29 December 2011

Girl Tells Santa She Wants Dad Home From Iraq

A heartwarming true Christmas story to share with loved ones.
Video credit goes to CBS News Channel.

22 December 2011

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie trailer

Nearly 5 years after it was announced that The Hobbit was getting the silver screen treatment, we finally have a sneak preview through this movie trailer.

20 December 2011

Simbang Gabi at Johnsonville

We were a bit early...

We are so happy that the Filipino Chaplaincy has scheduled a number of the Simbang Gabi sessions at Johnsonville.  We are at least able to attend 3 of the masses (as I still have work at this time and we would not have been able to make it to the mass if it were elsewhere).
Mary and Joseph must still be on their way to Bethlehem

Simbang Gabi (literal translation: Night Mass) is a devotional nine-day series of masses which starts on 16 December and culminates on 24 December, the Misa de Gallo.  Simbang Gabi is a popular Christmas custom in the Philippines and is held early in the morning (around  5:00).  We usually wax nostalgic when we speak of Simbang Gabi because it is quite a memorable and happy experience.  Imagine waking up very early in the morning (that's the hard part!) and walk / drive the streets when the sun is barely up, then we sing favourite songs and carols in the mass, and when we leave the Church, the sun has just risen and we are ready for some hot pan de sal,  puto bombong, bibingka, and coffee!

11 December 2011

The OFW Project

We as Filipinos have always associated our families as being close-knit, providing a sense of togetherness which makes other cultures that promote independence a very radical mode of thinking indeed.  But there is a change happening to our society, and it is the direct effect of the deployment of our workforce to other countries.  Our OFWs - or Overseas Filipino Workers - are a blessing to the country in general because their remittances are a boon to the economy.  And to their families, a better standard of living as a result of the monetary compensation.

But are the families really better off?  We now have a large population of children who long for their mother or father (or both) and wish they are around to guide them, and be with them on Family Day at school.  We have parents whose child (usually the eldest) is working abroad to support the siblings through school.

05 December 2011

Johnsonville Christmas Parade 2011 1 of 2

There is something especially different with this year's parade. There is a Nativity float! Yay!

We missed the Ghostbusters this year.  Slimer must be in the middle of mishief.  The parade is lots of fun for the young and the young-at-heart.  Really good to have something like this to usher in the Christmas season. And as they say, a photo is worth a thousand words so here's a number of them (in 2 parts!)

 La la la la la la, la la la la la.....

01 December 2011

Sleeping under the stars again

It's been years since I last slept in a tent, under a night sky full of twinkling stars.  The last time I did so was 3 years ago back in the Philippines.  So when opportunity presented itself (a cloudless sky with only a slight breeze), I decided to have a taste of the outdoors once again.  And it's great that my son decided to join me in this journey as well!

25 November 2011

The story with a happy ending: Lola Aurelia and Lolo Luis

A photo is truly worth a thousand words.

I came across the above photo by Red Silva on Facebook.  I do not know Red, but this photo had been circulating in Facebook (I learned it's been shared around 50,000 times).  It is the photo of an old lady (whom we affectionately call Lola in the Philippines) looking for her husband who had been missing for two weeks already.

As her photo spread in the internet, local TV station GMA became interested in the story and decided to help Lola Aurelia in her search.  On 21 November, they finally found him.

It's a wonderful story to share, and what an opportune time it is to read this at Thanksgiving!

21 November 2011

The Filipino Chaplaincy Desk Calendar 2012

A perfect gift to your loved ones this Christmas! A must-have 2012 liturgical A5 Desk Calendar for Kiwi-Pinoys, complete with bible verses and annotations for monthly themes.

Only $8.00/Calendar ( Bulk Purchase for only $7.00/Calendar for Orders 10x or more). For orders please email our Finance Administrators Tere: tslacsamana@yahoo.com or Abbot: abbots100@gmail.com, or contact your Barangay Coordinators.

Payment thru Chaplaincy.  On-line Bank transfers acceptable.

18 November 2011

Out of this World Halloween Party in Wellington, New Zealand

Can you spot me?
Heh. Kidding.  Party days over for me I guess.
But can you spot the Sesame Street aliens?  Rather cool bunch.

15 November 2011

Intro to the NZ Education System: a seminar for new migrants

Introduction to the NZ Education System
When : Monday 21st November 2011
Time : 6.00pm -7.30pm
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

Migrant students and NCEA in NZ schools
When : Monday 5th December 2011
Time : 6.00pm -7.30pm
Guest presenter: Abdi Bihi, Migrant and Refugee Education Coordinator, Ministry of Education

Topics covered: .
NCEA - National Certificate of Educational Achievement
How NCEA compares to overseas secondary qualifications
NCEA assessment
Achievement and unit standards
Requirement for university entrance
How to help your children gain NCEA

There will be an opportunity to ask questions at the end of each session.    Both workshops will be held at Room 1, Te Awa Kairangi building, corner of Laings Rd and Myrtle St, Lower Hutt.

Light supper will be provided.

