obvious tips to remember when commuting in AKL

a picture of Blessie Gotingco.  thanks to tv3.co.nz for the pic!

a picture of Blessie Gotingco. thanks to tv3.co.nz for the pic!

BY NOW, everyone in the Auckland (New Zealand) Pinoy community will have heard and in their own way, done something about the suspected abduction of kabayan Blessie Gotingco in the North Shore City suburb of Auckland region.

Just in case you haven’t, here is a repost, with thanks and acknowledgment to tvnz.co.nz :

Police have serious concerns for the safety of a 56 year-old woman who failed to arrive home after leaving her job in Auckland’s CBD last night.

The Philippines-born woman works in Fanshawe St and spoke to her son at 6.21pm to say she was leaving work at about 7 and would catch a bus home.

Blesilda (also known as Blessie) Gotingco’s mobile phone was found, along with her shoes which police have said were “in a state of disarray”, a short distance from the bus stop near her home in Birkdale.

Blesilda’s daughter tracked the mobile phone via its inbuilt locater system.

Detective Senior Sergeant Stan Brown says the circumstances of Blessie Gotingco’s disappearance and the location of some of her belongings give rise to serious concerns for her safety.

“It’s the fear of the unknown…it may have been a tragic accident…she may have been knocked down by a motorist going too fast or something more sinister…we don’t know.”

Police have searched the immediate area and say there are no visible signs of a struggle or any violence. They have talked to neighbours and are trying to establish if Blesilda actually caught the bus.

“We want to hear from passengers who travelled on those buses – either a number 973 or a 974 bus – last night, at any point along its route from Fanshawe St to Birkdale Road.”

A free phone number has been set up for people to call who might have information that could assist police to find Blessie. It is 0508 LYNSEY or 0508 596 739.

Meanwhile the missing woman’s husband is trying to get back to New Zealand from the Philippines to be with his family.

Here are a few obvious points we picked up as an Auckland commuter:

Auckland, particularly North Shore City, is a relatively peaceful place, certainly by Philippine standards.  But when darkness arrives anything can happen.  Prudence and safety first are good things to practice and remember.

Bus stops are generally user-friendly places EXCEPT on Friday – Saturday nights, when the weekend crowd commutes to the Auckland CBD for a night of bar-hopping and inevitably, drinking.  Opportunistic people also look for vulnerable people around the bus stop, knowing it is a place where people congregate.  It’s always a good idea to ask a friend or spouse/partner to pick you up from the bus stop.

Many houses / residences / flats in New Zealand do not have gates, and even when they do, the gates are not always locked.  This means not only are they targets for thieves and robbers, but criminals waiting for travelers on the sidewalk / footpath may use the gardens and hedges as hiding places with which to launch their attacks on the travelers.  I know this sounds paranoid, but it’s a reality here.

Many residential areas even in highly urbanized areas like Auckland and Wellington look deserted after 5.00 pm, especially in wintertime when everybody likes to be inside their heated homes.  If you can’t ask someone to pick you up from the bus stop, at least let them know (1) the approximate time your bus arrives at the said stop, and (2) the time it takes you to walk from the bus stop to your home.  Should too much time pass, at least action can be taken.   Forewarned is forearmed.

God bless our kabayan Blessie, and God bless us all!

my own unwritten rules of facebook games

thanks & acknowledgment to superfreegift.com!

thanks & acknowledgment to superfreegift.com!

I’M SO guilty I won’t even bother thinking twice before fessing up to you : nearly every free minute of my life is devoted to Facebook games.  But that’s alright.  I’m only missing time for exercise, reading, and valuable bonding with my loved ones.  Seemingly innocuous and casual (not to mention free) gaming is serious stuff, when you allow it to take over your life.

Nearly every day I try to run around the block between 20 minutes to half an hour with my famous old-man jog, Mahal keeps me honest with chores round the house (but I never run out of tricks to get away with short-cuts whenever I can), and when I’m really in the mood I’m here to tell you my stories, but overall it’s been games, games and more games for me, and to say the least, my social life is zero.

