Happy 10th Anniversary
Mag-iisang taon pa lang ako sa LA noon. Sinuwerte din ako sa LA at may nag-sponsor sa akin ng work permit kaya ako nakapag-trabaho doon ng legal. We (my family and I) were happy to get our NZ residency, but we had to make a difficult decision -- whether to stay in the US where I already have a good paying job, or move to Auckland, NZ where I still have to find a job and a place to stay. Tapos wala pa kaming kamag-anak o kakilala sa Auckland.
To help us make an informed decision, nag decide kami na mag-pasyal muna sa Auckland for a few days, just to see the place first hand. Nagpunta nga kami sa Auckland noong 1995 at 10 days lang kami nag-stay.
First glimpse of Auckland, we already fell in love with the place. The place is clean and green with lots of beautiful parks and beaches. The summer weather was perfect. Not hot and humid, but refreshingly cool. But I guess what appealed to us most and made us really decide to move here was the people.
Yung taxi-driver na naghatid sa amin sa hotel, very friendly at matulungin sa pagbigay sa amin ng advice kung saan okay mag-stay. At hindi rin siya tumatanggap ng tip, unlike taxis in Manila or LA.
One time we were walking along Albert Park, looking lost (which you may say is my normal appearance), I was trying to figure out our location on a map, a student approached us and asked "Can I help you?". Sabi ko: "No, thank you, we’re fine". Sa isip ko, natuwa ako at meron pa palang mga taong may kusang mag-offer ng tulong.
In another incident, nasa playground kami ng park, at may dalawang bata, ages 5 and 7 years old and dumating at nakipag-laro sa anak ko. Jean asked where their parents are kasi medyo nagtataka lang kami at nandoon sila na walang kasamang adults. We found out that their parents were in one of the nearby houses. It dawned on us that in Auckland pala, it was safe to let kids play by themselves! Kasi sa LA, kahit sa harap ng apartment namin kailangan pang bantayan si Fidez sa paglalaro. Later we got to meet the parents of the 2 kids, Richard and Sharon Jones (no joke!). The Jones's even invited us for dinner the following day and to this day we’ve remained friends.
Then there was this time I bumped into Jeff, isang Pinoy IT professional din. Nakapila ako sa Immigration at nakapila din siya. Lumapit siya sa akin at tinanong kung Pinoy ako. That broke the ice at nagkwentuhan kami kasi pareho kaming sa IT. The next day sinundo kami ni Jeff sa hotel at pinasyal kami sa Auckland at later nag-dinner sa bahay nila. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, "very accomomdating pala ang mga Pinoy dito".
The impressions on New Zealand we got during those 10 days in Auckland have made us decide to permantly settle in Auckland 12 months later in 1996. To this day we’ve never regretted that decision. Yung ibang nakikilala namin nagugulat kapag nalalaman nila na galing na kami ng States at lumipat pa sa NZ. Tanong nila kaagad bakit? Di ba mas mataas ang sweldo sa US? Totoo yon, pero isa lang ang sagot ko diyan. LIFESTYLE. Some things in life cannot be measured by how much money you earn. A stroll on the beach, Sunday at the park, the sense of security, being stress-free. All these make up the lifestyle we choose.
Para sa amin, New Zealand is definitely the perfect place to raise a family. Where you can let your kids play and run around like kids. Not afraid of child molesters or kidnappers. Where people around you are friendly and more trusting and not paranoid of one another. Where fellow kababayans are more than willing to approach and assist other kababayans. At importante sa lahat, kapag kinausap mo ang isang Pinoy ng Tagalog, sa Tagalog din siya sasagot. Ewan ko ba, bakit kung minsan may mga kababayan tayo na ilang taon palang sa abroad, nalilimutan na ang mag-tagalog?