(Second of Three Parts) By the end of 2000, I took a ride on a Grey Hound bus from Melbourne, crossed the Grampian Mountains headed to another time zone Down Unda. Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, became my second home as I tried to migrate around 2001. The tomato growing company in Victoria referred me to another hydroponics farm just outside the city limits. Meanwhile, a family friend who married an Irishman invited me to come over and live with them. As it turned out, they ‘adopted’ me. The family took me in as they knew me since birth. I became ‘Kuya’ to two beautiful mestizas and semi-owner to a Persian tomcat I called ‘Ming’. I even got to drive their red sleek Chrysler sometimes. In retributing their kindness – I cooked, cleaned, took care of ‘Ming’ and the garden. The Irishman, Jimmy, my foster father, couldn’t pronounce my name right so we went for ‘Finbar’ as it sounded more Irish. There were certain rules attached to the new name though. Inside their fridge, the liquor Bailey’s was sacred while Guinness Draft was a luxury that must be well spent on special occasions with Finbar. Over Tea (Supper) a good Flipo joke must always be told by Finbar. Most particularly on Sundays, Finbar must cook or buy Fish and Chips for Dinnah (Lunch). During get-together parties, Barbie (BBQ) thongs and cutlery were designated to Finbar, including the smell of coal, grilled meat and sausage. In suburb Inglefarm, I enjoyed a different life – I was the happy migrant leading a normal one compared to what I went through in regional Victoria.
Adelaide is a charming city. Named after a queen in the 1800s, the coastal city has since invited many different peoples.
The entire metropolis covers majestic hills and stretches towards the sea. Planned to perfection with wide boulevard interspaces and large public squares, and entirely surrounded by parklands, the urban complex entered the roster of Best Livable Cities in the World, beating London or Paris a couple of years back.
One of its famous landmarks, Victoria Square astounds visitors all over – it is an homage to the former empress and the bygone empire. Glenelg Beach takes you back to the heydays of Coney Island culture – Beach and Fun under the Sun for the hoi polloi. The O-Bahn Busway was excitingly introduced during the late 80s – Adelaide became the only city outside of Europe to feature it. The O-Bahn provides specially built track, combining elements of both bus and rail systems. It takes you to the heart of the city fast.
Established as a planned colony of free immigrants, promising civil liberties, and freedom from religious persecution many flocked to Adelaide’s hills seeking refuge. German immigrants settled on her hills while Italo communities sprouted in the valleys. The famous Barossa Valley laned with vineyards and wine cellars attests to this. It is rather entertaining that many front gateposts of European migrants are ornately decorated with a lion or eagle stone carves – animals symbolic of the Roman Empire. Immigrants from ex-Yugoslavia, the former eastern bloc, refugees from the Balkan wars, or even Rwandans or Ethiopians arrived which resulted in the urban jungle’s diverse mix of populations. Notwithstanding the variety of indigenous communities, the Aborigines, Orientals add vibrant flair to the communities.
The conglomerating of Asiatics and their acculturation can be observed especially within the famous Adelaide Central Market. Asian vendors adroit at commerce display their food, produce, and culture. Spring Lolls with Lice Noodles! – are always a shout for attention.
Like many parts of Oz, I met more Pinays than Pinoys. That wasn’t always the case.
When the 1901 Immigration Restriction Act came into law – the start of the “White Australia” policy not only restricted immigration but also provided for the deportation of “undesirable” people who had settled in Australia before the federation.
Oz, like the States, also went through segregation, prejudice, and racial discrimination. Only white men or women were allowed to immigrate.
But by the end of the 60s, things began changing. From the 1970s until the 90s, Ozzie men have had taken particular interest in marrying the eva-hospitable-Filo-women.
Fast forward, I met four Pinays – Linda, Gigi, Leah, and Loida. Linda from Sugbu always carried her distinguished Cebuana accent. She’d call her husband (Neville) Nibol and her son (Brian) Breeyan. Nibol recalled in their early days of marriage when Linda prepping for Tea (Supper), shouted from the kitchen, “Dahling, I want to die a chicken tonite”. Assuming that she wanted to present her Pinoy cooking in a decorative fashion, Neville answered, “Oh yeah sweetie, which color?” (She was always a handful when it came to transliteration).
