Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Things I Want to Do This Year

It is a brand new year again and it is the perfect time to make new year's resolutions. I don't know if this will work at all but I believe that if something is written down on whatever platform it will make the person stick to that resolution a bit more... And there's no better place to put my resolutions for this year other than this blog. So here's my 6 for 2016.

1. Better health, better body. I would like to invest in my health and be physically fit before it's too late! As a health professional, I am used to seeing the consequences of unhealthy behavior which has taken its toll to most of the patients I see in the Emergency Department. And majority of conditions treated in the hospital are preventable. So just like what my parents tell me, act now before it's too late.


I will strive hard to at least work-out to keep a toned body and to run/jog/walk to maintain a good cardiovascular system like I have when I was in my early twenties.

2. Be more sociable. I know for a fact that I am an introvert, that I prefer to do things alone, and I can live by myself without relying on others. I have done that for a number of years now and I am quite happy about how things are working. But I would like to open up this year and let other people be part of my year. Besides, that is one of the reasons I moved here in Auckland, to meet more people and hopefully find somebody to openly share my year with.

3. Start a retirement fund and emergency fund. I know this is kind of premature for some, but it's kind of late actually. I should've started earlier. For sure I have started with KiwiSaver already, but other than that I want to have something ready for the unforeseen future. It is okay to spend on things but I'll make sure a fraction of my earnings will go to savings.

4. Travel and go places. I really like nature and I would love to see more picturesque places around New Zealand. I am planning to spend my birthday week in Sydney and have a feel of the urban way of living the land down under has to offer.


5. Connect with old friends. I have a few friends and they are Pinoys from different places in the world right now, mostly from places I have worked before. A simple catch up will definitely be a good start.

6. Make my hobbies my real hobbies. When people ask me what I do outside work, I tell them, "I like landscape photography," sometimes I would add, "I also do videos," and "I blog." I would like to be more active with these activities this year. I am going to use more of my camera and produce photos I can be proud of.


A challenge for me now is how I would be able to do all these things within a year. I promise to visit my resolutions on my year-end blog and reflect on what I have achieved. Again, happy new year!

Photos used in this blog are not mine.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Goodbye 2015, Welcome 2016!

Hello! I know it took me months before I get to write something here again. I do have a lot of memories and good times this year but did not have time make time to sit and reminisce the moments. I don’t want to regret in the future why I didn’t share my thoughts in this blog because, to be honest, randomly reading my blog entries for the past years brings back good memories and in turn leaves me in a good mood. So I might as well jot down some memories of 2015 to have a go-to in times that I need to look back.

January 2015 was the time I had to go back to New Zealand for work after spending the holiday season in the Philippines. That holiday spent in the Philippines was a first in 4 years as I was always in Saudi Arabia spending Christmas time since 2010. So Christmas in 2014 was indeed a memorable time for me. I spent the season with family and got to visit Palawan with mates from New Zealand.

Getting a car first thing in 2015 was temporarily crossed out in my list as I made a life-changing decision when I got back to the South Island in the first week of January. 
I felt that I needed to move out of my current place for almost two years and explore the larger urban-life in either Auckland or Christchurch. However, I haven’t reached two years with my employer that time so I just went on and gave myself a few more months to decide and explore options.

Autumn and winter came so fast and I just had to keep myself busy with work, live life on a daily basis, spend time with friends, and plan of the near future.

February marked the month when I started my first post-graduate paper in New Zealand. It lasted until July and was able to end up with a very good mark. Although I learned some things, I guess I did not benefit a lot from that paper, because honestly, that post-grad paper was I think very undergrad level, something how we used to do things along the streets of EspaƱa, Manila back in the days. Anyway, at least I managed to finish it and gained 300 hours of continuing education.

My Pinoy workmates in the Emergency Department planned for a gathering to enjoy the South Island’s great west and visit Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. Here are some photos taken on the first week of April.




In my birth month, I spent a few days in Christchurch with mates from Saudi Arabia.



That holiday in Christchurch made me realise that I am missing a lot of what the urban life have to offer. While walking along the streets of the central business district, I felt the longing for the city-life that I grew up in in Muntinlupa. There was one night I was walking at a Christchurch street and it was the exact feeling I had while walking along Filinvest Corporate City (Alabang) after work. I knew then and there that I will have to leave the far south to get in to a city bustling with lights and urban-vibe.

