The Dollar Girl

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Coming from a third-world home country to a first-world country is a bit of a challenge, especially if it’s your first time migration. I have highlighted below some of the favorable/unfavorable things which I have realised over my eight-month stay in Australia.

Philippines :
1. More fun – It is definitely more fun in the Philippines. When I said “fun”, I meant waking up early in the morning to the sound of cheerful neighbor’s voices already up either singing, playing, drinking, gossiping (ha ha), and fighting (rarely). Philippines is a very beautiful country and a lot of provinces/islands are yet to be developed into becoming eco-tourism spots. I haven’t been to all of them yet I have seen enough to make me conclude that there are more beautiful beaches and tourist spots/activities (e.g. the exciting ziplines, banana boat riding, hot air balloons) here.
2. More passionate people – My first impression of the neighborhood in Australia is good because I saw plenty of gorgeous houses. Then, I realised that it is just common for them to have such kind of a inhabitable houses. However, in general, the neighborhood is like a ghost town. It is so quiet everywhere. People are where they should be – work, school, trains, buses, parks, etc. except home. At the end of whatever day’s activities they had, they will eventually go home, eat, and sleep. There is a very big possibility that you don’t even know the names of your neighbors. In the Philippines, everybody knows you especially in the provinces where it is less crowded. If you wake up hungry in the wee hours of the dawn, be not afraid. There are lots of tapsilogans and other restaurants still up 24hrs a day. Public transport is still available as well.

3. Rigid training – I have worked for Shell and they provide rigid learning & development trainings (Greenbelt & Lean Sigma trainings) to their employees (at no cost to employee at all) all throughout each year. I am working part-time in one of the most prestigious employers in Australia as well and they did not provide formal training. Training here is informal. They will provide you an orientation consisting of a brief overview of the company and its procedures; a conduct of where and how to log-in and log-out, get your uniform, and ID but no formal orientation on the actual tasks per se. I did a lot of volunteering also and noticed that they are all the same. They will show you how to do a job and after a few minutes will expect you to be independent already and be able to find out your own way. In Shell-Philippines, every training is documented and signed; and submitted to HR or relevant managers. Let’s see once I get a white-collar job here if things will be a bit different

4. Easy to get lost – If you get lost in the Philippines, it’d be very rare to use GPS. First option is to ask someone out on the street for more than likely you will find someone “na mapagtatanungan” (someone you can ask). In Australia, GPS has become my second best friend. 🙂 Every trip has to be carefully planned ahead of time.I once had an interview in a very very far place, got lost, and couldn’t knock on the houses for fear of trespassing. Luckily, help came as always at the time of need. One neighbor pulled out of his driveway, and I approached him kindly as he emerged from his car. In fairness, I have always been extended a great amount of time and help by Australians. Most of the time, they are happy to help. 🙂

Australia :

1. Less warm people, sometimes so formal – As I have described earlier, the place seems like a ghost town. It will never occur to you that a party might be going on inside the house. They do house parties all the time, bbq parties are their favorite. Sometimes, it feels so formal to joke around them. I guess, that’s how you are when you are still unfamiliar with their culture, likes, and dislikes. But once you get to know them, it’s not hard to love them.

2. More professional – I have received letters from employers stating that I have not been shortlisted as candidate to their company vacant position. I have never experienced that in my whole career life in the Philippines. It shows that Australians are more professional.

3. A lot are educated – In relation to #2, it could have been because a lot are more educated in a first-world country that they are more professional. There is less poverty in Australia and the government is exerting all effort to help each Australian achieve optimum literacy. Trainings are provided to jobless people and loans extended to students which they can pay after they graduate and have found a job. However, the education system cannot be discounted in the Philippines as well. There’s a lot of good public, semi-private, and private educational institutions as well in the Philippines. The government only have to push each child to be educated and finish their chosen degrees. I strongly believe that it is one way of getting out of poverty. The more educated the Filipinos become, the more they can participate intelligently in political matters and arrive at informed decisions that can change the society and eventually their and their grandchildren’s lives. To add up, you’ll see people in all ages reading novels everywhere.

