Sunday, January 20, 2019

In Hindsight...

What if you could go back in time and do things differently?

The question posed by the show Hindsight is similar to my previous blog entry where I answered a similar question from my friend. As I said in my previous entry, my answer to that question would be YES. Based on her actions in the show, the lead character of the show also has the same reply.

Hindsight is the story of Becca, a 40-something about to embark on her second marriage when she is taken back in time to the 90s. Not knowing how she got there or how she will get back to her own time, Becca decides that she can make her life better by changing the wrong decisions she made in the past (now her present), starting with not going through with her first marriage.

This is where it starts getting weird for Becca. Once she broke up with her fiancee Sean and called off their wedding, she starts having feelings for childhood friend Andy -- who actually ends up as her second husband in the future that she came from. This confuses Becca who goes from seeing Sean again and trying to see Andy behind his own girlfriend's back to giving up on both and staying single.

Just before the viewers can decide if they were #TeamSean or #TeamAndy, the show then reveals another guy: Kevin. He is her best friend Lolly's crush, someone she has been pining for but never really got together with. In the future, Becca had an affair with Kevin while married to Sean and this broke up her friendship with Lolly. Back in the 90s and regretting the loss of her friendship with Lolly, Becca tries to avoid Kevin as much as possible but they end up kissing in the end and revealing their feelings for each other anyway, much to the disappointment of Lolly, who saw everything.

The show talks about life decisions and how some decisions can take you off on a completely different course. Becca leaving her job is one example. It made her happier when she changed that part of her life. 

On the other hand, some changes Becca made in the past may have taken things off course, but it still ended up with the same result: her relationship with Kevin and the loss of her friendship with Lolly being the best example.  I think the show is trying to say that while some of our decisions do change the course of our lives, there are some things that are just meant to happen no matter what we do.

It's too bad that the show did not last. Personally I am #TeamAndy because I think he's just a really good guy for Becca. Sean was exciting and I think all girls fall for guys like that at some point in their lives but they usually end up with an Andy. Yes, Kevin seems to be the one that Becca connected to the most but he was just wrong for her. I wouldn't sacrifice a lifelong friendship for a guy, that is too big a risk to take. Besides, she didn't end up with Kevin in the future anyway so obviously, he is not the one for her. 

I really loved this show. The whole throwback to the 90s and the story about trying to change your life for the better was something that I connected to. There have been times when I've wondered how life would have been different if I had made different choices in certain points of my life. In hindsight (sorry, couldn't resist), if we do get to go back and change things, how well do we think we know what will happen in the future when we change things up? Will we like it better or would it just make things worse?


Saturday, January 19, 2019

Starry Nights

I have a love-hate relationship with my bedroom. It has large windows that pour all the light in during the daytime. It can get frustrating when the weather is extremely hot because no amount of curtains can hide me from the heat from the sun. BUT (and it is all caps because it is a big but) the room and those windows are a big plus for me at night. The windows that surround my room allow the evening breeze in almost every night, making my room the coolest (in terms of temperature) one in the house. There are nights when I do not even need to turn the fan on because it can get cold enough for me to curl up in a blanket even without it.

Photo Credit: Fleuber on Pixabay

If the cold nights were not enough, the best part for me would have to be the view. From my bed, I could look up and out the window and see stars. I can turn left or right and still see the sky full of stars (as long as weather permits, of course). It is a beautiful view that is even better when the moon makes an appearance.

The view is so pretty that there have been nights when I just lie back and look up at the sky and let the amazing-ness (yes, I am aware that may not be an actual word) sink in. It makes me wish that I could high-five God (in the most respectful way of course) for a job well done.

Being able to see the stars at night makes me grateful that I live in the province. I know that the kind of view I enjoy is rare in the city because of pollution. It scares me a bit to hear that our little town here in the province is starting to fill up with commercial establishments and there is constant construction of new buildings and facilities that might ruin the view I have been enjoying every night for the past few years. 

With progress comes, sadly enough, pollution. Air, noise, solid waste...The nightly breeze might not have the fresh air I normally love with it because of all the new things being built. I just feel so much anxiety about how progress has been good in some ways but bad in others. I see so much trash these days not being collected that are just rotting in the streets. It scares me how this is happening now when the progress is not yet that big, what more when it becomes full-blown? I wish these commercial establishments can do their part to help the community and the local government with this so that progress would not equate to environmental issues in the (near) future.

I am not sure if I will like the “price of progress” and “economic development” if it will change the things I love about being from the countryside. It is such a sad thing to think of. 

I should enjoy my starry nights while I still have them.


Friday, January 18, 2019

A Star Cinema Inspired Post

The Star Cinema movie Past Tense was about a woman who went back in time to try to get her past self to fall in love and give her best friend a chance at a relationship with her, which brings us to the question:

After reading the question on Twitter, I did not even give it a second thought. I answered yes. I am more mature compared to my past self and I would have given some advice as to how I should have handled my past relationships (or specifically, one particular relationship). I had that “one who got away” and if I could, I would definitely have tried to get my past self to grow up more and see our relationship through more mature eyes.

Another Star Cinema movie, Starting Over Again, made me look at this from a different perspective. While I might be willing to go back in time to do what the lead character did in the movie Past Tense, I do not think I will try what the lead in Starting Over Again did. I do not think that I can try to rekindle a past relationship, even if he was the one who got away.

