December 05, 2017

The Reason for the Season

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, which marked the start of a new liturgical year in the Catholic Church. I was thinking about sharpening my writing skills again, and at the same time reflect upon my life as of late; I guess, now would be a good time to do those things.

I know that most of us are busy preparing for the holidays, or going on with our usual adulting routines, but I'm hoping that you would spend some time reading this, as I really want to share my thoughts with you. Consider this a breath of fresh air in your otherwise toxic social media feed.

My writing skills are really rusty; you can't imagine how may times I've rewritten the paragraphs above. Oy vey.

So, what do I want to talk about right now?


I don't want to get too preachy, as I know that not all of you share the same faith as I, but please understand that I have to start off with the concepts in order to relate them to everyday life [which, duh, is the whole point of reflection].

Let's start off by looking up fun facts about the season of Advent. This website caught my interest, and from what I understand:
  • Advent is traditionally known as "little Lent," where followers would practice the three pillars of Lent (i.e. fasting/ abstinence, prayer and charity) in preparation for the coming of (baby) Jesus. Note that fasting and abstinence is no longer obligatory for Advent
  • Ideally, one should go about the season as solemnly as in Lent, refraining from feasts and celebrations until Christmas Day. Christmas decorations should be put up only on Christmas Eve, with the Advent Wreath serving as the only "decoration" for the season
  • Traditions and rituals aside, the main purpose of Advent is to mentally and spiritually prepare Catholics for the coming of Jesus, who was prophesied to bring peace to the world.
As supplementary to the fun facts above, I would like to share this video, which explains the Biblical meaning of Peace (i.e. Shalom):

I like this YouTube channel as they are able to explain Biblical concepts in the most layman way.

December 02, 2017

New Blog Layout and a Bunch of Video Highlights

...and for the Nth time, I've changed my blog layout.

Actually, it's more like I've reverted the layout back to the old-school style I'm familiar with. The previous layout, while complementary to the social media aesthetic, does not mesh well with my blogging style (i.e. a bit on the wordy side). It has been giving me unnecessary stress, thinking about what thumbnail image to use, which consequently distracted me from writing cohesively.

So there. Hopefully, this new layout will inspire me to blog more often (if not regularly), even if it's just about nonsensical ramblings and stuff.

In other news, Rochester (and its neighboring cities) has been fun during the summer, offering various outdoor activities to enjoy. I believe that these activities happen yearly, so if ever you're in upstate New York during the summer, do try them out.

 


For those interested in the technical aspects of the videos, I've been playing with a couple of new tools: Zhiyun Smooth Q gimbal for added stability, and PowerDirector Video Editor App (paid version) for editing the videos in my Android phone. The Great New York State Fair video was edited using FilmoraGo (also an Android app), but it didn't properly render the video in HD.

You know what? Let me put the Chicago video I made for our Thanksgiving weekend here as well.  I don't think that I'll be writing a separate entry about the trip anyway, as it was mostly free parks, shopping, and hanging out with relatives.

November 07, 2017

Touching Bases

Hey, it's me.

I'm still playing Final Fantasy XV, even though I've already completed the game. I'm still pretty much hooked, so much so that I'm managing three saved games: Post-Campaign (I've yet to conquer that cursed Pitioss Ruins), New Game+ (because I can), and New Game - Normal Mode (because I want to). I've also finished all the DLC episodes (thanks, Season Pass!); currently waiting for Episode Ignis to be released next month.

Yep, I'm still hooked. But I guess you're not interested in that kind of update, huh?

2017-10-29_12-46-24
Genesee Valley Park, Rochester, NY.

Sorry to disappoint you, but I've got nothing. I just happen to be passing by, when I had the urge to update this blog, albeit with useless ramblings. I really wanted to write about something deep and reflective for quite some time now, but my brain seems to be out of shape to handle that kind of exercise.

So I guess this will do for now. At least I can still type. And spell. And construct sentences.

Can I?

P. S. The image included in this post has nothing to do with the content, but my current blog theme kinda requires at least one image per post to use as thumbnail. This is okay when I'm writing about products or travel experiences, but if I'm just rambling on, finding what photo to include is a hassle. Ugh, I need a new layout. Again.

