Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dean's Wedding

Last February my family and I went on a trip to Tagaytay to attend the wedding of my niece, Dean. She's the daughter of one of my cousins from my mother's side. Her mother and I practically grew up together because we were always around each other so it was only natural that when she had kids, I got to spend time with them too. I can't believe that Dean, who is also my goddaughter, is now a married woman! Time sure flies fast, doesn't it?

The wedding for me was a can't-miss event. After all she is my goddaughter and she grew up close to my family...I think my youngest sister and Dean were also classmates way back in pre-school too. Normally I skip big events because I hate dressing up and traveling (and socializing, to be honest) but for Dean, I made an exception.

It was surreal to watch her walk down the aisle and to see her marry her now-husband. It feels just like yesterday when she was a little girl who just loved to smile and laugh with everyone when we were all together. She was just a little girl and now she's a married woman. The thought brought happy tears in my eyes, especially since she looked happy to get married. I may not be married or have kids of my own, but seeing the young ones in our family getting married makes me feel like I'm watching my own child getting married.

Dean's parents are no longer together, but it was good to see both parentals, who now have different significant others, getting along and coming together for this special occasion. Sometimes things don't work out, but it doesn't mean people can't get along. It was good to see that there are those who do.

I don't know much about Dean's husband but he seems like a nice guy. I hope he treats my niece with as much love and care as Dean deserves. I hope that they have God at the center of their relationship and that they will be able to have a family that is full of love for each other, for others and for God.

The wedding was not only a good day to celebrate Dean's nuptials, but it was also a good day to catch up with my cousins, who I don't get to see as often as I used to. When we were children up to our teens, almost all of us spent weekends together for Sunday family gatherings and summer vacations at our grandmother's house. We still try to get together as much as we can, but with almost everyone having families of their own it's not as easy as it used to be. It was good to have time to catch up even if it was only for a few hours.

There used to be a time when weddings made me wonder if and when I will ever get married. For some reason these days, I just don't think about that. It's not that I'm disappointed about being single or that it's a thought that I'm no longer open to, I just feel like it's an idea that I feel should not affect me in any way. I am OK being single but I am equally fine if I get married, as long as it is to someone who I would really want to spend the rest of my life with. But I'm OK being where I am now. Suprisingly, I'm good.

The wedding was good -- a little bit warm considering that we were in Tagaytay, but good. Just don't expect me to attend another fancy event again in the near future, I think I've had my quota of socializing and dressing up for the year. This provincial introvert would much rather stay home in bed either reading a good book or watching something on Netflix.

Friday, April 20, 2018

What Makes a Good Leader (A List!)

I just realized something today: on December 2018, I will officially celebrate my 20th year of working. I may not be in the same company where I had my first job, but I have been working for that long and it feels overwhelming!

As most young people do, I jumped from one job to the next during my early years and even considered being a freelance writer during those times in-between jobs when I sidelined as one. Once I found my current job however, I've stayed in one place. It's been 17 years in this current one.

Photo Credit:

Through the years I have had several bosses and I have learned a lot about leadership from them. Here are some of the traits that I've come to believe make up a good leader:

Accountability - I think that good leaders are accountable to the results of his/her decisions but also the result of the actions of his/her team. As a leader, the mistake of your team is also your mistake. A good leader takes responsibility for the actions of his/her team and doesn't throw anyone under the bus.

Decision Maker - A good leader is someone who can make his/her own decisions, especially during time-sensitive and highly sensitive situations. A team needs to know that they can count on their leaders to make the right decisions when they need it the most. 

Empowers Others - A good leader is someone who knows how to delegate to empower his/her team members to do important work without micromanaging them every step of the way. I like leaders like this who make members of his/her team feel like their leader can step away and they will be able to do a good job because he trusts them.

Approachable and Open - I think leaders always have to be open to new ideas, someone to can adapt to the fast-changing life we have today. They have to be approachable so that the members of their team can speak up when they have ideas of their own.

Coach/Role Model - The best bosses I've had were the ones who lived by example. The ones who served as mentors and role models and taught me by how they carried themselves in the workplace and how they coached me when I was learning the ropes. Great leaders share their knowledge and inspire their team to achieve what they have.They don't just sit down and order people around. They work with everyone else to reach their target.

