Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell 2015

Time check, 10:00 pm. I have a lot of plans before 2015 ends. The decluterring tradition, yearend post, updating my eBay account, and a lot more. I have so much on my plate. Plans were set aside because I was occupied with freelance works. Yesterday, I got a bad case of stomache and diarrhea. It almost crippled me for a day. I thought I will be unwell until New Year's eve. With proper medication, I felt better.

Like the previous years, it was another roller coaster ride. Peaks and troughs. Happiness and sadness. Surprises and disappointments. But the things that I will always remember for 2015 include, the success of my documentation project, unexpected freelance works, meeting my long lost Korean friend, meeting a blog reader and earning a new friend (Hello Coleen!), lowest moments and what seems to be an endless marathon of crying. I was mostly sad the entire year but there were sources of happiness in between. Everything went a little better for me from November to December. 

I'm having a hard time remembering all the details of 2015. I'll let my archived photos of 2015 speak for everything.

Unexpected trip at Puerto Princesa, Palawan -  I wasn't able to explore the place though. But I'm more than thankful for this opportunity.

Annual Chinese New Year Tradition with my friend T continued even though we parted workplaces already

Went back to school for a while

Hello again Caleruega

Was able to fly again, second time in Hong Kong and Macau 

Club Balai Isabel - Another trip because of work, it made me feel sad for a while because I suddenly missed some workplace friends

the rare times I feel valued 

Earned a spot from this noble table ;) the success of my documentation project 

workplace realisations

After 10 years, the school where I work for regained the much awaited basketball championship crown 

Meeting my long lost Korean friend after 17 years 

A better 2015 birthday!

The Cath Kidston Sisterhood 

My favorite read for 2015!

Beefalo - discovered a new favourite restaurant in my hometown 

Found a new hobby this year - collecting old and used postcards and envelopes 

Friendship with Marieken and Terra

Got to see Luneta Hotel 

Thankful for my family 

Thank you 2015!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Beautiful Sunday # 192 - Christmas Aftermath

The aftermath of Christmas day. Typical to my previous Christmas breaks, I was with my family the entire time. We attended the Christmas eve mass, had a great dinner and spent the 25th visiting our relatives. The best thing that happened this Christmas, I was able to see both my paternal and maternal families. This has been tradition but for some reason, I felt happier this year. Despite all the challenges that 2015 gave me, December became lighter and happier for me. And hopefully, this will progress to 2016. 

I wasn't able to capture photos on the 25th. Much of what I have here were taken either before or after Christmas day. 

I love Banapple's interiors :) 

Most of my friends and colleagues were enjoying the holiday break in the company of their loved ones over a great meal, out-of-town getaways and what seems to be an endless marathon of Christmas parties. My holiday break was way different. I was able to score a number of freelance works. As mentioned in my previous Sunday post, I'm most of the time at home. Spending hours in front of my laptop from night until dawn. I turned nocturnal again. I don't know but I really find my working pace when everyone else is asleep and the entire environment is very silent. I did this for a number of consecutive days. I thought I would survive the entire week. After some time, my arms started to ache. It felt like there were sand bags tied on both of my arms. I feel so light headed. I gave myself a break. I finally went out of our home's cave :) and treated my mother for dinner at Banapple. 

A few days ago, I'm about to sleep while everyone is about to start their day

In between work, I squeeze in a little inspiration Hahahaha I love you Ha Seok-jin!!!

Last minute mail, thank you Marieken and Terra!

I bid goodbye to my Korean friend who is finally flying home. I was lucky that my friend managed to squeeze in lunch. Thank you for everything Jenny! I will hold on to my dream that our next meeting will be in Seoul. 

Jenny and I have been exchanging gifts every time we meet. I give her local produced organic products while she has  been spoiling me with everything Korean. Much to my delight!! 

I have yet to try this Korean product from Jeju Island. My Filipino friends are surely laughing with the brand's name. :) If the product can eliminate all the annoyances I accumulated within the day, then I might asked Jenny to supply me with this every year. Hahaha 

Not everyone is aware that I love face and eye creams. Only that I don't often purchase because organic facial creams are so expensive. This Christmas and my birthday, someone played Santa Claus to me. :) Thanks T!

An additional gadget and probably, one of the best Christmas gifts I've received. I've been wanting to own a pedometer for the longest time. I haven't inquired and checked prices because I conditioned myself that it is expensive. My cousin gave me this freebie pedometer from Milo. Thanks A!

