Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Sunday Update 11: Week 2 of ECQ

Week 2 of the Enhanced Community Quarantine has come and gone. There are two weeks to go. Everything still feels so uncertain since the number of infected and deaths keep rising by the day. There is no definite word on whether or not this lockdown will end at the intended date. I can't blame the government on that since it is hard to decide when things keep changing everyday...unfortunately for the worse. I hope everyone is staying at home and keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.


My mother commented on something that gave me a little bit of an eerie feeling. She told me to listen, because it was quiet. Too quiet. I stopped to listen and yes, it was. It's like everyone is trying to wait and listen for when this is all going to end. 


As I've mentioned in my last post, I have been working from home. I actually like that I have been keeping myself busy since sitting still and being given the opportunity to think puts me in such a state that I don't want to be in. This past week it had gotten to the point of me crying in my room out of sympathy for all those in the medical profession who are fighting the good fight, for the people infected, the people who have passed away and their families who cannot even be with them. After that I found myself crying even more out of worry for my family and feeling helpless that I cannot be sure that we will stay safe throughout this whole thing. 

One thing is for sure: things will never be the same after this. Not for me anyway. I have found myself countless times wondering about the things that have been taking much of my time and wondering: does it matter? Now that we are all in this situation, do the things that felt important then actually matter when all is said and done?

I had a little panic attack this morning. My chest felt tight, my throat felt constricted and I was finding it hard to breathe. Naturally my brain went on "what if I have COVID 19" mode before I remembered that I haven't been outside in 2 weeks and it was highly unlikely that I have caught it anywhere during that time. 


This stress that I have been feeling is something that I haven't acknowledged much since the lockdown started but my body is starting to tell me that I can't hide from it any longer. I've been having rashes/hives that look like welts appearing on my body at various times of the day. With everything I've been feeling it would be nice to get some help and see my doctor but that this point I feel safer being at home than going out to a hospital. 


Spending time with my family has been one of the benefits of this lockdown. The fact that I am surrounded by them is the one thing that is keeping me sane, which is why I feel for everyone who is sick who can't be around family. I feel for the frontliners who -- even after they get home -- cannot be close to their loved ones because of the fear that they will infect them. 



Mornings have been my sweet spot this past week. I've taken to getting some sunlight on me while walking around our front yard or on our upstairs terrace (no matter how small it is) while I drink my morning tea. For two days straight I've seen two unusual sightings: one was an eagle (yes, I'm sure) and another was a bird I've never seen before that just perched on our gate for a few minutes. I don't know if this is a normal thing that I just never noticed before, but it was a nice thing to see.

I have heard people say that things are going to get worse before they get better. I hope that we can skip the worst and move on to the better...I hope that one day soon we can all step out of our homes confident that we are not putting our lives at risk. That we can be confident that being sick will not mean that we will be on our deathbeds.


There's nothing more that I could ask for right now than for things to get better. God, let things get better. 
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Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Sunday Update 10: COVID 19 Quarantine

Week One of Enhanced Community Quarantine of the entire Luzon area is over. How has quarantine life been for everyone?


Here in my neck of the woods, I can’t complain. Our area hasn’t had any confirmed COVID 19 patients and I am hoping that with the way things are being locked down that we won’t get one. The thought that the virus has not reached our area gives me and my family a little sigh of relief every day.  I'm a little concerned that there are still people violating the quarantine but I hope the local government can control that in some way to prevent the spread of the virus. My family and I have been praying the rosary daily, along with the Oratio Imperata recommended by the Catholic Church  (that we do three times a day at least).  Prayers go a long way, but I really hope that people all do their part too to make sure this doesn't spread. 

Since the announcement of the quarantine this past weeek I have been working from home. While our office is required to have a skeletal workforce present, I had asked for a work from home arrangement given that my state of health puts me at risk for the virus. It’s been very good so far. I have probably gotten more work done being at home than being at the office. I can’t explain why, I just am more productive for some reason. The only thing that delays my work is when I have to wait for feedback from other people from the office who are not so adept with the whole work from home thing.  Still can't complain. This is new for everyone and we are all trying to do our best with what we have and are taking things day by day.

While most people have either been bored, restless or have succumbed to that black hole that is Tik Tok, I have found myself enjoying the isolation. I guess being introverted has its advantages. Apart from the time I use for work, I have been using the quarantine to either sleep or watch Memories of the Alhambra on Netflix. After Crash Landing on You I found myself wanting to watch more of Hyun Bin, so I decided to binge on that other show. I just finished the entire season so I will post a review of those shows one of these days.


