11 December 2009


Wednesday last week, we were treated to a feature-length episode to kickstart the new TV series V. As a fan of the original 80s show, I was excited to see this getting a reboot. And a couple of days ago we had another feature-length (2 hours) episode of V! We're getting a V overload.

My reaction: looking good! The series has been fast-paced so far. In the first installment, the roles of the main characters have been defined: a single-mother FBI agent who learns about the sinister side of the V's and tries to keep his teenage son away from them (to no avail), a priest who also knows but is beset by people returning to the faith, looking for answers in the face of the Visitors and their miraculous healing centers, a Visitor who has turned his back on his kind and loves a human. Very interesting twists.

Incidentally, Joel Gretsch (as Fr. Jack Landry) reminds me of the original series' Marc Singer. I wonder if the resemblance is just coincidental.
I look forward to more compelling episodes!

02 December 2009


They're baaaack, and I'm excited.

V is a TV show from 1983, though I think it was shown later in the Philippines. I loved watching V at that time, and faithfully followed the series on primetime. For the uninitiated, V is a sci-fi series which is about the sudden appearance of alien ships on planet Earth and they, so to speak, comes in peace. They would like to forge a harmonious relationship with humans and share their technology for our benefit.

It was too good to be true. Turns out they had a sinister agenda all along!

A lot of rats and hamsters were "harmed" in the making of the series. At the latter part, I remember there was one born of human and alien, so she was a hybrid of sorts. But with her lineage also came a prophesy that she will bring salvation to the world.

And then things get blurry from there... I don't recall seeing the ending of the series.

But V is getting a reboot! And the first episode is showing at TV2, 8:30PM tonight. Looking forward to it!

Photo credit: Le Canapé

29 November 2009

Get on the Wave

I have some Google Wave invites to spare. If you would like an account, send me your email address either by commenting on this post or by emailing me privately at nick@nickballesteros.com.

Offer good while supplies last. Hurry, operators are standing by. But wait, there's more! Batteries not included.

24 November 2009

By this time...

... Christmas decorations and lights are making Makati CBD very festive at night;
... the hustle and bustle in Divi has increased;
... I would already have put-up our 8-foot Christmas tree and Looney Tunes ornaments;
... I would have already made the gift list and 30% done with shopping;
... we would still be waiting for our 13th month pay;
... we'd still be wrapping the company gifts;
... I would have attended a couple of Midnight Madness sale already at Glorietta, never mind that I do not really buy anything;
... we would have the Jackson 5 Christmas Album playing at night;
... I would have attended a couple of Simbang Gabi;
... everybody always seem to have a smile on their faces;
... the days are shorter but happier.

Christmas season in the Philippines is truly one of a kind, and I wish to be there to experience it all next year.

19 November 2009

Mabuhay fund-raising show

Johnsonville Community Hall
Saturday, 21 Nov 2009
6pm onwards


It's our way of sharing with you early Christmas cheers and Yuletide greetings! So come one, come all and allow us to give you an enjoyable and nostalgic
Christmas experience as if back home...

Food stalls
Raffle Prizes
Parlor Games
Variety show/Dancing


Raffe Prizes: 1st - $150 2nd - $100 3rd Prize - $ 50


16 November 2009

Orakei Korako: the Hidden Valley

About half an hour's car trip away from Lake Taupo is the hidden valley of Orakei Korako, a thermal park. The Lonely Planet Traveller's Guide hails Orakei Korako as "possibly the best thermal area left in New Zealand and one of the finest in the world", so I feel priviledged indeed to see this wonder of Nature up close and personal.
The boat awaits

The shop as viewed from the Thermal Park

To go to the park itself, you must take a brief boat ride across Waikato River. From there, you can take an unescorted walk on the park across well-maintained paths. Armed with a map, various areas of the park are highlighted. Warning signs are also very visible, as heat from the many vents are definitely things you have to steer clear of, and are best admired from afar.

The parts I like most about the trip are the boat ride, the rainbow terrace with its various colours resulting from the superheated minerals, the bubbling mud pools (definitely not the mud bath variety!), the Fleece which was a white wall of crystal formation, and the cave which reminded me of my spelunking days back in the Philippines.
The mud pools

The cave

Here are some more photos of that wonderful trip to Orakei Korako.

