Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In Response to a Pinoy Asking about the Housing Problem in Auckland

This is not a blog post (although I really wanted to post a new one soon) but just a reply to a comment from an anonymous follower. I realized that my comment was so long that it seemed like an entire blog post already... Here it is..
Hi, first of all this is an informative blog and i hope you are doing good and you still have time to answer.
Question lang po:
1. Anong City po ba ang expensive? (state po ang house/apt rental fee)
2. Anong City po ba ang madaling makahanap ng work?
3. Mabilis po ba ang internet sa NZ?
4. Kumusta po ba ang pagkain? alin ang mahal pinoy food o kiwi food?
5. Kung sakali STUDY, then WORK, then IMMIGRATE ok po ba eto?
6. Ilang years bago makakuha ng CAP?
Marami pa po sana pero i guess above is enough and for sure yong sagot nyo ay makakatulong din katulad sa amin.
Hi. I only lived in two cities in New Zealand and now based in Auckland. Auckland is definitely more expensive when it comes to apartment/house rental fees; I guess it is a general rule that when you live in the highly populated areas such as Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, the prices would be way up as compared to other cities like Palmerston North, Hamilton, Dunedin, and Invercargill. Let's say for example, in Auckland, the median average house price is NZ$780k, whereas, in Christchurch it is only NZ$420k. In Dunedin and Invercargill where I lived in the past, it is presently at NZ$300k and NZ$202k, respectively (as of May 2016).

Of course different suburban areas have different prices depending on the community. Some areas in Auckland like Glenfield in North Shore costs NZ$727k for a 3-bedroom house and the counterpart of the same-sized houses in, let's say, the neighboring suburb Milford, is NZ$1.39 million.

I guess there are jobs everywhere especially in Nursing as I get lots of emails for job vacancies every night (I subscribed to www.kiwihealthjobs.com back then in 2013 when I was looking for jobs and I purposefully didn't unsubscribe so that I will be updated of job availability in nearby hospitals). Checkout the immigration website for more details.

Internet is fast as compared to Philippine-standards. My down speed right now is 38mb per second.

Food prices are the same as far as I know. I shop in the same supermarkets (PakNSave and Countdown) in areas where I lived in the past and prices are just the same. Seasonal fruits/veggies have their lows/highs. There are Asian stores everywhere so I really can cook almost every Filipino dish I would like to try. For example, I can cook kare-kare, sinigang, adobo, bulalo, sisig, etc. as the ingredients are available in your nearby Asian stores. In Dunedin, Invercargill, and Auckland, there are Filipino stores around (and I guess same applies to every major cities where there are Filipinos). I honestly don't worry about food prices because my earnings really do go a long way (plus the fact that I do not support any person, nor I am paying for a loan [perks of being single!]. Whenever I miss Pinoy food and I am just lazy to cook, I visit nearby Pinoy restaurants.

My opinion about study-then-work is still the same (by study I mean coming here for a student visa for a 1 year course). I don't advise people to use this pathway as it will eat lots of your money. If you are a nurse with 5 years of paid experience, then achieve the IELTS requirement and work on your registration here. In my workplace, some of the healthcare assistants (HCA) have nursing backgrounds in the Philippines but they can't have their registration here because they lack the required number of nursing hours OR they can't meet the IELTS requirements. What I suggest is you gain that solid 5 years of acute hospital experience and make sure that you get at least 7 in all subtests in IELTS while in the Philippines. Checkout my other blog entry, From Middle East to Middle Earth, for more details.

I am not so up to date with CAP intakes lately but in my time, it was a struggle looking for CAP providers. My Pinoy colleagues from Saudi Arabia followed me here in New Zealand and all of them were successful in their Competency Assessment Programmes and are now working in DHBs. So I guess intakes are still mostly available.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My Car Maintenance Essentials

When you own a car, you are responsible for its maintenance. Aside from regular service checks and keeping the registration and warrant of fitness up to date, it is also expected for the owner to maintain both the exterior and interior of the vehicle.

I do not have any trouble with maintenance as it has been part of my weekly routine. Never has there been a week that passed that I missed keeping my car looking just the way I got it from the car shop. I own a black car and black colored vehicles are notorious for environmental marks (rain, dust) and blemishes from whatever forces of nature. Although it is somehow costly to maintain it, I just love the feeling of contentment after seeing it squeeky clean again.

Here are the products I use for the exteriors of my car. More information is available 

1. Turtle Wax' Jet Black Black Spray Detailer. Just spray it on black surfaces and wipe with microfiber cloth and you'll end up with a sweet looking vehicle.
2. Turtle Wax Performance Plus Express Shine Carnauba Wax. I alternate the use of this and the item above.

3. Mantis Instant Shine. If I don't have the luxury of time and I need to give the car a quick clean like for 5 minutes, this is my go to spray. 
4. CRC Wet Look Tyre Shine. This is for the wheels. Of course it wouldn't be a good looking car if the wheels are dirty.

5. CRC Headlight Doctor. My car's headlight is still looking clear. However, I noticed one day that a patch was seemingly less clear as compared to the other. To prevent the dreaded cloudy-yellowish headlight, I got this product and used it only once. I never had to redo it another time since then. All I can say is it really did what it was supposed to do.

6. Meguiar's Scratch X 2.0. I use this a lot for fine scratches and swirls. I'm usually a very careful driver but sometimes I just get flabbergasted by scratch marks I didn't know how those ended up there.

7. Microfiber cloth. This is a must! Regular cloth can leave swirls and fine scratches so use the microfiber ones. It does not leave lint and it is reusable. 

Alright, those are for exteriors. Now we go inside the car.

1. Turtle Wax Quick & Easy Glass and Dash Interior Cleaner. This is the only interior cleaner I use for spraying the dashboard and the glass.

2. Glade Auto Scented Oil Automotive Car Vent Air Freshener. Who would't want to ride a car that smells great?!

3. Handheld vacuum cleaner. I don't use this much often but if I have to use it, it's only for the very minute pieces that cannot be removed by bare hands.

Enough of those costly items above. Haha. We move on to more expensive car-must-haves: the gadgets.

1. TomTom Go 6100. This is a must wherever I go, especially for long road trips. It tells you exactly where to go! And if you missed a lane or a street, it will reroute and get you to where you need to go. It tells you the estimated time to get to your destination and it shows you the quickest route while avoiding heavy traffic! And one of the best things with this GPS is it tells you your actual speed and it warns you if you are exceeding the limit. Although it costs a fortune, it is worth the value.

2. Kaiser Baas R10+ 1080p Car DVR. This is a dash cam. It's supposed to record the road for accidents, events, and what nots. Primarily, I use it as a device to document the places I've been to (in short, for vlogging). This item is just cheap but it does what it is supposed to do and I am pretty happy with the quality of the video. There are better dash cams around though with extra features like GPS tracking, speed tracking, G-sensor, and other extra features. 


These are my car essentials. What do you have in yours?

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!!!

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