Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Manila Abbey

When the week started, I had the unexpected opportunity to see the Abbey of Our Lady of Montserrat or the Manila Abbey. The Catholic religious Order of St. Benedict (OSB) founded this monastery in 1895. Unknown to most of my friends, the congregation is close to my heart because I was nurtured in one of their exclusive all girls schools. I grew up with the Benedictine principle of ORA et LABORA (Pray and Work). 

If given the chance, I want to see the historic and religious place again. It's quite a surprise to see a quiet and peaceful place amidst the busy, crowded and tiring life of the city.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Shopping and Shipping : My Experience with Lands’ End and Johnny Air

Everything started with my obsession to LL Bean’s Boat and Tote bag. I purchased the said tote using my online earnings. I figured out that spending my Paypal funds is better than transferring the money to my local bank account. The transaction fee of Php 250 is quite unreasonable. I actually have another option by opening the EON card in Union Bank. But I’m quite lazy and occupied to visit the branch. I decided that my Paypal earnings be used as shopping funds instead. I thought that this move would help me manage my monthly income for savings. But of course, my shopaholic hormones can never be overpowered. Heehee

My first tote bag from LL Bean is yet to arrive because I availed the services of another cargo forwarding company. A few weeks after, I was planning to purchase another bag. This time, I wanted a bigger tote in another color. While searching for photos and blog reviews about LL Bean, I accidentally discovered another brand. Fellow bloggers led me to another US based company that produces the same classic canvas bags. I discovered Lands’ End line of Canvas Totes.

To be honest, my loyalty to LL Bean was easily swayed by Lands’ End. I love the design of Lands’ End tote bags. I particularly eyed the Open Tote Bag in Navy Blue.  

As compared to LL Bean’s version, Lands’ End monochrome navy blue bag is taller and slimmer. The structure can fit folders and documents. I also appreciate Lands’ End provision for inner and outer pockets. LL Bean can provide pockets upon request for an additional fee. As for the monogramming services, Lands' End have more font selections and cheaper than LL Bean. So all the while, I'm convinced that Lands' End is the better brand.

Lands’ End initially appeared cheaper. So without further research, I purchased the navy blue bag. As I was performing the last few phases of my online purchase, Lands’ End surprised me with additional fees. These included the state taxes and shipping fees. Unlike LL Bean, Lands’ End is charging higher taxes. This is something I can’t explain since I’m not adept with US tax rates. Another hidden disadvantage from Lands’ End is the shipping fees. LL Bean is way better because they provide free shipping, regardless of the amount purchased, within US and across Canada. In the end, LANDS’ END CANVAS TOTE WAS MORE EXPENSIVE than LL Bean.

Regardless of the surprising fees, I pursued the purchase. I had the bag shipped through this most talked about cargo forwarding company, Johnny Air.

I followed Johnny Air’s shipping process. All the while, I thought that everything would run smoothly. Turns out, I discovered another implied shipping terms from Lands’ End. LANDS’ END DOES NOT PROVIDE TRACKING SERVICES for items less than 1 lb.

How about that? I felt worried about everything. I kept thinking if my bag exceeded the weight requirement. To alleviate my worries, I decided to communicate with Lands’ End customer service officer through online chat. Unfortunately, Lands’ End customer service officer can’t answer my basic query. WILL MY BAG EXCEED THE WEIGHT REQUIREMENT? The officer answered, I don’t know and I don’t have the means to respond to such question. Oh Dear God!

Rather than irritating myself, I decided to let go and wait. After several days, I tried to check the tracking status of my item. It led me to UPS’s site. There was finally a provision for tracking.

A few days after, the worries and daily monitoring ended. My package arrived at Johnny Air’s US office. In a few more days, my package will reach me. According to the few reviews I read, it takes 7 to 10 days for US packages to reach Philippines. True enough, Johnny Air was able to deliver. The bag was forwarded to their branch in SM Megamall in 8 days.

I thought everything would turn out fine again. I was later informed that I NEED TO PAY PHP 2,087 (around $ 52) for shipping fee. WHOA!!!

And just like that, all the excitement went away. It was replaced with weakening knees and the frustration arising from my stupidity. To be honest, I was expecting to pay less than Php 1,000 (around $ 40) for a bag that amounts to less than Php 2,000 ($50). As it appears, Johnny Air’s shipping fee is almost equivalent to the price of the bag. I felt upset and stupid. I hate to admit it but I actually paid twice the price for the bag.  