As someone at risk for the disease, I've been doing what I can to stay healthy. I make sure that I get some Vitamin D in the morning and sit out in the sun for a bit. I try to get some exercise on the elliptical or by shooting hoops with my nephews at our garage (more like trying to shoot hoops -- I only got 7 in about 15 minutes!). I also try to get as much sleep as I can and take my regular maintenance meds and vitamins. With the extra time I have at home, making this much effort to be healthy has suddenly become possible. It is so far from my whole "exhausted from work" mode which usually means I get home, have dinner and go to sleep only to go back to work again the next day (and the cycle goes on and on after that). Even my weekends used to be about decompressing from the work stress. This past week I didn't have that now that I'm working from home. Go figure.

I know a lot of people are ranting or raving (or sometimes both) about how things are being run during this period, but I try not to get too stressed about it. Something like this probably has not happened in a long time (or maybe it has never happened at this big a scale). While it’s disappointing to see how we are not ready for what is happening to us and it is alarming and scary how this virus is infecting people and taking lives, I think everyone is doing the best they can in the way they know how (even if that how can sometimes be misguided or have questionable motives). That being said, I also think it is everyone’s right to speak up for what is wrong to be corrected -- but we also have to do our part and cooperate (by staying home) to ensure that we can recover from this as quickly as possible. 

This quarantine has got me thinking about the things that matter. Considering how life-threatening this virus is, it does make me reassess the things that are going on in my life. Remember that hypothetical question, “What would you do if you knew you only had days to live?” Given how unpredictable this whole situation is, it does shake me up about the things that matter to me. It makes me think of which things should I focus on, which ones should I not put too much stock into and who I am as a person. It reminds me of the things (and people) that are important to me. It makes me realize the things that I truly value and the things that I should do with my life if I am given the opportunity to. 

Plus, given the varied reactions of people around me to this crisis, this situation is also showing me the true character of the people in my life. I’ve realized that not all of them have the same moral compass as I do. I’ve realized that some are way too stubborn for their own good. It can be disappointing if not for the fact that I have also seen people who have stepped up in this time of crisis. People who do more than their fair share. It gives me hope in spite of everything that things will be alright. 

One thing that just popped into my mind during this quarantine is how if this doesn’t end well for all of us, I would leave this earth without romantically loving someone again. I say “again” because the last time that happened was (prepare to be shocked) 17 years ago. Yes I’ve dated and I have had “relationships” in that past decade and a half or so but I can safely say that I have not loved in the truest sense of the word (for me) since that one person way back when. I would be more than happy to find that kind of love (or someone even better) if I could. I guess this is what the quarantine has done to my brain. I’m not bored, but I am feeling the need for a love life. Not just any love life but a love life with THE guy. I’m normally fine without one but these days, when my mind has too much idle time to think and the threat of a virus is always on the news, I find myself wanting that kind of love again, if it can still happen. 


I hope everyone is doing well in spite of the quarantine. I know there is a tendency to feel restless and stressed, but let's all use the time we have to do the things we've always found ourselves "too busy" to do. Read that book. Exercise. Spend time with your family. Take up that thing you've always wanted to try. Reflect, pray and use this time to reassess your life and plan on how to make it better. Let's try to make the best of what we have. We (you, my readers, and me) are all still better off compared to others who don't have enough to last until the end of this quarantine. We are not exposed to the virus on a daily basis like the brave and hardworking health workers who are taking this virus head on. 

We should all make the best of this and stay home, for everyone's sake.

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

My Not Quite the Bucket List

The thing about being in my 40s is that I tend to look back on the past decades of my life and wonder why I haven’t done enough with it. There’s so much I wanted to do that I’ve never done. No regrets though, since now that I am older some things do not seem as important as I had pictured them to be.  

This year, however, I want to try and do something about the things that I’ve always wanted to try that I always seem to put aside for work and other responsibilities. I guess with how bucket lists are a thing lately, I’d like to share some of the personal projects that I want to work on that are on my not-quite-the-bucket-list:

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

As I mentioned in a previous post, writing a book (or to be more ambitious, books) is something that I want to do. It’s the dream...I’m going to be working on that one this year. The big dream is to have those stories come to life in movies or on TV but that is something I will work on once I finish an actual book.  

Image by Jinali Parikh from Pixabay

Another thing that I want to work on is art. I used to dabble. I took classes when I was younger. I can’t say that I have the talent for it, but it’s something that I enjoyed doing. I used to do this during my spare time when I was in my early days of my current job, but I stopped. I’d love to be doing this again.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

On a related note, I’ve also dabbled in photography in the past. I’ve never taken lessons, but I’d love to work in it this year. I’d love to improve on this not just because it’s something that I’m interested in but also because it’s something that my late father was passionate about as well when he was younger.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

One of the things that I have wanted to do that I am currently working on is cooking. I’ve always considered my two younger sisters as the better cooks, so I’ve been insecure about my abilities in the kitchen. I’ve been dabbling with this from time to time, but I’d love to prepare a full-course meal for my family one of these days.

