December 22, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Perfect Mushrooms | Kabutehan

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Perfect Mushrooms

Training and Seminars | Fruiting bags | Growing technical support | Fresh Gourmet Mushrooms | Grower's Kit Mushroom Chili Sauce™

(Official Website: http://perpektongkabute.com/)



I've always been a fan of mushrooms. And recently, I've been a fan of chili (read this and/or this) as well. So when an officemate of mine shared a recent discovery of chili mushrooms, I was quick to inquire and order a few for myself.

Perfect Mushrooms' main goal is to educate enterprising individuals on how to grow their own mushroom farm, encouraging sustainability and the entrepreneurial spirit. They regularly hold mushroom farming workshops and sell mushroom starter packs for those who are interested.

Personally, I do not care for growing or selling mushrooms, but when I read that they have their own mushroom products to sell, I immediately became interested. 

This Christmas, Perfect Mushroom partnered with Kabutehan
to create a special Christmas Package worth 450 PhP (for both bottles)

December 11, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Tomatoes (Part 3)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



Alas, my tomato plants have died. :(

At first I thought that the leaves were drying up due to insufficient watering...
...but even when I watered the plants everyday the wilting won't stop...
...I eventually decided to sacrifice my plants
so I can use the space for more hardy plant varieties.

Lessons Learned:

  • Know your seeds. I think, my main mistake was that I attempted to propagate a tomato plant from the seeds of a store-brought tomato. Yes, those seeds will sprout and the plant will grow, but chances are that tomato variety was bred for harvesting, and not for breeding. Safe bet: Buy seed packets and use them for planting.
  • Give your tomatoes room to grow. Even if you are planting a determinate (i.e. container) variety (vs. the indeterminate i.e. vine variety), tomato roots plant deep and wide. This was what I discovered while I was cleaning up the dead roots from my container. It was my mistake to try to cram up four plants in one pot. One tomato plant per 5-gallon container is the ideal.
  • Stake early. Putting a stake beside the plant as it is growing, even if you haven't tied them together, is safer than driving a stake down an almost mature plant as you might risk damaging the root
  • Prune as necessary. If you neglect the suckers forming on corner of your plant's stems, they may grow into another "main" stem, which will take some energy away from the original main stem. At the height of maturity, my tomato plants looked really bushy and disheveled because all the suckers I ignored.
  • Consider manually pollinating the flowers if yours won't. My tomato plant bloomed a LOT of flowers, but none of them got pollinated into fruition. I've read that tomato flowers require a specific temperature window for it to pollinate, and if not, the gardener can manually shake the flowers to distribute the pollen. I haven't tried it, but I think I should have.

I don't know if I will be planting tomatoes again in the future. As it turned out, they were a bit high maintenance, much more than I expected. I've still got some herbs growing in my garden, maybe for now I'll stick to that.

December 10, 2015

How To Apply for a Japan Tourist Visa [LAST UPDATED: August 24, 2015]

Aside from the Backpacking Korea package tour, I also availed Travel Factor's Backpacking Japan.  A Philippine Passport holder needs a Japan visa in order to enter the country, but I had NO visa to begin with.  So, part of my checklist for preparing for that trip was to apply for one.

Applying for a Korean Visa vs. Applying for a Japan Visa

Based from my experience, the major difference between the two is that you cannot personally apply for a Japan visa.  It has to course through an accredited travel agency.  They will send the documents in your behalf, and you will have to claim the results from them as well.

Another difference is that, part of the requirements to applying for a Japan visa is a Daily Schedule ("TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU" in Romaji).  This is basically a formal itinerary of your planned trip to Japan.  This will be easy if you are availing a package tour, or perhaps a business trip, since the schedule will most definitely be provided.  However, if you are going there on your own or maybe to visit a friend, then perhaps you need to do a little more work researching on the places you need to go during your trip.

And since we're already on the topic of requirements, might as well proceed with it...

