Negativity

He loves the sound of his voice – or so he should by the amount of talking he has done. There’s no pause in his monologue and trying to change the topic is futile. He just ignores you and keeps on talking on the current topic. No indication at all that he cared or even heard what you said. He just keeps on blabbing gossip about his friends who I’ve never even met. Hello, like I care?!?

He imposes on people, uncaring of your feelings and what you want even if he’s in your own home. He’s the guest, you should cater to his needs and feed him. When he speaks, he doesn’t try to convince – just states in a very demeaning manner that what you want is not cool, something that’s beneath him. He demands attention, he is king and everyone should serve him. Everyone bow in his presence and submit to his every whim.

He wears out his welcome very fast and yet seems oblivious to it. He takes silence as a sign of agreement and never considers that perhaps it’s because you disagree with his views. Heck, you can’t be annoyed, his views are irreverent and revolutionary and your backward thinking doesn’t suit. He tells a racist joke and nobody laughs. He tries another.

I choose the company I keep. My time on this earth is limited and I don’t want to be around callous, negative people who couldn’t care less about the people around them. If I have a choice, I would have cut ties with this person long ago. But then again in this situation, the decision is not mine to make.

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Published in: on May 16, 2005 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Vivian’s story

Vivian Alvarez (a.k.a. Vivian Solon or Vivian Wilson) has been the subject of several news reports here for several days now. Based on reports from Australian and Filipino newspapers online, she may now be a household name in both countries (if she hasn’t already).

To those who aren’t familiar with her story yet, she is believed to have lived in Brisbane for several years, have 2 sons and is an Australian citizen. One day in February 2001, she left her (now 9 year old) son in a day care center and failed to return to pick him up. She was reported missing soon after that. Several months later, she had a car accident and was treated in a New South Wales(NSW) hospital. She was deported to the Philippines in 2001 after telling the consular staff in Brisbane that she had been a sex slave and no records pertaining to her residency status was found (she gave her mother’s maiden name/her middle name as her surname).

The government realised its mistake a few months ago and launched a search for her in the Philippines. Luckily, the search ended when an Australian priest based in the Philippines, Father Mike Duffin, alerted Canberra after recognising a photo of her on TV. Vivian has now reunited with her sister, bringing her lost years to an end.

Australian officials are in damage control mode, with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer defending the Immigration department amid criticisms. This comes on the heels of the much publicized case of Cornelia Rau’s wrongful detention. An inquiry is now being called to investigate what really happened in both cases.

Vivian’s story raises a lot of questions that need to be answered. If she claimed to be a sex slave, why was she deported? Shouldn’t there be an investigation to such allegations before any deportation procedures were even put into motion? How did the system lose track of her and how many more have slipped through the cracks? Would there be another Cornelia or Vivian in the news in the future? I hope the government digs deep to find all the answers to these questions and more if they want the confidence of the public restored.

Published in: on May 13, 2005 at 12:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Melbourne’s Migrant Visa Online

Today, in the free MX newspaper (May 12, 2005) was a short article titled “Working on online visa” where it was stated that the State Government of Victoria (where Melbourne is located) is now “offering Australia’s first online visa applications in a push to attract more skilled migrants to live and work in the state.”

Unfortunately, MX doesn’t have an online version of their articles so I couldn’t point you to the article I was referring to. Fortunately, the newspaper The Age‘s website also picked up on the same news. You can read the full article here if you like. Note though that you have to register (it’s free so don’t worry) before you can read the article.

So, if you are thinking of migrating to another country, why don’t you give Australia (Melbourne in particular) a go. Visit the Sponsorship Applications page in the Live in Victoria website where you can determine online if you are eligible for the State/Territory Nominated Independent (STNI) Visa Sponsorship.

Skills currently in demand include electricians, mechanics, engineers, builders, nurses, pharmacists, cooks, lawyers (solicitors), teachers and even hairdressers. There is a full list of Skills in Demand in the website for more details.

If you’re planning to migrate abroad, forget the US and forget Canada. Come on over to Melbourne, Australia instead.