Image by photoAC from Pixabay

Gardening/farming is a frustration of mine. Everything that I’ve tried to plant has, unfortunately, died. It would be an understatement to say that I suck at it, because I do. I would love to try to do this again. I’d love to plant fruits and vegetables and produce something out of my garden. I have no idea where to start (since my previous attempts have been a colossal fail) but I’d love to take another shot at it.

Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Back in the day I also wanted to learn another language. I had been torn between French and Mandarin. The former being something I have always loved the sound of, and the latter just felt like a practical decision. At the moment I am more familiar with the former and I’m considering learning more this year if I can, even if it’s just with a mobile app since there aren’t any places I can go to learn where I’m based. 

The most ambitious thing I’d like to do is something that would depend on my doctor. Health-wise, I don’t know if he would be OK with it, but I’d love to take self-defense classes. I’d love to learn about filipino martial arts like kali, arnis, eskrima and things like that. These days, it’s not just a practical thing to learn but also a good form of exercise (if you are healthy enough for it).  

So much to do, so little time...what do YOU want to do that you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to? Anything you want to do now? Leave me a comment and let me know! 
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Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Sunday Update 9: Food Trip

The past work week has been busy, despite having a holiday. I wish that there were highlights in the work department, but I think that the high points of my week have always been with family. Since family is important to me and I don’t enjoy talking about my job that much, that probably isn’t that much of a surprise. 

My sister and her husband invited everyone to go and look for lomi in the municipality fifteen minutes away. We heard that there was a place that riders usually went to for food on their way to Batangas, so we thought we’d check it out. Unfortunately, when we got there, they had already run out of lomi so we had to look for other places to eat. It was too bad because the place seemed really nice with all their little huts and colorful lights. 


Luckily for us, we found another place not far from there that had lomi. They were just about to close but we were told we could order before they did. My entire family sat down for a lomi meal just outside of the store and underneath the stars. We got to enjoy the cool weather while having a warm and filling bowl each, which was actually pretty good considering the low price of P70.00. 


As I mentioned in a previous post, my family and I have also been making a habit of going out for coffee during the evenings. So, when we discovered that the lomi place had a coffee shop that was just nearby, we decided to go and try it out. 

The place was small but clean, and it looked nice. The prices of the coffee were lower compared to the one that we usually go to, but we also learned that they only served in one size (and that regular size was a little small). We also couldn’t get the coffee that we wanted because most of the ones on the menu ran out as they were about to close. We only got to order what they had left available. 


The coffee itself, according to my brother-in-law, was not as good as at our regular place. My mom, however, raved about the Mango Overload shake, which was a mango shake with pearls, graham crackers and cream. I had a sip of it and wished I ordered it too since my drink was plain enough that I knew I could do better even if I’m not a barista. I guess you can say the place was both a hit and miss. It was OK but it still had room for improvement.  



Later in the week, I went out with my sister and her family to do the monthly groceries. I love doing the groceries with my family because it’s a sort of bonding moment for me and my sister. It’s a time we can talk while we walk around the place. It’s also amusing to watch my little nephew walking around trying to help us out by carrying things and pushing the cart around.  Had a bit of a curious person moment regarding two young AFAMs we spotted that I also posted about on Twitter. I am becoming that old nosy Tita, that's for sure.

It’s another new month, I’m really hoping that this one is better than the last (which has been challenging on the work side of things). I’m also considering lowering down the number of posts I make on this blog and the rest of social media for a bit while I focus on my other interests. So, if you notice (?!) that I haven’t been active lately, it’s because I’m trying to accomplish my other personal projects (which inspire me now more than work has … maybe I should try changing professions?). 

Here’s to a great month ahead! 
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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Yaya Experience

Back when I was a child, I was one of the lucky ones who, apart from the attention of my parents, had a yaya (Filipino/Tagalog word for nanny) who took care of me. I think I have had several through the years. Some of them I only remember by face while some I only knew by their first names. Sometimes I wonder how they are doing now, and hoping that they are doing well. I wonder the same about the yaya of my cousins, who I also got to know whenever I went on vacations at their homes. 

A few years back, we got the chance to be reconnected with the yaya of my youngest sister. She was one of the lucky ones who got to go back to school and moved on from being a nanny. My sister even got to attend her wedding along with some members of our family. Thanks to Facebook, we have been able to catch up with her and her family, who we lost touch of after the wedding. 

My mother, on the other hand, recently got the surprise of her life when she got a message on Facebook from my Yaya Mita, who took care of me when I was still a toddler. My mother was so happy to hear from her and to find out that she settled back home to her province with her family and was now retired.  


I don’t really remember much about her, but I do remember her face for some reason. We managed to dig up a photo of her from my old albums and it was fun to reminisce about the days when my sisters and I had yayas when our parents could afford them. Those were the days! Our nephews and niece didn’t have that luxury! 

These days, it’s not easy to find a yaya. For one thing, it is expensive! How much is the minimum wage these days along with benefits and the required contributions? It’s not something we can afford anymore!  

