, laboratory exam, and even my blood test supplies for my blood sugar (I am a diabetic). They even have what they call "green prescription" where people get support(not financially) to be fit and healthy. My son is entitled to free vaccinations and subsidised consultations and prescriptions. One can avail more if they have a community service card. These are from the taxes we pay to the government. In the Philippines, do we have this?

From the email Anthony Taberna received from his friend, it was mentioned that doctors, lawyers and nurses are underemployed in New Zealand. This may be true. This is because there is still a need to get a license to practise their profession here. This information is not new. One can easily learn this by reading the immigration policy. BUT the email failed to mention that we already have Filipino lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers and nurses who are practising their profession here. I have friends who are in the process of obtaining their license to practice law in NZ. I, for one, am taking steps in that direction. The professionals mentioned in the email are underemployed in NZ probably by choice.

There are so many things I miss in the Philippines. But the things I DO NOT MISS from the Philippines far outnumber the things I miss.

I am hoping and praying that one day, I will be able to do what I love doing (International Tax) without having to succumb to pressure from personal gain. It is just unfortunate that I will never attain this in the Philippines.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Migrant Tales From Pinoyz2nz - Kwento ni JD

"And when I had an overseas call to my son, he asked me bakit ako naglilinis ng floor sa Mcdo? I told him we loved them so much that we are doing these sacrifices for them. - JD". Nabasa niyo na yong kwento ni Ivy sa nakaraang post. Heto naman ang equally inspiring at makabagbag-damdaming narration ng experiences ni Jun Dandoy in his own words.

Much is said about this topic "is it true,mahirap buhay sa Nz?" And we read different views and opinions both from people na "nandun na at mga papunta pa lang dun." Well for us who have experienced the "best of both worlds", we can only share our personal experiences in order for some Pinoys to have a glimpse of what's in store for "your decision to migrate" and leave your native land. And in order to lighten up the spirits of those undecided pinoys, here's my life story (buhay NZ, ika nga).

My wife and I started to entertain the idea to migrate to NZ sometime in 2003. But we only got serious in 2005 when (Immigration NZ) INZ replied to our queries and started to lodge our application. Si Mrs ang masigasig mag-inquire thru on line (since office work siya - madami siyang time and ako field work- Sales & Distribution-South Luzon Coke) and at one point I asked her, "baka scam yan?" We even tried the services of Mheta but since malaki-laki sinisingil nya, nagduda na kame and applied on our own. Year 06 Dec when we were interviewed by the famous Frrrannccesss Wuuu- hu-hu-hu? in Makati city (kase nag coup d'etat sa Thailand noon).

Got our WTR-2yrs last Mar'07 and flew to Christchurch (CHCH) July'07. We left our kids muna with my in-laws sa Ilocos Sur. Ang dalang baon namin bukod sa sang-katerbang damit, ay yung pinagbentahan ng auto ko (P85k), tibay ng loob, determinasyon at dasal sa May Likha. I didn't pay much attention to the forum (Pinoyz2nz) then (kase kanya-kanya opinion), tsaka gumugulo lang sa isip ko, eh.

We both stayed at my cousin's farm in Hokitika for 2 weeks and we met some members of the West Coast Filipino Community. They were all very hospitable & gave us microwave, iron, TV, plato atbp. Sang ka pa? Libre kagamitan. While staying in the farm doing nothing and watching the cattle fall in line in the shed to have their precious milk extracted, we applied on-line announcing that we are already here in CHC. We received several mails (telling us that our appli is unsuccessful), so we went to Greymouth and tried our luck there. Kumain lang kame sa McDo Greymouth at nag-dare-ran lang na what if we apply here? We asked the service crew if they have job openning & was referred to their owner/manager (Indian guy) & after some very short chat, he asked if we can start right away!?

