11 December 2013

Kabayan Issue No. 4 now available

The Kabayan Magazine Summer Issue is now available!

(In case you're wondering, is the quarterly publication for the Wellington-based Filipino community).

This issue is rather significant to me because I have an article contribution in it!  Reminds me of the times I contributed articles to various publications back in the Philippines.  Sometimes the topics assigned were too much of a challenge (such as correlating Valentine's with anime' - I had to write and re-write for 2 weeks and still it did not come out right), but there were definitely loads more articles that I enjoyed writing.  This is one of them (which I enjoyed!), and I hope it shows with the way I have written the article.  My topic is about Filipinos celebrating a summer holiday here in New Zealand and how to spot them.  It actually made me nostalgic about my summer adventures back in the Philippines with friends and family.

Here is the Kabayan Summer Issue in PDF (7MB).  It is also available in e-magazine format at the Pinoystop website (along with the earlier issues).

26 November 2013

A worthwhile endeavour

As with a lot of people all over the world, we also felt that we needed to do something as news of the devastation from the typhoon in the Philippines trickled in.  We started to think of ways to fundraise, and finally decided on a Garage Sale, with request for donations of baked goods.

As news of the project gained momentum, people started dropping off goods.  From company announcements to social media alerts, the message made its way around, and friends and strangers started pitching in.

The group made its way to the Garage last Wednesday to help with sorting, then followed it up the day before the event.  It was hard work, but it was fun too.

The reception this activity received on Saturday was just amazing.  We had people buying a small item and refusing their change.  Some tried to buy as much as they can.  Still, others simply went there to donate cash.  Many lingered and chatted while enjoying the baked goods, pan de sal and arroz caldo for brunch.

We raised around $1,500.00 from this event, with donations by electronic banking still ongoing til this Friday.  The group will endeavour to make every cent count and get the money sent directly to the beneficiary (which is currently under discussion).

Maraming salamat po (thank you very much) for everyone who supported this project!

If you would like to contribute to this activity, please visit the BarkadahaNZ website.

14 November 2013

Fundraising for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines

Barkadahanz is an organisation of Filipino families located in the Northern suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand. We are currently raising funds for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

We are coordinating with various local agencies helping in Tacloban and nearby communities to find the best way of channeling our donations. Please watch this page for updates re this fundraising initiative.

If you want to donate through us please use the account details (for electronic banking) below:
ASB Account No. 12 3223 0160240 50
Reference: HAIYAN
Code: your surname

For further inquiries, please contact:
Cory Gawe (04 4774251 / 027 588 2276), or
Nick or Tina Ballesteros (04 477 4069)

We are also running a Garage Sale on the 23rd of November. Details below (click image to enlarge).

Salamat po for your assistance. Please help spread the word also.

11 November 2013

Free green crates for Recycling Week

The Wellington City Council giving away green crates for Recycling Week!

Recycling Week 2013 starts today, and the Wellington City Council is giving away green crates. If you need a new crate for your glass recycling stop in at the Service Centre on Wakefield Street and pick one up or call 499 4444 to have one delivered.

Free of charge for this week only.

Source: Wellington City Council on Facebook

09 November 2013

Johnsonville Craft Fair 2013

This is on Friday, 15th November, 7-9pm at the Johnsonville Community Centre. Entry fee applies.

(This is my first post using the Blogger application for Android)

04 November 2013

ASEAN Film Festival 2013

When: Sat 9 & Sun 10 Nov 2013, Sat 11am–3.15pm, Sun 10.30am–5.15pm
Where: Soundings Theatre, Level 2, Te Papa Museum
Cost: Free entryType: Film

The Wellington embassies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are pleased to present the ASEAN Film Festival 2013. Enjoy a diverse selection of films, ranging from drama to comedy and animation. Entry is free, so bring your family and friends.


Sat 9 Nov
11am: Sandcastle,Singapore, M sex scenes, offensive language, nudity (1hr, 32 min)
1.30pm: Garuda Di Dadaku (Garuda in My Heart), Indonesia, PG (1 hr, 36 min)

Sun 10 Nov
10.30am: SeeFood, Malaysia, PG frightening scenes (1 hr, 33 min)
1pm: Four Sisters and a Wedding, Philippines, PG coarse language and sexual references (2 hr)
3.30pm: The Overture,Thailand, M violence and horror scenes, content may disturb (1 hr, 40 min)

For further information, visit the Te Papa Museum website

21 October 2013

Lego Castle Model No. 70400 Review

The Warehouse was offering Lego models at 20% off, and we thought it was a good idea to purchase a box, even if it was one of the smaller ones.  And when we spotted this Lego Castle box, we knew it was going to be a good one.  At $14.39, it's really a good deal because there's 4 minifigs in the box!  And add to that the accessories included in the set, this is indeed a nice find.