August 13, 2017

On Hiatus

Hi guys!

Looking back at my published posts as of late, it seems that I am able to update this blog at a fairly regular pace, and for that I'm very happy.

But...

But.

But!!!

I'm sorry to say that I'll be stepping away from the keyboard for a while.

Sorry, dear readers, but Noctis needs me. :)

I've recently acquired a pre-owned Final Fantasy XV, which I started playing a few days ago... and I'm totally hooked. I've been forgetting my household chores, my blog (I've already got four entries lined up but I don't think I'll be able to start them anytime soon), heck, I've even been forgetting my personal hygiene!

I'm still subscribed to Ipsy, PINCHme, and a couple of more sampler boxes that I haven't talked about yet, but since I'll be busy with my game, I've decided to skip talking about any subscription boxes I'll be getting during my blogging break.

All things said, hope to see you when I get back. When? I don't know... but I'll definitely write again!

Ja, mata ne!

August 09, 2017

The Ordinary: Colors

In my previous post, I mentioned that there was a time when The Ordinary stocks were running low on their online store. I had to wait for them to notify me via email that they have replenished their stocks for the items I wanted to buy. Back then, I was waiting for two items: their Vitamin C cream, and their liquid foundation. Stocks for the Vitamin C cream came first, and I hurriedly purchased the it for fear that I they might run out of it again.

But then, just a couple of days after the order was processed, I received an email that they have restocked the liquid foundation as well. I asked if they are willing to update my previous order to add the liquid foundation to my purchased, but they said that they are unable to edit orders once processed. Long story short, I purchased another batch of stuff from The Ordinary.

 

This haul is a relatively small one, as I've only purchased three items just so I can reach the free shipping limit.

Let's get on with the products, shall we?

August 04, 2017

The Ordinary: Serums

PSA: DECIEM, the umbrella brand of The Ordinary, offers worldwide shipping (except to mainland China, more details below). International Shipping (which includes the Philippines) is done through BPost, with a shipping fee of 38 USD. A minimum of 250 USD is needed to qualify for free shipping.


Residents in the Philippines can also try ordering The Ordinary via theskincarecurator.com


Looking for Cheaper Alternatives

A while back, I tried out Glossier's The Super Pack. Each bottle of serum emptied exactly a month after first use (I was using them daily), which means that I would have to subscribe to their Never-Run-Out Service if I want to add the products to my daily routine. That's $65 every month with no discount at all (the only perk is that you get free shipping, but they offer free shipping on their one-time products anyway), and I'm not willing to spend that much on one brand alone. Besides, nothing remarkable happened to my skin after a month's worth of using those serums. Lugi.

Some of my friends suggested that I try out The Ordinary, as it is known for providing cheaper skincare alternatives. I've heard about it from Wayne Goss, when he featured its foundation on his vlog.

Who wouldn't be hyped up after seeing how enthusiastic he is in the video??

Shortly after Wayne Goss' video was published, The Ordinary's stock has run low, so I had to wait a while before I was able to purchase stuff to try out.

August 01, 2017

Graze (Trial Week)

PSA: Graze can only ship boxes to US addresses (including P.O. Boxes!), within the 50 states. At this time, graze boxes cannot be shipped to APO, FPO, US Territory addresses, or internationally.

Previously, I wrote about the PINCHme sampler box, which included a coupon for a free Graze trial box. This particular coupon had no strings (i.e. hidden charges or shipping fees) attached, so I decided to avail the trial box.

Much like Blue Apron, availing the trial box means signing up for their subscription service. 


Graze.com

Graze is a snack subscription box wherein, for $13.99, you will receive an 8-snack variety box. These snacks are curated based on your dietary restrictions (if any), snack ratings (i.e. trash, try, like, or love) and box type (i.e. Variety Box, Calorie Count Box, or Protein Box). New subscribers get 50% off their first box, and subscription can vary from weekly, to every two weeks, or to monthly.

The trial box that was sent to me included four snacks.

 
 

I was pleasantly surprised to find the box, and the enclosed card, addressed to me. I like how they made an effort to personalize their snack boxes, as if they did handpick the snacks especially for me.