Like what one character in the movie said, “Past is past.” If we were meant to be together, I would not need to chase after the guy because we would eventually work our way back to one another. Besides, I know that it would not work anymore because we have grown to become different people from who we were in the past. There will always be that little bit of regret that it didn’t work out and I admit that I will always love him, but to paraphrase what Piolo’s character said, I love him but in a different way. I love him for the memories we shared, for what we had together and for how he made me be a better person than I was back then. Because of that, he will always be an important part of my past. Nevertheless, that is all it is now, my past. There is no going back.

Instead of going to the past to correct it or rehashing an old romance, I would rather be able to look forward to the future to see the state of my (love) life. Would I stay single or will I have someone who I will spend my life with – now that is the more interesting question!

What do you think?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Discovery of Witches on TV!

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am a fan of the All Souls Trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness. I found out about it when I discovered that Matthew Goode, one of my favorite actors, is going to play the lead in the TV adaptation of the books. As soon as I started reading, I could not put it down until I read and finished the last book. After that, I started watching A Discovery of Witches as soon as it was released on the Fox TV app.

Starring Teresa Palmer (Diana) and Matthew Goode (Matthew Clairmont), the first thing that I noticed with this series was the remarkable cinematography. Every scene was picture perfect, something that would make you want to travel and see the places shown in the series. It makes the show very memorable in my eyes.

Another thing that I noticed was that there were only eight episodes for the first season. As much as I wanted a series that didn’t drag things along too much, I felt that the number of episodes was too short. As soon as I watched the first episode, I knew that I wanted more and I was sad the entire time thinking that there would only be a few episodes left for me to watch. I wish there were at least ten or a little more than that.  Considering that the books are all very long, it was a surprise to me that they would make such a short first season, with the first season being the first book.

The lack of enough episodes was obvious to people like me who have read the books. I recognized the various scenes that were compressed together to make sure that they could fit in the relevant scenes into every episode. To the viewers who are new to the story, I think what would be more obvious is how fast the lead characters fell in love during the course of their story. In the books their relationship grew gradually, not with the sudden attraction that the characters had for each other in the series. 

Apart from the lack of enough episodes and the way the book was compressed into just eight episodes, the series was very good. The special effects and the acting were not too over the top compared to other shows that featured supernatural creatures such as vampires and witches and the like. It was a good introduction to the show that humanized these supernatural creatures for the viewers and the power struggle that they had with each other. I love how there were scenes that alluded to how man was destroying the environment and the ultimately the planet and how the struggle between creatures mirrored the struggles that people go through to overcome racism. 

As far as the acting goes, I loved the casting. Everyone fit into the roles as I imagined them from the books. Seeing what I’ve read come to life in these characters who fit in so well was the most enjoyable part for me about the series.  I am looking forward to the second season to see the whole new batch of characters who will be playing the people that the leads will meet in their journey to Elizabethan England.  Hopefully, there will be more episodes for the second season because Diana’s growth as a witch had a series of events in the book that I feel would be disappointing to see as a compressed version in the way that the first season was done. 

If you read the books, this is worth the watch. If you haven’t, it still is worth the binge watch, considering that there are only eight episodes for the first season with a good cast and amazing cinematography.  Check it out on the Fox TV app!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Review: Walk of Shame

Lauren Layne is currently one of my favorite romance novelists. I don’t think I’ve read a book written by the woman that I did not like. It all started with me stumbling on one of her books and that was it, I was immediately a fan. What was that first book? It was Walk of Shame.

The book is about socialite/party girl Georgie, who is puzzled by the resentment that her divorce attorney neighbor Andrew often shows her when they run into each other at the lobby of their building. As with most love-to-hate tropes, the characters struggle with their differences until they realize how they complement each other and are right for each other in the end. 

I think that with any romance novel, the happy ever after is expected, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. What I enjoyed about this book is what happened before the two characters had their happily ever after. The situations the characters got themselves into, the witty banter that had with each other, the way the clash and the way they got together romantically…everything was interesting and entertaining.  Both characters were charming enough for readers to be emotionally invested in so by the end of the book you are just as happy as they are for how it all ends. It ends a little too soon for me though, I wanted more because I was enjoying the book too much! It was a good combination of comedy and romance…it was perfect!

Why are women attracted to the serious/brooding guy in romance novels? I was crushing on Andrew from the start with all that stuffy serious fa├žade that he has. There’s always something to tearing down the walls of good-looking brooding guys like him that make stories like this interesting, especially if the one doing the wall-breaking happens to be a spirited character like Georgie.

While I admit that I fell in love with Andrew (I was picturing Theo James, haha), I also found myself loving Georgie. I like that despite having that party girl image, there was more to her that people did not see. The girl has a good heart. The way she connected with the guard/doorman at their building and the sincerity she shows in the way she interacts with him is proof of that. I agree with other readers that it would have been great if there was a greater character growth for her in the book, I still feel satisfied that everything developed in a way that was realistic given the timeline of the book.

I don’t know how Lauren Layne does it, but the chemistry between her characters always seem to just pop up off the page and Walk of Shame is no exception. You can feel that chemistry while you read it. If sparks could fly off the page, it would. And yet, despite that, the pacing of the relationship was still in a way that was realistic. Nothing happened too fast for the sake of getting the story going. I liked that. 

To Lauren Layne, I must tell you that I have never wished for a guy to tell me that I’m ridiculous until I read your book. Now I feel like if a guy says that to me that I’d be doing a double take and remember Andrew.   I can’t wait to read more of your books! I never regret reading them!