16 October 2013

Betty White - Safety Old Style

I love Betty White (who doesn't?) and I thought it was genius for Air New Zealand to feature her in one of their in-flight safety videos. This comes in the wake of another memorable safety video which involved Lord of the Rings characters some time back.

Golden Girl Betty White proves age is just a number as she gives us the old school version of Air New Zealand's in-flight safety (YouTube video description).

Win the trip of a lifetime! 
Watch and be in to win a trip for 2 to either sunny Palm Springs USA or spectacular Hanmer Springs in New Zealand.

Go to http://www.airnewzealand.com/safetyoldschool 

 You and a friend could enjoy Air New Zealand's ageless comfort as you fly to either Palm Springs or Queenstown for 7 nights of rest and play including planned activities and a rental car. Click the web address above to enter.

13 October 2013

How to borrow e-books from the Wellington City Libraries

My son has received a Kobo Mini e-book reader over the school holidays, and he enjoys reading from it.  It has become his nightly habit, prior to turning in for the night.  Here is a quick tutorial on how to borrow e-books from the Wellington City Libraries.

Do subscribe to the YouTube Channel Jo-Lo's Hangout, for kids' toys, hobbies and crafts videos!

05 October 2013

Lego Minifigures Series 11

We bought some Lego Minifigures Series 11 blind bags recently as they were on sale (3 for $10! Usually $4.99 each).  In this case, we actually bought 5 Series 11 and 1 Series 9 (we were hoping to get the Chicken Man, which looks like a nice addition to our collection).

Here's what we have so far!

Holiday Elf
I like this one primarily because I like collecting Christmassy stuff.  And it dos help that the Elf includes a big gift box and a teddy bear!  The ears are attached to the green cap.

Gingerbread Man
We're happy to get this one!  Such a unique Minifigure.  Nice markings, and the head looks like one of those colourful macarons we see in confectionery shops, with dark chocolate filling.  Really nice minifig overall.

30 September 2013

Jo-Lo on ukulele

My son sang a song while playing the ukulele at their school assembly recently.  Proud Dad!

17 September 2013

Jo-Lo's Hangout: Mobile Zoo Birthday Party

We got invited to my friend Ia's birthday party. There was a mobile zoo and it was fun having the cute animals around!

09 September 2013

Daffodil Festival at Carterton

The early Sunday morning sun found us taking an hour-long road trip to the quaint town of Carterton.  It was  the day of the Daffodil Festival, and we're trying to go early so we can bring home a nice bunch of daffodils.  I have never seen a daffodil field before, and I imagined it would be quite a sight so we said 'yes!' to an invitation to attend the festival.

04 September 2013

Lego Galaxy Squad Model 70707 Review

I have this agreement at home that we will buy Lego only when it's on sale (at least 20% off), or when there's a special occasion for it.  Well, it was Father's Day last weekend and that was a good enough excuse!

After lingering for about half an hour on the Lego section, we skipped the licensed stuff (Star Wars and Super Heroes) and got a Galaxy Squad box instead.  There are couple of things that we liked about this model: a robot and a spaceship.  And the fact that these can combine made it all the more attractive.

29 August 2013

Jo-Lo's Hangout No. 6: Yellow Submarine

From my son's YouTube Channel:My little sister Christine loves bubbles. We saw this toy on sale: a bubble machine in the shape of a submarine, and thought she might like it. But she's not fond of vehicles, just mostly stuffed toys and her Duplo. Will she like this toy just the same? Watch the video to see her reaction!

19 August 2013

Despicable Me 2 Minions from McDonald's Happy Meal

Jo-Lo's Hangout No. 5 
McDonald's released 12 Minions in New Zealand, and we were able to capture them all! Here's my video of the Minion toys. Guess which ones I like!

14 August 2013

Kinder Surprise surprise

Kinder Surprise went on sale at $1.99 a couple of weeks ago and so we bought one from the Smurfs box.  The thing about Kinder Surprise is that you cannot guarantee that you will get a Smurfs toy, but that's part of the excitement.  At the regular price though, I find this treat to be too expensive so we buy only when it's on sale.  We got lucky the first time and got a Papa Smurf!  Very nicely detailed.