Gigi, who originally came from Siquijor, caught an Ozzie through penpalling and found herself acculturating. Along the process, she masticated Pinoy words with Ozzie twang. She was very sad when she talked about her late mother. In her own words, “Gebereng si Neney sa Menela”. Eerily, I had to ask again what Neney and geberang meant? (Neney meant Nanay while Gebereng – barang in Cebuano or voodooed in Engl).
Leah, married a German immigrant named Horst. Leah like Amy (the lady I met in Victoria) jostled every time as she called her husband’s foreign-sounding name. She would most erratically slip a Germanic letter; mispronouncing ‘Hors’- without the ‘T’ at the end. For the Pinoy ear, laughter gallops instantly.
Loida, Leah’s sister married a bloke named Lindsay, who was more advanced in years than her father’s. This confusing situation was made clear during their wedding when the bride’s father asked Lindsay, ‘So, what do I call you now – Father or Son?’
Lindsay’s wife, not comfortable calling her husband with what is considered a girl’s name in Pinas, opted to call her husband – Lintoy. (Amy’s husband Mr. Schoenhofen, she called Sho koy).
For many Pinays, marriage becomes the fastest, easiest ticket to migrate and acquire citizenship status. In their astuteness, some Pinays forward that kindness to desperados who dream of migrating, but with a price tag.
I was offered that sort of proposal when at a party I met another Pinay whose Ozzie husband was bedridden. (Pinoys are so rare to find in Adelaide, that they become a commodity). Comically, she asked to dance and while strutting, she goes on, “Gusto mong dito nalang sa Oz? Malapit na kasi matiguk yung Matanda kong Asawa. Magkano lang naman Kuya,”
(You wanna stay in Oz? My old timer husband is nearly falling off the perch. You don’t have to pay much.)
I was fazed at the thought.
Anyway, I brushed off the idea of a fake marriage. I can’t live with it. Besides, she was 10 yrs older and already had an 11 yr old daughter. I want to migrate in an honest, no hanky-panky way – I tried to convince myself.
I tried to lodge an application for permanent stay officially through the Immigration Office. They advised me to first have my qualifications legally recognized and so I did. Whilst waiting, I met this adorable extremely huggable young lady of German descent. She was more than happy to have dinner together with my adoptive family. As she was quite humongous, I cannot help but remember those Holzstein Friesian cows I left behind in Colac. She was interested in Asian men, and I too, was intrigued by her, so we started dating. But there was no spark between us. Just that friendship feeling. Besides, I couldn’t see myself as Hägar the Horrible married to Helga ten years hence. If ever that happened, what will I feed my Helga, when I was just earning basic wages from a Tomato Hydroponics Farm? I had to pass.
As the weather in Adelaide resembled that of the Mediterranean, working inside sheds became horridly suffocating for me. Sometimes heatwaves occur – a week of 40 degree Celsius average. It cooks one from head to toe. So whenever we have time, together with my foster family, we dash off to the coast to escape the blistering heat.
Fascinatingly, there are wild camels roaming around the outback or even the shorelines of South Oz. From British India and Afghanistan, camelids were used for transport and construction during the colonization of the central and western parts of Australia. In any case, many were released into the wild after motorized transport replaced the use of camels in the early 20th century.
In Victor Harbor, one may avail a camel ride along the sandy beaches. And boy, the humped animals stink!
Like Puerto Princesa, there are tiny islands off the city – Kangaroo Island and Granite Islands, etc. But unlike Honda Bay, the islets house penguins and seals! The waters are icy cold (for me). It made me homesick. Those islands dawned upon me – I cannot live without the sea…where should I permanently leave my mark? Sadly, Adelaide wasn’t it. Something was telling me to move west. Sail away to shores yonder. Love probably awaited me in yet another totally different time zone – this time I was to embark on a quest – to search for my heart due West…