Respect - A good leader must be someone that the team can respect and respects his/her team. There are leaders who can be enablers, the ones who pander to the needs and wants of their team -- I hate that. Pushovers are never good leaders. A good leader is respected enough by his/her team that when he makes a decision or acts on something, they respect that their leader is doing what's best because they know their leader respects them enough to do what's best for everyone.

I've been blessed to have had great leaders in my 20 years in the workplace. I have learned so much from them and I can only hope that others see me as a good leader as well. I hope that people I work with can and do learn from me too.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Jesus Christ Superstar

During Holy Week last month, I decided to restart a family tradition that we had when my father was alive: we watched Jesus Christ Superstar together. I think it's a good approach to getting the kids to watch something religious by showing something that was entertaining. It worked for my dad when we were kids so might as well give it a shot with the niece and nephew this time around.

My niece and nephews were introduced to the musical (the movie featuring Ted Neeley and Yvonne Elliman) and I shared with them my favorite memories of watching the movie with their grandfather.

I remember watching this movie in high school and having my classmates giving me surprised looks because I was quietly singing along in my seat while we watched the movie -- I couldn't help it because I have been listening to the songs on my father's record player and I've been watching the movie since I was a young girl!

I think the musical is a good way to retell the story of Jesus through a medium that many people would appreciate. After all, music is a universal language.

Every song in the musical is amazing, but my favorite would have to be Could We Start Again Please, sung by Mary Magdalene and Peter. I have always felt that it was such a moving song about wanting to have Jesus back in their lives when they lost him. I think it's something that I felt that anyone would feel if they were in the place of these people at that point in their lives. To be living and having Jesus with them in their lives and to have him taken away...the pain that the song conveys is just too good not to appreciate.

Recently a live concert version of the musical was performed on TV in the US that starred John Legend as Jesus and Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene. While it felt different to watch it as a live performance after being used to the movie for so long, it was still refreshing to see it performed differently.

I've read a lot of comments about how John Legend was not powerful enough of a performer to play the role of Jesus. I have to admit it was a bit difficult to take away the image of him as an R&B singer out of your head while you're watching him perform but he still did a good job. The only off thing I can say about him was that he has such a nice, sweet face that just didn't seem to fit the role, something that can't be helped because that's just how the guy looks.

As much as I enjoyed the live version, I still loved the movie version better. That will always be a classic for me. The voices from that version will alwasys be what I would want to hear for the songs in that musical.

I feel bad that the tour that was supposed to star Brandon Boyd and feature JC Chasez as King Herod did not push through, I would have wanted to see what that version would have looked like if they made it happen. I wonder if they can still make it happen now that they are considering a tour again.

Photo Credit: Jesus Christ Superstar Movie and Musical Official Facebook Pages, Pixabay


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Good Books to Read: It Ends With Us

I first discovered Colleen Hoover when I read her book Ugly Love. It was equal parts sexy, romantic with dramatic moments that moves you to feel for her lead characters. When she announced the release of her new book It Ends with Us, I knew that I had to have it. If you’re looking for good books to read, this is one of them.

book on domestic abuse
Of course, after reading, I need to write in a journal. Lily, this is your fault!

The Story

It Ends with Us is the story of Lily and the relationship she had with two men: Ryle and Atlas. To Lily, Ryle is the dream guy: handsome, wealthy, has a successful career (as a neurosurgeon, no less) and is the brother of the woman who eventually becomes her business partner and best friend.  But then there’s Atlas, the guy from her past. He’s her first love and someone she has known for a long time.

As with most triangles, just as Lily has established a relationship with Ryle, Atlas re-enters her life and complicates things for all of them. This starts what turns out to be not just a story about love and relationships, but about living with domestic abuse as well. Yes, I know -- spoiler alert – as much as I want to avoid mentioning it, most of my thoughts about the book revolves around that aspect of the story.

What Moved Me: Living with Domestic Abuse

What I loved about the book is that it was very sensitive about tackling the abuse that Lily had experience with Ryle. It wasn’t about just about the abuser being this evil manipulative monster, it was about a real person who had issues and problems that he could not control or resolve.

The story was also about someone who had seen domestic abuse first-hand and was now experiencing it herself, thus seeing what was going on from two different points of view. That for me was an eye-opener…to see the heartbreak from all these different perspectives gave me an entirely different opinion about what might happen in cases of domestic abuse.