THE REQUIREMENTS
  1. Philippine Passport. Must be valid for at least six (6) months from the travel date and has at least two (2) blank pages.
  2. Visa Application Form.  Travel Factor emailed the form to us as part of their assistance in applying for the visa, but you may also download the PDF copy of the form here.
  3. Visa Application Photo.  There is a specific standard for these photos; the most basic of which is that the size of the photo should be 4.5 cm x 4.5cm.  Use a white background for this photo. (Update: A 2x2 ID photo is acceptable as well)
  4. NSO copy of Birth Certificate.  They will only accept copies that were requested within one year from the application.  For those who don't have time to apply for their birth certificates personally, you may order them online. (Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)

  5. Date of Issue is encircled in red.

  6. Marriage contract (if married).  I don't need this requirement, but FYI you can also request for it online(Update: For those with a previous Japanese Visa--regardless if from an old passport or not--this requirement is no longer needed)
  7. Bank certificate original. I was advised that the appropriate balance in your account should be a minimum of 200,000 PhP.
  8. Income Tax Return certified true copy, if possible.  This is the BIR form 2316, filed on the year of your application.  You may have it certified by your company payroll officer, if you are employed.
  9. Daily Schedule in Japan (TAIZAI NITTEIHYOU). This was discussed in the previous section.  Ours was just a printout of what was sent to us via e-mail. (Update: A sample of the document can be downloaded here)
  10. Optional requirements are as follows:
    • Certificate of Employment. Include period of employment and salary.
    • Proof of Business Ties in the Philippines. Examples are Articles of Incorporation, DTI Registration, etc.
    • Other Proof of Financial Capability. Examples are Land Title/s, Vehicle Registration/s, Stock Certificate/s, etc.  I submitted certificates from various investment plans from PhilAm life.
    • Credit Card Billings
Rule of thumb: In applying for Japan visa, they are particular with your financial security as a visitor.  Whereas in applying for Korean visa, they are particular with how well-travelled you are.


25 Things to Do In the Philippines [UPDATED]

Hey--I just realized that Bacolod is in Iloilo, ergo should've crossed out #25 a looooooooong time ago.

** This being a working list; thankfully I am still able to cross out a few more. :)


Got this from INQ.NET.  Not sure if this is THE list, but it wouldn't hurt to try out things listed here.
-----
1. Go white water rafting in Cagayan de Oro.

2. Visit Batanes.

3. See Mt. Mayon up close.

4. Swim with the whale sharks in Donsol.

5. Climb Mt. Pulag and be awed by its sea of clouds.

6. Dive, swim and explore Palawan’s underground river.

7. Hike and let the view of Mt. Pinatubo crater take your breath away.

8. Party in your bikini in Boracay.

9. Surf’s up! Choose your wave—La Union, Zambales or Real, Quezon.

10. Missed out on the pristine beauty of Boracay 15 years ago? Visit Malapascua, Cebu.

11. Dive and see the rich marine life of Anilao, Batangas.

12. Travel back in time—go to Vigan.

13. Let Bohol wow you with its many offerings—the Chocolate Hills, the tarsier, the Loboc River Cruise, old churches and the beach.
(except for the beach)

14. Go high! Drive to the Mountain Province of Sagada. Check out the caves, the hanging coffins and enjoy the laidback lifestyle.

15. Grab a Viaje del Sol map, visit Ugu Binyan’s pottery studio, eat at Kusina Salud and unwind at Casa San Pablo.


#SupportLokalPH: Wanderskye | Bags by Rubbertree

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

A couple of weeks ago, I was (finally!) able to experience autumn in Japan. Since my return, I was only able to upload a few VSCO Cam photos to my Flickr accout, but then work demanded that I spend some quality time with it now that I'm back home. Hopefully I am able to blog (or at least photoblog) about my trip before the year ends.

2015-11-27 09.55.38 1
One of my favorite photos from my "mobile phone" category.
Hooray for high resolution cellphone cameras and filter apps!

ANYWAY. What was I supposed to talk about? Oh, yes. My travel bags.

Planning for this trip happened way back in the middle of this year, when I've been canvassing for sturdy bags and travel accessories to use; stuff that will withstand the stress during flights and train transfers from city to city. My first bag-related purchase started with Exonomad, which I bought for its rugged properties, but mainly because I wanted to showcase Filipino indigenous fabric as I travel (picture below, bottom left).


My next purchase (picture above, center)  after that was influenced by the opening scene of That Thing Called Tadhana, when Angelica Panganiban's character was perusing the contents of her luggage for things to dispose because her baggage was overweight. Her luggage had this cover, and I was instantly drawn to its design and color. Thanks to social media, I was able to trace the brand of the luggage cover used. Guess what? It's locally made!

November 12, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Tomatoes (Part 2)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



I didn't realize that it's been almost three months since I gave an update on my tomatoes! Quite honestly, things aren't looking good for my container garden, ever since Typhoon Lando wreaked havoc on our balcony. I'm still hopeful that my plants would survive until 2016, but I'm not too optimistic about that.

But since I've got some gardening photos piling up, might as well blog about it.

Day 44: Final Re-potting

By this time, my tomatoes sprouted bigger leaves and have grown at least one dangkal in length. As the grower pots seem to be getting smaller for them, I decided that it was time to put them in their final container.