To register contact Vesna West (Settlement Support Coordinator) on 570 6786 or email vesna.west@huttcity.govt.nz

10 November 2011

Driving in reverse

Driving here in Wellington can be a pleasure, although I had not been really doing much of it because I have been quite conscious of my carbon footprint. But there are instances that I have to, especially since there aren't exactly jeepneys and tricyles around, and driving the car is loads cheaper than taking a cab. I would more readily take a bus though than, say, drive to work.

While it is general knowledge that people drive on the left side of the road here (which is the opposite of what we are accustomed to back in the Philippines), there are other things that one needs to observe here:

- in the Philippines, we flash our headlights when we want to drive ahead or cross an intersection and others would like to do so. Flashing the headlights here in New Zealand means the exact opposite: if you flash your headlights, you are informing the other driver that you are giving way.

 - there is a Give Way rule which means that vehicles to your right have the right to move first before you do.

This Give Way rule is actually confusing. An example we experienced before was an intersection where we were going to drive straight ahead. But at the opposite lane in front of us, the car is signalling to turn to the road to our left, which effectively meant he was coming from our right, so we had to give way. But the rule book stated that if we were going on a straight path, then we would have right of way. Another but: if in doubt, use the Give Way rule! So we were not sure and so we were trying to wait for what the other vehicle would do when the lights changed. It was a good number of seconds before we both started moving at the same time. And then we decided to floor it. Confusing indeed. There will be changes to the Give Way rule though in 2012 which should make things easier to discern, especially at intersections.

- Pedestrians have the right of way at pedestrian crossings (common sense and common courtesy).

- A lot of accidents happen due to drink driving.  It is amazing how I've been to a number of drinking sessions in Manila - driver drinking too - and we were able to go home unscathed.  Maybe the beer here is much stronger, as we are accustomed to drinking San Mig Light only.  Social drinkers, that's what we are.  No vodkas and tequilas.  Also, I guess the law is not really imposed that much there.  But the attitude here is different.  If you get flagged and you fail the breath test, then you pay the consequence.  So don't drink and drive.

07 November 2011

The All Blacks - Rugby World Cup 2011 Champions

This is old news I know, and although we enthusiastically followed the games I do not really know much about Rugby to warrant a blog post.  But I found this video which pretty much sums up the atmosphere and excitement around this event, and I would like to share this with you.

04 November 2011

Wellywood or what? Vote now

There are five alternatives to the Wellywood sign, all of which are now up for votation until 6 November.  On 9 November, the two most popular options will go against the original Wellywood sign in another voting match.

Here are the five entries:

Saw something you like?  Then head over to The Dominion Post website where descriptions about the above concepts are available, and then vote online.

(Photo credit: The Dominion Post)

01 November 2011

The Salvation Army's Halloween party

Every year at Halloween, we see kids dressed up in various costumes as they roam from house to house for their customary 'trick or treat'.  And every year the Salvation Army also plays host to a fun night of games. If the event falls on the same evening as trick or treating night, then expect lesser kids roaming the streets!  I think some parents prefer this too, because then they would know where their kids are and parents can also stay for coffee and mingle while the kids have their fun.

25 October 2011

Old St Paul's: magnificent

We were in the city on a weekend stroll when I realized we were very near Old St Paul's so we decided to make an unscheduled stop.  I've heard a lot about this Church and it was a good time as any to pay a visit.

Outside, the Church looks like one of the many such establishments in the area.  But inside, it's a different view altogether.  It is very beautiful, a fine piece of architecture which, as described in the Old St Paul's website, is of the Gothic Revival:
Old St Paul's is a fine example of 19th century Gothic Revival architecture adapted to colonial conditions and materials. Designed by the Reverend Frederick Thatcher, then vicar of St Paul's parish Thorndon, the first Anglican cathedral of Wellington is considered his best work. Constructed entirely from native timbers, the glowing interior is enhanced by stunning stained glass windows. Memorial items and displays tell the early history of Wellington.
While it is no longer a Parish Church, it is still consecrated.  And although it is Anglican in origin, the Church has become a non-denominational venue for weddings, baptisms, and other services.

18 October 2011

Filipiniana sa Aotearoa Radio Show

Filipinos Artists in New Zealand hosts a regular radio programme aired live on Wellington Access Radio 783AM band on Saturdays at 5-6PM.

You may also access previous episodes via the podcast through the Wellington Access Radio website.

From the Wellington Access Radio website:
A programme for the promotion of Filipino culture and heritage through music and arts, Filipino language and community service. Filipiniana Sa Aotearoa is made especially for the Filipino community and wider NZ society. Expect Philippine history, drama and story-telling. Tune in every Saturday 5-6pm!

15 October 2011

Filipinos fear Rena backlash

New Zealand Filipinos have appealed to Kiwis not to subject them to "racial hatred" as a result of the Rena grounding.

Filipinos living in Tauranga have been abused by local residents, who have given them the finger and told them they were at fault for the Rena disaster, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand coordinator Dennis Maga said. 

"Once you've been identified as a Filipino there is judgment that Filipinos are the culprits and your relatives, and you also should be blamed for this problem," Maga said.

