a city remembers our Christchurch 11

[Lalaine Agatep.  Mary Louise Ann Amantillo.  Emmabelle Anoba.  Valquin Bensurto.  Ivy Jane Cabunilas.  John Kristoffer Chua.  Jewel Francisco.  Jessie-Lloyd Redoble and Ezra Mae Medalle. Rhea Mae Sumalpong.  Erica Avir Reyes Nora.  These are our Christchurch 11. ]

Four years ago last Sunday, 11 of our kabayan among a total casualty list of 185 perished in the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake.

For some of them, it was a giant step after the long hard grind of studying for and preparing for a rewarding career of nursing.  For many of them, it was the first job overseas.  But for all of them, it was a sad example of the double-edged sword of being an OFW : full of promise, but not without the risks of uncertainty and the unknown.  Tragically, the 22nd of February 2011 cut short lives of hope, lives of promise.  All too soon.

The City of Christchurch remembers each and every one of them, and yesterday held a moving 4th anniversary memorial service.  A representative from each and every country that suffered the ultimate loss was given a chance to mention the names of the dearly departed.

If the entire service is too long for you, please start viewing at the 49:18 mark.

Thanks to stuff.co.nz and the Christchurch City Council for the video.  Below by the way is an excerpt from the stuff.co.nz report on thememorial service:

City remembers

On February 22, 2011 a magnitude 6.3 tremor struck at 12.51pm killing 185 people.

Today, Cantabrians here and around the world will mark the fourth anniversary of the devastating quake. 

The River of Flowers commemoration will be set up along the Avon and Heathcote rivers, and at the estuary.

The sites will be open from 8am to 8pm, and will be hosted by local community groups between 12.30 and 1.30pm even if the weather is wet. 

Throughout the day people are able to throw flowers into a waterway and write messages on a Tree of Hope.

At 12.51 two minutes silence will be held.

Flowers also adorn road cones around the city and around the world an idea started by Christchurch artist Henry Sunderland on the first anniversary of the quake. 

The Civic Memorial Service will be held on the Archery Lawn at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens at noon even if the weather is wet.

***     ***     ***

Mabuhay po tayong lahat!

5 things your kabayan learned from the wellington half-marathon

I can't believe while everyone was huffing and puffing I posed for a selfie during the half-marathon.  the sign btw  is for participants of a much shorter 10k event, which shared part of the route with the half-marathoners.  Thanks for all the encouragement!

I can’t believe while everyone was huffing and puffing I posed for a selfie during the half-marathon. the sign btw is for participants of a much shorter 10k event, which shared part of the route with the half-marathoners. (Note the cap pala :) )Thanks for all the encouragement!

IN THE END, I finished the half-marathon on my own.  My younger son Bunso, who started the race with me, stayed by my side throughout probably three-fourths of the entire 21 kilometers, which I incidentally finished in two hours and thirty-one minutes.  But his knee was bothering him, and it was too much to ask him to run on my pace.   By the time I heard the drums and cheers for the finishers, I knew I could finish, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The best I can offer you is my extemporaneous notes and observations on the Cigna Round the Bays half-marathon.  I can’t compare it to similar events in my homeland the Philippines as it’s my first such event.  [my father insists we ran a Magnolia half-marathon some 20 years ago at the Luneta, but because there are no records to back it up, I might as well have ran a triathlon. :( ]  Here goes :

New Zealanders don’t care much whether they win 1st place, cash or medals in many sports, as long as they have fun by participating.  It sounds like a platitude giving importance to the fun part of sports, but in New Zealand the reward of playing is in the playing.  Families, groups, running for charity, all take part for the sake of taking part.  I know it sounds too good to be true, but that’s how it is in here.  Granted, there were more serious runners in the half-marathon, but get this Precious Reader : the 6.5 km walk/run and 10 km fun run events were SOLD OUT, and enrollees to these events made up most of the 14,000-strong event.  For a city with less than 300,000 inhabitants, that kind of participation is truly overwhelming.