Published in: on May 12, 2005 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

In Response to “Was Jesus Truthful?”

I didn’t want to react to a blog entry I’ve read titled “Was Jesus Truthful?” but I fear that there may be fellow Christians who aren’t strong in their faith and who lack sufficient knowledge regarding their faith that may be led to think that Jesus does indeed suffer from a credibility problem. And as is expected from somebody who believes in Christ, I feel it is my duty to respond to this post so that others may know that Jesus is indeed still true to His Word.

Just to be clear, I seek no emnity with the original poster of the blog post (whom I didn’t name here) nor any atheist for that matter. I see myself as fairly tolerant of other people’s beliefs (or lack thereof) but I just couldn’t remain silent on the accusation made on the said post.

The post stated that there are quotes from the Bible that will “confirm that Jesus deliberately lead his followers into false expectations.” The author quoted the following verses:

Matt. 10:23 – When giving instructions to his disciples as to just how they are to go about spreading his message Jesus says, “for truly I say unto you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of man comes.”

I do not see the problem here. The way I see it, it merely puts emphasis to the difficulty of the task of spreading the Word of God by saying that the Second Coming would happen first before the followers of Christ could preach to everybody.

Matt. 26:28 – Jesus says, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”

Actually, the verse quoted above is from Matthew 16:28. The New American Bible explains the passage in a footnote thusly: “Coming in his kingdom: since the kingdom of the Son of Man has been described as “the world” and Jesus’ sovereignty precedes his final coming in glory (Matthew 13:38, 41), the coming in this verse is not the parousia as in the preceding but the manifestation of Jesus’ rule after his resurrection; see the notes on Matthew 13:38, 41.”

Matt. 24:33-34 – After prophesying a wide assortment of events including the second coming, Jesus said, ” . . . when you shall see all these things, know that it ( the 2nd coming ) is near, even at the door. This generation shall not pass till these things be fulfilled.” Jesus was obviously referring to the contemporary generation.

Contemporary generation? In the original Greek text, the word generation was genea which can also be translated as “race” as in human race or Caucasian race or group of people of common descent and Jesus could actually be referring to the Jewish people as group or race. So, this passage could be read to mean that the Second Coming will come first before all Jews disappear from this Earth. For a more elaborate explanation, read Marshall Entrekin’s article “Did Jesus Wrongly Predict a First Century Return in Matthew 24:34?”

Matt. 26:74 – When brought before Caiaphas, the chief priest, Jesus said to him, ” I will tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man . . . coming on the clouds of heaven.” According to this the second coming was to happen during Caiaphas’ lifetime.

The verse quoted above is actually from Matthew 26:64 and is completely quoted as:

Matt. 26:64 – Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so. But I tell you: From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power’ and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.'”

Jesus was asked by Caiaphas if He was the Messiah. In response, he essentially quoted Daniel Chapter 7 that describes the Son of Man coming from the clouds of Heaven. He is obviously speaking in a symbolic manner for how can He be sitting at right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven at the same time? And with this, Caiaphas said that Jesus has blasphemed for claiming to be the Messiah.

Mark 9:1 – And he said unto them, “verily, I say unto you, that there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

This doesn’t refer to the Second Coming. It refers to the establishment of the church of the followers of Christ that will be the instrument of God’s kingdom and power.

Luke 21: 27-28 – “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

Well, I don’t see anything wrong here. When we see Jesus coming out of the clouds in the Second Coming, I can pretty much assume that the redemption does draweth nigh.

Luke 21:32 – “verily I say unto you, “This generation shall not pass way, till all be fulfilled.”

Same explanation as that with Matthew 24:34 above.

1 Thess 4: 15-17 – In his first epistle to the Thessalonians Paul assures the congregation that the second coming is very near,” . . . “we who are alive,” . . . shall not proceed those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven . . . and the dead Christ shall rise first . . . Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together. . .”

I do not see how Christ could be accused of not being truthful in this passage as it was Paul who made the claim that the Second Coming will be happening in his lifetime and not Jesus. Indeed, Jesus said that nobody knows when the day of judgement will be so how could Paul?