Dito na nagsimula ang kalbaryo namin to have a "local experience". Since baguhan lang ako, these kiwis always pick on me & told me to do this & to do that? Utusan ako. Habang nag-mop ako ng kitchen, halos ma-iyak ako (kase di-katulong ako sa Pinas). And when I had an overseas call to my son, he asked me bakit ako naglilinis ng floor sa Mcdo? I told him we loved them so much that we are doing these sacrifices for them. There is also an instance wherein I was tasked to collect/pick-up the rubbish inside & outside the Mcdo premises. Gigising ako ng maaga para pulutin lang mga upos ng sigarilyo at wrappers ng mcdo. Sa isip-isip ko, pinag-aral ako ng mga magulang ko sa Unibersidad ng Santo Tomas, tapos yayo lang ang work ko d2? All this for an $11.25/hr job, not bad kung mag-coconvert ka. Siempre, mega-compute kame how much kikitain namin for a week, for a month, etc. We tried to save our small earnings by not buying unecessary things. Dahil hindi sanay hindi kumain ng kanin, nagsimula kaming mag-bread na lang para tipid.

I aso applied & was hired as grocery assistant at Grey New World supermarket. Yung work na hindi gagamitan ng college degree, mag-fill ka lang ng grocery shelves (merchandizer). Tanung ko, pang-PR na ba ito? Sales ako sa Pinas, eh merchandising work lang ito? So, parang malabo maging skilled work? Bale pan-dagdag na lang ito sa CV as local experience. We celebrated my wife's bday last Aug'07 without our kids by our side and it made our journey more lonely. Lungkot ang kalaban mo. I had these two odd-jobs until Oct'07 because lady-luck struck & gave me a break last Sept'07.

I was shortlisted by one of the companies I applied for in the newspaper. It was an Australian firm doing business in NZ & soon I found myself booked for a business trip(training) in Melbourne, Australia & another week in Auckland Sales office, then back to Chc (last wk of Oct'07). And during that business trip to Melbourne, last Oct10'07 is my youngest son's bday. Nasa ilocos silang magkapatid, nasa Greymouth asawa ko('coz she's still working sa Mcdo Grey) at ako naman nsa Melbourne for my training. Hiwa-hiwalay kaming mag-anak. Diba nakakalungkot? Pero kasama sa sacrifices natin yan. Dasal ang ginawa ko and wished we will be re-united with our beloved kids soon.

After serving and proving my worth to the company for three months, I was confirmed as a regular/permanent staff. So, I submitted my third month payslip requirement of Immigration NZ and received a letter of approval (conversion of WTR to PR). Then we submitted our passports and have it stamped last Jan.23'08 (barely 6 mos upon arrival last Jul25'07). Together with our passports, they send also our CD interview with Frances Wu. So I pressume whatever you declared during your interview, dapat yun ang maging permanent work mong i-declare sa immigration officer assigned to you dito sa Chc. So, kung tugma yung sinabi mong gusto mong work na a-applyaan at yun na ang present work mo, the Ofcr will probably grant your conversion (WTR to PR) without questions asked. Tinawagan lang nila employer mo just to confirm your status with the Company, then yun na- tatak kaagad ng PR passport mo.

Along the way, we met a lot of nice and supportive friends in Chc who helped us adjust to our new life here. Meron dyang patutuluyin ka ng libre sa flat nila, kase pinag-daanan nila ang dinadaanan mo ngaun. Ganun lang talaga buhay ng migrant, handang mag-sacripisyo sa lahat ng mga bagay-bagay. Wag ka nang mag-inarte dito. Iwan mo sa Pinas mga di mabubuting ugali.

Lastly, kukunin na namin mga anak namin next month at hindi na sila dadaan sa ahensya ng gobyerno, para wala ng kuskos-balungos. Para wala ng pahabol s'men gov't. Thank you sa mga tumulong regarding this issue.

I do hope this experience of ours will inspire others who seek this so-called "New Zealand dream". Kung kaya namen in less than 6mos, kaya nyo rin yan mga kababayan. Konting tiis lang at pasencya at buo dapat ang loob mo-tutal ginusto mo itong pag-migrate in the first place, di ba?

