Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One last post for 2013

Hello 2014! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Decluttering to happiness

I've been spending my two-week holiday break at home. Much to my relief because I'm spared from spending and fighting my shopaholic hormones. I should have more time to read and finish my pending Korean drama series. Fortunately or unfortunately? I've been spending much of time with freelance works and take home teaching jobs. For some reason, I've turned nocturnal lately. I found my much needed pace when everyone is asleep and the entire environment is in silence. My only concern with this unusual habit is the adverse effect on my health. My body clock and my meal intakes are both disrupted. But since I'm turning nocturnal on a periodic basis, I hope my health will understand and cooperate. :)

Since I started working, I have this annual decluttering tradition either before Xmas or New Year's eve. I start from clothes to little things stored everywhere. I have a small room yet I consume an entire day to finish everything. How come? Blame it on the sentimental fool in me. It's hard for me to let go of things that remind me of significant events and persons. For instance, it took me years to finally give away the blouse and dress I wore on my MBA defense and graduation. Those were the days when I could still fit to an XS from my favourite brands. The thank you letters of past freelance clients, receipts of expensive purchases because it signified that I'm a real grown up and family provider, trip tickets and baggage stickers, grade slips and registration cards from my university life and so much more personal things that I can't even mention heehee

Decluttering for some may appear like a hell of personal chore. In my case, I enjoy and look forward to this personal and recurring rite of passage before the year ends. I even find it therapeutic. :) It brings me both happiness and sadness. At some point, I find myself laughing and crying at the same time. This happened when I saw these
Old Notes back in college :) This is how I take notes during my university days. I don't entirely copy what my teacher provides. I write lectures the way I understood it. Hence, the weird language and spelling. Haha
So many books, some are still unread :) The Da Vinci Code was the first book I purchased from my first pay check. How ironic because I work for a Catholic institution :)
High School ID, back when I wasn't a huge chubby
A printed note from my class adviser from my last year in high school.. Part of her Palanca letter if I'm not mistaken 
I'm often advised to never look back. (I admit, this is a personal weakness.) This includes doing things that gives me an opportunity to hold on to something from the past. Decluttering somehow tempts me to   stick with this weakness. But once I decided to release and let go, it feels like I gained steps closer to maturity and adulthood. I feel relieved, renewed and reinvigorated.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 88 - Thank you 2013

The days are long, but the years are short. 
~Gretchen Rubin~


Before I regained my interest in blogging, I used to read everything written in my planner before the year ends. I treat my planner as a personal journal where I record the significant events every day. Maybe in another post, I can share snippets of my planner turned journal over the past years. While I still maintain a planner, blogging quite changed me. Most significant events to memorable everyday experiences in my life are documented here.

Looking back the year that is about to end has become a personal tradition. Over the past days, I've been reading my posts in 2013. I read everything and compiled here the best and memorable.

Casa Corazon
We didn't have our annual spiritual retreat in one of my favorite places. I was sad because I will not be seeing Caleruega in 2013. We were instead housed in this unique resort and ancestral house in Batangas.

Casa Corazon is a fusion of attractions you never expect to exist in one place. The resort provides a breathtaking view of Batangas, growing number of swimming pools for an upcoming resort house, collection of vintage cars, museum of BMW bikes and a very Filipino ancestral home.

These are some events I want to recur in 2014. On the first month of 2013, I was able to organise a mini-reunion with my college friends. Time flies so fast because it's been a decade since our college graduation. I hope that my dear friend A will have the initiative to organise another reunion in March.

My workplace friend T and I have been visiting Binondo during the Chinese New Year. We have been doing this every year. I hope the tradition will not break in 2014.

Another friend tied the knot last June 2013. I was one of her bridesmaids. I'm not sure if any of my single friends have plans or wedding surprises for 2014. heehee Setting aside the stress and worries over the bridesmaid gown that never fails to make me look fat, I would be the happiest if another friend finds Mr. Right 2014. Hello dearest friends G and C!

Hello Singapore!
This is another country I want to visit again. I was amazed with the city's excellent urban planning and economic progress.

Setting aside the unpleasant experience from the immigration officer in Manila and my supposedly travel companions, I don't ever regret saving and spending for a trip to Singapore. On a personal note, I have unfinished businesses here. If given the chance to return in Singapore, I will make things right even if it means traveling alone. By the way, I have to mention that I met a Filipina blog friend here in Singapore. Hello Zigird!