Revelation 22:12 – Behold, I come quickly.”
Revelation 22: 20 – “Yes, I am coming quickly.”

I’ll just bundle these two passages together. The author of the post used the two passages to prove that Jesus said that He would come REAL soon but two millennia later and He still hadn’t come. Well, the problem was that the author assumed that the word “quickly” (tachu in the original Greek) meant REAL SOON when it actually meant “fast” or “swiftly” in the context of the two passages. For a more elaborate explanation, read the article “Surely I Come Quickly, Why “Quickly” Describes How Jesus is Coming, Not When He Will Come.”

So, was Jesus being untruthful based on the “proofs” provided in the original post? You decide.

Published in: on May 12, 2005 at 6:53 pm  Comments Off on In Response to “Was Jesus Truthful?”  

Getting Around Melbourne

So you decided to visit or migrate to Melbourne. But what is the best way to get around Melbourne when I get there, you may ask. I don’t know about the “best” way but I can only tell you how Raquel and I get around Melbourne. This could very well be the most efficient and cheapest way but we really cannot be absolutely sure as we’ve only been in Melbourne for less than a year, after all.

From Melbourne Airport to the CBD

Let’s start at the Melbourne Airport (for both International and Domestic flights) where a foreign visitor or migrant will most likely enter Melbourne. You have three ways of getting to the city from here and unfortunately, one of them is not by train — unlike in Sydney. You can choose from among the following methods of transportation: get a taxi, rent a car or get on a Skybus bus.

We always take the Skybus. It’s a 20-minute bus trip to Spencer St in the Melbourne CBD and there’s only a 15-minute wait in-between bus arrivals at the terminal. It’s reasonably priced at $24 for adults for a return ticket (if you intend to return to the airport within a year’s time) and $13 one-way to the city (or one-way to the airport from the city). It has ample space for your luggage, too.

If you take the taxi, it will be a 30-minute ride that will probably cost you around $35 to $40, one way. A taxi ride can only be justified if there are four of you sharing the fare with no intention of returning to the airport within a year ($13 x 4 = $52 vs. $40). Another justification for a cab is when you don’t know where your hotel is in the city and a cab can take you at your hotel’s doorstep. But it may still be cheaper to get on the Skybus and just get a taxi or tram at Spencer St to get to your hotel in the CBD.

The last option is to rent a car. Unless you intend to visit some far-flung area in Victoria or some place inaccessible by public transportation, I wouldn’t recommend it. When you rent a car, you better be used to driving a right-hand drive car and driving on the left side of the road. You’d also have to know about the weird hook turns they use in the CBD itself. You might as well be aware of the other road rules here. Another thing you have to worry about is the Citylink pass which is an electronic tag for cars to automatically pay for Citylink highway fares. In short, don’t get a car if you’re just going to be going to be around the CBD or in areas that are accessible to trains, trams and buses.

Get a Map

Now, let’s say you took my advice and got on the Skybus to Melbourne. On the ride to Melbourne, the bus will show a short 10-15 minute video guide to Melbourne programme. The video will give you an idea of what to expect in Melbourne which is very helpful to newcomers. At the front of the bus, there’s also a rack of touristy brochures. Be sure to pick up the Official Visitors Guide Me!bourne (yes, the exclamation point was intentional) which is for free.

“The Official Visitors’ Guide is a practical tool designed to provide visitors to Melbourne with a comprehensive understanding of the things to see and do. The guide is produced quarterly showcasing the four distinct seasons of Melbourne and complementing Tourism Victoria’s and City of Melbourne’s tactical tourism marketing campaigns.”

— Destination Melbourne Website

Here are, I think, the more important aspects of this guide apart from what you can see and do in Melbourne:

  • A map of the CBD in the centre fold.
  • A non-detailed map showing Greater Melbourne and the location of the popular precincts.
  • Route maps of the Melbourne Train Network and Melbourne Tram Network which will be very important if you intend to use the train and tram services extensively in Melbourne.
  • Also, discount coupons at the back of the booklet.

