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.


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