The New Zealand spirit of volunteerism is impressive.  Everyone chips in with an exuberance of team spirit, and because the Cigna Round The Bays is as big as it gets in a small city like Wellington, everyone, from many age groups, contributed during the event.  From manning the cooling stations, marshalling the runners away from the traffic hotspots, to entertaining the finishers at the end of the race, it was a massive, massive event.

Running a new, unfamiliar route may sometimes be better in long distance runs.  My training runs were run in practically the same area on the same street.  I ran to a certain point and when the mapmyrun app on my phone (free by the way) told me I’d run half the kilometers of my goal that day, I’d turn back.  It was effective, but tiring.  The Round the Bays route, sea and mountainside scenery, and deceptively elongated trails actually tricked me into thinking I had covered relatively short distance before I realized that the half-marathon was nearly over, although my lower extremities were starting to complain to the high heavens by then.

Running in huge numbers energizes you and your giant complaints seem minor by comparison.  When you are in a massed start with around 2000 other runners, the fears, insecurities and uncertainties aren’t that formidable anymore.  When everyone around you is focused on a smashing brilliant and scintillating performance, that nagging little pain above your ankle and callus on your other foot becomes no more than an insignificant irritation.  Only after the race, when you conquer distance, pain and your own personal demons, does it occur to you that you, with the assistance of several hundred runners with the very same objective, have achieved a remarkable milestone of exceeding your physical limits, in the most encouraging way possible.

Running is a good way to improve yourself (duh).  And extending a thought from the last paragraph, you can improve your life mentally, emotionally and physically, but the easiest way to get tangible measurable results is via the latter.  You see results almost immediately, and the more improvement you see, the more encouragement you get.  Preparing for a marathon organizes and pools your efforts so that every ounce of energy is harnessed towards getting ready for the 21 kilometers.  Along the way, you don’t want to detract from your goal of running the marathon because it’s only one day a year.  Whatever happens, you have to be game-ready on game-day.

Judging from my results, I think I did OK.  Thanks for reading everyone!

pinoy turning 50 : why run my 1st half-marathon?

hopefully Bunso & your loyal blogger will be here trying to finish, just like everyone else. :)

hopefully Bunso & your loyal blogger will be here trying to finish, just like everyone else. :)

[Absolute disclaimer : I’m not one of your Facebook friends who lead a picture-perfect life & nail one achievement after another as if they’re buying socks, in fact I’m a certified couch potato, have difficulty hiding my bilbil all the time, stashing chichirya and ice cream from my esposa and eating these when unmonitored at night, and I’m hopeless at sports.  I’m just saying this in advance to convince you I’m a real person who’s actually considering doing this.  Mabuhay!  ]

I’M a witness virtually everyday, and it’s like watching a train wreck, so I can’t avoid it (it’s actually before the news, so I’m a captive audience).   It’s nearly the same situation every day.

Australian Deal or No Deal.  Less than 6 briefcases left.

Three blue briefcases (anwhere between 50 cents and $750), Two red ($1000 to $20,000), and ONE green ($50,000 or 75 grand or $100,000 or $200,000).  Banker offers anything between $18,000 and $25,000, on the high end if the contestant is a girl and/or has a sob story (sick relative, never had a vacay in his/her life or something like that), even higher if the contestant is funny and is in touch with the audience.

That’s 18 to 20 thousand dollars more than whatever you had in your pocket when you woke up this morning, and more money than you’ll ever earn in an hour, the rest of your life, or forever, whichever comes first.

Guess what?  Nine times out of ten, the contestant listens to the crowd, ignores the law of averages (c’mon, risking $20,000 on a one-out-of-six odds?) thinks he/she hasn’t been lucky enough (to get chosen as a contestant AND get to that level) and curses to the heavens, “NO DEAL!”

I would shut my eyes and cringe, but I see it every day.  Green briefcase gets wiped out, Banker offers less than barya needed for the pamasahe home, contestant has nothing left but fumes, to salvage pride tries the next highest briefcase (which is less than $1000 usually), and has no one to blame but himself herself.  Next contestant please.