If you are going to be in Melbourne for only a short period of time, then the maps on this guide should be sufficient. With it, you’ll be able to find your way around the CBD without problems. The tram and train network maps will help you choose which lines you need to catch to get to a particular destination.

However, if you are going to be here for the long haul or to travel to some obscure out-of-the-way area in Melbourne and Victoria, you probably need to buy yourself a bonafide map book as soon as possible. The most popular Melbourne map book is called Melway at around $45.95 at a newsagent (newspaper and magazine store or stall) or bookshop. It’s so popular that when an address is listed on a real estate property, the Melway map reference code is used to pinpoint the property’s location.

It’s a bit on the expensive side though. Also, if you are going to be doing most of your roaming on foot, carrying a big and heavy Melway map book may not be such a good idea. You can instead opt to buy the $15-$20 Melbourne Compact Street Directory. It’s small, light and handy. It does not pack as much details as Melway but it should be detailed enough to get you around Greater Melbourne. This was the map book I had when I was apartment hunting without a car around Melbourne.

Taking Trams and Trains

Melbourne has a pretty good public transportation system with a lot of trains, trams and buses with routes in and around Melbourne. I cannot talk much about public buses though as Raquel and I seldom use them. The public transportation we use the most is the train, followed by the tram.

To ride on a train, tram or bus, you only need to purchase one ticket called a Metcard and you’d be able to ride any of the mentioned public transportations. The ticket is limited by zones, though, so make sure you purchase a Metcard for the zone you intend to go to. If you only plan to travel in or near the CBD, then a Zone 1 ticket should be enough. Note that on a weekend, a Weekly or a Monthly ticket will allow you to travel to Zone 2 and 3 even if you only have a Zone 1 ticket. Buy the ticket that’s suitable for the duration of your stay.

Here is the cost of a Zone 1 Metcard for Adults (discounted for non-adults including elderly):

  • 2 Hour: $3.10 ($1.80)
  • Daily: $5.90 ($3.10)
  • 10 x 2 Hour: $25.90 (12.80)
  • 5 x Daily: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Daily 5 Pack Weekly: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Weekly: $25.90 (12.80)
  • Monthly: $95.90 ($48.30)
  • Yearly: $1,026

For more details regarding the types of Metcards and costs, go to the Metlink Metcard fares/zones page.

You can purchase a Metcard from the train station terminals, ticket vending machines at some major tram stops and inside the trams themselves (but you must carry exact change) and bus drivers.

The train and tram routes in the Visitor’s Guide will help you find which tram or train line you need to catch to get to your destination. Details about the tram route (like the timetable and stops) could usually be found at the actual tram stop along its route. Unfortunately, some stops have been vandalised so the timetable would be missing from that stop.

As for trains, the train terminals usually have an automated board or screen monitors that will tell you from what platform you need to board and what time the train will come. Take note though that the platform number sometimes change at the last minute. Listen closely to announcements to learn about platform changes. The announcer will also let you know if a train has been delayed or cancelled.

If a tram and train both go through the same area you wanted to visit, which should you take? Well, it depends. Trains, once it leaves the platform, would get to the destination faster — at about half the time it takes a tram to get there. Train stations are also clearly marked so you will definitely know when you are where you need to go to when you get there. Whereas in a tram, unless you are already familiar with your destination, you might miss your intended stop.

Since trams also share the road with other road vehicles, it would also be subjected to the same traffic conditions as cars. But at least, you get to see more of the city through a tram. Another reason to take a tram is that although a train would get to a place faster, time in-between trains can be as long as 30 to 40 minutes apart during off-peak hours.

The City Circle Tram

There is another tram service that runs in Melbourne called The City Circle Tram. It’s a free service (no Metcards required) that circles the CBD perimeter. It should be easy to spot (and hear) as it looks like an antiquated noisy red tram with the words City Circle written on its sides.

“To catch the free City Circle Tram service, just wait at any of the specially marked stops on the route. Trams run in both directions every ten minutes, seven days a week between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), and during daylight saving extended hours, 10.00 am-9.00 pm every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

–Metlink City Circle site

Most of the major tourist attractions in the CBD is a short walk away from a City Circle Tram stop so if you plan to have city tour for a day, you can save yourself a Daily Metcard purchase by just hopping on board a City Circle Tram instead.