How can I be a tourist in my own country? I was thankful that my Boss initiated and organized this summer trip. Palawan is so beautiful to be missed. A number of prominent personalities from other countries have been mesmerised by Palawan. If I will tour and sponsor a trip to the Philippines to a blog friend, Palawan is definitely in my list.

Photos not owned by the author 

Of course, the Korean drama series addict has to have an item for her favourites :)

Iris and Gentleman's Dignity made it as the best Korean drama series I had this year. Iris captured all the drama and suspense. Gentleman's Dignity gave me the best romantic comedy flix.

Rustic Mornings by Isabelo
I can forever spend my weekend mornings here. Best about everything is the location within my hometown.

My trip to Corregidor came as a surprise. I was catching up with some friends through Facebook. After a few exchange of messages with my dearest friend Ate B, I was bound to see Corregidor in one weekend. Can I just say that this is one of the limited perks I enjoy because of singlehood? :)

Celebrating another decade
And I just died haha I entered another decade in my life this year. I reach the age I'm dreading for the longest time. I'm turned 30 before 2013 ended. It wasn't the best birthday I ever had.  However, things got better over the next days. There were surprises and opportunities that emerged.

How could I summarise my 2013? It has been another year of travel and discoveries. I had my own share of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. I met and found new friends. I still have my weight problems. I'm still battling my financial management issues. There were undocumented trials and as always, the grown up problems. At the end of the day or year :) I'm grateful for everything that happened in 2013.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Books that made my 2013

How was your Christmas? I spent mine at home with my family. We shared sumptuous lunch and dinner, slept in the afternoon (best! haha) and visited my Lolo and cousins before the day ended. While others ended up exhausting themselves, I experienced the opposite. I had a boring yet relaxing Christmas.

Instead of sharing photos and stories of my quiet and boring Christmas, let me share one of the many things that made my 2013.


One of the main reasons why I always have a wrecked wallet

Not in the photo
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Young Blood 4

Aside from flat shoes, bags and clothes, these books have taken away a significant amount of my hard earned salary. They were my everyday commuting companions, partner in bed (heehee), source of both sadness and happiness and one of the reasons why I still have something to blog .. other than my Beautiful Sunday series.

All books were purchased from my personal money, except John Green's Looking for Alaska. If I sum the expenditures, I could have already purchased a nice set of my much coveted pearl earrings, weekend stay in Tagaytay, new mobile phone to as much as a promo fare ticket to Hong Kong, Macau or Malaysia. Now this gives me some feelings of regret?!? Haha Yes or yes?

Setting aside the expenditures, my personal target is to finish a book in a month. This pile of books is my shouting evidence that I made it. I might be unsuccessful in other things but with my reading target, I was able to exceed my personal expectation. The only thing I failed to accomplish is to blog and review each. Blame my laziness and dissatisfaction to a few. I still made reviews with unsatisfactory ratings but the rest received nothing but my appreciation. A few of the books I will never forget are the following

The Fault in our Stars by John Green - This is a must read for all the hopeless romantics. John Green is just so good in weaving words that can create those heartfelt emotions.

One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern - As always, Cecelia Ahern never failed to make me believe in magical experiences. Everyone is bound to experience one in their lifetime.

Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden - I liked this than his more famous book, It's not how good you are. It's how good you want to be. He shared tips on how people who don't often think out of the box can generate creative and successful ideas.

Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers - The book didn't receive great reviews. Surprisingly, I love the book. The unpredictable ending gave me tears.

Train Man by Hitori Nakano - Silly, funny and entertaining. The story could fit a script for a romantic comedy film or TV series.

Every Day by David Levithan - My first read from David Levithan. He shares John Green's talent of creating stories that capture the heart.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - The book has all the elements that makes a perfect read. Surprise of surprises, I have another sentiments for the book. For some reason, I was able to predict the book's ending and this quite frustrated me.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - This would make it as my best book for 2013. I got a discounted and dilapidated copy from BookSale. It was a decision I never regretted despite the screaming empty wallet. It was the best purchase I made for Php 180. The entire story was sad and serious. I have so many reasons to dislike it, but I ended up considering it as one of my all time favourites. It has all the elements of a great read.

For 2014, I intend to sustain the same target. I hope to finish at least 12 books next year. While I still prefer my paperbacks, I would love to utilise all the e-books stored in my iPad. It can save me enough  money and space inside my bag. My only problem with e-books is that I can't read them during my commuting hours. I can't take out my iPad inside the jeepney that passes through Quiapo and Recto Avenue. If I read inside the train, I will gain sharp glances from fellow passengers. They will think of me as someone who just wants to brag her Apple device. If I read in bed, my eyes get easily exhausted with the built-in light. On weekends, I always end up sleeping during the lazy afternoons.