This I see everyday, of course, there’s the occasional lucky contestant who is smart enough to quit when he/she’s ahead, and goes home with enough cash for a nice vacation.  Not a whole lot, but better than barya.

What does this have to do with little old me?

I’ll tell you : I’m turning 50 this year, but I’m (knock-knock) as fit as I’ve ever been my whole adult life.  I’ve never been athletic, but neither have I ever been (if memory serves) fat enough to not be able to clip my toenails.  A combination of running weather the last few months, healthy eating (Mahal watches nearly everything I eat) and healthy living (sleeping right and moderate drinking) have only improved my situation.  :)  I may not look the best among my high school contemporaries, but I usually leave a reunion smiling.

Now, why do I need to ruin it all by potentially disappointing myself (in case of failure) by committing to my first-ever half marathon?  Here are the reasons.

I’ve never achieved anything noteworthy in sports.  I’m terrible in anything involving physical activity.   Oh, like every Pinoy I love basketball and always pretended I was Robert Jaworski, sidestepping an opponent with a clever dribble, faking the running shot airborne and passing to Francis Arnaiz or Arnie Tuadles on the wing.  But then I always woke up.  Even worse with team sports, be it barangay basketball, office volleyball or even The Amazing Race-type event, where I couldn’t finish a challenge if my life depended on it.

In a marathon, you don’t do anything.  No skills, no talent, no nothing. It’s just you, the road, and the will to finish.  And God’s grace so you don’t pull a muscle, roll an ankle, or slip on a rut and tear your ACL.  At the end (if you can afford it) you have a finisher’s T-shirt or $5 medal that sez you’ve done something that can never be taken away from you, and that’s punish yourself on a Sunday morning when everyone else is sleeping in.  And if you can’t afford it, there’s the tiktok website where you can always look up your race number and name next to your finishing time.  Wow.  And that’s why the achievement alone is worth the effort.

Timing and energy.  I’m hale and hearty now, full of energy for the day, enough for work and a little left for recreation, but I don’t know how long it will last.  Like I told you Precious Reader, I am on the cusp of reaching the half-century mark this year, and though it’s only a number it is a milestone that bespeaks care of the body and safety first before embarking on a major physical activity.

Literally, I’ve done the hard yards.  As much as possible, I run everyday, not only to train but to condition my body to both intensity and endurance.  To put it simply, I’ve never run a half-marathon in my life.  But it’s the same idea that turns me on.  I don’t need to emphasize to you, as well, that I may never do this again.   Who knows if I’ll have the same motivation and enthusiasm next year?

Bunso on my side.  My younger son Bunso has become a bit of a prima donna of late, visiting and expecting a grand time with his cousins in Auckland, and coming back to Wellington expecting to be enrolled in the Wellington Roundthebays, which is the marathon we are running in.  But the truth is, he’s worth it.  With him as my pacer, running buddy and morale booster, I can’t go wrong.  He has that combination of being ultra-fit (well, he is only 19), ultra-focused and ultra-willing to help his dad, who has the willing spirit but not always the flesh to go with it.

He is my secret weapon in the mission to complete the half-marathon, and my only problem is that I may not be able to keep up with him the entire race.  I certainly don’t want to hold him back; I want him to finish the 21 kilometers in the fastest time he’s capable of.  Hopefully, I can keep up maybe three-quarters of the way before he breaks away.  That will be enough, I think, for me to finish even if I’m alone.

After all, I win or lose the race of life with my own two feet.  Please pray for me so that the Almighty gives me strength and endurance for the Cigna Wellington roundthebays Sunday the 22nd.  Thanks for reading!




the defining scene of game of thrones Season 4 (for me)

[Note : Sorry if I couldn’t find a clip without Spanish subtitles, thanks to NShine11 for allowing me to use the YouTube clip here, I don’t own the copyright. Mabuhay to all fans of Game of Thrones, Pinoy and otherwise!]

