I was not jumping up and down when the first GI Joe movie posters came out. Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of GI Joe, but I was thinking they would make a botched up job. It is a relief they proved me wrong.

All characters, Joes and Cobras, were given ample exposure in the film. Not unlike the X-Men films, were Wolverine obviously gets more screen time and dialogue. The movie is almost like a prequel because it depicts the history of the main characters. The characters are very interesting, both for a newbie or a fan (but more so for the fan).

I honestly do not find Sienna Miller hot but this movie is the exception. She takes a very different persona as the svelte brunette villain Baroness. Rachel Nichols is not bad either playing the resident GI Joe redhead Scarlett O’Hara. Hot hot hot!

Ray Park did an excellent job portraying everyone’s favourite GI Joe character, Snake Eyes. I feel Channing Tatum though was a miscast as the All American Hero, Duke. He is not the leader-type of a person.

Yes, the action sequences are over-the-top, but if you are making a movie based on a toy, it is only consistent to have those sorts of scenes.

In the course of the movie, you will sometimes notice a few crappy CGI’s here and there, but I think it is forgivable. They may have faced limited budgets, but in the end it is the actors and story that mattered.

It is but inevitable that the movie GI Joe: Rise of Cobra will be compared to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Both characters are from the 80’s era. Both movies came from a very popular toy line. Both are loaded with generous servings of CGI. In terms of special effects, Transformers has the advantage; because Michael Bay has perfected the craft. Unfortunately, a movie is not all special effects. For me GI Joe wins hands-down only because the story is both logical and entertaining.

The ending of the movie has closure; however, you would most likely observe the movie was all along neatly preparing the stage for the sequel, which I hope is going to be bigger.

A very worthwhile diversion and a fitting end to the US Summer Blockbuster season. A definite must-see. Now you know and knowing is half the battle. (Cue slow motion walk).

I am a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise. I wrote this film review from the point of view of someone who has not read the sixth book. (…because I haven’t really read the book, honest)

The film Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince surprisingly focuses more on the hormonal changes experienced by the main characters. This is not a very wise move in my opinion, unless the director David Yates wants a Twilight-wannabe movie. People who watch the Harry Potter movies expect to see wizard duels, potions, and magic. Good thing the director did not go as low as open shirts for the teenage wizards. Nevertheless, I must commend the director on the fresh and mature approach when portraying teenage adolescence.

The previous movies portray Harry Potter as an average wizard with talented friends and allies on his side and more than enough luck. I felt that Harry finally stepped up and proved himself a formidable wizard. This film is the harbinger of the best yet to come. I can only imagine how intense the two-part movie finale will be.

There is an immense maturity and coming-of-age for the Hogwarts wizards. Characters, both heroes and villains, face very mature and difficult decisions. In the battle against good and evil, Order of the Phoenix versus the Death Eaters, sacrifices DO have to be made.

The actor, Jim Broadbent, gave an awesome performance as Professor Horace Slughorn; which I feel is a very difficult character to portray. Actor Bonnie Wright playing Ginny Weasley grew up to be a fair lady in the film. I hope she gets more exposure in the next two movies. As with the previous Harry Potter movies, Alan Rickman, gave a brilliant interpretation to the most mysterious and interesting character in the series, Severus Snape.

The cinematography is splendid. The special effects are stunning, none more so than the scene when the Burrows was attacked. Towards the end of the movie there is the obvious sense of forlorn and despair. Soundtrack is first-class, as always.

A bit disappointing though is the ending. All the events of the first two hours build up for that decisive moment only to fall flat and end in a cheesy way. It is as if the climax of the film were for nothing. The climax does not make full sense when quite few of the plots where not tied properly. I suspect they are withholding all the good stuff for the two-part movie conclusion.

I think the general rule is if you have not read the book, then you will find the movie very perplexing. The director may have assumed everyone has read the book so he excludes a few characters and storyline. Realistically speaking though, no director can fit the whole book in a two and a half hour movie. With that said, the book and the movie go hand-in-hand; one cannot live without the other (wink wink).

