2 Minutes with ...


Judy Bocacao is a Tawa Pinoy, that is a Tawa Filipino. 'Pinoy' is to the Philippines what a 'Kiwi' is to New Zealand. She plays a key part in the local Filipino community and recently commented that she was forwarding the "Tawa News" (the email newsletter sent out in conjunction with the TawaLink website) to at least 92 email addresses in the Tawa Filipino community.

The Tawa Filipino choir sings at various community events, mostly recently at the "Quake Concert" in March. Representatives of the Filipino community also took part in last year's Tawa Christmas Parade. They are one of the many groups active in the life of Tawa, thanks in no small part to the lead taken by Judy Bocacao who also happens to be a scientist with ESR, as you'll see below.

Where were you born, Judy?
Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, and grew up there.

Where were you educated?
Catanduanes College, followed by 4 years at Ago Medical & Educational Center. Completed a B.Sc in Medical Technology, then a post graduate course, Masters in Public Health at the University of the Philippines in Manila but didn't finish it there. I'm now completing my Masters through Otago University.

What is your line of work?
I'm a scientist at ESR, previously Kenepuru (only 3 minutes away) but at Upper Hutt since 2008 (35 minutes away), specialising in virology (study of viruses).

What about family?
Married to Eli. Four children aged 9 to 14 - at Tawa College, Tawa Intermediate and St Francis Xavier.

What are your interests/hobbies?
Interested in public health. And I love gardening.
My music ministry in the church, Our Lady of Fatima. There are approximately 50 in the Tawa Filipino choir, both adults and children.

How long have you lived in Tawa?
Since 2003. Moved from Manila where I had been since 1995, involved in the scientific field, similar to what I'm doing here.

What do you think is great about Tawa?
It's very accessible, with trains and buses. A strategic location handy to Dress-Smart and Trash Palace, and many op shops here. Nice people with a very good community spirit.

What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
"I've been thinking about this all night - and being into public health, preventive medicine is the passion I have." It would be good to have space in the Tawa Community Centre where you could have free health checks like a blood pressure check and health promotion initiatives like Quit Smoking, home insulations guide, breastfeeding, etc. Health is really precious. Preventive medicine is better than curative medicine and more cost effective.

What is your favourite dessert?
Leche flan. It's a Filipino dessert like a custard. This is a dessert for special occasions.

Favourite sports team and/or sportsperson?
Because my daughter is into netball, I'll go for the Silver Ferns. The Philippines' favourite sport is basketball. "There are tall Filipinos too!"

Favourite musical group/soloist or style of music?
One of them is Barbra Streisand. I also like classical music.

Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?
I want to go to Queenstown as I haven't been there yet. Maybe next year. I could probably go for a conference and have a holiday at the same time.

Favourite quote(s) or saying(s)?
Not a quote, more of a poem, "The Dash":
A man spoke at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her gravestone from the beginning to the end. He noted that first came her date of birth, and then the year she died, but he said that what mattered most of all was the dash between those years, 1900-1970.
"That dash represented all the time she spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved her knew what that little line was worth.
For it matters not how much we own: the cars, the house, the cash.
What matters most is how we live and love and how we spend our dash."

If you could meet any two or three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
Lady Diana and Mother Teresa because of their charity works, their service to people.
I saw Pope John Paul on World Youth Day in Manila in 1995. Even at a distance his presence was overwhelming enough to give me goose bumps and tears were rolling from my eyes.
I would like to see my father. I've never met him. I was raised by a single mother.

What three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
A laptop with an internet connection.
A rosary.
A book called "Communicable Diseases Control Manual". I've been trying to finish this book but I don't have any more time. It's the bible of public health. It lists all the known diseases in the world.

What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
Ballet dancing. I wanted to do it since childhood but never got the chance. Not really possible to do now.

What are one or two talents you have that you could not do without?
Singing, because I use it to serve the Lord. If I'm sad or if I'm happy I sing. Some sort of 'release'.

What accomplishments/achievements in your life give you much satisfaction/pride?
Bringing my family here to New Zealand for a peaceful and better life.
Also being able to compete in the history and culture category in the National Quiz Bee when I was in grade 6 (10 years old). It was a big hurdle to go from school to district to provincial to regional to national level.

What are one or two things about you that local people may not know?
I make handicrafts, like a vase or a basket, out of rolled paper or newspaper (part of recycling).
I have a paper which I will be publishing soon. My professor at Otago University recommended that my paper be published in the NZ Medical Journal. It talks about free flu immunisation for children as they are the primary spreader of the disease. School absenteeism is often an early indicator of a flu outbreak. With this paper I am hoping that the health policy makers will consider the importance of vaccinating kids against flu. The entire NZ population will benefit with this intervention.

What are one or two things you would like to do before you die?
Taking my family to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. They have "sleepovers" so people know what happens at night with the fish. It's the largest aquarium in the world. They have three whale sharks. I was there two years ago on a work-related trip.
This one probably won't happen - performing in a musical like "Phantom of the Opera" or in any stage show. The first one is achievable, this one probably isn't. Who knows?

Compiled June 2011.

Other Tawa people