BELIEVE it or not, I was a Game of Thrones fan before I saw the HBO series.  I picked up Book 1 (Game of Thrones : Book 1 of A Song of Ice and Fire) in a garage sale, consulted my book club expert son Bunso, and hands down, he said Read it!  Read it like it’s the last book you read!   So I did.  The books alone were luscious.

But like everyone else, after watching Season 1 of the TV adaptation on DVD, I’ve been won over by the astounding storytelling, the devotion to storycraft (is there such a word?), the wondrous weaving of different story arcs into a seamless narrative, blah blah blah.

No matter how good the other factors are, like the extraordinary acting, the SFX that do justice to the fantasy engineering, and the excellent location shooting, it’s the tale that draws you addictively (another dubious word!).

And yet, because I can’t afford cable (and even if I could you can’t get GoT on basic cable in New Zealand), I couldn’t catch Season 4 of my favorite show until the DVD came out or I was more resourceful (if you know what I mean ;) ).  And because I couldn’t wait for the DVD, you know what I did.

Season 4 has many awesome, epic scenes.  The wildlings’ siege on The Wall, the trial by combat between Prince Oberon Martell and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegan, and so many others.

But for me, with its momentous buildup, the character development, and not the least the awesome acting, the defining scene of Season 4 is the final confrontation between Tyrion and Tywin Lannister.

Both characters are among the strongest in the ensemble cast.  But each took an awesome character like Peter Dinklage and Charles Dance to do justice.  But they acquitted themselves, and the scene was terribly satisfying.

The scene involves some heavy taboos : catching your dad doing the nasty (or right after, with some glaring evidence), catching said dad doing the nasty with your loved one, and then killing your dad (not to mention your loved one).  Heavy stuff huh?

Hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone, even at this late hour.  Enough words, let’s watch that scene again!


gifts i don’t deserve but love anyway

Thanks brother for this, now I have no excuse not to run a half-marathon!

Thanks brother for this, now I have no excuse not to run a half-marathon!

[Paunawa : So heartwarming to know that we’ve struck a chord with so many people, Pinoy wives and otherwise, with a previous blog.  Please allow me to thank kabayan in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and everyone else in both the North and South Islands of our beloved adopted home, as well as kabayan back home, who’ve clicked their way to an all-time high for us in one-day visit totals! Mabuhay kayong lahat, and you’ve given me a lot more inspiration on blogging about Pinoy living in NZ!]

IT’S no big secret.  Because I’m such a crappy gift giver, I hardly expect gifts anymore.    Laziness and the luck of a budget force me to give gift vouchers, the occasional banknote or worse, a christmas card, when I know people deserve better.  But because the people I love and who I love back haven’t given up on me despite my shortcomings gift-wise, especially during the holidays, I have to show my gratitude somehow.

This holidays have been particularly awkward for me as I have practically received a windfall from both here, Auckland and back home in the Philippines.  Loved ones have taken the time not only to set aside hard-earned coin but also the effort to select what they considered (correctly) presents I would enjoy and cherish.  Here are a few of them, in no particular order :

New Balance Minimus Trail MT10 (pictured above).  Fourth Brother and his family upstairs in Auckland have somehow got it in their heads that I’m headed towards running my first half-marathon at age 50, and bless their souls, they’re halfway right.  I’ve done the hard yards, and I’ve nearly convinced myself to run the Round The Bays, especially since son Bunso has agreed to backstop me and pace me throughout the 21 km.  Beforehand, I  read that this particular pair of shoes is not typically a marathon shoe, but is great for midheel support, particularly if you’re running on cinderpaths or off road trails.  Now I can find out how good the model is, because Fourth Brother has sent the pair to me as a Christmas gift, what a surprise!  Thanks so much kapatid, even more since I know the pair costs a pretty penny.  I’m grateful.