Now, on to the snacks themselves.

July 27, 2017

PINCHme Sampler Box #1

PSA: PINCHme offers free shipping to the 48 contiguous states in United States of America but not to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Canada or internationally.

I am starting to understand how addictive online shopping can be here in the US.

(Feebly) Beating the system, one freebie at a time.

The country is such a huge land mass (spanning across four time zones--excluding Hawaii and Alaska--and almost the same size as the continent of Europe); you can only imagine how challenging it is to distribute a product around the country. If you want to buy something that isn't available within your vicinity (whether it is a brand from the other side of the coast, or a store that isn't franchised in your local mall), you would have to resort to purchasing the product online.

Retailers have made online shopping as convenient as possible--which is both an advantage and a disadvantage to the consumers:
  • Online sales happen almost every month (major sales happen on season highlights)
  • Payment can be done via debit or credit (or PayPal, to be more secure)
  • There are options for free shipping (either purchase at least $N worth of items, or sign up for a premium service)
  • They accept returns/refunds for a product you don't like (they can provide a prepaid return box, or you have to shoulder the shipping cost)
  • They even replace a damaged product for free
While all these seem like first-world perks, these are also effective strategies to tempt a person into spend more than what he needs (worse, more than what he can afford). No wonder people are drowning in credit card debt here.

Being a homemaker, I have a LOT of free time to browse around (as you've noticed based on the frequency of my blog posts nowadays), and that makes me the perfect candidate for online shopping addiction. I admit that I haven't been strong sometimes, but now I'm trying my best to "beat the system" by subscribing to sampling boxes.

What is a sampler box?

Similar to subscription boxes, a sampler box is a service that sends, well, a box filled with samplers and coupon to a person who signed up for the service. It may be recurring (if that service is generous), or by chance (if there are a limited number of samples to be given at a certain time), but the process of signing up is pretty much the same:
  1. Provide information that will build their demographics (i.e. gender, ethnicity, household income, age range, etc)
  2. Provide contact/ delivery information to ship their product (which is also risky as--unless explicitly stated--they may sell this information to telemarketers)
  3. Answer product-related survey to build your consumer profile (i.e. brand preferences, whether or not you have kids or pets, etc)
  4. Provide feedback once you received the sample (with disclosure that you got the item for free). The more active you are, the more freebies you can get in the future
  5. If possible, engage in social media... like what I am doing now
I've signed up for a couple of sampler boxes already, but so far only one has sent me an actual box: PINCHme.

No subscription fee/ shipping fee required. 

July 25, 2017

Ipsy July 2017 Glam Bag

PSA: Ipsy currently ships to the U.S. (including its territories, PO Boxes, and APO, DPO, and FPO boxes) via DHL or FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service, and Canada (including its territories and military locations) via Landmark Global.

Alas; the Subscription Box Bug bit again.

It started several moons ago in the Philippines, back when I was a subscriber of the BDJ Box. Every month, I would get a box filled with deluxe-sized beauty/ skincare samples, and even won an extra box on one of their contest giveaways. Sampler subscription boxes like these are based on the preference profile you create on their website, but eventually the samples became repetitive (that and I've hoarded so much product already), so I opted out of the subscription.

I've also tried a one-year subscription on the Little Black Box Ph, a monthly jewelry subscription box where part of their proceeds go to charity. I wasn't able to complete the year, though, as I had to leave for the US. Instead, I requested my remaining boxes to be delivered to a friend to wear on my behalf.

Here in the US, I tried out Blue Apron (thanks to another friend who sent me a free trial), a weekly ingredient-and-meal box service. Instead of creating a preference profile, you get to choose the recipe/s to be sent to you, depending on how many recipes you choose to be sent in a week.

And now, I'm back to trying out beauty subscription boxes again, starting with Michelle Phan's brainchild, Ipsy.



July 18, 2017

Spending the 4th of July in NYC (Part II)

Continuing my previous entry.

Monday, July 3


Passport renewal at the Philippine Consulate General, New York

IMG_20170703_103843_845

My passport is about to expire this December, so I had to get it renewed. The nearest embassy from Rochester is in NYC, and since passport renewal requires personal appearance, we had to travel to the city for this errand. Actually, this was the whole point of our NYC trip. All tourist-y activities were just made para sulit 'yung biyahe.