It was time to get back to reality and work after spending a week in Christchurch. I started looking for job vacancies in either Christchurch or Auckland, and of course, I was again very picky I waited for openings from only the largest tertiary hospitals in both cities.

Fast forward to July. I visited Auckland again with the sole purpose of destressing from work and as a gift for my self after finishing my post-grad paper. While the plane was landing at Auckland Domestic Airport, I missed a call from the Human Resources of one of Auckland’s tertiary hospitals. I was not able to give them a call back as I was focused on getting the next bus to the hotel until I completely forgot about it. The following day, I tried to reach them but was unable to do so so I tried ringing the manager. And since I am in Auckland and I am just a few minutes away from the hospital, she invited me for a STAT interview! I agreed! Without much preparation, I chose the smartest from my available casual clothing and went to the hospital. I knew right then and there that I got the job. It was a long 90-minute nose-bleed time for me as I needed to answer tough interview questions and sell myself IN ENGLISH... I didn’t think of a single reason why they won’t hire me that time. So I had a good time that evening and had an extremely good sleep that night. I managed to snap a number of photos of Auckland at night.



I did get the job and from that time my months flew by very quickly. I needed to convert my Philippine license to a New Zealand one and had to sit the theory exam. The practical driving test ate only 20 minutes of my time and voila, I had my full New Zealand license!

As soon as I accepted the job offer from the Auckland hospital, I worked on the documents and planned for my transfer. So just before my almost a month-long vacation in the Philippines and Singapore last September, all things were already set. I was ready to leave and start a new life in Auckland.

September came and I finally got to step in my family’s new house in the Philippines and meet our pets!



Because I wouldn’t be spending Christmas in the Philippines, the first thing that I thought of was getting and setting up a Christmas tree! It was a tough time looking for Christmas trees around the metro as the –ber month has just started that time… But we were clever enough to roam and look in the right place so we ended up with this tree.



Aside from the usual things I do when I spend my time in the Philippines for vacation, those are, eat, pray, chill, and relax, I also spent a week in Singapore.

We roamed around the city for 4 days and been to the tourist attractions like Merlion Park, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Botanic Gardens, China Town, Universal Studios, among others. The highlight of that Singapore week for me was the roller coaster ride in Universal Studios.



Three weeks spent in Singapore and the Philippines went by so fast it only took me now to take a good look of all the pictures and videos taken during that 3-week holiday. As a home buddy, I spent most of the days playing the piano, eating street food, visiting the nearest wet market, quick drive to Tagaytay to attend mass and eat bulalo, and singing my heart out with our Grand Videoke Symphony. Although the videoke unit was a bit pricey at around 23k, getting the latest and most advanced version and songs was one of the best things a Pinoy could do to a home - it is a good past time and serves as great entertainment for guests Pinoy style.



I had to get back to New Zealand to move my things from the far South to Auckland in October and start a new life in the most populous urban area in New Zealand and I also had to make use of my brand new New Zealand drivers license and put it into use... so I got my own car! It's a black Mazda 6/Atenza. I know it's long overdue and I should've had gotten  a car sooner... I guess I could've snapped a lot of shots of the majestic views of South Island. Anyway, my purchase is something I most value at the moment as it is my only possession in life! Haha. I always wanted a black car before as it looked so masculine and classy. Having a black car may not be favorable for some as it is difficult to maintain but for me it is just perfect... I always clean it, wash it, and make it squeeky clean!
Work is just the same old Emergency Department work. There are lots of Filipinos in the department alone and plenty of Pinoy nurses in other departments. While majority of my colleagues in the south were Kiwis, it is a different story here in Auckland where you will really easily appreciate the words diversity and multicultural. It is like the United Nations in our workplace with workers coming from all over the world. I think I have blended fairly well at work now, I may be new to the department but I have been practising here in New Zealand for quite some time now so adjustments to local practices is not a concern.

2015 literally made a huge impact in my life career-wise and personally as it is a year when I decided on a number of life changing moves. The whole year probably revolved around my desire to move into a big city and accomplishing it and so far I am loving the big move. I guess this would be what I will be reminiscing in the next years... This is what happened when I was 29 years old.

