November 30, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Little Black Box (Boxes 2 to 12)

Update: This blog entry will only feature boxes until January 2017.


I've decided to create this blog post so I can document the rest of my Little Black Box subscription boxes. I signed up for LBB's 12-month plan, and I think it would help their cause if I am able to inspire some of the readers to purchase their own boxes. Hopefully, I will be able to do so, as I share pictures and some thoughts about the boxes I received.

Boxes are featured in descending order.

January 2017 Box

Alas! This will be the last box that I will feature in this blog, as I cannot accommodate new jewelry anymore (I blame the Konmari effect). I have transferred my remaining boxes to my friend Hogi, but I'm not sure if she will be featuring the rest of the boxes in her blog or in her other social media outlets. I've enjoyed all the amazing accessories I've received thus far, and needless to say, I'm pretty sure that the remainder of my subscription is in good hands.


The January LBB featured a simple necklace-and-bracelet set. Gold bars were the main focus of this month's accessories, with no additional markings whatsoever.


While I love the simplicity of this month's design, I was a bit underwhelmed because I was expecting at least two necklaces that can be layered on top of each other. I've noticed that these past few months, LBB has not been consistent in procuring layered necklace designs in their subscription boxes, which is quite disappointing because that is the main reason why I subscribed to their service.

Hopefully next month they can do better with their designs, even though I won't be getting a box anymore. Best of luck!

October 30, 2016

My Two Weeks in Muscat, Oman (Part II)

Continuing my previous post....

Sights to See


Because my main purpose for traveling to Oman is work, I only had one weekend to go around. Well, technically I had two weekends--the first one was when I arrived in Muscat. During that first weekend, I was able to go one of Muscat's marketplace, thanks to a colleague who has rented a car for the duration of his stay. During the second weekend however, most of my colleagues flew out of the country, so I was left to tour on my own.

Mutrah Souq


2016-10-09 03.17.37 1

Mutrah Souq (or Muttrah Souk) is considered as one of the oldest marketplaces in the Arab world. It is located near the Muscat harbor, which was originally used to trade goods from India and from China [Source: Wiki]. Nowadays the main corridors of the marketplace contain stalls that sell souvenirs, fankincese, textiles, jewelries, and other dried goods for both locals and tourists alike.

THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A SOLO TRAVELER IN OMAN


While there are a lot of places to see in and around Muscat, most of the places aren't accessible by public transport. You would either have to rent a car (or a 4x4 if you're headed out to rough terrain), or avail a tour package from one of the tour companies in the city. I don't drive (and if I do, I wouldn't venture out into such strange territory alone), so renting a car is out of the question.


October 28, 2016

My Two Weeks in Muscat, Oman (Part I)

I'm starting to understand why people enjoy making travel videos. I find that moving pictures give the audience a more immersive experience, compared to images in a photo album. Don't get me wrong, I still love photography to bits, but if I want people to view my travels through my eyes, videos are the way to go.

Thank God for the wonders of technology; there's now an app to edit your videos right in your phone!

For those wondering about my "process," I usually start with thinking of what
background music to use. This more or less influences the composition of the
video clips I'll be taking throughout the experience.

Q&A Time!!!


What were you doing in Oman?
Much like my stint in India, this was a company-sponsored trip. I was there for only two weeks, so I only had one weekend to explore the country the best that I can.

Do you need a visa to travel to Oman?
Yes. I was granted the Express Visa, which is a single-entry visa good for three weeks in Oman, and must be used within one month from the date of issuance. My application was handled by my company, but apparently you can apply online as well.

Are there non-stop flights to Oman?
The nearest destination offered by my go-to airlines Cebu Pacific Air is Dubai, which is an hour away  (by air) from Oman. Oman's flagship carrier, Oman Air, offers non-stop flights from Manila to its capital, Muscat (WY 844), and vice-versa (WY 843). Travel time is 8 hours and 15 minutes.

Where exactly is Oman?
The Sultanate of Oman is located at the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is south of UAE, east of Saudi Arabia, north-east of Yemen [Source: Wiki, Google Maps].

What can you tell me about this country, in a nutshell?
Short facts about Oman, which I think will interest the Filipino reader [Source: Wiki]:

  • Arabic is the official language of Oman; Islam--its official religion
  • Sultanate is the form of government in Oman, which is a unitary state with a parliamentary system, and an absolute form of monarchy (wherein the Sultan is the monarch)
  • Muscat is the capital of Oman. It is a coastal city in northern Oman, nestled between the gulf of Oman and the Al Hajar Mountain Range (which extends up to UAE)
  • Supposedly, the climate differs between the north (i.e. Muscat) and the south (i.e. Salalah). Muscat climate is more on the dry, desert side, while Salalah climate is more on the wet, subtropical side. I've only been in Muscat, and the hottest temperature I've experienced is around 40 degrees Celsius at noontime
  • Omani currency is the Rial (OMR). As of writing, 1 OMR = 125.97 PHP
  • Oman uses the Gulf Time Zone, which is UTC +04:00. It is 4 hours behind the Philippine Time Zone (UTC +08:00)

October 05, 2016

Pregnancy Journal: Financial Benefits from the Government

Links to my previous pregnancy-related entries:


-------------------------------------------

Listed below are some benefits that you can avail from the government, to help ease your financial worries during pregnancy:

SSS Benefits for Female Members

Female SSS members with at least three (3) monthly contributions within the twelve (12)-month period immediately preceding the semester delivery date or miscarriage are qualified for maternity benefits that include allowance (amount is based on contribution) and leave (60 days for normal delivery/ miscarriage, 78 days for c-section). This is only for the first four pregnancies (including miscarriage).

At the beginning of the pregnancy, notify SSS that you are "officially" with child. Download the Maternity Notification Form, include your ultrasound result, and submit to your employer at least 60 days from the date of conception but not later than the date of  delivery/miscarriage/procedure.

