Monday, June 25, 2012

Adult Talk

When your parents finally include you in the decision-making process, then maybe they have already regarded you as a grown-up.

So one afternoon, my sisters with my dad drove to the "retiring house." When my sisters and I saw it, dad immediately asked, "okay ba?" (Is it okay?)

I am seeing boisterous laughters and happy, happy conversations in this place. After all, it doesn't feel like a retiring house, but a family's house. We will surely create new memories here, together.

I can't wait to live here too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gastronomic Escape: Nando's

It was the only weekend I have before my short trip to Manila and my suitcase still have nothing inside yet. Headed to Johor Bahru for some shopping for my family but ended up eating at Nando's.

We usually come to JB to eat steak at Stonegrill but we were very experimental and we wanted to add a new favorite on our list. When we saw Nando's, we were already attracted by the ambience, very-well presented marketing materials, and yes, good copy. Did I say I am so much enticed with something that is very well written and presented? The power of advertising really works for me, even if I've been breathing it all my life.

Nando's is a Portuguese restaurant which is a home to their flame-grilled peri-peri chicken. You can choose your chicken from herbs and lime, to mild, to hot, to extra hot! Their sidekicks are all looking good! We had three sides: Peri-peri chips, Mediterranean rice, and coleslaw. Their sauces range from your normal tomato ketchup to their very own garlic peri-peri, hot peri-peri, and extra hot peri-peri.

As I type this, I'm still thinking of how good it was. Definitely coming back! What diet? :P

Good advertising makes a lot of difference!
Sauce all you can!
Two thighs, Peri-peri chips, Mediterranean rice, coleslaw and drink-all-you-can iced lemon tea FTW!
True! Gotta try it for yourself!
You can take home some of these sauces too!
We should have ordered another chicken instead. This chocolate cake is blah!
City Square Mall
Lot MB-07, B1, Johor Bahru City Square (Jalan Wong Ah Fook), Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia 80400

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I called home last weekend, like most of OFWs usually do.

Mom told me that dad finally bought the house that they wanted to retire in. It was 250sqm big, with zen interiors, marble flooring, a nice garden, with a bath tub at the Master's T&B. The neighborhood is nice, and the subdivision is safe. Houses around the area are elegantly built.

I got so excited to finally see it. I was even telling mom that it is near the airport so whenever they pick me up, the travel time won't be too long. I can do my gardening. The kitchen will be just nice for my cooking and baking.

But after the phone call, I realized that it won't be OUR home. It will be THEIR home. Just for the two of them--the place they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Not with me. Not with my two other sisters.  I got a place in Caloocan, and might probably live there once I get tired of living in a foreign country. My sister got a condo in Mandaluyong and might live with my nephew since it will be near his school. My youngest sister might inherit the place in San Mateo which my mom and dad bought since we were young.

And that house, my childhood home who took care of me since I was born will soon be just a memory. It was that home which witnessed our growing years, our happy times and even sad ones. The laughters that echo in that little house will only be reminiscent of my younger years. I have yet to say goodbye to every nook of it. I am praying that I will have the privilege of seeing it for one more time.

Growing is tough. Accepting changes are tougher because it makes a person more attuned to reality.

Now that my sisters and I are all grown up, with different careers and responsibilities to take on, my mom and dad can finally think about themselves. After all these years of toiling for our good education and ample food on our table, they truly deserve a life that we took from them when they were still lovers.

It will take a lot of getting used to with these changes. Oh well. My parents are assured that they have my blessings. They can finally "settle down."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Journey Inside

I never liked idle time. Whenever I am into one, I feel like I don't have purpose anymore, and I might as well die. So, I make sure I am doing something -- read a good book, browse through tutorials on how to properly sew a dress, or in this case, draw.

I have never held a pencil and a drawing book for the longest time. Whenever I do, I end up doodling and never finish an artwork. But yeah, my artworks are never finished. Even in my college years, whenever I see my finished paintings, I still dab a few strokes of my paintbrush. They are never finished even when everybody knows they are. It's always a work in progress.

Today, I bravely flipped a new page of my drawing book and started to draw myself. As far as I can remember, I've never tried drawing a self portrait. There's a kind of fear in me whenever I attempt to draw myself. But today, I wanted to conquer that fear. I drew myself.