Before deciding to avail Johnny Air, I already encountered a few bloggers who complained about the high and indeterminable fees imposed by Johnny Air. I just disregarded them. True enough, I now have my own taste of traumatic expenditure.

I’m trying to console myself while typing this post. I’m trying to find reasons why paying Php 2,087 shipping fee is reasonable enough for an item amounting to Php 2,000. If I availed Lands' End's direct shipping to the Philippines, it might even appear cheaper with the custom fees. However, the problem with the local post office is the slow processing and as always, the element of uncertainty. 

When I claimed my bag from Johnny Air, I discovered the reason why I paid such surprising amount. The bag was enclosed in a huge box.

I paid for the the exaggeratedly huge box. Lesson learned, huge boxes would cost a lot regardless of weight and contents. This is a disadvantage of using Johnny Air.

After the entire experience, here are the things I learned from Lands’ End and Johnny Air.

Lands’ End
  1. Lands’ End’s canvas bags appear cheaper compared to LL Bean. But after the taxes and shipping fees, Lands' End is more expensive. 
  2. Monogram services of Lands' End is cheaper and choice of font are varied, as compared to LL Bean. However, the overall cost of the item with the shipping and taxes should also be considered. 
  3. Lands’ End uses UPS for their tracking services. If your item, does not meet the 1 lb requirement, you will not be entitled to use the tracking facility.
  4. Online customer service chat representatives of Lands’ End are not highly equipped with information as to their products and services. Don’t expect to receive adequate customer support. LL Bean is way better in this area. 
  5. In addition, you cannot use your Philippine based Paypal account with a US shipping address.  If you have intentions of using cargo-forwarding companies in US, you cannot use your Philippine based Paypal account. Use your locally issued credit card instead. 

Johnny Air
  1. If you prefer speed of service delivery, consider Johnny Air. They deliver fast for a hefty price tag.
  2. In case you will avail Johnny Air’s services, please brace yourself for the soaring shipping fees.
  3. Johnny Air is imposing soaring fees for bulky and huge boxes. I’m still setting aside weight considerations.
  4. If you are willing to wait, you might want to consider and other non-air shipping companies.
  5. It’s hard to determine the exact amount you have to pay to Johnny Air. Unlike,, (I have yet to blog) shipping rates are clearly explained in their site.
  6. Johnny Air doesn't offer insurance for items shipped. (I saw it in the receipt I received. Maybe I can upload the receipt later.) This is again contrary to, where shipping fees are inclusive of a maximum of $ 100 insurance in case of loss. 

Overall, I’m not saying that the two companies gave me a totally negative experience. My bag arrived with my desired specifications in the shortest possible time. There were just surprises and disappointments. Although I have to say that it would take me some time to repeat this very expensive experience.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 96 - Take it easy

Take it easy! This should be my mantra, despite all the unpleasant surprises I had over the past days. Some are related to work, which I can't share here. ;) There are the piles of bills to pay and some people who have this natural talent of spreading the bad vibes. I also have to mention that I need to report for work today. Working on a Sunday?! I'm not complaining though. This calls for another opportunity to become productive and lessen the pile of tasks and responsibilities. I have a long day ahead. But before I face another day, let me recall the few beautiful things that made my week.

Waking up on new mornings - The view was taken from my room. It was only this week when I discovered this view. This can be attributed to the fact that I'm always exhausted and in a hurry every morning. I know, this is not the best way to start a new day. Mornings are supposedly faced with optimism but these days, it has become a struggle.

Elegant chair from Apple & Eve - I did my favorite stress busting activity in the middle of the week. I tried a top from Apple & Eve. The fitting room included this dainty dresser chair. I wanted to take the chair home! The structure of the chair is perfectly complemented by the pink and very feminine design of the upholstery.

The Big Boss's Knight Collections - Colleagues, students and even guests are all eyeing for my Boss's collections. The school doesn't often produce these pieces. This makes the Boss's collections  more priceless and valuable.

Someone is waiting for some Serendipity - I never had the inclination to write anything on paper bills. At some point, I felt that such act is disrespectful. But after watching this hopeless romantic flix, my mind changed. Hahaha How many have watched Serendipity? If the person who wrote the name of her/his?!? alleged boyfriend was inspired by Serendipity, then here you go friend! I hope my blog gives you that sign you've been praying for. ;)

As always, please brace yourselves for the foodie posts 

Ube Hopia from Palawan -  I didn't know that ube hopia and crinkles are a hit in Puerto Princesa. My BFF who went to Palawan gave me a box of sumptuous ube hopia. Thanks Dude!