To claim the maternity benefit and the maternity leave, submit the following on or after the delivery procedure:
  1. For miscarriage: Obstetrical History Form, duly accomplished by the attending doctor and a certified true copy of the operating room record/ surgical memorandum indicating the procedure
  2. For normal or caesarean delivery: certified true copy of the child's birth certificate.
  3. For stillborn: certified true copy of the child's [fetal] death certificate.
  4. Additional requirements for employed members:
    • SSS Digitized ID (or UMID) or E-6 acknowledgement stub with two valid IDs, one of which with recent photo (photocopy and original). After presenting the IDs to SSS, they will be returned to you
    • A copy of the payslip that includes the SSS Maternity Benefit that was credited to your 
    • Duly accomplished SSS Form MAT-2 (i.e. Maternity Reimbursement Form)

PhilHealth Benefits

PhilHealth members may reimburse part of their hospital bill (this includes miscarriage). There are at least three forms to accomplish:
  1. Claimant Form No. 1 needs to be accomplished in advance. For employed members, the employer (thru HR) will need to provide some information in this form. Guidelines for accomplishing the form can be read here.
  2. For employed members, you also need to submit a Certificate of Contribution. The employer (thru HR or Payroll) will be providing this information based on a prescribed format from PhilHealth.
  3. Member Data Record or PhilHealth ID. Member Data Record can be applied online, but if you already have your PhilHealth ID, this is no longer needed. 

Additional Resources:


Since government websites tend to be slow and prone to time-out issues (SSS and PhilHealth are of no exception), here are other blogs to check out:
  • SSS Philippines Notes has a comprehensive list of requirements for maternity benefits, for Miscarriage, Normal Delivery, Caesarean Delivery, and even if the child was born abroad..
  • Unsullied Perspective is the most comprehensive blog post I am able to find regarding benefit filing.
In any case there are still unanswered questions as to what and how, Google is your friend.

October 01, 2016

Fukuoka, Japan Part II: Shopping and Dining

Continuing my previous post...

Shopping arcade in Tenjin area

As we've pretty much exhausted all the sights we wanted to see in and around Fukuoka, we spent the next days exploring the shopping malls and the restaurants in the city center.

September 30, 2016

Fukuoka, Japan Part I: Sightseeing


Alas, the travel bug bit us again. Thanks to Cebu Pacific seat sales and our five-year multiple-entry Japan visa, we decided to book the cheapest flight to (and from) Japan on a period encompassing promo fares.

As the memories (and receipts) of this trip are fairly fresh, I'll try to provide the costs of the places we've been as well as the food we consumed. This is for the benefit of those who are considering Fukuoka as their next budget travel destination.

Downtown Fukuoka - Tenjin Area

Strap yourselves in folks, this is going to be a lengthy read.

September 13, 2016

Dipping My Toes Into Fictional Short Stories

Obviously, I can't think of a title for this one. Picking a title is a lot more difficult than I expected, as it sets the tone for the whole piece.

This one isn't from the archives; I've been working on it last weekend.


---

I open my eyes and I see her face. It seems that she has been crying for quite some time: eyes swollen, face stained with tears. Her friends gather around her, offering consoling words.

"It's okay, we're here for you."

"Don't waste your tears on him, he doesn't deserve you."

Not long ago, things were different. She was happy with him. I saw them a lot when they were still together. They were holding hands, sharing a meal, exchanging sweet nothings. I saw how happy she was by the look in her eyes: the way they twinkled, the way they reflected me as I danced with joy for them.

Things changed that one winter's night. I was alone with him--or so I thought. We were watching the snow fall out the window. Then, there was a knock on the door... I didn't realize that he was expecting someone. He seemed hesitant to answer at first, but then he strengthened his resolve by downing a glass filled with wine. He's been drinking, I realized, a bit too much. He answered the door, and when I saw that who came in was not her, I knew that there's gonna be trouble.

I had to let her know, but I didn't know how. She has been busy; I rarely saw her making dinner. There was this one night when she got home more tired than usual, that I saw her preparing her bath. I took a chance and tried to catch her attention, but all I did was irritate her--I think I even hurt her--and she blew me off.

That was the last time I saw her, until now. And now they are no longer together. She is no longer with him, but with her friends, crying. She looks defeated, forlorn. I wanted to console her. I wanted to hug her--but I can't do that, I might hurt her again. But I wanted to help her so badly.

Then, she reaches out and holds something in front of me. It is a photograph of them together. I was there, too. It was taken during one of their dinner dates. I look at her as she holding the photograph, a glimpse of hesitation in her eyes. I then realize what she needs to do, and what I can do to help. She needs to let go. She needs to start moving on. And now I know what I should do for her.

I need to let it burn.

Entry posted December 22nd, 2004 @ 02:03 AM GMT

[...]

*ahem ahem* here's me trying to write a poem... well, specifically... here's me documenting the fragments of thoughts coming in and out of my head as i was riding the shuttle to work, earlier this morning:

The Universe is finite
an incomprehensible web
All of us are trapped
slaves of our destiny
Choices made
lead us not out of the box,
but to another corner of the maze
Freedom:
delusion,
hopeless aspiration,
pointless mortality.
Free me from this life.
Free me from this body.
Free me from this trap.
Let me live for eternity.

[...]

The Parable of the Mung Beans

This was written sometime in 2006, when I still use Tabulas to blog. I realized that I wasn't able to include it here when I was transferring from Tabulas to Blogger.

---

This is a story about two housewives who each bought a sack of mung beans. The first housewife, eager to share her purchase with her family, prepared a soup dish consisting of mung beans, pork, and malunggay leaves. The second housewife wanted to use her purchase as dessert, so she made some moon cakes and used the mung beans as filling. Both of the housewives' families enjoyed the food very much, and because of this, the housewives felt good about themselves.

After eating the mung bean dishes, the housewives discovered that they still have a lot of uncooked mung beans left over. Looking around the house, they realized that there is little room where they can store the excess mung beans. The first housewife decided to keep the mung beans on a shelf, while the second housewife decided to keep the mung beans in the kitchen, right next to the other vegetables. Before storing the mung beans, both housewives decided to wash the beans, for they are afraid that these beans might get dirty and they do not know when they might use these beans again.

