If you are immersed in Thai language at the work place 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, don’t start crying when you get home at night. Embracing the opportunity to learn yet another language (most probably your 4th if you come from outside Manila in the Philippines), may serve you well if you wish to build a future in the field of teaching in Thailand. Here’s why……-a-language-too.html

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What takes a teacher, an expat at that, to be a success in Thailand?

For Monalisa, founder of the 22-year-old Liza’s School of Languages in Nakhon Ratchasima, in the northeast of Thailand – it is not that plain and simple. She points to a serendipitous mix of reasons behind “success.”

For one, being married to a Thai is a definite advantage. “My husband (whom she met in the Philippines when they studied at the same university) helps me with the intricacies of Thai culture,” she said. “I learned a lot from him and this makes me suitably equipped to better understand and socially approach my students and their parents.” When asked how many students have enrolled in her school over the years, she said, “Probably by the thousands.”

Mona was also fortunate to experience extensive training from a well-known Catholic school in Korat (former name of Nakhon Ratchasima), where she first worked for 13 years. Coming from quite a different set of culture in Dumalag, Capiz in the Philippines, she was introduced to a new environment when she first set foot in Korat. “It was there that I gained exposure and understanding of the local culture and blossomed with inspiration,” she said. “It was there that I realized teaching was not simply the imparting of knowledge to students; it is an art – delicate and complex at the same time. Adjustments have to be made to best suit the student’s needs.”

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Living in a foreign land is made a lot easier when you are surrounded by things similar to what you have at home. But still, there would always be things you’ll miss. Our guess is, Pinoy food would come up on top of your ‘things missed’ list. Don’t fret however, because the next time you crave for mom’s or grandmom’s cooking from back home, you can pay the New Mabuhay Restaurant in Phetburi Soi 19 a visit. There, you’ll enjoy the company of kababayans (fellow Filipininos) and enjoy the wide array of Pinoy dishes. This writer’s best picks would be the “bulalo” (beef stew) and the “crispy pata” (deep fried pork knuckle).

Here’s Siam Pinoy’s interview with the New Mabuhay owner, Romy Polito.

Q: When did Mabuhay start?

A: It’s an MBA, meaning, ‘Mabuhay by Accident’. In July 2003, we had many customers for our cargo business. They requested Delia, my wife, to cook Filipino dishes for them. They were simple dishes; ‘daing na bangus’ (dried milk fish), ‘sinigang na hipon’ (shrimp soup similar to the Thai tom yum). So weekly, we would go to the market, buy the ingredients and cook to satisfy our customers.

Later on, we thought, why don’t we just start a small restaurant?

So we did, starting with ‘pinakbet’ (mixed vegetable with pork), ‘adobo’ (chicken or pork dish cooked in vinegar; very popular with the Thais and farangs), ‘paksiw na isda’ (fish cooked in vinegar), ‘pusit’ (squid), and other dishes that are easy to cook and prepare.

Then later, the requests from customers got more complex. They wanted ‘bulalo’ (beef stew) and ‘crispy pata’ (deep fried pork knuckle). We took Delia’s brother from the Philippines, who had been a cook for 30 years then, to join us here since he knew how to cook those dishes requested by our customers.

I did not even know what ‘bulalo’ was. I only found out what kind of dish it is here in Bangkok!

Q: Why the name “Mabuhay”?

A: I believe in names; I believe it plays a part in one’s destiny. ‘Mabuhay’ is inspired by our Philippine Airlines’ official in-flight magazine. It is also our Filipino word for “Long Live”! Here at Mabuhay, we want everything ‘buhay palagi’ (always alive)!

Q: What are some of the favorite dishes ordered by regulars?

A: The ‘crispy pata’ and ‘bulalo’. Our beef for the ‘bulalo’ is certified organic. Unlike other beef that’s available in the market, ours come from a seller certified by an internationally qualified body that sells beef that has not been injected by antibiotics or any form of chemical agent. And we do our marketing at midnight, to assure that we get the first pick, because that’s when the meat is fresh!

‘Crispy pata’ in the Philippines costs as much as 600 pesos now. Ours, we keep only around 300baht, and people are assured it tastes good because we put our own special spices and we have our own way to make sure it’s crisp and sweet-smelling, which is quite hard to do if you only cook it at home.

Q: Who are some special and/or famous people who have visited Mabuhay?

A: We’ve had celebrities like Nino Muhlach, and several politicians from the Philippines. They (the latter) make Mabuhay sort of their coffee place. We’ve also been visited by a CNN correspondent who was looking for some exotic dishes. He paid to have many of our dishes cooked so he can photograph them for an article in CNN!

Q: How has the New Mabuhay expanded from the simple restaurant it was when it started?

A : Now we have customers who ask us to cater for big events like weddings, birthdays and parties. There are also large groups who choose to do their events right here. We moved our karaoke system upstairs so they can sing until late at night if they wish to.

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When it comes to handicrafts, textiles and garments, jewelry, art and antiques, Bangkok will never fail to make it to any shopping guru’s top five list. And so, in order to assist those who have money to spend on their trip to the Land of Smiles, we have our own top five must-shop-in places to assist your appetite for shopping.

