By Stan Stewart.
Paul Babida is used to living by the beach. His home is in Bohol a tourist island in the Philippines. The Philippines has many islands (7641) but Paul’s home island is special. It is a tourist island with wonderful white-sand beaches. From all over the world, people come to holiday or live on this Pacific Island paradise. When Paul arrived in Whitianga, our beaches, the holiday atmosphere and the scenery, made him feel immediately at home. Obviously, the climate is very different (Bohol year-round daytime temperature are between 24 and 28 degrees). However, the wintery weather here has not deterred him. Whitianga still feels like home to him. Paul is the youngest from a large family of 13 children, most of them now scattered through the Philippines. He is the only who is
living overseas. People of the Philippines love to sing and dance and party. The hundred or so who live in this area get together from time to time and each time it is a celebration with shared food
and singing. They love to work, and they are employed here in many locations. For the Philippine community OPC is a major employer.
All of them have family back in the Philippines whom they are assisting in material ways. The smart phone is a lifeline to their families and friends. Many of them would like to enable other members of their family to come and work and live in New Zealand. Anyone who visits a hospital or rest home will be aware of the huge contribution that migrants from the Philippines are already making. Many are also trained in hospitality and can be seen around the country in
restaurants and hotels.
The thing I like most about Whitianga he says is the welcome he has received. “The people of this town are friendly. This is a happy place and I feel welcome and accepted.” Paul says there is one word to sum up the feeling he has about living in Whitianga. “Grateful,” he says. And that says
Caption: Paul Babida.