4. Less crime – There is a smaller crime rate in Australia. In the Philippines, you are guilty until proven innocent whilst here in Australia you are innocent until proven that you are guilty. If they have mistakenly imprisoned an innocent person, they will pay the latter an amount deemed equivalent to the damages made to the innocent victim plus more!

5. Very disciplined people – You can see this even in simple things like getting the rubbish ready the night before the scheduled waste collection, people crossing at pedestrian lanes, in-congested traffic, and disciplined motorists.

6. Effective government system – Australia is progressive because the leaders are effective and less corrupt.

7. Realisation of taxes – It is not hard to compute in your head where do your hard-earned money go when taxes are being deducted from your payroll. You can easily see the cost to maintain such beautiful roads and high-end services almost commensurate with your contributions.

8. Equal opportunity – Australia gives equal opportunity to all. It is up to the people who will take advantage of those opportunity presented in front of them. So long as one is working hard and wisely, one can achieve a comfortable living unlike in the Philippines where most of the time you will feel that all your bones are aching from hard work and you still cannot comprehend why your lifestyle is always at the same level. So the more leverage you have in Australia, the higher are your chances of success because they are fair.

9. Anti-racial discrimination – Discrimination is everywhere but at least in Australia it is part of their law – that anyone who discriminates will be apprehended!

To conclude, there are big differences of living in a 1st-world country from a 3rd-world one. They will not be called “first-world or first-class” in the very first place for nothing. They are rated in that manner because of the country’s GDP, contribution to worldwide economy, etc. There’s more fun in the Philippines, but there’s more money here in Australia. Though it is sad to be away from the people and place I have loved so dearly in life, a friend once mentioned to me that my comfort zone should not be my home country. My comfort zone should be God. So long as He is my comfort zone, I will be fine any country I go to. And she’s correct. It is easier for me to live here now. I am well adjusted, have made new good friends, and have come to accept their culture as well. But one thing is for sure, whichever country it is and whatever their culture and customs might be, what all people want is just a bit of respect. There will always be gossipers, people who will back fight you – may it be Australian or a Filipino; however, the same rule in life applies. Just go placidly amidst the noise and haste of life. Try to be at peace with everyone and your own soul. And the only way to do this is just to be respectful at all times of everyone regardless of his nationality and status in life.

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The Songs of my Life

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“Who’d have thought this is how the pieces fit. You and I shouldn’t even try making sense of it. I forgot how we ever came this far…Love moves in mysterious ways.” I can relate so much to this song. After the bitter falling out of relationship and thereafter becoming a single mother, I thought my life was at a total impasse. I met my one true love but was treated with reproach by his kin at first, making all attempts to forestall my happy ever after. Yet, no matter how horrific the situation looked to me, we did succeed in making our love a long and lasting love. Bewildering but true! The magnanimity of true love will overcome all dubiousness.

I have always loved life and all that surrounds it. I guess that contributed gaiety to my personality despite the tantamount obstacles I have encountered during my entire life. However, there were rare moments when I feel daunted and it succumbs me. Then, I do self-retrospection, thinking if I did all the right thing. It seems that I did during that time. It looks like I’ve been not only to a hundreds of places but also through a tremendous number of experiences, yet, I still do not fully comprehend myself. Hence, the song “Never Been To Me” has always been one of my favorites.

I have always been an old-fashioned “only” when it comes to songs. Ha ha. Thus, all the songs I like are mostly from an old genre. There is one modern song, though, that I reckon I can relate to as well. “Just Give Me a Reason” reminds me of the many nuisance of marriage. Those times were synonymous to going crazy. One day I was incorrigible, then, on the next I would change decision erratically. Despite the grueling pro’s & con’s battle-of-the-mind, at the end of the day I would still believe in my principles and will not lose my faith in God and to this man who He had entrusted me to be with. So, that is my little bit of reason why I am still here, not sulking, but ambling through the joys and struggles of my marriage.

These two songs will always be in my playlist when I do videoke – “My Girl, My Woman, My Friend” and “I’d Still Say Yes”. I dedicate them to my husband who will always be my friend and enemy; and who despite my many evil plans of leaving behind I would always resort to coming back.

