Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Back to Blogging - Back in Manila

This will be the nth time I’m saying that I’m back to blogging (This does get old). I realized I missed writing for myself and maintaining a public journal. I’m not sure if this off/on thing is just for blogging or a symptom of a bigger character flaw. :((

Just quick notes:

1. I’m back in the Philippines. Decided to move in with my friends in the capital city. They have work; I have work. Our place is on a third floor walk-up. I get my own room. I’m a guy, they’re both girls. We’re basically a sitcom minus the cameras. 

2.   I’m practicing my househusband skills. It comes as no surprise that I’d rather be the wind beneath the wings. HAHAHA. This is almost legit. But let us not put myself in a box yet. 

3. I’m a good cook. As someone with the self-esteem of a rock (that is to say I have zero self-worth), I constantly pester my roommates and friends to commend me on my cooking. So far, it has been easy for them to oblige. So let me say I’m good at the kitchen. ;)

4. I’m taking lots of photos again. I have a great camera. My understanding of aperture, shutter speed, framing rules, white balance, ISO, Photoshop, etc are still intact although dusty. So I plan to take photos more and upload them here. “Ladies and gentlemen / These are my hands / My knees.”

5. I’m independent as fvck. I’ve technically moved out although I don’t remember asking for permission nor signing a document nor doing any ritualistic protocol as I’ve seen in movies. But there. For over a year now I’ve been supporting myself - when I was in Thailand for a month and a half, in Indonesia for about six months, for the few days in Malaysia (twice last year!), in Singapore (x times last year!) - it has all been on me (-ish, thank you very much sister, haha).

6. Half-a-year vegetarian! I was lacto-ovo. Decided to stop eating eggs a few days ago and it’s going great. 

So hello again Manila. Oh my you’re still pretty. But no thank you that you’ve given me two weeks of asthma attacks. Don’t do that again, please. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

To those of you who still read this... I'm back

This is a chocolate cake I made following Ruth Reichl's wonderful recipe on NYTimes. 
I've said this countless times in this blog before but here I am saying it again, with knees on the floor, eyes low and a voice as sad as death itself: I'm sorry for not updating this blog. I'm back. I have plenty to tell you. Here is a list that will give you an idea of the drivel that is to come:

1. I'm apparently already in the phase of my life where I work for a living. A few months ago, my trusty yet overall useless LinkedIn account reminded me that I've been doing work for a year now. I've been earning money good enough to live on. From boyhood to full-blown adulthood. I would like to thank my teachers, friends etc. etc. for this milestone. Shit.

2. I travelled a lot this year. I went to El Nido to explore nature but more crucially, myself. It was gross. But that northern tip of Palawan is a gem and I know I've prepared myself but I cried. Holy rock formation and clear waters. Nature is beautiful. I also "lived" in Thailand for close to two months. There is a lot I could say about that so watch out. I also went through Malaysia, visiting Penang TWICE, and Singapore again which I haven't been to since three to four years ago. Also Bali. Yep. That was nice.

3. I've turned vegetarian a few months ago. I was vegan a few years back. It was horrible. It was a time in my life that I didn't have time to run after food I could eat. The result was an under-nourished wad of skin who occasionally passed out in bathrooms. One could say it became an obsession. Now I have time and the energy to eat what I could and want to this is what I'm doing. So yes. Doing what makes me happy and this is important to me.

4. I've been living with my sister here in Jakarta. She can teach me lotsa things about adulthood. There are days when we just can't get along but she is always my role model for discipline, responsibility and just being a sound member of society. I learn from her. A lot. (I have this Medium post about an argument we had.)

5. I have no idea who I am. There are just too many awesome people in this world and I always find myself wanting to be them. With all the running back and forth, I see that I don't have any idea who I am to begin with. Take for example now. I'm reading Jane Eyre and Julia Child. I don't want nothing else but to have the mildness, the joy of Julia seasoned liberally with the bitterness of Jane. Is this normal?

6. Also very, dark heavy stuff, Harry. I've realized a lot about myself this year. My past especially and how it contributes to who I am now. Not discussing it in detail but it's true.

Well, all this said, I'm just happy to be back to this blog. I realized this while dabbing myself with a shower cream of Ayurvedic inspiration. "So you have the ginger, mint and probably a little turmeric in this bottle?" I smell like a pleasant Indian garden. This does things to you.