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Oryang's Goodbye

I recently visited the Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon, Cavite with some friends when I discovered this song by Aiza Seguerra titled Sa Huli ang Sikat.

The lyrics are based on a poem by Gregoria “Oryang” De Jesus to her husband Andres Bonifacio, who was sentenced to death in Maragondon. When I first heard about an old poem made into a song, I thought it would be boring and unrelatable but I was surprised to hear that it was a beautiful song.

Aiza Seguerra did a good job performing this song. I don’t know if she composed the music herself, but it had such a haunting and sad feel that I could not help but feel the sadness that Oryang must have felt when she was writing it to say goodbye to the man she loved. I was taken back in time while I listened to the song and I could not help but visualize the events as they may have happened before, during and after this was written by Oryang.

Here are some of the lyrics that stood out for me:

Paalam sa 'yo masarap magmahal
May ari ng puso ko't kabiyak na katawan...

Sa pagkahimbing, panaginip ka sinta
Sabay ang balon na di mapigil na luha...

Sama ng loob ko'y sa akin mag isa
Di maipahayag sa mga kasama
Puso ko ay lubos na pinagdurusa...

I can’t help but wonder why this song didn’t get to become mainstream considering how beautiful it is. I wish more people would hear and appreciate it. As corny as it may sound, I was fighting off a tear when I was listening to the song in the same house where Bonifacio was tried before he died, where Oryang listened as her husband's life was in the balance during his trial.

It's a really lovely song. A bit heartbreaking but beautiful nonetheless. I hope you can all listen to it.


Monday, January 14, 2019

A Short Flirtation With Online Dating

As a single woman in my 40s, I constantly get questions regarding my intention (or lack thereof) to get married and having a family of my own. I remember a friend of mine in the same situation saying that if we were given money for every time we were asked about it we would be rich by now.

To appease people who were “concerned” about my single status (as if it is a death sentence of some sort), I decided to try online dating. I have never been interested in the concept but I thought, “What do I have to lose?”

Photo Credit: Riala from Pixabay

First thing I tried: Tinder. I mostly swiped left, so I left (pun intended) the app. I later heard it was more of a hook-up app anyway so I think I made the right decision. I tried again later when I heard Michael Vartan signed up for it but gave up when I couldn't find him no matter how many times I swiped and paid to view users in Los Angeles.

Second thing I did was browse Plenty of Fish (POF). There was a guy in the UK that I had this crush on (twoscoops78, whose looks reminded me a bit of The Flash’s Rick Cosnett) so I decided to sign up. Unfortunately I had difficulty with the sign up process and gave up after several tries. By the time that I did get to sign up successfully the account was gone. I stopped using POF and later found out that I could not sign in – which led me to conclude that they probably have a feature that cancels your account of lack of activity.

I moved on to OKCupid, where I got tons of messages from guys who either thought that: (a) I was a woman desperate to be some sort of mail-order bride or (b) that I could be easily flattered by being called babe. Apparently my looks are very message-worthy to the African American contingent, as well as old, white guys who look like they have nothing else better to do than go on OKCupid. I did get to chat to a decent guy though: a male model who is currently living here in the Philippines who looked a bit like Adam Levine. However, I decided that one decent contact in three months compared to the dozens of creepy messages I got were not enough to keep me on the site. I deleted my account after that.

I tried to sign up with the new dating site that was advertised online called Diptyc. It was a difficult site to join because they had so many questions that you had to answer (some requiring answers longer than most dating sites) and at the end of it all your “application” would still need approval from other members of the site. I ended up being declined, as was another single friend of mine. A third friend managed to get the seal of approval but informed us that it did not live up to the standard that they supposedly had. Considering the approval process they had, you’d think they’d have a good selection of fellow singles there right? Apparently, that was not the case.

Now, after having tried four online dating sites, I have decided to give up on this concept. I am still open to meeting someone new and dating (as unlikely as that may be given how I’m mostly at work or at home), but online romance is probably not for me.

To my family and friends, sorry to disappoint you but I tried. As James Ingram (and lately, Manny Pacquiao) said: “I gave my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”

Eternally single person signing out.


Friday, January 11, 2019

Shopping When Adulting

I’m not much of a shopper. I am the type who only shops out of need more than out of want, which would explain my lack of proper wardrobe for going out (because I hardly do). When I do shop, I make a list then I’m in and out of the store as soon as I have completed getting everything on it.

It’s interesting to notice that now that I’m older my list of priorities of things to buy have changed. When I was in my 20s it was all about clothes, bags and shoes. In my 30s it was about makeup and gadgets (an odd combination, I know). Now that I’m in my 40s, it’s all about the home, which goes to show where my priorities lie these days.

grocery shopping

I can go crazy shopping for groceries. If I could afford more than my usual, I probably would buy more. My list is long, although I try my best to be practical and not go beyond my budget. But I don't just go crazy with the groceries. You can leave me at the department store’s home furnishings area and I could keep myself entertained for hours looking at bedsheets, curtains, kitchenware, etc. I’d be looking at prices, comparing products and checking to make sure what brands to look for the next time I need anything. My recent purchases have been for the home: bedsheet and pillowcase sets, a hot plate, a blender and curtains. I try not to go too crazy when I shop for these things but sometimes, I can’t help myself. I’m actually considering buying an oven next time (once my budget permits). I know that purchase will inspire a slew of other purchases for cooking and baking tools, so I am taking my time on that one.

