Rescue, death and taxes

Three news stories dominate the day today – the Beaconsfield miners finally seeing the light of day after 14 days 1 km buried underground, the burial of a fellow miner who wasn’t as fortunate to come out alive and the tax cuts for everyone in the federal budget.

Australia breathed a sigh of relief and joined in the jubilation of the small town in Tasmania as Todd Russell and Brant Webb walk out of the mine early this morning. Job well done indeed to the rescuers who helped the men to freedom! The media can’t seem to get enough of the freed miners (don’t get me wrong, theirs is a fascinating story and they showed remarkable resilience) but everyone seem to forget about the rescuers who worked night and day to get them out.

The Beaconsfield residents also said their final goodbye to miner Larry Knight, who died in the collapse of the mine that trapped also Todd and Brant. Our sympathies to his friends and family who need all the support they can get.

Lastly, the federal budget was announced tonight with long overdue tax cuts becoming a reality for medium to high income earners. Childcare benefits also take a slight increase, lower tax for superannuation(retirement) pay-outs, additional spending for infrastructure, technology, education, health and national security. It’s not all good news though as environmental spending did not get much in this budget. Click here for a list of the 2006-07 budget winners and losers.

Watching the news and current affairs programs certainly have certain highs and lows but today seem to be a bigger news day than most!

Published in: on May 9, 2006 at 11:41 pm  Comments (3)  

First Time Accommodations

A reader left us a note a few days back seeking advice on first time accommodations in Melbourne. Although I already tackled it in not-so-many words in a previous blog post titled Tips for Pinoy Migrants to Australia Part 1, I think it’s time I flesh out the topic a bit more.

From experience, if you are a new migrant to Australia fresh from the airport, you will find it a bit difficult to rent an apartment specially if you don’t have a job yet. And when you get a job, the landlord might ask you to produce a letter from your employer as proof of your employment.

As you can see, it could already be difficult to get an apartment even if you are already here. Getting one while still in the Philippines would be much harder. However, I remember hearing that someone was actually able to do just that. I don’t know the details though.

The popular and favoured type of accommodation for newcomers to Australia is to live with family, relatives or close friends who are already here. Living with family is good because you’re not under pressure to find a job and an apartment quickly. Well, hey, they’re family.

However, if you are living with close friends, unless you’ll be paying those friends with some kind of weekly fee for your share of the rent, I recommend that you don’t wear out your welcome and start looking for an apartment of your own as soon as possible. I’m sure your friend will tell you that you could stay as long as you like, but in my experience, living under the same roof with some friends for an extended period of time can sometimes test the strongest of friendships.

Now, how about those of you with no family or friends in Australia? Some friends of mine actually booked a hotel room in their destination city via the Internet just before leaving the Philippines. When they got here, they quickly looked for a job then another (cheaper) place to stay. As an example, a friend lived in a $100-per-day hotel room for twenty days before being able to move to his own apartment. That’s $2,000 in his first three weeks in Melbourne alone. So, before flying over, be sure you have enough money to sustain yourself here even if you can’t land a job for the first three months.

You can book hotel rooms online through websites like AccomLine. I can at least recommend this service as I have used it multiple times in the past.

There is an alternative to hotels though that could sometimes be the cheaper option. There are serviced apartments for rent that are basically like bigger furnished hotel rooms but with no room service (who needs it anyway?). They could sometimes charge you a cheaper weekly or monthly rate instead. I couldn’t really recommend any online service for weekly/monthly serviced apartments since I haven’t the need for one myself but from looking at the Internet, I found the Melbourne Serviced Apartments website. I’m sure you’ll find similar websites by using Google.

Room rates would vary depending of course on the quality of the room and the distance of the hotel or apartment from the central business district (CBD) in the city. So, consult a map of the city you’re going to and decide there if the hotel or apartment you’re aiming for is at a good location. Australian maps are available online at

If you decide to go for a place that is a bit far from the city, make sure that the place is at least near a train station specially since you’d probably won’t have a car yet. You can find that out by consulting the map. The train stations should be marked there.

When I was looking for an apartment in Melbourne a few years ago, my main priority is to find one that is near a train station. So, having access to the Melbourne Train Network Map made it easier for me to choose which suburbs to look into when I was looking for apartment vacancies.

But, you say, what if I have no family or friends in Australia and I don’t have a lot of money? What then? You can join and log on to the forum. Take a chance and ask around there if anybody has an empty room that they are willing to rent out to you or something like that. Who knows? You might even get to meet someone who is willing to take you in for free for a short period of time. Don’t expect too much from the people there though. There are a lot of nice people there but not everybody may be comfortable with the idea of letting a complete stranger live in their home even if you are a fellow Filipino.

Anyway, I hope this helps any of you looking to migrate here in Australia in some way. Good luck.

Update: Thanks to reader Sasha for this additional tip (which I paraphrased a bit):

Hi GJ & Raquel, Pinoys can look for furnished apartments on 3 month leases or more on or or which is good.

Published in: on May 9, 2006 at 4:02 pm  Comments (6)  

Tuesday is Soylent Green Day!

I’ve heard the term Soylent Green used numerous times in the past but I never understood what it meant. That was, until I heard it mentioned again on the Slice of Sci-fi Podcast, one of my favourite podcasts. According to them, it is an old science fiction film starring Charlton Heston. The fact that Charlton Heston was in it quickly got me interested.

As luck would have it, the Soylent Green DVD was available free for loan at the City Library. We reserved it and borrowed it.

When we got it, we inspected the DVD cover and it was a painted cover that was probably in style at the time (the 1970s). On the cover is a short blurb about the movie written in a futuristic font (well, the type of futuristic font that was popular back in the 70’s and 80’s): “It’s the year 2022… People are still the same. They’ll do anything to get what they need. And they need SOYLENT GREEN.”

I admit that when we didn’t expect much from the movie. I was expecting it to be totally dated. Well, it was a little dated. The computer game was like an Atari 2600 game and the apartment interior design was very 70’s loungy (not to mention the music). Surprisingly though, it was very easy to see past through the supposed futuristic stuff.

After all, the story was centered more on the bleakness of a future time where there is over population and over pollution. There isn’t enough food to go around. There isn’t enough space in the world to accommodate all the people. People live in the streets and have to be given a ration of processed food in the form of square chips produced by a company called Soylent.

The company’s old offerings were Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, based from soy and plankton. However, the people soon grew tired of it. So, when the new product called Soylent Green was introduced, people couldn’t get enough of it. The products were distributed only on certain days. And Tuesday is Soylent Green Day.

I thought it would be a boring movie. Thankfully, it wasn’t. I actually love the story. The moral of the story still rings true. It will make you think of where we, the human race, are headed if we continue to grow in numbers at an unchecked rate. It is also a better watch if you haven’t read or heard any spoilers though so try to avoid using Google or Wikipedia to look up the term Soylent Green.

Also, if you have the DVD, watch the trailer for it last. You’ll see that the stupid trailer actually reveals the entire story. It kept asking, “what is the secret of Soylent Green?” but it ended up answering the same question in the trailer itself. It was like having a trailer for Signs and the narrator kept asking, “how would we stop the alien invaders?” and then at the end of the trailer we see the alien writhing when doused with water.

Anyway, go look for it and watch it. Highly recommended. And even if you didn’t like it, you’d at least be in on it whenever it is referenced in jokes and conversation.

Published in: on May 9, 2006 at 12:03 pm  Comments (2)