A breathtakingly simple way to explain the meaning of life.  I don't know how I survived without it.  Thanks Bunso! :)

A breathtakingly simple way to explain the meaning of life. I don’t know how I survived without it. Thanks Bunso! :)

I Think, Therefore I Am.  After biographies, thrillers and Stephen King-ish genres, I’m beginning to read up on philosophy books.  Again, son Bunso, with whom I share a love for reading, has apparently read my mind and given me an interesting book, entitled  I Think, Therefore I Am, along with a lovely pair of socks.  How could you not love Bunso, with such thoughtful gifts?

books are friends, and I'm gonna buy a new friend, thanks to Ganda and her boyfriend.  Thanks guys!

books are friends, and I’m gonna buy a new friend, thanks to Ganda and her boyfriend. Thanks guys!

Whitcoulls voucher.  Whitcoulls is like the National Book Store of New Zealand.  It’s the largest chain, with branches in all the major cities.  Daughter Ganda and her boyfriend have long known my love for books and reading, and instead of buying me a book that I may have read, they have thoughtfully given me a gift voucher worth roughly the price of a paperback novel.  Awwww, thanks loads and love you Ganda and boyfriend!

Mahal's new gift.  Now all it needs is a willing rider.  Who, me? ;)

Mahal’s new gift. Now all it needs is a willing rider. Who, me? ;)

Avanti Giro 1.  I cycle to work partly out of my fitness regimen and partly due to my not having a driver’s license yet, I know I know it’s kinda embarrassing, but it’s really not that far between work and home, and I’m gonna take the restricted exam soon.  In the meantime, wife Mahal has given me a flashy new bike, supposed to make me ride like the wind and therefore get to work earlier.  It’s not something that makes me go head over heels, but it’s definitely an improvement over the China-made bike I’m using now (no offense to Chinese bikemakers), and no grannies are gonna overtake me now.

Like I said before, I’m such an awful gift-giver that just giving me gifts should make me happy.  And I am happy with the gifts I have, just that I’m so guilty about getting them.  Because I’m gonna enjoy them.

Thanks Brother, Bunso, Ganda (and boyfriend), and Mahal, and thanks for reading!

PS.  From the Philippines (and thanks to Fourth Brother, who kindly brought them), we’ve received gifts from Eldest Brother, and as soon as I can, I’ll update you.  :)



why pinays are popular as second wives in NZ (& elsewhere?)

Love is lovelier the second time around.  Thanks and acknowledgment to Hazel and Mark F, a lovely Pinay-Kiwi couple in Wellington!

Love is lovelier the second time around. Thanks and acknowledgment to Hazel and Mark F, a lovely Pinay-Kiwi couple in Wellington! And just to make sure, Hazel isn’t the 2nd wife of Mark, she’s the first! :) Their pic just happens to be the most photogenic of a Pinay-Kiwi couple I found. Sorry for the initial confusion!

[Paalala po : As long as we can kindly remember that blogs are just opinions and just me thinking out loud, then I hope no offense will be taken with this or any of your humble blogger’s blogs.  Mabuhay! ]

OF course it’s not the general rule here in Kiwiland, but just looking around you will tell you that more often than not, the Pinay wife of a New Zealander is usually the second wife, or the wife taken when a New Zealander remarries.

Notice that I don’t refer to other Asian wives (this is obvious but I’m just making sure), especially because I’m not sure how Chinese, Indian, Thai, or any other Asian wives are perceived and/or appreciated by Kiwis.  I’m also not referring to Pinays meeting and marrying New Zealand citizens who happen to be ethnic Pinoys.  No matter what the nationality and the passport, Pinoys and Pinays go together hand-in-glove (or green mango & bagoong) as we share the kind of upbringing, culture, even religion and cuisine.  Language and accent are just minor adjustments that can easily be made with time.

Nope, I refer to Kiwis marrying Pinays period.  Through an introduction at a party, via the internet, it doesn’t matter.  It goes without saying that there are also Kiwi-Pinay marriages where it’s the first time around for both, or where the Pinay is the first wife.  But this type I observe is in the minority.