It is also very difficult to find someone you can trust nowadays. How many times have I heard of yayas who would ask for advances then would take off and go home, never to return? How about those who would take the job, fleece the parents of their belongings and then run away? Or those yayas who team up with robbers to rob the family? Or those who actually run away with the children? It’s all so scary to think about! 

I’m glad that we were lucky enough to be from the generation when it was not as difficult as it is today. Either that or we were lucky with the ones we had in our family. It probably helped that we never treated them as anything other than members of our family. 

The thing about finding a good yaya is that they should have to be people who can commit to stay for a long time. It’s hard to have to get children to bond and trust people if they change every few months or so. They have to be people you can trust to leave your children and your home with.  I’ve heard such horror stories from family and friends and I’m just glad that I have never had to deal with that problem in my life. The people who have good yayas who stay are the lucky ones. Those are hard to come by! 

Being a yaya/nanny is not an easy job, and I am grateful for the ones my family and I have had through the years, particularly the ones that we had become close to during their stay with us. We may no longer be able to afford them, but I am grateful that we got to experience having them at some point because they were a blessing to have! 


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Monday, February 24, 2020

Three in One Slimming Wand Review

One thing that has frustrated me to no end is my weight. Since having thyroid issues, it has become difficult for me to lose it. In fact, I think that I have been gaining more even if I have tried to do the opposite. 

I have tried everything: low-carb, intermittent fasting, daily workouts (even twice a day ones), but the weight is still here. While I have found out that my belly is bigger due to uterine fibroids, it still doesn’t explain why I can’t lose the weight. I really don’t know who to turn to for help on this so at this point I am trying anything and everything as long as it doesn’t involve drugs or surgery. 


I recently bought a 3 in 1 slimming wand, which is basically a machine that can help you lose inches through electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), Infrared and Ultrasonic Cavitation. I’ve seen a lot of these online, some with really unreasonable prices and some that are crazy low. I decided to go midway and get one priced in between from an online shop called AlyBeaute.  

Before anything else, I have to warn anyone reading this against trying something like this right away. There are certain people who are not qualified to use it for health reasons. If you want to try it anyway, that would be something you do at your own risk. Be sure to be well-informed about this before you try it! Any information I share here is from what I’ve read online and I am not the authority on this type of slimming technique. I only go by what I have experienced! 

Priced at P3440 (including shipping and 1L of cavitation gel, the item was delivered to me less than a week from when I ordered it. I think it was three or four days after, which was fast given how long some deliveries in Lazada can be from my experience.  

The slimming wand came in a box that included the EMS pads and wires, the wand itself, an instruction manual and the power adaptor. The manual wasn’t as clear instruction-wise as I would have wanted, so I decided to check online for tutorials and eventually decided to use the Infrared and Cavitation feature at the same time for slimming, using the low range for my face and the high one for my body. 

According to most websites, cavitation uses ultrasound waves to dissolve fat cells, which are then flushed out through the body’s lymphatic system. I have tried this service at a spa once before and it did help me lose some centimeters on my waistline after just 30 minutes. I’m hoping this wand can do the same for me. 

So far, I’ve only used the wand three times since you’re only supposed to use it every three days. The body supposedly still does the job of flushing out the fat from your body during the break, which means you should also be helping it out with exercise, dry brushing and drinking a lot of water. 

I can’t say that I have lost inches just yet, but my skin does feel firmer from the times that I have used it. My skin ends up looking red after I use the wand and it feels a bit warm to the touch but apart from that I don’t really feel or see anything that could be an adverse side effect.  

I’m not expecting this to help me to lose weight, but I am hoping that it can help me trim off some of the fat that seems to be clinging on to me for dear life or at least keep my skin firm while I do what I can to lose the weight through other means.  

According to most websites, you need 8-12 sessions to see significant results if you use the wand 30 minutes at a time. I only use it for 15 minutes (you try massaging this for more than that and I swear your arms will be complaining) so it might take me twice as long to see my results.  

I will post again after 24 sessions. Hopefully the results would mean that this was worth my money! 



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Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Sunday Update 8: Birthday Week

Today is the first day of the last week of February. The last week already! To think just this past week, it was my birthday week and now it’s all over! 

This past week also marked the 4th death anniversary of my former boss/mentor. Everyone at the office misses him dearly. His leadership, strength of character and the way he supported his employees is unparalleled. I don’t think we will ever have a boss like him again.  


On our way to the cemetery to light some candles on his anniversary, we passed by the river which was part of our former boss’ dream for the municipality that I work in. It felt bittersweet to look at the river that is so near where he is interred and know that he never lived to see the day that his dream would turn into reality. It’s heartbreaking, to be honest. 


Moving on to happier thoughts, I celebrated my birthday the way I normally do: at home with my family. I never go to work on my birthday. It’s been like that for the past 19 years or so. This time, however, it was a little different in the sense that we opted not to go out or prepare food for the day. It was just a simple meal/dinner with the family. 


