mGa KuRo-KuRo Ni Ka UrO

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A New Migrant's Introduction to Life in NZ

Nakapagdesisyon kami na mauuna muna si Jean at ang anak naming si Fidez (who was 5 years old at the time) papunta sa Auckland, NZ. Kasalukuyan pa kasi akong may trabaho sa LA. Sayang naman ang kinikita ko. Sa ganitong paraan habang naghahanap ng matitirahan si Jean at iskul ni Fidez sa NZ, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang cash inflow namin.

First Week
Pagdating sa Auckland, nakahanap naman kaagad si Jean ng isang room na mauupahan. Nakipag-flatting sila sa bahay ng isang Pinay na ang asawa ay Kiwi. Isang maliit na kwarto. $100 per week plus hati sa water at electricity bill. Magandang umpisa dahil within one week may tirahan na sila. So far so good.

Second Week
Next mission, yung schooling ni Fidez. Buti naman yung flat nila malapit sa isang private Catholic school. Although private, may subsidy ng gobyerno kaya ang tuition $150 per year lang. Nagpunta si Jean sa iskul at inenrol si Fidez. Natanggap naman si Fidez. So far so good, pa rin.

Napakalaking accomplishment nito. Within two weeks may tirahan na sila at may iskul na rin si Fidez. Everything was going smoothly as planned towards settling into a new life in New Zealand.

This was until things started to go wrong...
Tinanong ng school kung meron na silang family doctor, GP (General Practitioner) kung tawagin. Sabi ni Jean wala pa. Kailangan daw meron para may record ang bata ng mga vaccinations at health history. So pagkagaling sa iskul dumiretcho si Jean sa isang malapit na clinic at pina check up si Fidez. Everything was normal. Then naisip ni Jean na magpa-check up na rin kasi para daw madali siyang mapagod lately.

Dahil wala naman makitang karamdaman ang GP, lahat normal naman, ni refer ng GP na magpa-blood test siya. So lakad uli si Jean, tangay-tangay si Fidez sa malapit na Medlab at nagpakuha ng dugo. Pagkatapos noon, naglakad na sila pauwi.

Shocking News
That night may natanggap na phone call si Jean, galing sa GP. "Mrs. you have to pack some clothes and proceed to the Auckland Hospital right away. A bed is already waiting for you".

Siempre shock si Jean. Bakit kailangan siyang i-ospital? Normal naman ang pakiramdam niya, except nga lang na madali siyang mapagod. The GP made no further explanations. He just said something was not right with her blood test results. Hindi na ni Jean inurirat. Inisip niya na baka precautionary lang kaya tumuloy na siya sa ospital. Pagdating sa ospital sinalubong siya ng hospital aide na may dalang wheelchair. Sabi ni Jean, "no thank you I can walk by myself". Pero pinilit pa rin siyang isakay, indicative of something terribly wrong.

That night, she learned that her blood test showed that her blood platelet count has dipped to alarming levels. Too low that if it had gone even slightly lower, the effects to her body would have been irreversible. Possibly a coma, OR DEATH. That night Jean was confined in the hospital.

Fidez was not allowed to stay in the hospital, dahil bawal dito ang may bantay sa ospital. She had to stay with some friends who we hardly knew yet at that time. Imagine, a 5 year old child, seeing her mom in the hospital with all the needles and medical equipment around her, and now parting with her mom to stay with people she hardly knew. And all these happening within 2 weeks of their arrival in a foreign land! Walang kaibigan, walang kamag-anak na titingin. I can't imagine how a 5 year old child must be feeling at the time.

LA to Auckland

Meantime, tinawagan ako ng ospital sa trabaho ko sa LA. Sinabi ang situation ni Jean. The good news was that it was not leukemia. They determined this after a biopsy test on her bone marrow. The bad news was that they still could not determine the exact cause. Basta ang sabi nila "she's very very sick" at kailangan ako doon para at least merong mag-alaga kay Fidez. Agad-agad naman akong nag-resign sa job ko at nagpa-book ng flight papuntang Auckland.