California Maki - Tokyo Tokyo may not be the best Japanese restaurant in town. But I love their very cheap California Maki.

Fortune Cookie! - I want to confess something. This is my first time to open a fortune cookie. Hahaha I'm not kidding. The same BFF gave this fortune cookie, which came as a freebie from Chowking. I love the message it's just that I was hoping beyond friendship. LOL (Can you blame the single-30-year-old in me?)

My daily dose of fruits - Thank you Nanay for my fruitbox :) This is my forever favorite fruity combination.

Pizza and cheesy sausage rolls - My parents got tired of my Mc Donald's delivery. They asked for pizza over the weekend. How can the obedient daughter refuse? :) As expected, everyone was very belly happy.

The attack of the street food - Pardon the ewww for some. In the Philippines, chicken or pork intestines are cleaned, marinated and grilled. For the benefit of my foreign blog friends, we call this dish as Isaw. I had some unhealthy sticks in the middle of the week with my friend CC.

Another common street food here are fish balls, kikiam (made from ground pork and vegetables), squid balls and hotdogs. We love everything deep fried served with the sweet-spicy sauce.

Before the week ended, we have to attend the annual awards night at the workplace. Awards and recognition are given to employees because of their loyalty, notable contribution and other achievements.

I love the candle floating on a wine goblet of flowers and shells - I almost wanted to take this home. Hahaha But no, I didn't.

The unique stage - The organizers decided to use the tall staircase of the main building as part of the stage. I think I like the concept. 

Me and CC! - Setting aside my huge and round face, I think I look decent enough for a wrap around blouse. :) The blouse was perfect in hiding my expanding arms and belly.

Instant White Board! - I used my cubicle's glass divider as white board. This would remind me of my targets for my documentation project.

I hope you had a great week too. Stay happy, beautiful and TAKE IT EASY :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Welcome to my new page :)

Some of  you may recognize something new in my humble page. Yes, I changed my blog design again. In less than a year, I got bored over the previous floral peach theme. This time, I wanted a clean and neat writing space. Lesser colours, minimal design and a clean white page for my posts. When I finally decided to reorganise my virtual home, I went to my favourite online shopping site for everything handmade. Etsy is the perfect place for me! Like what happened in my previous blog makeover attempt, I searched for affordable blog designs. I ended with another talented graphic artist named, Gillian. (You can check her out here.)  She has other great blog designs but this one captured my heart. I love the water-colour calligraphy, minimal floral design and the overall neat and streamlined appearance.

I hope you love my blog's new look ;)


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 95 - Feeling Loved :)

I'm feeling better after a week of catching all those sicknesses. I had cough, colds, body ache and some minor allergic reactions. There's still the workload but a few will be over soon. Thank God! I also managed to do my personal errands (finally). There are still a couple of items left unaccomplished. But hopefully this week, everything will be done. Meanwhile, here are the few beautiful things that made my week

The ABC's of Mother Teresa - This was everywhere at the workplace last week. Unfortunately, I can't figure out the organization responsible for this. Anyway, thanks for this nice reminder.

The Longest Corkboard at the workplace - My Big Boss is quite obsessed decorating the office. For this week, he had the longest corkboard installed.

Oreo Cake - Yes, this will forever be a favorite. One of the many reasons why I love reporting for work hahaha

Dunkin Donut's Munchkins - Butternut and Red Velvet munchkins never fail to make me happy.

Jollibee! - My lunch buddy was on vacation leave the entire week. I ended up treating myself with so much unhealthy fastfood.

Getting Healthy! - Mother and I agreed to do something about my unhealthy eating habits. While I can't totally eliminate my junk food intake, she suggested that I bring a box of sliced fruits everyday. This combination is my favorite for the entire week.

I've been tired lately. Tired to the extent that all I wanted was to eat, sleep and stay home. When I had the chance to go home early, I dropped by the shopping mall for some window shopping. Another unhealthy habit I want to break .. but hey, I deserve some treat ;) Hence the shopping bag above.

Cute Shopping Bag - I scored a nice blouse from Wrangler and was surprised with a graphic paperbag depicting their company history.

Weaved Shoal and Wallet - These were gifts from two colleagues who went down South for a presentation. Thanks Ma'am L and Ma'am P.

Bobbi Brown Coffee Table Book - Thanks Imma! My blog prize finally arrived. I really love the book.

Movie Date with my workplace friends - Yes, I watched the most talked about local film. (insert twitter hash tag) How do I unlove you? 

