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Borneo adventure once were HEADHUNTERS BIRD WATCHING IN MURIWAI Pix: Chris McLennan (

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Living in NZ - Travel, Culture, Food, Kiwiana It’s the 10th anniversary of this amazing FREE event! Get ready for a burst of interest by booking space now! A NZ Experience for migrants and refugees!

PLUS: Education, immigration, job advice, banking, business opportunities, products and services and lots more ... including food stands

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Kiwi travel destinations, hotel and motels, tourists attractions - thrills and spills and a whole lot more!!

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Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

New Zealand designers are finding an ever expanding market in Asia. To acknowledge the importance of this trade, the organisers of Fashion Week flew in the GermanChinese-Singaporean super model Denise Keller to grace the event. As Asia’s most admired fashion ambassador Keller is one of her region’s leading celebrities, fulfilling roles as diverse as TV presenter, supermodel, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Singapore adds shine New Zealand Experience: 26 May 2012, ASB Showgrounds NZ Travel Show, Food Fair, Information Expo and more ...

August 2012 Telstra Pacific

Glimpse of Indonesia The annual Auckland Indonesian Festival offers a glimpse into the country’s films, culture and tourism at TAPAC in Western Springs, Auckland. Indonesian crafts and jewellery are on display, plus a batik workshop. Indonesian food stalls offer the popular Nasi Padang Rames, Ayam Bakar Padang and Soto Mie Bakso.

The music, culture and food of the South East Asian region took centre stage at the annual ‘Look East’ organised by Fiesta Pilipinas Limited in Auckland. The first show held in 2009 was sponsored by Singapore Airlines. Two lucky visitors won return tickets to Singapore, courtesy of Singapore Airlines.

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Fotos left and above: Last year a group of musicians and dancers were flown out from Indonesia for the event.

Over the years, the Filipino and Thai community have been participating in the Festival and providing cultural presentations and displays. In 2012, ‘Look East’ will feature Malaysia & Philippines as the theme countries. Maraming Salamat Po. Terima Kaseh. Travel Galore and ASIAN Migrant News ( are the media partners for 2012 event.

TRAVEL GALORE (TG) features Travel Destinations in NZ & S.E. Asia, Cuisine, Culture and Festivals. TG is accessible in print and online. It is also published as a supplement in ASIAN Migrant News and Filipino News. Editor: Mel Fernandez Art Director: Dodie Garcia Sub Editor: Kirsty Hotckiss Foto Editor: Greg Honasan Publisher: Sheila Mariano

Legal Advisor: Evgeny Orlov, Equity Law Group Publications: Asian Migrant News Filipino Migrant News

Media Partner for: Look East, Halo Halo NZ, NZ Experience: Travel & Information Expo for Migrants

SM Publications Limited, PO Box 21396, Henderson, Auckland 0650 Tel: 09 838 1221, Mobiles: 027 445 7887, 027 495 8477 email:, websites:,,, PROFILE OF THE EDITOR: Mel Fernandez started his career in journalism in Singapore as a travel writer for Business Times, Our Homes, Signature Magazine (Diner’s Club) and SeaAir Travel. He also wrote a weekly travel

column titled ‘Time Off’ for the Sunday Times. In New Zealand, his ‘Travel Galore’ column and restaurant reviews have appeared in Migrant News, Asian Migrant News and Filipino News over many years.

His passion is organising festivals. He had a pivotal role in launching the first ever Asia 2000 Cultural Festival in central Auckland. He adapted the Asian night market concept for the successful Look East Festival.

Copyright Matters, Terms and Conditions of Publication & Advertising All material appearing in Travel Galore (TG) including advertisements is copyright and cannot be reproduced unless written permission is given by the publisher SM Publications Ltd. New copyright laws that have come into effect in New Zealand protect intellectual property with

severe penalties for plagarism. Our lawyers - Equity Law - will pursue legal avenues and seek compenstation if any material, be it advertising artwork or editorial matter is copied in any manner. Views expressed in TG do not necessarily reflect that of the publisher. The publisher

does not accept any responsibility or liability for views and claims in the editorial matter or advertisements appearing in this publication. ADVERTISING TERMS AND CONDITIONS: While reasonable care is taken, the Publisher will not accept liability for any error,

omission or inaccuracy in the publication of any material. Advertisers are deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions in the Publisher’s Advertising Order Form, whether they book directly with the Publisher; by using the Official Order Form, or confirm bookings by email or book

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Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

Even if our visit to the Muriwai Gannet Colony was unplanned, it was still a very enjoyable one.


