By Leonardo V. Micua
AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Out here, particularly in North Shore, it almost feels like being home in the Philippines.
The neighborhood is composed mostly of Filipinos who, carrying the culture of close family ties, treat each other as relatives.
Not surprisingly, there is a Filipino store in Glenfield that sells goods from home like bangus, fish paste or what the Ilocanos call boggoong, tuyo (sun-dried fish), tinapa (smoked fish), malunggay (or what they label here as frozen horse raddish), and monggo.
Another supermarket under a sprawling car park sells, among others, bottles of Mang Tomas sauce from the Philippines.
As a Filipino tourist visiting family here, North Shore is not only wonderful for the Filipino community but also for its public parks and other recreation facilities that offer outdoor fun, especially on sunny days like now in the summer season.
There’s the Marlborough Park where children can have their thrill on the swings and slides, and hop on to their skateboard, bicycles and scooters.
For the adults, there are outdoor fat-trimming equipment.
Oneputo Park, on the other hand, has a lake where ducks, pigeon and other bird species thrive and can be fed with bread crumbs on the ground.
It is about a 10-acre playground — an acre is 0.404 hectare — with a children’s field for hockey, American football and baseball, some swings and slides for toddlers.
MOST LIVABLE CITY
Most Filipinos working in offices in Auckland Central prefer to make home in North Shore because of lower rental rates as compared to the high-rise condominium apartments in the heart of the city.
Auckland, the business and financial center of New Zealand, is a sprawling city of 1.3 million people.
It is listed as the 9th most livable city in the world and that is not by chance.
With Mayor Len Brown leading the city council, it has actually drawn up is called a Unitary Plan to make Auckland the world’s most livable city in the word in a few years.
In the meantime, with the Christmas season in the summer air here in the southern hemisphere, a Santa Parade was held last Sunday on Queen and Customs streets, which drew in loads of tourists, many of whom were Asians, including Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Indians, and Australians.
There was a cold wind blowing from the Pacific Ocean entering Torpedo Bay but the sun was piercing.
But the crowd did not seem to mind, both the local Kiwis and the visitors, as they were entertained by a band playing Christmas music non-stop and ladies in the parade wearing reindeer paper horns gave out sun-block lotions
Then again, even without a parade, daily life here is spent a lot out in the sun in the summer as people bask in the heat after what could be rough winters and cold springs and autumns.
Kiwi youth jog along the sidewalks, mothers out on a walk pushing baby carriages with toddlers in tow, people sitting about and reading in park benches, or simply enjoying the warmth in this lovely, livable city.