Dinner Date with some friends at the workplace - Hooray for movie dates and great food. Hey, CC!

Chocolates on Valentine's Day - Some chocolates I received on the 14th. Unfortunately, they aren't from someone smart, single and handsome. Hahahaha

This is the best way to end a tiring work week! Hooray for great food ... minus a friend who was suddenly ruined by her moody hormones. Heehee

Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday and a great week ahead!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

All the Love and Gratitude from the Philippines!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 94 - Ups and Downs

I took a leave from work last Thursday to accomplish some personal errands. I have a long day ahead only to be hampered by fever and a terrible sore throat. True enough, my prediction from my last post happened. I've been down since since Thursday. When I woke up this morning, the fever is gone but I still feel weak. I should be out by now to witness the baptism ceremonies of my friend's daughter. Unfortunately, I have to beg off.

Setting aside my health problems, let me share the few good things that made my week.

Hooray for Wendy's French Fries -  I was craving for huge cut fries from Slammer's Burgers. My route on the way home is quite a hassle to visit one of their branches. Hence, I ended at Wendy's with their best houseblend iced itea.

Diced Hopia - This was delivered hot and fresh by my student, JCC! It was his way of thanking everyone for the great presentation he rendered last Monday. Way to go future millionaire!

Fried Rice - What to do with leftover meat and rice? Fried rice saves the day!

Stash of Junk Foods - I took home my favorite Chef Tony because I was looking forward for a long day last Thursday. I will attend errands in the morning. I will accomplish freelance works and teaching tasks in the afternoon at home. But my health made other plans. The terrible sore throat kept me away from everything.

Song Seung-Hoon - is love! Haha The local airing of his drama series, When a Man Falls in Love, ended weeks ago. I was quite confused with the story because I missed several episodes. Truth is I don't anymore care about the story. Heehee As long as I see him, I'm perfectly happy.

Bookstore in When a Man Falls in Love - Aside from the great story line and handsome actors, I love South Korean drama series because they feature the best places. This of course intensifies my dream to see the Land of the Morning Calm someday. Hopefully, when I have enough travel funds and savings account for the visa application.

iWhite's Whitening Pack -  I purchased this very cheap Php 22 face mask only because of the cute packaging heehee

Taco Bell - The place with the colorful interior

My pink pillows and Lightning McQueen - The bed has been my constant companion lately :( Lesson learned: don't abuse one's health in exchange for additional money.

And a few other beautiful things I've been waiting

This Cath Kidston bag from - I'm raising Paypal funds to purchase this. Hopefully, this will still be available when I already have the money. Please :)

This medium sized Open Top Tote from Land's End - I purchased this bag  (thanks to my freelance work) but I have apprehensions and complaints about their online shopping terms. I'll blog my sentiments in another post. I'm quite anxious and worried about the bag that is yet to reach me.

LL Bean's Monogrammed Boat Open Tote - On the contrary, I admire LL Bean for the great customer service experience. I should have remained loyal with this company. Unfortunately, I haven't received my order because of the cargo forwarding company that is testing my patience. Yes, another failed customer service that demands a full blog post.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Life Lately

This was weekends and weeknights for me since mid-January. I've been meeting different clients at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I've been consuming frappuccinos, cookies and cakes. As much as I don't want to complain, I already feel saturated with all the coffee shop food in my system. The overflowing sweetness gave me this sore throat. Having been confined to the airconditioned shop with the number of people around, gave me threats of colds and flu. As I'm typing this post, I'm feeling an upcoming fever as soon as I hit bed.

The sudden arrival of freelance clients made me the happiest. There's additional money in the bag and I'm able to develop that self-worth and confidence again. I'm able to fulfill tasks and share my little expertise to people who needed it the most. Unfortunately, some aspects of my life have been neglected because of this. I've been getting less sleep. In effect, I always feel sleepy and lousy whenever I report for my office job. My take home teaching tasks are likewise suffering. The pile of papers to read and edit are getting taller again. I can't even accommodate a trip to the beauty and waxing salon. I have screaming split ends, very dry skin, added to this the additional lbs from all the food intakes. Visiting my dear blog friends also took a step back. To console my tired self, my takeouts from Taco Bell and deliveries from Mc Donald's have become more frequent. Sigh...

If there's one thing I wish right now ... sleep and more food heehee

Seriously, I always welcome the additional work. At the end of the day, I hope to enjoy and savor the benefits of all these sacrifices.

Monday, February 3, 2014

30 Things Life Taught Me # 12

Two of the greatest ironies in life...

Money is the hardest to earn, but the easiest to lose... 