During the whole drawing process, I learned to know myself more. Maybe it's true that whenever artists draw their self portraits, they are having a different kind of connection with themselves and they become more aware of their inner selves. I was able to succumb into that kind of feeling. I enjoyed every moment of it.

When you want to go into a journey, travel inside you. There are a multitude of things waiting to be explored and realized. It will surely be a memorable one.

I may have more of this kind of pilgrimage in the coming days. It feels good to know myself again.

Self Portrait
24 May 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Sweet Weekend at Cameron Highlands

Even with my terribly busy schedule, I try to make time for myself to travel. Otherwise, I'd surely be feeling bad for not looking forward to anything at all.

I once closed a work-related deal with one of the group-buying sites in Singapore. It seems that their company is quite fine so I tried booking a travel deal which is relatively cheap.

So there, Cameron Highlands. It is located at the northern part of Malaysia, farther than Genting. It is quite relative to the Philippines' very own Baguio City. It's further up north, cold, with a very rich soil good for planting, thus, beautiful flowers that bloom all over, one of the biggest tea plantations, strawberries and lots of organic vegetables.

It's a 10-hour long coach ride from Singapore. Left Friday night, and reached Cameron Highlands the following morning. We went straight to the tour which includes visiting strawberry farms which allows strawberry picking, the awesome BOH tea plantation which we get to see the production of tea sold in the market with tea tasting in different flavors, Mount Brinchang, the highest peak of Cameron Highlands, 6666ft above sea level, flower and vegetable farms, watercress and open terraces plantations. Ended the day with  a buffet steam boat dinner, which serves organic and fresh vegetables together with fresh seafoods. It was truly the short break that I've always wanted, just enough to squeeze into my busy work schedule.

 Walking along the ginormous BOH tea plantation

Muddy nature trek

Picking my fresh broccoli to bring back home

Fresh lettuce which uses hydrophonic farming

 This is such a happy place for me! One punnet of strawberries to bring back home
(while another punnet is already inside my tummy just before we left the plantation)


Dinner Time

Woke up to a beautiful sunrise

Enjoying my coffee overlooking the beautiful Cameron Highlands, basking in the very cold weather while writing love letters

Friday, May 4, 2012


Happiness is chasing after the things you love -- like a fierce hairstyle.

Monday, April 16, 2012

On Love

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

-Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jim Paredes' Photography Workshop in Singapore

Hello, Singapore! Last call for participants! Limited slots left!

Sign up now and invite your friends too! It's going to be a perfect bonding experience.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Jeepney Experience

I barely can remember when was the last time I rode a jeepney. Maybe it was three or four years ago.

One day during my Manila holiday, out of the blue I wanted to take a jeepney to anywhere. I wonder what it feels like to literally be in Manila, again -- just like the usual lifestyle I've had before.

So I sent a message to J telling her I wanted to go their house and asked her if I could get directions on how to go to her place by commuting. I planned to just cook dinner and enjoy our own time.

She replied, "Sure ka?"

Finally I got the directions saved on an old mobile phone provided by my younger sister. I wore almost "pambahay"-like outfit because Mom said so. I got a small old bag to put in the phone and 700 pesos. Inside my pocket was 30 pesos. Youngest sister told me to act and speak jologs. It was as if the first time I will ever commute in my entire life.

I was quite scared but I have a gleam on my face and very excited. This is going to be memorable.

I want to conquer you again, jeepney.

So from Espana, I rode the Project 2-3 jeepney. I sat behind the driver. I missed saying this, but yes, there was an awkward smirk on my face when I said, "Ma, bayad ho." I gave 20 pesos since I am not quite sure anymore how much is the jeepney ride. It was quite a long journey heading to Anonas, and in between people watching, I somehow tried a few times to open my phone to make sure that I am following the right directions.

Passed by E. Rodriguez, Tomas Morato, Kamuning. I'm so happy I can still remember these roads.

J's directions say: "Text mo ako 'pag nakita mo na ang second Jollibee from EDSA. After kumanan ng jeep, there's a public school on your left, then a pawnshop. Baba ka na dun. Hintayin kita sa babaan."

I was enjoying the ride when I saw the second Jollibee so I was rushing to compose a text message. The jeepney was almost full as I was trying to type away on the mobile phone inside my bag.