I particularly do not read the Harry Potter books but I listen to the audio books. Do not get me wrong, it has nothing to do with laziness, I love reading books. However, there is something magical (pun intended) about the Harry Potter books read by British actor, Stephen Fry. I find him amusing and relevant because he changes his voice for different characters; and he has a British accent, which is appropriate for a “British” book. More importantly, Stephen Fry reads the book from the heart. I am now on Chapter 4 and I cannot wait to finish it. Try it.

So to appreciate the film: read the book before watching it or watch it first then listen to the audio book afterwards. Perfect.

Please watch the clip before proceeding.

First as a backgrounder, a kiwi is a small flightless nocturnal bird. Strangely enough, the kiwi is also New Zealand's national symbol and identity.

The short film incites powerful emotions. You can see the short film in two distinct ways:

One, you may see it as the kiwi pursuing its dream of flight even to its death. We sometimes refuse to accept things we cannot change. We are born with a unique set of talents, and it takes wisdom to acknowledge your limitations. A kiwi, who has tiny wings, should not aspire for flight; their body is just not designed that way. It is a futile task and the kiwi will end up wasting a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, we should focus on the things we are good at, and excel on those.

Alternately, you may see it as the kiwi overcoming the impossible for its quest for flight. The kiwi has set its mind on a particular goal, and it gave its all for the realization of that goal. Technological advancements of today, all came from men and women who once had a goal, a goal deemed impossible during their times. They persevered and succeeded against all odds. As it turns out, our achievements will be limited by our goals.

We run into trouble when we get the two points mixed up. We held on when it is not for us and we gave up when we should have persevered. Life is indeed difficult, but this prayer might help:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I had colossal expectations for this movie given the impressive first Michael Bay Transformers movie. I am all praises for the first movie, though I am not sure I could say the same this time.

First, I need to establish that the movie falls into the science fiction/action category; this is not the kind of movie that will merit an award in the acting division. What it is however, is a CGI masterpiece, very different from whence Transformers first came out 20 odd years ago. The special effects and the action scenes are one of the best. It features two of the hottest stars today. It also boasts the best sound effects and soundtrack ever.

The sequel has more robots than you can possibly remember (unless you are a huge fan). Some will draw your attention, but because of the sheer number of characters, quite a few are forgettable. Decepticon Wheelie (the remote control toy) is hilarious. He provided the most needed comedy relief on an otherwise almost dry movie. Autobots Skids and Mudflap however are not funny at all. The fight scenes are awesome but there are a couple of head-scratchers like the seemingly invincible Megatron (he just won’t die) and Alice, the university stalker, who turns out to be a robot (what the…?).

High point of the movie is the Constructicons. I know it is a tall order translating them from cartoons to the big screen, but they did it, quite well if I may add. Five huge robots, joining into a one huge robot is… well… huge. Decepticon Shockwave is a welcome addition to the cast, but I prefer him to be an Earth-based character.

The movie is quite long, approximately two and a half hours. Some parts are bit dragging to be honest. Scenes with Sam’s mom and roommate are too long and unnecessary, not to mention cheesy. Agent Simmons became boring in the sequel. Megan Fox however is still Megan Fox (nuff said).

It is disappointing to note that horrendous plot holes almost cripple the movie. If you have seen the movie, you would know what I mean. However, if you have not yet seen the movie, I would suggest leaving you brain outside the theatres and enjoy the movie as it is.

As a bonus, the movie soundtrack is worth checking as well. It features rocking tunes from the most popular bands of today. Most notable on the collection is Linkin Park’s rocking new single, New Divide and Green Days’s 21 Guns.

Overall, I would recommend the movie. Autobots, roll out.

55mm focal length, 8 seconds at f/8; ISO 200

55mm focal length, 3 seconds at f/5.6; ISO 200

I finally saw a movie devoid of clichés, at least from my point of view. It is fresh, quirky and immensely entertaining. The plot, the dialogue and the soundtrack jelled together so well that it is perfect. I do not understand some of the teen speak, but it is hilarious just the same.