Taxis

Of course, if you need to get to somewhere you are unfamiliar with real quick, there’s always the taxi. There are numerous taxi ranks in the CBD. So if you find yourself unable to hail a taxi on the city streets, walk to the nearest taxi rank where a taxi will most likely be waiting for passengers. Or if you cannot find the nearest taxi rank, you can always call up the taxi service whose numbers should be at the back of the Visitor’s Guide booklet.

Though they may be expensive, from my experience, taxi drivers here could be trusted not to lead you around in circles just to get more fare out of you. In fact, if he got himself lost, he usually just pauses the meter while he finds his way around. And as far as I know, you do not need to tip the taxi driver but a good tip is always appreciated.

Far Flung Places

There are other notable places of interest outside of Melbourne such as Ballarat (Sovereign Hill), The Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island (to see the penguins) and the best way to get to these areas is through a tourist bus service. Two such services (I forgot their names) can be found along Swanston St near Bourke St. They would have their brochures in the Skybus anyway, so be sure to get one if you intend to go to regional Victoria.

Well, that’s it. I hope the information I laid out here would be of great help to anybody planning to visit or stay in Melbourne.

Published in: on May 10, 2005 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Met with Pinoys in Melbourne

It’s almost a year since we moved from Canberra to Melbourne and the thing I missed most from the move was the lack of Pinoy friends and acquaintances here in Melbourne. I went to a gathering of Melburnian Pinoys a while back but I wasn’t able to make strong bonds then. So, recently, I decided that I’d make more of an effort to get to know more Pinoys here on the off chance that I meet people whom I could click with.

Recently, I started reading the Philippines.com.au message board again hoping to join another small get-together of Melburnian-Pinoys. Unfortunately, by the time I started reading again, a get-together had just happened and I missed it.

So, I posted on the message board something in the lines of: would anybody be interested to have a casual meeting (like, play ten-pin bowling) in the CBD. There were maybe five or so who posted that they were interested with something like that. After a lot of changes in schedule and venue, it was finally decided that we just meet for a fastfood dinner.

The plan was that we meet at Federation Square just outside the Melbourne Visitor Centre structure at the corner of Swanston St and Flinders St at 5:30 pm Friday (yesterday). We’d wait till 6 pm for any straglers then proceed to have dinner at a yet undecided fastfood joint like Maccas (McDonald’s), Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King) or KFC.

That evening, I met Elmer aka SilentSentinel and Ivy aka irar01. They’re both new to Melbourne with just arriving here a month or so ago. I suddenly felt such an oldie. Anyway, while waiting for other who may or may not arrive, we just chatted away right there out in the cold Federation Square plaza. We talked a lot about our experiences in migrating to Australia. Being the person there who had been in Australia the longest, of course, I told them what I’ve learned so far about Australia and Melbourne in particular.

We continued our conversation over dinner at Hungry Jacks along Swanston St near Flinders St Station. Elmer’s friend who worked at Domain (I didn’t catch his name) who planned to catch up called Elmer saying he wasn’t going to be coming after all. He was already at home when he made the call, actually. Ah, well.

We parted ways around 7:45 pm. Elmer decided to stick around the CBD to do some window-shopping (the shops close at 9 pm on Fridays in Melbourne as opposed to 5 pm – 6 pm). Ivy took the bus home and Raquel and I went to the train station to catch the next Sandringham line train.

On the ride home, I realised that I was exhausted from the meeting. I thought that maybe I got myself so worked up during the meeting with Elmer and Ivy. I thought back and realised that I was extra talkative that night. It was probably the extrovert in me really missing the company of other people to talk to. I hope I didn’t scare them away with my seemingly over-eagerness (is there even such a word?).

Anyway, I’m hoping that we can have another meeting to give us more time to get to know each other much better. Mike aka Milkshake offered to have an overnight at his house one of these Fridays so that the next day, we can start early on a road trip to a place yet to be decided on. Sounds fun. We’ll see what happens then.