"They shouldn't be judged. They should look at whoever made the mistakes. These Filipinos are New Zealanders - they're also suffering because they love the shore and that area."

continue reading the article at stuff.co.nz
Related: Reports of backlash against Filipino community | Radio New Zealand news article

14 October 2011

YouTube Philippines Launched!

To select YouTube Philippines, choose 'Philippines' as your location at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

12 October 2011

High School Haunted House

I stumbled upon this photo set on Flickr showing Nightmare's Fear Factory's latest victims customers.  My immediate thought was the cleverness in which the people behind this 'haunted house' use web technology to feature their product!  Yeah, pretty lame first reaction I know.  But it really is kind of compelling.  I looked through some photos and the comments that followed (expect some really funny ones, but others can be brutal).  One thing's for sure.  The look on their faces are priceless and it did make me visit their website for more details (and, if I were in their area, might have considered buying tickets too!)  

09 October 2011

Botanic Garden flora

Thought I'd share some more photos of flowers I took from the Botanic Garden visit.  It's really a beautiful welcome to spring.  Try to head out there if you haven't yet.  I hope the tulips are still around though!

(my son correctly identified this as an Iris)

04 October 2011

Challenge Young Motors: service with a smile

Thought I'd put in a good word for the good people at Challenge Young Motors, a petrol /vehicle service station at Ohariu Road in Johnsonville.

We had a dilemma one weekend: a flat tyre.  This is the first time we experienced this, and so we asked around where the best place would be to have it fixed without worrying about how much it will cost us.

29 September 2011

Tulip Festival 2011

Last Sunday (25 September) was Tulip Festival at the Botanic Garden. Incidentally, my mother-in-law is here with us on vacation so I thought this would be something she would really like.  And she did, wet weather notwithstanding!

We went to the Botanic Garden with Jo-Lo.  It started with the short but fun Cable Car ride (here's a tip if you're going to the Botanic Garden.  Visit the Library first and pick up a Spring Festival brochure near the entrance.  There's a voucher for a free one-way Cable Car trip!).

26 September 2011

The Haka

I am a bit hesitant to talk about some topics that New Zealand clearly places great value in, in case I misrepresent these and get the ire of the public. Not that I make controversial comments like Springboks coach Peter de Villiers.  But in this post I would like to make an objective observation on a local phenomenon called the Haka.

The Haka is traditionally a war cry or a challenge which originated from the Māori, an indigenous people in New Zealand. The Haka is characterized by the shouting of a chant coupled with matching hand and feet gestures, along with facial contortions which include showing the whites of the eyes and poking out of the tongue.

23 September 2011

Moving Planet: 24 September

Moving Planet will be a day to put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels. Join the Global Movement. Learn more at the Moving Planet website.

19 September 2011

Star Wars on Blu Ray!

In case you are wondering if I already own it on Blu Ray, no I still do not.  In fact we are still on DVD (boo-hoo-hoo!), my dream of having a surround sound system still a dream right now as we have other priorities to attend to.

Hmmm.... I'm actually feeling a bit nostalgic right now.  I used to have a 6-speaker surround sound system back in my apartment in Manila.  I just loved watching my favourite movies in surround sound.

Anyway, when I do get my sound system up and running, I will surely purchase this Star Wars Blu Ray pack  as well and have a looong Star Wars weekend off!  I am unabashedly a Star Wars fan.  Perhaps not as huge a fan anymore as I used to watch at least one episode per week, but certainly more than your average Joe.

11 September 2011

Remembering 9/11

Has it really been ten years since that fateful day?  It only seems like yesterday when I was in my apartment in Manila that night when I received an SMS from a friend saying that the US was being attacked.  My first thought was that it was a joke, like those text messages that tell you that you won a lottery you never joined.  I said what I thought, and the reply was to turn on the TV.  It did not matter which channel, just turn it on.  And there it was, one of the buildings of the Twin Towers in flame.  It was unbelievable.

I immediately texted my other friends as well and soon we were all in SMS frenzy.

I was glued to the set for hours on end.  I was mortified at seeing people falling from the dizzying heights.  And then another plane struck the other building! Thoughts raced in my head, all of them leaning towards death and destruction. 'Is this the end?'

On that day, the world became a much smaller place. The seemingly infallible can be attacked. The sleeping giant was roused from its sleep, and the fight surges til this day.

08 September 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011 Festival of Carnivale

Wellington is host to eight Rugby World Cup matches, including two quarter-finals.  And the city is drumming up a number of activities for the entertainment of tourists and locals alike.
The Festival of Carnivale will run from Friday 9 September to Sunday 9 October and will feature: 
  • a diverse array of art, performance and entertainment 
  • rugby-themed events and activities 
  • a strong focus on mana whenua and our Pasifika communities, as well as Wellington's other diverse cultures, including traditional Kiwi culture 
  • many free events 
  • something for everyone, whether they're locals or visitors, rugby fans or not.
(from the Wellington City Council website)
To learn more about events lined up at Wellington, visit wellingtonnz.com

05 September 2011

Dead for a year - and no one knew

This newspaper headline caught my eye early this week.  An 88 year old pensioner passed away, and he was alone.  No one knew he had died.  In his apartment, in an apartment block.  His body was found about a year later.