Ellen Page played the title role to a tee. She gave an awesome performance, and single-handedly carried the whole film. For those not familiar with her, she played Kitty Pryde in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. J.K. Simmons and Jennifer Garner provided ample depth to the story by their supporting roles. (Trivia alert: both starred in a Marvel superheroes movie, Spider Man and Elektra respectively).

Ellen’s character Juno is not the smartest people around, but I feel she is real. Because of her innocence (or quirkiness), she usually delivers amusing quips about pregnancy. The movie is littered with memorable quotable quotes, some shameful, some inspiring, but always funny.

I have the fondest respect for the writer Diablo Cody for coming up with a very unconventional film; I cannot wait for next project.

This project grossed over $200 million, even with only a budget of $6.5 million and a month of shooting. This just proves that a smartly written film can compete with multi-million, special effects films in terms of ticket sales. Moviegoers can notice and appreciate a quality indie film.

There are haters out there, but honest to blog, I found this movie so cool. You should like totally check out this movie, like for real for real.

I got the idea to check out this series from one of the blogs I am following. I am also a big fan of Japanese media (films and anime). A few months ago, I was able to see the Japanese drama, 10 Promises to My Dog, and I was quite impressed. It is about time for my next Japanese film.

One Litre of Tears (Ichi Rittoru No Namida) is an eleven-part Jdorama based on the life of a Japanese girl 20 years ago. It chronicles her life struggles in dealing with her incurable disease. I am quite certain though that the writers “sweetened” the story with additional events and characters. I came into that conclusion because some scenes are just too impossible to happen in real life:). Nevertheless, silly scenes aside, this show is of essence.

The series has its share of love story and a little bit of a comedy. Sawajiri Erika who played the lead character, Aya Ikeuchi, made such a noteworthy performance, that you feel her pain. In the same way, the actors who played the parents (Mizuo and Shioka) gave so much credibility that you would think they are the real parents. Later in the series, Aya’s younger sister Ako almost stole the show with her turnaround acting. I liked the character Ako; she is such a cool sister.

As with all telenovelas, there is an ample amount of cheesiness, but all of which I feel are excusable. You can ascribe it to the Japanese culture influence or just plain sappy writing. It is crazy at times, but I guess what is important for the series is to give due honour to the protagonist’s achievements.

A bit of warning though, people would most likely be afflicted with LSS (Last Song Syndrome) after watching this. For more than a week after seeing all episodes, you will still hear the theme song playing in your head. It is not that bad though because it is indeed a catchy tune.

Another thing I noticed with this series is that the characters speak a bit slower than usual. The sentence construction is a bit formal as well, so this is perfect for people learning Nihonggo. You extend your Japanese vocabulary while watching; how easy is that.

What is amazing though is that the director divides each episode in such a way, that you learn something new per episode. Aya’s life story is very humbling. She gave so much even it is difficult. She is a fighter who loves life and celebrates life by giving to others. Her efforts are truly admirable.

This is a poignant tale of a girl with a beautiful heart. This Jdorama is warm, inspiring and very moving. I highly recommend this to everyone. Check out the episodes at http://www.mysoju.com/1-litre-of-tears/.

As suggested by one of the blogs I am following, I decided to rent the DVD Taken starring Liam Neeson. Watching the movie, I was “taken” (pun intended) to the ride of my life. The review chronicles said ride.

The premise of the movie is common enough. Dad is a retired special ops/spy with a “very particular set of skills”, daughter gets kidnapped, dad pursues kidnapper. Sprinkle explosions, gunfights, and hand-to-hand combat here and there and you have the gist. One man against a plethora of thugs. This can even be the plot of a Lito Lapid action movie in the Philippines. However, Taken overtakes (again pun intended) any action movie by over a mile.

I think the film’s secret is the visionary direction of French réalisateur, Pierre Morel. Everything is near perfect: the right amount of explosions, the right amount of car chases, and even the right amount of drama. He delivers the film in such a way that brutal revenge (though wrong) is so satisfying to watch.