The only difficult thing about buying things for the home is the fact that I live with my family. My mother, in particular, has her own set of preferences for home stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with so I sometimes hesitate with my purchases because I know that she wouldn’t like them and would most likely be stored somewhere in the house where I would not be able to use them (which is my mother’s M.O. when it comes to items she categorizes as not useful).   Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my own home so I can do with it what I want but that’s not likely to happen. I’m single and it’s just not practical to live on my own. If I ever get married (by some miracle) maybe then I could fill a home with the things that I like. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can with the family home.

There are so many things that I’d like to do for our house. There’s a lot of repairs that need to be done but apart from that, there are some items that I’d like to purchase for the house soon:

Solar Panels

With electricity prices being as high as they are these days and with the heat becoming worse and worse, I know we’d be needing to use more electricity to cool off when the summer comes. I’d love to buy solar panels that will help us to save on our electric consumption/expenses. I think it will also help when there are power outages from storms if we were to have a backup source of power like solar panels for our home. Unfortunately, these things are still too expensive for me but I am considering taking on a loan to make this happen. I’m still weighing my options but I’m hoping I can make this happen sooner rather than later.


My sister loves to bake. I cook as well, although I’m more the cook-when-in-the-mood type. I’ve been thinking of buying an oven to try my hand at baking myself, but I’m more interested in using the oven for cooking some of the recipes I’ve discovered online. Most of them need an oven so this is something I’d love to have soon. I’ve already gone to the mall to look at several models and I’m keen on buying something from La Germania. Maybe before the year ends. Or early next year. We’ll see.

There are a bunch of other things I’d love to buy like a new bed and mattress, a step ladder, a tea set, a wing chair (or as I like to say it in my head, my reading chair)…I could go on and on. It’s funny how my 20-something self probably would never imagine herself being crazy about things like this in the future. I can’t believe it myself and I’m the one with the huge home shopping list.

I can’t believe I’m finally going the domesticated route when it comes to my purchases. Am I a late bloomer for this? I wonder when other people started getting these shopping preferences?

Are you currently in the same phase or have you gone through the same thing yourself? Leave me a message and share your story!


Thursday, January 10, 2019

House of Flowers (A Review)

Binge-watching is kind of my thing. It’s easier to watch a series when you know all the episodes are already available, so you don’t have to wait another week for what happens next. I was looking for a new show to binge on when I discovered the Mexican comedy/drama called The House of Flowers (Las Casa de las Flores) on Netflix.

The story tackles the struggles of the De la Mora family that owns the flower shop, The House of Flowers. It all starts with the death of the mistress of the head of the family. She commits suicide in the flower shop and this triggers the series of events that forces each family member to face their own personal issues during the first season: Paulina, the eldest daughter, struggles with the need to be there for every member of the family to the point that her personal life is sacrificed. Elena, the second daughter, who is torn between the life she has built for herself in the US and deciding to stay home in Mexico for good. Juan is the only son who happens to be bisexual and has a secret relationship with the family financial manager, Diego. He finds it difficult to come out and when he does, for some reason he just can’t – for lack of a better term – keep it in his pants. Most important of all is the lead character Virginia, the matriarch of the family who is obsessed with the people’s perception of their family reputation.

I found the show highly entertaining. There was never a dull moment with the series. From the drag show/cabaret named after the flower shop, Paulina’s transgender husband to the nosy neighbor who falls in love with a stripper, there is always something happening with the family and the people around them that you can count on either for laughs or for some scandalous moments. I found myself watching the show with the original audio on – I felt that I could feel the emotions of the actors more from listening to the way they speak instead of being satisfied with the dubbed version. 

One thing that troubled me a bit was how the La Chiquis, particularly Ana, was portrayed. The character was blind and that was used as a comic relief for her scenes in the show. While the intention to be funny was something I got, I felt that some people would not be too happy to see a blind person portrayed that way.

Every character in the series was interesting to watch. They all had their quirks that made me laugh and made me interested in what happened to them. Everyone was a bit crazy – I think it was only Bruno, Paulina’s son, who was the closest to normal in that show, not that I mind. All the quirks made it all so entertaining to follow.

I thought that it was very brave of the show to tackle LGBTQ topics such as Juan’s being bisexual to the fact that Paulina’s husband, now known as Maria Jose, is a transgender woman. Let’s not forget all those drag queens in the cabaret version of The House of Flowers. I love how they were presented not to be funny or controversial, but to show that these people are represented. The lives of gays, bisexuals, transgenders are all part of our lives in this day and age and I am happy that they are shown as a part of normal life.

I heard that there will be a second (and third) season of the show on Netflix. I hope that they can duplicate the magic that they had with this first season considering that they pretty much closed the book on the story of the family with the first one. 


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Review: All Souls Trilogy

I first found out about the All Souls Trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness when I read about the TV series that was going to be made starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer. Being a Matthew Goode fan since seeing him on Chasing Liberty with Mandy Moore, I immediately looked for the books so that I could read them all before the series began.

discovery of witches

The first book, A Discovery of Witches, is about Diana Bishop, a witch who does not want to use her powers but unwittingly discovers a book called Ashmole 782 that all magical/supernatural creatures (specifically vampires, demons and witches) have been wanting to have for centuries.  She meets Matthew Clairmont (who I cannot picture as anyone else other than Matthew Goode to be honest), a vampire who takes her under his protection. The two eventually fall in love and join forces to understand the mystery of Ashmole 782 as they fight off the other creatures who are after the book. 

