Tag Archives: PINOYexpats

Articles published in PINOYexpats, a now defunct ezine for Filipino expatriates.

Why Mum is still the best cook in the world

I wrote this for PINOYexpats, but this article was also the starting point for a similar piece that I submitted to the Australian Filipina magazine.

My extended family has produced some excellent cooks and my mum is one of the best. I, on the other hand, avoided the kitchen for as long as I could.

Cooking seemed to me a messy, laborious and thankless chore. When I moved out to an apartment with a brand new kitchen still gleaming in its stainless steel glory, I vowed to turn over a new leaf. Who better to experiment with than my new husband, who promised to do the washing up? Continue reading

Beyond the Accent : Why learning a second language is more difficult than it sounds

This was the first article I wrote for PINOYexpats as part of the theme Buwan Ng Wika. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but I’m so glad I finally found a copy so I can post it here.

A new immigrant, Lola was gardening when a neighbour greeted her with a jaunty, ‘Good day!’

‘Thank you,’ Lola replied as she fluffed up her hair.

Two weeks after arriving in Sydney, my family was at my school for an interview. ‘How was your flight?’ the principal kindly asked my parents.

‘Oh, we’re living at my sister-in-laws’ house,’ Mum replied.

It turns out that Lola thought the neighbour was admiring the colour of her hair dye, while Mum thought the school principal was asking her about our flat. When these stories are recounted to friends, we discover similar anecdotes around their first contact with colloquial Australian English – or what many people jokingly refer to as ‘Strine.

Language fluency is not just about the ability to remember words or put together grammatically correct sentences. Language is as much a cultural construct as it is a cognitive skill. The ‘English’ we learn back home sounds, feels and evolves differently to the ‘English’ of the Aussies, Kiwis, Poms and Yanks. Continue reading

Finding your voice

One of the greatest tragedies of my life.

I’m part of a silent minority of Filipinos who bear a secret shame: I can’t sing to save my life. From the age of six, I’ve envied Lea Salonga. She has two things I desperately want—dimples and a singing voice. Someone once told me I looked like ‘a Kim’. Too bad my singing voice is worse than grim. By Filipino standards, I believe this makes me a mutant. Continue reading

Size matters

I’m not sure how Filipinos developed this fixation with weight, but if you’ve ever been on the wrong side of the scale I think you’ll understand why this article was begging to be written.

Many people believe that asking about the weather is conversational suicide. They’’ve never had to endure a Filipino greeting.

‘Hoy, tumaba ka yata!’ (Hey, you got fat!) It’’s not exactly the first thing I want to hear after a decade of separation. Suddenly, ten years don’’t seem long enough.

Filipino women are fixated on weight. Listen in on any tsismis and inevitably someone will mention the F word: ‘fat’. If you’’re lucky, they won’’t be talking about you. Lately, it seems, my fortune has been in decline. Continue reading

Tabo by Helga Weber

Tales of the travelling tabo

I’m a self-confessed scruncher. This was also the article in which I admitted to having visited Sexpo.

There is one thing I never leave home without and it’s not my American Express. It’s the first item to go into my suitcase and the first to be unpacked. It’s on my packing checklist three times.

‘Mahal, did I pack the—‘

‘Yes!’ my husband usually groans in exasperation after hearing the same question for the umpteenth time.

‘OK, just checking…’ I rummage around for a few seconds. ‘Where? Where is it? OH, MY GOD, WHERE IS MY TABO?’ Continue reading

Easy going Sydney

This piece appeared in a compilation article for a travel-themed issue of PINOYexpats.

Sydney offers modern city attractions as well as quaint delights amid glorious sunshine during the warmer months. While the Opera House, the Centrepoint Tower and the magnificent harbour are well described in tourist guides, there is no shortage of unique experiences available to intrepid visitors.

Renowned for its spectacular harbour, you can spend an entire day at Circular Quay absorbing the sun, eating a picnic lunch as you watch the antics of street performers. On a tight budget, an all-day ferry pass takes you to various beachside suburbs where you can enjoy ice cream on a hot December day or hire roller blades and explore the beachside. If you can splurge, try a showboat cruise for dinner. For families, free entertainment can often be found at Darling Harbour—you might even catch some fireworks! Continue reading

RJ Rosales

RJ Rosales: On leaving and coming home

This was my first interview, and I hope I did justice to RJ, who also happens to be a childhood friend. It’s one of my favourites.

Filipino-Australian entertainer RJ Rosales took the bold step of moving back to Manila to live his dream. He talks to PINOYexpats about what it’’s like to be an expat then a balikbayan, and how he copes with living out of a suitcase.

There’s something lightly surreal about talking to a childhood friend whose face regularly appears on television and whose voice draws audiences from around the world. So it’’s a relief to discover that chatting over the phone with RJ Rosales is just like, well, talking to an old friend. Which is just as well, because it seems he’’d just gotten out of bed when I rang, though I wouldn’’t have guessed from his cheerful tone. He eats his breakfast as we talk, and the conversation is laced with humour and just a touch of homesickness. Continue reading

Bowl of rice - Photo by kittenpuff via morgueFile

Beyond adobo and rice

This was the first feature I wrote that didn’t include anecdotes in the article. I initially sent Susan Quimpo a list of about 20 questions. She very tactfully suggested I send her a shorter list.

Bowl of rice - Photo by kittenpuff1 via morgueFile

Source: morgueFile

Being a second-generation citizen is characterised by a dichotomy that resonates differently from the experiences of one’s parents. For most naturalised (first-generation) citizens, this dichotomy is acquired by choice. We can balance the memories of home with the reality of our new country of residence. For our children, who are born overseas but live a different cultural experience than their peers, growing up a product of two or more cultures can be a struggle that their parents and grandparents may not easily understand. Continue reading

Homeward bound

This editorial piece was written to introduce the April/May 2006 issue of PINOYexpats, which I compiled and edited. The theme was ‘Homeward Bound’.

As expatriates, our perspective is inescapably coloured by memories of home. The stories in this issue of PINOYexpats explore the myriad ways in which we find ourselves bound to the Philippines, the home of our hearts. Continue reading