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.

18 October 2009

Got invited to birthday meal, will bring lunch money

When it comes to getting invited to lunch or dinner gatherings, things are done very differently here in New Zealand as compared with our "traditions" in the Philippines.

In my home country, if you get invited to share in the celebrations (a birthday, perhaps) in a gimmick venue, you expect that food, drinks and associated fun activity (videoke os hugely popular) is going to be paid for by the inviter.

Not so here in New Zealand. When you are invited, you bring along your share of the banquet (if they say 'bring a plate') or, in the case of meals in a restaurant, each is expected to pay for their own meal. Good thing that had been advised me of fellow Pinoys so when I was invited for a lunch out to celebrate an officemate's birthday, I already knew what to expect.

True enough, after meal and everybody started getting out of their chairs, they made a beeline for the register where each advised what they had and paid accordingly. Nobody in the table informed me about it; it's one of those things where they assume you know it already (like the BYOB in restaurants - Bring Your Own Bottle of wine); it's really a good thing I knew beforehand... and knowing is half the battle (GI Joe!)

I guess as Filipinos, it is our strong sense of hospitality that prompts us to foot the bill when we invite people to share a meal with us. The New Zealand way is, or course, more practical (especially for the host!) especially in this time of economic crisis.

Also, when they buy gifts for the celebrant, they would collect funds from the team, purchase items that the celebrant likes (or match the theme of the gathering, such as a person going away for a tramping expedition), and put it all in one box. The celebrant for said lunch, for example, received a number of fun stuff including the latest issue of her favorite magazine, some cosmetics, and her favorite canned food. Whereas in our country, we also pool our resources but would pick out one major gift purchase. Either way, I'm sure the host is equally delighted!

Hope this information is helpful to you in case you visit this part of the world and get invited to a lunch party!

14 October 2009

A few Facebook announcements

It's been great fun so far at Facebook, especially since I was able to find many of my high school classmates there. And for a time I was hooked on some games, especially Farmville and Scrabble. I am currently using Facebook for the following purposes:

- Reach out to Student Library Assistants at Saint Louis University in Baguio City, the Philippines. I spent a considerable amount of my college time at the Charles Vath Library Building between the years of 1988 - 1992 or thereabouts, and it will really be great to get in touch with my friends back in the old days. So if you or anybody you know was a member of the Saint Louis University - Student Library Assistants' Society (SLU-SLAS), it will be great if you can join the group at Facebook. Other years are most welcome to join, of course. It will be great to have stories of people who supported their studies and are now enjoying the fruits of their labor.

- I also decided to close my son Jo-Lo's blog, but we created a fan page for him at Facebook so his doting ninongs and ninangs and our family back home in the Philippines can see what he's currently up to. A link to his page is available at the lower left section of this blog.

- My blogs also automatically post articles on Facebook so that's a great way to catch up.

Thanks and see you in Facebook!

10 October 2009

World's biggest carrot?

Just before arriving at Mt. Ruapeho in our previous snow adventure, we stopped by the town of Ohakune (population: 1,101 - 2006 census). Ohakune has a rich agriculture history, with the lands initially cleared for crops destined to feed local and American military troops. After the war, the lands were converted to rehabilitation farms for returning servicemen. Today, its agriculture heritage stands strong as it supplies important produce to New Zealand and various Asian markets.

On the eastern edge of the town, a lone giant carrot proudly stands as a testament to Ohakune's important vegetable industry. This 'monument' was erected in 1984. Ohakune plays host to the Carrot Festival when the town celebrates with street performers, games, shops, and loads of family fun topped with free carrot juice!

We had lunch here picnic-style in Ohakune at a nearby park. It's a beautiful place, must be a popular stop for tourists before heading off to Mt. Ruapehu.
The world's biggest carrot!

05 October 2009

Efren PeƱaflorida is my hero

Voting continues until Thursday, November 19, 2009 (6 a.m. ET). There is no limit on the number of times you may vote for the Hero of the Year.

02 October 2009

From the Office of Ethnic Affairs to the New Zealand Philippine Community

I am writing on behalf of the Minister of Ethnic Affairs, the Hon. Pansy Wong, to express our sympathy and condolences to those who have been affected by the extensive flooding generated by tropical storm Ketsana which hit the northern Philippines on Saturday.

The Minister and members of the Office of Ethnic Affairs (OEA) are very conscious that the effects of this storm have left hundreds of thousands of people struggling to cope with displacement, and loss. We are conscious that members of the New Zealand Philippine community will also be under considerable stress as a result of the natural disaster which has so badly affected parts of their homeland. We know that many of you may have friends, and relatives living or visiting the Philippines and that you will be anxious for their safety and wellbeing.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be able to provide consular support to distressed New Zealand citizens of Philippine origin through its office in Manila. We will keep you informed of progress as decisions are made.

The Minister of Ethnic Affairs is very keen to support New Zealand agencies who may be responding to the disaster and to also support the New Zealand based Philippine community in any fund raising or support initiatives which may be underway.

Please do not hesitate to contact the OEA’s advisory team to discuss your needs and please keep us informed of progress within your community. If you have one spokesperson from your region or group please let us know his or her name and contact details so we can keep in touch.

Contact details for staff of the OEA are:

Senior Ethnic Affairs Advisor Asma Bashir, asma.bashir@dia.govt.nz 093627996, 027248957

Ethnic Affairs Advisor, Ara Kassabian, ara.kassabian@dia.govt.nz 044945787, 0272977143

Christchurch/South Island
Ethnic Affairs Advisor, Claire Phillips, Claire.phillips@dia.govt.nz 033538322, 0272062175

Kind Regards

Deborah Lam
National Operations Manager
Advisory Team
Office of Ethnic Affairs
Department of Internal Affairs
027 2795924 (Deborah.lam@dia.govt.nz)
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