11 August 2013

Fair Weather Friend, Day 6

This is the final day of my Wellington Weather post.  When I started this last Tuesday, the Saturday forecast was looking bleak.  I was hoping for a change in the weather - some sun at least because we were going to be out and about.  Some sun and a little rain will be ok.

And the weather did change slightly.  Saturday was great, with sun and overcast skies, and some scattered drizzle.  And though it rained today, it wasn't that strong and we managed our trips just fine.

The lesson I learned from this week's blog marathon is that while the Wellington weather can change unexpectedly, the forecast can be reliable for the next couple of days.  Four days into the future and onwards, you can take the forecast with a pinch of salt.  But if there is prediction of a major disturbance such as a storm, of course it is always best to heed the warning!

10 August 2013

Fair Weather Friend, Day 5

From a rainy forecast last Tuesday, the weekend weather changed for the better.  The early morning was a bit damp and foggy...
... but by 9am the sky cleared and we had sun!

It drizzled by mid-afternoon, but it stopped, and then it started drizzling again tonight.  Tomorrow will be the final day for this weather forecast series; let's see how things turn out then.

09 August 2013

Fair Weather Friend, Day 4

The weather did actually turn out for the better today.  After a period of early morning fog, we saw a bit of sunshine during the rush hour, and the afternoon wasn't that bad too.  And look!  The forecast for tomorrow has gotten better!

08 August 2013

Fair Weather Friend, Day 3

There is a light change in the weather forecast for today.  From yesterday's prediction of a few showers, it became rain today.  And it did rain in the afternoon.  When office hours ended, the rain has stopped (which is good).  The forecasts have been relatively correct so far.

While Friday's also changed to having a bit of sunshine, it's still not looking too grand for the weekend.

06 August 2013

Fair weather friend

I've always wanted to do this: monitor the weather for a 5-day period and see if the weather happens as predicted.  They say that Wellington can have 4 seasons in a day, that is how unpredictable it can be.  Well, I just wanted to see how the weather prediction can change over a week.  So... here is day 1 (today):

I am hoping for a better-than-forecasted weather for the weekend, so let's see how that turns out...

03 August 2013

Jo-Lo's Hangout No. 3: Rock Climbing

From Jo-Lo's YouTube Channel: We went to Lower Hutt in the weekend for my friend's birthday party... with rock climbing! My Dad says it's actually wall climbing, but I pointed out the name of the place, and it said Rock Climbing!

29 July 2013

Jo-Lo's Hangout: a Youtube Channel

My son Jo-Lo now has a Youtube Channel.  Named Jo-Lo's Hangout, the channel showcases his adventures with friends and family, his favourite toys, arts and crafts and stuff that interests him.

I helped him set-up his Channel, and I basically maintain and edit the videos for him.  It is also a good venue for him to exercise his speaking skills and thinking out stories for his videos.  It will be great if you subscribe to the channel and send out positive comments for him.  Thanks in advance!

Here is his pilot episode:

We aim to come out with a new episode on weekends. Head on overhttp://www.youtube.com/user/JoLosHangout/ to Youtube to subscribe!

24 July 2013

[DomPost] Baby's start to life shaky but worth it, says mum

New mother Rea Javier might just be the only person in Wellington who was oblivious to Sunday's earthquake.

The combined effects of epidurals and a tough labour meant her focus was elsewhere.

"I think I felt the quake but I had other things on my mind," she said from her bed at Hutt Hospital yesterday as she cradled her son, Nicolas.

He is already being called Quake by his young cousins.

Continue reading this article at the Dominion Post

20 July 2013

Lego X-Wing Starfighter - for real!

There are X-Wing Starfighters...

And there are X-Wing Starfighters!

As my son would say, "for real!"  It must be an awesome sight.

17 July 2013

Minions conquer the world!

What a truly interesting phenomenon this crowd psychology is.  It's when people influence each other and act in unison towards a common goal.  The effect is more apparent in dense populations, such as the Philippines.  You can readily observe how a stimulus influences a small group of people, which turns into a crowd, and into a community, and it soon avalanches as social media takes control and becomes - as netizens put it - viral.

11 July 2013

How to shop at the sari-sari store

The Dairy is to New Zealand as the Sari-sari store is to the Philippines.  However, besides both being a store where you can buy your basic necessities which does not merit a major trip to the supermarket, there are significant differences.

The Dairy is, in the strictest sense, a store.  The Sari-sari store, on the other hand, is a place where neighbours converge and often hang around for small talk.  It is not uncommon to have a bench - and at times even a simple desk - in front of the store.  You can buy fizzy drinks and chips and consume it right there.  Kids converge at the store after an afternoon of basketball to unwind.  In my old neighbourhood in Manila, you can also use their landline for a few pesos (no long distance calls please!).