Healthy seedling, yay!

To enable more root growth for the big container, I had to snip off some of the bottom leaves, including the cotyledon.

Tomatoes grow roots on the stem planted underground.

A shorter plant on a bigger container.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is always best to plant deep, because deeper roots means a larger root system, which results to sturdier plants with more ways to absorb nutrition from the soil.

That Thing Called Tadhana

 For those who aren't "in the know," That Thing Called Tadhana is a locally-produced film starring Angelica Panganiban and JM de Guzman. This film is written and directed by Antionette Jadaone, and was released last February 2015.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around the misadventures of a girl (Panganiban) and a boy (de Guzman), from their first encounter in the airport to their travels around northern Luzon.

Those who were able to watch this film have come to love the witty hugot conversations, the breathtaking scenery of the Philippines, and the palpable chemistry between the two actors. Because of the dialogue and the circumstance of how the two characters met, this film reminded me of Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise, but with more mababaw dialogues.

I highly recommend this film; rarely can an Original Filipino Movie be entertaining and intelligent at the same time.

Anyway, the real reason for this blog entry to showcase another Arajera purchase, this lovely Heart and Arrow lariat necklace:

A photo posted by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on

I've never had or worn a lariat necklace before, so this one's a new experience for me. Also, I mentioned That Thing Called Tadhana prior to showing this purchase because, well those in the know know.

'Yun lang! Nothing else to say so I'll just end my entry, good day!

October 13, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: KiN Leather Collection

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

KiN Leather Collection

KiN products are made of genuine leather, locally handcrafted by the best Filipino artisans. (MNL,PH)

(Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/kinleather)

After extensively using my Exonomad backpack, even as an office bag, I finally decided to invest in a proper leather shoulder bag. I've been seeing a lot of local makers showcasing their own leather collection, and the following considerations come to mind while trying to choose which one to support:
  1. Budget. Leather bags aren't cheap, and handmade leather bags are of no exception. Most of the bags I see online range from 3,000 PhP to 5,000 PhP. The only branded bag I own is a medium-sized Longchamp Le Pliage, which I bought some five years ago at 4,000 PhP (I think). To have a real leather bag at the same price? Not bad.
  2. Leather type. There are four basic types of leather used in making accessories: Full grain, Top grain, Genuine leather, and Bonded leather. In a nutshell, the difference between these types is the layer of hide used to produce leather. Full grain leather comes from the topmost hide (closest to the hair) and is the sturdiest, rawest, and most expensive type of leather. Top grain leather comes from a layer slightly below, further processed to make it smoother and more uniform-looking. Top grain leather is less sturdy than full grain leather, but is less blemished. Genuine leather comes from further lower layers, while Bonded leather are made from leather scraps pressed together. Both may have the look and feel of real leather, but the quality is significantly inferior.
  3. Lining. I've noticed that makers using high-quality leather rarely line their creations, as they want to showcase the characteristics of their high-grade leather. However, leather stretches and sags over time, thus unlined leather has the tendency to succumb to the weight and gravity due to overpacking.
  4. Silhouette. In general, I was searching for a bag with shoulder straps. Considerations would include if the bag is structured or slouchy, how tall, how wide, and how long would the straps be.

Then, I came across KiN Leather Collection while browsing in Instagram.


October 01, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Simoy ng Haraya

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Simoy ng Haraya

Pabango | Pambahay | Aromaterapia

(Online Shop: http://www.simoyngharaya.com/default.asp
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/simoyngharaya/)

Simoy ng Haraya is another discovery from my Common Room experience last weekend. This was an accidental find, actually. I was initially attracted to the essential oils displayed on the shelf below the perfumes (as seen in Common Room's Instagram picture below. Simoy ng Haraya perfumes are on the third shelf, while the essential oils are on the shelf below, I think), when the unique Tagalog perfume names caught my eye.


The online shop provides detail descriptions of each perfume scent to give an idea of how they smell like:
  • Alaala - This unforgettable scent leaves an olive fruity fragrance to remember you by.
  • Sulyap - Steal some glances with this fragrant mix of marjoram, thyme, and musk.
  • Tiwala - Trust this fragrance to please with its fruity, green and floral notes.
  • Unang Halik - A tantalizing scent that covers you in sweet vanilla kisses.
  • Dalisay - This floral scent evokes purity -- a soft blend of freesia, jasmine and rose with a touch of light musk. It’s an olfactory return to innocence.
  • Yakap - Wrap yourself in the embrace of this clean, fresh, powdery soft scent. Wear it like a pure cotton dress on a breezy day.
  • Kilig - Get giddy over the refreshing scent of lemon verbena.
  • Lambing - Show your affection by having this optimistic, flowery scent of lily of the valley, bulrush, tea rose and cinnamon leaves mixed with Tanaka wood, musk and cedar.
  • Umaga - Greet each day with a light fragrance of garden fresh tomatoes. Airy and herbaceous, it’s the perfect start to a perfect day.