I must admit that when I started reading the book, I thought that this was a typical love story with a little conflict on the side. But when the abuse started, when the book really got into the head of Lily and how she was trying to make sense of everything, I knew this was going to be different from the other books from Colleen Hoover. This was intense. This felt very real (and by the time I read the author’s notes at the back of the book, I realized it was real). I remember crying along with Lily because I could feel how much she cared for Ryle and how much she wanted their relationship to work. How she wanted to help him to change and how much she wanted him to still be a part of the life of their child.

Best Moments 

As much as I loved the character Atlas (who I seemed to picture as Chris Pratt the entire time I was reading the book for some reason), the best moments of the book did not involve him. The best moments involved Lily, her mother and Ryle.

The part in the book when Ryle found out that Lily was pregnant was heartbreaking for me. I could feel the conflict that the couple was feeling at that moment. There was conflict in how Lily wanted Ryle to still be in her life but at the same time she feared him and scared for their child. Ryle’s emotions and how he was processing the knowledge and love he was feeling about being a father and the remorse he had over what happened between him and Lily…that was moving. I could feel how they both wanted to make things work but at the same time they both knew they could not undo the damage that has been done to their relationship from the abuse.

I cried when Lily told her mother about her pregnancy and what happened with her and Ryle. The tears just started flowing when Lily’s mother opened up and told Lily that she should not allow the abuse to go any further. Knowing what she has been through and telling her daughter not to let the same happen to her…my heart just went out to them. If I could reach into the page and hug them both, I would have.

But the best part of the book for me would have to be the birth of Emerson, when Lily asked Ryle for a divorce. THAT made me cry like crazy. It was a brave moment for Lily to let go of Ryle knowing that she still loved him but she did it for their daughter. The tears and the realization that Ryle had of the pain he has put Lily through, something he would never want for his own daughter, that was moving. I felt for Ryle, I felt that he knew he had a problem but he just didn’t know what to do about it. I guess that’s why he never wanted to be in a relationship in the first place. I love that in the end, he took responsibility for it and accepted Lily’s decision.

I love how Lily chose to end the cycle of abuse that started with her mother in this way. That’s why the book had the title “It Ends with Us” … the cycle ends there.

I truly, truly loved this book. Out of all the books that Colleen Hoover has written, this by far has become my favorite.

Has anyone else here read the book? What did you think about it?

Cover Credit: Simon & Schuster

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Love for NCIS

I love watching TV shows. I watch a lot of shows, both new and old but there is one show (on family of shows really) that I have been loyal to from the start: NCIS.

I can still remember when NCIS was introduced through an episode of JAG in the early 2000s. From there to the pilot, I have been a fan of the show. I've seen agents (and bad guys) come and go but I've still been loyal to the original NCIS.

When the spinoffs NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New Orleans came out I decided to watch and give it a try. I've been a loyal viewer of both shows ever since (although I have to admit that I favor NCIS New Orleans more than LA).

Out of all three, the original is still my favorite. I've loved the characters they've had on the show -- the ones who have been there from the start, the ones who have left and the new people who have become a part of the team.

My favorite character, of course, is Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the leader of the team. Second to him it would have to be Abby (Pauly Perrette). The combination of these two tugs at my heartstrings every time they're in a scene together. They seem to have this father-daughter relationship that I find really sweet, especially when Gibbs comes into Abby's lab with a huge Caf-Pow drink and when he kisses her forehead when she's done a good job. I just love it!

Of course, as a fan of the show, I can't post about NCIS without mentioning Gibbs' "Rules." It's been mentioned in the show for as long as I can remember, I can't even keep count of how many there are already!

While some rules are more for investigators, there are a number of rules that I think people can also apply in real life. Time for some of Gibbs' rules people!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

#3 Don't believe what you're told. Double check. - In this age of fake news and whatnot, I think that this is an important rule to keep in mind!!!

#8 Never take anything for granted. - We are always in a rush with our lives, we tend to forget what matters, I think we can use this rule to remind us that there are things that we can't rush or set aside.

#15 Always work as a team - In a world that often emphasizes "self," we need to be more the type of person who works with others and isn't out doing things just for themselves.

#28 If you need help, ask! - Self-explanatory

#36 If it feels like you're being played, you probably are. - Trust your gut, it is almost always right.