It was when I arrived at Auckland Hospital a few days later that I learned what Jean had been through to fight her unseen ailment. I learned that Jean was suffering from a blood disorder called TTP, the causes of which are still unknown. This disease was causing clots in her blood vessels, consuming her platelets. The mortality rate if left untreated was 95%. This disease is considered very rare, like only 1 to 3 for every million people are affected by it.

The only cure the doctors knew was through a process called plasma exchange. Para itong blood transfusion. Pero instead of the actual blood, plasma (the fluid that carries blood) ang pinapasok sa ugat mo. Kaya "exchange" kasi, sa isang tube na nakasuksok sa ugat mo pinapapasok ang "good" plasma, at sa ibang tube naman na nakasuksok sa ibang ugat mo, sinisipsip naman ang "bad" plasma. Jean went through this process for days and nights until her platelet count stabilized. Whenever her platelet count dipped, the process was repeated again and again and again and again.

Seeing Death
It was during one of these treatments that I later found out from Jean how she went face to face with death. She had an episode normally described as a "near death experience". Her body was asleep but her mind was fully awake, like in a vivid dream. She felt conscious of things around her. The doctors, the nurses, all of them she was aware when out of nowhere an old man appeared beside her and his strong hands began pulling her out of bed. The man was big and strong. She knew it was a man because she could see his hands, but somehow she couldn't see his face. The man was trying to lead her to a long hallway, which was very bright and had lots of doors. Jean tried to reach the buzzer's button beside her bed to call the attention of the nurses. But even though she tried as much as she could, she couldn't make her fingers touch the button. It's as if an unseen force was pushing her hands away.

It was at this time, while feeling totally helpless that she began to cry and pray. "God, I'm not afraid to die. What I'm afraid of is leaving my 5 year old daughter alone. She has no one in this place to look after her. For her sake, please don't take me yet". It was after she said this that the man vanished and she regained full consciousness. Later she asked the nurses if they saw a huge man beside her bed and they all said there was no one.

Back to Normal
Two more weeks passed since I arrived in Auckland before Jean was allowed to leave the hospital. Halos isang buwan bago naging normal uli ang kalagayan ni Jean. Every day, then every week, then every month, then twice a year she had to visit the hospital for blood tests and check up. Ngayon awa ng Diyos, once a year na lang siyang nagpapatingin sa ospital and happy to say na hindi na bumalik uli ang sakit niya. Nagpapasalamat din kami at wala kaming kinailangan bayaran sa kanyang pagkaka-ospital. That would have used all our savings and maybe more.

Whenever I think of what happened to Jean I realized how powerless we really are. Advances in science and medicine are futile. Because at the instant when it's time for us to go, there is NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL, that we or any man could do to extend our stay in this world. At that instant, whether we are a believer or not, all we could do is call out and implore the mercy of a supreme being, whether it be God, Allah, Yahweh or Jesus... and then surrender completely our fates to Him and allow Him to decide for us.

This, ladies and gents, was our introduction to life in New Zealand.


  • Ka Uro,
    I nearly cried with this one. Glad things are now ok =)

    By Blogger jinkee, at 12:36 PM, April 12, 2005  

  • ka uro,
    isa lang masasabi ko: God is good...all the time! :-)

    By Blogger Gloria, at 4:52 PM, April 12, 2005  

  • Ka Uro,
    As me and my wife has posted din kay kiwipinay - now that she's gonna be hospitalized for an ailment:
    " For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future." a verse from the bible. Really God is in control. Cheers!

    By Anonymous lanriv, at 6:06 PM, April 12, 2005  

  • Glad to hear that she's okay now. Imagine if that happened in the Philippines? My Auntie was diagnosed with UTI when she had breast cancer. My sister told she only had UTI but she had an ovarian tumor which needed surgery. My mother was said to be suffering from chronic anxiety when she already had Parkinson's Disease (and unfortunately, complications later caused her demise). I have so much horror stories in this country. Good thing Ka Uro you have migrated to NZ.