I'm glad that Common Room provides testers for each scent, so I was able to test which of the fragrances complement my personality and my skin.

September 28, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Common Room

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Common Room

Arts & Crafts Supply Store | A place where makers gather

(Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CommonRoomPH)

I've always wanted to check out this store ever since it announced their launching over Facebook and Instagram, just a few months ago. Most of the local makers I've been following in social media sell their stuff there; having a physical store where I can look at merchandise would definitely help me decide whether or not to buy an item made by an independent local brand.


Common Room is located near universities, so it is understandable that the merchandise caters for the kolehiyala market. Notebooks, gadget holders, tote bags, and dorm decorations are the usual type of items being sold there.

I was looking for a particular leather bag from a maker I'm currently following, but I was not able to find it in the Common Room. Needless to say, my husband and I were able find a couple of items worth buying.

September 17, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Exonomad

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Exonomad

Durable Carry Solutions


I'm really excited with today's featured product, because I've been planning to acquire one since June. I first found about Exonomad from the Instagram picture posted by Alunsina Handbound Books. The post led me to Exonomad's Instagram page, and I instantly fell in love with the design of one of their bags, wherein they used Sagada fabric.


A photo posted by mark jordan (@exo_nomad) on

Exonomad specializes in creating backpacks suited for outdoor recreation. They also create accessories for cycling, hiking, and everyday carry (i.e. cellphone holder, pouch bag, gadget kit, etc). They are also open to accept requests for additional pockets, straps, or other configuration that you would like to add on your Exonomad bag.

I first emailed Exonomad to inquire on the availability of the Sagada fabric as I want it to be used for my backpack. Fortunately, there are Sagada fabrics available, so I proceeded to discuss the specifications of my backpack.

Back view


September 16, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Green Onions and Lemongrass (Part 1)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



As with my onions, I haven't been successful propagating these plants so far. But I've already gathered quite a number of images, so might as well make an entry on how to grow green onions and lemongrass in theory.

Day 1: Dunk 'em in water

Propagating green onions and lemongrass follow the same rule: start root growth in water. In the kitchen, save around three inches of the bottom part of the plants and immerse the root section in water.

Green onions in water

These cuttings, especially the green onions, have a rather sharp scent; best change the water everyday to keep it from stinking up the place.

A closer look at the green onions.
The longer the roots, the faster the growth.


September 15, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Activista

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Activista

Stylish, modern, and affordable fitness apparel made in the Philippines


This one I've discovered through Instagram, and is a fairly new business as they launched their online store just a couple of months ago.

By no means am I an athletic person, but certain factors (i.e. ageing) has led me to become more conscious of my health and overall body image. As I do not engage in sports, nor will I ever, I have no plans to invest in expensive and/or well-known brands for my athletic clothing. Fortunately, I came across Activista, and they primarily sell fitness apparel for a reasonable price.


Being fairly new to the online market, Activista's method of purchasing, payment, and delivery is still a bit crude. For one, you can only view their catalog through Facebook and Instagram photos. Should you need to inquire on the availability of the item, SMS or Viber are the ideal way to contact them. They use Google docs for their order form, and you would have to wait for them to contact you via email to confirm your order. Payment is made through bank deposit, which would need to be confirmed by a certain cut-off time for your order to make it to their scheduled deliveries (i.e. Wednesdays and Saturdays).


September 13, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Vela Manila

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Vela Manila

Of Tradition and Modernity


Quick update: My Japan Visa applications has been approved, yay!

I was given a multiple entry status good for five years, so I decided to reward myself by buying pretty things for my passport.

This one I discovered through Instagram, and I was attracted by their way of incorporating native fabric into their pieces. Almost all of their items are made with leather, and I find leather + native fabric designs classy and cultured. I like!


A photo posted by Vela Manila (@velamanila) on

From their items, I chose to buy their brown passport holder. From the picture above, the Mangyan fabric beautifully contrasts with the dark leather, and since the color of my passport is brown, I thought that it would make a nice matchy-matchy combination.