Whether in print or electronic, my love for reading will remain. I'm looking forward to discover more titles and authors to inspire and keep me company.

In my wishful thinking … maybe I can write one someday… Fine, I need someone to slap and return me back to reality :) 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

This is my fourth Christmas in the blogosphere. Yay! 

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beautiful Sunday 87 - The last days at work

I'm currently on a holiday break. Yay! Best about everything, I have two weeks to sleep without being disturbed by my alarm clock.

Days before my last day at work, this is how my work niche looks like. 
As Gretchen Rubin mentioned, declutter to happiness. I was throwing away some unnecessary things and brought home some work that needs to be accomplished. Yes, I still have pending works. I was quite unproductive this year. I failed to comply with my personal target. I want to redeem myself on the beginning of the year. Hence the take home jobs I want to finish. I'm also blessed with some freelance works. Hopefully all clients will proceed as planned.

Meanwhile, let me share the few beautiful things that made my week
Flowers and a little love story in the middle heehee Hi dear friend C! aiyiheee

I didn't buy anything from the flower shop. I joined a friend who bought something for her special one.:) While waiting for the arrangement, I took time to explore the shop.

The scene in the middle is something I did for a friend. I guess no one can argue with the fact that one of the best Xmas gifts is when your crush personally delivers a present. Sweetness overload for my dear friend C!!!

Still dealing with sweetness overload, we went to this chocolate house a few weeks ago. I accompanied my cousin who is currently addicted with baking cupcakes. Taking photos inside the premises of the store is unfortunately prohibited. If only I can show everyone the endless chocolates and baking paraphernalia.

Before going home, my nieces and nephews forced me to watch a live PBA game. While I love watching basketball games, I usually watch from the collegiate league. The last time I watched a game from this professional league was like 10 years ago. 

Some foodie discoveries here. Pocky in Choco-Banana is a recent discovery ... guess where, the nearby 7-11 store at the workplace.

Lotus Biscoff cookies, oh finally! Can I confess something, I finished the entire pack by myself in a week. Selfish glutton indeed heehee

Bibingka oozing with cheese and butter, Xmas will never be complete without this local treat.

Shopaholic hormones strikes again :) This time however, I shopped something for my niece.

As a birthday present, my best friend T gave me a gift card from Fully Booked. Bestfriends really know how to make the bookaholic in me the happiest. 

Speaking of book shopping, I discovered an online shopping mecca for all booklovers. Please check out Book Depository for your favorite books. Best thing about this shopping site is the everyday discounts and absence of shipping fees anywhere in the world.

Lastly, I just want to post this rare photo with my friends. :) Though I look so fat and healthy here, I just love our last photo for 2013.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

When life made other plans for me

I have a confession to make. I didn't like the way I celebrated my 30th birthday. Can I just say that it was the worst birthday I ever had?

When 2013 entered, I have a lot of plans for my 30th. I wanted a weekend getaway with my friends, family or even on my own. I wanted to see the man made lake in Nuvali, try a new restaurant and check the outlet shops around. After a day in Nuvali, I want a weekend stay in  one of my favourite places in the world, Tagaytay. I have nothing but pleasant memories in this place. I love the lush greeneries, cool temperature, quiet and serene churches and the always relaxing view of the Taal Volcano. If only I have the means, I will purchase my own real estate property in Tagaytay. I wanted my own sanctuary in this place. Unfortunately, I was never good in planning, despite the fact that I work for the Corporate Planning Department. In the end, my 30th birthday was spent the usual way.

Days before my birthday, I treated my workplace friends for dinner. It was the best! Except for the fact that I was quite surprised with the bill ;) My fault because I underestimated my budget. Despite feeling broke, I had a blast with my friends. The endless catching up stories and laughter made me forget that I'm really turning older.

When weekend came, I was feeling signs of an upcoming fever. I had the worst headache coupled with extreme menstrual cramps. I spent the day before my birthday in bed. When Sunday came, I invited my paternal family for a modest celebration. Another confession to make, I never liked the idea of throwing a party. I get easily exhausted these days. I decided to throw a party because of my cousins who bullied me during my Grandpa's birthday. They were forcing me to treat the entire family in a fancy restaurant. I wanted to refuse because it would mean expenditures. I gave in to their request but since I'm quite thrifty these days, I decided to treat them at home. I figured out that this is the cost effective way to celebrate. I gave my parents the budget and let them handle everything. I was relieved but I felt so selfish. I felt guilty because I enslaved my parents. I stayed in bed the entire day while my parents are getting tired for everything.

