Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Courage, honesty, solitude, beauty and greatness

Posted on May 18, 2006 by jimparedes

I conquered two fears this last seven days. The first one was driving to the airport. I was trying to wiggle out of it and look for someone to do it for me since we had a visitor who was leaving for Manila and needed to be dropped at Sydney International Airport. Quite frankly, the prospect terrified me. It involves driving on the motorway and many roads I have not driven on before. But as luck would have it, there was no one who could do it and so I reluctantly ‘volunteered’ to drive. And so with my trusted navigator gadget on hand, I boldly got in the car and managed to crisscross through the motorways and drive through the tunnels of Sydney and get to my destination. The only thing that killed me was the parking—19 dollars for 1 ½ hours! Ouch!

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The second challenge was driving to Collaroy to see my sister who is visiting from the US. That is one looong drive but Lydia and I did it! In two cars!! And after seeing the beach, I just had to sigh while appreciating the spectacular vista. On each occasion I was afraid but did it anyway. I wanted to high five life itself! Simple achievements that embolden the timid spirit! We are most alive when we walk the edge!


We as a family have experienced two incidents lately that have impressed upon us a sense of the character of this society. Sometime last week while shopping in a mall, Erica realized that she had left her bag at the food court. Upon discovering this some 30 minutes after, she ran back there to find the people seated where she used to sit telling her that they gave her stuff to the cleaning woman already. She immediately looked for and found the cleaning woman and surprise! She got it pronto, intact with all her money, IDs, credit card, phone and without any hassle.

The second incident involved Mio losing his wallet in a bus ride the other day on the way to school. When he inquired from the driver the next day if anyone had reported finding a wallet, the driver said someone gave it to him and he turned it over to the bus office. Mio can pick it up anytime.

Man, I just love this place. Needless to say both Erica and Mio were very impressed. The other day while shopping, Ananda casually picked up a chocolate candy from the shelf, opened it and started eating. Erica realized belatedly what her daughter had done when she turned around to check on her. And even if no one was there to report it, Erica promptly paid for it in the counter. Tit for tat! Who was it who said about honesty—that it is doing the right thing even if no one is watching?


We’ve been here two months and we still do not have a TV. Sure, we have a tiny one lent to us by a friend that we have hardly turned on. It’s too small to connect a DVD on it. Besides, we also do not have a DVD player yet. When we had just arrived, the kids were quite vocal and insistent about wanting a big TV so they can watch movies. But the longer we went without it, the less the need they had for it. A while ago, I asked Ala whether I should finally get one this coming weekend. She was amused at the suggestion and then said that she honestly doesn’t know. We have not had the distraction that TV used to bring into our lives for two months now. I honestly don’t know whether I should get one. In place of the TV experience, we have good conversation, real talk and after chores and dinner, we all open our laptops and retreat to the internet every night. At least it’s more interactive than just vegging out in front of a box. It’s nice and quiet too.

I’ll probably call a family vote on it tomorrow.


During the time I have been here, I have not seen a single stunning beauty anywhere and I have been looking. I have to admit I don’t really hang around too many places where I will most likely spot some (what those places are, I don’t know). My usual haunts are Woolies, the malls, the train stations and a few other places. I’ve only been to the city twice since I got here. Dito talo ng Pinas ang OZ. In Manila, nagkalat ang mga magaganda. Back home one can spot a stunner almost anywhere. And when I say a stunner, I really mean STUNNER. I still have to see a real Nicole Kidman-like beauty here. Maybe I should hang around the clubs, or the beaches!

And speaking of beaches, one of these months, my dive buddy from Manila is coming over and we are doing Cairns! The Great Barrier Reef has been a dream destination for us for years now. Redford White—yes, he is my dive buddy will hopefully find time in November when the waters are not too frigid to dive and we can do a weekend there. I can’t wait. What OZ lacks in female beauty (compared to Manila. OK, I may still eat my words later), it compensates in marine attractions and I intend to dive in and enjoy them.

Greatness of Spirit!