The car chases are riveting, the script is smart and not at all insulting, the cinematography is excellent (Paris, need I say more). The action scenes are redolent of a 24 TV episode where you are literally at the edge of your seat. The fighting art primarily used in the movie is Nagasu Do. It is fast, brutal and deadly, and so cool to watch.

The movie also succeeds in capitalising on the emotions of the viewers. Everyone watching will definitely root for the protagonist. The Liam’s character can be brutal at times but the viewers will feel it is necessary. He really will not stop at anything.

Liam is an excellent actor. I believe congratulations are also in order for the réalisateur , the writers and the fight choreographers. I might look for more films that have French directors/writers after this. The film just blows you away.

This is definitely a must watch for everyone.

It has been a while since we tried a new restaurant. This a review I owe to a nice restaurant we accidentally discovered. Generally, it is an awesome experience to eat on a Thai restaurant, but only if you know what to order.

The venue and store decorations are well designed; the decorations are credible and somewhat authentic. The tables are clean and organised though chairs are a bit cramped. They have fancy cutleries, which is an added bonus.

For a group of four, we made three selections: Chicken Volcano, Drunken Noodles (Stir-fried combination, rice noodles with vegetables and chilli, garlic, seasoned with Thai herbs) and Kao Ob Saparot (fried rice, chicken breast, shrimps and cashew nuts). For starters, the Kao Ob Saparot is an excellent mix of everything nice and tasty. The Drunken Noodles is pleasantly spicy and filling. The Chicken Volcano however is the best among the three.

Here are some fun tips when ordering the Chicken Volcano:

1. Refrain from wearing flammable clothing.
2. If you are a pyro-fanatic, be ready with your phone video or camera.
3. Fill your glass with water just in case :)

They roasted the chicken to perfection. The meat was not dry and the chicken skin is very crunchy. For Filipinos reading this article, Chicken Volcano tastes just like Max’s Chicken.

Again, the secret when dining in a Thai restaurant is to know what to order. Do not be afraid to ask questions to the waiter/waitress. Check the menu beforehand and make a selection early based on the ingredients. Also, check out vouchermate for great deals.

This is an interesting restaurant to check out. At least try it and see for yourself.

Thai Orchid Restaurant is located in 21 Riccarton Rd, Christchurch, New Zealand. Call 03 343 0790 for bookings and takeaways.

All photos taken with 55mm focal length, 1/13 second at f/5.6; ISO 400

Director J. J. Abrams (of Lost, Alias, Cloverfield, and Mission Impossible 3) made an exceptional achievement of breathing a new life to an otherwise classic cult of the 1960s. This is an accomplishment of unparallel proportions because he was able to please both Trekkies (fans of Star Trek) and newbies (younger generations that haven’t heard of Star Trek).

When we watched the movie, there was a sizable crowd, which is surprising considering the minute population of New Zealand. It is interesting to note however that majority of the moviegoers are adults, most probably people who have seen the original Star Trek series.

The movie boasts of a stellar cast of first-class actors. The plot is believable and well crafted.

Director J.J. Abrams also resurrected his “Cloverfield” monster in one part of the film. It’s a bit silly but I guess the director wants to leave his signature.

The action scenes were made in such a way that it looks authentic. J.J. Abrams added the exact amount of camera shake so that the audience feels the quick pace without the nausea. The special effects are amazing. I particularly liked the experience when the USS Enterprise enters and leaves hyper speed.

Simon Pegg playing Scotty provided the much-needed comic relief to the otherwise very serious tone of the movie. There are a couple of well-known Hollywood stars who did cameos in the film. Be sure to watch for it, because some are in the film for as short as a few minutes.
For people who are familiar with Star Trek, the last minutes of the film will be a treat.

I am a big X-men fan, and this Wolverine movie had me stoked. I watched the movie last Tuesday because movie tickets are so cheap on that one magical day of the week and here is my humble attempt of a review.