At first, I was concerned that the book would be another Twilight since Matthew also mated with Diana, but I found that the whole mating thing is the only similarity between the two. For one, there is more of a plot to this apart from the forbidden love between two different creatures. Another thing is that Diana and Matthew are both very strong characters individually and these personalities make their interactions with each other more interesting that it just being about their romantic attraction toward each other.

The second book, Shadow of Night, takes Diana and Matthew to Elizabethan London to further discover the secret of Ashmole 782. I found this book to be more interesting than the first one because it tackles Matthew’s background and gives readers a better understanding not just of his character but of the relationship between the creatures in the past and how it has affected the present. Being a bit of a history nerd, it was also a entertaining for me to read about how real life characters interacted with Matthew and Diana as they met them in that time period. I can’t wait to see this book come to life in the TV series! The scenes where Diana is learning to harness her powers is something that I will be looking forward to.

The last one in the trilogy is called The Book of Life, which is about the return of Matthew and Diana to the present time and their final battle against the creatures who are after the book and are against their relationship. In this book Diana finally embraces her powers and makes full use of it. With the first book focusing on introducing the characters and the second showing their backgrounds, this last one is a bit of an adventure as the characters lead a final battle to decide what the message of Ashmole 782 was all along. 

The series for me has been an exciting read and I would love to read more about Diana and Matthew in the future, if it is possible. I’ve read Deborah Harkness’ Time’s Convert which featured the two as supporting characters this time around, but I would still love to possibly read more about the two since the end of the trilogy showed them having kids (which could lead to more stories in the future if the author would be willing to do it). 

To me the books were about discovering one’s true self and embracing it instead of denying it. The trilogy was also about accepting each other’s differences and letting go of the prejudices we have against each other and coming together for the common good. Apart from the romance and the adventure, I think that it was those values/lessons that made the books worth recommending to everyone. 

If you think it would be better to just watch the series instead of reading the books, I’d recommend reading first before watching because there are differences between the two (because the first book was compressed to just 8 episodes). Besides, there is a certain satisfaction to recognizing scenes in the books as they are inserted/compiled together in the TV show. Trust me, if you love to read, you’d enjoy it better that way!


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Will Smith: Be Where They Let Your Light Shine

Last year I saw a video posted by rapper/actor Will Smith where he shared a quote by Rumi that goes:

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”

Will Smith then went on to interpret the quote in what he calls “the Philly translation:” We should not spend time around people who do not let us shine. He says that we need to spend more time with people who nourish and inspire us, thus “feeding our flame.” He continues by saying that the people that we spend our time with are the people who will make or break our dreams.

Always let your light shine...

I cannot agree more. I think that if people love you and care about you they will be there to support you and will let you pursue your dreams and will allow you to shine in your own way. I say this from personal experience. I was once in a relationship with someone who was always holding me back, telling me things that I should NOT do. What not to wear, who to not hang out with, where I cannot go…it held me back to the point where I did not know who I was outside of the relationship with that person. I did not know what I wanted until that relationship ended. I realized all I wanted was to discover who I was.To be who I am.  

Years later, I was in another relationship, this time with someone who gave me the freedom to be myself and to make decisions on my own. He may not have always agreed with what I wanted, but he gave me the freedom to decide and discover for myself if I made the right decision. It was a relationship that inspired me to be a better person. 

While that relationship did not last, what I learned from that relationship did. I learned that I deserved better. I learned that if a person loved you, that person will have your back, through the good decisions and bad. Since then I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have let my light shine. It doesn’t mean that they will always agree with me, but that they will be there for me no matter the outcome. For that, they will always have me as a friend in the same way.

It’s difficult to let go of friendships that we’ve had for years but I learned that there are some relationships that we need to let go of if we want to be better people. We cannot dwell or surround ourselves with negativity. It doesn’t mean that we cannot help those who are having problems, it just means knowing when to walk away when there is nothing more that can be done to help, especially if that person refuses to listen or accept it. 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and surround myself with people (family and friends) who believe in me and in my dreams and are there to support me as I attempt to achieve them. They may not always be around physically but I know that I have a set of people who are ready to help and support me when I need them. All the friendship and support helps me to pay it forward to others as much as I can.

I hope that everyone has people in their lives who help them to live their best life. People who help to make them the best person they can be. People who help them to hope and to dream. The world would be a better place if we all had each other’s backs that way. 

This year, I hope that we can all allow ourselves to be the best that we can be and go where we can best shine our light for ourselves and for others. It's the start of the year, now is the best time to be aware and do the right steps to make it happen!


Monday, January 7, 2019

Sharing My Love for Sam Hunt

To be honest, I can’t remember when I discovered Sam Hunt, I just know that I’m a fan. I’ve been a country fan for a while, listening to Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan on Spotify. 

I admit that it’s weird that I’m a bit (?!) of a country fan, even if that kind of music isn’t that popular here in the Philippines. The chances of a country star having a major concert here in the country is next to none (unless you’re more of a country/pop crossover star like Taylor Swift). The lack of the genre’s popularity is part of the reason why I’m surprised I became a country fan, with one of my favorites being Sam Hunt. 