    But here's praying all's gonna be well with you and your family from here on.

    By Blogger Alan Ambot, at 11:17 PM, April 12, 2005  

  • Ka Uro,

    Kinilabotan ako doon sa old man, ako lang kasi mag-isa sa room. Power ng words na ginamit ni Jean... tsaka faith din yon.

    Once again, thanks for sharing this to us... mabuhay ka Ka Uro.

    By Anonymous RayCer, at 1:44 AM, April 13, 2005  

  • @jhsay: with the grace of God, things will always turn up well.

    @glo, not only good, better and best pa.

    @lanriv: ganda yung quote mo, i'll remember that always.

    @alan, salamat sa prayers. ako rin pagdadasal ko kayong lahat. but don't be too bitter with our country.

    @raycer, oo nga mabuti maganda ang sinabi ni jean. ano kaya kung mali ang sagot niya? ngek, ayokong isipin.

    By Blogger Ka Uro, at 7:14 AM, April 13, 2005  

  • pang-'maalala mo kaya' pala ang experience nyo dyan ano ka uro. pero kidding aside, it's a good experience na rin dahil mas napalapit kayo kay lord at higit sa lahat, magaling na si kumander:)

    By Blogger Tanggero, at 1:11 PM, April 13, 2005  

  • Ngayon ko lang nabasa ito. Good to know that your wife is okay.

    Concerning the near death experience, she was supposed to be aware of her surroundings, right? Were the people in the room in the places where she saw them while unconcious? Just curious.

    Thank God everything went well.

    By Blogger Geejay, at 6:27 PM, April 15, 2005  

  • naiyak ako dito.
    una kong reaction, takot. kasi kami din pupunta sa nz ng walang kakilala, walang kamag-anak. may tsikiting na 4-yr-old.

    nung nahimasmasan na, relief, kasi all is well. naisip ko din yung isang comment, kung sa pinas ito nangyari, baka iba ang ending.

    so now i'm looking forward to the beginning of my family's adventure there in nz. SIYA na ang bahala sa amin.

    at kung papalarin, baka mainom na natin yung malamig na beer ng harapan.


    p.s. wala pa akong sariling blog pero isa sa mga araw na ito, maiisipan ko din yan :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:29 PM, May 04, 2005  

  • Ka Uro:

    Mabuhay ka at ang iyong pamilya. This is quite heartening, i read ur post just now - my wife & I are seriously considering of migrating to NZ and boy its a tough decision. Leaving everything and all. We're still trying to figure out how to do it though...but just the same may I say that your stories are quite inspiring...

    Best Regards


    By Blogger Mind of a Married Man, at 6:04 PM, May 24, 2005  

  • Your story is so touching and enlightening. We are also considering migrating to OZ, NZ or Canada. But i think the fastest and easiest way is NZ. Just like dazed and confused, it is really a tough decision for us too considering we have 3 daughters in tow.
    Ka Uro, What is the minimum wage salary in NZ? Are engineers and accountants (my wife's profession) in demand in NZ? How many weeks did you spend before you got a job? May mga oriental stores na rin ba dyan? Madami din bang public catholic schools?
    Thank you very much.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:35 AM, May 27, 2005  

  • hi rcan and cj,
    go through the process one step at a time. kaya mukhang mahirap kasi sometimes we think too far off in the future. tapos maiisip mo lahat ng pwedeng problema then you get overwhelmed and discouraged.

    one step at a time lang. the thing is if you really want to have a chance of leaving the country kailangan mag-apply kayo ng residency. don't worry kung hindi pa kayo ready once na makakuha kayo ng visa. anyway you have about 12 months (i think) to come over here. the important thing is meron na kayong visa and you have the option to leave the country if you want to.

    mas mahirap nga kapag may mga bata. but if one is really determined to find a better future especially for them, lahat ng pagsubok makakayanan.

    rcan, i think in demand naman ang mga professions ninyo. try mong mag-search sa web. marami na rin asian stores dito. may mga tinda galing sa Pinas. walang public catholic schools puro private, pero reasonable naman ang tuition nila.

    ang average nz salary is about $35 to $50 thousand per year.