Which is why the sari-sari store is one of the trademarks of a typical Filipino life - proudly taking its place with jeepneys and street food.

08 July 2013

Basketball: Wellington Saints Invitation Team vs Philippines' Gilas

Adult - $12
Child (5-15yrs)
Family (2A & 3C) - $30
VIP - $25

To learn more about this event and book tickets, visit the Te Rauparaha Arena website

29 June 2013

Filipino workers flock to Canterbury rebuild

Filipinos were in the news again recently, this time about the Christchurch rebuild.

As of press time, there was around 1,400 working visas issued for Filipinos in the past year, making the Philippines the top source of foreign labour in Christchurch, followed by Great Britain, then Ireland.  I think this speaks strongly of our work ethic and adaptability.

read the news and watch the video at tvnz.co.nz

27 June 2013

RPG Metanoia: the story of our life

RPG Metanoia is the Philippines' first ever 3D computer animation, and was shown in December 2010. I was aware of the existence of this movie because we were in the country at that time on holiday. A friend watched the movie and he totally loved it because it was all about stuff that we can relate to, particularly games that we used to play when we were kids. Unfortunately I was not able to watch this due to time constraints.

20 June 2013

Enchanted Kingdom

Besides Ocean Park, the Enchanted Kingdom was one of the places to visit in our list of theme parks.  It's been a while since I've been there.  In fact, it would have been more than a decade ago!  It was just recently opened then, so there were still a number of places that were under wraps when we visited around three times.  So I was curious to see how the theme park has fared over the years.  Plus, my wife and kids have never been here so it's a treat for them.  I only wished that we could withstand the summer heat.

Luckily, we did!  Heavy perspiration nothwithstanding, we had a nice time at the Enchanted Kingdom.  We spent around 8 hours roaming around and trying out rides and eating our way around.
The Grand Carousel is a must ride.  It's very beautiful and picturesque.

12 June 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug teaser trailer

Wow, looks like we're off to another epic adventure in Middle Earth!  The teaser trailer looks great and full of action.  I read the book many years ago and have forgotten parts of it, but seeing the dwarves riding barrels along a raging river triggered a memory about that part of the story.

Looking forward to this movie!


06 June 2013

Filipino-powered farms

I have heard about our Filipino farmers in the South Island and how they are faring well in their chosen path. It is my first time though to see a short documentary about it!

Head on to Seven Sharp to see this episode.  I am not sure though if the link will work outside of New Zealand.


31 May 2013

Manila Ocean Park - 5 years hence

Let's see.. the last time I was at Manila Ocean Park was in 2008 with my brother Doods.  That was 5 years ago.  Time certainly does fly!  Well, this time around I'm with my family, and I am curious to see how Manila Ocean Park has evolved so far.

06 May 2013

Victory Liner's deluxe trip revisited

The last time I went on a Victory Liner deluxe trip was in 2011, and at that time I did not feel that there was anything special with it because the extra stuff - in-bus toilet, stewardess, etc were not there.  Well, things were different this time around.  We had a stewardess on board, and she performed her role admirably.  She  assisted those who would like to go to the toilet, passed on newspapers and tablets for wi-fi access, and handed us our snacks.

We decided to take the deluxe trip because we needed the extra leg room for the kids.  And in this instance we were satisfied with both the service and the trip itself.  However, if you need to stretch out every couple of hours (something that's not convenient in the deluxe trip), the aircon bus is a great deal.  Visit the Victory Liner website for costs and schedule.

(note: this is not a paid advertisement)

03 April 2013

It feels like going through a Time Machine

We are currently planning on going back to the Philippines for holiday.  The last time we went was in December 2010 which we were looking forward to but we were not able to maximize our time because my wife was 3 months pregnant at that time so she cannot get around much, and we somehow forgot that life speeds up in a fevered pitch during the Christmas season as it's parties and events left and right in the Philippines, which made it difficult to organize time with friends.

06 March 2013

Michael Crichton's Congo: it's about the tent. And the gorilla.

In our camping trip last December, one of our friends propped a pop-up tent beside their main one, the kind which wasn't one of those flimsy things that kids play with at home.  The sight of the tent putting itself up reminded me of Congo, a movie I watched many years ago.  I was amazed at the pop-up tents they had and the image somehow stuck.  The other thing I remember about the movie is, of course, Amy the talking gorilla.
I figured it must have been a really good movie if I can remember bits of it.  I resolved then to find and read  the book it was adapted from, as I realized that the movie would be more difficult to find.

