Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Hope of A New Year

People are probably tired of hearing the same old shit, "new year, new me" and the like. I know it sometimes get on our nerves but some people need the new year to believe in themselves more, to give them hope. I know, I know, you can change for the better anytime but the new year is symbolic for lots of people. It is officially the start of a new year and some people feel like they have a clean slate for the year. So let's give those people a break, including me, and let's all be joyful as we welcome 2015.

So this year, I'm not gonna write about my new year's resolutions nor am I gonna post a list of quotes. I'll just keep this post brief.

Year In Review:

  • I was an ugly mess throughout 2014. But the thing is, wounds heal and people heal. I never thought that my heart would be on the mend but yes, it got better in time. 
  • A handful of people saw me at my worst, and yet, here they are, still beside me. I will be forever grateful to the people who stood by me and never judged me. They understood that I had to do what I had to do.
  • Quitting my job at that point in time and starting my MBA was probably the best decision I made despite the separation anxiety I had from being a workaholic and the tremendous adjustment of studying again.
  • I also met a lot of new friends this year. I met my MBA friends, my Antiteasis friends, and rekindled my friendship with a few others.
  • My relationship with my family is back to normal with all the arguments and discussions. Of course, I'm once again present in all outings and gatherings and all the family chaos.
  • I lost the best mother in the world. I surely miss my lola but I'm sure she's smiling in heaven. 
  • And the most important realization for me still comes down to love. It's a surprise that I can still love. I thought that I turned into someone very cold and hard. But despite my walls and my list of rules, I'm still capable of loving people.

So whatever comes my way this 2015, I know I can survive it. I've been through the worst, so whatever the universe throws at me, I know the universe believes I can handle. But hey, this is not a challenge, please be a little gentle with me this coming year. And yes, I'm also hopeful this coming year. I know that greater things are bound to happen. Cheers! :)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Spot the Difference

So it's my second time in Laoag and of course, one should always stop by Paoay Church (which is not exactly in Laoag but about 30 minutes away from the capital). For me, the Paoay Church has one of the most beautiful facades ever. It's just a bit aesthetically unappealing that this year, they added tarpaulins on the bell tower and by the entrance.

There's also a little garden and souvenir shop at the back of the bell tower. And there's a mini plaza nearby with interesting restaurants and cafes.

And about 20 or so minutes away is the Malacañang of the North where the Marcoses lived when they were in town. I'm not a fan of the Marcoses but the mansion was indeed huge.

And hey, notice that in 2013 the skies were gloomier and cloudier and in 2014 it's much more sunnier. Is it over-interpretation already if I relate it with my disposition because so much has changed in one year? Charrr lang. OA much.

December 2013. Taken with an iPhone 4s.

December 2014. Taken with a Samsung S5.

December 2013. At the balcony of the Malacañang of the North. Taken with an iPhone 4s.

December 2014. At the balcony of the Malacañang of the North. Taken with a Samsung S5..

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Where We Stayed In Vigan: Ciudad Fernandina Hotel

There are several hotels around Vigan and I was a bit on a rush so I just booked the first decent hotel I came across which was also not too expensive.

We got a superior room for a little over P3000. I don't know if I'm just unfortunate but the room I got was really tiny. It was just the bed and the usual room amenities but there was barely enough space to move around. And it was on the fourth floor but their elevator was only up to the third. Well, I don't really mind the extra flight of stairs. I just wish the room was a tad bit bigger.

Our other companions booked the same room but got a better room layout. I just skipped the complaining and comparing part because I needed a couple of minutes to rest and settle down after a nine hour land trip.  What's important was the room was clean, the sheets were clean, and the bathroom was clean. And the breakfast was awesome!

I wouldn't mind checking in here again and I would recommend this hotel to travelers who would love to explore Vigan especially Calle Crisologo, the ancient road with preserved old houses. The hotel is just on the street parallel to Calle Crisologo so it's very accessible, even for early morning or late night walking.

P.S. The Eigenmans were also there when we checked in. But oblivious little me didn't notice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Traipsing Around the Old Town of Vigan

Hello, hello, hello! It's been ages since the last time I was able to write. Grad school was I-N-S-A-N-E, especially during exam weeks. I'm just glad that term break started after the first week of the month and I was able to embark on an adventure right away. Yay!

Vigan is a UNESCO World Heritage City and it was recently named one of the New 7 Wonder Cities, among many other recognitions. We stayed there for three nights. Two nights at the beginning of our Ilocos trip and one night towards the end, on our way back to Manila. It was a pretty laid back trip so we had lots of time to go around or just lounge in the hotel.