Christmas will never be complete without meeting my dearest friend T. Friends since 2005!

Me and my younger cousin M who unfortunately caught chicken pox during Christmas

My 2015 in instax photos, this reminds me I have yet to make a yearend post :) 

Hello from Baymax! 

I have been wanting to purchase a Baymax stuffed toy or lamp for the longest time. Everything I encounter is surely expensive. So for now, I can settle to this cheap balloon. :) 

I still have pending freelance works. I really hope to finish everything before New Year's eve. I just miss those days when I have nothing to do. I haven't done my annual decluttering tradition and my drama series marathon. I hope to finish everything before 2015 ends. 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Friendship Goals :) Miss Universe 2015

Truth to be told, I was sleeping when Miss Universe 2015 was happening. I got occupied by a freelance work the night before the pageant's airing. I worked from night until dawn. I finished the work with some tradeoff. My arms felt like I had sand bags tied around. The prolonged typing almost kept my entire arms so numb. I felt so lightheaded. I slept the entire day, woke up around 5 pm. I checked my Facebook account and my newsfeed was flooded with nothing but news from the recently concluded Miss Universe 2015. As I was checking my friends' status messages, I learned one of probably the craziest mistakes done in the entire world history. A few days after, the Filipino public's attention was focused to MISS USA and MISS BULGARIA. 

Thanks to the evening replay at Star World. I got to see everything, only that the replay was a little edited. :) It was initially Miss USA who caught my attention. Yes I agree, Miss USA can pass as the "bestie" of the year. I love you Miss USA!

More than showing support to Miss Philippines, I discovered the memes and later, the instagram account of Miss USA. She has pre-pageant photos with Miss Philippines. I felt that she was really friends with Pia Wurtzbach even before the competition. I followed Miss USA's Instagram account and I started to admire her more. I love Miss USA to bits and pieces! I will always remember this post. 

I also discovered the role of Miss Bulgaria, who is now very popular among the Filipino populace. 

The entire Filipino community got your back as well Miss Bulgaria :) 

Miss Bulgaria eventually discovered how and why the Filipinos love her so much. She posted the memes in her Instagram account as well. 

Sometimes, you just wish that you and your friends look like this :) 
Wishful Thinking: T, Me and A

source : Cosompolitan Philippines

Setting aside the "mistake," I will also remember Miss Universe 2015 because of the story of Miss Slovenia. Get well soon Miss Slovenia :) 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Commander Rolison and J.C. Schiff, 1958

Almost a day before Christmas! I'm done with all the Christmas parties and meet ups. I missed seeing some friends only because I don't want to plant my own source of frustration. I knew how it feels to schedule get togethers that will eventually not push through. I held on to the belief that if they want to see me, they know where to find me. :)

Setting aside these holiday blues, I wanted to share a recent addition to my addiction. :) I was able to purchase another vintage mail. 

It's an envelop from the Office of the Naval Attache of the US Embassy in Warsaw Poland. The sender's name, CDR. Rolison. It took me some time to figure out what does CDR mean. Turns out, it stands for Commander, which makes sense because the envelop relates from the Office of the Naval Attache. 

I tried my best to find information about CDR.V. Rolison. I made some email inquiry and have yet to hear a response. I hope this turns out to be a successful attempt.

The recipient is identified to be a female because of the Ms. or Mrs.? I'm not sure about the handwriting though. At this point, I wished the sender provided the complete name of the recipient. I believe it is impossible to determine details about the recipient with the name, J.C. Schiff.  

While the recipient remains unknown, I was blessed to capture a complete address. With the help of Instant Street View, I was able to find the exact location of the address. Actual photo can be found here.  

As someone who is not familiar with New York, I will assume that the place is a typical apartment residential site for the middle class populace. I made this assumption because the only high end sites in New York that I know include the surrounding areas of Fifth Avenue and Central Park. 

I checked details of the stamps and postmark. This is something that confuses me. The envelop seems to have come from Poland. The "Polska" stamps can prove that the envelop originated from Poland. However, the postmark reveals another information. The envelop looks like it was mailed in USA, evidenced by the postmark indicating, "Air Postal Service A.P.O., February 19, 1958" One of the stamps have been unfortunately peeled off already. The remaining stamp bears a US postage. 

I was about to finish this post when I realized that I missed another detail. There was a handwritten detail from the sender.

c/o ALO USBER - I'm not sure if this is a person or a department. I'm still the process of determining. 