Indeed, the Lord knows how sorely we miss our kids back home. Kaya He made all these things happening to our lives.

Goodluck to all!

Jun Dandoy

Monday, February 25, 2008

Migrant Tales From Pinoyz2nz - Kwento ni Ivy

Sari-saring mga experiences ng mga new migrants ang nababasa ko sa Pinoyz2nz. Malungkot man o masaya, lahat pwedeng pagkunan ng aral, impormasyon, at inspirasyon. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit naisipan kong ibahagi ang ilan sa mga kwentong migrante dito sa aking blog. Uumpisahan ko ang series na ito sa kwento ni Ivy.

In my personal experience sa pakikibaka in migrating to NZ, madami din po akong pinagdaanan na struggle. Pero sabi nga ng karamihan sa atin, dasal lang and eventually you'll reap the fruit of your labor.

Para na ikaluluwag naman ng loob para doon sa mga naghahanda pa lamang na makamtan ang NZ Dream, ako ay isa sa mga magpapatunay kung ano ang naidulot na kabutihan sa aking ng NZ. Hindi po sa pagmamayabang (im sharing this para naman mabuhayan ng loob ang mga desidedo talagang makarating dito sa nz). Again, my experience may not be applicable to Juan nor to Maria

Here is my story:

1. I visited NZ sometime 1996 (KU: correction, I think this should be 2006) as tourist. At that time, it was 12 months in the waiting ako sa application process, just lodged ITA. I was only granted with LPV. I tried my luck in applying jobs. Got several interviews but wala akong swerte noon. Hindi ako natanggap, tho, muntikanan na. Alam ko may kulang pa ako na skills...skills of good NZ english communication (ang hirap intindihin kase salita nila) and what nz employers want to hear from job applicants. Kaya uwi po ako ng Pinas bago mag-expire ang 1-month
visitors visa ko.

2. After 1 month back sa Pinas, I was scheduled for interview by my VO. We were the 1st batch na sa Pinas nagconduct ng interview ang mga Visa Officers. Take note, hindi po ako nagresign muna sa job ko when I left for NZ. So tama ako, may binalikan pa ako na job.

3. After a month, I got AIP-PR, biglang PR baga. Hindi ko po ini-expect yun. Luck nga kaya yun? Seguro, since si ML ang VO ko, na sabi nila mabait & very considerate si ML. Ano raw ang factor why I got outright PR? Kase, nag-visit daw ako sa NZ, so na-i-relate ko ng maigi sa VO ko yung how well am I prepared to migrate to NZ. Sipag din seguro, kase nag-research ako sa tulong
ng madaming members dito sa group na to, sila ang nagbigay sa akin ng tips (lalo na yung kelan lang na-grant nya ng outright PR before me). Eto yung sinasabing, "do your homework".

4. One month after, fly na po ako with my daughter sa NZ. Wow! exciting! Sa wakas wala ng balikan ito!

5. Naku, almost 2 months na po ako dito sa NZ noon hindi pa po ako makahanap ng work related to my job. Bakit??? Sa kagustuhan kong may pagkakitaan, nag-apply ako ng mga temping job. Yun bang on-call ka kung may need na odd job sa mga company na hawak nung agency. Hayyy, minsan tinawag ako for a job. Sa isang big wholesaler store. And ang work ko for the week? Magpupulot po ng emptied cartons sa shelves! Grabe...naiiyak ako dahil sa Pinas manager
po ako ng malaking warehouse! And now tagapulot ng carton? Sabi nung friend ko, bakit ko daw sobrang pinababa sarili ko. Basta pray lang ako.

6. At last, may tawag sa akin for interview in the same industry where i was working back sa Pinas. Nag-research ako. Sabi ko, this time, I should be accepted. And tama ako, I got Job offer. A big Luck? seguro, kase hindi ko inaasahan yung salary offer sa akin na mas mataas as to what I was expecting.