These places were chosen for those who are looking for ‘something Thai’ to take on their way back home. We steered away from the upscale shopping centers, so you go home with tons of artistically made products to show your friends back home, without you ending up spending half of your life savings away!


Number 1, of course, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is most convenient to get to from the Morchit Sky Train station, and two subway stations, Chatuchak Park and Kamphaeng Phet . This is said to be Asia’s biggest outdoor market, and by that, you expect to get lost in here; the biggest and the best place in Bangkok to look for just about anything, with market stalls that spread over 35 acres (14 hectares) of Bangkok’s inner northern suburbs.

Chatuchak is yours to enjoy only on weekends. The best time to go there is Saturday early morning, around 8ish. This should give you plenty of time to roam around, when it is not yet unbearably hot, and when there are not that many shoppers yet. We recommend you do not go there anymore, if your only time left is late afternoon on a Sunday, unless you are prepared to just about take off your clothes under the heat, and to get squashed between so many other shopping bodies, trying their best at last minute shopping.

To make the most of your time, list down your top five items of must-sees. It’s best also, if you bring along a picture of those very items to show to sellers as you try to find your way around. Since not everyone speaks English in Thailand, the pictures will save you your breath and your time, trying your darnedest to explain to everyone in your best English what it is you are looking for.

And when it gets too hot outside, you can always traipse down to JJ (Jatujak/Chatuchak) Mall, where you can find some items on sale in an air conditioned, and less crowded shopping environment. Just be prepared to pay a bit more though.

Many orchid lovers from all over visit Chatuchak for its wide selection of Thailand orchids. And to assist shoppers who buy in bulk, they have stores that readily give out certificates/documents so you won’t have any problems at the airport when you fly out with your choice orchids.

And for those buying furniture and other big items, there are numerous forwarding companies such as DHL, on the ready to ship the center table you fell in love with while shopping your way in Bangkok.

A lifesaver when you are out in the middle of Thailand’s shopping jungle: a bottle of water. Never forget to always have one at hand. During the hottest season in Bangkok, which is from February to April, temperatures can get to as much as 35degrees centigrade.  For comfort, dress in shorts, or other light clothing. You might want to throw in some sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and flip flops as well.

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Selection Criteria, Process and Scoring


The annual Award is given to outstanding migrant Filipino workers in Thailand in recognition of their: 1) outstanding professional and personal achievements that give honor to the Filipino people and country; 2) unstinting dedication and commitment in service of humanity, especially the less privileged and marginalized segments of Thai society; 3) distinguished contributions in fostering closer relationship between Filipino and Thai individuals, groups and societies at large; and 4) exemplary life integrating their faith with their personal life, profession and service according to Gospel truths. In essence, these are outstanding individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.

Instituted in 2009, the first recipient was Dr. Dominica P. Garcia who distinguished herself in helping the poor, refugees, prisoners and other less privileged people in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos through her medical profession and altruistic service.

1. Selection Criteria

The proposed ten (10) criteria consist of three clusters, namely: 1) demographic profile, 2) character and qualities, and 3) achievements.

1. Demographic Profile

a. Filipino migrant worker (This criterion includes existing Filipino migrant workers and Filipinos married to non-Filipinos and are now living or working in Thailand)

b. Filipino citizen/nationality (This criterion covers Filipinos working and living in Thailand who have changed their citizenship by virtue of marriage, etc.)

More details here

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It has been a while that Siam Pinoy has featured another great Khun Pinoy. This time around, it was in Chiang Mai that we found somebody whom every Pinoy in Thailand should know of. And this is none other than Kabayan Roxanne Oddie – a leader, a humanitarian, a Pinoy who does not wish to call attention on to herself, but would rather recognize those who, along with her, champion the cause and serve the needs of the Filipino community in the north.

Siam Pinoy interviews Roxanne Oddie, President of AFT-NRC (Association of Filipinos in Thailand – Northern Region Chapter).

SP: From our meetings with some of the members, it seems the community is a mix of people from different fields and profession. How would you describe the Filipino community in Chiang Mai?

Roxanne Oddie: The Filipinos in Chiang Mai are mostly teachers and/or missionaries, a few employees in the entertainment and design/graphic works, and several Filipinas married to Thais and running family businesses.  The age range is from mid-20’s to 60’s, and there are informal “sub-groups” resulting from church affiliations. Just like most Filipinos in Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand, we Filipinos in Chiang Mai and other nearby provinces also meet in June (Independence Day Celebration) and December (year-end party). There was a Filipino restaurant serving the Filipino community here in Chiang Mai for 25 years, aptly named Mabuhay, of course. It recently closed, but only temporarily. It will come back to be part of the Pinoy community again for a very long time.

SP: As the chosen person to lead your team of officers in terms of activities, projects and events for Pinoys in the north, for the second time now, what are some challenges as well as good experiences you have had?