But just off the top of the head, in Wellington alone, I can think of a dozen Pinays in a relationship where the New Zealander husband has remarried.  These are the reasons.

New Zealander goes out of his way to look for love the second time around. Let’s face it.  If love was a tennis match, the service game has to begin with the lalake (guy). If he doesn’t make the first move, get out of his comfort zone or convince himself that things won’t happen unless he makes things happen, he won’t achieve his goal, which is to find a life partner.  Now, first-time lovers who are usually in the prime of their youth think things will just fall into place, that they will get the pretty girl on looks and smooth moves alone.

Not so with the second-timers, the ones who’ve been there, done that.  They know they have to be more discerning, to find the keepers, the serious ones, the ones worth pursuing.  Fun is still fun, I’m not mincing words just to be diplomatic, but fun is no longer the prime objective.  Getting through life with someone you love is.  Besides, when you’re no longer as young as you used to be, you have to look harder, work harder to be presentable, and search further to make your Easter egg hunt worthwhile.  Thank God for filipinocupid, cherryblossom, and all those other helpful sites! I can almost hear them saying.

New Zealander is more mature this time around.  No more all-night benders with the boys.  No more lost weekends where what happens in Auckland, stays in Auckland.  And no more episodes of casual sex, where everything in a date is casual, most of all the sex part.  What Kiwi Guy just wants now is a proper woman to be yin to his yang, to be the nut to his bolt, and to be his partner in life, love and everything in between.  He realizes that all the mistakes in his first relationship were there for a purpose, for him to learn from and NOT to repeat in hopefully another relationship (given a chance), and hopefully with a Pinay (given a chance).  Too bad for the lady in the first relationship, and as long as he’s sincere, great for the Pinay in the second.  Because most Pinays look for mature, responsible men who, no matter what their past is, are interested in taking care of their wives dutifully and raising families responsibly.  Not as exciting as the younger versions of these same Kiwis but definitely more reliable.  And that’s why, on their second tour of duty, odds are that a Kiwi ends up with a Pinay.

Pinay has more realistic expectations.  And what’s the converse, or other side of the discussion in the previous paragraph?  Almost invariably, Pinays in the market for a husband look for stable partnerships, the ones that will stand the test of time.  They know that this is quite difficult to find in this day and age, but the prize is worth looking for.

Pinays are tired of the uncertainty of living, and while marrying a Kiwi is not without its mystery, the promise of living in New Zealand removes a lot of doubt and worry.  Especially when the Kiwi has a good job, promises to help the rest of Pinay’s family, and has a proven track record as a good dad (Remember, there are usually fruits of the first relationship).

In short, Pinays are attracted to good looks, physique, a sense of humor and overall charm, just like everyone else, but some things are more important to them, and that’s the security of family and a (primary) provider.  And to have both, you have to marry the right guy.  Curiously, that’s what a lot of Kiwi blokes are looking for too.  So it’s a win-win.

Those are the reasons , in my mind, why Pinays are more often chosen by Kiwis in their second, or even third relationships.  I could be dead wrong, and I welcome any opinion to the contrary.  Thanks for reading!




confronting change big-time this 1st weekend of the year

taking time off after a year of hard work and study.  Me, Ganda (standing), Mahal and Bunso.  Panganay was unfortunately at another engagement but was there to celebrate with us in spirit.  Happy 2015 to all!

taking time off after a year of hard work and study. Me, Ganda (standing), Mahal and Bunso. Panganay was unfortunately at another engagement but was there to celebrate with us in spirit. Happy 2015 to all!

OF all the quotable quotes that I remember from high school, one of the cheesiest, certainly among the top five, was an ironic Change is the only constant in life.  Or something like that.  Many years later, I find out that this is not entirely true.

If you’re a totalitarian despot with little regard for life and freedom, you can keep your country as it was in the 1960s, which was when your granddad, the original despot, was still alive and in power.  If you’ve got oodles and oodles of petrodollars, you can keep your kingdom as it was in the medieval age, when torture and absolutism were as commonplace as air and water.  If you’re a gazillionaire recluse, never needing to work another day of your life, you can live in your own little bubble-world where long is short, high is low, black is white, or whatever else you see fit.  The only constant in life, in absolute terms, is death and probably taxes.