7. In 2 month's time working with the company, I got pay rise. Unexpected din po ang % increase ko. Praise to God!

8. Monetary wise, in less than 3 months working, I was able to save money katumbas ng nagastos ko sa pag-aapply sa NZ. Aside sa nakabili din po ng kotse. Yung, 15 years ko po sa pagtratrabaho sa Pinas, naipon ko lang po dito sa NZ in 3 months time. Baka hindi po kayo maniwala pero totoo yun. (Kase mahirap po makaipon sa Pinas, un ang totoo...)

9. In 12 month's time, nakabili po ng sariling bahay.

Sana po huwag panghinaan ng loob ang ilan sa atin na nasa Pinas pa. Try your luck, do your homework. Kung may hirap....may ginhawa na naghihintay sa atin.

cheers and more strength to hold on for those who are in struggling times


Friday, December 29, 2006

The Traveller Rests

Two years of blogging with 268 posts, I believe I've said about everything I've wanted to say and have accomplished lots of things I never even planned for. When I first started this blog back in December 2004, I thought of it as a journey with no specific destination. Where it was going to take me, I have not the slightest idea back then. I first intended it to be mainly a journal of my thoughts and ideas, in the hope of leaving something to the people I love the most. But the journey had twists and turns. And just like the "Little Prince", the journey took me to places I never imagined before, met new friends, rediscovered old ones, and even got me involved in civic projects and organizations.

But now it's time to take a rest from this journey; perhaps to fully appreciate the view before I embark on another. For now, I wish to thank all those I've met along the way. And I'm just happy to have touched the lives of other people (hopefully in a good way), and I thank them for having touched mine too. You all made the journey an enjoyable and memorable one. Wishing you all the very best for the coming new year and years to come and hoping to meet you all again someday... somewhere.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pagiging Totoo - When it becomes an Excuse, not a Virtue

Kapag galit ako sa isang tao, pinararamdam ko”, “Nagpapakatotoo lang ako”, “Hindi ako plastik”, “Totoo akong tao”. Madalas kong marining/mabasa ang mga pananalitang ito mula sa ibang blogger kapag sila’y may nakaka-samaan ng loob dito sa blogosphere. Para sa mga blogger na ganito ang pananaw walang masama kung murahin nila o magbitiw sila ng mga masakit na pananalita laban sa mga taong kagalit nila. Kaya daw nila yon ginagawa dahil “nagpapakatotoo” sila sa tunay nilang nararamdaman. Ang pagiging totoo ba’y sapat na dahilan upang makasakit ng kapwa?

Para sa akin, ang makasakit ka ng ibang tao kahit sa pamamagitan lamang ng pananalita ay hindi tama. Okay, maaring nauna siya. May nasabi siyang hindi kanais-nais na kinagalit mo. But you have choices. 1) restrain your anger or 2) retaliate. Unfortunately, some of us seem to equate choice number 2 to “pagpapakatotoo”. Without knowing it, “pagpapakatotoo” becomes an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Justifying a wrong-doing by trying to appear virtuous.

If your definition of “pagpapakatotoo” (being genuine, not fake) is unrestrained expression of anger then I suggest a carefully look at your values. Perhaps, a few sessions in anger management may help too. Or, simply think of the times you’ve done something wrong that made your parents angry. I'm sure you'ld rather have them forgive you, than see them “nagpapakatotoo”, do you?

Anger can be restrained or vented freely. Free-will means you're free to do whatever you want. But if you choose to do something negative, you must be mature enough to admit to it and not rationalize the action using an excuse that you're doing it out of virtue. Better yet learn to control your anger and be civil to everyone including those who caused you anger in the first place.

You don't have to act fake, plastic or sarcastic towards people you detest. All it means is that you avoid being rude and disrespectful. Actually, it's not difficult. If you see a comment that annoyed you, don't reply immediately. Sleep on it first. The following day or days, when most of the anger would have dissipated and you're less emotional, any comment you write would then be more logical and constructive.