With respect to this movie, people can either fall into two distinct classifications: people who know Wolverine through the comic books, and people who know Wolverine ONLY through the previous X-Men movies. The latter would have no problem appreciating the film. It is the former, where the problem might rise. For hard-core Wolvie fans, in order to appreciate this film, you should suspend all prior knowledge and expertise in X Men facts, and accept the film for what it is: a visual candy.

Watch this movie because of the astounding special effects and the smashing (pun intended) fight scenes. Female viewers will get an extra treat from male actors with the “X-Factor”, if you know what I mean.

In terms of the plot, the movie branched out far away from the comics. I found the two-hour movie lacking when it failed to justify the mystery behind Wolverine’s dark past. Wolverine, in both comic books and movies, is constantly haunted by his supposedly sinister past, and I hate to think that this is it. Hmmm, it was not really thaaat ominous.

The movie balanced its shortcomings with marvellous, though bloodless, fight scenes. The fight choreographer did a good job of studying the fights in the comics, and translating it in flesh and blood, never mind that it is impossible. For two hours, it is advisable to set aside logic and physics, and bask in the fact that you are watching first-class superhero fights.

The support characters are all right I guess. They may have made a mistake in casting the actor for Gambit. Ryan Reynolds is awesome as Deadpool. He played the character exactly how I pictured Deadpool will be, and there are confirmed reports that Deadpool will be having his own solo movie in the future. I hope they will still make a movie about Magneto though.

By the way, when you do watch the movie, make sure that you stay during the credits to see two bonus scenes. The last bonus scene will give you an idea for the Wolverine sequel, which if I am not mistaken is already in the works.

I have been a Rusher since 1996. I can proudly say that I was one of the first Rushers. I was in University (UST) back then, and every Monday there is no school. I would wake up early just to listen to the Morning Rush radio program on RX93.1FM from 6AM until 9AM (until 10AM since 2009).

Rusher (Noun) - an avid listener/follower of The Morning Rush.

Personally, I follow the radio program because I get so much from it. Chico and Del are such excellent and eloquent speakers that you, without knowing it, pick up English pointers while being entertained. They would deliver the wittiest and funniest comments on mundane topics around.

The highlight of the radio show is the daily Top Ten wherein listeners get to participate by sending in entries to the topic. Listeners in the Philippines get to send entries via text messages while overseas listeners get to join via Twitter. Topics are sometimes serious, but most of the time, it ranges from loopy to green to outright hilarious. I recently crossed the dividing line between the “silent Rushers” and the “active Rushers”. With the help of Twitter, I get to participate in the Top Ten.

In the spirit of fun, I came up with my own Top Ten, “The Top Ten signs you are a Fan of Chico and Del”.

10. You secretly wish Chico and Del will realise they are perfect for each other as a couple.
9. You pick up and use “the thing is” when explaining things. You sound cooler and you seem to know what you are talking about.
8. You go to Burger King in Makati when you found out they will be broadcasting the Morning Rush from there and be consequently late for work that morning.
7. When you are in the university, you would bring those old, heavy and clunky Sony Walkmans with cassette player and radio just so you can tune in to the morning rush while travelling.
6. You would wake up early (6AM to be exact) even if you have no school.
5. You find it funny when Chico botches up English to Filipino word translations
4. You follow Chico’s famous blog and Del’s equally famous imaginary blog
3. You Follow Chico, Del and The Morning Show on Twitter.
2. You rack up your brain to come up with an entry to the Top Ten.

And the top sign that you are a Fan of Chico and Del…

1. You write blog entries just like this one.

It is never too late to be a fan. Everyone can tune in on the Morning Rush Show by streaming on the internet:
http://www.eradioportal.com/monsterRx.asx. In New Zealand, tune in from 10AM until 2PM; elsewhere around the world, check your local time. Chico and Del are the best DJ in the Philippines even better than the DJ’s in planet Uranus.

Check them out.

This is a heart-warming story of a journey of one Irish family from grief to redemption while adjusting to the life in the US. Told from the unique viewpoint of the incredibly talented 10-year-old Christy played by Sarah Bolger; it offers a fresh, innocent and surprisingly mature perspective in their life story.