Also people still read this? Or is Google just coaxing me back with fake stats? Hmmmm.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Flying to Thailand Tomorrow: Pre-trip Jitters

I'm flying to Thailand tomorrow. I'm planning to stay there for three months and now I feel like a corn cob is stuck halfway down my throat. I'm scared. I'm getting sweaty arms and a post-blunt trauma feeling in my tummy.

Here are the reasons why, and as a testament to my instability, followed by ways I convince myself that everything will be ok.

1. I'm not going to be home.

Psh... this is easy. I haven't been home most of my life so the being at home actually feels more temporary than being somewhere else.

2. What if I can't afford it?

I'm planning to earn a little while in Thailand. I have sources of income going on for me that I can manage to do while out and about. Whatever happens, I'll be sure to have enough cash in the bank to buy a ticket for home and run towards the open arms of my parents like a prodigal son. I hope.

I'm an instinctive shopper. I deny impulse with the overwhelming supernatural experience of wanting to buy. So I am not impulsive only very, very instinctive.

Also, I'll be doing a freediving course. Which means efficient time management is a must to keep the monies coming in. This happens to be my weakest link. During my normal at-home work schedule, the AM is spent planning for productivity while the PM is spent crying over inefficiency and how I can never work. But I'm getting better. For sure.

(Unrelated story: Ok you know how Christian schools hammer the prodigal story into the minds of the future again and again. One time, when I was a kid, I dreamt that the prodigal son, after landing gently unto the undying parental love, proceeded to play a highly technical piece on the grand piano conveniently located within the scene. Is the root word of prodigal prodigy?)

3. My dog. 

Imagine you have an old, rusty fork. Use it to stab your real heart. That is how I feel right now. This dog has been so nice to me and some of the other people he meets. This situation just breaks my whole structure of emotions into tiny little pieces, spits on it and sets it on fire. I'm sad, I feel sick about it, I feel irresponsible, I feel a whole of shits.

But I also feel strongly that leaving is the right thing to do. Fortunately, domestic arrangements allow attentive, overly-loving care for the dog. But still, I cry so hard I drown.

4. I'm not going to like it.

I'm actually great at meeting people. I'm pretty sure I will like the whole experience. But liking it for three whole months sounds like an altogether different ballgame. For example, I liked HBOs The Leftovers. That was really good, like there was always tension as it should be given the plot. But after 2 and a half episodes, all I can understand is blagarjarblurblippblopp. I'm bored. 

But I'm pretty stoked about the island I'll be staying on and all the diving I'll be doing. 

I'm going to like it. There is at least 90% chance for that.

5. I'm going to be sent away by Immigration

I've invested a lot of emotions, not to mention resources, for this trip. What if I fall victim to the prejudice immigration officials generously give out at the airport?

I'm scared because the first time I flew abroad, I was meant to be off-loaded or to never leave the country at all. Mind you that I wasn't traveling alone. I was with my guardian. I was standing there helpless, planning to run through the slits in between the cubicles those officers sat in.

My mom, who wasn't going with us, was outside that area, ready to comfort me. I did cry. 

And boom, a few phone calls later, I'm in the plane. Turns out I needed some sort of affidavit from my parents that they were letting me travel alone. Even though my mom was there practically pushing me away to visualize "I AM MOTHER. I AM LETTING OFFSPRING LEAVE" the piece of paper had to be there. 

It was hectic, unpleasant and it made me feel so helpless that I don't even like thinking about it.

But now I have all the documents and I'm twenty-one. 

With me are:

  • The roundtrip tickets (canceling the return once I land in Phuket)
  • My passport already with some helping of departure and arrival stamps to show that I don't violate things
  • Wonderful speeches on my travel plans, the road to self-discovery, possible demise of consumerism and what needs to be done to complete a juju. 


I've been reading a lot about pre-solo travel jitters and how to overcome them. Hopefully, when at Phuket, trying to block vestigial respiratory pathways to say Sawadee like a local, I'll be fine. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Number 200: Bali and Moving to Thailand


According to blogger, this is my 200th post. Oddly enough, that makes me feel real old. So...

Again, I'm back to promising I will be more faithful in updating this blog. I love it actually. I don't write it for the peoples. I write for the me. I often find myself clicking Publish even before rereading the whole shebangs so you might find embarrassing misspells or creative sentence structures with a bajillion nouns, pronouns and verbs but you know life is like a giant nut, if you eat too much you'll get very fat.

Here are updates from my life of hesitations (which will soon turn into Yes, yes yes!)

#1 I went to Bali.