We decided to have a sort of “birthday platter” -- a version of the charcuterie/cheese boards that are all the rage these days. My version was a mix of fruits, cheese, vegetables, nuts and biscuits. I brought some to work the following day for the people at the office to enjoy as well. 



No birthday of mine, however, would be complete without the enjoyment of a little coffee. I spent some time with some work friends on a coffee break to celebrate my birthday. Another co-worker also treated us with a coffee break near the office after a work errand later in the week.  



As they say in informercials, “but wait, there’s more!” I bought some local coffee called Kape Maria this past week. There were four kinds, and at P215 for 200g I decided to treat myself by buying all the versions. I can’t wait to try the Amuyao version from Bontoc which is supposedly the strongest kind.  


Apart from the coffee, I also treated myself to some Gising Gising, a Filipino dish that I love but do not get to have that often. When I had the chance to eat it for lunch, I just had to have it! I missed the flavor so much! I really need to try and cook it again one of these days! 


Lastly, what would be a better way to mark my 43rd birthday than to finally give in and get a pair of reading glasses? I have been trying to deny the fact that it has been difficult to read without them for so long, to the point that I often use my phone to magnify text! Now that I have them, I can’t believe that I have waited so long – reading has been so much better now! 

How has your week been? I hope that it has been as eventful as mine was!   


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Monday, February 17, 2020

To 4 Decades More

This week I turn 43. Wow. That’s a big number. I look at old pictures of myself and I wonder how I got from there to here. How this little girl who was starting school at the age of three is now in a job she’s been in for almost 20 years. I don’t think this little kid knew what she was signing up for when she started her path to growing up! 40 plus decades of life...it’s been a wild ride. Something that I am grateful to have every single day that I am blessed with it! 


I have always been a sickly kid. I remember talking to an old classmate who still remembers the time when I got sick in elementary school where I had fainted (I could not remember, everyone apparently does though) and was hospitalized. I think that was a turning point for me. There were a series of tests and I found out that I had a heart disease. I had already suffered from asthma during my childhood so you can imagine how worried my parents were about me. I think they started being overprotective about my health at around that time. Their overprotectiveness made me a little paranoid about my life expectancy. I remember having an older cousin die early (in his 20s) and being scared that my fate would be the same too. That I would not live beyond my 20s. 


Back in high school I was exempted from PE. I was also exempted from CAT (Citizen’s Army Training, if I’m not mistaken) because of my health issues. It was frustrating because no matter how much I wanted to try to fit in and try to do things that the healthy kids do, my parents would talk me out of it (and present the school with a medical certificate to back them up). I may have rebelled a bit by becoming a dancers in high school and a cheerleader in college without my parents' knowledge but I had to give it up later on when all the work started to affect my health. At least I didn’t get an “I told you so.” 


The early 2000s were good to me health-wise. My previous jobs were in marketing and it required a lot of late nights that led to early mornings at work, something that probably did not suit a person who was not as healthy as everyone else. However, I think that I was at my best physically when I quit my marketing job because I didn’t get as sick as often as I used to. I could have helped that I had moved to the province (less pollution and traffic) and that I was eating healthier (at the time fast food was nonexistent where I had moved).  


Still, some good things never last. I was diagnosed with a thyroid disease and had a bit of a cancer scare. There were growths on my thyroid that had to be removed via surgery (along with most of my thyroid). Thankfully, tests showed the growths were benign, but that was the start of my struggles with my weight. Managing my thyroid levels post-surgery had its challenges and to this day it’s the weight issue that has been bothering me the most because it has led to other issues such as bone loss (which has caused me to lose a couple of teeth), diabetes and complications with my heart condition, among other things.  

Most recently, I discovered that I had several growths in my reproductive area. Uterine fibroids. They were small, but they were a lot and this was what was causing me to have a large belly. The doctor said my uterus has become big enough for someone 4 months pregnant because of it. I’ve been told there is nothing to worry about, that it is something that disappears during menopause. That surgery would only be necessary if there was any pain (there is none). Still, the possibility of surgery is looming in the air. I’d rather not have another one if I could. 

With every health issue that I’ve had, every day is an extra day of life for me. I feel that every day is the bonus round. I have had so many health issues that could have taken me off this earth at any time but I am still here, and I am grateful for it. I hope to have many more days and years to come. I want to see my nieces and nephews grow up, graduate from school, get jobs and have families of their own. I want to publish the books I am writing. There is so much that I still want to do. I wouldn't mind 4 decades more with the people that I love.

To anyone reading this who has not had health issues like mine: make the most out of it. There are people like me who wish that we could be like you.  For the rest who are like me, let’s do what we can to make the most of what was given to us. Let us appreciate what we have and work around it so that we can have the lives we want and deserve. 