July 14, 2017

Spending the 4th of July in NYC (Part I)

Saturday, July 1

What was initially planned as an early morning road trip from Rochester to New York City (like, 6AM early) ended up in a late morning departure with ah hour-and-a-half brunch along the way.

We were cutting costs on commute, but didn't want to sacrifice space for luggage and shopping hauls, so we decided to travel by car. Travel time takes around 5 1/2 hours, which in the Filipino context sounds fairly short (because in the Philippines that's just like, Manila to Baguio inclusive of the traffic), but here it is a looooooooong drive of endless freeways running at 60 mph (one mile = 1.6 kilometers).

We left Rochester at around 10AM, and arrived in New York City at around 5:30PM. Thanks to summer, we still had daylight when we got to the city. We dropped our stuff at the Airbnb room we rented for the night, and headed out to Manhattan.

IMG_20170702_074355_642 IMG_20170702_074517_515


July 12, 2017

Bumble and Bumble: Summer Hair Stuff for Fine Hair

PSA: Bumble and Bumble currently delivers within the US only.


US residents may order through their official website to avail of exclusive perks.
Residents of the Philippines may also opt to order through BeautyMNL.

For the past few months I have been fascinated (nearing obsession, actually) with the French Girl Hair. This particular hairstyle evokes a casual, effortless (i.e. I-woke-up-like-this) aura, something that can be worn on both lazy days and special events.

I already have a designated Pinterest mood board for French Girl Hairspirations, but this particular YouTube video pushed me to actively seek out products that will help make my hair look (or at least steer my hair to that direction) tousled and textured, without making it look like a rat's nest.



July 07, 2017

Blue Apron (Trial Week)

PSA: Blue Apron currently delivers to the 48 contiguous states in United States of America only.


Seared Chicken and Saffron Couscous; meat, veggies, and couscous provided by Blue Apron

One of the challenges when shopping for groceries here in the US is how to avoid buying more than what you need. Even if you're not buying in bulk, the portions of produce being sold in the supermarkets are HUGE. One onion here is as big as four onions in the Philippines (and the Pinoy-sized onions here are called shallots); green leafy vegetables are being sold by the bouquet. For a household of two, such huge amounts of produce would easily spoil by the following week.

 

 

Enter Blue Apron, a subscription-based service that delivers raw ingredients right to your doorstep. The idea behind this service is that the subscriber chooses a weekly plan (i.e. 2-Person/ 4-Person Plan; 2/ 3/ 4 recipes per week), where recipes are chosen on the Blue Apron Website. The subscriber also gets to choose which day of the week to receive the delivery (in case a holiday happens on the scheduled day, the delivery will be rescheduled to the next non-holiday), with an option to skip a week or cancel the subscription entirely. Each ingredients for a particular recipe comes perfectly portioned, so there is no wastage of produce.

June 15, 2017

Niagara Falls State Park

My next tourist destination is one of the more famous tourist spots in upstate New York. But first, let me get my Sheldon Cooper on and present you with some fun facts about the Niagara Falls:

IMG_20170610_115121
Foreground: American Falls with the Bridal Veil Falls behind it
Background: Canadian (AKA Horseshoe Falls)
Along the river is the Maid of the Mist (USA side - blue) with the Hornblower (Canada side - red)


  • Niagara Falls is actually the name of the city in which the state park is located
  • Niagara Falls State Park contains the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and part of the Canadian Falls
  • The Canadian Falls is also known as the Horseshoe Falls (IMHO the most recognizable falls of the three)
  • This state park is the oldest state park in the USA, and is situated along the US/ Canadian border


June 13, 2017

WWE Smackdown LIVE Rochester, NY - June 6, 2017

I am not a fan of the WWE or any other form of entertainment wrestling, I'm not even a casual viewer to say the least. Yes, I know the big names like Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, The Rock, or even John Cena, but only because people around me (i.e. the boys from my high school back then, or social media right now) talk about them. I won't be able to carry on a conversation about the WWE universe story line to save my life.