Come Sunday, I was still feeling weak. My guests arrived late  and best of all, my cousins who bullied me didn't arrive. God knows how my agitation hormones overflowed that day. For some reason, I also felt that my guests were not pleased with what I could afford to offer.

Frustrated and irritated, I tried to convince myself that I had a happy birthday. I also pretended that I'm feeling better. Before I slept, I accomplished a freelance work and prepared things for my 7 am class. I was supposedly on leave the day after my birthday. I thought classes would be over that time. I forgo my leave and chose to attend my class. Hence, I ended working late even on my birthday.

I didn't like the way I spent my 30th.  It wasn't a happy birthday after all. I gave in to the request of other people only to later frustrate myself. I was unwell. My family aggravated. Worst of all, I felt guilty for enslaving my parents.

It has been days after my birthday. I hate to admit it but I feel relieved that it was over. I've been dreading the day I will turn 30. Despite of this, I was hoping for the happiest birthday. I wanted this birthday to be remembered as the best. Surprise of surprises, the opposite of what I was expecting prevailed.

I never wished for anything grand. This is something I learned over my years of existence. My forever wish is for things to turn out fine. On my 30th birthday, I never wished for the attention of everyone. I would be happy over simple things like handwritten notes, hugs and kisses, and words of appreciation. Unfortunately, life made other plans for me. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Last for 30

 More snippets of my 30th (I'm dreading) birthday

Me and my colleagues are regualrly given the birthday cards signed by the Company President. Thank you Biggest Boss :)

It was also my first time to receive a local Martha Stewart product.

Need I say more? :

A few of the sinful and tastiest meals my family had last Sunday :)

I want to write more but my mind and eyes are telling me to finally sleep. Pardon the lousy post, I've been attending a lot of Christmas parties lately. I will redeem myself on my next Beautiful Sunday post.Wishing everyone, a great day ahead :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 86 - Celebrating Another Decade

This only happens once a year and I guess a few times in my lifetime. I turned a year older today! What makes this birthday more special is the fact that I'm entering another decade. Yes, I reached the age that I'm dreading for the longest time. I'm officially 30 today.

I started my birthday celebration by treating my workplace friends for dinner. This has been an annual tradition I intend to keep. 

This is one of the best things about having your birthday on December. The atmosphere is naturally festive.

We had a great Chinese dinner accompanied by stories and laughter.

What's a birthday without my favorite flats and a new bag courtesy of my friends G, T and C. Thank you dearest girls! 

I initially wanted to write a meaningful birthday post. Unfortunately, I'm hindered by some body ache brought about by a surprise dysmenorrhea and severe stiff neck. Perfect pre-birthday gift?! Hopefully, I will feel better later. I have to meet my paternal family for another birthday meal.

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

There can be miracles

This gave me tears.

More than the joy brought to the jetsetters, I felt the need to commend the hardworking employees of  West Jet Airlines. Upon further research, I learned that the entire "cast of miracles" were employee volunteers. I would like to believe that they went out of their way to make this happen.

Hats off to the men and women of West Jet Airlines who brought tears and made everyone believe in miracles.   

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 85 - First of December

I'm currently rushing a freelance work. But why am I here? Heehee  Thankful and blessed because it means additional income for my family. Hopefully I'll have more during my most awaited two-week break.

Work and teaching are both fine. Things are smoothly running except for some self-imposed deadlines I failed to beat. I was hoping to finish my documentation project before 2013 ends. With the way things are going, it looks like I have to accept my defeat. :( I have to settle with what I can accomplish for December and complete everything on the first quarter of next year.

Setting aside the negativity, let me share the few beautiful things that made my week.

Biscoff Cookie Spread : the CRUNCHY version - Finally! I've been looking for this like forever. Haha  My parents are the happiest now heehee

Happy Haus Munchkins - Candy sprinkled coated munchkins I discovered in the train station

Deck the Hall! - The lone but not lonesome Xmas decor at the workplace. We have the traditional Filipino lantern called Parol courtesy of the Big Boss.

New Read! - Khaled Hosseini is my new favorite author. The shopaholic and bookaholic in me wants to buy all of his books. I found a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns from Booksale for only Php 180!

Slammer Burgers -Another finally for me haha I discovered Slammer Burgers from another blogger years ago. The burger and fries addict in me has to try. I was more than satisfied with their mini burgers and belgian potato fries.

