27 October 2010

I'm 34 (according to Wii Fit Plus)

I couldn't help but smile as I see my high school batchmates receive birthday greetings in Facebook. For the majority, this year marks the start of our lives :-)

Personally, life has certainly been one big adventure so far. When I was still a college student, I didn't dream of grand things. I just wanted to have a good paying job, I thought about getting married in my early 30s, and stay in Baguio to live a relatively quiet life.

Well, life certainly did not want me just sitting around. I have a lot to be thankful for though, but there were also things that I regret doing (and even not doing). There are still things that I would like to do and along the way I know that I will inevitably make mistakes. But I know now that it's the learning and living that makes it all worthwhile.

I am thankful for my friends who stuck with me and accepted me as I am. My good friends Sonny and Leo way back in high school most especially. I look forward to coming back to Baguio so we can celebrate our birthdays this year together.

In the meantime, I bring out the Wii to get some much-needed exercise. Oh, my Wii-Fit age is 34! I like this game.

22 October 2010

Home Ownership Education workshop (free)

Are you new to New Zealand? If so, then you are invited to this free seminar

ConnectGlobal will present the "Welcome Home First Steps" Home Ownership Education workshop

Where: Porirua Employment Hub
When: 9.00am to 3.30pm, Saturday 30th October 2010

The Welcome Home First Steps workshops take you through the following seven modules about the house-buying process:
1. Is home ownership right for you?
2. Goal setting and budgeting
3. The home buying process
4. Getting a home loan
5. Financial assistance for first-home buyers
6. Building a home and affordable house design
7. Maintaining your home and refinancing

To register for a place please contact Nina Iafeta on 239 0998 or email whfs@connectglobal. co.nz

Morning tea and lunch will be available. Please advise us of any special dietary requirements when registering.

19 October 2010

Convert your Philippine Driver's License to New Zealand's (part2 of 2)

I went to AA at Lambton Quay to take my theory test. Having shown my passport for identification, my Philippine Driver's license, and a proof of residence (a letter with my name and address on it), I was asked to look into this contraption by the counter that looks like a viewer for a periscope with my glasses on. Backlit letters on two columns with four letters per row were on display. I was asked to read the letters of a couple of rows, which I breezed through. I had a bit of difficulty at the lower end, but what confused me greatly was that I was asked to read off the third column... there were only two columns! I had long pauses at this stage wondering what was being asked of me. And so I failed the test.

Nonetheless I was informed that the eye test was not the final word on the check-up, and that I need to go through an eye check-up with an Optometrist. And then I my photo was taken, and after a few minutes' waiting I sat my computerized theory exam. In order to pass, you can only have three mistakes out of 40 questions in half an hour. I had two wrong.

I then booked an appointment with OPSM that weekend, an Optical Centre at Johnsonville. Ten minutes and 30 dollars later, I had my eyesight certificate with me which I passed this time around.

My provisional driver's license arrived in the mail. Whew! I will need to practice first before doing the practical exam.

As you can surmise, it's really quite straightforward. The theory exam though can be quite nerve-wracking because you instantly know if you go the right or wrong answer before you move to the next (or you can skip the uncertains but of course you will have to return to those when you have exhausted the list). So be sure to study well!

15 October 2010

Convert your Philippine Driver's License to New Zealand's (part1)

While the public transportation system here in Wellington is actually ok, it is not as prolific as what we have back in the Philippines where we have tricycles, buses, taxicabs, electric trains and of course our jeepneys. You may use the trains and the buses (and I actually encourage public transport because it is the green way to travel), but it is also convenient to be able to drive around, and can even be more cost-effective for you (if you don't pay for your parking too, that is).

If you have a Philippine Driver's License, you may use this to travel New Zealand roads within a year of your arrival. Of course, your license's expiration date is precedent. It might take some getting used to though, because you'd be travelling on the opposite side of the road.

Converting your license to New Zealand's is an easy process. But because of the difference in driving system between our countries, we will need to pass both the theory and practical exam. Which is still loads better than going through the Learner license whereby you need to take two practical exams.

Firstly, you need to study for the theory exam. You may rent the book from the Wellington City Library and save yourself 25 bucks. However, take note that these books are leased to you for a week at a time only (versus a month for regular books) so make sure you return the book on or before a week and then just borrow another one!

Supplement your studies with online test exams such as these ones:
AAttitude Theory test quiz
Community Law's Car Drivers Road Code Test
AA's Free online NZ Road Quiz - the interface of this test closely resembles the computerized exam that you will sit.

Also, note that you can still have your licence (I keep forgetting, they spell license here with a "c") converted within a year of expiration of your Philippine driver's license.

Take the theory exam through an accredited NZ Transport Agency authorised licensing agent such as AA, VTNZ, or VINZ. You will need to bring with you your licence, a proof of billing address, and identification (I used my passport). They will need photocopies of these documents so better bring one copy each. It's cheaper to get photocopies from the Library (or from your home system if you have it) than from the Agent.