Lastly, I just have to say that I am immensely thrilled that Filipinos actually succeeded in climbing Mount Everest. These intrepid climbers from the tropics who had only had experience with small mountains and had never seen snow and glaciers dared to dream and won! It affirms my belief that we as a people have what it takes to be great. This is just another proof that we are naturally talented and can succeed in almost anything if we only want to.

During one of the regional games in the past, our billiard champs flew three days before a snooker competition in Singapore to learn to play it, and dominated the games like they invented it! One of our great icons in this game (I won’t say who) was telling me that he had played rooms in Las Vegas where he was pitted against the likes of Minnesotta Fats (in unseeded games of course) and won. The games were sponsored by very rich bettors who liked to watch and bet privately.

There so many other stories I can tell you that illustrate how naturally talented we are. Ang galing ng lahi natin. We just have to get our act together.

One person who stands tall in my pantheon of living heroes is Tony Meloto, the founder of Gawad Kalinga. If you don’t know what GK is, it is a movement to restore the dignity of the Filipino by giving him the chance to own a house he can afford. GK has built thriving communities of proud and hardworking Filipinos where there once were only slums and shanties and people whose spirits were depressed and mired in hopelessness. The APO has done some shows for GK and we talk about GK to our audiences when we do concerts abroad. If you are from Sydney, you may want to know that Tony Meloto will be giving a talk in Blacktown next Monday. If there’s a movement you want to put your money in that is doing the country good, Gawad Kalinga is IT! Your money will not go to charity. It will go to nation building!

Allow me one shameless plug. I still have slots for students who want to take guitar lessons. Write me at jimparedes@gmail.com. I am enjoying this a lot! I’m sure you will too. By the way, contrary to the impression I might have given, I do accept students of ALL ages!

33 to “Courage, honesty, solitude, beauty and greatness”

  1. cathcath says:

    It is only when you live abroad that you can compare and appreciate how good Filipinos are. The corrupt politicians are only a fraction of the total opulation.Self-deprecating kababayans/columnists/writers have not met these people who are esteemed for their hard work; any work for that matter. Just like in any other export business, if labor is not good, countries that need human resources would just get from other poor countries where lower hourly wage does not have to be negotiated. Our competitive advantages are skills and work attitudes.

    The Juan Tamad syndrome is a misdiagnosis.Give them work and they would work to death.

    The honesty stuff would not work in our country where panhandling, pickpocketing and thievery are organized crimes. Our corrupt government officials also set as bad examples as white-collar-thieves that can get away with their crimes and corruption.But reading the corruption cases in Japan, US, France and in other countries, I would say, hindi tayo nag-iisa.

    I believe that bloggers can contribute to our country even in the humblest way of promoting our race as a people with inherent goodness in our heart and family values that care for the old and the young and even the extended by highlighting the positive aspects of Filipino ethnicity.

    Mabuhay ka Jim and your family.

    My pinaysaamerika’s first few chapters narrate my adjustment in the US of A.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jim,

    Honesty. You probably realise that eventually you will come across instances of dishonesty here in Sydney. But you are right, honesty is still the prevalent mode in this society. It has helped inspire me in my determination to become totally, scrupulously honest. I’ve never done any truly dishonest acts, but I used to think that occasionally picking up a pencil from the office cupboard and “accidentally” bringing it home was just OK. From these little acorns grow big oak trees.

    Beauty. Baka magkaiba tayo ng standards, I think there are many beautiful women here and the fact that they come from so many different races and backgrounds really challenges me to continuously evaluate my concept of what is beautiful.

  3. Egay says:

    Sir Jim,

    Nice to hear from your blog again.What strike me most was the parking fee.I didn’t realised that the cost of living there is THAT costly!

  4. mygaseous says:

    When we had our company tour in Sydney, we stayed near Red Light District… and I didn’t like it. Medyo magulo specially with pub houses around.

    We tried the subways and dun ako na impress. Ambilis and there’s plenty of room for everyone. =) Unlike the MRT, where most of the commuters are in ‘standing ovation ” na lang =)

    Another good thing that I noticed was the cleanliness. I think you’re in good motherland’s hands right now =)

  5. JT of Dural says:

    Tito Jim,

    Regarding honesty, I think this is what spells the difference between a first world country and a third world one. In a first world country, honesty and integrity and the rule of law is #1 in the minds of the people. In a third world country, iyong pinaka-mandurugas ang hari. Kaya po hindi makaahon sa hirap ang mga third-world country dahil nakawan at dayaan ang umiiral. Ano po sa palagay ninyo?