By Mavis Bacaltos

Bird watching, on a beach too far

We saw (and smelled) the gannets as much as we wanted with their newly hatched chicks quite so fluffy and cute to look at and were even able to sneak in some sand castle building and play on the beach.

Foto credit: Chris McLennan (

when we asked for directions at the petrol station, we were given instructions to go to Keri-Keri up north instead. Talk about lost in translation! The Indian attendant must have thought we were looking for Keri-Keri in Northland, as he directed us that way. And against my better judgement, we followed it too! So I’m looking at the map and I had a sinking feeling that we were really traversing the wrong path so we decided to ask for help again, not from a petrol attendant this time, but from a local who was filling up. He was utterly amused at us two ladies as we told him where we wanted to go. He kindly told us we were very far from where we wanted to go but directed us to a nearer and easier to find beach. He told us Muriwai Beach is very interesting with surf waves and black volcanic sand. And I thanked him for pointing us in that direction as Muriwai Beach remains up to this day one of my

favourite spots in Auckland. Though the waves and rips can be dangerous to the unwary swimmer and to the pieces of loose swim wear (as I found out one time), its unique beauty both for bird watchers and beach goers is hard to beat. Even if my visit that weekend was unplanned, it was still a very enjoyable one. We saw (and smelled) the gannets as much as we wanted with their newly hatched chicks quite so fluffy and cute to look at and were even able to sneak in some sand castle building and to play on the beach. On our way home, we

stopped by a strawberry shop and ended our hectic day with scoops of fresh strawberry ice cream and fresh strawberries and I thought to myself, sometimes, the best trips are those which are unplanned. H O W TO G E T TO M U R I WA I B E A C H : Follow State Highway 16 to Waimauku. Turn left into Muriwai Rd and continue to the park. Distance from Auckland CBD: 45 km. A windswept rugged coastline, 60km of surf beach and rolling dunes of black sand characterise Muriwai Beach.

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We had an unplanned trip to the Muriwai Gannet colony one weekend. As always, the fine weather was the deciding factor. As we came out of Chipmunks after attending a children’s party, the sun was shining so brightly that I thought it would finally be a good time to fulfill one of my son’s birthday wishes, to go bird watching. I’m not sure where he got this notion to go bird watching but for someone who just turned five, it seems to be a bit out of character. But as he kept asking about it, I remembered that there is a gannet colony in Muriwai so we don’t need to travel far. He also watches a TV show called Takapu the Gannet of the South Seas with some scenes actually shot in Muriwai, so I thought it would be a good idea to bring him there. My first visit to Muriwai Beach was purely unplanned as well. We were planning to go to Kare-Kare Beach where they shot the movie ‘The Piano’, but I think

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Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

More to Filipino food than Adobo ... Over the last 20 years quite a number of Filipino restaurants (listed below) have filtered in and out of our main cities. But few had staying power. Newcomer, Turo Turo Philippine Cafe, plans to buck the trend. Travel Editor Mel Fernandez, visits the Cafe incognito to file this restaurant review.

Auckland: Papagayo, Oscar’s Grill, Pompino, Manong Al’s Café Wellington: Mrs Bautista’s Blades Christchurch: Katribo Dunedin: Cuisina Pilipinas, Manila Grill

TURO TURO PHILIPPINE CAFE: 26a Mayfair Place Glen Innes, Auckland Tel: 09 528 6050 Rating: ***** Although Adobo; the national food of the Philippines, is not served in Turo Turo Philippine Cafe, it’s menu is still stunning. (Turo Turo in Tagalog refers to ‘point, point’ restaurants, where you just point at the buffet style food and it will be served to you at your table). Located beside a sari sari store (Pinoy Oriental) in the Glen Innes town centre in Auckland, the café enjoys a low rent and proximity to Filipino communities in Panmure, Howick and the South. The café is the brainchild of Filipina, Maria Shearer and her Kiwi husband, Andrew Shearer. The entrepreneurial pair reckon they’ve left nothing to chance in developing this product. Their research suggested that in order to attract both Filipinos and the locals, presentation was a key factor, less is better, stark even, and it had to be uncompromisingly clean. We found Turo Turo’s décor café-like, bright, freshly painted with brand new furniture. And thankfully, without any predictable ‘take-me-home’ scenery painted on the walls or the inappropriate display of