What seems to be clear is the address, 
APO 742 New York

APO stands for Army Post Office. When I further searched for details, I learned that addresses with APO indicates that the letter originated from a military postal service situated abroad or perhaps, even within any point in USA. In the course of finding more information, I encountered this video clip about how letters for military offices are distributed 

So this is how it works for people stationed in military office abroad. :)

Truth to be told, I still lack details about this vintage envelop.The email I will be sending will hopefully give more details. What is only clear at this point, I got an envelop from the US Embassy's Office of the Naval Attached in Poland. The envelop was sent via the NY's APO and reached an intended recipient who resides in New York. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

My LBC Shipping Cart Experience and how it competes with Johnny Air and

UPDATE as of January 2019 - I blogged my latest shipping experience in this post

UPDATE as of  November 6, 2017 - I made another blog post documenting my second time to avail the services of Shipping Cart. Check out this post here

UPDATE as of October 19, 2016 : I wrote this post on December 22, 2015. Months after publishing, I was flooded with emails and comments. Unfortunately, most feedback relate negative experiences. I felt quite sad because I had a great experience with the company. While I acknowledge the negative experiences of other people, some have questioned the credibility of my post. This, I believe, is unfair. Not just because I had a great experience while others didn't, automatically translates to the question of credibility. In case you are dissatisfied with LBC Shipping Cart's services, don't place the blame on me. Blame the company and their inefficiency. Thanks. 

I have always been a loyal patron of Johnny Air. Of the rare times I purchase from US based online shops, Johnny Air has become my reliable partner. Instead of directly shipping items to my Philippine address, I learned the advantage of using cargo forwarding services like Johnny Air and Shipping is faster and I was able to avoid the unpredictable charges of the local customs office. 

I've blogged about my experiences with Johnny Air and I had positive experiences although I have to say, it wasn't perfect. Johnny Air's selling point is speed that comes with a very unpredictable and hefty price tag. On the average, packages sent via Johnny Air arrive from 7-10 days from my experience. But since the charges are not something to love, I always limit my purchases to lighter and smaller items.

A little tip to those who have plans of availing Johnny Air's services, request for padded envelopes instead of boxes for your orders.

This goes with the assumption that your items can fit and become well protected even with padded envelopes. I noticed that charges become expensive when purchases are already stored even in the smallest boxes. Items delivered in pouches or padded envelop costs a little less than Php 1,000. You might not believe it, but I paid more for a Kate Spade wallet than this bigger Herschel bag.  Only because the wallet was already stored even in a very small box.

POBox.Ph is a good option because of the cheaper fee. Problem with this company is the prolonged delivery period. They use sea cargo as means for transporting goods. On the average, expect a little more than a month for delivery. Although what I appreciate about, they deliver directly to your address. No additional charges. No need to take the hassle of visiting their office to claim. (I checked a while ago. already offers air cargo services.)

A cousin introduced to me LBC Shipping Cart late last year. He was claiming that delivery time is comparable with Johnny Air, but comes way cheaper.  In addition, Shipping Cart consolidates multiple orders in one shipment, which I believe Johnny Air already stopped doing. Also, since Shipping Cart is operated by LBC, orders are delivered right in the comforts of your home. 

I was initially hesitant to try LBC Shipping Cart because I'm satisfied with Johnny Air, setting aside the shipping charges. After so much reservations, I decided to give  LBC Shipping Cart a try during the Black Friday Sale.  

The process of using Shipping Cart works almost the same with One has to create a personal account that generates an individual account number. The account number should always go with the US address of Shipping Cart because this will serve as your individual point of identification.

I remember when I was using POBOx.Ph, I was required to enter tracking details of my orders. This process is different with Shipping Cart. I don't have to do anything.  I only relied to the tracking services provided by the online shop and wait until everything is reflected to my account. Sounds good but at some point, I was worried because it felt like I can't do anything on my end.

Fortunately, all my shipments arrived at Shipping Cart's US address in California. Best about Shipping Cart, I received an email that my orders have arrived. I was also told that I have to wait for 3 business days for the items to reflect in my personal account. 

True enough, my online account got updated after two days. They also uploaded photos of my purchases. While I appreciate this service feature, others might not because this only means that they inspect and open your items. Some might see this as invasion of privacy especially when you purchase Victoria Secret lingerie?!? Hahahaha But seriously, while I appreciate the fact that I can see my purchases before they fly to Manila, I'm also worried that the items become prone to unintentional damages or lose some of its components during the opening and repacking process. 

