Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Food Options

This is not the first time I've been to the States so that's why the food culture doesn't shock me. The first time I've been here, I recklessly indulged and I happily adjusted to the American Food culture that I gained almost 10 pounds in three weeks. I never pulled the weight back again. I guess the fat content was just too much.

Now that I'm here again, though not for vacation, I cannot avoid to be exposed to their comforting food culture. But at least I now have the sensibility to take care of my diet or maintain whatever it is to be maintained. Since I stay in a fully furnished apartment, there is no excuse for me not to save and dine it at home. At this rate, I need to size down while I'm here and choose the right temptations. After all, I have these basic food culture to consider.



They do love it BIG here. From cars to food, size matters. The first KFC meal I ate in Los Angeles was a shock. A regular combo meal consists of two huge fried chickens, a biscuit and an extra large coke. I asked for the regular meal, but that was it. And even if the serving's big, the prices are more reasonable when you convert or compute it. So if you regularly dine out, expect to be served with huge plates. Since the food tastes Western and familiar to our taste, we easily indulge, then we gain.


Americans mostly don't waste their time cooking unless you live in the suburbs, you have a flexible and lucrative job and you have an inherent passion for cooking. Americans value their time and this particular domestic activity isn't one of their main priorities when most are out there to carry out their second jobs. And why would they go through the whole cooking process when Americans are the masters of convenience? They have dishwashers, processors and almost everything automated including their meals. They invented microwave dinners which are already pre-cooked, processed food that you just pop in the microwave. IN less than 10 minutes, you'll get your Salisbury steak meal complete with veggies and potatoes, and they actually taste bearable. It makes complete sense for someone living a fast paced life. In America, I believe they value microwave more than stoves.


Pizza, Burrito, Chinese, Burgers are some staple food of Americans. Fastfoods and delivery stores are everywhere to cater to consumers who again, don't have time to cook. During vacations, my aunts will bring me to the best diners, restaurants and novel foods, which are mostly fried and fattening. Americans nurture comfort foods than something organic. Fast food is fast, cheap and served at large, which is a bad combination if this is consumed regularly.

Given these three considerations, it is with great discipline for me to learn how to control and dine in my apartment. It may be a way for me to gain more knowledge in cooking and be more useful when I get home. For the past two days now, I've had pizza dinners, lunch and a Subway meal. I'm craving for something home-cooked. Maybe tonight, I'll be lucky.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


After more than 21 hours of traveling which includes two international flights, one domestic US flight and two stop overs, I'm finally settled in my Oakwood Apartment in Roebling Row Kentucky a hop away from Cincinnati Ohio. It's exactly 9 am here and jet lag forced me to wake up at 3:30 am.

It was okay. I love airports and traveling anyways. I could bear the long haul flights and the transfers. What I really don't like is the lavatory turns and availability, which are kind of expected. It's something that I would have to consider, which is to work harder and pay for better business class service.

As usual, Narita Tokyo Airport is modern and world class. The sight of Japanese airport attendants taking first class care of adults is amazing. JFK Airport in New York is old and hot. Cincinnati Ohio - Kentucky airport is a long stretch, but very beautiful, modern, clean and world class. But at 8 pm, even if the sun is still up, the stores are already closed even Starbucks. But I'd have this anytime than the busy and shackled NAIA, which badly needs renovation.

When I landed in Ohio, I noticed the greens and the large airport infrastructure. Ohio is a laid back town. It has lots of greens with a mix of new and old-vintage buildings. It's not a farm like most people conceive. It has modern infrastructures despite its generally quiet and classic life. For serious extroverts, you won't die here. There are quaint bars and coffee shops. Modern restaurants like Subway, Starbucks, Chipotle and McDonalds, mostly 24 hours, are within arms length. Museums and classic landmarks are to be found. Malls are a bus ride away, but the important thing is that I love the scenery and aura. When I had my farewell party last weekend, a friend tried to make fun of Ohio. Well just so he knows, this summer, we've got our weekend loaded with concerts, fireworks and picnics. Last night, Justin Bieber was here, not that I specifically care of course. In the following weeks, Sting, Paramore, Jonas Brothers, Eric Clapton and so on will be here. There are lot new things to discover everyday. Just imagine, develop Ohio by one more notch, you have San Francisco. I couldn't complain.