After seven days, the housewives decided to check on the mung beans, and to see if anything bad has happened to them. To their surprise, they saw little yellow sprouts instead of the little green beans that delighted their families' appetites one week ago.

"This is preposterous!" exclaimed the first housewife. "This is not the mung bean I first started with! Why, I washed the beans and put them in a safe place, and this is what I got! A ruined heap of maggot-colored vegetables!" And she continued to whine and to complain about the ruined mung beans.

The second housewife was equally unhappy about the situation. She did not want this to happen, for she had other mung bean dishes in mind that she wanted to try. There are a lot of vegetables in her kitchen, and the last thing she wanted is another vegetable to take up space in her already-crowded kitchen.

However, she decided to give the mung bean sprouts another chance. "This isn't what I wanted, but maybe something good will come out of it," she mused.

"Nothing good will come out of it," countered the first housewife. "We might as well accept the changes and get on with our lives. We still have other vegetables that we can use, no sense holding on to those ruined mung bean sprouts."

The second housewife did not want to give up that easily. For that evening's dinner, she tried to make vegetable spring rolls for her family and included the mung bean sprouts in the dish. Her family never tasted spring rolls like this before, and they sure did miss the mung bean dishes. But they realized that the spring rolls aren't that bad, they just tasted different.

The first housewife, still disappointed, did not want anything to do with the mung bean sprouts anymore. She made use of her usual vegetables for dinner. She reasoned out that the change is inevitable, but her family has to stand strong about it. She is thankful that there still are old familiar things to hold on to, not to mention new vegetables to venture on. There is no need to waste time over ruined mung bean sprouts, and because of this her family can move on and live a life without mung beans.

A month or two has passed over the two households. The first housewife has completely ignored the mung bean sprouts. Eventually, the mung bean sprouts withered and died. The sack of mung beans that once had potential now lay in waste, and was later thrown out to rot on the streets.

For the second housewife, the mung beans were still given attention. Now and then she would wash the sprouts, and use some of them for cooking. One day, while tending the mung bean sprouts, she was in for a surprise. The older and bigger sprouts bore seeds. "Oh my!" the second housewife exclaimed, "Who would've thought that the mung beans didn't leave me after all?"

And she harvested the mung beans from the sprouts and was able to cook the mung bean dishes she wanted to cook, ever since she first bought the sack of mung beans from the market.

- THE END -

September 10, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Sinaya Cup

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.

Sinaya Cup

Sinaya Cup is a brand of menstrual cups and a community of modern active Filipinas

(Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sinayacup
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sinayacup/)

Saving the environment and your lady parts, one cup at a time!

First things first: What is a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a tool for collecting female menses. Much like a tampon, it is inserted into the vagina, and its cup-shaped structure is used to collect discharge flowing from the cervix. Unlike a tampon or a disposable sanitary napkin, it is reusable for up to five years.

Why consider using a menstrual cup when tampons and sanitary napkins work fine?

There are two main reasons to consider using menstrual cups:
  1. To minimize ecological footprint. Disposable female hygiene products are more often than not non-biodegradable, and depending on a country's waste management laws, used tampons and sanitary napkins are either used in landfills, incinerated, or worse, thrown into the oceans. This pose potential health hazards to both humans and other living creatures in the planet.
  2. To empower women to continue normal activities even during their period. When inserted correctly, a menstrual cup is virtually unnoticeable. Furthermore, a menstrual cup that is correctly worn will provide a seal that will prevent any discharge from leaking outside the vagina. Since a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, a woman is free to be as active as she pleases, even during her period.
Admittedly, I am not an active/ sporty person, so my reason for trying out a menstrual cup is Reason #1, i.e. to help save the environment in my own way. I always wanted to start living a zero-waste lifestyle, so hopefully by this way I am one step closer to this goal.

SIDENOTE: While there are other eco-friendly alternatives to using tampons and disposable sanitary napkins, like cloth pads and the like, I'm not too keen about washing a bloody pad just to use them again. Washing my underwear and clothes each time I get a leak is effort enough, thank you.

August 31, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: The Leather Company

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.

The Leather Company

GENUINE LEATHER 100% HANDMADE

(Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theleathercompany/)

Über delayed review, as I bought this bag for my mom's birthday last May. Life got in the way, and caused me to push back writing this entry for a few months.

But as the saying goes, better late than never.

Roam Tall 2 Way Bag in Black Pebbled. Base price is 4,295 PhP

My mom wanted a leather bag for her birthday, but the current bags I have did not completely cater to her specifics. She wanted a roomy bag, with shoulder-length straps, zipper closure, and some sort of lining. Most of the bags I have are unlined, and without closure. So I had to look around for other makers that sell the type of leather bags that my mom wanted to have.


August 30, 2016

How to Use Liese Creamy Bubble Color

I'm not much of a DIY Hair Improvement kind of girl, as I am extremely low-maintenance when it comes to my hair. I barely know how to self-braid, and my past attempts to cut my bangs often end up in failure. Thus, plans to cut or color my hair are always executed in the salon.

Alas, boredom can make you do things you don't normally do, like attempting to dye your own hair. Earlier today, I tried out Liese Creamy Bubble Color, a Japanese brand I bought yesterday at The Landmark Makati.

I also bought a salon cape just in case things get messy.

Salon Cape - 49.75 PhP
Liese Creamy Bubble Color in Marshmallow Brown - 449.00 PhP

Since at-home hair coloring is WAY cheaper than the salon alternative, I decided to have a go at this experience. How did I do, you ask? Read on.

Step 1: Doing My Research


There are many other brands to choose from, but I picked this one for the following reasons:
  • Liese is an Asian brand, so the product's formula should be hiyang for the Asian hair
  • More specifically--Japanese brands, by reputation, make high-quality products
  • Supposedly, foam-type formulations ensure that the hair is colored evenly

I chose the color Marshmallow Brown, because I wanted to try out a brown shade that has little or no red, and isn't too light or too dark. Liese's website has a Personal Color Diagnosis Section where shades are chosen for you based on your features and your skin tone. I took the test and got a "Kiwifruit Type," and one of the featured shades was the Marshmallow Brown. Match!