Roxanne Oddie: Challenges, there have been many. Less than a year after moving into Chiang Mai, I was appointed as Communications Officer of AFT-NRC for 2005 to 2006. I started an aggressive emailing campaign, I personally encoded all the email addresses from the directory and began sending out messages to people I didn’t even know. It was a risk, but it paid off. It made people know that we were reaching out to them, that we wanted them to participate in association activities, and that we wanted to connect with them.

It was also a challenge to connect with kababayans outside of Chiang Mai. AFT-NRC has members in Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Tak, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Phayao, Nan, and other remote areas in the north. When planning group activities, we have to consider the traveling our kababayans have to make in order to participate.

Because there are over two hundred Filipinos in the community here, I am mindful that there are over two hundred individuals with their own ideas, feelings, priorities, and interests. One challenge was finding commonality, and promoting harmony and unity, not uniformity.

As for good experiences, there have been many as well. When I see kababayans get together and genuinely enjoy one another’s company, or forming new friendships; or when there is a kababayan in distress and the group gets together to support; or when we celebrate the personal and career successes of our members, those are good experiences.

When the group from the Philippine Embassy comes to do a Consular Outreach program, our kababayans are able to avail of consular services here in Chiang Mai and that is a very significant way of serving the Filipino community. When some of our foreign friends learn about it, they say they envy us because they say their own embassy normally does not offer such a service for them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Singha Presents Charice Dreams Come True Showcase @ Siam Discovery

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June 12, 2010.

Advance Happy Independence Day to all Filipinos in Thailand and all over the world.

Bagong Pagsasama (New Camaraderie).

Bagong Bayanihan (New Synergy).

Bagong Pagbabago (New Renewal).

Mabuhay tayong lahat!


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At 5:00PM yesterday afternoon, Election 2010 came to a close. The turnout? About 700 voters.  So few? Perhaps, yes, especially considering that the estimated number of Pinoys in Thailand runs up to more than 10,000. But considering there were only around 500 voters who turned out the previous election, an increase of 200 more is already good news.

Siam Pinoy visited the Philippine Embassy this afternoon to get a few words from voters, as well as ask Embassy officials for comments regarding this year’s election. To some who have been here in Thailand for many years, the lack of information about the candidates is a major challenge. One voter said she relies heavily on what others say about the candidates, particularly for the presidency. Asking young people about who they think deserves to win, she says, is all she can do so her one vote is not wasted.

Another voter mentioned that election is such a hot topic that even her Yahoo! Group members have succumbed to heated discussions about the presidentiables, which she thinks has gone too far, considering that is not the purpose of the group in the first place.

Back home in Cebu, as one Election Watcher told us at the Embassy, her friends, whom she lead during Election times years back, were lucky to have this new automated way to vote this year. She reminisced about the times in the past, when she would read the ballots out one by one, until the early morning hours the day after elections. Back then, she says, Election Watchers were very watchful. The chairman of a precinct had to read out ballots while Watchers are behind her/him, with flashlights to make sure she/he does not call out a name different from the one that’s actually written on the ballot. She couldn’t even look into her handbag, without a Watcher scrutinizing what it is she looks into her handbag for!

For one who has never exercised her vote in the Philippines, it is comforting to know that there are still places back home, where election proceedings are taken very seriously. It is medicine to one’s disillusionment about Philippine politics, to hear that election stories back home are not just all about fraud, vote-buying, or rigging of the election process.

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In answer to the Governor of Bangkok’s call for residents to help in cleaning up the Rachaprasong area, which had become a makeshift home to hundreds of anti-government protesters for more than two weeks prior to Wednesday, May 19th, some Filipinos joined this morning’s clean up, which started in Silom Road.

Many different kinds of people, from ordinary Silom residents clad in shorts and a T-shirt, to the more made up faces in the persons of Academy Fantasia contestants, were there promptly at 9am in Lumphini park. After a short program, where the Governor , M.R.Sukhumbhand Paribatra, spoke about the theme of the clean up, “Together We Can”, volunteers proceeded promptly to the different areas, starting at Silom.

It was a very organized affair, with people ready to hand out gloves and masks underneath the Saladaeng BTS station. There were people giving out black plastic garbage bags when we were starting to clean up, and along the whole stretch of Silom, there was water, soda or green tea being given to volunteers.

An announcer was thanking everyone through a public address system hooked up to a pick up truck, driving slowly along Silom as volunteers cleaned. In Thai, the announcer also reminded people of free lunch at Lumphini Park, and when we ran out of water while scrubbing the streets of Silom, the announcer was quick to ask Silom residents for more water so we can continue with our work.

There was no need for leaders to shout out orders, as people, with their gloved hands, scooped up garbage from the streets and into garbage bags. Some went on to cleaning ATM machines and phone booths. Others, worked on taking off stickers from street posts. And some of us who had the energy, went off scrubbing one side of Silom Road from end to end.

There were all kinds of people; Thais, farangs (Caucasian foreigners) and us, the few Filipinos. We were joined by Ms. Helen Villanueva from the company, Pedigree. More wanted to come and help, like Josephil Saraspe. But after hours of waiting for transportation from Phet Kasem to Bangkok, they had to abandon the desire to help, and settle on the fact that they did try to get to Lumphini in time for the clean up.

Filipino Expats in Thailand

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