When the arrival of my orders was posted in my personal account, I was given a computation of the fees I need to settle. Shipping Cart offers both air and sea cargo shipping. Obviously, sea cargo was the cheaper alternative. For the two items I purchased, I was quoted around Php 800. The cheaper rates come with the tradeoff of longer waiting period. It was estimated that I will receive my purchases by the end of January 2016. 

I also checked LBC Shipping Cart's rates for air cargo. I will be charged around Php 1,300. At this point, I was feeling that I made the right choice with LBC Shipping Cart. In the end, I chose air cargo because of the tolerable Php 400 difference. 

I was later given instructions on how to pay for the shipping fee. LBC Shipping Cart offers several payment options. 

1. Credit Card / Paypal - There's a promo for BPI credit card holders. If I'm not mistaken, 15% off for shipping fees for BPI credit card holders.

2. Bank Deposit - Shipping fees can be settled via cash deposit through BPI or BDO.

3. Any LBC branch - Visit any LBC branch and present the unique transaction code that will be generated after choosing this option.

I opted to pay through any LBC Branch. At this point, I thought I will have another fast and easy transaction. Unfortunately, it took me four LBC branches to settle the shipping charges.

LBC SM Manila branch - The service crew was not aware of LBC Shipping Cart's services. She sought the assistance of another service crew. I was told to wait for more than 15 mins. The ending, I was told that they cannot process my payment because their system has gotten offline. 

LBC Sta. Cruz, Manila branch - The service crew was not aware of LBC Shipping Cart's services. They don't know how to process my payment.

LBC Gateway Mall branch - The lady service crew looks disoriented. I was told that I have to pay when my package arrives on their branch. I told her that I opted for door-to-door delivery and LBC Shipping Cart does not offer branch pick up. I tried my best to explain everything. In the end, she just told me that their system has gotten offline.

I was starting to feel pissed off. I called LBC's 24/7 hotline. Unfortunately, it seems that they have limited Customer Service Representatives (CSR) for LBC Shipping Cart. The person who took my call documented my case and promised that a CSR will get in touch with me as early as 8 am. No one returned my call, it was nearing lunch time. This feels like a real test of patience. 

I decided to try one more LBC Branch. I went to LBC Concepcion I, Marikina branch. The first service crew that I approached had that disoriented look again. She sought the help of another colleague (I was expecting to be rejected). FORTUNATELY and after more than 10 years hahahahaha, I encountered a knowledgeable service crew.

I related my story with the knowledgeable service crew. She was surprised as well. In the end, she advised me that the next time I will end up with another disoriented employee, I should tell them that the payment account for LBC Shipping Cart is under R.E.M.S. in LBC's branch system. Instruct the employee to look for R.E.M.S and look for the Shipping Cart in the drop down box.  

The payment was finally settled after a test of time and patience. I checked my online account and was happy that my settled payment was already posted.

Tip for those who have plans of using Shipping Cart, despite my negative experiences , I believe it is still best to pay via any LBC branch. Payments are posted real time.  Also, the knowledgeable service crew was able to verify the contents of my shipment. Before payment, I was asked what items I was expecting in my package.  

I waited a few more days. I also get regular updates through my email. And finally, after 9 working days... tadah!

with a little damage

despite of this, the contents remained safe and in great condition 

I intentionally took photos near the oven toaster and rice cooker to give you an idea of the box's size. It's quite big and honestly, if I chose Johnny Air, I estimate that I would pay more than Php 2,500. I even have to drop by their SM Megamall branch for pick up.  If I opted for, I would likewise end up paying around Php 2,000. In LBC Shipping Cart's case, this box only costed me around Php 1,300. 

Nine days for such size of the box is not bad for Php 1,300. I have to give credit to LBC because they delivered within time frame, given the peak of holiday shipments. Setting aside the inconvenience from the three LBC branches who refused to process my payment, everything went well.

My box has lighter items inside. In particular, two bags and a book. The shipping fees may differ depending on the weight of your items. Also, LBC Shipping Cart has different charges for electronic devices and items with batteries. It might work different when you purchase cameras, mobile phones, or luxury items such as jewelries, signature bags, etc. 

Thank you LBC Shipping Cart! This will not be the last time I will avail your services.