Published in: on May 7, 2005 at 11:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Corporate Psychopaths

Raquel and I regularly watch this weekly science show on ABC (Australian TV Network) called The Catalyst. The show would have one to five segments on different science-related topics. Think of it as 60 Minutes but about science only.

Last night, there was a segment on The Catalyst titled Corporate Psychopaths (click to see the segment’s transcript). Psychologist and criminal profiler Dr John Clarke described a corporate psychopath:

There are 20 characteristics to define a psychopath. Really the fundamental factor is an absolute lack of remorse or guilt for their behaviour, pathological lying, manipulative, callous, egotistical, very kind of self centred individual, glib and superficial charm…
They steal other people’s work. They spread rumours about people, character assassination. A range of different strategies they will use to move up through the company.

He could’ve just described the corporate psychopath as EVIL, I thought. Anyway, in a company we used to worked for, we knew of somebody who actually fit Dr Clarke’s description to a tee. We labeled him as “ahas” (snake) because he was such a snake in the grass. We didn’t realise there was a more sinister label. Was he really a corporate psychopath?

On the show, they had this short quiz to determine if your boss (or somebody you’re working with) was what could be called a corporate psychopath.

Corporate Psychopath Test (Click here for the actual quiz.)
1. Does your boss come across as smooth, polished and charming?
2. Has your boss ever taken credit for work you or someone else has done?
3. Is your boss prepared to do whatever it takes to get what they want – regardless of the cost to other people?
4. Does your boss enjoy being feared by you?
5. Is your boss opportunistic, ruthless…hating to lose and playing to win?
6. Does your boss consider people they’ve outsmarted as dumb or stupid?

I couldn’t really be absolutely certain if he was a corporate psychopath based on the questions on the quiz because, honestly, I don’t know what he’s thinking. But if I go by Dr Clarke’s description, then I’d say he’s pretty close to being one.

The scary part of the segment was that there is a chance that being a corporate psychopath could be inborn and couldn’t be fixed even with proper upbringing. That meant that if I have a child that has this deficit, no matter how much I raise the child properly, he/she could still grow up to be a corporate psychopath: a non-caring, without remorse, manipulative person. I truly hope that this deficit isn’t inborn. Otherwise, there is a small chance (0.5% for females, 2% for males) any of us could have an inately evil child!

So, could you actually be working with/for a corporate psychopath? Maybe. At least, now you know that such a person could exist in your workplace. Be sure to read the entire transcript of the segment for more details.

Published in: on May 6, 2005 at 8:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Discrimination

In the Melbourne-based newspaper The Age‘s 5th of May 2005 issue, opinion writer Sushi Das wrote an article titled There is something rotten in Australia where she recounted her conversation over the phone with a real estate agent.

The gist was that she had an apartment she wanted to rent out so she called up a big time Melbourne real estate company for help in getting a tenant. The lady agent on the phone told her “in a bright and breezy tone” that she wouldn’t be getting her any Asian tenants. Das was incredulous at the suggestion.

Apparently, according to the agent, Asians don’t know how to take care of property. She elaborated that “they (Asians) never put the rubbish out and they don’t keep the place clean.” Outrageous! Anyway, what the agent didn’t know was that Das is actually of Indian descent! She just grew up in Britain so she had this English accent. So, over the phone, the agent probably thought she was talking to a Brit.

I was actually surprised to read this considering Australia has a law called the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 or simply called “The RDA”. Even more surprising was that this happened in “Multicultural Melbourne” where the Lord Mayor is Chinese (Lord Mayor John So).

But I shouldn’t be that surprised really. Before the 1970s, Australia had the infamous “White Australia Policy” that discouraged non-white people from migrating to the Australian continent and non-white people already living in Australia were not treated equally.