First stop was Calle Crisologo. It is one of the most preserved streets in Vigan, complete with cobblestoned walks. Restaurants and souvenir shops can be found on this street. The Vigan Information Office can also be found right beside Cafe Leona where they give out free maps of the city. There are also several calesas and karwahes (horse drawn carriages) which can take you around the city. It's also nice to walk around and have something to drink at night in Calle Crisologo, especially now that the wind is cool.

We also visited the pottery place where you can try making pots and jars. Sadly, you couldn't take it home since these still need to be baked in a kiln. The experience was fun though. (The trial is free but tips are expected.)

Another stop people need to visit is the Syquia Mansion, which was the house of President Quirino's wife. It was grand even though it was really, really old. It was quite amazing that the housekeepers were able to preserve the place. Our tour guide, Rusty, belongs to the 4th generation of housekeepers of the family. He was a great guide and he loved taking our pictures in various places of the mansion. (Entrance is only P20 or P30.)

At 7:30 every night, there's a light and sounds fountain show at Plaza Salcedo. I was really impressed that we have something like that in one of our provinces. It's nice that it's free and kids can experience its amazing beauty without leaving the country.

And don't forget to take a peek at the Arsobispo's house and the Vigan Cathedral which are just adjacent to the nearby plaza.

Our last stop was the Baluarte, which is owned by Chavit Singson, I think. It's like a mini zoo and we came in a few minutes before closing time so the "interactive animals" were no longer around. But the place was really huge. Nevertheless, I was not that impressed. It's something I wouldn't mind skipping in our trip.

So that's basically what we did in Vigan. Then off we went to Laoag!

Calle Crisologo

Vigan at night

Souvenir shops in Calle Crisologo

Calesas and Calle Crisologo

Cafe Leona, one of the popular eating spots

Pottery you can take home

Pottery demo
I even tried making my own jar. These kuyas and little girl showed me how to make a heart shaped jar.

Syquia Mansion

Dining Hall of Syquia Mansion

Kitchen of Syquia Mansion. Now, that's a kitchen I would love to work in.

Fountain show at Plaza Salcedo

One of the oldest asrchbishop's home in the country

Vigan Cathedral aka St. Paul's Metropolitan Cathedral

The interior of the cathedral

Baluarte ni Singson


“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure.
There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” 
– Jawaharal Nehru

Thursday, October 2, 2014

6 Things I Learned About Grad School

I've been dreaming about pursuing graduate studies ever since I got my undergraduate degree. There's something about books and knowledge that keeps me craving for more. Geez, I sound so nerdy. Lol. But of course, it was my time to dive into the real world and I can't stay forever in my sheltered haven. Plus, one of the requirements of grad school is years of work experience.

Armed with a degree in HRIM, I wasn't that keen on working in the F&B industry. I was glad though that work experience was required for further studies. I was given the chance to handle the marketing activities of a small MNC and I found out that I did not just like it, I actually loved it.

When I got the news that I passed the rigorous screening process of UP's MBA program (trust me, it wasn't easy), there was no turning back. I packed my office stuff a month before school started and well, waited for the first day of classes like an excited little kid.

So with a little over a month spent in grad school, here's a list of what I learned about it:
  1. Grad school is challenging. I knew it was going to be busy but all the maths (especially linear programming) are killing my brain cells! And simple following of instructions are expected. I don't know what's with my batch but the admin in charge of us is always frustrated because there are quite a lot who keeps on asking redundant questions and does things their own way.
  2. Grad school is oh so casual, in terms of clothing. This may be because I'm in the full time program so almost all of us do not have jobs. So yes, the typical outfit is jeans, shirt, sneakers, sometimes even shorts and slippers. I wore a long skirt to class one time and my seatmates asked me if I had a date! And I still have tons of corporate clothes in my closet which I can't wear to class everyday!
  3. Grad students are more helpful. You know in your undergrad class, there's always someone who doesn't want to share his notes and would keep all the right answers to himself? All my classmates in grad school are generous with their notes and readings. We even help each other when we cannot understand the lessons and have group studies even if come from different groups. Yey!
  4. Everyone wants to be right here, right now. Grad school is something we pursue on our own and something that is no longer required by our parents. We chose to get into this program and it seems like everyone is 101% dedicated. And yes, all my classmates are smart as well.
  5. There's a maintaining grade of 2.0!!! Slacking off and mediocre work are soo not allowed. It's really my goal to graduate with good grades but this news scared me a bit. The pressure is so on.
  6. Teachers expect a lot more than usual. Grad students are expected to read more and research a whole lot more. And make longer papers (or short concise ones when you have so much more to say).
So far, those are the things I discovered with only a month in. I do hope that my experiences at the Virata School of Business would not only be worthwhile, but fun and enjoyable as well.