September 11, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Onions (Part 1)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



To add some variety to my balcony garden, I decided to plant some onions. Onions are a mainstay in the circulating lists of vegetables you can grow using kitchen scraps. There's nothing much to do while waiting for my tomato seedlings to grow strong, so perhaps it's time to take on another gardening project.

Day 0: Callousing the onion bottoms

The regrow-able part of the onion is its bottom part, consisting of the roots plus half an inch or so of onion flesh. A fresh onion vegetable is quite juicy after slicing, so it is quite important to let the onion bottoms dry for a day or two before planting them into the soil.

Just your garden variety yellow onion.

Day 1: Planting the calloused onion bottoms 

Onion bottoms that have dried nicely should exhibit curling and separation of the onion's fleshy layers. Notice that some onions will have more than one "center." Each center is a potential onion plant, which means that the bulb is expected to form from them.

The onion bottom on the upper right shows a perfectly
calloused onion bottom.


September 10, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Donardo's Chili Garlic Sauce

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Donardo's Chili Garlic Sauce

Anghang Sarap!

(Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donardos-Chili-Garlic-Sauce/362127374159)

I've been a fan of Germano's Chilli ever since an office mate recommended it to me, but I'm always on the lookout for new local brands to try. I discovered this gem while grocery shopping in Puregold Jr. (Pioneer branch)--ironically, during that time I was buying some Germano's Chilli for said office mate. Wouldn't hurt to try another brand for myself, though.

Donardo's Chili Garlic Sauce uses soy oil, compared to
the olive oil/ corn oil used by Germano's Chilli.

This one's less expensive, too.


September 09, 2015

Seedlings of Faith and Similar Metaphors

I've been having a bit of a challenge growing my tomatoes. A month has passed since I first sowed the seeds, and as per research my tomatoes should've been ready for their final transplanting. Alas, my seedlings seem to have stunted their growth. They've barely grown. :(

Staring into my unproductive garden made me recall one of those stories in the Bible, when Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of God. He compared the Kingdom to seeds being sown, and that the places where the seed was sown (pavement, thorny bush, good soil) affected the way the seed grew. And then, as if struck by inspiration, I realized that the metaphor should not stop there; each element in gardening plays a vital role in making a plant grow--and each element can be associated to one's faith. So humor me if you will, as I present to you:

Seedlings of Faith: The Garden of Ideals

Picture Faith (AKA morals, values, or principles) as a seed: unassuming, yet filled with potential. Left alone it stays dormant, but once nurtured it is able to bring forth new life and bountiful harvest.

He who plants the seed is Influence. Influence is the spark that starts Faith's growth, and is responsible for providing the proper nourishment for Faith to mature. Influence should plant deep to protect Faith from the elements that may prevent the seed to sprout. Good Influence is patient, constant, and intuitive. Bad Influence is temperamental, fickle, and stubborn. Faith that is nurtured by Good Influence will reach maturity at the optimal time, while Faith that is controlled by Bad Influence may wither and die.

The elements--sunlight, wind, rain, and the changing seasons--represent Circumstance. In itself, Circumstance is neither good nor bad, but it is strong enough to destroy a Faith left unguided. Influence has no power over Circumstance; it must learn to use Circumstance to its advantage. Faith must learn to harden itself to Circumstance as it grows, exposing itself bit by bit until it is able to withstand even the harshest of the elements. A properly hardened Faith is not intolerant, rather it knows how to adapt to the changing environment without compromising its integrity.

Faith cannot bear fruit unless it matures, and it is only through time that Faith can properly reach maturity. Through time and proper Influence, Faith will be able to grow strong, no matter how harsh the Circumstance. Ultimately, Faith's survival lies in its ability to balance pampering nurture and unforgiving nature.

Hey wait--we're talking about Faith, so where is God in all this?

The answer is simple: God is everywhere. God can be found in the abstract concept of Faith, driving you to grow and to bear fruit. God can be found in the critical power of Influence, enabling you discern what is right from what is wrong. God can be found in the weathering force of Circumstance, challenging you to rise above all the obstacles presented to you. God is everywhere and He is everything.

God is the Garden.

August 25, 2015

Urban Gardening: Growing Tomatoes (Part 1)

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



Several weeks ago, I decided to venture into another hobby. Albeit less expensive (hopefully) than fountain pens, this hobby would require more patience and skill. Ladies and gentlemen, my new hobby is...

...drumroll...

Gardening! The Sims IRL!

Courtesy of Google Images.

I've been putting off writing about this as I've yet to gather more documentation on my progress. Now, I think I have enough pictures, but I still have a long way to go before successfully raising a fully mature and fruit-bearing plant.