It was already too dark at 7pm. I got used to living in a city where the sun only starts to set at around past 7pm. It was too vague but I was quite sure I already saw the public school, then finally the pawnshop! I breathed deeply for one moment as I knocked the ceiling of the jeepney and uttered, "Mama, para ho."

I got off the jeepney, with cold hands. I was screaming in my head, I'm so proud of myself. I made it!

During my travels, I always take public transports. It makes me, belong. And that's the ultimate reason why I wanted to ride the jeepney again.

Though I felt like a foreigner enjoying the jeepney ride, I felt a sense of belongingness again. Finally, I am home.

It was not really scary as I thought it was. :P

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Nomad Takes on a Higher Level

I really believe that when you really love what you do, it somehow loves you back.

I have always been thankful that my career and workplace is exactly giving me a sense of fulfillment in all aspects. It never falters to bring out the best in me. I've always believed that when I put passion in anything that I do, it always turn out good.

I am not really a person who lives for climbing up a career ladder and likes to see her payslips getting higher by the day. I just want what I need. I just need enough -- enough to live by, enough to feed myself, enough to support my family, enough to invest in my personal growth, enough to invest in my future.

There is a certain charm in doing unpaid jobs and projects, whether it is art, crafts, cooking, etc. When I do what I love, and I am not being paid, my work becomes even more fulfilling.

Most of the jobs I've been to, honestly, are not based on how much I will earn, but most importantly, how much I will grow as a person. And luckily, I have found my perfect spot.

On 22 March, I hit the train station earlier than usual to get a copy of TODAY paper, Singapore's free local daily newspaper. It was scheduled that one of the interviews I've had will be published on that day. Flipping every page, my heart kept beating faster and faster. And there, on page fourty-four, titled "The Nurturing Workplace" was the full-page article I was interviewed in with quite a big photo of myself.

It's quite a funny story that while everyone in the train was reading newspaper, they kept on staring at me and back at the paper. I guessed they have recognized me. It was as if I want to sink slowly right there.

However, thinking about it now, and with friends and colleagues telling me how proud they are of me, makes me feel proud of myself too! This is such a humbling experience.

I might be doing these kinds of stuff more often now. I can't wait for more.

Read full article here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dear Future OFW

I have just reached my third year in my present company a few weeks ago. How ironic that it feels I have been here longer than I thought I was, and at the same time, memories of moving here feels just as fresh as it just happened yesterday.

I can still vividly remember my first OFW memories in China, and how everything now feels just like a breeze. Maybe I wasn't ready yet then. Or maybe I was still young. Or maybe, the place and environment are not really for me. Or maybe, working in China was a baptism of fire. I've experienced more than what my 21 year-old self should have gone through. It made me stronger, and more resilient to everything I will be facing in the future.

With only one suitcase and a backpack, my life have started all over again. It was as if I am re-born, in a different environment, but with wisdom and a mindset of a young grown up. I've given up everything of what I had in the past--the comfort of my home, the complacency in my job, the company of my friends, immature habits, and dependence.

It was never easy to be in my shoes. I am here not just because I needed money. Unlike the rest of the Filipinos who work abroad who have to leave home to have more money, I am here because I wanted to prove something not just to people around me, but most importantly to myself.

I got the best family. I got the best education. I was pampered and saw the world in its most beautiful and kindest state. But I was so much eager to see more of it. I want to see the real world, with all its flaws and imperfections so I may be able to truly embrace life as a whole.

Before I have finally decided to leave home, there were a series of goodbyes, of taking it back and accepting again, of letting it all sink in. I looked at my bed for the last time which have cradled me to sleep all my life, and I knew it will never be the same again. I packed all my things and kept them in the storage, not even knowing when will I ever open them again. But this is it, no more holding back.

When I have finally left my comfort zone, it has never been easy. It is not just about working here, it is literally living on my own. I was lucky to have been blessed by friends who have let me in their home, who have sacrificed to squeeze me in their room because I have limited financial resources of starting a new life. And for that, I am forever thankful. In return, I vowed myself to prepare food for them and keeping the house organized for as long as I can.

Working is a different struggle altogether. There were different nationalities to blend in to. The pacing of work is ten times faster than what I have experienced in my previous jobs. There is no such thing as Filipino time. Everything has to always be on the dot. Salary comes only once a month, and budgeting is necessary.