As they said in the movie Dead Poets Society, “Carpe Diem! Sieze the day! Make your life interesting!” 










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Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Sunday Update 7: Coffee Nights

Another week of February has come and gone. I can’t believe how the time is just blazing through this year. Just this past week alone has gone by so fast that I hardly even knew what I did before it was over.  

Work has been a lot for me, as usual, but I have been trying to balance it out with other things just so I don’t get too stressed out. I signed up for Audible and I’m on a trial period right now, listening to the book P.S. It’s Always Been You by Lauren Blakely as narrated by Andi Arnt and Scott Eastwood (yes, the son of Clint Eastwood who starred in movies such as The Longest Ride, Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim Uprising and The Fate of the Furious). So far, it’s been a good book to listen to while I’m on the road for work. I hope I can finish soon so I can listen to the rest of the set (apparently it’s a set of three books about the two lead characters from the first one). 


For the past couple of nights my family and I have been stopping by a coffee shop in town. I never thought I’d say this but there is such a thing as a coffee limit. All the coffee I’ve been having at the office PLUS coffee with the family in the evenings have been taking its toll. I ended up just ordering a lemonade during our most recent visit! I realized that I actually have a limit and I can’t take any more coffee after that! 


Valentine’s Day has been uneventful. Apart from the flowers from our Board Chairman at work (which I am grateful for, really), the day has not been a special/romantic one. Oddly enough when I look back, I have never had someone special during this day – ever. Not even when I was in a relationship (to quote Ross Geller: We were on a break!).  It’s weird. I decided that since it has always been that way that it was time to treat myself for Valentine’s Day: I ended up shopping for skincare products online (which I will be reviewing on this blog) and shopping for treats for my planned movie marathon during the weekend. Selfcare is the key word here – as Mama Ru Paul says, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” 


Movie marathon weekend has been good. I ended up watching a total of 9 movies, with 7 being of the romance category. Most of the romance movies I watched were from back when I was younger. Watching them again made me realize that while I loved them before, some of them don’t hold up now that I’m older. They just aren’t as good as I thought they were when I first saw them. Thankfully though, I realized that there are a couple that can still be counted as my favorites, such as Something Borrowed (based on the book by Emily Giffin). That one still tugs at the heartstrings for me, even after all these years! I am still holding out hope that they will make Something Blue (the sequel to the book) with the same actors! 

All the movies that I’ve watched have also inspired a blog post that I’ll write soon...can’t go into too much detail but I hope that people will appreciate that one as much as I would researching for it.  

We are halfway through February! I turn 43 this coming week! Here’s to a good week for you and a good 43rd year of life for me! Let’s make it interesting! 
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Friday, February 14, 2020

My Stay at Seda Hotel Nuvali

My family and I have gotten into the habit of going on staycations these past few years. We started with Tagaytay’s Taal Vista Hotel then moved on to Summit Ridge Hotel and Twin Lakes Hotel. It’s not easy planning a vacation for a huge family. Everyone is looking for something specific in the hotel we want to stay in. We want to be in a suite together or at least be in adjacent rooms. The hotel needs a pool, a gym, spa and a good restaurant to satisfy the needs of everyone on the trip. The rooms need to have a bidet in its bathroom, along with a tub. We prefer a hotel near restaurants or tourist spots we can visit. Most importantly, we prefer hotels with good service and clean rooms. 



For our recent stay over the holidays, we decided to stay at Seda Nuvali in Laguna. We made a reservation for an overnight stay for 9, booking three deluxe rooms for our family. When we got to the hotel to check in, we weren’t able to get all the rooms right away. Check in was at 2PM but we got all the rooms a little after 4PM. The hotel compensated by allowing a late checkout and upgrading one of our rooms.  



As soon as we were settled, we roamed around until we found the game room, where there were TV sets, computers for gaming and a Playstation with some games. It was a large space and we were the only people there. I think this was because it was mostly in a hidden area that you wouldn’t notice unless you went roaming around after the pool area. There was also a play room for children, but we weren’t able to look inside.  

Our rooms had a lakeside view, as we had requested. We were hoping to see the light show next door from our windows but it turned out you needed to be facing the show itself to appreciate it. We opted not to go downstairs to watch it since there were too many people (and I am not too good with crowds). 

What I enjoyed about our stay at this particular hotel was that their shuttle service was very convenient for going around the Nuvali area, where there was a wide selection of stores and restaurants. We all went out for dinner and all we had to do was get on the van to take us wherever we wanted. All the guests can use it but for some reason no one was using it that night. Once we were dropped off, all we had to do was make a call to the hotel for the van to come back to pick us up when we were ready. 


During the time of our stay, renovations were going on in the hotel. I think they were constructing an extension of their existing building to accommodate more rooms so their gym was smaller than usual and their spa was temporarily closed. They did, however, have in-room massages available for interested guests, something that my mother and I took advantage of.  