I have been listening to Sam Hunt on Spotify for a while now. I’ve even had his songs downloaded on my phone via the same app because I enjoy listening to it so much. There’s something about how his songs can feel so laid-back and fun and comfortable at the same time that makes me enjoy them so much. His music has been credited with having elements of R&B and pop so that probably gives his music more of an appeal to me compared to other country artists.

I think the first song I heard from him is Take Your Time but after checking his music out on Spotify I discovered that there are so many songs of him that I enjoy more than that first song I discovered. I love a lot of his songs from his first album (Montevallo) but I enjoyed the acoustic versions of his songs more on his acoustic mixtape, Between the Pines. Everything just sounded and felt better to listen to as an acoustic version. It felt raw and more real (and more fun to listen to personally) because it felt like I was hanging out while he played music nearby. It’s too bad there was no acoustic version of Take Your Time though.

My favorite songs from Between the Pines are Raised on It and House Party (for fun music), Ex to See and Make You Miss Me (for those heartbreak tracks) and I Met a Girl and Come Over (if you want those sweet, romantic tunes).  There’s just something about his songs that take me to a different place. I enjoy listening to them so much! I sing along as much as I can but sometimes his songs can get pretty wordy or too fast that I fumble up the words while I sing along (listen to Speakers, Take Your Time and Breakup in a Small Town and you’ll know what I mean).

I know it’s a long shot to be able to watch Sam Hunt perform live here in the country but it sure would be an amazing experience if he ever did. Something acoustic like Between the Pines would be a great thing if I ever had the chance. I can imagine myself swooning to the slow songs and dancing along to the fun ones. 

From what I’ve read online Sam Hunt is working on his second album. I can’t wait to hear it. There have been a couple of tracks released so far but I’d love to hear the whole thing soon. I’m sure it’s going to be good!


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Top Songs for 2018

At the end of 2018, Spotify once again gave its users their personal highlights for the year. Like everyone else, I decided to check out the songs that the app has found to me my most listened to tracks for the year. I have to say, the list had a lot of songs that did not surprise me, but there were also several songs which I didn’t expect to be there.

One thing that I wasn’t surprised with was having Taylor Swift songs on my list. I’ve listened to her a lot in the past year, with her songs inspiring some of the writing things I’ve been cooking up on the side that I hope to be able to finish one day. While I can’t really choose a favorite from this list, the one song I listen to the most was the song she wrote with Sugarland called Babe. I can’t seem to stop singing along to that one!

There are other songs on this list that I can’t stop singing along to. I cannot listen to them without singing along in my head or humming along (or all out singing out loud to it). They come from different artists and different genres, but I love them all the same way. If I had to choose though, the one I probably sing along to the most would be a tie between Luke Bryan’s Play It Again and Wilson Philips’ Impulsive.

Apparently, I also listened to a lot of songs from musicals, given the fact that Falling Slowly (Once), Helpless (Hamilton) and Runaway with Me (The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown) were on the list, along with Hamildrops like First Burn and Found/Tonight. Hits from the movie musical The Greatest Showman also made my list. 

The surprises on my list made me wonder why they made it on in the first place. The Lonely Goatherd, for one, is on this list. I know that my nephew is a fan of The Sound of Music and this is one of his favorites, but I’m still surprised that I have listened to the song as much with him for the song to make it on the top songs for 2018 list. There are also several songs which I didn’t think I’ve listened to that much that made the list like Time of My Life (from Dirty Dancing) and I Miss You (Incubus). Weird. Maybe I play too much on shuffle and these songs happen to be the ones that get shuffled and played the most?

I’d like to think that there are a lot of songs on my list that people have not listened to that I could maybe recommend to other people. Songs that were not played on the radio or promoted as singles but are still worth the listen if given the chance. Here are some of those songs:

Slow Dance (Kelly Clarkson) – There’s something about this song that is just so sexy to me for some reason. I find myself smiling whenever I listen to this one.

Loving You (Paolo Nutini) – I actually like the live version of this song better but it’s not on Spotify so this will have to do. But if you want to listen to the live one, it’s on YouTube!

Be My Baby (Jocelyn Scofield) – People would be familiar with the older, more pop version of this song but I find this stripped-down version a better one.  

Speed Limit (Boyce Avenue) – One of my all-time favorites. The acoustic version is the best!

Raised on It (Sam Hunt) – This guy’s music is all so good but this one just reminds me of laid back but fun times hanging out with friends and family. 

I Bet (Ciara, Joe Jonas) – Didn’t think I’d ever like a Joe Jonas song but thankfully, Ciara helped me change me mind with this song. 

Loved (Lucy Hale) – Such a cute, sweet, country(ish) song about love. 

Don’t Wait (Dashboard Confessional) – Discovered this via Daniel Henney. It’s a song that doesn’t get old for me.

What made your list for 2018? Leave a message in the comments section and let me know!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Magic Breakfast with Ronan and Harriet

There was a time when I used to listen to the radio a lot. This was when I was younger and there weren’t any music streaming sites/apps that can let me choose the music that I want to listen to at any given time. When I found out that Ronan Keating (formerly of Boyzone and one of my favorite singers) was part of a morning show in the UK, I decided to give it a listen and I realized that if there was one thing that I missed about radio, it was hearing the banter from the radio jocks and the contests they had involving their listeners. 