01 March 2013

March is NZ Book Month

Fiction or non-fiction, a book has the power to change your life. Join us in March for New Zealand Book Month - an annual campaign to encourage us all to celebrate books and reading.

Download your $5-off voucher 
From Monday, 4 March 2013 you'll be able to download a voucher that will give you $5-off a book valued at $10 or more.

Find a NZ Book Month event
There's lots going on across the country - find out what's happening in your area.

Learn more about NZ Book Month

(photo credit: Title Wave)

27 February 2013

Fun fun time at Chipmunks

(This is not a sponsored post.  It's always a fun visit at Chipmunk's so I'd like to recommend the place)

We usually go to Chipmunk's when Jo-Lo gets invited to birthday parties.  For busy parents, Chipmunk's is a great place to celebrate kids' birthdays because you've got a nice venue with all sorts of playthings the kids absolutely love, you order the food from them, and you get to use a private area for a couple of hours for your party, and then it's off to the playgrounds for the rest of the stay.  It's relatively fuss-free compared with a party done at home.

For the party logistics itself though, one cannot help but compare it with what we have back in the Philippines.  The popular spots are either McDonald's or Jollibee where we get to have a host for the party, some parlor games for the kids, and even a dancing mascot!

Well, Chipmunk's does have a mascot too but he doesn't dance :-)

That difference, however, is offset by the cool obstacle courses, giant slide, plagyround for under 5s, and rides.  The crew are also a nice bunch.

It's a nice place for parents as well because the kids can have free rein of the place and the grown-ups can sit nearby and enjoy a cup of coffee.

22 February 2013

Beach fun and crabbing at Paraparaumu beach

The glorious summer had us talking of a day at the beach, and that is exactly where we headed one long weekend.  While I do love the beach, admittedly I haven't exactly been enjoying the waters here because it tends to be on the cold side.  There was even a time when we went to the beach and the wind was strong (which was cold) so we just stayed near the cars for a picnic.  Not exactly a fun day out.  However, this summer break is unlike any other we have experienced so far.  It is, as they would say, a proper summer!

Well, I still didn't take a dip because I was looking after the two kids but it certainly was loads more enjoyable than previous trips.

It wouldn't be a proper picnic if there wasn't a table full of treats!

18 February 2013

Gardening time

We've been blessed these past few months with glorious summer weather.  Admittedly I haven't been doing much gardening lately, but the fun, sunny days got me motivated again.  But instead of working the soil, I want to do it in pots and cans this time.  And instead of veggies, I want to try my hand with flowers now.  And planting in transportable medium makes sense, as I can display these in front of the house, and move someplace else in case the strong Wellington winds threaten to destroy my work.

So last 2nd February I bought some garden soil, seeds, and a grown azalea to start me off.
Planting and gardening can be a very rewarding experience.  And I think I'm off to a good start, because last 13th February, I have seen life sprouting from the seeds.
I plan to make gardening a longer term hobby, and collect azaleas as my main interest while I work with flowers and veggies on the side.  Hmmm... I guess I can consider this my New Year's resolution: to be more active outdoors.  Not the running, exercising kind, but outdoorsy just the same.

24 January 2013

A visit to the Philippine Embassy in Wellington

We recently dropped by the Philippine Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand to have our passports renewed.  The Embassy is located near the city proper and is actually based in a stately house.

The first concern I had about going to the place is actually the parking.  I heard that the parking areas there have very limited time slots.  We parked beside Queen Margaret College where the sign read "P 5" which my wife assumed it meant "5 hours" but I had the feeling it was more like 5 minutes.  An embassy personnel did confirm that it was only for 5 minutes, but if we moved our car to a slot near the park, he said the time limit there is 2 hours, which is more than enough for our purpose.

16 January 2013

Gone fishing

Jo-Lo was invited by his friend Russell one fine Spring day to go trout fishing.  My seven-year old kid going fishing?  Yep.  That's thanks to the Capitol Trout Centre!  The Centre teaches the kids about the basics of fishing, and starts it off by having a licence (which is free for kids) and then an adult helps out the kids with their fishing adventure.

The kids get to take home their catch.  If you're squeamish about cleaning the fish, you can have it done there for a donation.  It was quite an experience for Jo-Lo, who was fishing for the first time.  The people running the place are friendly, and it's quite an interesting place to visit; it's like a valley with water flowing into a basin where kids can fish for rainbow trout.
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