I am about to turn 30 in the coming year and somehow I perceive that it will bring a new perspective in life for me. I am going to end this blog entry with a number of photos and videos shot around Auckland. Thank you so much 2015, welcome 2016!!!



video
video

Monday, May 11, 2015

Palawan: World's Most Beautiful Island

Oh yes I'm still alive! After a long hiatus, I'm back again. I've been meaning to write some things about what's been happening in my life but time keeps on flying and I can't grab it!!!

I was a balikbayan in the Philippines last December 2014 and it was a blast... I visited Palawan with mates and work buddies here in New Zealand. Apparently, Palawan is regarded by many as the "world's most beautiful island." I don't have a point of reference as I am not really well traveled but I suppose multiple claims of international travel magazines say a lot about the island.

We had three days in Puerto Princesa to see one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature, the Puerto Princesa Underground River, roamed around the city, shopped for pearls, adventure with nature, and enjoyed fresh seafood. Then a few more days in Coron's crystal clear beaches, played with Nemo and his friends, island hopping, snorkel, never ending WOW moments and breathtaking sceneries. No doubt Palawan is regarded by Hufftington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Top Dreamer, and Travel and Leisure as the most beautiful island in the world.

Of course, I'll share some precious photos here. At this time, I'll just post photos and will give details later when I get free time.


 
Kayangan Lake

 
 
 
Malcapuya Island

 
Banana Island
 
 Mount Tapyas

 
 Limestone formation

Coron Westown Resort


Sa akin lang po, enjoy while you can. Take advantage of your youthful energy and while you have the resources ($$$)... You can always earn money later on. Visit Coron! It is a MUST to see and experience what the island has to offer!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Filipino Migrant's View of Living in New Zealand

I have been in New Zealand for over a year now and I am loving it! I have been to different places in the North and mostly in the South Island and seen a lot of awesome views and experienced what the city life and the countryside had to offer. And somehow I have observed their people and their ways... There are a number of observations that I made during my stay here in New Zealand. Here are a handful of random things of anything about New Zealand as viewed by a Filipino immigrant.

1. Generally, Kiwis are very warm, relaxed, friendly and kind. During my first days in New Zealand, the people who welcomed me made a very good impact. From the driver who took me to my accommodation, to the land lord, to the bank teller, to the bus driver... I felt the warmth and hospitality of their people. I still got the same perception of their people at this stage. :)

New Zealand Now tells us, "On the surface, Kiwis are friendly and outgoing, but we’re also quite private. So, although it’s easy to start a conversation with us, we don’t like sharing a lot of personal information. Topics to avoid include how much people earn, why they don’t have any children or aren’t married, their weight - anything personal. It’s OK to ask people what they did on the weekend or how their children are. Sport and the weather are also safe topics.

We come from a land of wide open spaces so we don’t like having people stand too close. We walk on the left of the footpath and we smile at each other a lot."

Cheers, mate! :)

2. Although the paper money is still here, most payment transactions are made through EFTPOS. Electronic funds transfer at point of sale, or widely known as EFTPOS, is an electronic payment system involving electronic funds transfers based on the use of payment cards, such as debit or credit cards, at terminals located at points of sale. Thanks, Wikipedia! Haha. In short, you pay by debit or credit card... As simple as that. But of course, you could always pay in cash. :)


Aside from electronic fund transfer system, online shopping is quite common here. I know that it has been quite some time now since online shopping has been introduced but it is something pretty new for me considering I only lived in the Philippines and Saudi Arabia. Your debit card and credit card is always handy for the bargains you find online!

And you can even pay taxis with your card! Of course with an additional charge...

3. They like rugby. Not the rugby that the rugby boys in the Philippines are known for... Haha.


What they are crazy about is the game rugby or the rugby league. It is a contact sport which is considered one of the most physically demanding of team sports. As it involves tackling, running, and kicking, you can imagine how it can be a threat to one's bodily and spine integrity. Haha. Here's a glimpse of New Zealand's national game and how it is played in the field.


Now, I give you the haka... It is a war dance by the original Maori people of New Zealand and is done before a game to proclaim the team's strength and to intimidate their opponents. It is not just performed solely for games but also to welcome guests and during special occasions, among others.