popular religious icons. The food choices prepared by chef Mary-Jane, ranges from simple street favorites to well-prepared dishes and home-cooked meals. MaryJane told us she comes from a catering background and has managed cafes in New Zealand. According to Maria, besides catering to Pinoys, the plan is to introduce Filipino food to Kiwis. As a back-up, Turo Turo also serves some Kiwi comfort food for the faint hearted who are not quite ready to try an unfamiliar cuisine. When we visited, our group of three adults and two kids wasted no time in ordering from the substantial short orders and mains in the Filipino menu. The kids settled on Lechon Paksiw (tender roasted pork in transclucent sauce) and got stuck into it with no complaints. A good outcome - because kids can be quite critical when it comes to taste. My nephew, who had never tried Filipino food was encouraged to pick Joyful Chicken (tasty fried chicken that comes with gravy and rice or chips); a top-seller at the Jollibee restaurant chain in the Philippines. As it turned out, this was a safe choice, because his verdict was: “Better than Kentucky Fried Chicken.” He felt the cafe’s ambiance was “very homely.” My wife ordered Bistek Tagalog (tender strips of marinated beef with rice and soup or salad). I must confess, this is one of my

(left:) Turo Turo’s chef, Mary-Jane, offers Filipino street favorites to well-prepared dishes and home-cooked meals (right:) Turo Turo’s stand at the Filipino Expo in Auckland replicates a typical street foodstall.

favourites, as it goes well with a glass of beer. But I decided to try something new - Tinolang Manok, a blackboard special for the day and promoted as a ‘great winter warmer’. I found this to be the Filipino version of Mum’s chicken soup - but with a tasty twist. I recall being served this very soup at a friend’s place and it had left a lasting impression on my taste buds. The magic ingredient is malunggay leaves. I’m a fan and will always crave for this dish. Maria says that the popular dishes for Filipino customers are sisig (spicy chopped pork on rice), followed by Tapsilog (marinated beef with garlic rice, egg and soup), Longsilog (traditional Filipino sausage with garlic rice, egg and soup), Dinuguan (pork offal in a blood sauce), Pancit Canton (noodles with pork or chicken, prawns and vegetables) and Lapaz Batchoy (pork, pork crackling and

eggs in soup with noodles and vegetables). “We’ve taken Adobo off the menu as most Pinoys can make it at home,” says Maria. “Non-Filipinos tend to go for the Beef Caldereta (Spanish style beef stew with vegetables) because it has a little kick, but is not too spicy.” We were spoilt for choice with the dessert menu as well. I loved the mango cake (I understand the ube and mocha cakes are also great). Other Pinoy favourites are leche flan (sweet caramel dessert) and puto (rice cakes). My nephew had three helpings of the Buko Pandan dessert (jelly in a sweet cream sauce, flavoured with, as the name suggests, pandan leaves). The Café’s advertising slogan exhorts: ‘Be proud, Atin ko (it’s ours).’ I think the Shearers deserve a pat on their backs for opening this restaurant and lots of support by way of patronage.

Simply the best balloons. Simply memorable.

It appears distance is not a concern for loyal customers. “To get good food in a clean environment, Pinoys are willing to travel from the North Shore and Henderson, even after work – and there are regular visits from as far as Hamilton, Tauranga, and Whangarei,” says Maria. The restaurant closes at 9pm Monday to Saturday, and 7:30pm on Sundays. Facebook is used effectively to inform clients about weekly specials. We were pleased to learn about the inclusion of sweet Filipino Spaghetti on the menu recently. Three cheers from the kids!!! The now familiar coconut frond logo of Turo Turo can be expected to spread far and wide. Andrew Shearer has plans to open a string of his concept cafes in the main cities. Good move!

Turo Turo Philippine Cafe is the brainchild of Filipina, Maria Shearer (above) and her Kiwi husband, Andrew Shearer. Besides catering to Pinoys, the plan is to introduce Filipino food to Kiwis nationwide, says Maria Shearer

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Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

Head-hunting is now outlawed in Borneo but it was once the test of manhood.