The breakfast buffet at the restaurant was good. I liked that it was not too big a selection – sometimes some hotels have such a range of food that you don’t know what you want to eat anymore and I personally don’t want to be stressed out about what I want to have for breakfast. Their selection was just right and the food was good.  

My family had a pleasant time at Seda Hotel Nuvali. When we were checking out, I actually wished that we could have stayed longer than we had planned. Maybe next time we will! 
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

February Playlist: Writing the Dream

Writing is the dream that I want to reclaim this year. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have several story outlines on hand that are waiting to be written. I thought that for my playlist this month, I’d share some of the songs that have either inspired me in my writing or evoke the feelings that best represent the stories that I’m trying to finish.

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
I want to share the songs without sharing too much of the stories that I am planning to write. I hope that the songs can give you an idea of what I am trying to accomplish without giving too much away!



One of the stories that I have pending is tentatively titled Catch My Breath, from the song of the same name by Kelly Clarkson. When I was writing the outline for this story, I heard the song and immediately thought that this was the exact theme of my lead character’s journey. As time went on, the songs New Year’s Day and Delicate by Taylor Swift also fit into the concept of my story.  

If there is one thing that I can share about the book I intend to write involving those songs it’s that I intend to feature my grandmother’s hometown of Maragondon, Cavite in the story. I hope that it can be a love letter to the town in a way and that it could inspire the people who read it to give the place a visit! 

A romance novel (or novella, depending on how things go) that I also want to write that involve the songs Perfect by One Direction plus Cruel Summer and Getaway Car by Taylor Swift. While the first book is also a romance featuring one place in particular, I think that this one is something that is of a steamier variety that features more than one spot in the country.  There’s really not much more I can say about it than that! 

For my next planned book, I outlined a romance with a bit of an age gap between the characters. The songs that really fit into the concept of this particular story are the songs Slow Dance by Kelly Clarkson, If I Don’t Tell You Now by Ronan Keating and Pill for This by Sam DeRosa. It’s a story about love, growth and moving on from personal setbacks.  

There is this other book I mentioned in my previous post about a historical novel from the Japanese Period here in the Philippines. I had the idea back when I was in college and it is something that I am having difficulty writing because I’m trying to find the line where I can write something fictional without stomping over the significance of the actual events and people involved. For this one, the songs Isa Pang Araw by Sarah Geronimo, She Moves Through the Fair by Boyzone and Iris by Ronan Keating were the songs that I felt spoke about what I want the book to feel for people reading it.  

Another book – or should I say series of books – that I have had an idea for since a decade or so ago is partly romance but is also action fantasy. It’s the series that I hope one day can become a movie or TV series like Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters series. That is the dream, that is the goal. The songs My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark by Fall Out Boy, Take Me to Church by Hozier and The Heart Wants What It Wants by Selena Gomez are some of the songs that remind me of this story. 

One book that I am trying to finish my outline for is more of a drama than a romance, although admittedly this is about two people who are in love. I don’t want to go into detail but I think the songs speak for themselves. They would give you an idea of what the concept of this is about. The songs for this one: Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato, Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rihanna and Beautiful Trauma by Pink. 

There’s this idea for a suspense thriller that I want to write, this one is more of a concept but the outline isn’t complete yet so there’s not much to share. The songs that remind me of this story are the songs You’re the One That I Want by Lo Fang, I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Scott Matthew and Adore by Jasmine Thompson.  

Most of the stories I plan to write are a bit on the heavy side, so I have a couple of ideas that I hope can be lighter fare. Both are romance, but also with a bit of a comedic side to it (hopefully). The first one was mostly inspired by the song Black Magic by Little Mix, but I think that the songs Paper Rings by Taylor Swift and I Hope I Don’t Fall in Love with You by Tom Waits also fit with the events of my outline well.  

Lastly, there is this story inspired by the song Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Buble that I also have an outline for. The songs Don’t You Wanna Stay by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson and Not A Bad Thing by Boyce Avenue also remind me of this story. Again, no details, but I hope the songs give you an idea of what it could be about. 

What do you think of this playlist? Do you think the songs would make you want to read my books when I finish them? 
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Monday, February 10, 2020

Writing the Dream

The one thing that I always wanted to be since I was a little girl was to be a writer. Specifically, to be an author/novelist. When I was in grade school, I was obsessed with Nancy Drew books and I remember I used to write mystery novels in notebooks back then with a Filipina lead/local version of Nancy Drew. I remember I even wrote in a story where the lead uncovered a major drug smuggling operation. It’s too bad I never kept those notebooks! 

As I got older, I started writing romance stories, again in notebooks. One story that stood out for me was a fan fic about a version of me and NKOTB’s Joey McIntyre. I don’t think fan fics were a thing back then, but I was already writing them. Again, this was something that I didn’t keep, which is too bad since I really liked that story. I remember showing it to an older cousin of mine who told me that I really should be a writer.  