This story gave a lasting impression on me.  Firstly, I felt wonderment.  How was it possible that his death went unnoticed?  And then I felt pity, but this pity was immediately replaced with reasoning.  Perhaps he cherished his privacy so much he preferred to go this way.  Or maybe not.  We will never know, perhaps.

31 August 2011

Wellywood or what competition

Got a cool idea for the signage to be constructed by the Wellington Airport? Here's your chance to have your say by submitting your idea.

Wellywood haters who slammed the airport's proposed sign for being uninventive are being given the chance to come up with something better.  There will still be a sign - but whether it's Wellywood or something else is now in Wellington's hands.
Wellington International Airport is today announcing a public ideas drive and voting scheme to decide what will go up on the Miramar cutting.  The process will allow anyone to submit a proposal, so long as it can be built within the $80,000 budget and resource consent restrictions.

30 August 2011

Say something nice

This is a mission by my favourite group ImprovEverywhere.  Love it.

Have a great day everyone!

27 August 2011

Maligayang Buwan ng Wika, James Soriano!

Dahil sa Buwan ng Wika ay magsusulat ako ngayon sa wikang Pilipino.  Nguni't huwag nyong akalain na tuwing Linggo ng Wika ko lang ito ginagawa.  Sa bahay ay pambansang wika ang gamit namin (at paminsan-minsan naman ay nag-i-Ilocano rin kami) kung kaya't nakakaintindi ang anim na taon naming anak nito kahit na nahuhubog ang kanyang utak na magsalita ng Inggles.  Gusto namin syang maging bilingual at nang makahalubilo nya ang kanyang mga pinsan kapag nagbababakasyon sa Pilipinas.

Masarap bigkasin ang ating wika.  Para kang tumutula.  Ng mahabang mahaba.  At uupo kasi tapos na po.  Ang mga bugtungan natin, kay hulaan.  At ang ating mga Kundiman ay makababag-damdamin!  Kung kaya't hinihikayat ko si Ginoong James Soriano na muling buksan ang kanyang isipan at bigyan ng pagkakataon ang kanyang sarili na suriin ang wikang Filipino sa kanyang makulay na nakaraan.  Magbasa ng Florante at Laura, ang Ibong Adarna, mga likha ni Lualhati Bautista.  O kaya ay manood ng sarsuela (kung meron pa...) at manood ng pelikulang Pilipino.

24 August 2011

What to say...

It seemed only a few days back when we had the unexpected snowfall here in Wellington.  It was a thrilling experience for me and my family.  Jo-Lo and I made the most of it because we knew it would not last long.  And I did not feel compelled to write right after that.

I found new inspiration though, through a couple of books I brought with me from the Philippines after our vacation there last December.  It's Dr Juan Flavier's Barrio books which he wrote in the 70s.  I will write about that at length in future posts.

16 August 2011

Day 3 of Snow in Wellington

I was at the bus stop with a couple of commuters waiting for our ride and we were doing small talk when a Metlink car arrived and informed us that the bus was not arriving because the roads were slippery.  Dangerous for hilly areas like ours (or on any area for that matter, come to think of it).  The other option for us was to walk down to the mall and wait for any other buses at the stop.  I remembered though how slippery the road was when I walked to the stop, and I was not about to start a longer walk with my office shoes on (which was a bad idea I guess, but I had a meeting to go to).  I did not want to take my chances that morning and the weather forecast was glum for the rest of the day, so I decided to just go home and take the day off.  Or rather, do some work at home.  So I cancelled my meeting and got some stuff done for the office.

By noon, the sun was quite high and the warmth was melting the snow away.  So we went out for a bit and had some more photos with our favourite snowman.  Even Christine was able to have her photo taken with us!

15 August 2011

Day 2 of Snow in Wellington

Snow or not, we have work and Jo-Lo has school.  We anticipated the roads to be slippery and so I walked Jo-Lo to school.
The roads have been cleared of snow, but it seems we had some rains last night and so some of the snow on the sidewalk has turned to slippery ice, so we walked carefully and slower than usual.

I crossed the park enroute to the bus stop and the playground was also covered with snow.  Not that I expected it not to, but at the same time I half-expected it would be gone at this time, because snow is not really commonplace in Wellington.

14 August 2011

Snow in Wellington

What started out as a drizzle became white, fluffy things that turned out to be snow! It started at around 4:30PM today. After half an hour we had quite a good layer of snow to create a snowman and have snowball fights!

The 6PM news said that this happens only about once in ten years! So we made the most of it and Jo-Lo and I even had a short walk around the neighbourhood while there was still light.  What fun!  Most unexpected, but a welcome surprise.

The snow was just starting at this stage.

12 August 2011

New Zealand Mint to release legal tender Star Wars coins

Oh wow, this is exciting news indeed.  The New Zealand Mint will release Star Wars coins!  And they're legal tender!  Fat chance that we would see any in general circulation.  I just might be tempted to purchase a coin... or two.  But an entire set would be too much of an investment.  It would be so cool though if I can get a set with its custom casing!