Journey to the longhouses of Malaysian Borneo by Mel Fernandez

HEADHUNTERS Visitors to Sarawak remember the festive nights spent as guests in longhouses, the exhilarating experience of riding the rapids, and the tradition and culture of the people - in that order. Sarawak’s allure for tourists is without a doubt its unique longhouses. And a longhouse tour one of the last adventure of its kind in rapidly changing Southeast Asia is the main attraction in the itinerary of most tour operators in Kuching, the capital city. Each local tour operator has a favourite locality and longhouse for a visit, and the rates depend on the elaborateness of the arrangements. For the less hardy, there is the Longhouse Hotel, right where you need it – in Kuching. As you would expect, this up-dated version of the longhouse, with air-conditioning and other modern conveniences, is a caricature of the real thing. Longhouses in the jungle have no modern conveniences and visitors are told in advance that they must be prepared to rough it out. A typical tour begins with a journey of about 233 km (145 miles) out of Kuching by coach, to reach the banks of the Skrang River. It takes five hours. After this point, the journey is by motorised longboats. An hour’s traveling brings you within view of the first longhouse – longhouse Mujan - stretching along the river bank. The tual rumah (headman) and the reception party have been forewarned about our arrival and they come out to

greet us. The guide has gifts for the old chief usually cigarettes or cloth. The party is then shown into a communal hall where flickering kerosene lamps light up the late evening darkness. Dinner is longhousestyle. As we sit crosslegged on the bamboo floor, little dishes of chicken, rice and fish are placed before us. The headman makes sure that the guests don’t go thirsty. Young Iban damsels are summoned and they move around serving the local winetuak. The rice wine is strong and it burns as it goes down. But it washes away the aches of the tiring journey up-stream, and it loosens the tongue. After dinner, everyone settles down to enjoy some dancing. The Iban orchestra, which consists of girls, strikes up a heady rhythm on gongs and bamboo drums. As the music hots up, a youth steps out from the darkness into the lighted area. Dressed in elaborate head-dress of tall blackand-white hornbills’ feathers, a brightcoloured loincloth, silver belts, and a goatskin poncho over his shoulders, he cuts a striking figure. The lady guests are impressed and they reach for their cameras, but they are persuaded to wait for the finale. More dancers appear. They break into the first steps of an Iban dance with a fierce yell, enacting a dramatic version of a fight with swords and wooden shields. The women do not dance at officials functions. But a later stage,

they dress up in ceremonial finery to pose for photographs. Women go completely naked above their waists in many longhouses. But they enjoy dressing up wearing multi-coloured skirts, and adorning themselves with silver jewelry chains and bracelets. The evening is needed strange and exciting. And an overnight stay is necessary to enjoy the entertainment some of which goes on until dawn if the guests can take it! There are good reasons why the Ibans continue to live in longhouses. One reason is purely economical. To build attached houses saves material. A longhouse looks just like what its name implies - it is a long house. Each longhouse may have five rooms or it may have 100. Longhouse living is part of a social life for the Ibans. In the longhouse the people are together, this means that they have collective labour and they are also better protected. Longhouses have always been built on stilts with only one ladder leading up to it. In bygone days, this afforded protection against headhunters on the warpath from a rival longhouse. Head-hunting is outlawed today, of course. It was once the test of manhood. Iban girls showed little interest in men, who had not taken a head, as young braves tattooed themselves each time they brought in a kill. Although head-hunting has not been practiced for a long, long time, heads still find a pride of place in many remote longhouses. Early next morning, the

party moves up-river to longhouse Panchor. This trip takes about five hours as the journey is up-stream, where rapids are encountered. A strange and impressive calm pervades that part of the jungle. And in the cool of the morning, the city-dweller finds the jungle sobering, even a shade intimidating. The thick vegetation finally gives way to a space of pebbly shore where longhouse Panchor stands. Here, we are again treated to an elaborate welcoming ceremony. To propitiate the spirits, a live cock is brought to the chief. Its throat is slit and the warm blood is dabbed on our foreheads. The music and dances

go on late into the night and Iban hospitality here as in all longhouses can be summed up in one wordoverwhelming. Soon it is time to go, and we are all eager to start on the journey down-stream. There is a stretch along the way where you ride the rapids. The longboats travel at terrific speeds, but the skilled boatmen will get you through safely. It’s a great relief to know that in a few hours you will be back to the comforts of a hotel room. There will be time enough to relax in Kuching, to do some shopping and sightseeing before catching the plane home. The longhouse safari is by far the most popular

tour in Sarawak today – and it is an experience you will not easily forget.