All these being said, allow me to narrate my journey on raising my first plant from seed: the tomato plant.

Day 1: Plant your seeds

You can by seeds in hardware stores (by the gardening section); there are supermarkets that have a section for seeds within the vegetable area. I was too lazy for those, so I resorted to removing seeds from a bunch of tomatoes I bought in the grocery and started planting them on a container.

My tomato seeds were planted on a rectangular plant box;
I've also tried planting them on a
DIY self-watering planter made from a Coke Zero bottle.

In retrospect, I should've planted the seeds in a proper seed starter tray (or DIY using an egg carton) so I have better control in spacing the seeds in preparation for sprouting. Needless to say, it is possible for even the most average of tomato seeds to germinate, given the right conditions.

August 10, 2015

Why there are no Stupid Questions

Consider the possibility that people are driven to respond, not to show that you are wrong, but to show that they are right.

May this perspective encourage us to openly express our curiosity. Chances are, the person who you are asking is too busy making sure that his answer is correct that he may not have the time to assess the intelligence of your inquiry.

Of course, common sense is another thing.

August 07, 2015

Meet my Fountain Pen Family

Hi, I am Iam. I am a penaholic, and here is my story.

My addiction started late 2014, when an office mate of mine gave me a Daiso fountain pen; a relatively inexpensive model. At first I didn't know how to use it, as it took a certain angle and pressure for the ink to flow. Eventually I was enjoying the pen, and I noticed that the callous I had on my right middle finger was subsiding. When the ink ran out, I made the mistake of refilling it with stamping ink. I inadvertently clogged the feed and the pen died.

Then on Christmas 2014, that same office mate gifted me with my first proper fountain pen: a Sailor Lecoule. Still an entry-level pen, but on the mid-range price range. I was using the pen during my grocery shopping for Christmas dinner when I accidentally dropped the pen, nib down, which bent the nib. I was able to service the pen at Scribe Writing Essentials (SM Aura branch), but it took an excruciating three months before the nib was replaced (albeit free of charge). Because of that accident, I got to research all about fountain pens, how to clean and maintain them, and what are the different types and brands. I also registered on local groups and forums of fountain pen enthusiasts, so I could learn more about the craft.

Needless to say, all these efforts brought me to where I was now: the happy owner of fourteen fountain pens.

I won't bore you with the technicalities of fountain pens, nor will I try to convince you of the superiority of this writing instrument over the regular ball point/ gel/ tech pens. I just wanted to share photos of my current acquisitions, and share some tips to those who are interested in jumping into the rabbit hole with me.

First off, let me introduce to you the pens I have that are currently inked.

L-R: Monteverde Artista Crystal, unbranded Taiwanese Pen from NBS,
TWSBI Classic (Black), Lamy ST, Pilot 78G


August 04, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Ilog Maria Honey Bee Farms

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Ilog Maria

Honey Bee Farms

(Official Website: http://www.ilogmaria.com/)

Each time I get to venture south for a little R&R in Tagaytay, I would always make it a point to visit this hidden gem located at the outskirts of Tagaytay, towards Silang, Cavite.

Ilog Maria Honey Bee Farms has been in business since 1994 as an attempt to promote a better and healthier lifestyle. A family-owned business, they aim to improve the individual's well-being by creating all natural, chemical-free, and locally sourced products. Most of their formulations come from a 30-year old recipe (some even older), only adjusting the formula to accommodate seasonal variations (source).

I first discovered Ilog Maria products while staying at a B&B in Tagaytay. The toiletries they used came from Ilog Maria, and I was really impressed with the soap in particular. I think it was the Green Tea variety; I fell in love with the scent, the lather, that clean-but-not-drying sensation, so much so that I wanted to buy some for my own.

Front: Spearmint soap with remnants of Cinnamon soap
Back: Lavender soap

Spearmint/Cinnamon soap is recommended for the morning,
while Lavender soap is recommended for the evening.

Gamit na gamit 'yung mga sabon, diba?

July 31, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Germano's Chilli

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Germano's Chilli

The 1st and only chili garlic sauce cooked in Olive Oil to a Perfect Crisp, bringing out its Unique flavor.


Dim sum has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. Way back when I was still in high school, my friends and I would frequent Mang Teo's stall during recess and lunch time. I would often order fried dumplings (or kuchay pie if I'm feeling less stingy) and douse them with lots of soy sauce. Now, I would take my dim sum fix at the nearest Siomai House stall, or in Binondo if I'm not lazy, or at Tim Ho Wan if I'm okay with spending a bit more money.