This was a highlight of the year (but it was only January, you say). I embarrassed myself in front of the Aussie-heavy crowd by trying to surf. Thank you to the seawater in Kuta for being accommodating to my fat ass. I fell more than I even stood up on the board. I already surfed in Boracay with a friend and you would think I should do better. Nope. Nope. Nope. Practice makes perfect. Practice may also extend the plateau of skill level. Flatline beeeeeeeeeep....

If they tell you to take off your glasses or keep your cameras in bags when walking around monkey forests or temples YOU DO IT! YOU TAKE THE ADVICE, FORM A SHARP STAKE OUT OF IT AND YOU RAM IT INSIDE YOUR EAR TILL IT PENETRATES THE BRAIN!!!

While posing in front of the godly sunset in Uluwatu, a monkey grabbed my glasses from the back. Thank the god of the temple for not allowing the mammal to scar my scalp with his/her teeth. In retaliation for the divine intervention, he/she chewed on my glasses and kept banging it against the stone structure of the temple.

I was horrified. Realizing perhaps that my spectacles were made in the USA and not from Italian S.p.A., he decided to throw it to the ground. It was mildly entertaining I ought to collect fees from the minor crowd that watched the caucus. I'm such entrepreneur.

#2 I went to El Nido...alone

Needs its own post. Sorry.

#3 I was back in Jakarta.

See above

#4 Moving to Koh Tao, Thailand

Since becoming capable of supporting myself, I've wanted to move. Right now, I live in the rural town. I sleep to the breeze with no AC (I hate AC; rhinosinusitis). I wake up to roosters. I occasionally receive gifts in fruit form from people who actually grew them. I like the piercing screaming of roosters in the morning until early afternoon.

I hate the city. Not really hate but I'm not cut out to live in it. I don't know. For now, I'd prefer wet markets over sprawling acres of tiled grocery floors.

Koh Tao is a (very) small island south of Thailand and I've been wanting to move there since I first read about it. I'm not moving there for life (yet). For now, the plans are really until only the visible future. Three months is ideal.

Since this is an all-on-me trip, I'll learn how to budget the hard way which I think is the only way I can learn. Yay. I will have more details on this soon. I'm leaving next week. Yeah people I'm a risk-taker.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Six Tips for Saving Money in the Philippines

Searched for "Happy Blonde Girl" because it feels so fitting. Haha. Source
Now that I have regular work and earn a substantial amount of money to save, I'm planning to travel a lot next year. Preferably alone. Or with family.

I've always wanted to be financially independent and now I am doing it under the strict guidance of my sister who probably thinks Microsoft Excel is a computer game.

Here are the things I try to follow in my, so far successful, foray into the land of being kuripot.

1. Open a separate bank account

This is where the die was cast for my efforts in saving. Before opening a separate bank account, I had one from BPI which I actively use. The Average Monthly Balance of my BPI card is around 50 pesos because I'm a spendthrift. Putting my leftovers savings there is just to much danger so no. Th ATM-based account is so convenient it works against the point.

How I chose a bank and account type

My new passbook thing which looks way more legit than an ATM. The fruit is for ambience. Also the newspaper in Chinese which the store lady used to wrap a tub of ice cream.  

I now have a passbook from Maybank. If you have Php 20,000 on-hand, you would be able to open a passbook account anywhere. They have a website.

My passbook comes with an ATM which I ceremoniously cut to pieces. The account will work without an ATM card but I'd have to go to the bank to get money. The 15-minute trip to the nearest branch is enough time for me to reconsider my choices.

I chose Maybank because in the Philippines, it is yet to hit the mainstream. Why not be cool about banking and good for the independent-looking one that seems to not have yet sell out their brand? And when they get famous, you can wave to the faces of the normcore public that YOU WERE HERE FIRST!

*Hereafter, you need a notebook or use an Excel sheet.

2. Account for your financial status

My notebooks which also contain musings about life, why I have to stop losing stuff and even a tally of waistline over a few weeks. The fruit is for size reference, hope it helps!

"Financial status" sounds fancy but for me, it was just really listing down all the things I've owned and still own and also listing down their equivalent value in PHP.

Have concrete amounts of how much you earn per month, the value of the things you own and how much you can save per month. 

This activity is about assessing your value at the present moment. It will give you a great perspective on money stuff and how,  for example, a thousand pesos fits into your life.

In my case, I also listed down around ten mobile phones I have owned and lost since birth. As a matter of fact, not only cellphones but expensive eyeglasses, wallets and clothing. I'm a klutz and it is not even funny anymore.