The Magic Breakfast with Ronan & Harriet is a morning show from Magic Radio in the UK that airs every weekday from 6 AM. Here in the Philippines, that means that the show starts in the afternoon at 2 PM. Normally listeners from my side of the globe cannot listen to the show since it is supposed to be exclusive to their area but I’ve discovered that if you decide to stream online directly from their website and enter a post code from the UK to verify that you are from there you can have access to the radio station and listen from there. It’s a bit of an effort, but as a Ronan fan who was curious about how he is as a DJ, this was something I was willing to try. I hope they don’t revoke my access if they find this!

At first, I was only listening to the show because I was wondering if Ronan would mention if Boyzone will still be back for one last tour in the Philippines this 2019. They recently had their “farewell” concert at the Mall of Asia Arena, but they had mentioned they were considering giving one last show in 2019 so I was hoping I would hear confirmation of that on the radio show (no such luck though). After a while though, I found myself following the show more often because I was actually having fun listening to it.

Magic Breakfast started in 2017, with both Harriet Scott and Ronan Keating coming from other programs on Magic Radio before coming together for this program. I actually enjoy listening to these two together. Given the fact that they are on an early morning slot, the two have a lot of energy between them, which would help listeners who are trying to get a head start to their mornings. I love the banter and the jokes between the two, they are always entertaining to listen to. For me, 2PM is a bit of a sleepy hour at work so being able to listen to the lively repartee on Magic Breakfast helps to wake me up at work. I find myself enjoying the show so much that often I get surprised when they say that the show is over. I like the show so much that I get surprised at how fast time has passed while I was listening. 

As far as the music goes, I love that they don’t strictly play just the new songs that are out there. They also play a lot of older songs, mostly songs that I have grown up listening to. I love that. It’s a good balance of the new and the old music and I have to say, I love the songs that they select for the show every time. I also get a good laugh listening to the radio contests that they have because they often have a good laugh with their listeners when they do that. It’s refreshing to hear European accents for a change because most of what we hear in English here in the Philippines has an American accent.

I love it when I get to actually see these two interact via the videos that are shared on the official Magic Radio Youtube channel. These two are just hilarious together!

If you feel like listening to something different on the radio, you might want to check out Magic Breakfast with Ronan & Harriet on Magic FM if you’re in the UK (or not, please refer to the start of this post!). Give a listen and let me know what you think!


Friday, January 4, 2019

Scalp Acne Solutions

Full disclosure and probably TMI for some, but late last year I had a major problem with scalp acne. I’m not sure what caused it exactly. It could have been due to too much stress, hormonal issues or it could have been something else. When the problem broke out, it didn’t matter what the cause of it all was, all I knew is that I wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible. My scalp became super itchy and oily, my hair became difficult to comb/style because my scalp became painful to touch due to the acne and I didn’t know what to do about it. I’ve never had major problems with acne before, the fact that it was all on my scalp was a new thing too. I decided to search for solutions online until I found something that I could try and would hopefully (fingers crossed) work.

According to the world wide web, there were several things that I could try to solve my scalp acne issues. I went to some online forums and I’ve read some people suggesting that tea tree oil was effective, only that it should not be applied directly onto the scalp but should be diluted/mixed with something else. Another solution suggested was apple cider vinegar (otherwise known as ACV). Again, this is something that must be diluted rather than applied directly. One other common suggestion that I found was Epsom salt as a soak or scrub. At the time I was pretty desperate to get rid of the sudden breakout that I cut my long hair into a bob (yes, that desperate) then proceeded to give these online solutions a try. Here’s how I used my online research to make my own scalp acne solutions:

scalp acne solutions

Tea Tree Oil

I used a small container of shampoo (the tiny, travel-sized ones you commonly get at hotels, that size) and filled it with Head and Shoulders Cool Menthol Shampoo. I then mixed four to five drops of tea tree oil with it and used it as my daily shampoo. The menthol was soothing to my scalp and the tea tree oil is supposed to help with the acne and prevent further breakouts. It was always a relief to wash my hair with this mixture during those heavy acne days.

Apple Cider Vinegar

I mixed three parts water with one-part ACV and placed it in a container with an atomizer. Now this is the tough part: I sprayed this all over my scalp and massaged it on EVERY NIGHT. It smelled awful, to the point that my family commented that I smelled like sweaty dirty underarms (I know, TMI). Most forums and websites with this as a solution suggested letting it dry and keeping it on overnight but I couldn’t sleep with it on, so I decided to let it dry and then washed my hair after around 30 minutes.  As bad as the smell was though, I did feel it working on my scalp. I felt relief from the itching as soon as it was on. 

Epsom Salt

This is a solution that I used only a couple of times a week. I used a handful of Epsom Salt and mixed it with my shampoo, massaging it onto the scalp and leaving it on for around five minutes before washing it off.

With the three solutions to my scalp acne, my problem didn’t last long. I felt a bit of regret that I was too impulsive when I cut my hair because of it when the problem was apparently easy to solve. I had to suffer through around two to three weeks of all three remedies but after that, my scalp acne disappeared and has not come back since. Hopefully by sharing this, I can help someone else out there who has had similar problems and is looking for tried and tested solutions. 

A little note on these solutions though: it would be best to do some sort of test on a small part of your skin if you want to try these solutions in case you are allergic to anything that I’ve listed. I can’t promise that these solutions will work for you, but it could be worth giving a try if these are items that you are not allergic to. Best solution is, of course, to consult your doctor.