For me, a dim sum experience won't be complete without the ultimate condiment, which for me is the chili garlic oil.  Soy sauce and calamansi just isn't enough; you need to add spiciness in the mix. Chili oil alone won't do, either. You need the perfect combination of chili, toasted garlic, and oil to give your palate a delicious kick.

My favorite "commercial" chili garlic oil would have to be the one from Siomai House; I like my chili garlic oil to be more garlic-y than chili-y. I do not think they sell the condiment separately, but I am fortunate to have an office mate who shares the same passion for dim sum.  I credit her for introducing me to Germano's Chilli Sauce.

They offer two varieties: Chilli Sauce in Corn Oil, and Chilli Sauce in Olvie Oil.

The healthier option (i.e. Chilli Oil in Olive Oil) costs more that the original focmula.


July 30, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Alunsina Handbound Books

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Alunsina Handbound Books

An indie crafts business that creates & sells hand-bound journals & leather accessories.


I've always been a fan of the analog, which I find ironic because I work in the IT industry. Technology has always been moving towards the digital, so you may say my holding on to obsolete relics is something quite laughable to see these days.

Maybe it's because I have an old soul. Or maybe I'm actually a closet hipster. Oh, no.

One such obsolete relic that I've been obsessing over quite recently is the fountain pen. It started when an office mate gave me a "disposable" Daiso fountain pen (where I learned my Lesson #1 in fountain pen maintenance: DO NOT use stamping inks to refill your pen), and then gifted me with a Sailor Lecoule last Christmas. Now, I have twelve fountain pens in my collection, with two more coming my way. Oh, the woes of a collector.

Fountain pen inks have a different consistency than the inks on a ball point pen. Ink needs to flow more freely to get out of the nib, thus the tendency to bleed through your average paper. Because of this, I have to be particular on the paper I use, especially when choosing planners and journals. There are a lot of FP-friendly papers here in the Philippines, actually. However, most of them are imported from expensive countries like Japan and carry a heavy price tag.

I really wanted to have a refillable planner like the Midori Traveler's Notebook, but that was until I discovered a less expensive alternative. Made in the PH, too. :) Introducing KISLAP, the refillable journal of Alunsina Handbound Books.

The original KISLAP is slightly larger than the
Midori Traveler's Notebook (Passport Size)

July 29, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Lulu Swing

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Lulu Swing

Transforms classic styles into fresh unique statement pieces.


This one I discovered during last year's St. James Christmas Bazaar, an annual bazaar held in Ayala Alabang Village, Muntinlupa. Actually, there are a LOT of local items I've discovered on that bazaar, but most of them were food and I already ate them all...

But I digress.

Lulu Swing sells women's shoes of their own designs, though recently they've branched out by creating bucket bags as well. The first thing I noticed that time, as I passed by their booth, was the minimalist design--a mix of classy and girly--and that got me to try out one of their sandals.

I kid you not; those sandals are the softest, most comfortable sandals I ever tried.

I wasn't planning on buying shoes back then, so I decided to pass up the opportunity. For the time being, just I settled on taking their contact information and following their social media accounts.

Yes, they're on Instagram.

A photo posted by Lulu Swing (@luluswing) on


July 28, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: 10 North Creative

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

10 North Creative

Hand made watches inspired by vintage graphics


Ever since I bought my husband a timepiece for our wedding day (yes ladies, apparently it is a tradition to gift your groom a classic watch on your wedding), I've wanted one for myself. Alas, I've yet to replenish my savings in order to afford such luxury; until then I must settle for novelty.

I was browsing through Etsy for shops that ship items from the Philippines when I stumbled upon 10 North Creative (who ships from Quezon City). Theirs is a simple shop; they sell watches exclusively. The general style of their watches look the same (i.e. same dial size/color as well as case size/color), and you only have two options for the strap (i.e. brown or black synthetic leather). What got me interested was the design of the watches' faces, as each design is a mix of geeky, quirky, and nostalgic.

Out of the 258 items, I picked the Michelangelo Watch ($14.00 USD).
Because they offer worldwide shipping, the prices displayed in the store are in USD. However, I think that they accept payment in PhP for local purchases (I suggest contacting the shop to be sure). Their watches retail at around 600 PhP, which is a reasonable price for me.

The quality of the watch case is pretty decent; no scratches or chipping seen on the face so far. The strap, however, is quite flimsy as the free loops gave way just a few months after I started wearing it. Good thing that the watch size is pretty much standard, and I was able to buy a third-party replacement (as seen on photo above).