    By Blogger Ka Uro, at 12:49 PM, May 27, 2005  

  • HI Ka Uro, that's fast! thanks for answering all my queries, it really shows how eager you are in helping your kababayans. We just went this afternoon to an immigration consultant (INS - Immigration Network Services) and they have assessed my qualifications. They think that I have more chances in Canada rather in OZ & NZ. We're not currently employed and we have a small business here in Pinas, that's why. Sa Canada, they just need settlement funds but it will take 50 months to process. By that time baka ubos na pasensya ko sa Pilipinas. Any suggestions/opinions?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:08 AM, May 29, 2005  

  • rcan,
    50 months (4 years) is a long time. why don't you try NZ at the same time while waiting for Canada? try mo lang mag-apply ng tinatawag na Expression of Interest (EOI) sa NZ Immigration website. kapag pumasa ka doon padadalhan ka ng ITA (invitation to apply) tapos tuloy-tuloy na yon. mas okay na yung may iba ka pang option. paano kung di rin pumasa sa canada?

    By Blogger Ka Uro, at 9:35 AM, May 31, 2005  

  • wow ang istorya mo pala pang pelikula din,ka uro mabuhay ka!

    life is an adventure indeed,kelangan mo lang talaga ng faith,patience and determination...again,tnx for sharing!

    By Anonymous jokwa, at 8:29 PM, May 31, 2005  

  • Ka uro,

    masyado akong naka-relate dito sa topic na 'to. Nung bago pa lang kami dito sa singapore nangyari din sa amin yan.

    may 1 yr old daughter ako at nung June 2005, nanganak ako sa 2nd daughter ko. After one week na-ospital din ako at mejo critical din ang lagay ko. Wala kaming kamag-anak dito. isang 1 yr old at isang 1-week old na bata ang maiiwan ko kung natuluyan ako ng mga panahon na yon. Tuliro ang asawa ko dahil sa situation namin. Napilitan din kaming iwan ang mga bata sa isang kaibigan.

    Masakit din sa bulsa. We spent $4000 sa panganganak ko and another $4000 nung na-ospital ako. Buti na lang at may insurance kaya na-reimburse ng asawa yung $4k. Yung sa panganganak hindi covered ng insurance. Ang bigat din sa bulsa. Gaya ng wife mo, hindi ako takot mamatay pero kelangan pa ko ng 2 kong anak at ng asawa ko. kawawa naman sya kung iiwan ko sya.

    by the way, did you have to pay for the hospital bills or sagot yung ng insurance nyo?

    By Blogger Charmed, at 3:04 PM, August 12, 2005  

  • charmed,
    glad you're okay. kawawa ang mga bata kapag nawalan ng ina. di bale kaming mga lalaki ang mawala.

    no we did not have to pay anything kasi may resident visa na kami noon.

    By Blogger Ka Uro, at 10:03 PM, August 12, 2005  

  • ka uro, thanks for sharing us your touching story -- napaiyak tuloy ako (in my office cubicle) :-)

    God bless to all of us...

    By Blogger Ms. M, at 8:02 PM, September 28, 2005  

  • Ka uro, this experience made you and your wife strong. What an experience! God bless to both of you and your kid

    By Blogger monnah, at 4:52 PM, October 17, 2005  

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  • Hello KU!

    First time kong magpost sa blog. Pero tuwang tuwa kami ng misis ko at nakilala namin itong blog mo. malaking tulong sa aming planong pagpunta sa NZ. Sana magkitakita tayo diyan.