HOW TO GET THERE: You can go on a longhouse tour in either Sabah, Sarawark or Brunei. Malaysian Airlines flies to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) from Kuala Lumpur and Silk Air flies to these cities from Singapore. Singapore Airlines flies to Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) from Singapore. Or you can fly direct to Brunei from Auckland on Royal Brunei Airlines. Photo Credit: The longhouse shown in the above foto is in Sabah. Courtesy of Sabah Tourism Board.



Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.


BORACAY FOTOS from left clockwise: Kristine Manuel hits the beach. Hello Boracay! D’ Banana Boat. Freshly cooked seafood at D’Talipapa. Parasailing for thrillseekers. Like this resort hotel. (bottom right:) The frenetic nightlife in Boracay - go girl!

By Kristine Manuel Boracay has a lot to offer singles and family groups. Kristine Manuel says there were no dull moments for her on this island paradise holdiay. She went partying till late at hot nightspots. Met Filipino film stars on the beach. And enjoyed some thrilling outdoor pursuits which are not for the faint-hearted. After 6 long years, I finally got to spend Christmas with my family. We wanted it to be a special holiday, so we decided to travel from Cavite to Boracay. We started out on our 12hour journey with barely three hours sleep from the gift-giving activities on Christmas Eve. As it was a beautiful morning in Batangas, we anticipated a smooth onehour ferry ride to Mindoro. But with a low pressure affecting the Visayas Region, the trip turned out to be the scariest 1-hour of my life. It was a stressful land and sea ride going to my dream vacation destination - we were greeted with grey clouds, rain and wind. It was a gloomy morning. But luckily, the weather got better just in time. By 11am on Dec 26th, we were enjoying a walk on the fine white sand of Boracay Island. I have seen a lot of pictures of this island, but seeing it with my own eyes

was very different. There were still grey skies, but it was still beautiful - the pristine waters and Boracay shoreline and the different nationalities you come across. We decided to tour the length of station 2 where the white sand resembled fine powder. At lunch time we headed to the day market. Being surrounded by sea, there are many seafood restaurants here, all offering tasty food fresh from the seas. D' Talipapa offers a "paluto" service, which is similar to Manila's Dampa. With this service, you buy your own ingredients, and the resto will cook it for you. Tasty fresh seafood at a reasonable price. We checked into our hotel after lunch. December is super-peak season, luckily we booked a month earlier. We stayed at the Seabird International Resort. It's very close to the beach and near D' Mall and other bars - walkable to anywhere we want to go. Our room had a white Greek Mediterranean facade, with quality amenities

and spotless. The staff were very accommodating and the rates affordable. We enjoyed the rest of the day at the beach. A game of beach volleyball, a dip in the cold waters, making sand-castles and a lot of photo opportunities. It was not a good day for a tan, but nonetheless, it was great day to have fun and just chill out on the beach. By 6pm, we were watching the famous Boracay sunset. And after dinner, we went out to sample the Boracay night life. Our first stop was Epic Boracay. It's the hottest hang-out in station 2 - great ambience, good music and of course, the happy hour cocktails. We stayed for a few drinks until we felt the need to show off our "dancing skills". We headed for station 1, where the parties are wilder. On our way, we came across Philippine movie stars Dingdong Dantes and girlfriend Marian Rivera. It was high tide, so walking on the shore at night was quite an experience. You can also make friends on the beach.