But I do admit that I had fun watching my first live wrestling event.

My husband is such a fan that he did not realize that he bought tickets to the show
scheduled for the same night as our wedding anniversary LOL

As I recently learned, WWE wrestling shows are an ongoing road tour. The wrestlers would go around the US (and some parts of the world) and hold shows in arenas, some of which are broadcast live on TV. There are two main programs in the WWE universe: Raw (which airs on Mondays) and Smackdown (which airs on Tuesdays). Only the televised events are the ones included in the story line, and each episode builds up to the main events/ championship matches (WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, etc). Hard core fans also watch WWE 205 Live (cruiserweight division) and WWE NXT (where "trainees" are being groomed to graduate eventually to Raw or Smackdown).

See if you can catch me in the clip below. :)


I have neither knowledge nor time to narrate the current happenings in the WWE universe, but I would like to share my experience in watching a live event.

May 31, 2017

Letchworth State Park

I have a handful of videos from that trip in my phone, which I wanted to upload to Instagram, but for some reason my videos are taking forever to upload. So, I decided to consolidate it into a highlights video instead, and upload it to YouTube. Et voilà!


En Route to Letchworth State Park

The weather forecast on the day of our trip was cloudy with a chance of showers. At first we were hesitant to push through, but then considered that it was Memorial Day (long) weekend, with a scheduled balloon fest set to happen at the park. We made our final decision to go ahead with our plans over lunch; it was a 45-minute drive from Rochester to Letchworth State Park. We took the scenic route to the park, and made two stopovers for photo ops.

May 24, 2017

Glossier: Phase 1 Set + The Super Pack

PSA: Glossier currently ships within the USA and Puerto Rico. There may be longer delivery times when shipping to Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.

One of the joys of living in the States is the ease of online purchase. Most of the online stores I know readily ship to the US, more often than not straight to your door. Postal services are more lax here, too, as they have no issue leaving the packages without getting a signature. Also, if the neighborhood is safe enough, there should be no worry about leaving the package unattended.

Ah, the wonders of the first world.

I've been been eyeing the Glossier brand for a few months now, ever since it was featured in a YouTube video of a beauty vlogger I follow. Since then, I followed their Instagram account and browsed through their online store, looking forward to my move to the US so I can finally purchase my very own Glossier items. My package arrived less than a week from ordering, and I've been using the products for several days now.

First things first, what is Glossier?

Glossier is a skincare and make-up line created by the beauty editors of Into The Gloss, a beauty webzine which has been publishing content since 2010 (tbh I haven't read any of the articles from that website though). The brand focuses on minimalist, utilitarian, and travel-friendly packaging, with products that aim to make the skin look good enough (i.e. hydrated, glowing, and dewy) to not need any more make-up. 

I bought two sets for my first purchase: Phase 1 Set (Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moisturizer, and Coconut Balm Dotcom) and The Super Pack (Super Bounce, Super Pure, and Super Glow).

Each order comes in a pink bubble-wrap pouch (which can also be ordered separately), and a choice of either the Milky Jelly Cleanser or the Priming Moisturizer sample sachet. There are stickers included in the boxes, too, to personalize your bottles and/or tubes of Glossier products. Cute. 



Now, let's move on to my thoughts on the products I bought.

May 16, 2017

Greetings from Upstate New York

Not really in a blogging state of mind, but I'll try my best to organize my thoughts into coherent sentences.

I'm still pretty much jet-lagged--waking up every 4 hours or so, then failing to sleep again once the clock strikes 5AM. Just last week, I was still in Manila, preparing for the trip that will take me to the other side of the world. And now, after a total of 26 hours worth of travel time (which includes an 8-hour layover in Detroit), I'm in Rochester NY, making a brand-new start of it (in the words of Frank Sinatra).


Hoping to share more stories from this side of the world--sharing food, travel, and shopping experiences with you (if time and budget permits, of course). Until then, do watch this space. :)

April 29, 2017

#SupportLokalPH: The Round-Up

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.

Alas, dear reader, we've come to the end of my #SupportLokalPH series.