When I was in college, I had this idea for a historical novel based on the Japanese period in Manila. I remember sharing this with a friend who made me promise that she would be the first to read it when I published. I started doing research for this but never got around to writing it, even if I do have an outline already. 

In the early years of the new millennium, I also had ideas for a series of books – an action/ fantasy/ romance along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Alias. Later on, I started having ideas for other books, this time for romance novels. Most of the books already have outlines while some have plot ideas written down. It’s frustrating that I can tell anyone the whole story off the top of my head but I can’t seem to write everything down.  Whenever I start, I tend to overthink things and end up writing and deleting things over and over, ending up with nothing.  


I’ve been learning a lot about writing novels, particularly romance ones, from books and from people – particularly from the Romance Class group that I have joined on Facebook. That group is filled with amazing writers who have published works that people read and enjoy all over the world. One day I would love to be one of them. 

I’m hoping that this year can be the year that I finish at least one book. I’d love to write more than that but considering how much I am both blocked and procrastinating over this just having one completed book would be an achievement. It is a dream of mine to have my writing published, and in these times where self-publication is now possible, I really don’t have any other obstacle now other than myself. 

It might be a far-fetched dream that I can become a successful writer who can earn enough to just concentrate on writing but it is the goal. I’d love to have books that people would love to read, recommend and produced into movies or a TV series, somewhere along the lines of Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches), Melissa Dela Cruz (Witches of East End, Descendants) and Cassandra Clare (Shadowhunters).  

It’s hard to write these days with work and home responsibilities. Add to that having to manage chronic illness that comes with aging...it’s a challenge. I just hope that it is a challenge that I can overcome this year. It’s never too late to start living the dream. I am crossing my fingers that this is the year that I finally make it happen! 


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Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Sunday Update 6: Davao

If I can give one word to best describe what the past week has been for me it would have to be this: exhausted. 

This past week has been all about a trip to Davao for work to attend an industry-related convention with my boss and our directors, along with a couple of other co-workers. It was a trip that I was dreading for several reasons, one of these being my fear of flying. While I have traveled by plane several times, it has always been something that causes anxiety for me. I don’t talk about it much since it makes me even more anxious before a flight but I am often flooded with my fears when I am in an airport and on a plane. It takes all of my self-control not to show any panic and to try to look normal, which is part of what makes the trip exhausting for me.  



It has been almost a decade since I was last in Davao and there were several places that I wanted to visit during the little free time that I had. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for me. The only place that I planned to visit that I got to see again was the San Pedro Cathedral. It was actually closed when I got there, but at least I got to stop by. 




Another spot that I got to see was the area around the city hall, where we spotted Mayor Sara Duterte leading the blessing of several government vehicles. There was a park in the area where I managed to get some shots in to remind me that I was in Davao (since the rest of my photos were in areas that could have been anywhere). 


As with any touristy trip to Davao, my group went out during our first night in the city to eat durian. It is still as good as the last time I had it. I know it sounds weird, but I find that the smell of durian practically nonexistent when I eat it. The sweet and creamy flavor is still so good after all these years. 


On the last day of our convention, we got to see, meet and listen to Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. He was very nice and charming. I will not be surprised that with all the hype surrounding this guy that he will be convinced to run for a higher office in the future. With the changes he’s done in Manila, I do not doubt that people will support him when the time comes. 

I don’t know how other people do it, but after a late flight back that meant getting home before midnight, I was still feeling exhausted when I reported back for work the next day. I managed to get some work done, but I ended up going home early because my body was practically begging to crawl back into bed. Those people who frequently travel for work probably have superpowers, I can’t imagine doing this on a regular basis!

Exhaustion aside, I did learn something about myself during that work trip. I was talking to an old friend from college about the job offer that I recently got: it was for an international company that was also in the same industry. The salary was way, way, WAY higher than what I am getting now and will give me the opportunity to help lead their local office. My friend, who from what I have learned was in a higher position in the industry as well, wondered why I turned down the position. I replied that as tempting as it was, I didn’t think that I could replace a life surrounded by people that I love with a job that may give me a higher status and pay but would take me away from all that. I realized, as I was looking at the corporate people at the convention who had higher positions than I did, that even if people thought I could do the same, it just was not me. That something that I can do and something that I want to do are two very different things. Just because I can do something it doesn’t mean that it’s something I have to do. At this stage in my life I’m realizing that I’d rather have my heart rule over my head when it comes to my career. Life is too short to regret not spending time with the people that I love over a career and money.

I’m glad this week is over. I’m happy that the weather has been cold (my favorite kind) and I’m able to spend time at home resting and recovering from this past week. I’m taking the time to sleep and lounge around my room – a literal Netflix and chill existence/weekend. 

Hope everyone had a great week! Valentine’s week up ahead! Bring on the romance! 
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