We got to our next stop, Club Paraw. The sounds are cool and hip, you can dance barefoot on the fine cool sands or just enjoy sound-tripping to the loud music of nearby pubs and bars. When we got tired of dancing, we opted to just chill and enjoy the good music in Guilly’s Boracay. Our last stop for the night was Cocomangas Shooters Bar. We danced till the wee hours of the morning and got back at 4am. With no hang-overs from the bar-hopping spree the night before, it was time to experience the water activities. As I’ve tried snorkeling in Bohol and Palawan, it was time to go up another notch. This time - Helmet Diving. It’s also called Reef Walking, where you wear a helmet when you go under water. Unlike scuba diving where you swim, here you only walk under water or dance for the camera ): for 15 minutes. You can enjoy the underwater world without worrying about diving training, regulators or air supply. The

underwater sights are amazing. There were friendly encounters with different species of fish and I even fed them. Ever since I saw a feature about parasailing, I was determined to give it a go. But I was in for a disappointment because parasailing was cancelled due to the strong winds on the island. I kept my fingers crossed hoping for better weather, and fortunately at 2pm on our second day, parasailing resumed. With a service fee of 1,500 pesos, it's definitely worth it. That 15 minutes of flying above the sea in a parachute and being pulled by a speedboat is an adventure you should try at least once in your life. I thought it would be scary, but on the contrary, the ride was exhilarating, watching the beautiful scenery below. The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming, beach walking and picture taking. I spent the last night clubing with my brother in Summer Place and strolled along the busy streets of station 2.

Before our Boracay vacation ended, me and my siblings tried the Banana Boat ride - a yellow boat shaped like a banana and pulled by a speed boat. The feeling is similar to being on a jet ski but much safer, even my 2year old nephew enjoyed it. In Boracay, there are a thousand and one ways to explore and enjoy the beauty of the island. There are no dull moments. If you're a party lover or adventurous, Boracay is the ideal destination for you. Personally, Boracay is truly paradise for me. The island has much to offer and my three-day vacation was too short to take it all in. I will return. Soon!




Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

Ivy bags

Best Actress Award for Musical (right:) Ivy Rose Padilla

By Sheila Mariano Wellington - A well known Wellington-based Filipina actress, Ivy Rose Padilla, has won the coveted NAPTA Best Actress Award for 2011. Padilla was the first Filipina to land a lead role in Miss Saigon in New Zealand. She played Kim in the Wellington season of the blockbuster musical in April 2010. “I played Kim in the Wellington Musical Theatre 2010 production of Miss Saigon and reprised the role in Whangarei Theatre Company in their Jun-Jul 2011 season”, says Padilla. “I was then nominated for the NAPTA Best Actress in a Leading Role Musical. The awards ceremony was held on the 25th of February in Auckland. I am pleased to say that I managed to get the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role - Musical. “Playing the role of Kim in the Wellington Musical Theatre production of Miss Saigon was my debut per-

formance in musical theatre.” “So you could just imagine my excitement, with my nerves skyrocketing at the same time, when I got the role of Kim ... and being able to do it twice too!” Padilla, who hails from Manila, moved to New Zealand with her husband Poch and daughter Denise in 2008. Padilla and her family had been in this country for only four years when shebagged the lead role for the Wellington production of Miss Saigon. Padilla graduated in 2003 from De Le Salle University with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Majoring in Computer Applications. While still at university, she was the lead vocalist in an alternative rock band who did both original and cover songs. She is currently working as an Educational Technologist - Online Learning Coordinator at WelTec. FMN: Have you had previous experience in the theatre? PADILLA: I've performed in many productions in the Philippines, but landing the role of Kim in my New Zealand debut performance is a dream come true. Miss Saigon is one of my favourite musi-

cals and Kim is my favourite character. FMN: Did you have a mentor to take you through this exciting journey? PADILLA: Since it was my first time in musical theatre, I didn’t really have a mentor per se. With regard to singing, Lea Salonga, of course, is my inspiration. For me, she's simply the epitome of singing and performance perfection. I can close my eyes and feel the emotion in her singing; that's “I played Kim in the Wellington Musical Theatre 2010 production of Miss Saigon and reprised the role in Whangarei Theatre Company in their June-July 2011 season” - Ivy Padilla what I aim for. The cast and crew of the WLG production tion, but at the same time tion for winning the award. Ivy Padilla’s official webwere extremely helpful, as also allowed me to give my As for the scholarship, two site: https://www.facethey knew it was my first own interpretation of Kim. $1,000 awards are given time in musical theatre. He's very honest and each year to the successful al They were all very support- knows how to bring out the applicants to help them furive and encouraging. best in people, even if I'm ther their training, either The principals were uncertain if it is there or locally or internationally. exceptionally brilliant. not. FMN: Are you seeking They helped me throughout FMN: Were there other roles in other musicals in the rehearsals and perform- Filipinos who had roles New Zealand? ance season. Their presence together with you? PADILLA: Yes, I'm and professionalism was PADILLA: Yes! Jere- waiting for Les Miserables. contagious. I was blessed to miah Cortes in Wellington :) have performed alongside and Tristan Mendoza (one FMN: Have you met them, as I learned a lot. of the Tams) in Whangarei. Lea Salonga? It felt like I was in a big FMN: Is there a prize PADILLA: Unfortufamily - it was a dream given together with the nately I haven't yet, but like cast. Our director, Grant NAPTA Award? any musical theatre perMeese, is great to work PADILLA: I received a former I would love to! with as he gave us direc- trophy from the organiza-



Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.

Fiesta fever There’s sure to be a fiesta going on somewhere in the Philippines at most times of the year. Overseas visitors might think that Filipinos just love to party. Well, they do, but fiestas also serve a purpose as most have a religious dimension to it. Filipinos have brought these cultural traditions to New Zealand: The Sinulog Festival is held here in

January (fotos below and right), followed by the Feast of Our Lady Of Candles, Feast of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, the Independence Day event in June (foto left by Francis Opinion), Halo Halo NZ - The Filipino Expo ( and finally the annual Filipino Reunion in

October. For more information on fiestas visit:



Travel Destinations. Cultural Cuisine. Events. Festivals.


Fotos by: Kristine Manuel

By KRISTINE MANUEL IMUS, CAVITE - I've been to Baguio a number of times, but never experienced the Panagbenga Festival. Panagbenga is a term meaning 'a season of blooming'. It's a tribute to the beautiful flowers the city is famous for, as well as being a celebration of Baguio's restoration. It has been held annually to help Baguio forget the 1990 earthquake that devastated much of the city. Also known as 'The Festival', Panagbenga not only showcases the parade of flowers, but also has different activities such as concerts, midnight markets and flower shows, among others. I have always wondered if this festival would capture my heart ... and it surely did! We began our 6-hour journey from Manila at 11pm on Friday, February 24th. We anticipated heavy traffic going to Baguio, since a lot of tourists, both local and foreigners, were eager to watch the annual parade of flowers. By about 6am the next morning we reached our hotel and took a short rest. Our first destination was the Grand Street Parade. Session Road (the main road of the city) was already full of people anticipating the start of the parade. I was so amazed by the colourful presentations by students from the dif-

I have never seen Baguio so jam-packed as it was during that time. All the hotels, inns and boarding houses were fully booked one week before the celebration.

ferent universities and establishments. The participants started out from the Panagbenga Park and headed to the Athletic Bowl. Despite the length of the parade route, every street dancer gave his/her best to showcase their talents and, of course, their cultures. I have never seen Baguio so jam-packed as it was during that time. All the hotels, inns and boarding houses were fully booked one week before the celebration. All the restaurants and food chains were full of people. Even the SM Mall of Baguio was flooded with

tourists. Which is why, after the street parade, we chose to return to our hotel and in the luxury of our room, to chill out, just enjoying the cold breeze that swept Baguio. Right after dinner, we went to Burnham Park to do some shopping at the midnight market. But it was more of the same the streets were full of people, which made shopping an extra challenge. I ended up buying nothing, but nevertheless, I enjoyed good band music and great street food at the free concert in the park. As early as 4am the fol-

lowing day, we were already stationed at the main entrance of the Athletic Bowl, awaiting the main event of the festival - the Grand Parade of Floats. This was the highlight of the celebration as thousands of visitors lined the pedestrian lanes to get the best possible view. Twenty six

spectacular floats participated, all dressed-up with flowers of different colours and sizes. The parade also showcased p o p u l a r m o v i e celebrities from all three TV networks in the Philippines. My favorite floats were: the Baguio Country Club, adopting a Star Wars theme, and the SM Supermall float with its red and yellow dragon design.

It was a week long celebration in Baguio. But with busy schedules in Manila, we had to go home after the float parade. My first encounter with the Panagbenga Flower Festival has brought me a new perspective on our culture and heritage. It was indeed a colourful celebration of our country's beauty and talents. The experience was wonderful and simply unforgettable.

Travel Galore Preview Issue  
Travel Galore Preview Issue  

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