Everyday will always be a struggle. Whenever I feel homesick, I call home. But sometimes, the money in my pocket is just enough for me to sustain the whole month, I couldn't top up extra account on my phone. And when this happens, it's always comforting to know that calling God will not cost me any cent. My faith is strengthened.

There will be days when I wanted to eat out, or cook something good, I end up depressed because I haven't replenished my grocery yet, and still waiting for the next salary to arrive. And there are days too, that I have to save up for the F21 dress my sister is asking me to buy, or a replacement of my sister's stolen laptop, or a piece of G2000 necktie as a birthday gift for my dad, or an extra cash on top of my monthly remittance for my grandmother's medication, and I end up eating 'tuyo' for days. I've done it with no regret, i love seeing them comfortable.

I am here because in spite of the grueling adjustments, nights of non-stop crying, sacrificing, I have become stronger, more faithful, more independent. I can make decisions on my own. I can take charge of my life and be responsible for it. I am beginning to see places, and the more I conquer them, the more I realize that I know so little about the world and its people.

I miss Manila, but not so often now like before. There's nowhere I'd rather be right now. I have found peace in my new home. I have gained friends. I've built memories that I will forever cherish.

So you, my dear future OFW, please give more time to think about working abroad. It surely is a bitter-sweet experience. Weigh what is really essential and what will make a better you. Think about the family you will be leaving. Think about your young kids, and how they will be able to grow without you physically. And for young ones who wanted to make a mark in this world, there is no perfect time than now. Explore the world. You will be surprised and mesmerized how your education in school comprises only a little amount to everything the world has to offer.

Once you set out on your new journey, you will be meeting a lot of people, some may help you along the way, while others will try to push you down. Be forever thankful to all of them for they will shape the new you.

And lastly, whatever you have achieved in your new life, and no matter how far you have soared, once in a while, look back, your past is a continuation of your present. And no matter what, look up too. Be forever grateful that in spite and despite of people and circumstances coming and going, He's never failed you.

So, are you ready?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photography Workshop by Jim Paredes in Singapore

Basic Photography educates the participants on all the aspects and functions of the camera including aperture, speed, ISO, white balance, etc. and includes photographer techniques of framing, overall composition, and aesthetics. The aim is to train the participant to understand the camera as an instrument to capture light and tell a story while being completely adept at shooting on both automatic manual mode.

It is also open to non-basic students!

Date: 28 April 2012, Saturday
Time: 1pm - 7:30pm
Price: S$130 (with snacks)
Location: TBA (around City area)
Requirement: Bring a DSLR

Limited slots available. Call 8233 6595 for inquiries & reservations!

He sings. He writes. And yes, he takes beautiful and stunning photographs too!

He's travelled to different parts of the world to share his craft. And finally, in Singapore! Don't miss this opportunity to meet and greet your most favorite OPM artist in a different facet!

Tell your friends about it too! See you there! :-)

Monday, January 30, 2012

My 2011 in Pictures

2011 has truly been a memorable year for me. I have been given so much blessings and enough courage to face hurdles.

Looking at these pictures, it makes me so much thankful and overwhelmed. I can't wait for the surprises in 2012!

It has truly been good.

Blissful Milestones

Talk on Corporate Social Responsibility

Managed a 4-episode TV Programme in Mandarin

Attended my first National Day Parade feeling like a true blue Singaporean

Attended my first Burmese wedding and was the Master of Ceremony

Nomadic Conquers

Camiguin with sisters

Revisiting Bohol with family

Tioman Island getaway

5 times Manila Holiday

Christmas Holiday in Manila after 4 years of not celebrating it with family

Nomadic Encounters

Bebang (my sister from another mother) stopover in Singapore from London

J's friends in Singapore

Sister and her friends in Singapore

Re-connected with old friends whom I only get to see once in a blue moon

My nephew's birthday holiday in Singapore

Totally Blissed-out

J's Birthday Surprise at Cafe Romulo

Adopted a Community! Giving back for J's 30th!

My Birthday Weekend Surprise

This post has been kept in my drafts for days already. It's been tough to fit my 2011 experiences all in one post. I always end up looking at numerous photos and feel nostalgic about them.

So 2012, bring it on! I am ready to make it more colourful as it is now!