    With regard to the cost of going to the airport, you forgot about the road toll charges. It’s $3.80 each way on the M2, $3.00 into the Sydney Tunnel and $4.50 back through the Eastern Distributor. Then there’s the M7 which is about $1.30 up to Sunnyholt Rd. At kung nahuli ka ng speeding sa bandang Eastern Distributor, mahina ang $75! 🙁

    Eto po ang style kapag sumusundo kayo sa airport. Upang ‘di na kayo magbayad ng parking fee, utusan ninyong umakyat na sa departure area ang mga susunduin. Tapos itiempo ninyong nakalabas na sila doon bago kayo pumarada sa departure para ‘di kayo sitahin ng sikyo.

    Noong araw na bagong salta ako rito, nagkakaligaw-ligaw rin. I remember we had a brekky meeting in Manly some Saturday ago. Back then I lived at Top Ryde. Umaasa lang ako sa street directory at wala pang sat-nav noong araw. Aba, iyong kantong tinitingnan ko sa mapa ay OVERPASS pala. Nakarating tuloy ako sa Sydney bridge at napilitang magbayad ng toll. Sa pag-uwi ganoon na naman, naligaw na naman ako nakarating na naman sa Sydney bridge!

    With regard to the beauty, naku, hindi nga kayo masyadong lumalabas! Puro retirees naman po kasi ang nakatira sa suburb ninyo, e. Sa totoo lang, nagkalat po rito ang mga Naomi Watts, Nicole Kidman, atbp. Iyong dating Ms. Universe na si Jennifer Hawkins ay isang pangkaraniwang binibini lamang dito. O baka naman po iyong Elizabeth Ramsey na beauty ang type ninyo, doon po kayo sa Eveleigh St. Redfern tumambay! 🙂

    Regarding guitar lessons, hindi po ako naghahanap ng guitar lessons. Naghahanap po ako ng ka-jamming. Mahilig din pala kayo sa Beatles atbp. 60s music. Baka type ninyong magjamming maski hindi po professional ang kasama ninyo, sabihin lamang ninyo! 🙂

    -JT of Dural

  6. Anonymous says:

    thumbs up ako sa iyo Jim, graduate ka na sa pag drive to the airport. tiyak na pasado ka na sa exams niyan…

    hindi puedeng mag pick-up ng passengers sa departure area,babaan lang doon ng passengers, di sakayan. puede kang hulihin. the only way para makatipid sa pagsundo sa airport ay hintaying nakalabas na ang susunduin bago sumundo para minimum of 1/2 hr lang ang babayarang parking fee.

    nagkalat ang beauties dito, you just have to go out, he!he!


  7. jill says:

    Hi Sir,
    About the TV issue, our family also had that experience when the TV in our living room broke down. We realized we had great talents in board games like Clue, Chess, etc. Losing a TV makes way for more fun activities. Hehe. It still is fun to watch TV, but now, at least, we have discovered more activites that we can enjoy. I can totally relate to what you have written. =)


  8. jewit says:

    i second the motion on the wonder that is GK. i hope you will continue to support this amazing display of God’s work through human hands and hearts. i’ve been reading your blog for quite a time now. you certainly inspire dreamers like me. keep posting!

  9. dancing in the rain says:

    Tito Jim,

    Great to hear from you again. 🙂 Sorry I wasn’t able to see you before you left!

    I finally moved to blogger, by the way. May I link you at my new blog again?

    Miss you…Godbless!

    Marem P. ;p

  10. rene says:

    sir jim, i can’t help but be teary-eyed with our fellow pinoys’ feat of finally conquering mt. everest. yun nga lang, their great achievement is a bit dampened dahil sa giyera ng dalawang network that sponsored their quests. sigh.

    anyways, glad to see everything’s well and good there with you and your family!