If anyone out there decides to try this, please let me know if it worked for you or not and if you have other solutions to this problem. I’d love to hear from you!


Thursday, January 3, 2019

A Late Bloomer's Review of The Crown Season 1

One of the things that I have always been fascinated with has been stories about royalty. I’ve read the books, watched the movies and TV shows related to royalty through the years, with most of my interest being with British royalty. For the most part the stories I’ve devoured have been of historical figures. Learning about the royal family that exists today and getting an inside look into their story (albeit with artistic license and probably partially fictional and speculative) is something that made the TV series The Crown appealing to me.

the crown
Screencaptured from Netflix

I’m a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to following the show. So far, I have only seen the first season (although this was released on Netflix in 2016) but I am looking forward to see the second one (because of Matthew Goode, who is also in one of favorite shows of 2018, A Discovery of Witches). 

Season one, which has 10 episodes, covers the early life of Queen Elizabeth II, from the time when her father became the King of England to her marriage to Prince Philip and her father’s death and her subsequent coronation as Queen. There is a lot that covers the adjustment that Elizabeth has along with her family to her becoming Queen. I found myself sympathizing with her when she had to make decisions that sometimes disappointed her family but had to be done because of her role as Queen. Choosing crown over family must always be a difficult choice to make for her. This season showed me the events that led to how and why Queen Elizabeth has been slowly changing and modernizing the monarchy according to the changing times. It was difficult for her in the early years of her reign and I understand why she is now making the effort to make it easier for her son and future heirs when they rule in the future.  

Claire Foy does a good job of playing Queen Elizabeth, as does Matt Smith as Prince Philip. I can’t imagine any other actors who could do justice to the roles as they did. The complexities of a royal life combined with that of a marriage was well portrayed in this series. There were several scenes that showed how challenging their marriage was in their early years, my favorites being the ones where they hardly said a word, but you can see on their faces what they were trying to say to each other.

Vanessa Kirby, who played Princess Margaret, is a standout in the show. I found myself rooting for the Princess no matter how bratty she sometimes got. She just stood out in every scene that she was in. I can’t wait to see her scenes with Matthew Goode, who is also an excellent actor himself.

As fascinating as it must be to be a royal, watching this show makes me think that I would never want to be in their shoes. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. As fancy as their lives could be, there are so many personal sacrifices that must be made with their lives as royals. 

While the show was entertaining for someone like me who is interested in the lives of the royals, I think that people who have no such curiosity would find the show a bit boring or dragging. Even in its most dramatic moments I feel like it was a little too tame…but that is coming from a person who grew up where it is common fare for shows like this to be overly melodramatic.

Hope I can find the time to watch the second season before the third one is released on Netflix. I want to catch up with this one!


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Book Review: One Day in December

Do you believe in love at first sight? That spark, that connection that one feels upon seeing that person who could potentially be “the one” for you? What if, even if you both feel that spark, life gets in the way and you don’t end up together? The book One Day in December is about that dilemma.

one day in december
Cover credit: Broadway Books

I discovered this book by Josie Silver when I saw Reese Witherspoon recommend it on her Instagram. It was a perfect read for the holiday season since Christmas plays a big role in the book, so I had to get a copy. I read the entire thing in two days and I loved it. I could not put it down!

The book starts during the holiday season when Laurie locks eyes with a guy while she was on the bus (and he was sitting at the bus stop). She feels this spark between them and even this guy stands up and attempts to get on to the bus (to try to introduce himself, most likely) but he misses it. For an entire year Laurie tries to find the guy because she can’t get him out of her mind only to find out during the holiday season (again) that her best friend Sarah’s new boyfriend is that very same guy, Jack. This development starts the complicated relationship Laurie has with Jack for the next decade. 

I fell in love with this book because the characters are all so relatable and they are portrayed in a very realistic way. Other authors, given the complications of their story, would have made these characters out to be overly dramatic. I think that in this book all of them are presented as people like you and me. People who are trying to do their best with what life throws at them even if sometimes their decision of what is best for everyone ends up being a complete disaster. There are no villains in the story. It was just about people sometimes making the wrong decisions or people in relationships who discover that they were not right for each other or that they have grown apart.

I loved that One Day in December tackled so many kinds of relationships: friendships, romantic relationships, platonic relationships between a man and a woman, parent-child relationships, marriage and families. It wasn’t just about romance. It was about the life that the romance was involved in and the people who revolved in it. 

The book reminded me a bit of Cecelia Ahern’s Love Rosie, where the two lead characters had strong feelings for each other, but each had their lives pulled in different directions. I also liked how, in this romance, it wasn’t all about the sex. I’ve read way too many romance novels where the bond and the relationship revolved around the sexual chemistry of the characters. With this one it was a growing relationship that was truly about each other’s feelings and how they cared about one another. The enduring love involved is something I can only with that I could have (although I’d rather have that enduring love WITH the person instead of each of us being with someone else).

One Day in December is something I would recommend for romantics like me. I hope that Reese Witherspoon can option this book and turn it into a movie because I think that this would be a good one to watch. I can picture Jack Turner (My Summer Prince, One Winter Weekend) as, oddly enough, Jack. I know that characters are presented well when I can picture them in my head, so Josie Silver did a good job of that in this book. 

If you are still on a Christmas holiday hangover and would love to have the feels, you might want to pick up this book and give it a read (and maybe give it as a gift for the next Christmas season).
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