Peace and goodwill po sa inyong lahat. Susunod na Lunes, Pasko na.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thoughts about The Lake House, Soulmates

We watched this movie, The Lake House, on DVD last week. It stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.

Plot: A lonely doctor (Sandra), once occupied an unusual lakeside home begins exchanging love letters with its former resident, a frustrated architect (Keanu). What’s extraordinary about the story is that Sandra’s time is 2006, Keanu’s 2004, but still by some sort of magic were able to correspond in real-time and the two fall in love.

I’ve read lots of negative reviews about the movie saying the plot is ludicrous, lots of nonsense, illogical, incredible, cheesy, corny, and insultingly dumb. Pretty sure it was a flop.

However, I must admit I did quite enjoy watching it. Probably it depends on how one chooses to interpret the details. If one interprets the story literally, then yes, it is incredibly hard to believe. However, if one interprets it figuratively or metaphorically, then it's easier to appreciate what the director may have wanted to convey.

For instance, for the house by the lake, one may think of it methaphorically and not a physical address. It could be virtual, imagined or even an address in cyberspace. In the movie, Sandra and Keanu exchange letters magically via a physical mailbox. Yes, that’s hard to believe. Yet nowadays, it's ordinary to receive emails in our inboxes in almost real-time.

The two-years gap between the two lovers could symbolize age difference. Or the director’s way of conveying how two people can be in love even when it is impossible for them to unite physically. Impossible maybe because of present circumstances beyond their control, or because of events that transpired in the past and affected the present.

Oh well, like the movie or not, I simply think of it as the story of two soulmates finding each other no matter what.

Speaking of soulmate, is there really such a thing? Are there souls literally fated to be mates to each other?

When we think of a soulmate, we normally associate the term to someone’s true love, or someone that affects another person in a positive, loving way. But checking Wikipedia, I found out that it is possible for a soulmate to also inflict injury to their twin flame.

Soulmate Emotional Destruction Theory

Ultimately the consequence of this notion is the unfortunate reality that soulmates often possess the ability to inflict serious emotional injury unto their twin flame, greater than any other being could. This often results in the separation of idealized love, due to the severe emotional impact. Many soulmates are destined for an eternal search, not for lack of meeting, but rather lack of acceptance. The encounter is often analogous to the collision of matter and antimatter, a violent explosive reaction will occur, but if held through to completion only pure energy, and thus harmony, will result. Unfortunately few encounters are held through to completion. - Wikipedia

I thought that was quite interesting. Whatever the case maybe, I’m sure of one thing. I’ve found my soulmate.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Bullying in School

Bullying is when someone, (could be one person or a group of persons) repeatedly does some mean things on another person in order to have power over that person. These could be by saying or writing nasty things about them, harassing them, threatening them, hitting them, not talking to them, stealing from them, damaging their properties, making fun of them, humiliating them, spreading lies about them.

I remember during my high school days (many decades ago!) bullying wasn’t that vicious. A lot of the things we did, we did mostly as a joke to make others laugh. It was normal for us to call each other names like “doro” (laki kasi mata), “barag” (mukhang lizard), “kokak” (mukhang palaka), “baluga” (maitim kasi), “Tange” (look alike nung comedian na si Tange), “bagsik” (mabagsik kasi ang B.O.).

I think the meanest thing, a group of my classmates did back then, was to steal the sandwich baon of one classmate. These group of mischievous juveniles would slip out of class before recess and ransack the bag of another classmate and eat his baon. They kept doing it for days. Until finally, this classmate whose sandwiches were being stolen decided to put some “flavoring” in his sandwiches. He put in some “butiki droppings”. Only then that these group stopped harassing the poor guy.

Talking to my daughter lately, I’ve realized bullying nowadays like most things have gone high-tech. People now stopped passing pieces of paper containing nasty messages about someone else. Instead they leave nasty TXT messages or leave malicious remarks on the website of the person they’re attacking.