Also, Liese's website provides How-To images and videos that show step-by-step application of the hair coloring product:


August 17, 2016

Pregnancy Journal: Completing my Miscarriage [UPDATED]


Previous posts from this series include the following entries:




My last consult with the OB was two weeks ago, when my ultrasound was not able to find the heartbeat of the baby. Knowing that first trimester pregnancies are very risky, we were able to accept the loss better than we expected.

However, there is still the case of a dead baby inside me, and how we can safely remove it as not to affect my future chances of getting pregnant.


Option #1: Wait It Out


In hopes of inducing the bleeding naturally, the OB gave me two weeks' worth of waiting period. During this time, all food and activity restrictions are lifted. I can eat raw food again, same for canned goods, preservatives, and alcoholic beverages. I am also allowed to do physically strenuous activities like exercising and lifting heavy objects. In short, I can now get my life back to normal.

The thing is, my life isn't exactly back to normal... and not just because I have lost a baby. Because of the miscarriage, I have been advised by my company to avail of the government's maternity benefits, which included a 60-day leave. Which means, I will not be going to work until October 2016. Because of this, my "normal" routine has greatly been affected, and now a typical normal day involves getting up from bed at around 11 o'clock in the morning, eating, going back to bed, getting up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, watching TV or surfing the net, cooking, eating, then going back to bed. During my first few days I was still able to do a bit of exercise, but now... the bed beckons.

Suffice to say, I haven't bleed throughout this period. Sometimes I think that maybe, maybe my baby isn't dead at all, but considering all the *bad* stuff I already ate and did, adding to the fact that I have no pregnancy symptoms at all, perhaps it is best to complete the miscarriage and try again.


August 02, 2016

Pregnancy Journal: Documenting My Nine Weeks of Pregnancy

[Link to previous post]

I was debating with myself, whether or not to publish this post, considering that I wasn't able to go full-term. I can very well discard this post and pretend that the last two months never happened, and just psyche myself up to try again. But then I realized that it wouldn't be fair to my unborn child to deny its existence.

We gave our best efforts, my husband and I, but not only us. "It" also tried its best, growing almost as big as an inch. It grew a beating heart, a human-like head, and was starting to grow little limbs. It wasn't fully human (or human-like) just yet--a week shy from being officially called a fetus--but it was ALIVE.

I was only pregnant for nine weeks (8 weeks and 6 days according to my last ultrasound), but I cannot deny that this experience has changed me in many ways. Physically, I was introduced to a lot of new sensations unknown to me before. Emotionally, well I'm still in grief (as I rightly should be), but now I know how it feels to hope, and to long, and to lost, and to (hopefully) hope again. Mentally, my scientific curiosity drove me to learn and to understand what I was going through. I believe that because of this I am able to stay strong throughout the process. Spiritually, I realized that "praying for the best" does not necessarily mean getting what you want, but doing so prepares you to accept the circumstances happening to you, allowing them to build your character. I still believe that everything happens for a reason, and in God's time. Financially, I admit that I have already invested a lot in this quest to have a baby, but at least there's government and company benefits to aide my financial needs.

I didn't want this to happen to me, but I don't want to think of this as something unfortunate. Hindi kami malas. I'd like to think that this is God's/nature's way to prepare me for the real thing, so next time I know what to expect and how to act. Demo version, kumbaga.

Publishing this post is a way for me not only to cope with the loss, but also to acknowledge that THIS happened; that we MADE something. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't successful, but it lived long enough for me to appreciate the complexity of life in a whole other level.

Pregnancy Journal: From PCOS to Pregnant to Missed Miscarriage

Blogger's Note: As an attempt to make this post as informative as possible, I will be using terms that may be scandalous to the conservative mind. I tell you now: There is no shame in using the proper terms for the human reproductive system, and whatever actions associated to it. We are only able to understand something by accepting it first for what it is. 

-----

GLOSSARY

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome): Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can cause problems with a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance. [Source]

Pregnancy: See video below.

Missed Miscarriage: A missed miscarriage, also known as a missed abortion or a silent miscarriage, occurs when a fetus dies, but the body does not recognize the pregnancy loss or expel the pregnancy tissue. As a result, the placenta may still continue to release hormones, so the woman may continue to experience signs of pregnancy. [Source]

-----

Blogger's Note: The text below was written during the early stages of my pregnancy, before I knew the demise of my baby. As I want to document my emotions as accurate as possible, I will not be editing anything below (except for linking to the Part 2 of my story); I want to acknowledge my happiness no matter how short-lived it was.

Six months ago, I wrote about my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). In a nutshell: For the last half of 2015 I was under birth control pills to balance out my hormones, as a means to control my PCOS. Then at the start of 2016, I was given fertility pills to aid in my ovulation, as a means to get pregnant.

Six months since then, I did get pregnant. Finally, after a year of medically tweaking my hormones, My husband and I were able to create life. Huzza!

BUT FIRST!!! HOW DO HUMANS GET PREGNANT?

For this, let me direct you to Crash Course Anatomy & Physiology Episode 42:


It is important to note, however, that there are a LOT of prerequisites for a successful conception:

  1. The female should be in her fertile phase, i.e. she has ovulated within two to five days since copulation
  2. The male should have produced good sperm quantity and quality, ejaculated into the female during copulation
  3. The sperm should fertilize the egg no later than 48 hours from ovulation, ideally in the Fallopian tubes. Anything after that is a risk to implantation
  4. The fertilized egg should be able to travel down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus, and implant itself securely

What is even more challenging is that, as we age, the body starts to lose its hormonal balance, negatively affecting the chances of a successful conception. This is why you see a lot of young couples getting pregnant, albeit accidentally, and older couples unable to produce an offspring.

Having said that, I would like to make kwento about my journey for the past six months. Some of you might be going through the same thing as I; these insights might help you in your own journey to pregnancy.

July 18, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Sikat Salted Egg Potato Chips

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.

Sikat Salted Egg Potato Chips

Freshly made. Thin, crispy and tasty!

(Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sikatpotatochips/)

My first experience of salted egg chips was when an officemate of mine brought back some salted egg fish skins from Singapore. The snack was actually simple: toasted fish skins topped with salty-savory powder flavoring. Being an umami fan myself, I immediately loved the snack and would look forward to that particular pasalubong from people travelling back from Singapore.

Imagine my glee when I got news that salted egg snacks are now being sold locally. Goodbye, diet.

Left: Spicy Flavor (P280)
Right: Original (P280)
Prices above are exclusive of  Delivery Fee.

Sikat is actually just one of the local sellers of salted egg potato chips here in the Philippines; there are a few more that I've encountered while browsing through Instagram. This was, however, the first brand that I am able to taste, thanks to said officemate who informed me that she was going to order some jars and if I'd like to course some orders through her. Why of course, I would!



June 17, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Sweet Side Jewelry | Eye For Treasure

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.

I have this tendency to go a little bit overboard with my... obsessions. I've been through collecting fountain pens, leather bags--heck, even chili oils--, and now it seems that my obsession has moved on to collecting jewelry.

Unlike my other obsessions, though, I think I'll stop with three.
(Pardon the thumbmark on the disc pendant)

Recently, I've been on a quest to find genuine gold jewelry suitable for daily use, my reason being that fancy accessories tend to wear out faster than my liking. Silver tarnishes, plated accessories eventually get brassy, and stainless steel gets dull with age. I hardly have time to clean and maintain my jewelry, so I thought that perhaps investing on proper gold accessories might be cost-efficient in the long run.

According to my research, 14K gold should be enough for everyday use as it is more resistant to tarnish than its purer counterparts. But since gold jewelry doesn't come cheap, I thought about customizing my pieces to have a personal touch. Searching through social media (mostly Instagram), I've discovered that there are a lot of local jewelry makers who accept custom designs. After some consideration, I chose two artisans who I think satisfied my aesthetic and financial needs.

June 07, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Ibarra 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.

Ibarra Manila

Filipino Time. On Time. Ibarra Time.

(Website: http://shop.ibarrawatches.com/
Zalora: https://www.zalora.com.ph/men/watches/ibarra-watches/)

For our second wedding anniversary, I wanted to gift ourselves with a pair of couples' watches. I was looking for a minimalist design, and for the longest time during my search I wanted to buy a pair of  Daniel Wellington timepieces. I was drawn to the simple, sans-second-hand face, but hesitated when I learned that DW watches are only water resistant for up to 3 ATM (i.e. rain resistant). Lugi.

It was then when my friend (the same one who helped me pick out the watch I gave to my husband on our wedding day) suggested that I check out Ibarra watches. I did, and I'm so glad I did.

Bought these two on a sale in Zalora. Good thing that they had a His-and-Hers bundle.

May 24, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Little Black Box

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.

Little Black Box

The Premier Jewelry Subscription Box Service In The Philippines

(Website: https://wearlbb.com/)

A few years back, there was a boom of subscription boxes here in the Philippines. First, it started with beauty items (i.e. BDJBox, Glamourbox, etc), then came diet meal plans (I'm only familiar with The Sexy Chef). I was able to try the former, but eventually stopped subscribing because my vanity table was overrun with samplers that I never got to use.

Then recently, as I was browsing through Instagram for the latest trends in accessories (currently, I'm into dainty jewelry so much that I've hoarded a LOT of them during my past trip to Japan), I came across @wearLbb.


As far as I know, Little Black Box (LBB) is the first (and only, I think) jewelry subscription box in our country. There are four subscription options available for LBB: a one-time subscription (1,650 PhP), a three-month subscription (1,350 x 3 PhP), a six-month subscription (1,200 x 6 PhP), and a twelve-month subscription (950 x 12 PhP). As per Wholesale Principle, the per-month price is less expensive if you subscribe to a longer period of time.

The deciding factor for me is that LBB benefits two non-profit organizations: Habitat for Humanity PH and Mano Amiga Pilipinas. Proceeds from subscription sales are donated to these organizations, which means that you get to (indirectly) assist a family looking for a decent home, or help provide decent education to a child. Charity work through fashion; saan ka pa?

Little Black Box, quite literally.

May 20, 2016

When in Singapore: DIY Walking Tour Feat. Monument Trail

It's been over a month since my short stint in Hyderabad (and even shorter visit to Singapore). I've been busy with work once I got back to Manila, thus was not able to publish the last narrative of my trip left in my queue.

It always amazes me how Singapore is able to show me new stuff to explore, each time I visit that little red dot on the bottom of mainland Asia. First time I went to Merlion Park, only the Esplanade was there. Then on my second time, there stood Marina Bay Sands. And now on my third time, there was the Gardens by the Bay. New things are sprouting like mushrooms on that one area!!! This is one of the reasons why hindi nakakasawa pumasyal sa Singapore, even if that country is barely the size of Luzon.

But first, an obligatory photo of the Gardens by the Bay, because the Merlion is so passé. This isn't part of the tour, but I had to see it because it is soooo preeettyyyy.

Captured using Samsung Galaxy S6. Post-processed by VSCO Cam.

April 22, 2016

Comfort Zone Musings

I LOVE travel, especially the ones that leave a mark on my passport. I love the adventure, particularly the rush of excitement on the prospect of venturing to the unknown. Don't get me wrong; I'm not impulsive. I like to plan my travels, or at least learn about the place that I am going to, prior to making the trip itself. My excitement comes from experiencing first-hand the expectations I've set in my mind (or on paper), and also from surviving any mishaps along the way.

But no matter how often or how far I get to travel, I would always want to go back to the Philippines. Not because I miss my work, or my lifestyle, or the company I keep here. I seek the Philippines mostly because of the comfort brought about by the familiarity and the routine I've already established here. Sure, I get bored once in a while (thus my need to travel), but at the end of the day, I would still want to settle down here in the Philippines.

Image source here.

So, my question is this: Why is this notion so bad?


April 02, 2016

When in Singapore: One Must Eat Chili Crabs

And crunchy baby squid...

And deep fried man tao...