#39 There is no such thing as coincidence. - Again, usually, this is true.

#45 Clean up your messes. - Take responsibility for your actions. Be the adult.

#51 Sometimes - you're wrong - Again, be the adult, we can't always be right and we need to be able to admit to that.

Is anyone reading this a fan of NCIS shows? Please let me know in the comments if your are!

Photo Credit: Official NCIS Facebook Page


Monday, April 16, 2018

Wanted: Doctor

One of the reasons that I haven't been able to blog much lately (aside from my recent writer's block issues) has been my health. I don't want to bore you with the details, but it's just been difficult for me to do much of anything these days apart from work because I feel tired all the time.

I'm not sure if it's the weather, if it's because I'm overweight or if it's because of my thyroid condition (or a combination of all three), but I am just so fatigued 24/7. It's such a struggle for me to get up and go to work because of how I feel. Just to get the strength to be professional and act like you're not feeling like you want to lie down in bed all the time while I'm at the office is exhausting in itself!

People tell me that I need to see a doctor but it's not that simple. I've been seeing a doctor who, for the past couple of years, has been treating me the same way even if I feel worse. I think this is common for a lot of people with thyroid disease. Just because the labs say that our levels are normal, it doesn't mean everything's OK. Unfortunately, I have a doctor who thinks that it is. I know that I am partially to blame for this because this doctor is a GP/Internist, not a specialist in my condition. But the thing is, it is so difficult to find someone in my neck of the woods who is a specialist. Honestly, I haven't found any in my area. The nearest hospital with a doctor with the specialization I'm looking for would be an hour or so and in the next couple of municipalities away. It's too inconvenient of a trip, especially with my fatigue.

Photo Credit from

As much as I would love to go see a doctor in the city, one consideration that I need to focus on is having a doctor near home and my place of work. If I were to have an emergency, I would like to have a doctor nearby who knows my history. Plus, it's not like they can take me to my doctor if there is an emergency if he was based elsewhere. With traffic the way it is, it's not something I can risk.

I wish that we can have specialists in this part of our province who can attend to the needs of patients here. As it is, the doctor I see always has a long line of patients waiting to see him because he is one of the very few doctors who people can go to.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that the hospitals and doctors here are bad, I'm just saying that there aren't enough specialists that people can go to. There are just not enough doctors. That's my issue with this.

I know I'm being a baby about this considering that there are still places where the lack of medical professionals is far worse but I just have to put it out there. I know there are many medical practitioners who opt to go to other countries where they can earn more and there are those who prefer to go into the more profitable side of medicine these days (cosmetic surgery) but I really wish we could have more doctors.

Not having enough doctors, particularly specialists in particular fields, is lacking where I'm from. Sure, there are cities or municipalities nearby where there are more than enough, but there are still places like where I'm from where we need more. Maybe our area is not as profitable, maybe there is not enough budget to make it work -- I get it, hospitals are still a business -- but I hope one day, it can happen.

I need a doctor!!!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Search for Soothing Sounds

Here’s the thing about me and writing: people seem to think that it’s easy, that it just flows out naturally when a lot of times, it’s not. Yes, there are moments when you get that moment of inspiration and you can write on and on and it will just keep going but for the most part, if it’s not part of your creative process or if you are not moved to do so, you don’t. You’re stumped. You have writer’s block and there isn’t anything you can do about it. That has been my problem for the past few weeks. I’ve been wanting to blog, and I’ve been meaning to, but the words just would not come out.

When I write about things that I am interested in, it can be easy to write. Will it be good? Maybe, maybe not…but it will not be a struggle (OK, maybe a little). But if I’m writing for work, if it’s about something technical or for business, I can get stumped. Maybe because it’s not really something I enjoy doing (even if I have to), maybe it’s because there is too much pressure placed on me by people who expect that I can do a quick and easy job of these things.