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel. 
~ Socrates

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
~ Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Lola Anecdote #2: Cough Medicine

As my body is racked with continuous coughing, I suddenly remembered Lola Tita. The last time I was coughing like a maniac, I was still living in her house. She recommended that I try a cough medicine that she got from Tita Ayet. I remember snapping at her since the medicine did not take effect right away. Yes, I'm not proud of doing that but I was in so uncomfortable and having a hard time already.

But I also remember that after hurting my lola's feelings, I would always cuddle her and tell her that I was sorry and I love her. I am glad that I was able to tell her those precious words time and again before she left us.

Lola, I miss you. Sometimes I still go through the motions of living without thinking that you are now gone since there's still a part of me that refuses to believe it.

Those we love don't go away, they walk beside us every day. 
Unseen, unheard, but always near. Still loved, still missed and very dear. 
- Unknown

Friday, August 1, 2014

Goodbye Employment, Hello Grad School!

Today is my first day without a job. I spent the last four years working for Wacoal and honestly, it's quite a relief that I finally resigned. So many things have changed in my life for the past year and I feel like I need to let go of my job (the last constant thing in my life) in order to fly. They say that in order to grow, you need to leave your comfort zone. Right now, I am so far from my comfort zone and I do hope that the new experiences I will embark on will help me grow as a person. I am terrified of the future. I don't know if I'm actually doing the right thing. I so want to have that change, I want a life makeover, and yet, I am so scared of the change and of the thought that I might dive into this whole new world and nothing will change.

Let's call drama to a halt. Here's a list of things I will miss and not miss about working.

I will not miss the train especially the MRT. Yes, it belongs on top of the list!
I will not miss running along Ayala just to make it on time.
I will not miss spending a small fortune paying cab drivers.
I will not miss waking up super early in the morning.
I will not miss the super stress factors and the work that I have to bring home especially on sale months.

I will miss considering my walk from the office to the Ayala MRT in the evenings as my exercise for the day.
I will miss impromptu Giligan's nights with my colleagues.
I will miss my crazy friends. You know who you are.
I will miss the camaraderie I had with the other staff and Beauty Advisers.
I will miss the bosses who rarely raise their voice.
I will miss planning for a brand.
I will miss being in a whirl when preparing for the monthly meetings.
I will miss being surrounded by good people.
I will miss travelling with my officemates. Hey, let's still do this even if I'm no longer with you guys.
I will miss having so many 'papables' in the office. Hahahaha.
I will miss the photoshoots.
I will miss being interviewed for TV segments. Hahaha.
I will miss earning money.

And yes, even with the slight fear, I am excited.

I am excited to start my MBA.
I am excited to learn new things.
I am excited to study and prepare for exams. Yes, I missed these!
I am excited to meet new people.
I am excited to start my new adventure!


We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
– Joseph Campbell

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.
– Meister Eckhart

Don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else. 
- Tracy Kidder

Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. 
-Gilda Radner

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review: The Selection Trilogy

I read The Selection trilogy in two days. Yup, I spent the whole Sunday in bed. And I was reading as well on my way to and from the office on a Monday.

So The Selection is a young adult chick lit which is set years into the future. Nope, there's no space galactica thing but it's pretty much the same world we live in now with oppression and a caste system. Who would have thought these people would still have that old system in the future? Hmm.  The story is about a girl named America as she is selected to be one of the thirty five girls the prince gets to choose from to be his wife. (Come on, would you really go and be happy about that? Well, I think that if it did really happen, girls of today would be lining up in masses). Then there's a love triangle involved and lots of rebels.

Unlike similar books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, America Singer, the heroine, is described as beautiful, a fighter and you know, the type of girl who does not want what most girls want. And of course, there's Prince Maxon. Handsome, young, and for me, still needs a lot of growing up to do. But then again, what can we expect? These characters are in their teens.

I loved that the story was captivating and I could not put the book (ebook for this matter) down. I loved that the love triangle and the emotions of the characters got me confused as well (you'll understand if you read the book). And yes, some lines made me kilig and some felt like an axe was thrown on my chest.

I just didn't like the fact that the third book has the title The One. Of course, even if I'm still reading The Selection, I knew that America will end up with Maxon. Of course I wanted America to end up with Maxon (aren't we suckers for fairy tales?) but I feel there could have been a better ending. It just became easy towards the end.

And I don't know why it's the trend but so many books have a plot where there's a governing body and rebels or a certain group will do so much for change to usurp the government or whatever it is. Well, that's true, to instigate change something drastic must happen. But I've been noticing that this has been the theme of Hunger Games and Divergent. And I think The Maze Runner. But yes, people dig those stuff. And I guess that includes me.

If you're the type of person who likes to read chick lit, I suggest you read the book. It's a good weekend read.

The Prince and The Guard are also out so I'll post reviews after reading 'em.