  11. Anonymous says:

    count me as 1 vote for the telly!you needs some aussie news which somehow as you said not that very striking as in pinas, but still it will keep you updated and informed…and for ananda to grasp aussie kids shows! erica or ala can replace kathleen de leon of hi-5!!!
    wow, congrats! in 2 mos you managed to drive that far!!!
    i can’t wait for my son to turn at the right age and have lessons with you, but it seems that distance will keep that as a dream forever unless you will cnsider relocating in the southern part of nsw, that is down here in cronulla!!! it’s not that dramatic as you hear frm the news, that racial incident was over. life has gone back to normal.you know media. you can see more beauties in this shire, that is sutherland shire and i think this is still a good place to live in. schools , church,shops,beach, transportation and closer to city! and maybe employment ???places where your family missed a lot because of its acccessibility to everything.it is still dominated by puti though.
    visit justlisted.com to see properties in the shire so you can compare.

  12. Anonymao says:

    “No stunning beauty around.” It’s funny that some of us feel the same way. By staying from one country to another then you can make comparisons, specially with women. I felt the same way, But there are a lot of factors that you should consider. For one, as a Filipino male, it is a different ball game in other countries. For example in NY most people, specially the girls, won’t even give you eye contact. Being a Filipino, you have to force yourself a little bit in order to get their attention. You could be a meztizo or a model in the Philippines but once you’re in another country, there are more competitors, and they’re naturally built, have bigger bones, blue eyed and blonde. We always joke
    around here with Filipino friends who are meztizos, that they are just regular Puerto Ricans and that they don’t stand up as much as when they are in the Philippines. Also, Filipino girls’ beauty is something else because of the full line of exotic mixture from different ancestors. I could compare that beauty with the Russians, their mix is purely exotic. Filipinos also have this sweetness quality that others don’t have. Makinis pa ang balat. Huwag lang tataba…:)

  13. tina says:

    hallo jim!

    ur right about honesty here in oz.. nakakahawa sya.. and its great.. daming opportunity to get away with things like watching cinema.. train rides.. eating at resto etc etc.. pero regardless.. ul end up paying or not avoid it. lol

    about the “stunners”… hmmm.. ang dami dito.. to the point that i even feel like i dont look good enough to hang out with my mates.. pero oks lang.. my bf thinks im a stunner ehehehe… besides, nasa taste yan ng tao.


  14. wenk. says:

    i’m impressed by the fact that you guys haven’t been watching tv, and that you feel no need for it. it’s great to hear that there are still families that do that. =)

    and congratulations for conquering your fears!!! =)=)=)

  15. Anonymous says:

    As an Australian-Filipino migrant, the only way to live in Australia is be an Australian. Most Filipinos are either clannish or mobbish. I’ve been in the Filipino community and seen the ins and outs. I can only imagine how an Anglo-saxon or other ethnic background would feel if he were to try having a conversation with a group of Filipinos i.e. taglish best to learn the lingo [accent and slang]. The first advise I give your family is appreciate what Australia has to offer as an Australian not as a migrant who expects to go back in the country of birth one day. Otherwise be prepared to live a few years of uncertainty, not belonging and loneliness. The other is the 3 Ls: location, location, location. Live in a district that suits your lifestyle and well being. If not expect unnecessary personal analytical behaviour.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous has a good point {“…the only way to live in Australia…”). A person who has this attitude from the very start will probably have an easier time fitting in. Often however, the passage of time just naturally takes care of things. For example I have a friend whose family arrived here in the early 80s. For ten years, they worked hard to save up for a trip back to Manila. And he told me quite often “There is no place like home”. Finally they made the trip and had a good time visiting friends and relatives. When they came back, the first thing he said to me was: “Now I really know, there is no place like home…and home is Marayong”. Moral of the story: don’t fight it mate go wid da flow. Having very young people in the family also helps a lot because they will effortlessly integrate and carry the oldies along.

  17. talksmart says:

    2 months without TV is amazing! I cannot even sleep without watching first the daily late newscast. But you are right, the internet is more informative than TV.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations on your long drive and for crisscrossing the motorways. That is how we conquer our fears. God is always with us. We should never be afraid.