Marks and Spencer - I love M&S paper bag theme this year. I'm forever in love with color blue!

Freshwater Pearls - Yes to anything prettifying.

Homemade Spring Rolls - Thanks Nanay for making the tastiest spring rolls either in pork, tuna or chicken.

Chicken Bonchon - Had a relaxing dinner with a great friend last Friday

AVA.ph - Online shopaholic hormones attacked again. I bought a basic shirt, which I hope to review and blog. 

Small office problem solved! - I found this huge green clip / cup holder that fits drinks of all sizes. This prevents spillage and moist on my working table.  

French Macaroons from Tous Le Jours - Thanks to my student E for the early birthday gift. 

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's a celebration

On the first day of December, my entire paternal family was reunited again. We celebrated the birthday of our dear Lolo (grandpa).

He turned 89!

As always, the happy gluttons were satisfied :) We had Yakiniku and enjoyed my cousin's first attempt to bake cupcakes.

Happy Birthday Lolo! Looking forward to celebrate your 90th next year :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 84 - Thankful

It's the first day of my favorite time of the year! I'm looking forward to another meaningful and relaxing birthday and holiday. Before I finally embrace December, let me share the few beautiful things that made my week.

Happy 393rd Foundation Day to our School :)
The college kiddies I used to handle are showcasing their products in the recent trade fair and Foundation Week of our school. Hooray for the creative and hardworking kiddie entrepreneurs!

There is a sudden hype for Ramen in the Philippine market. The foodie adventure in me has to try. I bought the Japanese Ramen and Gyoza from Tokyo Tokyo. Not bad for Php 150 with my favorite red tea.

 The red bag reminded me of this dream nylon bag from Marc by Marc Jacobs. While I'm still raising funds to acquire my first piece from Marc Jacobs, I might as well opt for Kamiseta's version. 

The mocha cake is a new discovery from a small  and infamous shop in the mall.

The last photo is my favorite Filipino snack called Sapin Sapin. It's made from colored glutinous rice sprinkled with fried grates of coconut.

Hope everyone had a great week too.
Wishing everyone a happy and memorable December :) 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Travel Diaries : Island of Valor and Peace Part 2

As promised, here's the second part of my recent travel adventure in Corregidor.

The ruins of the military barracks is often the subject of photography and TV features about Corregidor.

According to our guide, the structures used to be dormitories, hospital, offices and entertainment centers for the military personnel stationed in the island. Since the place sits away from the city, it became a self-sustaining community and home for the military personnel and their families.

In order to ensure preservation and safety, tourists are restricted from entering these structures.

In my mind, these structures could have been preserved if the Philippines didn't become a casualty of World War II.

This is another common sight in Corregidor. Cannons and artillery of all sizes and functions were restored and preserved.

Nothing was changed in this storage site for ammunition since its existence.
 The construction of this park was funded by the US government. The main attraction in this area is inside the white dome. 

The entire place should be considered as a sanctuary. If there is one area I considered sacred, this marble structure relates everything.

The surrounding areas of the park that provide
 tribute to all the enlisted American and Filipino soldiers. 
Two drunk soldiers Heehee 

The statue is a representation of the brotherhood that existed between Filipinos and Americans. 

As we explored the area that surrounds the park, we ended up in this breathtaking view

My friend B described this as heaven. It reminded us of the Filipino movie, Hihintayin Kita sa Langit, which plot was adapted from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.
The sprawling horizon personified the book and movie's depiction of heaven.

Who would not fall in love with this view? 

The last item in our itinerary is the famous Spanish Lighthouse of Corregidor.

There were two lighthouses in Corregidor. The tallest is not accessible for tourists and guests.

This is the lighthouse we dared to trek ;)
Entrance to the lighthouse

We made it to the top and was surprised with a better view.

It was time to say goodbye.

I never had much expectations for this trip. Most articles I read emphasized the fact that there's nothing spectacular to experience in Corregidor. A friend even told me that the entire island is just a huge cemetery for all the casualties of WWII.  Despite the discouraging feedbacks, I enjoyed my short tour in Corregidor. I actually like the place. For reasons I can't understand, I felt relaxed and rejuvenated in the island. If given the chance, I would love to revisit the place. I don't have regrets of spending a weekend in Corregidor.

Back to city life, back to reality!

My trip to Corregidor would not be possible without my dear friend and sister B. Thanks Ate B! Hope to see you again soon, perhaps on another travel adventure away from Manila.