4. They are not a big fan of rice. Aside from Indian, Thai, Japaneses and Chinese restaurants, you won't usually see rice being served as part of their menu. I struggled with this before as I can't seem to consider a meal as a real meal without rice... But I eventually got used to it. Potatoes, bread, and chips (or french fries) are their main source of carbohydrates here. Don't worry. You could always find rice being sold in supermarkets. Of course they sell rice cookers in any department store. :)


5. Although comparable to the size of the Philippines, New Zealand's population is only 4.5 million.
And then you will hear your Kiwi tour guide joking about the abundance of cattles and sheep... Haha. There are presently around 9 to 10 sheep to every 1 human in New Zealand.



By looking at the map, it resembles that of the Philiipines, but it's not overcrowded! It is just this July 2014 when the Philippines welcomed it's 100 millionth Filipino alive!

 
6. Left side of the road!
Driving in New Zealand is like driving in any other places, but there are a few things that you have to be aware of if you are a new driver... Here's a very helpful and informative video about driving in the country.



7. Talk to Kiwis and hear the Visayan accent.
Your yes becomes yis, ten becomes tin, seven becomes sivin, and your deck becomes...



And here's the part 2 of that funny commercial...


8. They love the great outdoors.
Who wouldn't love the country's picturesque sceneries? The vistas, the long white cloud, the coastline, their lakes... Their magnificent landscapes will be loved by nature lovers. You get to enjoy nature as you get your adrenaline pumping too!



If it is a 'lovely day,' your friendly next door Kiwis will definitely enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, beach walking, or even just strolling around the nearest park. You will definitely enjoy the unspoiled forest and beaches, and their clean and green environment.

9. New Zealand is one of the least corrupt nations of the world.
The Ministry of Justice in its website tells us, "New Zealand has a strong reputation for being free and intolerant of corruption and bribery. The country is also widely recognised for its commitment to supporting international efforts to combat such behaviour and offences in all their forms. For example, New Zealand consistently ranks among the least corrupt nations in the world – often topping the table on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, which ranks countries by perceived corruption levels among public officials and politicians." Of course, that claim is supported by statistics... 

 Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia are seen as the world's most corrupt countries while Denmark and New Zealand are nearly squeaky-clean, graft watchdog Transparency International has said in a survey. - The New Zealand Herald, 2013
10. Equality to all gender, races, or culture. Fed up with the hierarchical system in the Philippines and horrible overt discrimination in the Middle East, I am greatly happy to have moved in this country that value fairness and despises discrimination. When you work, you really get what you worked for... During casual conversations with colleagues at work, they would usually ask, "Is the pay in Saudi very good?" And they would get that shocked reaction when I reveal that salary in the Middle East is based on passport. I would add, "If you have a Philippine or Indian passport, you only get 1/4 or 1/5 of what your 'white' counterpart gets for salary. Imagine that, you do the same work, but you are paid just a fraction of what your other workmate gets." And most New Zealanders are not aware that the Middle East has this system for quite a long time now. Just imagine the shock in their faces after sharing that information with them... Oh well, at least I get to educate them about the sad reality in other parts of the world and that they are in a much better country.

If you have the right skill and education, the country will welcome you with arms wide open. As a skilled migrant worker, I got my residence visa in less than a year!

Same-sex marriage became legal in New Zealand on 19 August 2013. Wikipedia shares that: Between 19 August 2013 (when the law became operational) and 31 March 2014, 668 same-sex marriages were registered in New Zealand. 385 of these were between female couples and 283 were between male couples. Just under 60 percent of these were between New Zealand citizens, and roughly one-third were between Australian citizens.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (Article 2, United Nations Declaration on Human Rights)
11. Their format of writing the date is... Day.Month.Year. As of writing this entry, the date is 23 October 2014 or 23/10/14.

Also, we have to move our clocks on specific dates of the year, either an hour further or an hour back, during daylight saving time. Daylight Saving commences on the last Sunday in September, when 2.00am becomes 3.00am. It ends on the first Sunday in April, when 3.00am becomes 2.00am.


12. You don't smoke? No worries!
The website New Zealand Now says, "Smoking is increasingly rare in New Zealand and prohibited in public buildings, including bars and restaurants. Generally people are expected to smoke outside. If you want to smoke, it’s polite to ask the people around you if they mind, even if you are outside." They are pretty serious about the anti-smoking campaign that they advertise ads on national tv about the effects of smoking and how to quit smoking.