Also just recently I came to realize that bullying is not only among students. In fact a most likely victim of bullying nowadays is a teacher. Especially if the teacher comes from a different cultural background, has a thick Asian accent or has difficulty with the English language. Students can be so mean to a teacher without realizing that they are already bullying the teacher.

I felt sorry for one of my daughter’s teachers who my daughter said was really a good teacher. What happened is that a group of pupils, acting like spoiled brats, were often disruptive, disrespectful, and made fun of the teacher’s Hongkong accent.

The poor teacher eventually quit his job and decided to go back to HK; never to teach children anymore. It’s sad when one’s vocation, especially that of being an educator to the youth gets stifled for no good reason. A casualty to a despicable social behaviour we should all do without.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Prize Giving Ceremony

Last night we went to my daughter’s school to attend what they call “End of Year Prize Giving Ceremony” for the senior school (Years 11, 12 and 13). This is when the school gives out awards to students who excelled in academics, arts, sports, music, etc. during the year. It is also the last official school function to be attended by the Year 13 students. Year 13 is roughly equivalent to 2nd year college in the Philippines. After Year 13, students move on to University. Si Fidez, Year 11 pa lang. Kaya lang siya kasama kasi may award siya.

Sa atin ang ang katapat nitong ceremony na ito Graduation. Maraming pagkakaiba ang graduation nila dito compared sa atin. Dito walang fanfare. Students come in their usual school uniforms. Kahit yung mga Year 13 na gagradweyt, naka school uniform lang, hindi naka-toga. Parents and visitors come in their usual everyday office or business clothes.

Students who are bestowed awards are given certificates or plaques, or cups (parang trophy). Walang sinsabitan ng medals. At kapag tinawag ang estudyante para kunin ang award siya lang ang aakyat sa stage. Hindi kasama ang parents. Kami nanonood lang at taga-palakpak. Wala ring mga paparazzi na nagkokodak sa harapan.

Wala ring mga magarbong intermission numbers na kung saan may sasayaw, kakanta, tutula nang mahabang-mahaba. Ang intermission meron lang kagabi, tumugtog ng classical music ang orchestra, tapos may isang nag-flute na solo. Very dry, simple lang. Kaya naman in 1 hour and a half tapos na ang seremonyas.

Fidez was one of those in Year 11 who were given Academic Honours Award. It’s the highest award given to those who got 90 and above across 6 subjects. For this award, she received a certificate and a $30 book voucher. She was disappointed. She would have preferred a beauty products voucher instead. Mana talaga sa akin. Yung talino lang ha, hindi yung hilig sa beauty products.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Why is it Brilliant?

I felt suddenly sentimental hearing this song over the radio. However, reading/listening to the lyrics closely, I do really wonder why the singer could say life is brilliant. Because if it was me in the situation, I'ld say life sucks, or love hurts. What do you think?

You're Beautiful
by James Blunt

My life is brilliant.

My life is brilliant
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I'm sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won't lose no sleep on that,
'Cause I've got a plan.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

Yes, she caught my eye,
As we walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
Flyin' high,
And I don't think that I'll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last 'till the end.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

La la la
la la la la la la

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it's time to face the truth,
I will never be with you.

The song is dedicated to my "long lost but now found" friend.

Monday, December 04, 2006

News Flash: NewJobz leaves migrants short of $600,000

I knew something wasn't right about this company when I wrote about it in this blog. See Bagong Raket ni Kaloy. When I wrote about it, nag-re-refund pa sila ng mga ibinayad ng mga members. Ngayon, sorry daw sa mga nagbayad. Wala ng refund.


Recruitment company leaves migrants short of $600,000
04 December 2006

A Christchurch recruitment company owes 229 potential migrants about $600,000, after reneging on its refund policy.

Stu Macann and Associates Ltd, based in New Brighton, closed last month, but two of its three directors continue the migrant recruitment business under a newly formed company, Skills New Zealand Ltd.