The film takes on a whole range of emotions like grief, love, innocence, and acceptance, and it will not feel forced when you are watching the movie. You will honestly feel them through the scenes, dialogues, facial expressions, and musical score. Part reason for the story’s uniqueness is that it came from real life experiences of the director, Jim Sheridan, and her daughters.

The two children, Christy and Ariel, are the highlights of the film. Never have I seen such cute and talented actors. Ariel with her puppy eyes is so charming and unforgettable. Christy, though just ten years of age, has fire and wisdom in her eyes. They both exude first-rate talent.

The film was nominated and then accordingly won heaps of film awards as substantiation to the marvellous production this film is. This is not your average Hollywood film. This is a film of heart and soul. Watch this if you prefer an alternative to formulaic movies.

This is the first movie I have seen in 3D. Being a first, it warrants a review here in my blog.

The story is both quirky and silly: the US government employs Monsters to fight an Alien invasion. Most of the characters are homage to 1950’s horror/sci-fi films like the Blob, the generic flying saucer aliens and the 50-foot Woman. At times, it can be predictable, but the movie is very entertaining as a whole.

Seth Rogen as the voice of B.O.B. is the funniest character in the movie. Though the story focuses on Susan (or Ginormica, voiced by Reese Witherspoon), the other support characters provide funny moments as well. Hugh Laurie of the hit TV show House plays the mad scientist Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. Keifer Sutherland of 24 provided the rough and tough voice of the General.

The area that the movie shines the most is of course the visuals. The 3D is not much in your face type of 3D; it is more into the subtle depth of the pictures resulting in a brilliant movie experience. The 3D movies in Disneyland focuses mainly on novelty animations that seem to touch your face, where you feel you can touch everything. This movie however centres on 3D that presents characters as if they are in a live stage.

The actions scenes are continuous and breathe taking. Being a movie for kids, there is no graphic violence or death, but there is no reason for adults to enjoy the movie as well. All in the name of silliness, this flick will provide two hours of awesome videos, funny jokes and unadulterated fun.

This 3D movie costs $17 for a ticket compared to $10 for the non-3D one. Bit of a bummer though are the 3D glasses falling off your nose. They made it to fit everyone, making it too wide for people with smaller heads. It is a bit uncomfortable, but it will not ruin your movie experience.

The Twig

Man on Stilts

The Golden Sands of Kaiteriteri

I remember a TV advert quite a few years back in the Philippines. It shows a group of people hitting a sack with sticks. The sack apparently is not empty. All you can hear are the cries of the dog that is inside the sack. The dog would be growling and barking angrily when the hitting starts but cries in pain during each hit. They would continue the torture until the dog is dead. They must have this sick belief that the bruised and bloodied body of a tortured dog will taste better. That dog will become dinner for that despicable group of people. It was an advert against animal cruelty.

This was Philippines, and unfortunately, the “dog-eating people” stigma still exists. I sometimes hear foreigners mistakenly generalizing all Filipinos as dog-eating people. To set the record straight, only a minute percentage of the population practices that, and most Filipinos are dog lovers as much as anyone else. I for one had six pet dogs before; they were a riot together but it was fun. Dogs are one of the most fascinating creatures on earth. They are extremely loyal, affectionate and intelligent and animals. Truly, dogs are a man’s best friend.

It is beyond me then that anyone will butcher a dog and eat it or serve it as a “delicacy” to others. What are more appalling are the conditions or environment the dogs will have to go through before they are butchered like pigs, for the meat. It is also dismaying to know that is illegal to eat dogs in the Philippines for more than 10 years now, but the illegal dog trade still flourishes right under the cop’s nose especially in the northern regions. Equally alarming is that heaps of foreign organisations have been to the Philippines to further the case against dog eating. Countless documentaries have been made, but it fell to the deaf ears of corrupt politicians.

