Then he found South Canterbury, in the world’s most peaceful place to live in, New Zealand.
South Canterbury reminds him of Iloilo, a fusion of a quiet life in the rural and a progressive life in the urban.
“It’s like a rural town in the Philippines with first-class amenities, low traffic volume, fewer people and a relaxed atmosphere,” he said.
He added that even the old colonial buildings along Stafford Street would remind you of Iloilo City’s Calle Real.
Apart from being home to scenic spots, the place is also perfect for those with a temper for insects. Why?
Jonan said that since August last year, he never saw cockroaches, rats or ants crawling on sugar or sweets.
“Migrating to New Zealand and moving to South Canterbury is one great journey for our family,” he shared.
As a pastor, he never forgets to share his faith through his blog “From Worry To Glory.“
His blog has testimonies of faith, hope and love with the prayer that those who read it will be inspired to go on with life and move forward despite difficult circumstances.
Lucky that NZ is a democratic country, Jonan was also able to continue sharing the same faith with his fellow Filipinos and Kiwi friends.
Filipinos in South Canterbury
Compared to other areas in the world, the number of Filipinos in South Canterbury remains minimal.
I see three types of Filipino migrants here in South Canterbury – Filipinas who married a Kiwi, OFW (overseas Filipino worker) on a work contract and Filipino professionals who migrated singly or with their family members.
Known for its vast pasture, there are also many Filipinos working on dairy farms.
Others work as labourers in big factories for potato processing and farm product packaging.
In the last quarter of 2012, 22 Filipinos arrived to lay out fibre optics cables in Timaru. A few are working in information technology jobs, administrative, health and social services.
South Canterbury is migrant-friendly. The NZ government has instituted the Citizens Advice Bureau to help her citizens, including new migrants, with common settlement issues.
Organized in almost every suburb, they have free seminars and orientation for newcomers. All you need to do is visit their office, enquire and enlist in the programs they offer for new migrants.
Those who want to visit or live in South Canterbury must apply through Immigration New Zealand.
Like Filipinos, Jonan said that Kiwi people also greet each other on the streets.
“Besides meeting and getting to know us, they offered help if needed. Because of that, we feel at home, and it’s like we’ve been here for a long time already,” he said.
He also admired how the Kiwis respected their government system. While security in Philippine malls remains questionable, in New Zealand, there is no single security guard in malls and banks.
Aside from obedience to the law, Filipino values like “palabra de honor” and honesty are also practised by the Kiwis.
PHOTO CREDITS: Jade Mark Jarbadan, Emer-son Reyes, Jewel Kwe
Karen Bermejo is a Filipino journalist writing for The News Today, a local newspaper based in Iloilo City circulating in Western Visayas. She also writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She hopes to inspire people through her column “En Route”, which features stories of success, struggle and opportunity for Filipinos living, working and aspiring to go abroad.
Karen’s article “Finding Peace in South Canterbury” appeared on The News Today Libre 22 February 2013 edition.
From Worry To Glory added some photos to enhance this blog post.