My work is based in the booming commercial district of Cincinnati, but the good apartments within walking distance are already booked because of summer. So I'm now based in the sufficient, posh and homey Oakwood apartments in the cozy town of Covington, Kentucky, which is even better. It's just a bridge away to Cincinnati. A 5 minute drive to the Cincinnati Commercial District. My apartment is just across the modern blue building you see in the picture below.

My neighborhood is lined up with classic red bricked buildings, quaint local cafes and luxury apartments. I could easily adjust. It's quiet and it's a perfect place for jogging or walking your dogs. I missed Harvey as soon as I got here.

To get to the office in Ohio, I would just have to walk 5 minutes to the TANK bus stop to get me to Cincinnati in 10 minutes. Some colleagues even plan to walk from the apartment to the office as their exercise. Not me.

Well, I've done my groceries and unpacked my things for more than a 2 months' stay. Now I'm comfortable. I'm drinking my iced coffee, watching Edward Scissorhands in a gloomy afternoon and thinking of taking out some Chinese dinner later. After the movie, I'll upload my weekend pictures. Life's good. It has been a graceful touchdown.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Last day Pep Talk

I've got one more day to finalize my packing, secure my documents and psyche myself up for travel. This is not for vacation. This is for work that's why psyching is indeed a must because I'm really not excited at all. With the tons of meetings I've had for the past few days, what I'll be doing there is more than just training and getting to know the process. I would also build good relationships, manage reports, create documentations and practically excel in almost everything that I'm expected to do. I'm no Supergirl, but I think I would have to be one.

I'm anxious, scared and easy to throw up at this point, but there are so many reasons to be thankful still. I have a great team that's training with me there. At least I'm not alone. I was able to prepare and buy resources on my way out. My bills are paid (most of it). I have a 10-year visa. I have money and I believe I can make this happen. I have great people and a dog that will leave behind. I can be there, learn new things, somehow enjoy and go back in one piece to do more work.

It's not going to be easy. It's going to be hard and stressful, I'm sure. But this is a kick-ass opportunity. No matter how hard, I have to grab it and maximize.

Monday, June 21, 2010

My view on Packing

Packing sucks. I hate it. I've made hate posts about it, but there's nothing I could do. Nobody is competent and willing enough to pack for me and I couldn't travel if I don't pack.

I was talking to some of my colleagues who will be traveling with me this Saturday. I found out that most of them love to pack, but hates unpacking. I realized that I love things the other way around. I love to unpack, but dreads packing. I realize that I like putting clothes in the cabinet, putting toiletries in the bathroom, organizing house stuff and marking my territory.

Another thing I learned was that most of my colleagues buy new stuff before traveling. I do understand that aspect only that I do it minimally let's say if something I really want to bring is broken or I usually buy undergarments. But others shop for a new wardrobe, sets of shoes and accessories. A colleague even said that he can't bear picking out clothes from his cabinet because he feels that the other clothes will get insecure.

In my case I did shop these past two weekends because even if I'm traveling or not, my wardrobe requires revisiting. Some slacks or pants are not wearable for me anymore and when was the last time I shopped for office clothes? I think it was years ago. I had to accept the painful reality that I've gained weight and I've got to get some new and durable clothes.

Packing forces you to make a mental picture of what you will wear. A week's worth of fashion show in your head is bearable. Two weeks is more than enough and a month would be insane. Lucky me, I get to pack for almost three months of stay. I got clothes that I will wear over and over again. Fashion isn't my main concern these days. I would get an article of clothing that is durable, easy to wear and easy to match with shoes and tops.

Aside from clothes and shoes, one of my main packing requirements is medicine. I suffer from migraine a lot and my allergies are like a ticking time bomb. I wouldn't know when I would get my allergic attack, but I'm not taking any chances. This week I would have to visit my dermatologist to get prescription medicine and tablets I could bring just in case. I have to remember to bring my nasal spray, pain medication and fever medication. Getting hospitalized in the States isn't worth it. Specific toiletries also come with this.

Aside from the essentials, I bought new books to pass the time. I also have to get organized with my gadgets and figure out my communication method when I get there. Laptop is definitely in. My camera too. Ipod and PSP are optional.