Okay, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

For those who've already tried Hainanese Chicken and hawker foods, why not try eating in proper restaurants for a change?

The classic Singapore Chili Crab.
*DROOL*

Before heading back to Manila from my week-long business trip to India, I decided (by great influence from my friend) to spend a night in Singapore. See, there is no direct flight from Hyderabad to Manila, and my choice of flights back then included a layover in Singapore. I have a friend living in Singapore, and when I told her that my layover was on a weekend, she asked if it is possible that I extend my layover in such a way that I will be staying there for two days. Turns out that it is possible to do that, so... Ta-dah! Bonus travel opportunity before heading home.

TRAVEL TIP: When travelling to countries where flights involve layover, check if it is possible (i.e. budget-wise AND visa/passport-wise) to have an extended stay in your layover country. In my case, I was able to afford to spend the night in Singapore (because I'll be staying at my friend's) AND my Philippine passport does not need a visa to travel there, so I went!

April 01, 2016

Oops, I'm in India: Golconda Fort

Because I only was able to enjoy one weekend during my stay in India, this was the only tourist spot I was able to visit. I have a lot of pictures of Golconda Fort already uploaded to my Flickr and to my photo blog, but I still want to share my experience exploring the area.

Golconda Fort in a Nutshell


Golconda Fort was once the stronghold of the capital of a medieval Southern India kingdom from the 14th to the 16th century. The outer walls of the fort span 10 kilometers in diameter, and the highest elevation within the fort is on a hill 120 meters high.  It is known as a great architectural wonder, as it is said that the buildings were built in such a way that a person standing on top of the hill can clearly hear a person clapping on the receiving dome below.

It is like old Manila's Intramuros, but way bigger and way more complex.




March 31, 2016

Oops, I'm in India: Hyderabadi FAQ, Food, and Malls

DISCLAIMER: As this is a company-sponsored trip, the information that I will be sharing won't be backpacking-friendly. Nevertheless, I encourage you to read on so you can learn more about the country of India--specifically, the city of Hyderabad.



The view from my hotel room.

First, let me start of with...

WIKI FACTS ABOUT HYDERABAD, INDIA

  • It is the capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana
  • Its size is 650 square kilometers (250 square meters)
  • Its population is 7.75 million, making it the fourth most populous city (sixth most populous in urban agglomeration) in India
  • Historically, it is known for its pearl and diamond trading center, but modern Hyderabad is known for its "Genome Valley," a high-technology business district that has developed as a cluster for bio-medical research, training and manufacturing
  • Modern Hyderabad is also known for attracting investors of financial institutions and information technology
  • With an output of 74 billion USD, it is the fifth-largest contributor to India's overall gross domestic product
  • Its average altitude is 542 meters (1,778 feet) and much of Hyderabad is situated on hilly terrain and artificial lakes
  • It has a tropical wet and dry climate;
    • Climate in March to June is hot and humid, with average highs in the mid-30s Celsius
    • The maximum temperature can exceed 40 Celsius between April and June
    • May is the hottest month, with a daily temperature range of 26 to 39 Celsius
    • The wet season falls between June and September, where the heaviest rainfall recorded in a 24-hour period was 241.5 millimeters (10 inches) on August 24, 2000
    • Temperatures in December and January vary from 14.5 to 28 Celsius
    • December is the coldest month, with lows reaching to 10 Celsius
  • It is overseen by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), where the mayor is its  titular head (by process of election) and the municipal commissioner has the executive powers (appointed by the state government)
  • Travel time from Hyderabad to India's most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal, will take around 19 hours by land (around 8 hours by air -- including connecting flights)


March 04, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Happy Skin Cosmetics - Eye Need A Miracle

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.

Happy Skin Cosmetics

Makeup that cares for your skin!

(Online Shop: http://www.happyskincosmetics.com/)

You might already know about this brand, as they have been featured in numerous beauty blogs before--they even has their own boutique in Glorietta 3! Nevertheless, I still want to blog about this because I want to share how happy (no other word is more fitting) I am with their concealers.

Left: Eye Need A Miracle Concealer (799 PhP)
Right: Eye Need a Miracle Corrector (799 PhP)

For the longest time, I've been using K-Palette Okuma Concealer, not because I'm a fan of the brand (in fairness, K-Palette does make high quality products), but because a small amount of product goes a long way. Now that my tube is almost empty, I need to buy anew. However, I'm not sure if I wanted to repurchase Okuma, mainly because I think that their shades are too light for my skin.

I've always been curious about Happy Skin Cosmetics, because they claim that their make-up products are formulated with skincare ingredients that are hiyang with the Filipina skin. More importantly, since this is a local brand, the available shades should perfectly match our skin tone. No more espasol face! Needless to say, I took this opportunity to buy me a couple of Happy Skin products.


New Blog Design!

Lately I've been having difficulty incorporating pictures into my blog posts. I can't seem to find the right image size to complement the text; an image size that is not too large as to overwhelm the page, but not too small as to leave an awkward chunk of negative space.

Because of this, I started to hate the overall aesthetic of my blog page, from the color scheme to the font choice.  I want a blog makeover!!!

Alas, my web design skills are too rusty for practice, so I resorted to tweaking Blogger's ready-made template designs instead. My only "hard-core" customization was on the Description *points to the top of the page*; with a little CSS magic I was able to use my own handwriting for that text (yes, that's how my handwriting looks [on a good day]). I increased the width of the main area as well, so that I can post larger-sized images without making them spill out of the border.

I'm too tamad (for now) to adjust the image sizes of my past posts, so my apologies for the potentially awkward viewing experience when you backread my entries.

Ho, hum... that's all I have to say, I guess. Back to regular programming.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.

February 05, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Hyōgo Prefecture (Kobe)

After spending the morning in Nara, we headed off to Kobe for one thing: STEAK DINNER!!!

Another couple in the same table offered to take a picture of us.
Yahoo! A non-selfie picture, finally!

Despite our half-day time limit, I'd say that we enjoyed our Kobe experience.