One such unfearing and generous soul is Tauranga, New Zealand animal welfare campaigner Elly Maynard. She was recently in Baguio, Philippines to appeal to the local police to stop the illegal dog trade. She has been gathering evidences against the illegal dog trade and creating shelters for rescued dogs. She gets funding from NZ donations, but mostly it came from her own pocket. According to Elly, her stay in the Philippines was very worthwhile because the PNP (Philippine National Police) in coordination with the Animal Kingdom Foundation launched an information campaign against eating dogs. Despite her enormous success, it is surprising to know that there are detractors who do not approve of her works. Do not worry Elly, I for one, support and commend your project. To watch the episode on Campbell Live on NZ TV3, please click this link: http://www.3news.co.nz/NZ-animal-welfare-campaigner-Dogs-not-for-human-consumption/tabid/817/articleID/89967/cat/84/Default.aspx.

On a positive note, it is amazing that rescued dogs that survive their horrifying ordeal and nursed back to health, holds no grudge against humans. Their pure and innocent heart is so full of love for their masters. I do not know about you but I would definitely want to be the recipient of that awesome affection a dog whole-heartedly gives to his/her master.

Philippines and Korea both have the unenviable notoriety of dog eating. It is very embarrassing and definitely not something to brag about. No one who has eaten dog meat before, either knowingly or accidentally should brag about it. I am a dog lover and I am sorry to say but you will not find an agreeable listener in me.

Growing up in the Philippines, I guess it is not that surprising that the illegal dog trade still thrives even with the law in place for more than 10 years. It is shameful I know, but I think we can all help put an end to this horrendous trade:

1. An absence of demand will most certainly stomp out the illegal dog trade. Convince your friends and relatives to refuse dog meat.
2. Forward and share this article to your friends.
3. Donate to notable non-profit organisations like Animal Kingdom Foundation (http://www.animalkingdomfoundation.org/).

It is all simple acts but if we work together, we can make a difference.

(Please feel free to leave a comment to add to the list. Thanks)

I think all NZ businesses deserve all the reinforcement in order to survive the current NZ recession. It is truly the hard times and quite heaps of companies are struggling to stay afloat. In the US, businesses receive bailout money from the government just to prevent companies from closing.

In order to survive with very low demand, hence a slow production, it is logical for owners of businesses to reduce the workforce and cut the expenses. It is equally logical to retain the most productive workers. Workers that the owner thinks will help the company weather the recession; because a recession, like all storms in life, will pass eventually.

With that said, the latest brouhaha about Kiwis made redundant in favour of Filipino migrant temporary workers is a bit overhyped. They said migrants should be the first to go to redundancy before Kiwis. While the government should prioritise NZ citizens and residents, they should equally support local businesses who are trying their best to survive the recession. Businesses reserve the right to hire the best employees.

In a recession, a business owner must retain the most versatile and hardworking employees, regardless of race and regardless of tenure. People will be laid-off, that happens during a recession; nothing can be done about it. It is nothing personal, but business. In addition to that, the owner must also take into account what will happen to the company once the recession ends; it might be more expensive to rehire people overseas once business picks up.
I never cease to hear the argument that migrants sends money abroad, hence locals should get more favour. To some extent, a part of a migrant’s wages goes to families back home, but what people sometimes miss to consider is the contribution of a migrant’s skill to a business, skills that apparently a local cannot fill.

Under these present hard times, skilled workers are necessary more than ever. Please note that the definition of the word “skilled workers” is not concerned with race at all, he/she can be a migrant or a local. Businesses must run efficiently, with the proper skilled work force, and adequate support from the government. I hope people will not turn this into a race thing; this is just a simple case of a business owner making a judgement on who stays and who goes (I am of course assuming there is no foul play or abuse happening).

On a related story, check out,

On March 28, 2009, households and businesses in 2,712 cities, towns and municipalities in 83 countries will turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM in celebration of the 2009 Earth Hour. Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund) to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Last year, only 400 cities in 35 countries participated in the Earth Hour. This year will prove to be the most successful yet with the sharp increase in the number of participants and I hope it will create the publicity much needed so everyone will be aware of the climate change issues.