I will be starting a new chapter in my life soon (more on that in my future blog posts), and because of this I won't be able to try out locally-made products for some time. It was a good run, I have to say. I really enjoyed discovering indie businesses and trying out items made in the Philippines. I was able to appreciate local craftsmanship a little bit more, and most importantly, realize that our range of products extends beyond exotic handicrafts like batiks and Capiz shell decorations.

For your convenience, here is a list of all my entries under the #SupportLokalPH hashtag:
  1. Arajera. Trinkets and Silver Linings
  2. 10 North Creative. Hand made watches inspired by vintage graphics
  3. Lulu Swing. Transforms classic styles into fresh unique statement pieces
  4. Alunsina Handbound Books. An indie crafts business that creates & sells hand-bound journals & leather accessories
  5. Germano's Chilli. The 1st and only chili garlic sauce cooked in Olive Oil to a Perfect Crisp, bringing out its Unique flavor
  6. Ilog Maria Honeybee Farms. Update: I've been seeing Ilog Maria products being sold in ECHOStore kiosks, in various malls.
  7. Donardo's Chili Garlic Sauce. Anghang Sarap!
  8. Vela Manila. Of Tradition and Modernity
  9. Activista. Stylish, modern, and affordable fitness apparel made in the Philippines
  10. Exonomad. Durable Carry Solutions
  11. Common Room.  Arts & Crafts Supply Store | A place where makers gather
  12. Simoy ng Haraya. Pabango | Pambahay | Aromaterapia
  13. KiN Leather Collection. KiN products are made of genuine leather, locally handcrafted by the the best Filipino artisans (MNL,PH)
  14. Wanderskye | Bags by Rubbertree. Wanderskye™ Travel Covers Designed by Filipino Artists | Purposeful leather pieces, hand-cut and hand-stitched
  15. Perfect Mushrooms | Kabutehan. Training and Seminars | Fruiting bags | Growing technical support | Fresh Gourmet Mushrooms | Grower's Kit Mushroom Chili Sauce™
  16. Zin Manila. Gourmet Finishing Salt
  17. Costal Bags. Everyday Leather Bags
  18. Free For Me. Vintage Style Handmade Watches and Fashion Jewelry
  19. Atsui | Perfectform. ...For the serious athlete and those in between. | 100% local sportswear perfect for any workout!
  20. Renegade Folk. Everyday leather sandals. Handcrafted in Manila by local artisans
  21. Happy Skin Cosmetics. Makeup that cares for your skin!
  22. Little Black Box. The Premier Jewelry Subscription Box Service In The Philippines
  23. Ibarra Manila. Filipino Time. On Time. Ibarra Time
  24. Sweet Side Jewelry | Eye For Treasure. Wearable Art | Artisan Fine Jewelry
  25. Sikat Salted Egg Potato Chips. Freshly Made. This, crispy, and tasty!
  26. The Leather Company. GENUINE LEATHER 100% HANDMADE
  27. Sinaya Cup. Sinaya Cup is a brand of menstrual cups and a community of modern active Filipinas
  28. Pravi. Genuine Leather Accessories Handcrafted in Manila
  29. Galileo Enoteca Deli. Authentic Italian Restaurant
  30. NLighten CC Cushion. A product of NWorld. Distributed by Health & Skin Care Plus
  31. Human ❤ Nature. Pro-Philippines. Pro-Poor. Pro-Environment
Hoping that you can try some of them, or all of them (even better!), to continue spreading the much-needed love for our country and its products (Disclaimer: I wasn't able to verify if all of them are still in business as of today, but I hope that they still are).

Yes, it really is.

April 24, 2017

Entry posted April 19, 2014 @ 08:04 AM PST

Unearthed yet another poem I made in my younger days, when hormones are all the rage.

For the life of me, I cannot remember for whom this poem is for.

Love is for the youth
and for those blind with faith.

Faith, like any other romantic notion,
hides under the guise of truth.

The irony of it all is that there is no truth,
only what you choose to believe.

Those scorned and tainted
by the bitter truth
have no use of romantic notions
like faith and love.