How to Get There

Kobe is the capital of the Hyōgo Prefecture, located west of Osaka. From Nara (depart from the Kintetsu-Nara Station), it takes approximately 1 hour and 24 minutes via train to get to Kobe (arrive at the Kobe-Sannomiya Station)

Screen capture from Hyperdia search.

Suggested route from Google Maps

Since Osaka is located right smack in the middle of Nara and Kobe, travel time to Kobe from Osaka should be significantly shorter. So for those planning for a whole-day itinerary in Kobe, you may also consider departing from Osaka (assuming that your accommodations are located there).

FAIR WARNING TO MY TROPICAL FRIENDS: Kobe is located by the bay area, so for those traveling during the colder months, I implore to you, bundle up!!! Kobe temperature tends to drop quite low after dusk, due to the cold winds coming from the bay.

#SupportLokalPH: Renegade Folk

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.

Renegade Folk

Everyday leather sandals. Handcrafted in Manila by local artisans.

(Online Shop: http://www.renegadefolk.com/)

Ever since I purchased my Lulu Swing sandals, I've been on the lookout for other local independent brands with similar designs. Then about a year ago, a friend of mine shared a photo of her new sandals, claiming those were the "softest soles for sandals I've ever tried."  My Lulu Swing sandals were still freshly bought back then, so I just noted the other brand for future consideration.

Fast forward to the present, and my Lulu Swing sandals are starting to show signs of wear and tear. Luckily, I was following the Instagram account of the other brand, where they announced a P999 sale for the weekend.

And that, my friends, is how I scored my first pair of Renegade Folk sandals.

Renegade Folk HQ Address: 3/F Linear Building, White Plains, Quezon City

Similar to Lulu Swing, the soles of the Renegade Folk sandals are thin and flexible, albeit sturdy because they are made of leather. I find their designs give off a more bohemian vibe, compared to Lulu Swing's dainty designs. Renegade Folk also designs sandals for men and for children.


February 03, 2016

Usapang PGNiG: A Compilation

A few years ago, I was allocated to a project for a client in Poland. The development phase of that project lasted a couple of years or so; within that period our team of five doubled (even tripled) in size to fit ever-growing requirements into immovable deadlines.

To relieve some of the stress brought about by tight deadlines and overtimes, I took into posting some of my teammates' quotable quotes in social media. Just pure fun, wit and an occasional double entendre; none of these quotes are incriminating or demeaning (at least to my standards). I was able to gather a LOT of quotes, so much so that one of my teammates said that by the time the project is finished, I may already be able to write a book based on them.

Of course, I did not publish a book because no one will understand the context (except for those who were part of the team, maybe). But perhaps, the next best thing I can do to immortalize my teammates' words is to publish them here in my blog.

Thus, after searching through Facebook for those quotes from a few years ago, I was able to gather this:

February 2, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Manny M: *lingon sa likod* Wala na si Kim?!! Hindi ko napansin na umalis na pala siya.
Me: Oo kaya, nagpaalam pa siya sa 'yo. Ginalaw pa nga niya saging mo eh.
Manny M: ...ay hindi ko naramdaman.

February 4, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Cathy: Kelan ka magpa-pack?
Leo: Bakit... excited ka na ba?
(at sa likod ko pa sila naguusap! OMG!)

February 8, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Kim (via email): Leo Tagle is available
...bossing, para sa V-day ba 'to? hehehe.

February 10, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Leo: (lapit sa table ni Manny) Hi.
Manny: (tingin kay Leo) Hello.
Leo: Punta ka sa pwesto ko, may papakita ako sa 'yo. (evil_grin)
...
Manny: Di ko makita eh, ang liit kasi.
Leo: Gusto mo lakihan ko?

February 23, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Kenneth Lim to Marvin: I need to go deeper.
(...hmm ano kaya 'yun)

March 1, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Manny to Leo: blah blah blah ('di ko masyadong nadinig kasi naka-earphones ako hehehe), nasubo ko na 'yan eh.
Leo: Madami ka na 'atang nasubo eh.
Kim: Hala kayo baka madinig kayo ni Iam!
Iam: *akyat ng blinds* (evil_grin)

March 2, 2011

Usapang PGNiG:

Jes: 'Yung susunod na gagawin ko, Java.
Me: O eh di mas madali.
Jes: Hindi kaya... JUnit. :(
JZ: Hindi 'no! After one month, ang sasabihin mo na, "Bakit ngayon lang kita nakilala?"
Jes: May relasyon na kayo ni JUnit?!!

March 3, 2011

Usapang PGNiG on a SereniThursday. 
Thanks Manuel Merina, Erin Grey Mangandi and Kimberly Lam Go for the contribution!

Leo Tagle (on the phone, with modulation): Yes... this is my first time, actually.
[Actually nago-order kasi si Leo ng Serenitea para sa amin, sa kautusan ni SereniQueen. :p]
Serenitea: Official drink of the PGNiG team.

March 10, 2011

Usapang PGNiG WIN \m/,


January 30, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Atsui | Perfectform

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.

#FitnessGoals2016

Fine.

I admit that I've jumped into the New Year's Fitness Bandwagon. Granted that I haven't binged that much during the holiday season (compared to the previous years, that is), I'm starting to accept the fact that my metabolism isn't the same as it was, let's say, ten years ago.

No matter how hard I try to reduce my carb intake (but I still won't give up rice. I'm starting to change to the more fibrous varieties, but I can't NOT have rice in my meals) and raise my protein (through vegetables and stuff), the most that could happen within a span of a month is to lose around .5 lbs of my weight. And I'm not even sure if what I lost is fat weight or water weight. So now, I'm trying to incorporate exercise to my daily routine (30 mins of cardio; weights pag sinisipag) in the hopes of losing relevant weight (or at least replacing it with toned muscles).

There are days when I'm motivated enough to sweat through my exercise, and realize that my current fitness wardrobe is lacking quantity. I only have a few pairs of sports bras and hardly enough exercise-worthy shirts to use. And since I'm not willing to invest 1,000+ PhP for a single article of sporting attire, I decided to try out some of the local fitness brands featured in Instagram's @trylocalph.

Atsui Alternative Athletics

...For the serious athlete and those in between.