They even had this idiotic “dictation test” where a hopeful migrant will be tested by immigration officials in any European language. That’s right. Any! So, let’s say a Filipino comes to Australia, he could be tested to see if he knows 50 English or 50 Spanish words. But chances were, the Filipino would know English or Spanish so he would instead be asked to name 50 French words instead! And if I recall correctly (from visiting the Immigration Museum in Melbourne), even if the hopeful migrant is able to say 50 words in 7 different European languages, the immigration officer could continue asking for 50 words in other European languages until, at last, the migrant no longer knew the language. And at that time, the migrant could be sent home for failing the dictation test. Fortunately, that is no longer practised here. Whew.

On the surface, most Australians seem to be very tolerant of other cultures and races nowadays. They are a very friendly lot. However, who knows what some of them really think of other cultures and races. In a big city like Melbourne where there are big communities of migrants (Chinese, Greeks, Italians, Jews, etc…), racisim is almost non-existent. But go to country Australia (away from the big cities), and you may start feeling those uncomfortable stares from the town locals. That’s from our experience, at least. The farther away we were from the city centre, the likelihood of discrimination for non-whites seem to increase. Or it could just all be paranoia on our part. Who knows?

When we were still living in Canberra, I’ve met a few discriminatory folk out on the road. Sometimes, I wasn’t even aware I was being discriminated against. There was this one time in Canberra while waiting for a bus, I got into a conversation with a nice old caucasian lady at the bus stop. When the bus came, the driver greeted almost everybody a “g’day” upon embarking the bus. Almost. I wasn’t greeted at all. I thought nothing of it but when I sat down, the old lady I was talking to earlier apologised for the bus driver’s attitude. “Don’t worry, son,” she told me. “Not all Australians are like him.” Oh.

Sometimes, it would seem that a shopkeeper would attend to everybody in the shop except us. I just reason to myself that maybe the shopkeeper is unsure if we could speak English at all and so saves himself the trouble by not talking to us unless we talk to him first. Could be true.

Overall though, I’m not that bothered with the level of racial/cultural discrimination here in Australia. In my five years here, I almost never experienced any and in most of the times I did, they were just the uncomfortable gaze the country Australia locals give you which they may be giving to any other stranger that comes along and not just us.

It’s really difficult to avoid discrimination, anyway. Even in the Philippines, there is discrimination between regions and races. I encounter Filipinos who discriminate against Chinese-Filipinos, specially those who can’t speak the language without a Chinese accent. One time while on a jeepney in Ongpin, a Chinese lady informed the jeepney driver where her stop was and the driver responded by mocking the lady’s accent by repeating what the lady said in an exaggerated Chinese intonation and pronunciation.

I know of Tagalogs who discriminate against Visayans. They (actually, we, as I am a Tagalog, too) would berate somebody who committed a mistake by saying he must be Visayan (“Bisaya ka ba?”). For an example of this shameful Tagalog attitude towards Visayans, read Alan’s blog post Put___ Ina Mo, Bisaya Ka Ba? (You son of a bitch, are you Visayan?).

And then there’s the case of Chinese-Filipinos not wanting to have their children marry non-Chinese. According to my Chinese-Filipino friends, it’s mostly because their parents wanted to preserve their Chinese heritage/purity. Other reasons were that their parents believe Filipinos are lazy bastards and therefore wouldn’t make good spouses. I even heard that the parents believed that Filipinos will be unfaithful to their spouses (yeah, right!). No matter the reason, I thought this was racial discrimination, too.

I’m aware of some Filipinos who complain about being discriminated against when they live in a foreign land but they themselves discriminate against other Filipinos like Visayans or the Chinese-Filipinos. If they wanted to be treated like equals, they should be prepared to treat others like equals, too. “Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.”

In the end, I suppose we really can’t escape racial/cultural discrimination. We can only hope that in the coming generations, it will become less and less of an issue. We can help it be so by educating our children about treating others with equal respect no matter where they came from or what colour their skin may be.

Published in: on May 5, 2005 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rice Rice Baby

I was washing my hands in the company’s small kitchen when one of my officemates came in. He was holding a transparent plastic container holding his baon(packed lunch). Peering through the side, I saw he’s having rice and minced pork with some vegetables today. He then asked if I eat rice as well since he does everyday (he’s Chinese, in case you’re wondering). I laughed and answered in the affirmative. “Of course! It’s not a proper meal without rice,” I said. He agreed.