You will also need to get an eye exam prior to taking the exam, and you need to pay $95.70 fee (which may have already changed, due to GST increase starting this month).

But guess what. I failed the eye exam!
(to be continued)

Related Link: NZ Transport Agency

11 October 2010

Philippine-born Kiwi youngster sets NZ weightlifting records

Youngster Lou Guinares has set six national records while being the first New Zealand weightlifter in action at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

A delighted Guinares, 20, set both junior and senior records in the 56kg class at the Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex.

He lifted 94kg in the snatch and followed up with 124kg in the clean and jerk.

His combined total of 218kg placed him seventh in the 12-strong field.

For the Philippines-born Guinares, who has been in the sport for only two years, the Commonwealth Games was his biggest competition to date he described it as both "nerve-wracking" and "awesome".

Read the rest of this article at stuff.co.nz

08 October 2010

From Carabao to Sheep, An Information Booklet for Pinoy Migrants in New Zealand

A book launching ceremony will be held on 9 Oct 2010 at the Ponsonby Community Centre, 20 Ponsonby Terrace, Ponsonby, Auckland from 2:30PM to 5PM.

Why a new migrant’s booklet?
An inventory of the internet for materials catering to new migrants to NZ reveals a vast amount of information already available out there. From official advisories and step-by-step instructions from government websites to online guides and migrant packs from websites of private organisations. The amount of information is enormous such that it is very easy to be overwhelmed and end up being even more confused and lost.

Furthermore, most of the materials available publicly tend to be broad in scope; catering to all migrants from different parts of the globe. Some information are also most likely to be more applicable for those coming from the UK, USA and Europe, or Asian migrants in general. There is none written specifically with Filipinos in mind.

The main aim of this booklet is therefore twofold. First, simplify the complexity of settling in NZ; and second, tailor it for Filipinos. By only including the most important aspects in settlement, and by arranging the topics in more or less chronological order; from pre-departure to attaining permanent residency and assimilation with the community-- this booklet aims to provide an easy to follow and yet complete recipe a new migrant could use as a guide in the journey towards living a happy life in New Zealand. While a great deal of effort has been made to simplify the materials in this booklet, readers are nonetheless encouraged to do further readings by referring them to links to relevant websites all throughout this booklet.

Who is this booklet for?
Much of the information contained here was based from experiences and points of view of Filipinos currently living in Auckland. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that this booklet best suits Filipino new migrants intending to settle in Auckland. All the same, new migrants regardless of nationality and regardless where they want to settle in New Zealand should find most of the materials written here to be useful.

Who is this booklet NOT for?
This is not for visa or NZ Immigration applicants looking for tips and guidance on how to go about their applications. This is a settlement guide; NOT an immigration guide.

This article is reprinted with permission from Ka Uro

05 October 2010

Vote Puerto Princesa Subterranean River for New 7 Wonders of Nature

We have always alluded the Banaue Rice Terraces as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Offically there's only 7 Wonders, but I believe that giving such a title for one of our great treasures is proof that our natural and cultural heritage is a source of national pride and it's something we can showcase to the rest of the world.

Now, we are given the opporunity to actually put the Philippines on the Wonders of the World map, so to speak. The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the 28 Finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

Also known as St. Paul's Subterranean River National Park, it is reputed to be the longest navigable underground river in the world. The limestone formations are spectacular and awe-inspiring.  I've had the great opportunity to visit the beautiful island of Palawan with friends in the 90s and reaching the Park is an adventure by itself.  Along the way it is not uncommon to see monkeys and monitor lizards in the area.  Inside the tunnel, our guide pointed out some painted crosses on the wall; priests used the river as refuge during the war.  Coupled with its history, it's an other-worldly experience: the silent tug of the boat amidst the darkness, the beautiful formations, the cool air, an occasional drop of cold water.

If you are visiting Palawan, note that there are lots of other places to see and enjoy such as the Crocodile Farm, the Penal colony, go island hopping at Honday Bay. But a visit to the underground river should always be at the top of your list. For where else in the country (or the world?) can you experience riding a boat inside a magnificent subterranean river?  Unspoilt in its beauty, Palawan has a reputation of being the Last Frontier.
The Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, can also be found in Palawan.

As you can see from the rankings, we have a long way to go. Voting is ongoing til next year when the results will be announced on 11.11.11. Let us keep Palawan in our mindset and please actively promote this amongst your peers - especially those outside the Philippines -  and vote.  Note that votes outside the country of origin bear significant weight in the tally (see Latest Ranking).  Let us unite and make the Puerto Princesa Underground River part of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!

Visit either of the links below:
Puerto Princesa Underground River
New 7 Wonders of Nature (photo credit this site)

This post also appears in the Definitely Filipino blog
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