11 November 2009

Free seminar for new migrants

Introduction to the NZ Education System

When : Thursday 25th November 2009
Time : 6.00pm -7.00pm

Where : Room 3, Te Awa Kairangi building
Corner of Laings Rd and Myrtle St, Lower Hutt

Guest presenter : Abdi Bihi, Migrant and Refugee Education Coordinator, Ministry of Education

Topics covered :
  • NZ education system - teaching and learning in New Zealand
  • Types of schools and how schools are managed
  • What schools teach: the curriculum; levels of schooling from early childhood education to secondary schooling
  • Assessment and reporting
  • Parents rights and responsibilities in education
  • Challenges for migrants and refugee students
  • Children with special needs
There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the session.

Light supper will be provided.

To register contact
Vesna West
Settlement Support Coordinator
Community Development
Hutt City Council
(04) 570 6786 or email
vesna.west@huttcity .govt.nz

06 November 2009

Fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night

So we were having our morning tea break yesterday and it was one of those days when I couldn't seem to follow the conversations and so my mind would drift in and out of the room. And then I got caught off-guard when a colleague asked if I had bought fireworks. Sure, I saw some fireworks being sold at The Warehouse but I said I did not buy any. Besides, I thought fireworks are banned on New Year's Eve so even the fact that fireworks were being sold at all was a curiosity for me.

And then they chatted on about this Guy Fawkes guy. Another colleague noticed my confusion about the whole affair, and proceeded to explain. Yesterday was Guy Fawkes Night and there was going to be a fireworks display at the harbour. Plus, people can take this rare opportunity to purchase some fireworks for use at home! So who is Guy Fawkes anyway and why the celebration in his name?

Here's the gist:
Guy Fawkes Night is an annual celebration on the evening of 5 November. It marks the downfall of the Gunpowder Plot of 5 November 1605, in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to destroy the Houses of Parliament, in London, United Kingdom.

It is primarily marked in the United Kingdom where it was compulsory, by fiat, until 1859, to celebrate the deliverance of the King of Great Britain; but, it is also celebrated in former British colonies including New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and parts of the Caribbean. Bonfire Night was celebrated in Australia until the mid- to late 1970s, when sale and public use of fireworks was made illegal and the celebration was effectively abolished. It is also celebrated in the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda. Festivities are centred on the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.

Well, that explains a bit, to be sure. Thanks Wikipedia! But what makes this more interesting for me is that fireworks are allowed on the 5th of November, but not on New Year's Eve. Making a lot of noise and having a lot of fun at the same time is something I always look forward to on the final day of the year, and why it's soooo quiet outside when the new year comes in is something I don't think I will ever be accustomed to.

Well, back to Guy Fawkes Night... a friend invited us to see the fireworks but around 150,000 people are expected to flock to the harbour to watch and there's still work the following day and so we settled for a distant view of the harbour at Black Rock Road in Newlands. And so we found ourselves at 9PM watching the fireworks in the distance with a small crowd who also thought better of braving the traffic. The kids were pretty excited about it and theier enthusiasm was quite infectious, though we also have our Fireworks Festival back in the Philippines of course, where different countries show off their pyrotechnic prowess!

Photo credit: Stuff.co.nz

01 November 2009

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the North Island, Lake Taupo is a popular tourist destination because of the stunning scenery, unpolluted environment, and rich fishing area.

Lake Taupo was part of our itinerary on the way back from our snow adventure in Mt. Ruapeho. Picnic lunch was scheduled there. We were greeted by a town that exuded vibrant tourism, with quite a number of shops and cafes. We were supposed to leave a few minutes after lunch, but Lake Taupo was such a beautiful sight that we decided to linger.

It truly is an amazing place.

28 October 2009

Filipino Blog of the Week

I was pleasantly surprised when I learned a couple of blog posts ago that I was nominated for Filipino Blog of the Week. Nothing major, really just a fun contest for bloggers. Nevertheless, I thought it was a nice idea to see how far I can go at campaigning for my blog and see if I can win. So I sent a message for a couple of times last week at Facebook. And my friends and relatives picked it up from there and voted and campaigned in my behalf.

Isn't it nice to have friends? Thanks everyone for voting for me! I won Filipino blog of the week for week 183.

The stats have been reset for the second week. Winning once is good enough for me, but if you are feeling extra generous, please head on over at The Composed Gentlemen's blog and vote once more for this blog. Many thanks!

22 October 2009

Tulip Day 2009

It seemed like just a few months ago when we arrived here in Wellington, New Zealand and new-found friend Debbie and sons toured us at the Botanic Garden for Tulip Day 2008. This trip to the park certainly brings back memories. It was a rainy week but on Saturday the sun came out, a perfect day to visit the tulips! I've compiled a few photos for posterity's sake.

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