3. Set goals

This could single-handedly be the most important part of the process.

You should have exact amounts of how much you can save per month and how much you want to have in your account by a specific month. 

"I should save this month." is a really bad goal because if you save Php 100 from a whole month, you did achieve your goal but it remains meaningless. Boo you.

My goals are for example:
  • Have Php xxxxxx amount to directly go to my account by the end of this month
  • Have my own money for El Nido which I will go to by the end of November
  • and enough money for Bali and Jakarta in January. 
  • South Korea and Japan next year (because friend is potentially going to school there, visiting)
  • Go to Thailand (Chiang Mai, Phuket, Bangkok) next year
Each of these goal items has a corresponding amount of moolah. Estimates but at least I have numbers to run after.

4. Get inspired

This is the easiest part if you followed this list chronologically. 

What I do is stare at the list of all the things I already own. I'm writing this post while wearing my Balenciaga jacket. It helps me realize the heaps of money I threw away towards things I don't really need. Of course I need this jacket. December is a cold month and I am alone.

Every time I want a camera or decide to buy a tablet, I need only to remind myself that the money I spend could also be first class train berths to Chiang Mai or a roundtrip ticket from Bangkok to Phuket.

Every single peso counts. It really does. Stare at your list. You function because of the peso. 

5. Lessen cost-of-living

I get to cheat here because my family still don't want me to move out and my job is location-independent.

I don't spend for commute, I still share my parent's car (no paying for gas) I commute at the cheapest prices when possible and I isolate myself from capitalistic establishments (malls). I literally live two hours away from the nearest mall.

Again, no one really needs a tablet. My 2013 laptop still works perfectly. I don't need new clothes. I don't need to eat out a lot. Ground coffee is overrated. Shampooing is optional. Ok exaggerating but I hope you get the point.

Despite popular belief, I'm very very low maintenance. I'm not a luxurious person. The only reason I complain when I'm with other people is to jumpstart conversation and actually make people realize it is okay to say they are uncomfortable. As long as there is plumbing and no spiders, I'm happy!

6. Have a person (optional)

I've said before that I spend like a bat out of hell so I need a person. Every time I'm thinking of buying something expensive, I run it by someone who is a pro at thinking about money. 

My intentions of saving turned into action because I finally was able to discuss to someone else my independent financial state.

I still believe public non-anonymous disclosure of finances is taboo (because inequality, pay-versus-labor things, awful awful things) That is why I chose someone I trust and someone who actually is good at these things.

Landing on my blog must mean you are planning on saving. If you are then you should. If you're like me who can eat, sleep, work and repeat without much fuss, it is actually very satisfying to see the amount in money you can save just by being a conscious consumer. Nothing feels better than knowing that when the people you depend on disown or exile you, you can make a blanket of cash to cover your lonely soul.

Remember kids: Money buys happiness especially if you plan on traveling. Or have you seen the Parabellum Medicine Man Manpurse?

Posts that inspired me to save:
Let me talk about the pomelo fruit again. I live in a rural town and people actually give each other fruits from their backyard/front yard here. I think I'm getting a hoe for Christmas. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Poetry #xx: Easy Steps

Step number 1.
Breathe. Quick. In and out.
Like the speed the word “lick”
Whips the tongue
Lick. Breathe.
Remember the time
When the key couldn’t fit the lock
or no matter how you push,
the gap mocks and mocks.
When your arms are an inch too short.
Or a tad too white, too dark.
 Step number 2.
Stand up. Jolt every muscle,
into a loud, loud “snap”!
Like a bone that breaks in two,
Like the wing of a frightened bird
Cuts the air in two.
 Maybe clicking the heels.
7 times. 77 times. 777.
Will keep your head up
Eating air.
All lost, fallen things.
You will not find. You can never find.
 Step number 3.
Find a rope, a tight one.
That snaps with a pull.
No matter how heavy,
it pulls up to heaven.
 Tighten not SNAP!
6 kay jis. 66 kay jis. 696.
Like a baby in a cradle
Because you’re too loose.
You’ll decompose, you bastard
You’ll lose. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Working Buttons on Twitter!

Well everyone knows social media marketing is always looking for ways to connect the business and its potential clients a new way to interact. This is my first time to see an actual clickable button on Twitter.

Check it out here.

If you click the button, you are given a one-step way of sharing your email with the design inspiration blog PSFK. Awesome! (Twitter actually stars out or "*****"s your e-mail just to let you know it's a safe system).