Distractions

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Of all the things I hold in high regards, rules are not one of them. I have my own set of principles dictated not by norms but by virtue of my faith in God, my values, and my instincts. I will not place my children’s fate in the hands of guru wannabees but on these same set of principles I hold dearly in life. Why go to the middleman when I can go directly to the Supplier?

II. Has the World Really Changed?

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Has the world really changed? Dianne is not used to being petulant. She spurned Steven, her father. Now that she knows the truth, will it change her? The answer is no! Steven was trying to co-opt her. She will not let that happen. She will not join his syndicate. He left her mother all because of money, power, popularity. How she loathes him! Steven has always been an autistic since birth. He spites her mother because he was mistreated during his childhood by his stepfather. It was wrong to vent it all out on her mother. She can still clearly recall when he whipped her mother whenever she comes home without food or money to give him. Luckily, she’s an only child. He had never walloped her though, just Serena.

She had minute lovely memories of Steven as well. She can still recall when she was a kid and he was teaching her how to ride a foal. Although heathen in so many ways, he loves her. Then. Until he loved himself more than her.

Dianne has qualms her father will ever be good again. He operates his syndicate in a very crude way. He belongs there. It’s been like almost a year living in this new country, finding her father at last, visiting him often in his invigilated office. Yet, she still do not feel that father and daughter bond.  Sometimes, it is not all about birthrights. Theodore will always be her number one love. He who fed and taught her so many things about life. He loved her like his own. Theodore and Serena died in an accident. This is the comeuppance of not investing in your child’s emotion. Steven will never ever going to convince her to stay with him for good. She sneered. 

Although conceived in love, Dianne now understands the big difference between birthrights and parenthood. You can be a parent even if you were not the one who bore the child. The name doesn’t matter. You can still love the innocent child. Her foster father had never been dodgy with her though. She knew that he’s not the biological father, but he always tell her that he will always love her and will always be there for her. She believed that impetuously because she knew it was the truth.

But did you know what else is true? Digital age or not, stone era or not, the world hasn’t changed so much. Today’s society is pretty much the same as its history – babies conceived out of marriage; children gone to foster homes; heroes saving the day or your life; queerly intentions of other people; wars; betrayals; the rich & the poor; love for money, drugs, sex, narcissism. The world is blatant. It will always follow a pattern like that.

There will also come a time in your life when one will reach full maturity – when all rancor will perish; any abominable relationships will subdue. It is not some kind of spur-of the moment decision nor just to appease herself, but she has come to accept the facts. She will be gentler with herself and the not-so-much-changed world around her. This is her recourse – she will succumb to whatever God’s will is for her with benevolence. She will be invincible.

DESIDERATA

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BY MAX EHRMANN

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

I. The Mother of Nonsense

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There amidst the smog, one lonely creature has been glaring at the moon. When will she see hope? When will the sun rise? When will her knight come rescue her? Dressed in lovely purple tassels, no one would notice the lackluster mood Dianne is in now. She ambled through the darkness. The truth is finite. Her father will no longer come back. In the light of the dwindling stars, she made a vow. The most canny decision she had ever made her entire life.

New streets, new people, new everything. So this is where the scoundrel abodes. Dianne made her way through the crowd, reached a coffee shop, and started paraplanning. She’s known for being a pragmatic girl. Today, she’s come up with most ingenious scheme of all time. The place is notorious, only the date and time is indefinite.

Alex is in a haste. He’s got a 2:30pm rendezvous with the business owner of one of the largest-selling magazines in Sydney. He has the perfect marketing plan, that he is sure of. He just needs valor. He still has a few minutes to spare to sip his favorite latte, then he’ll catch a cab. From the outdoors, the man is enticed by one beauty he had never seen in his existence. The girl is simple yet very alluring. He’s not so certain though what that serious expression on her face is all about. One thing is certain, though, he is deeply attracted. Oh, what a pervert! You are just to order a coffee and leave! He reminded that himself.