11 August 2011

Got extra pots and pans? Give them to new migrants

The Filipino Chaplaincy of Wellington is looking to assist new migrants by acting as a conduit for those who want to help, and match them to those who need help.  One thing we as a family experienced when we were also new to the country was the challenge of acquiring the basic necessities (we only had clothes and camping utensils when we arrived!).  Strangers (and good friends since then) came to the rescue and gave us stuff we can use temporarily.  Much of the stuff we received though are in very good condition and we still have these til now.  But I digress...

05 August 2011

Please help Baby Liam

This is a plea for financial assistance for baby Liam, whose plight has been in focus in the Definitely Filipino blog.

A miracle happened yesterday because of all the prayers and the positive force that went Baby Liam's way.

It has been a week since the first post asking for support and prayers for a 42-day old baby suffering from severe Pneumonia and Sepsis. I called the Good Samaritan Hospital in Nueva Ecija the other day to check on the baby and was told that Baby Liam is fighting for his life and had to be intubated. It was the baby's 3rd day with a tube to help him breathe when I called. Another post was made to ask for more support, both posts generated an overwhelming response with over 140,000 FB impressions, THANKS to all the DF members who shared the alert and offered their prayers and reinforcement.

03 August 2011

A relaxing weekend

What is a relaxing weekend for me?

It's an afternoon spent with my son with a tent outside...

31 July 2011

Five websites I love visiting

Save for my usual technology and movie haunts, here are five websites I always make a point of visiting at least once a week.  You might find my favourites interesting too!

TED (http://www.ted.com/)
Inspiring talks and ideas. One could spend hours trawling through the website and listening to short but informative and inspiring talks. Never fails to make me smile and wonder.

28 July 2011

A robot that flies like a bird

I'm always fascinated by robots.  This one, from TED Talks, is simply amazing, and I would like to share it with you.

25 July 2011

Are you a Permanent Resident / Citizen? Then register to vote

When we became Permanent Residents, one question I had was if we needed to register as votes, of if we already had the right to vote at all. It did not seem important at that time, so I sort of forgot about it. And then I received a letter from Elections NZ indicating that it is a legal requirement to be a registered voter, and that I should enrol.

16 July 2011

My LinkedIn Profile, as told through business cards

Spanning 17 years working in Information Technology.

Started out as a Sales Engineer.
Spent time outside of office hours chatting via the BBS (Bulletin Board System).  Quite happy that management, who were only a couple of tables from me, permitted this.

Moved to Systems Engineering, in charge of the Network General Sniffer System and designed Local Area Networks.  At that time, it mattered that you know what an Ethernet frame was and what's inside it.  Token Ring and FDDI were touted as more reliable than Ethernet (10Mbps at that time).  Guess where these are now.  Less than a year later, became Supervisor.  We also maintained the company email system running on Linux.  I was thrilled at the prospect of running a Unix system.

12 July 2011

A weekend trek

Last Sunday was turning out to be a fine day, one of the rare sunny afternoons in this winter season.  Russell's Dad (Russell is Jo-Lo's classmate) phoned and wondered if we were interested to go on an afternoon tramp. It's been a while since we climbed the mountain in our "backyard" and it's either that or a video game afternoon; we needed the exercise anyway so off we went to Mt KauKau!

The first stop after a 20-minute walk to the trek entrance

08 July 2011

And our beloved Astromech Droid is number one!

Newsarama.com counted down the 10 coolest robots in pop culture history, and no other than R2-D2 topped the list!  Being a huge fan of the astromech droid myself, this comes as no surprise.  My personal list would change in the 2-9 ranking compared with theirs, but their top choice is without contest.

In celebration of this news, I am showing here my collection of R2-D2 figures, all of which are back in the Philippines (save for a small R2-D2 Lego figure).

04 July 2011

A PostSecret Wedding

The email below is part of this week's PostSecret.  It's a very nice story, and I would like to share it with you. Oh, and the Dominic mentioned therein is not me!
My name is Ashley. Four years ago this coming October I discovered the PostSecret Community. It was a safe haven, a place to share my deepest thoughts and feelings, it was a place to be one hundred percent myself.

I had no idea or intention to pursue any sort of romance through PSC, my closest friends and family had no idea I even participated in online forums... PSC was my secret. Then I met Dominic.

25 June 2011

Look what the stork brought us!

This week is a momentous one for my family, because last Tuesday our daughter was born.  It certainly is another one of life's surprises.  Three years ago I did not think I'd be living in another country, but here we are.  One year ago I never would have thought we'd be new parents again, but here we are.  I hope the next surprise will be at the Lotto!

My wife delivered our second child at the Wellington Hospital, and as a C-section patient she stayed there til today (Saturday).  I have been at the hospital during those days.  If we were permitted to sleep there, I would have done so too.  But overall the hospital personnel have done a wonderful job at looking after my wife and child.  The facilities are great too.  A big THANK YOU to the wonderful staff at Wellington Hospital!