July 27, 2015

#SupportLokalPH: Arajera

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Arajera

Trinkets and Silver Linings


The creator of Arajera is incidentally my sister's friend/ ex-officemate, which has nothing to do with her mad skill in creating jewelry. When I visited my sister in Hong Kong a few years ago, she was wearing a pair of pretty little ear pins made of three emerald studs. A nifty accessory, I daresay, as it gave an effect of three piercings when you really only need one.

I asked my sister for Arajera's Instagram account, which I immediately followed.



July 20, 2015

Life is like a box of chocolates... and then you die.

Last weekend, my Facebook wall welcomed me with a couple of grim news, and by grim I do not mean the hopeless state of Metro Manila traffic, nor my country's addiction to corruption.

A friend I've known since high school just lost her unborn son, and (by no coincidence whatsoever) an officemate of mine lost her battle to cancer.** Loss on opposite ends of the spectrum, but a sad loss nonetheless.

I was able to visit my officemate's wake earlier this evening, and I noticed that I was a bit apprehensive to look into the coffin. Normally I have no issues in doing so, but this time it was especially difficult for me because I keep on remembering the last time I saw her alive. It was in our office, no more than a month ago. She was just carrying on, business as usual. Yes, she did look wearier than her usual self, but gave no indication that she was struggling for three years or so. Thinking about this made me admire her for being strong for that long, but at the same time saddened me deeply as I felt that it just wasn't her time to go.

As a Catholic I know that I shouldn't be sad or scared of what happened; I've been "trained" my entire life not to fear *physical* death. Easy to say, but extremely difficult to practice. Just thinking about the people (or worse, the things) you would leave behind, more so the experiences (or worse, the things) you still want to attain, are enough to NOT want to leave the world behind. I know--and recognize--that such mindset is wrong, but it's not easy to go against your human nature to survive and to live a better life.

I just hope that I have enough time to unlearn all these worldly views and have peace within myself.
...more importantly, do all of those things within His time and not mine.


** Browsing through the Internet, it seems that people with cancer actually dislike this idiom, but I don't know what better phrase to use; apologies for those who are offended by this.

July 14, 2015

Social Media Lesson 1: Know When to NOT Give a Fuck

I was really sad yesterday, because of all that online drama last weekend. Today, I woke up feeling better; nothing that time, food, rest, and narcotic cold medicine can't fix.

I was doing well for a while; just minding my own business. That is, until I saw the guy behind me not keeping right on the escalator. No one was standing behind me, so he could've easily scooted to the right so that other commuters could pass by freely. BUT NO. He maintained his position throughout the escalator ride, while the poor commuters who were in a hurry had no choice but to weave their way around the guy. What a hassle.

My first instinct was to tell the guy off; confront him; discipline him. Each second that I was not able to rectify the situation made my blood boil and my emotions swell up again. I felt that I had a responsibility to ensure that people were in order.

But do I, really?


July 13, 2015

The Prodigal Blogger

For the past two years I've been blogging on Blogger, mainly because I've got a Google account and I wanted to maximize its potential. Mostly re-blogs from previous blogs, the content. It wasn't that as productive as I expected, as things got busy and I was not able to update as often as I should... as often as I want.

And now, I'm undergoing a purging spree, sadly not my first. Social media hasn't been good to me lately, and I wasn't behaving like a model netizen, either. I've been using social media to air out my rantings, and you know how nasty those things can get. As you know, I'm not good at editing myself when I'm on the highest of emotions. Add to that the power of instant publication, and BOOM. Hating and trolling ensues.

Right now I've deactivated my Twitter account. If I am able to contain myself from logging in for a month, supposedly the account will be deleted permanently. I've also started uninstalling some of the social media apps from my phone, to further prevent myself from idling to the dark side again.

I've also unlinked my Facebook account to all third-party apps AND logged off on all my devices. I'd want to delete my account as well, if not for Messenger. Some of my contancts I can only reach out through Facebook.

As I'm slowly cutting all my ties and integrated apps, I return to this portal... this being the only isolated part of my web where I can reflect in peace.

There are still some accounts I would want to retain, mostly those that only involve uploading pictures (Instagram, Flickr) as I still want to practice photography. But as for thoughts, reflections, and opinions, I think it would be wiser to keep to this corner and to stay silent for a while. By saying less today, I will gain more.

April 07, 2015

I'm still alive!

But my blog is dying.
The broken images are kinda annoying me, even.
Still, I'm too damn tamad to do anything about it.
A LOT of backlogs to publish, but why bother? I'm not getting paid for it anyway.

I have to say, though. I'm having fun just writing down these few sentences.

...
...
...

But a longer entry and maybe some pictures? Maybe next time.