Which is just my way of telling you my games addiction is so acute it’s not funny anymore, but for the moment I enjoy it so much, my immediate concern is to share something more important : Facebook games etiquette that will help you avoid awkward situations and ultimately keep you in good standing among your multitudes of Facebook friends, who by now are getting more than their share of Facebook game invites and updates than they care for, hopefully not from you. 🙂

These are of course in no particular order, culled from personal experience without consulting others, and based on my own opinion, so I could be very wrong and talking b.s., or on the other hand I could be right,  or somewhere in between :

pls don't let me be one of your top 50 friends...

pls don’t let me be one of your top 50 friends…

Stop inviting friends to play your game.  There are two main reasons Facebook offers all these so-called casual games (games that don’t require too much commitment as opposed to those that require consoles, controllers, etc) for free.  The first is a captive and massive advertising audience and the second is the the revenue they will generate from you when you are already addicted to the game (more on this later).  Now, to expose as much people as they can, potentially all 300 gazillion FB users, to their gorgeous advertising artwork, graphics and catchphrases, they need as many  gameplayers, or gamers, involved in their games, playing those damnable games all day, and as a consequence looking at all those ads on the sidebars, pop-ups and gaps between levels or while waiting for you to refresh your lives.  Because if you weren’t playing, you wouldn’t even give those ads a nanosecond of your precious time.  The game masters already know they’ve got you hooked on their diabolical games, now as a personal favor, they just want you to invite your friends so they can be hooked as well.  Now, for some extra lives, boosters (virtual tools to help you win more games, levels and achieve higher scores) and some gratuitous praise (“you are now a SUPERFRIEND for inviting 100 friends, woohoo!”) who wouldn’t spend a few moments clicking your friends’ names and automatically inviting them to play Bazinga Slots?  Who knows, they might even like it?

Guess what kabayan?  They’ve got other things to do besides stare at multi-color figures moving across their screens all day.  They’ve got jobs to do, kids to care for, and lives to live.  Unlike you and me, who are already beyond help.  They can still be saved and protected from this scourge that is gaming, and because they aren’t addle-brained, they can still distinguish between normal and abnormal behavior.  This means they don’t want to be bothered by your two dozen invites all day, and worse, they probably know that you’re inviting them only to improve your levels and scores, which is about as important to them as the poo-poo left by the neighbor’s dog on the sidewalk / footpath (maybe important, but not earthshaking).  They deserve their peaceful me-time on the internet, and that means please stop inviting them to play your game.  If you can do this, they will appreciate you more as a friend, virtual or actual.

who cares?

who cares?

Don’t post updates of your game performance.  So you reached another level or won a game against all odds?  Or you scored an all-time high unheard of in the annals of Facebook game history?  Or you achieved something so incredibly cool that you just have to post it to your page and let your 800 friends know about it?  Sorry bro/sis, but it’s:  Not. That. Cool.  Just like the invites above, outside the immediate circle of people with whom you play or interact with, I will give you a mild shock by saying that NOBODY REALLY CARES  about your game history, game performance and game fortunes.   Granted, you performed extraordinary feats with your fingers and mouse-clicks, flabbergasted an audience of one (yourself) with your mastery of eye-hand coordination, but at the end of the day, you have impressed one person, and that is yourself.  And since that one person already knows that you are oh-so-awesome, you don’t need to post it anymore, korek?

thanks and acknowledgment to technobloggers.com !

thanks and acknowledgment to technobloggers.com !

Don’t buy anything to get ahead in your Facebook gaming.  This is the money-shot,  or the critical moment of the relationship between the game creator and you :  when he/she has drawn enough of your will power for you to actually bring out your credit card and purchase anything to keep you playing (and therefore enjoying) the game.  It could be anything : extra lives, boosters, “tickets” to advance to the next level or episode, the common denominator is virtual cash, virtual credits, or virtual lives become real, hard currency coming out of your pocket.  You may justify it a hundred different ways : it’s your relaxation, your way of pampering yourself, or any other excuse to fork out the plastic.

This is where it becomes serious.  This is where casual gaming becomes no different from online gambling, online porn, or anything else that has chained you to your addiction, and in the worst possible way.  There is no exchange of banknotes, swiping of cards or other tangible manifestation of payment, only a number and three or four mouse-clicks, so it’s so easy to be overtaken by a false sense of security : it’s not really money.  Except that it is.