(Online Shop: http://atsui.ph/)

What got me interested in this brand is actually the brand name--it doesn't sound local at all. It actually sounds Japanese, and if you've been around my blog for quite some time you know that I love all things Japanese.

Each order comes inside a nifty garment bag.


January 25, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Free For Me

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.

Free For Me

Vintage Style Handmade Watches and Fashion Jewelry

(Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FreeForme)

The watch I bought from 10 North Creative is starting to lose its power, but instead of having its battery replaced I decided to shop around Etsy for another inexpensive custom-designed watch.

I've discovered that there were other Philippine-based Etsy stores that sell custom-designed watches, aside from 10 North Creative. They share similar watch styles, but the design on the watches' faces are pretty much distinct. So for my latest purchase, I decided to try out Free For Me.

 

Their watches are 100 PhP cheaper than 10 North Creative watches, but I think the quality is pretty much the same. Free For Me, however, has more variety in the design of the bezel, hands, and strap.


The watch I chose has a rose-gold bezel and a "messy handwriting" effect on the face. Because the colorway is a bit girly, I was expecting a small diameter face, but it turned out that the size of the watch is pretty much the same as my 10 North Creative one.

January 19, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Where (or What) to Eat (Part II)

Continuing my previous post...

Kyoto

Regional Specialty: ???

Admittedly, we never had enough time to explore the regional cuisine in Kyoto. There were so many temples to visit, but so little time to make the most out of our itinerary. We would usually end up picking a random restaurant to rest our tired feet and fill up our hungry bellies.

Needless to say, most of the food we tried out in the area turned out to be pretty good.

IMG_5710
I had yakimeshi during my trip to Kyoto in 2011, 
but we weren't able to find the restaurant when we went back in 2013.

To share some information, here are the areas in Kyoto where (we believe) you can find some food:
  • Kyoto Station (underground) - there are a couple of malls beneath the Kyoto Station where you can find various boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants.
  • Higashiyama Preserved Street - walking westward from the Kiyomizudera Temple, there is a downhill slope filled with souvenir shops and shops for sweets. When you reach the bottom, there are a few restaurants to chose from.
  • Arashiyama area -
    • Arashiyama Station - A lot of souvenir and snack stalls will welcome you as you walk from the Arashiyama Station to the streets of the area.
    • Main street along Tenryuji Temple - This is the temple nearest to the Arashiyama Station. Along this street  you can find a whole row of restaurants.
    • Togetsukyo Bridge - there are a few street food stalls by the riverbanks of both ends of the bridge, where you can buy grilled squid, fish or corn.

Tokyo

Regional Specialty: ???

Because Tokyo is a melting pot of lifestyle and culture, I find it hard to pinpoint its regional specialty. And because there is so much food to try out, I'll just list down food stuff we were able to experience, and not focus on just one particular type of food.

Beware; I have a LOT of stuff to list down.

January 15, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Where (or What) to Eat (Part I)

There are a lot of blog posts circulating around the Web, teaching Filipino netizens how to travel around Japan on a budget. When it comes to food cost, most of these posts are able to share practical tips. But there are some posts that suggest grabbing their meals at convenience stores, or worse, buying groceries and bringing them in their flight to Japan.

Bullcrap.

Japan is one of THE best places to experience the foodie culture. Each region has its own specialty dish, and Japanese cuisine offers an extensive variety of dishes. From seafood to poultry, noodles to rice, and even the raw to the deep fried, an average person with minimal food knowledge can easily find his favorite dish in Japan. One cannot maximize his stay in Japan if he misses out on this gastronomic experience.

This being said, allow me to share some of my own foodie experiences in Japan. Hopefully this can be a guide for those planning for their trip; additional considerations in their budget and itinerary.

Itadakimasu!

DISCLAIMER: I've also included photos from my trip to Japan in 2011 and 2013, so there is a chance that some of the restaurants featured here are no longer in operation. My apologies in advance!

Kobe

Regional Specialty: Beef

Kobe beef is a variety of Wagyu beef, bred in the Hyogo prefecture. The practices in raising cattle for Kobe beef have caused a stir among animal rights activists; needless to say that its meat is considered as one of the highest grades of beef--higher than even USDA. Kobe beef is usually served as steak, cooked medium-rare on a teppanyaki grill.

High-grade beef is characterized by the marbling of fat on its meat.

Restaurants to Try:

I. Wakkoqu: Kobe Beefsteak

There are two branches of Wakkoqu in Kobe: one branch is near the Shin-Kobe Ropeway and Herb Garden, the other branch is closer to the city center. The branch we tried out during our trip in 2014 was the former one.

The steak is sliced and cooked in front of you by a chef. Kobe beef is cooked "bare", with no traces of marinade or rub. What I really liked about the experience is that each part of the steak has a particular slice in order to balance the amount of fat and meat. Also, each slice is paired with a particular condiment: a choice between salt, pepper, dark (balsamic?) vinegar, and soy sauce mixed with yellow mustard. The fatty part of the steak is left at the end, where it is mixed with bean sprouts to remove the umay factor. The best part is that everything is explained by the chef so you can better understand and appreciate the experience.

2015-11-22 07.11.21 1
Each dip brings out a different characteristic of the Kobe beef's flavor.

Additional Information:
  • Reservations allowed? Yes!
  • Walk-ins allowed? Yes!
  • Accepts credit cards? Yes!
  • English-speaking staff? Yes!
  • Price of a steak dinner? 8,180 JPY for 180g sirloin set (with appetizer, soup, salad, a choice of rice or bread, and coffee)


II. Steakland Kobe

Personally, I haven't tried this one, but this restaurant always comes up during my research for the trip. Steakland Kobe (Note: The website is in Japanese; just use Google to translate the page) is a cheaper alternative for Kobe beef steak, where dinner sets are priced at 4,480 JPY for 160g tenderloin set (with appetizer, soup, seafood, grilled vegetables, salad, a choice of bread or rice, dessert, and coffee). Not bad!

Its location is quite convenient, too, as it is located just by the Kobe-Sannomiya station.