20 June 2011

PAG-IBIG Fund now mandatory for OFWs

I learned that Overseas Filipino Workers are now required to pay P100 monthly to their PAG-IBIG Fund.  This bit of news reminded me of the time my wife and I withdrew our PAG-IBIG Fund early this year because we have migrated to a new country.  Even as employees in the Philippines, we did not find much value as PAG-IBIG Fund members.  SSS was ok because we were able to take out a loan, but the primary service we knew of PAG-IBIG is that it can be used for a housing loan.  But with salaries just enough to get by every month, there wasn't really much left to pay for a housing loan.  So we were comforting ourselves with the fact that the company we work for sets aside money for our PAG-IBIG Fund which we can use someday.

16 June 2011

My kind of tagging

"Tagging" is the local term in New Zealand for vandalism.  This is a prevalent problem here, and a number of measures have been taken to curb this, such as imposing an age limit to those who buy spray paint, and meting punishment to those caught in the act.

There is, however, another form of tagging that's eliciting more positive than negative responses, and it involves yarn.  They call it graffiti knitting.  Instead of defacing public property with paint spray (and getting the general ire of the public), graffiti knitting is given a lot more thought to how the knitted pattern is made and placed.  In a sense it's still defacing public property, but in a cute and fun sort of way.

13 June 2011

How to sponsor a visitor to New Zealand

We have recently received word that my mother-in-law's Visitor Visa has been approved.  If you are also thinking of sponsoring your relative based in the Philippines for a visit here in New Zealand and you are looking for information, I hope our experience will be of some use to you.

What we did was we accomplished the papers here in Wellington, then had these papers delivered to my mother-in-law, who then affixed her ID photo and signature where applicable and then sent these off to the Manila Branch of NZ Immigration.  There is a provision in the Application Form for this where you declare that you are assisting the applicant in filling out the documents, so this is legal.

09 June 2011

Undercover Boss' Baja Fresh Episode: inspiring

One of my favourite TV shows currently is Undercover Boss where a top management personnel (usually the CEO or General Manager) works with the ranks disguised as a trainee.  All the episodes I have seen so far have been great, but this one tops the list so far and has prompted me to blog about it.

06 June 2011

KASAGIP Friendship Meeting, 25 June

KASAGIP Charitable Trust is inviting Filipinos in the Wellington region to attend their Friendship Meeting, the aim of which is to organise volunteer efforts towards helping fellow migrants, especially the new arrivals, to make new friends and provide assistance.  If you are new to the country, you are most welcome to join us.

This free event will be on

25 June 2011
at the Johnsonville Community Centre
at 2:00 - 4:00 PM

Learn more about KASAGIP Charitable Trust at their website.

02 June 2011

There goes Wellywood

The proposed Wellywood sign has had its share of the limelight for the past few weeks.  Well, it had actually been in the drawing board since last year, but construction was held off (also slated for June).  And when announced that it was pushing through this year, it had received yet again a public outcry, with more people opposing than in favour of it.

Personally I have been watching the events unfold from the sidelines, neither favouring nor opposing the sign.  Hollywood isn't making it easy either.  But with the airport now holding off on the construction and is looking for alternatives, perhaps they might look at something that will be a more unique identifier for the successful Wellington-based film industry.

30 May 2011

Star Tours final full ride

This is it. The highlight of my trip in the US so many years ago. I am unabashedly a huge Star Wars fan and to experience Star Tours was a dream come true.

24 May 2011

Tabi-tabi po!

I was still quite young then, and I no longer remember why we were there but I remember it fondly because it was such a beautiful sight.

My siblings and I were walking along a dark road by the fields in rural Dagupan. There were no street lights, and the way ahead was lit only by the moon and the stars. And then we suddenly saw it: a tree festooned with a thousand lights from fireflies. It was so beautiful, like a huge Christmas tree! We were about to go for a closer look when our sister stopped us and said such trees have treasures hidden somewhere, but a terrible guardian (a bantay) is also there; it’s not worth the visit. And so we gave the tree a wide berth and moved on.

21 May 2011

113th celebration of Philippine Independence and 150th Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal

Dear friends,

Every year, the Filipinos commemorate its gaining of independence from its colonizers on 12 June 1898.  This year, it will be special because aside from the celebration of the 113th Year Anniversary of our Philippine Independence, we will also celebrate 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, our National Hero.

The programme will start at 11:00am with a Catholic Mass, then a “salo-salo” where you could sample the delicious Philippine foods/regional delicacies. Cultural show starts at 1.30 until 3.30, an exciting 2 hrs of excellent performances, including a theatre performance on the history of Philippine Independence (supported by Creative Communities NZ), and a show highlighting Dr. Jose Rizal’s life and achievements. Entertainment from our Filipino bands and disco will follow suit, from 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

What: 113th celebration of Philippine Independence and 150th Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal
When: 12 June 2011, 11:00-5:30pm
Where: Indian Community Centre, 46 Kemp St., Kilbirnie, Wellington

15 May 2011

Weta Cave: amazing!

The Weta Cave is a mini-museum of props, scale models, and various production materials for movies that Weta worked with.  Weta is more popularly known for groundbreaking film Lord of the Rings and is one of my favourite movies of all time!  The Weta Cave showcases materials from that film, as well as from a lot of memorable others.