Asians, I have the audacity to say, aren’t as easily swayed into opening the Pandora’s box of bridging the gaming world and the world of reality with their wallets, because it is hammered into us from early childhood that a few pesos can mean the difference between a full meal and going hungry.  It takes a mighty shift of your paradigm to say, it’s OK to spend hard-earned money that my family deserves and use it for extra lives, a color bomb or more fertilizer.  (you may insert your personal WTF expression here.)  But these games don’t recognize race, color or creed.  Also, once you start or use your credit card even once, you can never go back again.  Trust me on this.

There, I’ve only given you three rules but I’m guessing they’re enough.  If you have more rules for me, please tell me when you can, after you use up your five lives in Candy Crush.  For sure.




the ennobling defect embraced by mothers & motherhood

INCAPABLE OF happiness except through others : that's Mom in a nutshell.  Thanks and acknowledgment to bro Jude Bautista for the pic!

INCAPABLE OF happiness except through others : that’s Mom in a nutshell. Thanks and acknowledgment to bro Jude Bautista for the pic!

ALL OF us are brought to this world by mothers, so I guess all of us are qualified to talk about, at the very least, our personal views on mothers.  So to my qualified mind, and you’ll probably agree with me, mothers are heroes on at least two counts : when they risk life and limb in allowing themselves to be vessels of our young lives and delivering us from their wombs; and when they pour out their very lives and energies in caring for us the rest of our lives.

But there is an additional challenge all mothers undertake once they agree to take on the noblest task in God’s realm : the challenge of becoming incapable of happiness except through the happiness of their children.

I know this is a rather dramatic and drastic assessment of what women do and have to do as they follow their destiny as mothers.  But when you think about it, 99% of mothers  (I actually think it’s 100% but for the sake of argument I’m granting I may not be correct) achieve happiness only when they assure themselves that the children they deliver, raise and discipline are happy.  Then and only then can they reach the level of happiness that they so richly deserve.  And I think you will agree with me on that.

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Unfortunately, and believe me when I say I am stricken by a life-long guilt trip to say this, despite my relatively advanced years and the efforts exerted by my folks, my mom has still not reached the ideal apex of happiness when it comes to me.  If my mom was a doctor or therapist / counselor, I would indeed be the “hard case” among her five patients, who also happen to be her five sons.

The road I have chosen to success has been a long and winding one, and I have stopped too often to smell the roses.  All this time and every step along the way my mother has been there to admonish me, counsel me, and pick me up every time I’ve fallen down.   But guess what ?  I often pay the tuition, but never completely learn the lesson.  I wouldn’t know where I’d be now if Mom weren’t there to keep setting my rickety wheels right back on track.  Thank God for Mom.

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So how does this link up with what I earlier said about most moms being incapable of achieving happiness except through the happiness of their young?  Plenty, because Mom is exactly that.  She is typical of all well-meaning moms, in that no expectation is too unrealistic for their perfect children.  On the other hand, because of those expectations, no disappointment is too painful when their children fail to measure up.   And like many moms, my mom has struggled to find middle ground.  But if your mom is like my mom, you’re probably not surprised.  It’s no great mystery that moms just want the best for us.  Knowing just how they measure  that high superlative, now that’s the poser.

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Just called Mom as the autumn sun went down to greet her a happy mothers’ day, a bit late in the day for me, but just right for her, New Zealand being four hours ahead of the Philippines.  Everything was in the right place : she and Dad had just attended Holy Mass, had just enjoyed a healthy lunch with Kuya Tim, Kuya Doc and bro Jude, her three remaining sons in the old country.  And she was nearly at peace with the world.

As soon, of course, as I had reached the point of success that had remained for me.

All I want is for you to be happy, Mom says in between small talk and details about her grandchildren, and if you can be happy, I will be happy.  Her own pretty way of saying, no pressure Noel.  Now, how could you turn your No. 1 fan down?

Happy Mothers’ Day Mom and to all moms!  Love you always and forever!