    I am impressed with your stories of honesty there. In a way it makes me sad as we rarely have it here in the Philippines and so, rare episodes like these end up in the frontpages of local newspapers here. It should not be like that.

    I am amazed at your perseverance in having no TV. In the end, you realize that it is really just an idiotbox. Keep us updated on the results of your family vote.

    Keep up the spirit there. Keep up the faith. God bless you and your family.

    Pray for us also as we will embark our on own family’s journey to Kiwiland next month. We are now beginning to experience the different emotions you and your family passed through in the past few months of your move to OZ. I know that God is always with us. He is the one sustaining us all.

  19. Jim says:

    anonymous–kiwiland is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. After we left NZ for a visit and headed back to Sydney, we actually found Aus a bit dirty and not as fresh looking compared to NZ. Could have been the time of the year. Good luck in your adventure.

    To all those who reacted to the TV thing–the family vote was to get one and so we have one. We still have to get used to watching though since it’s only been with us for a few days.

    On honesty–it has little to do with being first world or not.There’s probably more to it than just that. I’ve been to Nepal and the people are poorer than Pinoys. Yet you can leave a bag in the marketplace and when you go back, it will be there kept aside by the storeowner. In parts of India, it’s the same. In parts of the Philippines also. We cannot generalise and say it’s all about being first world or third that determines honesty. Filipinos generally, with the little that we have will share food, resources with visitors and guests. Maybe it’s the cruelty of the big city that makes people dishonest. Take Washington, NY, Rome and other mega cities.. The only time I ever got pickpocketed was in Italy. The First world can be dishonest too. Just read history.

  20. balikbayan_box says:


    tv thing

    wala lang natutuwa lang ako since our family have a similar incident over the weekend. The whole family was discussing who wants the extra TV set in the living room after my Dad bought a bigger tv. In the midst of the discussion, my 4 yr old nephew said he didnt want it in his room since its too big for him to carry up to his room hahaha

    Congrats on driving on the airport and freeway, galing mo neyburhud!


  21. slither dude says:

    haha. natawa ako kay jt of dural. baka daw elizabeth ramsey ang type nyo mang jim ;p

  22. --- says:

    I am way behind blogging that I didn’t realize na wala na kayo sa pinas (i thoought it was just a plan…)!!!

    Missed the opportunity of seeing you here in UAE.

    Maybe next time. Ingat po

    — bitchyme.blogdrive.com (kung naaalala nio pa)

  23. marites d. vitug says:

    Hi, Jim
    Marites Vitug here. Hope you remember me. I have two requests.
    1) Newsbreak is coming up with a special report on RP-Australia relations; this year is the 60th year of our diplomatic ties.
    I would like to request a first-person essay from you on living in Australia. Max is 1600 words, with photos.
    Deadline is June 15.
    2) We’re thinking of putting you on the COVER–but we can’t fly a photographer there, he he. Can you please provide us with a real nice photograph of yourself: tight shot, or you standing in front of the Sydney opera house (?). Any ideas?
    I hope to hear from you.
    Marites D. Vitug (marites@newsbreak.com.ph)

  24. Crisa says:

    my friend left her $2,000 laptop on the bus once and she called the bus station and they said it was handed in, fully intact.

    Last christmas, i found a wallet containing more than $500 just lying on the floor. I checked inside to see some I.D and found that the lady was standing in line to go and buy some tickets to a show.

    we were actually in a town where the crime rate was high, and seeing the gratitude in her face and voice was so rewarding.

  25. JT of Dural says:

    Sabi ni Crisa:

    “my friend left her $2,000 laptop on the bus once…”

    Mabuti na lang hindi nahulog sa ibabaw ng bus iyong laptop kundi nabagsak at nasira na iyon! Phew!


    -JT of Dural

  26. sandra says:

    mahusay po kayo magsulat. nakakaengganyo basahin kahit mahaba. lately ko lang nalaman itong blog ninyo. will visit often 😀

  27. benign0 says:

    I third the motion on anonymous {“…the only way to live in Australia…”).