04 May 2011

2011 Philippine Independence Day Celebration in Wellington

The Philippine Embassy invites all Filipinos and friends in New Zealand in celebrating the 113th Anniversary of Philippine Independence and the 150th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal on Sunday, 12 June 2011 (10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.) at the Wellington Indian Cultural Center, 48 Kemp St. Kilbirnie, Wellington.

01 May 2011

Dorrie Leslie Park

Dorrie Leslie Park is located at Lyall Bay in the southern region of Wellington.  We stopped by for picnic/lunch here with friends one weekend.  It's a nice little park with a picnic table and an awesome view of the water.  Also nearby is the international airport.  We saw a couple of planes fly over the bay and onto the runway.

It's a nice place to stop by and spend a relaxing couple of hours in.

27 April 2011

Filipino Chaplaincy - Wellington website now online

I usually get my copy of Tambuli, the Filipino Chaplaincy newsletter, through an online messaging group and I was wondering how come the Chaplaincy did not have a website to centralize information and resources.

The good news is the Filipino Chaplaincy in Wellington now has a website!  It was launched last Sunday.  Now everyone has a place to go to for information on Chaplaincy news and events.

Speaking of which, the Outreach Ministry has announced that the 3rd Sunday of May will be offered for new migrants.  

23 April 2011

Visita Iglesia

Visita Iglesia is a traditional Catholic tradition practised in the Philippines during the Lenten season.  It literally means "Church Visit", and it is just that: a visit to seven Churches while contemplating on the fourteen stations of the cross.  Two stations are meditated on per Church.

Friends organized a Visita Iglesia and we were happy to be able to join.  This is normally done on Maundy Thursday, but because we still have work on that day, we did it on Good Friday instead.  Our pilgrimage was capped off with a 3:00PM mass where the passion of Christ was commemorated.

20 April 2011

From Genesis Energy: Join our volunteers heading to Christchurch

Hi there,

Our Canterbury neighbours still need our help.

That's why we're giving volunteers the chance to fly to Christchurch and lend a hand for the day.

And we've teamed up with the Red Cross, who'll make sure we hit the ground running when we get there.

We'll provide flights, airport transfers in Christchurch, and your snacks and lunch for the day. All you need to do is wear suitable clothing and be prepared to get stuck-in.

Roselle Ramirez Fund

To our friends and members of the Filipino Community

KASAGIP would like to enjoin you to support the family of Roselle Ramirez (from Paraparaumu) who died from a recent tragedy. A Roselle Ramirez fund has been set up to help her family. If you would like to make a donation to the fund, the details of the account are as follows:

Roselle Ramirez Fund
03 0732 0613275 000
Westpac Paraparaumu Branch

Please pass this on to your contacts.

18 April 2011

Do Not Call Registry

One of the things I was happy to leave behind in my previous work in Manila was the huge amount of cold calls for advertisements and promos that I received.  Even with a receptionist filtering the calls, a fair number still manages to go through.  Here in New Zealand, I am happy to note that I have not received such calls at work.  The unsolicited ones I receive are related to my work (software, web design) so those are ok.  And these are too far between that I do not mind these at all.

We learned fast, though, that the scenario changes here.  Instead of receiving calls at work, you receive it at home.  We've had calls for offers on cheaper long distance phone calls, vacations through a discount card, solicitations/donations.  It became so bad that there came a time when we no longer wanted to answer the phone and had thought about purchasing a caller ID / voicemail thingamajig.  Honestly, we really do not have that much money to go around and while we do donate to organisations of interest, we are not exactly happy about receiving calls asking for donations.  We try our best to politely decline but some of them can be so persistent.

14 April 2011

ASEAN Presents SouthEast Asian Night Market

Bring all the family to sample the exciting sounds and spicy aromas of the third Southeast Asian Night Market which will spread out along the Wellington waterfront at Frank Kitts promenade and Shed 6 on Saturday 16 April 2011 from 4.00pm to 10.00pm. In the event of bad weather, the market will be held on Sunday 17 April from 4pm to 10pm.

The ten member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - have combined to bring you delicious food, colourful crafts and non-stop entertainment from Indonesian puppetry to Malaysian tea pulling.

The Philippines will host a coconut skull race and tumbang preso!

Read more from the asia:online website

13 April 2011

Advisory for Philippine Nurses seeking employment in New Zealand

The Philippine Embassy urges registered nurses or nursing graduates, based in the Philippines and wishing to seek employment in New Zealand, to ensure that they observe the proper procedure in obtaining accreditation or recognition of their credentials as registered nurses with the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NZ Nursing Council) before deciding to move to New Zealand in order to avoid incurring unnecessary and huge expenses. Philippine nurses are strongly advised to refrain from going to New Zealand unless they have passed the IELTS or OET in the Philippines and have completed the registration process by the NZ Nursing Council which they could do very well on their own.

10 April 2011

Constant Change

I've had a busy weekend. So busy that after our regular grocery session, I no longer found the energy to do my usual tasks at home.  We just sat there and stared at the TV screen.

And then I thought about changing the layout of my blog.  After all, I may not have the energy to do stuff around the house, but my brain is still buzzing and I still have enough energy to sit through a couple of hours' computer session.