One thing that I’ve discovered that helps with writer’s block, especially when I am under time pressure, is sound. It could be music, it could be specific sounds that can help me relax and focus. I’ve once worked on documents for work that would have made me cry to finish if not for me listening to the soundtrack of Hamilton while I was working. Recently I’ve discovered several apps on Google Play that have helped me to get into a calm enough mood to write. While music helps, sometimes hearing songs and lyrics distracts me so I decided to give these sound apps a try:

Relax Rain – It has ads, but it doesn’t interrupt the listening experience unless you are changing sounds while you listen. You can pay P50.00 for the premium version that starts the app with your chosen sound and a sound menu list. Otherwise, you can keep it free and let it randomly select sounds once you open the app. You then have options to play a relaxing piano sound along with lightning sounds to each rain sound selection you can pick via arrows at the bottom of the screen. Each sound – the rain, lightning and piano – has different volume controls so you can have the right combination of sounds you prefer.

Among the sound setups you can use are (all self-explanatory, really): Under the Tree, Thunderstorm in the Countryside, Rainy Night with Crickets, Tropical Storm, Rain in the Backyard, Thunderstorm, Rain on The Tin Roof, Under the Umbrella, Puddles in the Country, Rain on Window, Hailstorm, Rain in the Gutter, Distant Storm, Light Rain at Night, Lodge in the Rainforest, Light Rain on the Windshield, Rain on Leaves, Light Rain in the Backyard, , Heavy Rain on the Windshield, Tent in the Rain, Dripping Water, Tent in the Thunderstorm, Wind and Rain, Inside the Car, Rain in the City, Inside the Motor Home, Rain on the Car Roof, Inside the Farmhouse, Morning Rain, Rain on the Skylight, Rain in the Forest, Rain on the Street, Strong Thunderstorm, Thunder and Music, Rain in the Park and Bungalow in the Rainforest. You can also select a time for the sounds, so that it will stay on for as long as you want as you don’t remove it from your screen display.

Nature Sounds – With this app you have the following sound options: Relaxing Ocean, Calming Field, Summer Forest, Waterfall, Mountain Forest, Windy Mountains. Evening Lake, Rain on Grass, Perfect Rain, Rain on Window, Thunderstorm, Calm Night, Warm Camp Fire. The app allows you to modify the amount of sounds for each theme. You can select music (piano, flute, chimes, cymbals), nature (fire, wind, stream, rain on leaves, rain, thunder, lightning), animals (birds, frogs, wolf). You can also set a timer for up to 8 hours to play the app. It’s a free app so be prepared for ads at the bottom of the screen. Unfortunately, you can’t use the app if you plan to use other apps on your phone or tablet because the sounds stop once you remove it from your screen. If you want it premium you would have to pay P43.00.

Rain Sounds – This app is probably from the same company that made nature sounds because the setup is the same. The only difference is with the selections of sounds: Perfect Storm, Rain on Window, Rain on Leaves, Light Rain, Evening Lake, Rain on Roof, Rain on Sidewalk, Calm Beach, Peaceful Water, Rain on Tent, Ocean Rain, Rainy Evening and Thunderstorm. There are more options for music and nature sounds with this app, but it also has limited animal sound options. The premium version of this app costs P49.99.

Just Rain -  My little nephew loves this app. It is exactly what it is called: just rain. You open the app and your screen has a visual of rainfall, which you can adjust to make it harder or softer and can be directed from left to right depending on your preference. My nephew loves playing with the app and adjusting the settings until he finds the right type of rain he wants to see. It can feel a little calming just to look at it when it is a little on the soft side. There are additional features for this app that you can buy for P52.00 but I think I like it just the way it is.

Sleepo – The app has a selection of themes you can choose from (Rain and Water, Nature and Forest, City and Household, Relax and Meditation), along with variables you can adjust to create the right combination of sound you prefer. Unlike most of the other sound apps, this will continue to play even if you remove it from your main display. It is also the most expensive to get as a premium app at P110.00.

Natural Fireplace – As the name of the app implies, it shows a natural fireplace effect on the screen of your phone or tablet and has the sound of a slow fire burning along with it. It has a built-in timer, but it has no other controls. Even if you close the app once you’ve opened it, the sound for the fireplace is still there, which makes the app a little difficult to close.

I think we all have our different ways of unwinding and relaxing and sometimes we try various things to see what works. These sound apps help me sometimes, but I can’t say that it is 100% effective all the time. Sometimes I put on a playlist from Spotify and that helps too. There are also other times when complete silence does the trick. It’s really up to you and what mood you’re in along with what you need to do. If any of these apps sound appealing, let me know if you give them a try – or if you’ve found something else that might be better, do share!

*Screen Captures from Google Play

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