28 July 2010

You can't beat Wellington on a sunny day

You'd hear this at one time or another. And I guess it's even more appropriate this winter. We've been having mostly cold and wet days since last month, but these past few days we're seeing some sun and at times, even cloudless skies! Sure, the winter chill is still there but the warmth of sunshine truly makes a huge difference.

We had a sunny spell last weekend. It was a great time to be outside and that was where we found ourselves, with friends and kids in the playground.

One thing I admire here in New Zealand is the presence of strategially-located recreational areas for the family in the form of nature walks and playgrounds. Our home, for example, is just about 15 minutes' walk away from the Northern Walkway. In the town, a big playground is also within walking distance. And so is a rugby field which has frequent weekend games.

This actually reminds me of my hometown of Baguio City. We also have a number of parks strewn about the city and as kids we used to hike on weekends from Burnham Park to Sunshine Park, Filipino-Japanese Friendship Park, and off to Camp John Hay. Or we'd take the other route from Burnham Park to Teacher's Camp, then Botanical Garden (formerly Imelda Park), then Wright Park. Ah, those were the days.

23 July 2010

Watch now, or rent later?

Watching movies is one of life's simple pleasures which I truly enjoy. It is an event in itself. Way back when I worked in Makati, my colleagues have worked out a strategy when a highly-anticipated movie comes up. After a frenzied SMS exchange, we'd reserve tickets online, and as we make a dash for Glorietta after work, we'd already have the tasks to get tickets, food and queue sorted out. And then we'd head out to dinner or coffee (unless it's a midnight screening!). Sometimes we'd even get promotional items and toys from fast food tie-ups.

We'd be in the theatres at least twice a month with our exploits reported in this blog, to a point that this was even thought to be a movie and food review blog!

Alas, this is no longer the case here in New Zealand primarily due to the cost. In the Philippines, a movie in Greenbelt 4 costs P150.00 (around NZ$5.00), and that's already in a stylish, THX and Dolby surround sound cinema that can compare with New Zealand's (minus the extra wide chairs). For P500.00 (approx NZ$16.00) you would already be watching in an IMax cinema.

A movie ticket here costs around NZ$16.00 for adults and around NZ$11.00 for kids. And that's for regular cinema. 3D definitely costs more. Talk about expensive. This is also the case in the US, I am led to believe, but I still find it perplexing that movie tickets can cost so much! There's something called student night every Tuesdays where you can watch a movie for 9 dollars I think... still expensive).

I think this is why they say you shouldn't do the foreign exchange bit or else you will end up with buying nothing. Oh well.

This is one of the simple pleasures that I have to give up. So if you'd like to watch a movie but find it quite expensive (like me), better wait for it on home video. There's no Quiapo here where you can purchase bootlegged DVDs for under 2 dollars each (not that I'm endorsing it!) so the video rental business is still flourishing here (video rental in our country died when VHS gave way to DVD and piracy). On regular days a new release can cost $8.00 and for overnight use only. Older movies cost around $4.00 for a weekly hire. But if you can rent on a Monday or a Tuesday, better do so because you can rent movies (except the new releases) for only a dollar each, and it's for a week. This is for Civic Video.

On the upside, flat screen HDTVs are quite affordable here. Now, if only I can get a good price for a good sound system...

17 July 2010

Andrew Matheson's blog

Andrew Matheson is New Zealand's ambassador to the Philippines and has been in our home country since September 2008. Which is quite a coincidence because that was also the month and year that we migrated to New Zealand.

Mr Matheson has a blog hosted at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Hopefully, he will be updating it regularly so we can also have an appreciation of the growing New Zealand - Philippines relations.

His recent post about a conservation project in Camiguin island triggered happy memories of our vacation there with friends, and his topic on the possibility of having a direct flight between these two countries is definitely something we can relate to. It's turning out to be quite an interesting blog.

12 July 2010

They love our shows!

My wife told me an interesting story from her part time job. One of her colleagues - a Samoan - asked if she was Filipino. When she said she was, her colleague excitedly told her that they love our soap operas! They actually know Piolo Pascual, Angel Locsin, Jericho Rosales, and Kristine Hermosa, among others. They love Lobo, Gulong ng Palad, Maging Sino ka Man (and there just might be more).

I have since learned from fellow Pinoys that Samoans and Fijians indeed love our shows. They say that they can relate to the stories, and that our soaps and movies are rather good. That's really heartening to know. I guess we have something in common with our Pacific Island neighbours!

A quick search in the Net revealed that in Samoa, Gulong ng Palad even had a nightly timeslot and it was very popular. Lucky Samoa, at least they have Filipino content on TV. Here in New Zealand, you have to subscribe to a rather pricey, single-channel cable service to get Filipino TV.

So if you have a friend from Samoa or Fiji, try to find out if they like a particular Filipino actor / actress and you can buy them DVDs (with English subtitles!) as pasalubong (gift) when you visit the Philippines!

07 July 2010

Free movie: Grave of the Fireflies

The Japan Information and Cultural Centre provides monthly screening of Japanese movies. For July, it's Grave of the Fireflies.

Contrary to most Studio Ghibli films which exude warmth, childhood joys, fantasy and imagination, Grave of the Fireflies tells a story of anguish and suffering during World War II. Two orphans' lives take centre stage as they try to cope with the tribulations of war. Eerily true to depicting human suffering, there are haunting scenes which I still remember even though I have watched this film many years ago.

And while it is anime, grownups might feel the overall theme to be very depressing for their youngsters to watch.  It's survival of the fittest, and in the face of war who suffers the most but the innocent children?

The story is based on the semi-autobiographic novel by the same name, whose author, Nosaka, lost his sister due to malnutrition in 1945 wartime Japan. He blamed himself for her death and wrote the story so as to make amends to her and help him accept the tragedy. (from Wikipedia)

Watching this film made me wish that my generation (and all future generations) will not experience war, as I'm sure many viewers of this film will feel as well.  It's such a touching story about victims of war, you will surely remember this as an endearing and significant film.

Watch this film for free at the Japan Information and Cultural Centre, 100 Willis Street, Wellington on 27 and 29 July at 6PM.
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