Pardon me for being a little introspective on only the second day of the year, or perhaps because it’s the second day of the year.  Notwithstanding the alarming number of accidents and natural disasters that have been happening very recently, the end (and start) of the year always serves as a chance for renewal and rejuvenation, an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, set new targets, and get rid of destructive habits.  Having led a less-than-ideal life, I choose the start of 2015 to do all three.

But I won’t get into the gory details and bore you to tears.  I have the usual assortment of bad habits, underachievement and stupid mistakes of youth that I want to eliminate and make up for, mitigate and consign to the dustbin of history.  The challenge is to do all these things without being caught up in the complications of creeping middle age that Your Loyal Kabayan like myself is inevitably caught up with.

Instead, I’d like to divide 2015 into what I think will be the biggest challenges that will define the rest of my life, and of course that of Mahal, who stands by me, hopefully for better or worse.

Job.  I can’t complain about much in my job, it’s a great gig, the pay often leaves me with still a few coins jingling in my pocket, and the workmates aren’t bad.  But this 2014 I’ve stayed on a plateau of comfort and complacency that’s allowed other people to advance ahead of me.  To keep up, I need to upskill and prove myself ready for more responsibility.  This year is crucial for me.

Migration status.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty, I’ve told you a few times before that I haven’t fully sorted my migrant status in my adopted country.  I can’t stay a guest worker forever, especially in light of frequently changing migrant policy in New Zealand.  Mahal and I have received an assist from someone  who’s in a unique position to help us (I won’t jinx it by identifying the person), but the road ahead is long and winding.

Family.  I don’t know if I told you that this is my second time on the merry-go-round, and one of the things I’ve committed to is starting a family despite my advanced age.  Mahal has been patient all this time, but as you know the window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller with the passage of each year.  We don’t know what 2015 will bring us, but if the stork brings a package, thank you God for the blessing!  That’s how fatalistic I/we am/are.

So that’s how I sum up my thoughts on the first weekend of the year.  No grand plans, and not so much as a single New Year’s resolution.  Just gritting my teeth, and biting the bullet.  So roll the dice, let the chips fall, and deal those cards.  Enough of the gambling metaphors, and let 2015 begin!

Thanks for reading and mabuhay po tayong lahat!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

a little self-denial (& perspective) is (also) good for the Christmas soul

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, YOU ARE RICHER THAN 75% OF THE WORLD.  If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, YOU ARE AMONG THE TOP 8% OF THE WORLD’S WEALTHY.  If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, YOU ARE MORE BLESSED THAN THE MILLION PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT SURVIVE THIS WEEK.  If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or the horrible pangs of starvation, YOU ARE LUCKIER THAN 500 MILLION PEOPLE ALIVE AND SUFFERING.  If you can read this message, YOU ARE MORE FORTUNATE THAN 3 BILLION PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO CANNOT READ IT AT ALL.  – posters-for-good.tumblr.com

I should be one to talk.  I’m a world-class whiner, complainer, cringe at the slightest sign of bad weather, and scream at the minutest twinge of pain.  As well, I have the least right to preach, pontificate or presume to possess the smallest gem of worldly (or unworldly) wisdom for you Precious Reader.  I just spill my guts to you everytime I post on my humble blog hoping someone like me, trudging through life and trying to survive, is feeling the same way and doing the same things I’m doing, and therefore able to relate to little old me.

Saying as much, I’m sure you will agree that this is the one of only two occasions of the year (the other being New Year’s Eve) where it’s socially acceptable and perfectly alright to be engorged and inebriated (that’s bloated and drunk in everyday lingo) before the end of the day, where everyone eats until you’re queasy and clammy, and where drinking makes us do things we regret later.  But in the end, it’s Christmas!  And so it’s alright.