When Alex was about to leave the shop as “planned”, he saw a man asking the girl about the time, which is so clear to him, was just an evil scheme to get her attention. “Ahem!”, said Alex and the boor left eyeing him suspiciously, too. “Yes?”, Dianne mumbled.
“Well, I suppose you are very new to this town. I just want to know if you are interested in staying for good, I can offer you a good place”, said Alex. “What made you think I am new here, mister?”, Dianne snapped. “Oh, that’s easy! Your watch is not synchronised to Sydney time’, Alex said beaming. Dianne collected her things and walked hastily. Alex followed her. “Miss, look, I’m very sorry that was very lousy of me. You just seem so unfamiliar and unsure, I can be your very first new friend here if you will allow”, he said apologetically. He sounded and looked sincere. Dianne smiled. “Yes, I need a place to stay”.

Dianne has been living with Alex and his aunt for 3 months now. She rented out the smallest room in the house and tried to stay in those four corners. She knew the auntie doesn’t approve of her being there. She is just so old-fashioned and doesn’t believe that Alex and Dianne have been good friends for years. Else, she would have met her or been familiar with her name. Dianne saw them having a tussle the other day, and all about her again. She fought the restraint to go out the door and defend herself. She’s always been known for being illustrious since kindergarten. She’s simply not that type of woman that braggadocious hag has been accusing her of. The concierge who comes every fortnight even heard the slattern calling her a bitch. But she needed the place, and she needed a friend in the form of Alex who has been very cooperative in all her delving. She has nowhere to go.

Donya Antonia, as she fondly calls herself, is very stringent. She is so agitated that her only nephew whom she’d raised like her own is not being so himself lately. She tried to be everything for him since he lost his real parents. She even summoned all her belongings to Alex on her last will. Dianne must have known that she got an enormous inheritance from her beau and this is her game. She will not let that happen. She knew her nephew is so unworldly and unsuspecting. She will confront Dianne now. Time is of the essence.

Knock! Knock! “Who is it?”, asked Dianne. “It’s me Donya Antonia,” the auntie said in a hoarse voice. “Wait a sec,” Dianne replied. Why must she always include Donya in her name, I doubt it appears on her birth certificate, she mused. The dowager came in full poised, “I know you know that I do not like you for my nephew. To be frank, you look to me like someone who is an expert in deluding people”, Antonia said dastardly. Dianne is astounded. She had never encountered such an evil person in her whole life. Fraught with slight terror she replied, “I don’t care what you think of me. I know one day you will die ahead of us. And Alex and I will live happily ever after and have children. Then, I don’t have to put off with you anymore because your chapping body is already gone to the worms and insects for them to frolic”. The Donya is rigid as she placidly uttered, “You are one preposterous child!” “As you are one senile cynical woman!”, Dianne said with detest. The Donya left with a loud bang! Who cares? It’s her door anyways and I am just paying a small rental fee. She should fix it.

The bickering did not escape Alex. Vexed with anger, he confronted his aunt. “Look, I did not intend to be innocuous but that woman is so frivolous. She called me senile and cynical! What kind of an in-law will she make? You deserve someone better.”, Antonia shouted in between hurried breaths. “Auntie, I know you love me and will only want what’s best for me. It is very irksome that you have those kind of thoughts about her. We are just good friends”, Alex explained. “You have lots of female friends and no one slept a single night here”, Antonia tried to reason out. “This is causing us so much distress. Did you know that, auntie?” Alex shut the door quietly. He knew Antonia is one incorrigible petulant person and what he’s doing is hopeless.

Dianne is baffled. She should have told the truth, that she and Alex are just very good friends. Well, I guess a person has some constraints. Although it was a very grueling response, she made it and she was very happy for herself. The old lady just so love her nephew that she is being treacherous. Awry as it may seem, she should be more understanding. Anyways, how would she know how one who is in a menopausal state would behave. Antonia’s words were not ambiguous and is very superfluous. She keeps repeating the diabolical encounter over and over her head. She should be patient and understanding. She should show some mercy to the old woman. After all, it is her house she is living in. She is being arbitrary out of concern of her nephew. Encapsulating herself with a budge, she began sulking. Why is her life always like that? Always sad.

When I am Dead, My Dearest

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BY CHRISTINA ROSSETTI

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

***My favorite poem 🙂