The price of cigarettes is very high. From 1 January 2014 the price of tobacco and cigarette has risen from $15 to $17.50 for a 20s pack of manufactured cigarettes. If you get a pack of Marlboro in the Philippines for about 52 pesos, you'll get the same pack with the price of 643 pesos here in New Zealand. That's a whopping 91.91% price difference!

Their efforts to convince the public to quit smoking has indeed been effective. In the calendar years 2006 to 2013, daily tobacco and cigarette smoking participation per adult (1 RYO = 1 g tobacco) including cigars and cigarillos) reduced from 20.7% to 15.1%, a fall of 27.1% points over 7 years.

13. You don't drink alcohol? Good on you, mate!
Once again, the website New Zealand Now gives us, "We have a drinking culture, but it is fine to have a non alcoholic drink when you are socialising. The legal age for buying alcohol in New Zealand in 18. There are strict rules against providing alcohol for people under that age." Just like smoking, they are seriously campaigning against drunk driving. Here's a very powerful ad...



14. Four seasons!
For a dude like me who grew up in a tropical country, a childhood obsession would be to experience four seasons... And of course, touch and play with snow/ice. Finally, I experienced summer, fall/autumn, spring, and winter!!!


 
 
 

15. Work-life balance. The Kiwis really value how they live their life. And they know how to enjoy! As compared to where I worked before (Philippines and Saudi Arabia), your hard earned money here will definitely go far... You could afford to get a nice car (a second hand will do on your first few years.. or even months), you can finance your travel abroad or even just domestically, and most of all, you still get to save a lot... The cost of living here is VERY reasonable. Although for newbies it may be a shocker once you convert the prices, you really don't have to worry about converting once you start to receive your NZ salary. With a nurse's salary, you can definitely live comfortably in this country AND save much in the bank. $$ Also, you get to spend around 4 to 6 weeks of paid vacation!

16. New Zealand is one of the safest countries to live on earth. From the New Zealand Immigration website, "According to the 2013 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the 3rd safest place to live in the world (after Iceland and Denmark). Up against 144 countries, New Zealand was followed by Austria (4th) and Switzerland (5th). Other nations such as the UK (44th) and USA (99th) were much further down the list."

The website added, "New Zealand is a relaxed and welcoming place to live. We’re a modern, secular democratic society and a mix of lifestyles is accepted here. People from many walks of life call New Zealand home and the majority of New Zealanders are honest law-abiding citizens."

"Our local police force is strong and you can be assured that all criminal matters are taken seriously. As in any country, there are incidents of crime and New Zealand Police are dedicated to solving and resolving offences. Our robust justice and court systems provide a fair process for those involved as well victim support."

"We’re a secure nation and pride ourselves on maintaining safe communities. Even our biggest cities are considered some of the top places to live on earth – Auckland (3rd) and Wellington (13th) ranked amongst the best on Mercer’s 2012 Quality of Living survey."


17. There are Filipinos almost everywhere. Right, the cliche is right. You see Filipinos everywhere. We're pretty much like the Chinese and the Indians now, wherever there is an opportunity, you'll find them. Everywhere my foot has taken me in the North or the South Island there is a Filipino. And of course if you have a Filipino community there would be a demand for Filipino stores that sell your favorite 'Pinoy favorites'. Isn't that awesome?! You are far away from Pinas and you still get to experience the Pinoy comfort. Oh, you also get to taste Pinoy food in Pinoy-run restaurants in the bigger New Zealand cities.


I guess the closest to New Zealand when it comes to living experience is Australia. I actually once thought of going to Australia a few months ago, but after hearing comments about racism from friends and bloggers I ditched the thought of moving out and decided to stay here. I also considered pursuing the US which was my original plan after graduation in 2007 but over the past few years the 'safety' in the US has been a concern; add the issue of retrogression... Canada can be too cold for me and I still have to study for years if ever I decide to move there, so no thanks. And UK's cost of living is 'stressful' according to my friends. Besides, UK nurses tend to travel to New Zealand or Australia and leave their country because of the cost of living... And that says a lot about the way of living there.

I can just go on and type more things about New Zealand in this entry... But it will definitely leave you with a common thought in mind, that New Zealand is a very good country to live in.
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