But for every munch and crunch of that lechon de leche or Swiss ham, recall the cigaret vendors whose altanghap of pandesal and instant noodles will have to carry them through the day.  For every swig of San Mig Light or Pale Pilsen, there will have countless multitudes who will be happy to have a bottle of Pepsi or Coke instead of the usual MWSS juice for a change.  For every Davidoff Cool Water, D&G or Bulgari fragrance you covet and acquire, there are probably a hundred barangays in Mindanao who won’t even have potable water to drink, much less water to take showers with.  For every thousand pesos of bonus money you say you deserved but didn’t get, there are a dozen families who won’t even have a picture of a noche buena to admire, much less to taste.

It’s alright to enjoy ourselves during the festive season, but it’s hard to be extravagantly happy when you know there are people just as deserving as you and me who simply don’t have the means or chance to celebrate.

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Then let’s not forget the people who, because of their vocation and profession, have to deny themselves the pleasure of the holidays and instead do their best to keep our Christmases safe and happy.

Policemen and security people, retailers and salespersons, and everyone else who needs to work the holiday shift.  We know and they know they can’t celebrate their Christmas the traditional time, so we can only do the next best thing, and give them their due and recognition.  And also by giving them the easiest time possible.

Enough of this.  Please give my best to the rest of your family this Christmas.  And thanks for reading!

when a kabayan attends a kiwi christmas “do”

from left : Matt is the southern North Island sales mgr who tries his darndest best so that our company isn't beat up by the competition all the time, to my left is Lakay, my first and only Pinoy colleague on site, behind us is Dallas, a sometime drummer but full time retail packer for the 1.5kg & 5kg product lines and soon-to-be dad. Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!

BROTHERS IN ARMS. to my right is Matt, the southern North Island sales mgr who tries his darndest best so that our company isn’t beat up by the competition all the time, to my left is Lakay, my first and only Pinoy colleague on site, behind us is Dallas, a sometime drummer but full time retail packer for the 1.5kg & 5kg product lines and soon-to-be dad. Maligayang Pasko sa lahat!

JUST thought you might wanna know how managers here in NZ organize Christmas parties, or as they say in New Zealand, “Christmas do’s.”  My memories of Christmas parties in years past back home in the Philippines aren’t that good anymore, but they were mostly about eating, raffles, dance numbers, more eating, drinking, and car pools going home where you could drink some more.

Owing to the current mentality  popular among New Zealanders to be more healthful in their activities (ball sports, hiking and all around aerobic exercise), and the fact that our site manager wanted to try something different this year, she drew up an “Amazing Race” type contest and divided us into five teams of five members each, partly to get the juices flowing before the bar crawl, and partly to generate some team building among the staff.

Each team was given clues in the form of riddles, given a car to use to search for things and challenges to pass; we had to score ten strikes or spares in a nearby alley, hit a rusty old car in a driving range, and score a complete round in a dart game.  After that, we needed to find the answers to questions about exhibits in the Te Papa museum in town.

It was surprisingly a bit of fun, I was lucky because since I couldn’t hit the back of a barn and was quite hopeless in golf and darts, my teammates were all quite adept in the said sports.  In fact, had our nearest competitor not overtaken us on the motorway after the last challenge, we would’ve won the overall title and Westfield vouchers for each team member.

Alas, it was not to be.  But I got to know my team.  To a man, each of my teammates was competitive and hated to lose, I could tell they were all upset by the close finish; we actually had a case to present for being the winners (the champion team didn’t stick to the spirit of the rules) but we would’ve looked like sore losers.  In the end, everyone was drunk and happy.

There’s no exaggerating about it, New Zealand is even more than the Philippines a drinking culture.  You can do what you want during the party, dance on tables and make a fool out of yourself, no one cares as long as there’s grog around.  We had our fill of alcohol, and though I’m not much of a drinker, like everyone else I got a buzz and looked silly as the drunkest guys.

Hope your Christmas party was as great as mine!