Weight is the easiest to earn, but the hardest to lose...

I'm typing this post after a long day at work. My day started with my 7 am classes, short working stint at the office, presentation in the entire afternoon and attending to my 5 pm class. Along the way, I encountered some bad news. All in all, these contributed to a rare intense headache.

 If I have one wish now, it's for me to reach home once I close my eyes. It could never happen so I have to move my tired self. I have to take a ride to the train station, hopefully secure a comfortable seat, transfer to another transportation and finally reach home sweet home.

A while ago, one of my students told me that he is reading my blog. Hi there beautiful JPG! :) 

Going back to my 30 things, I'm sure everyone will agree with me about money's greatest irony. How come? How come? Why do I have to spend sleepless nights, wake up early, deal with annoying people, prolong patience and endure all those sacrifices in exchange for the little monetary return? Some would say that life is more than money but really, we cannot argue with the fact that we need money.

When I started working, it's enough that I'm able to give something to my parents. When my Father retired and I embraced the role of the bread winner, my life took a 360 degree turn.  Every centavo I earned become more expensive and valuable. 

I may sound ranting and complaining. I will not deny the fact that sometimes I wish I have more than enough. Despite the regular rants and complaints, my heart holds on to that single wish. I just want to things to work out fine. Nothing grand or extravagant. I just want the assurance that whatever happens, I have something enough for myself and my family.

The second irony, my grown up struggle of losing weight. I'm 5'3'' and screaming at 140 lbs. I'm bordering the overweight line for the Asian BMI. I don't know how it happened. I'm aware that I eat a lot. But as to how I reach 140 lbs from 120 lbs, I can't backtrack the path.

I don't wish to have that body worthy of a bikini ad. I just want my 120 lbs back. Maybe 130 lbs will work for me.  I once lost 5 lbs after my regular weekend jogging. Somewhere along the way, I learned to love sleeping during weekends. Hence, the 5 lbs was regained in less than a year.

My friends have been telling me, try that cleansing activity. But since I'm teaching, I can't afford to lose my patience and let go of that temper I've been hiding for years. I don't want to end up rendering that "I can buy everyone" dialogue... because I'm broke in the first place. ;) 

If I can't lose weight, I just have one wish. If someone will assure me that I'll be happy. I can let go of this weight gain burden and enjoy whatever "food" I mean "life" would give me.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 93 First of February

I'm blogging using my shared internet from my mobile phone. Hence, the short and quick post. We have problems with our ISP the entire weekend. :(

I'm hoping this post will get uploaded. I'll update as soon as I get decent internet connection at work.


Thank God, internet connection at home was finally fixed. Technically, I'm writing this Sunday post on a Monday.

Much of the past week was spent doing freelance works and attending to my editing job as a teacher. In the middle of the work week, my friend CC invited us for dinner in Binondo. You can see more of that in my previous post.

Because I was quite drowned with work, it's only now when I realised that I'm writing my first post for February. There will definitely be more work ahead but as always, there are a few surprises and beautiful things that come along the way. Here are a few and I hope to see more for this month.

Button down shirt from Arrow - When I gained weight, shopping for a decent blouse became a challenge. Shopping is no longer the same when I was 120 lbs. It would entail a lot of fitting rooms and shops to visit. I needed a new top for an upcoming presentation (today and I'm so nervous). I don't have the time and energy to shop (I find it quite unusual for myself). I was left to try Arrow boutique in Gateway Mall. It was an attempt I will never regret. I found the perfect fit.

Mini Mooncake from Eeng Bee Tin - I still have goodies from our annual Chinese New Year tradition.

A tall cup of Coke and Spicy Noodles - One of the best unhealthy combinations to keep me awake at the workplace

Gift! - I love the detailed gift wrap from Rustan's. This made me appreciate Rustan's despite the little hefty price of their products. I pay a little more in exchange for quality service.

Fried Squid -A dish I wish to have everyday! The crunchiness and oiliness make me crave and drool.

Doritos - While other people would consider chocolates as their comfort food, I'm fine with a huge bag of delicious chips.

Another gift for a dear friend - Hi CC! This gift will be personally delivered by your Mr. Dream Boy heeheee CC doesn't read my blog unless I told her. So my surprise is still safe here.

Lychee Shake - Can I just devote a day in the entire week in Binondo? The foodie discoveries never fail to make me the happiest.

Gourmet Popcorn - I discovered this from the workplace's canteen. It wasn't as great as Chef Tony but enough to make my belly heavy happy.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!