April 20, 2017

#TravelokaPH: How Travel Changed My Life

I'm not gonna lie; I had a nice childhood. I was raised in a middle-class family, the second of three children. My grandparents from my father's side were immigrants in the US; I had a chance to visit them and tour the country as a bonus. It was during summer break of '94; I was twelve that time. Admittedly, I didn't remember much of that trip, because I was just tagging along my mom and my sister; nevertheless that was my first taste of travel and I enjoyed it.

Left: San Diego, California
Right: Manhattan Skyline (Pre-9/11)

Fast forward to my college years, when I realized how sheltered my childhood was. One day, my friends and I passed by a street vendor selling ice scramble, then they began to talk about their favorite childhood street foods... and I had no idea what they were talking about (I didn't even know what iskrambol was). I was almost eighteen that time, and I would still make my parents bring me to/from school. I had close to zero commuting experience, and all I knew about the world was through my parents' eyes. That was when I decided to live life's adventures on my own.

By learning how to travel, you also learn how to live your life.

Throughout college I was living in a dorm, as travel time from my house to the university takes at least two hours (I was studying in Los Baños). Because of this, I had to learn how to survive on my own, away from the protection of my parents. I learned how to ride a jeepney--specifically, to choose which routes will quickly take me to where I need to be--, how to cook for myself (even if it is just instant noodles and egg, but I did learn how to cook adobo!), and how to get along with people having different backgrounds--not everyone is as sheltered as I. I learned a lot from them, and they from me, and even though this four-year experience is trivial compared to others' gap year in India or in Tibet, I still consider it a life-changing travel experience.

Left: Pahiyas Festival at Lucban, Quezon (c.2001) 
Right: Peak Two, Makiling Rainforest Park, UPLB (c.2004) 

April 17, 2017

#SupportLokalPH: Human ❤ Nature

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.

Human Nature

Pro-Philippines. Pro-Poor. Pro-Environment.

(Online Shop: https://humanheartnature.com/buy/)

I'm the type of person with an ever-changing facial care or makeup routine. Rarely do I stick to a particular product or brand, as I do not want my skin to become too dependent or hiyang on a product--I've experienced countless times liking a product so much, only to discover that the brand has reformulated or (worse) discontinued the product. I try my VERY best to finish a particular product before trying out another to avoid hoarding stuff and wasting money on products I end up not using.

Prior to trying out Human Nature's skin care line, I was into a couple of brands. For cleansing, I like Etude House, but lately I've been getting frustrated with how they market their cleansing oils; every few months they keep pulling out the product, forcing me to look for alternatives elsewhere. For skin care, I was using the Nuxe line for oily skin (Aroma Perfection), but the items (which I admit are quite  pricey) aren't always available in the Philippines, so I decided that it is time to look for cheaper alternatives.

My current Human Nature haul. I've also bought a couple of soap bars before, but they're all used up.

My first purchases from Human Nature are the Balancing Face Toner, Day Moisturizer, and Night Moisturizer, to replace the Nuxe stuff I have emptied. Since, like Nuxe, Human Nature is all-natural, so I figured out that my skin won't have to adjust that much to the change of brand.

My skin did calmly accept the brand (DISCLAIMER: My skin is far from perfect, as I suffer from hormonal acne; what I meant that is my skin didn't react harshly by breaking out more than it usually does), so I decided to try out more of their products.

To avoid blabbering on some more, allow me to categorize my current stash into products that worked for me and products that didn't quite impress me.

April 11, 2017

#SupportLokalPH: NLighten CC Cushion

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.

NLighten CC Cushion

A product of NWorld. Distributed by Health & Skin Care Plus.

(Health & Skin Care Plus Online Shop: https://www.facebook.com/bernsteam/)

Disclaimer: While the product itself isn't made in the Philippines, all of the retailers are self-employed Filipino entrepreneurs, deserving of a feature in this series. For those familiar with NWorld, I will only be discussing the NLighten CC Cushion and not the nature of their business.

ooOOoo

It has been a while since I've had a portable base make-up in my kit, so when I was presented with a catalog of NWorld products, the CC Cushion immediately caught my eye. From what I understand, the products of NWorld's NLighten line are aimed to instantly brighten the skin upon application, and to lighten the skin over time.