    Whilst its great to be among fellow Pinoys, there is a lot of growth to be had by robustly assimilating as well. There are so many subtleties of Anglo culture that you can pick up only by taking the time to get to know them well — the way they regard their wine, the way they focus on socialising and chatting in parties rather than digging into the chow, the straightforward way they communicate, etc.

    I find that with Westerners, you can be frank and straightforward. With Pinoys you have to watch your step lest you offend with even the slightest error in intonation.

    The honesty thing I think has everything to do with being First World. The efficiency and simplicity of the way things are done here owe themselves to the collective trust of a prosperous society. In a backward society, in contrast, the sheer opaqueness, and mind boggling layers of hidden agendas cause huge control measures to be necessary for businesses and bureacracies to secure themselves from being stolen blind.

    And when procedures are weighted down by extreme control measures, the more dishonesty and corruption breeds.

    It’s a vicious circle that very few backward societies escape from.

    Just my thoughts on the matter. 😉

  28. Anonymous says:

    No beauty in Australia! Well considering the demographics of where you are currently living in Sydney (infact I hesitate to call it that – it’s part of greater Sydney), it would be akin to going to the palengke in Bulacan to look for talent. If you are looking for physical beauty, then like any other place in the world, go in search of affluence. I’m currently in Geneva; but have worked/lived in over 40 countries in the Americas, Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa; which has only served to confirm my assertion that beauty goes hand in hand with money.

    Eastern and northern suburbs are were the action is, and as one of your previous posters has noted you will probably find astounding multi-racial (not solely anglo- saxon) beauty in numbers you will never see in Manila.

  29. thysz says:

    hi there! this is my first time to read your blog and im deeply impressed. your going to australia is such a shocker for many but for me, it has been an inspiration. i am a foreign languages major in UP and i set a goal, many years ago, that by 25, i will leave the phils. and go to europe or somewhere and live there. i dont know if what im planning will be good in the long run, but im shaping my life right now along this thought. like you, i wont go simply because i want to escape. i want to do to improve myself (in the process help my family financially) and more importantly, help the country when i comeback. yes, i will comeback. the sight of hungry children is enough inspiration fr me to seek a better life to be able to help them… in 6 years that will happen and i hope i m in the right path… and it seems that you have done so (or is it too early to tell?). well, just ignore me, i just want to vent out these feelings…

    by the way im writing this from a call center and i love what you wrote bout us in an earlier post.

    the best of God’s blessings to you and your family. specially Ala, who is such a role model for me and my siblings.

    ciao and au revoir!

  30. Anonymous says:


    Having lived in Sydney for the last 15 years, and visited Manila at least 5 times for holidays, I’d have to disagree with the no-show of beauties. Understandable since you haven’t really got out and about yet.

    Sydney has a really multi-cultural society and in any given night in the city I will come across more beauties here than I would do in Manila. From all backgrounds too, as a bonus!

    Depending on your preference of nationality, beautiful Anglo-Australians can be found in the Eastern Suburbs (try Oxford Street Paddington on a Friday night), beautiful Asian-Australians and European-Australians in Darling Harbour and King St Wharf.

    Give it a few months, a few more outings and I’m certain you’d have changed your mind.

  31. Anonymous says:

    When we first arrived here in Australia six years ago, a few friends warned us not to live in the Western Suburbs. Some say it gets too hot in the summer and too cold in winter due to the fact that there is no body of water near it to regulate the climate. Some say there are just too many migrants who keep to themselves and end up failing to assimilate with white Australians. Whatever the reason, we took their word and settled here in the South. Now we know the real reason to avoid staying there, wala pa lang maganda dyan, thanks for the tip Jim.:)

  32. Anonymous says:

    hello mr jim.
    being a celebrity that you are, i would imagine that you only hung out in manila in places where other celebrities and “beautiful” people go. these same people don’t catch public transport, hate sweating, would not be caught dead speaking to the “masa”.
    i would suggest that you get out more of the suburbs, catch public transport, enjoy sweating under the sun in bondi beach, speak to the locals.
    i guarantee, you will be convert.
    all the best to your family.

  33. Ilkley Moor says:

    Hiya great blog I hope to read more about this soon…

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