I thought to myself, all I need to do is change the template then restore the widgets.  Easy peasy.  I'll be done in time for bed.  And then I started copying my blogroll one at a time... and to do this I have to open each blog so I can copy the links.  At this stage I was struck with melodrama.  I recalled my early blogging years, when blogging and bloghopping were synonymous.  I kept constant contact with my blogroll, and even got to meet some great people in the real world!

07 April 2011

Pa-sine sa Johnsonville

Jesus of Nazareth
6 p.m. Friday, 08 April 2011
Sts Peter & Paul Parish Church
Dr Taylor Terrace
Johnsonville, Wellington

Entry by Koha*
All proceeds go to Caritas for Christchurch earthquake appeal.
Refreshments are provided.

05 April 2011

Block Rosary

I was surprised to see a special guest to our home early last week.  Mother Mary has come to visit us for a week.  This is called Block Rosary, which is quite popular in the Philippines.  It is thus named because a 'block' of families gather as one to pray the Rosary.  Mother Mary visits a house where she stays for a predetermined length of time, and families would go to that house to pray the rosary.  When Mother Mary moves to another house, a mini-procession usually ensues, accompanied with candles and solemn singing.

01 April 2011

Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday

And this is no April Fool joke... Daylight Saving Time ends this coming Sunday, 3 April. Time to take back the hour "lost" when we started DST last year! The time change officially starts on 3AM when it becomes 2AM. So that means... an extra hour of sleep!

I was once confused whether we need to move back or advance our watches come DST change time but a friend shared me this witty quote that sorts it all out:

Spring forward, Fall back

Unfortunately this also signals the end of the merry, warm summer days. We're moving into winter... time to bring out the heaters and thick jackets!

28 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011

We had a feeling of deja vu last Saturday as we turned off the lights a few minutes after we started dinner. My wife pointed out that last year, we were also having dinner when we turned off the lights, and we also just finished watching American Idol at that time.

We had a relatively quiet Earth Hour; I was planning to put up the tent in the lawn so we can watch the stars but the weather had other things in mind. So stay put inside the house we did.

But telling our Earth Hour story is not the reason why I am writing about it, though.

This event has been running for quite some time now, but there are still some people who do not get the point of it all. They say turning off your lights for one hour is not going to do anything at all, and that you need to do something more substantial in order for your efforts to have an effect.

"The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step."

Earth Hour is that single step. When you realize that something as simple as turning off your lights is doable, then you may realize that it isn't so bad at all if you turn off the lights in the room where no one's using it, or properly shut the faucet so it's not dripping, or don't use the hot water on the tap all the time. These things add up to, and if everyone is made aware of this, then together we can all make the change happen. That's where the + comes in the logo. Earth Hour, beyond the hour.

25 March 2011

Capital E! National Arts Festival's GlobalFest

GlobalFest marks the closing of the National Arts Festival and celebrate the diversity of our beautiful city in a fun free afternoon for the whole family.

Enjoy great food, hands-on crafts and activities, and stunning dance and music performances in this day long celebration of Wellington and its people. Civic Square will come alive with a sea of colourful costumes, scintillating sounds and tantalising tastes.

Bring the family and party away the closing day of the Festival!

Date and Time: Sun 27 March, 10am - 3pm
Venue : CIVIC SQUARE (Wet weather venue - Capital E)
Duration: As long as you like
Age: Everyone
Price: Free

Reference: Capital E! website

21 March 2011


We were treated to a cool view of the moon last night. There were a few clouds about, but in the areas where the skies are clear, the stars shone through behind a majestic blue. The full moon was especially captivating. I remembered I have just installed Google Sky Maps on my Android phone and I asked my son Jo-Lo if he wanted to do a little stargazing. To which he excitedly agreed.

And so there we were under the cool night sky, trying to spot constellations through the phone. Watching this sky reminded me of how vast our universe is. And we, ever the curious beings, have always tried to search for answers to the whys, the hows, the whens of everything around us.

Then I remembered that at this very weekend, the moon will be closest to the earth in 18 years and it will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. A Supermoon, that’s what it’s called. And it’s happening tonight.

However, aside from being an interesting celestial phenomenon, there is also a superstitious side to it. The moon, which affects our ocean’s tides, can apparently bring about natural disasters in the order of earthquake and tsunamis when it is closest to Earth. Such dire predictions coming in the wake of recent tragic events can make our imaginations run wild! While many – especially scientists – dismiss such allegation as fiction, others take the safe approach of staying in the comfort of their own homes. Just in case the big one strikes…

Tonight is a case for pondering. We humans have advanced so much these past years. We have the power to flatten mountains, build skyscrapers, see and talk with each other halfway across the world, clone plants and animals. But every so often something happens that makes us realize that we are at the mercy of the elements, no matter what clever inventions we can come up with. Just look at the sky tonight and gaze at the Supermoon. Are we looking at the very thing that will be the cause of another catastrophe? Or believe in what the men of science have to say? Science, or superstition? With so many uncertainties in this world, where would you put your trust in?

(This article also appeared in the Definitely Filipino blog)
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