Local creditors have also missed out, but 229 potential migrants, many from Third World countries, are owed $600,000 in refunds.

Stu Macann and Associates Ltd started in 2003 with the aim of giving potential migrants an online service (newjobz) to help them secure a job offer in New Zealand which would help them gain residency. It claims to have helped settle 225 migrant families in New Zealand. Clients paid a fee of about $3000, which was fully refundable if a suitable job offer was not forthcoming.

About eight months ago, the company hit financial trouble, and last week Stu Macann and Associates Ltd ceased trading, although the operation, with a reduced staff, has carried on under Skills New Zealand Ltd.

Skills New Zealand Ltd is owned and run by Christchurch businessmen Keith Lightfoot and Stu Macann, both of whom were also directors and shareholders of Stu Macann and Associates.

Suresh Antil, a pharmacist, 50, who lives just outside New Delhi, in India, was one those caught up in the company failure.

In August, he asked for his money back he paid a $3000 fee of which $2000 was refundable and in October, Lightfoot sent Antil a letter promising to pay by December 15.

However, on November 22, Antil was informed Stu Macann and Associates had ceased trading, and that the new company continuing the business would not honour the refund undertaking.

Antil's daughter, Mahima Sahrawat, who emigrated to New Zealand with her husband, Arun, three years ago, said her father had borrowed the money for the fee, and would now struggle to pay it back. The $3000 fee was equal to her father's yearly salary.

"It's very much money for my father. He is still paying very heavy interest on the loan."

Lightfoot told The Press the original company was facing liquidation, because of financial troubles, and it had taken legal advice on how it should proceed.

The refund policy had undermined the company, and made it unsustainable, he said.

"We said we'll get you a job or your money back, which was a fantastically charitable thing to say, looking back. But we did, and we have been very successful in placing a lot of people into New Zealand.

"Eight months ago we realised the policy was causing us some problems, because people were taking advantage of it. We were paying out money to people who had used our services for 18 months. They used our time, our energy, our job-searching programme, and then asked for a refund," he said.

Some had been offered 17 jobs, but had turned them all down, and some turned down a job and then moved to New Zealand to take up the job. A total of $1.6 million had been refunded to 667 clients, he said.

"We understand why you are talking to us. We have lost personally. We believe we are doing the right thing by the migrants and always have done. We don't feel in any way we have done anything wrong except we understand we wrote a contract which we did not honour and that's that."

He agreed it was not a good look for New Zealand, but "we do not feel we have let the side down".

"We are extraordinarily unhappy about what's happened here. It's been an emotional drain on us all."

Skills New Zealand Ltd would continue to work for the clients who wanted to stay with the firm but no refunds would be given.

A statement on the company's website that it was a "registered immigration agent" was not misleading, despite the fact the firm was not on any immigration agent register, he said.

"We are registered as much as anyone else is registered. The process of registration is going through right now with Immigration New Zealand and we're part of that registration process."

Immigration New Zealand was happy for firms like his to call themselves registered immigration agents, until the "certification" was sorted out, he said.

The Labour Department's deputy secretary, Mary Anne Thompson, said: "As there is currently no authority that oversees the registration of immigration advisers, agents cannot call themselves regis-tered agents."

The Immigration Advisers Licensing Bill, which was wait-ing to be passed into legis-lation, would create a licensing authority within the Depart-ment of Labour to administer a licensing regime, she said.

Lightfoot said local creditors were also left owed money by the company change and 21 staff had been made redundant.

Bernard Walsh, chairman of the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment, said his organisation deplored any actions that brought the nation's immigration system into disrepute. "Certainly, what has happened here will reflect very badly on New Zealand."

Any person who has information relevant to this story is asked to email or ring 027 220 4453.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Remembering The Little Prince

He was standing before a garden, all a-bloom with roses.

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“Good morning,” said the roses.

The little prince gazed at them. They all looked like his flower.