And oh, if you want a copy of the ebook, let me know and I'll send you a copy. *wink*

P.S. So I finished The Prince and The Guard already but I don't feel like having a post dedicated entirely on those two books. So basically, these are the POVs of Maxon and Aspen which are very very short. I got a bit impatient when it came to the parts where the dialog is just the same as in the original trilogy. In my opinion, the trilogy could have survived even without the supplement books.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Lola Anecdote #1: Grocery Shopping

I've been having trouble coping up with Lola Tita's passing away. I mean, I think I've been ignoring the fact that she's already gone for more than three months already. I just go about my daily tasks as if she's still in her house watching her nightly telenovelas. And whenever I visit the house, I feel like she's just strolling the halls of Trinoma and SM North. Yup, I'm in deep trouble here.

And since I couldn't write anything at all for the past few months, I figured this might be the one causing my writer's block. I need to face this and start accepting facts.

So a couple of days ago, I went grocery shopping in Landmark Trinoma. Alone. After a very very long time. As soon as I entered the store, I felt a bit nauseous and teary eyed. I missed my lola. A lot. I suddenly remembered all the times I used to shop there.

Once a month or whenever the whim strikes me, I would go grocery shopping after office. I would always call my lola and ask if there's anything she needs. I usually include her chocolate-flavored Ensure in my list so that she does not have to worry about that anymore. I would always buy the biggest can but before doing so, I would do the math as to which size would come out the cheapest. And considering that it's after office, I would buy lots of other snacks (even more if I haven't had dinner yet). And yes, my lola loved those Dole fruits either with gelatin or syrup in tiny little cups. Sometimes she would buy on her own and I would always tell her to stop buying because I wanted to be the one to buy it as it's a bit heavy (it comes in packs of fours).

And when I get home, my lola would always scold me that I bought too much of everything. I bought too much biscuits, too much chips, too much everything. The thing is, I usually buy a lot and then end up forgetting about those snacks so there's a lot of expired food items in the pantry after a couple of months. I know it's wasteful but I always have the intention of eating those snacks whenever I buy them. I just get too busy and tired with work that I usually forget to open the pantry doors to check out what's inside.

And speaking of going home tired after work, my lola always has something hot and delicious waiting for me after a long day. Even if I plan not to eat dinner anymore, just the smell of her cooking would make me bring out the plates and cutlery. And she always always tells me that I'm getting fat. And yet, when there's only a few bites of meat or whatever it is on the table, she insists that I finish it all so we don't have to store it in the ref anymore.

I miss my lola more than anything. I miss her cooking. I miss her sermons and reminders. I miss her OC-ness when it comes to cleanliness. I even miss our arguments. I miss everything about her.

And I hope that by writing about her, I will be healed. And I want to forever remember her and to be able to tell stories about her to my future kids and grandkids.


Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.
~From the television show The Wonder Years

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It's the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.” 
~ Lois Lowry, The Giver

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Exploring Boracay Above and Under the Sea

I've been to Boracay so many times already but it's my first time to try very exciting activities. Most people know that I am TERRIFIED of heights and yet, I love facing this fear by riding rollercoasters, jumping from cliffs, etc. And this time, I rode up in the air with only a parachute attached to me. The funny thing is, I did not get scared. Thank you to Ms. Ann for giving me the push to try it out. We soared gradually and up above, it was very peaceful. There were few gusts of wind which had me rattled for a moment or two, but other than that, it was pure bliss. We saw the whole island and it was perfect.

Another worth-it activity was the helmet diving. I've always been eager to try this but my previous companions were not that interested. Then again, I did not really push them to do this since I tried snorkelling in Boracay before and the marine life was quite ordinary compared to the other reefs I've seen. But this year, my companions were game to the max. So down we went. The water was cold and I had difficulty going underwater. There was a guide who helped us go down the ladder one by one but by the time I was submerged, I panicked. It was a bit like claustrophobia as I had only this helmet to breathe and I pretty much can't escape in a snap. I was so ready to go back up and to hell with the money I shelled out but good thing that the guide did not give up on me. As soon as my feet touched the sand, I calmed down (but I was still thinking "this is 15 freaking minutes?! damn, I don't have a watch."). Ironic that I freaked out more with the helmet diving than the parasailing. The experience was pretty much fun. We saw Nemo, lots of parrot fish and a dozen others I could not identify. We also fed the fish (which I don't really agree with) so they surrounded us within minutes. It's just a bit sad that there was only about one square meter of live corals where the fish can be found. If you look far and beyond, it's just rocks and dead corals.

I would definitely try these activities again. Hopefully, in another paradise.


Parasailing rate: P1300 per person
Helmet Diving rate: P700 per person

I think the rates were a bit high but since it's summer and we really wanted to do it, we just agreed with the manong.


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

– Mark Twain