 
NLighten CC Cushion only comes in one shade, and retails for 1,640 PhP.


April 10, 2017

Next-Day Edit: UPLB


SDE (i.e. Same-Day Edit) videos to show highlights of a particular event are all the rage for a few years now. These videos are usually shown at the end of a programme, especially on weddings, where the emcee would usually say, "This will be the couple's first time seeing this video, so please refrain from approaching them while the video is playing."

Companies that are hired to do these SDEs usually invest in state-of-the-art equipment and software, from high-definition cameras to drones, to the latest Mac (sorry, oldie here, I mean Apple) movie-making software. But now, thanks to the wonders of mobile application technology, we can also make our own SDEs from the convenience of our own mobile devices!


April 07, 2017

#SupportLokalPH: Galileo Enoteca Deli

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.

Galileo Enoteca Deli

Authentic Italian Restaurant

(Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Galileoenoteca/)

This is my first time writing about an establishment for my #SupportLokalPH series, as I feel that supporting local brands should not be limited to buying local products. Granted that this establishment isn't exactly selling "Pinoy" products, the fact that this isn't a franchise from a foreign brand should be enough to be considered as local.


I stumbled upon this restaurant when I was looking for local sources of Guanciale, a type of Italian bacon. Guanciale is one of the ingredients of authentic carbonara (i.e. no cream), a recipe I learned in YouTube. Being a type of processed meat, I expected to find the bacon in the usual delis here in the metro such as Säntis, Earle's, or even in upscale groceries like Rustan's Fresh, but alas, to no avail.

A post shared by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on

Guanciale - 166.30 PhP per 100 grams


It was through the comments section of Market Manila (in a post dated 2006!!!) that I found out that Galileo Enoteca Deli is one of the few establishments that sell this elusive bacon.

 


April 06, 2017

Changing my Blog Layout (Again)

Sharing a blog header of my defunct Tabulas blog because I want to.

For the Nth time, I changed the layout of my blog.

(That's because changing layouts is easier than actually writing a decent blog entry. Always.)

Blogger has provided three new templates, so I decided to try one of them out. I've been seeing this type of layout from bloggers nowadays; I suppose this is the current style they use in order to showcase their content with a... fresher... aesthetic.

As usual, some of the previous posts' layouts were destroyed (i.e. the ones where I used blockquotes), but I'll stick to this layout (for now) because my photos look better here.

 Now, off to break this blogging lull.

March 25, 2017

Prayers and Predestination

I've been watching this new Crash Course series in YouTube, containing lessons about philosophy. One of its earlier lessons is about the philosophy of God, and how Catholic/ Christian philosophers see God as omniscient, omnipotent, and omni... ...omni-awesome. Then, the lesson further progressed to describe those who argue against this notion, saying that if God is all that, then He must know the result of whatever it is you've been praying for, thus the whole exercise of asking something from God is pointless.

2017-01-03 02.04.12 1


This made me think for a while. Whenever I pray, it would usually be so that I can ask God for something--may it be for good weather, a safe trip, something to not happen, or for a particular milestone to happen (i.e. get pregnant). If it happens, I would thank God for answering my prayers. But if not, I pray again for it to happen "soon" or "next time." But if the naysayers are true, then my prayers have nothing to do with what I want and whether or not I will get it. So, am I doing it wrong? Am I praying incorrectly? Should I be praying at all?


January 23, 2017

#SupportLokalPH: Pravi

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.

Pravi

Genuine Leather Accessories Handcrafted in Manila

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

I've been putting off buying another leather bag for the longest time, but something about the new year just gets me in the mood for shopping. After some start-of-the-year cleaning, I had to retire my Kelly Moore camera bag, which made me realize that most of the bags I own are in the Big and Roomy department. Because of this, I convinced myself that I needed a replacement bag that fits the Everyday Average-Sized description. 

My measly attempt to flat lay my Pravi haul.

I've been following Pravi for almost as long as I have been following Costal Bags, but it is only now that I have decided what bag I would like to buy. My recently retired Kelly Moore guided me to the direction of a hobo-style bag, which led me to purchase Pravi's Florence (3,850 PhP).

The Florence features a cloth-lined interior and three inner pockets.