“Who are you?” he demanded, thunderstruck.

“We are roses,” the roses said.

And he was overcome with sadness. His flower had told him that she was the only one of her kind in all the universe. And here were five thousand of them, all alike, in one single garden!

“She would be very much annoyed,” he said to himself, “if she should see that ... She would cough most dreadfully, and she would pretend that she was dying, to avoid being laughed at. And I should be obliged to pretend that I was nursing her back to life--for if I did not do that, to humble myself also, she would really allow herself to die...”

Then he went on with his reflections: “I thought that I was rich, with a flower that was unique in all the world; and all I had was a common rose. A common rose, and three volcanoes that come up to my knees--and one of them perhaps extinct forever... That doesn't make me a very great prince...”

And he lay down in the grass and cried.


The little prince went away, to look again at the roses.

“You are not at all like my rose,” he said. “As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world.”

And the roses were very much embarassed.

“You are beautiful, but you are empty,” he went on. “One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars (except the two or three that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or ever sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.

And he went back to meet the fox.

“Goodbye,” he said.

“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

From Chapters 20 and 21 of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

On average, men are expected to live ‘til age 70. That’s 25550 days total. If one meets just say 10 new people, on average, everyday, after 25k days one would have met over quarter of a million people. If you’re 35 years old now, that means you would have met around half of quarter of a million. Now, if someone asks you to list down all the names of all the people you’ve met from childhood to the present day, do you think it will be near the 125,000 mark? If I did that, I’m sure my list wouldn’t even reach a thousand.

Because the truth is, although we meet lots and lots of people everyday, only few of those meetings we put any degree of significance. And just like the Little Prince who meets a hedge of roses, glowing in beauty and radiance and all vying for his attention, his affection remained on one particularly obstinate, lowly rose, left behind in a far away place.

I feel like we are all Little Princes and Princesses moving from place to place, searching for knowledge, meeting lots of interesting and not so interesting people, experiencing various emotions, looking for home, searching for love, ... hopefully ... finding that unique rose.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Being Indispensable

In the modern era, a lot of businesses wouldn’t function properly without the support of an IT (Information Technology) infrastructure. IT people, me included, are often in the backroom somewhere supporting, enhancing, and maintaining mission critical systems that keep a business going. Some systems are so vital that any malfunction could amount to millions of dollars in losses or even the business to collapse.

It is not surprising, therefore, for lots of IT people to feel important. A developer of a business application program knows the ins and outs of the system. Knows how it works and how each piece ties together in order to deliver a solution. That knowledge sometimes makes a developer feel god-like. Sa isipan ng programmer, hindi aandar ang sistema kung wala siya o sibakin siya sa trabaho. This is one reason why some programmers have that air of over-confidence in themselves. They feel secured na hindi sila basta-basta sisisantihin sa trabaho. But is this over-confidence warranted?

I’m afraid not. The fact remains, no one is indispensable. The business may suffer momentarily with the loss of a staff member critical to its operations. But that’s only temporary. The business have ways to circumvent difficulties. Should the computer program that you wrote and supported for years cease to function, the business will simply try and find other programs that will do the same thing. Worst case, things can be done manually. Slow maybe, but still the business will cope and survive.

I say this because I once had that attitude that I was indispensable. Until one day, because of a contract dispute, the boss simply fired me along with a few others. So what happened to the IT projects we started? Nothing. It’s like they just reformatted the hard drive. The company hired new people and started all over again.

The moral of the story is do not over-rate yourself to the point of thinking you are indispensable. No one is. Not even George W or GMA is indispensable. Ooops, bad examples. But I’m sure you get my drift. Be humble with your accomplishments and not feel superior to others. With or without you, life will go on.

PS. Today I just handed in my resignation to join a company over at the Northshore early next year. My boss said, he was reluctantly accepting my resignation and wished me well in my future work. See what I mean, hindi man lang ako pinigilan. Sabihin ko kaya sa kanya na nagbibiro lang ako?

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