In Christchurch, New Zealand, there will be an Earth Hour Unplugged Concert at the Cathedral Square; from 6PM to 10PM. Entrance is free.

It all starts with a phone call from somebody asking about the air quality in Christchurch. The survey consists of simple questions answerable by a yes and no, which takes no more than a minute. I generally dismiss sales calls in the phone but since this is very quick, I went on with it.

After a week or so, you will receive a phone call requesting a product demo of an “air filtration unit” at your home. If you agree to it, you will receive a special “gift”, which for us is a glass coaster. Thinking the demo will be over 30 minutes’ tops, we agreed. In addition, an “air filtration unit” sounds like a cool product to check.

Turns out the product are actually a vacuum cleaner, a very expensive one that we will found out two hours later.

The salesperson made all efforts to discredit standard vacuum cleaners, over-magnify the dangers of house dusts and consequently put their product, Envirotech, in the best light. Bases on the demo, I truly believe the Envirotech is superior in all ways… that is until we hear the price. It is my personal belief that no sane person should spend $4000 on a vacuum cleaner, even if it IS the best vacuum cleaner in the world.

It is sad because this company feeds on the impulsiveness of people. They will sweeten the deal by “low” weekly payments where in fact the total price has ballooned so much because of the interest. They half-expect people to buy the product on that same day, when everybody should think twice or thrice when purchasing expensive items. Adding to the weird-o-meter scale is that they do not even have a website, or a proper calling card for that matter.

In the end, it is not two hours of my time wasted. I came out wiser with the experience and a deep respect to the “sometimes uncommon” common sense.

This is my first time to see a musical stage play in New Zealand and I do not know what to expect. I have seen a few plays in the Philippines and I was generally amused and entertained during those times. The experience of watching the musical La Cage aux Folles though is quite something else: it was the best.

We saw this musical in The Court Theatre at 20 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch.

The story revolves around a transvestite couple, Georges and his lover Albin, who is the drag artiste of the La Cage aux Folles nightclub. Their world was turned upside-down when George’s son announces his engagement to the daughter of a right-wing politician, who incidentally wants to close down all drag nightclubs. How they handle the problem is very funny and satirical.

All the actors play their part with great ease. The characters are convincing, very funny and captivating. Their acting excellence easily wins the audience’s affection. Besides the two main characters, all sub-characters gave the best performances.

The props and the musical score complement the play, allowing the audience to be immersed in the glitz and the glamour of the play. The play includes the ever fabulous I AM What I Am score. I am sure everyone’s familiar with the song from somewhere, somehow.

The script is witty and very clever. The actors use a French accent to add spice and authenticity of this classic French play.

The choreography is flawless and extremely funny at times.

La Cage aux Folles is a funny tale of family values, unconditional love, and above all, the need to celebrate who we are.

I love watching anime (Japanese cartoons) because of my fascination for Japanese media and art. I have not seen a live-action movie though, and fate has it that the Singapore airlines media system has heaps of international movies on our flight from New Zealand to Singapore. I am still learning Nihonggo (Japanese language) so I decided what the heck, I will see a Japanese live-action movie. Since I love dogs, an obvious choice would be the movie “10 Promises to My Dog”.

I did not regret my decision, the movie proved both moving and heart-warming (yeah right, a moving movie, nice one there). The movie follows the life of the lead protagonist Akari, from as a little kid owing a cute little puppy named “Socks” until growing up as a young woman, 10 years onwards. This is a family movie that touches on topics like responsibility, devotion and even death.

The Japanese actors all gave excellent performances in the movie, and the dog is very cute and endearing. The story is very well crafted and believable. The writer would have to be a dog lover to be able to come up with such a captivating tale. Be warned though, the last few minutes of the movie can cause a medical condition wherein the lacrimal glands secretes fluids (otherwise known as lacrimation).

It is always a treat watching movies that do not come out from Hollywood. You get to see and learn many things, like foreign culture similarities and differences.

This particular film is most recommended not just because the dog is adorable, but most of all, because of the heart-warming story.


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