That encounter reminded me of the time when I was still working in Canberra and during one morning tea, I was talking to an Indian colleague and we were comparing the merits of the different kinds of rice. We both agreed that long-grained rice is no good, you get hungry only after a few hours and I mentioned that that I like the smell of Jasmine rice cooking. She then said that Basmati rice is the best, fragrant and very filling. The Australian ladies in the group overheard us and commented that they haven’t noticed any smell coming from steamed rice before. They also marvelled that we could eat rice and not get hungry. To quote one lady, “I eat rice, get full very quickly and after a couple of hours, I’m hungry again!”

Well, I could say the same for their sandwiches, salads and meat pies. I wonder how they last till the next meal eating only those kinds of food. Even if I feel full after meals featuring those, I crave for something more after a couple of hours. Maybe it’s psychological – to my mind, those are only merienda(snack) food, my stomach’s waiting for the real meal with rice.

I guess old habits die hard. I’m Raquel and I’m a carb addict.

Published in: on May 3, 2005 at 6:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fun, Anyone?

Last Friday, we purchased a Playstation 2 gaming console at EB Games at the Melbourne Central Shopping Centre for cheap. We also bought around five pre-owned (second-hand) games from EB Games, too, as they were cheap to begin with but they were also discounted again (10% to 50%) due to some seasonal promotion.

Never much of a console gamer, really. I preferred to play First-person shooter games like Half-Life 2, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Counter-Strike on the PC. The only time I played console games while here in Australia was when I visit my friend Randolf.

Back in 2000 when I first moved to Australia in Sydney, I lived in a shared accomodation provided for by my employer then. One of my housemates was Randolf and he owned a Sega Dreamcast and all of us would play against each other on games like Guilty Gear and Soul Calibur. Later on, when we moved to Canberra, he got a Playstation 2 and XBox and he would invite me over every weekend to play.

A few years later, I found myself owning my very own gaming console. It’s a little late though as a new version of Playstation was reported to be in the works and would be available as early as early next year.

However, the major selling point for me on getting a Playstation 2 at this time was because the console is selling for cheap nowadays as well as its games. Okay, so maybe brand new games for PS2 is still as expensive as it was before but there are not a lot of pre-owned PS2 games at EB and those are cheaply priced. So far, we have Soul Calibur II, Dragonball Z: Budokai 3, The Sims Bustin’ Out, Kingdom Hearts and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance.

I was hoping there’d be some Dance Dance Revolution incarnations of the game for the PS2 but unfortunately there weren’t, at least here in Australia. It seems like those games are only popular in America and Asia. And since Japan and America both use the NTSC system for their TVs, I couldn’t import any games from their region.

You may also ask, why not an XBox instead? Well, to be honest, I was tempted in getting an XBox instead of a PS2. Here are my reasons why I didn’t:

  • XBox to is going to be released some time this year. So, if I buy an XBox now, it will just become obsolete. At least with the PS2, I will have a year more before it becomes obsolete.
  • We have a PSOne and the controllers for that game is compatible with PS2. PS2 only comes with one controller and an extra controller is worth about $50. XBox also comes with one controller so we’d be one controller short if we got an XBox instead.
  • We have PSOne games which we can use on the PS2 but not on the XBox.
  • There seems to be more games for the PS2 even now. The games I like on the XBox are games that I’d rather play on my PC which I already have (like Doom III).

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with our gaming console. It’s just so easy to turn on and play unlike when I want to play on the PC. Any game I buy for the PS2 will surely run decently on the machine whereas if I buy a PC game, there is a chance that my machine wouldn’t be able to cope with the game’s requirements.

I can’t wait for top-rated games that will be released for the PS2 this year like The Sims 2 (for PS2), Soul Calibur III (will be exclusive to PS2 only) and God of War. So, fun, anyone? I’m sure having some.

Published in: on May 2, 2005 at 5:33 pm  Comments (1)