    By Blogger Piknik, at 11:27 PM, October 23, 2006  

  • Hello po Ka Uro,

    your posts are moving, inspiring and amazing... sana po patuloy pa po kayong gamitin ng Lord to bless other OFW kabayans . I'm currently working po sa Dubai. Sige po, till next comment... Thanks Ka Uro.

    By Blogger whenitrainsmysoulsings, at 11:34 PM, June 04, 2007  

  • Hi KU,
    Just read your inspiring story. I praise God and I consider it a blessing to learn from your experiences.

    I'm 51 yrs old, a retiree, my wife is 43 and we operate a business here in the Philippines. Our only child, 18y/o is a special child (cerebral palsy).

    We plan to work and migrate there in NZ mainly to prepare a future for our son. Plano namin mag-tourist next year sabay hanap ng work if possible. Mechanical drafting w/ CAD knowledge is my strength, I am an Ind'l. Engr. My wife finished caregiving course (BSN-undergrad.).

    Hingi po kami advice... anong chances namin mag-migrate. Prefered kong work is manufacturing.


    By Anonymous ver, at 8:25 PM, September 27, 2007  

  • hi ver,
    when was the last time you worked? kasi kung may katagalan na, because you said you are already retired, baka mahirapan kang makahanap ng work. yung wife mo naman marami sanang dito nangangailangan ng care giver, problema hindi kasama ang care giving sa mga occupations na binibigyan ng residence visa. so kung pupunta kayo as tourist baka hindi rin kayo makahanap ng job. ang suggestion ko na lang, try niyo muna mag-apply online. try nyo ang sometimes may mga companies willing mag-sponsor kahit wala sa NZ ang applicant. i think yon na ang pinaka-safe. going as tourist is a gamble.

    By Blogger Ka Uro, at 1:15 PM, September 28, 2007  

  • this happened to me in Los Angeles, i had pneumothorax last 2002, my lung collapsed all of a sudden on my 1st week here as a tourist in Hollywood. i was just walking around sightseeing at biglang di na lang ako makahinga, i thought may bronchitis lang ako tapos when i was xrayed at the hospital, sabi sakin, your left lung is collapsed, looks like u will be confined. nakakatakot kc that night, nilagyan ako ng portable tube sa lungs & i was discharged tapos nung gabi na, i was back at the hospital kc i still can't breath tapos yung portable tube, tinanggal the next day at pinalitan ng pluerovac, it's a big tube(parang hose) na nakakabit sa pleurovac machine, para lumobo uli ang nagcollapse na lang by extracting the air inside kc may na-trapped na air outside your lungs. basta i-research nyo na lang ang pneumothorax.

    til now nobody knows why pneumothorax occurs to some people with no history of lung problem coz i was only 24 then. so nakakatakot nga na life & death ka na tapos nasa ibang bansa ka, buti kasama ko papa ko at bf ko. thank God madaming Pinay nurses who kept me company as well. i was strapped to my bed for 3 weeks w/ a tube in my lungs, laki ng bills na inabot($80,000) but free ang medical dito sa US on any hospital(public or private) kung emergency. lalo na at tourist lang ako. i thought i was gonna die. my whole life flashed before me & it made me realize, here they value life kc ginagamot ka kahit wala kang pera unlike sa pinas, u can't afford the best doctors kung wala kang pambayad at di ka tanggapin sa emergency kung walang deposit. so when my doctor here told me they had to monitor me for 1 year, i stayed na. ok naman life namin sa Pinas, i was happy there, magiging singer na nga sana ako sa TV, may CD na ako etc. but then what's fame if when u get sick e mauubos lang sa medical bills. here, life is peaceful & no traffic & no pollution. good luck sa mga nagpa-plano mag-migrate. it will make u a stronger person & u will find the strength & mas makikilala mo stengths & weaknesses mo if you're in a new place bec. you will start from scratch. i don't regret ever staying here in the US kahit nadeny visa ko. it's worth the gamble. God had other plans for me & i gladly took it.

    By Blogger Jet's Hollywood Buzz, at 7:18 PM, August 08, 2008  

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