Thursday, November 25, 2021

Farewell, My Team

Today, exactly twelve years ago on 25th November 2009, I left Sibu, Malaysia for Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, arriving on 26th November 2009. It is a land that the locals call Land of the Unexpected, and indeed, that is the case. A land full of surprises with its own cultures, traditions and a different era which will take another generation or two to catch up with the rest of the world.  It is a land that is very isolated. Belief in Sanguma (sorcery) permeates society and tribal fights are frequently battled out in settlements in cities like Port Moresby to settle scores. It is just a tribal thing and this does not mean that the people are dangerous and will harm innocent foreigners. Instead, they are very friendly but yet, crime rate is very high. Street justice is frequently meted out to those caught on the wrong side of the laws.

These twelve years in PNG has been life-changing for me. I could only thank my Executive Director for giving me the opportunity to join the company in PNG. Though this city is rated as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, the additional compensation package that come with the job has allowed me to travel around Asia and provided me with a new home and I am forever grateful for that.

It is time for me to bid farewell. Working here is a challenge as the attitude of the people is different. The wantok (one-talk) system has created a society where family members and relatives rely on one working family member for support. There is no motivation for family members to find work as their food and shelter are taken care of by the employed family members. There is also no motivation to keep their jobs for those with jobs as all their saving would be squandered by other family members or relatives. Indeed, many men don't work to support their families. It is the women who work to support their families. Many men work for the income to afford them their fortnightly drinking habits. Working discipline is very poor. They don't really care if they lost their jobs. It is a society that keeps everyone unmotivated and poor.

Today, my successor and my department held a simple farewell tea to bid goodbye to me. Thank you all. The farewell photos taken shall hold the last memories of my time with my team. It has been a challenging twelve years in Port Moresby.

The Malaysian High Commission is organising a chartered flight on 10 December 2021 to Kuching and Kuala Lumpur. I would be on that flight, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Day 4: Exploring Baclaran

23rd November 2019 (Saturday)

Tonight, I would be flying out of Manila to Port Moresby on Philippine Airline at 23:35 hours. I have a full day today. Check-out time was 12:00 noon. My plan for the day was to explore Baclaran Market, which was about 1.4 km from my apartment at Casarenta Sea Residences. Then, I would check out, leave my baggage at the apartment and spend the afternoon at MOA before taking an early dinner and leaving for the airport.

Baclaran was as expected, a working class district. It was crowded and the people were mostly from the lower- income class. They wore simple clothes and the place was a little dirty and chaotic. It was synonymous with Manila's slums.

On the way back to my apartment, I decided to drop by Double Dragon Plaza. The name suggested it was Chinese-owned, but in fact it was owned by a Chinese Filipino company. It looked like a new plaza and not at all crowded. I stopped for brunch at Mang Inasal for Pork Sisig (PHP113). It was not too bad.

At the apartment, I met Mark, the care taker of the apartment. I talked to him and requested for a late check-out. However, he apologised saying that there was a guest arriving around lunch time. Instead of getting a late check-out, he requested me to check-out early. Being the reasonable person I was, I checked out before mid-day.

I have a full afternoon ahead of me, I thought of leaving my baggage at the reception/ security counter. However, the guard on duty said that this was not possible. I went to talk to the doorman, hoping that he would assist to look after my baggage. However, he declined saying that he was not allowed to do so. Mark offered to take me to the concierge storage room at an adjacent building. The charge was too expensive and I declined. I have no choice but to look after my own baggage at the lobby and wasted the whole afternoon there.

My plan of having my dinner at MOA before leaving for the airport was dashed. Instead, I had a pack of bento noodle for an early dinner (Php180) and bought some snacks (Dim Sum, Turon & Lumpia) at Alfamart to take to NAIA airport. 

It was about 3:30 p.m. when I decided to leave for the NAIA Terminal 2, instead of getting stuck at the apartment and bidding for time.