Last night I tried packing and most items I packed were shoes and clothes. I haven't packed my medicine and toiletries yet, which is bearable as long as I'm done with clothes. After packing I ate two slices of pizza and a chocolate bar. So much for a mental and physical work out. I doubt if I got everything though. I still have five days left to get organized.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

US Visa. Check.

The authorized courier delivered my US Visa at home last Saturday. I was out and my father was the one to receive it. Once I got a text notification, I immediately called home and learned of the great news. The US embassy gave me a multiple entry pass up to the year 2020. I exhaled after knowing that some of my travel mates were only given a single entry or a three months' worth of visa instead.

I know it was a lucky shot since the issuance of a visa really depends on your consul. No matter how legitimate and ideal you may sound, project or defend, the consul always gets to have the final say. He or she is entitled to ask you a lot of technical to mind boggling personal questions looking for that particular loophole. They're trained to be skeptical. He or she could easily decline you based on their better judgment, which is always left to be unspecified and unexplained.

Last week I was at the US embassy and had to undergo the application process for the first time. I had a VISA before but I was too young to have arranged it myself. I did not go on any appearances or interviews,which means I'm useless in giving advice to other team mates who are first time applicants. I'm as equally nervous and bothered why most people find this a big deal. You just have to answer questions, right?

In my case it is a big deal since I will be going there for training and there is no other training alternative. And I thought, how hard could answering the questions be? The only preparation that you have to do is to review how you are going to answer the possible questions, which are pretty much expected. How long will you be staying there? Why? What are you goals there? Do you have relatives there? The facts may matter a lot, but how you confidently say those facts equally matters as well. That's why we get coached before we accomplish our VISA appointments. It is a big deal because you'll be paying money for the application fees and the mere hassle of securing an interview and passing is worth your prayers that you won't get to do it all over again.

But since I was under one multinational company profile, my document processing was fast. I was immediately queued for the consul interview, which is always the main attraction. While waiting, I heard people defending, pleading and arguing to their respective consuls. It was a pretty scary sight especially for those who were expecting VISAS when they get out of the building. Child, professionals, teenager to grandmothers, can be denied and were denied that day. That walk of disappointment, when the person leaves a room still holding his passport while he or she reads a blue form, gives optimistic people a douse of harsh reality.

Getting a US Visa is all about truthfulness, preparation, confidence and luck. There are no sure shots no matter how much you prepare. A percentage of it also relies on how the Consul perceives you, and you can't argue with what they would decide on. I was lucky and I though I had no reason to be denied, but looking back, I wasn't also so sure with the outcome.

US Bound in 6 days

The primary reason why I had to give up Bangkok is because of my month-long grueling schedule. It is so strict and so detailed that I could not ever skip a day. Even if I had fever, I would have dragged my ass to the office. The strict schedule was primarily due to the fact that I'll be earning a complex process within almost three months in another country, in another continent and would eventually be migrating it to the Philippines. Seems a pretty decent and hard task.

This is not my first time to go to the United States, but this will be my longest time away from home and stay in a foreign land. 72 days or 10 weeks is not a joke. Just imagine the amount of effort I would have to exert in packing. I have to think of clothes, how it would fit in the luggage and other important things that I would have to buy here. Then I would have to think of how I would be able to "live" there. I don't know how to cook and I will not allow myself to go on fast food for 72 days. I don't know how to do laundry. I have a week to figure things around and rely on my researching skills.

Unlike most people, traveling is something that I really enjoy even if I would be spending more than 10 hours in the plane or wait long hours at the airport. Even 72 days of stay in a foreign land is not a disheartening factor. I could entertain myself perfectly fine and since I would be trained there that just means most of my free time would be spent recuperating, sleeping and walking around the neighborhood.

find myself lucky to be given this kind of opportunity. Not all people who are employed in a kick ass multinational company could get to learn a complex process from the main source. Most especially, not many people could get to travel abroad with all expenses paid, and be issued a multiple entry-10 year visa. I don't really have any reason to complain. I'm lucky. I'm happy, I'm young and I'm very thankful.

I've spent this weekend doing my last minute shopping. I shopped for clothes, toiletries and shoes. I secured a luggage and had a list of pharmaceutical products to buy before I fly out. I still have five more days to sort my bills, my documents and do the ever-final last minute shopping just in case I still have forgotten something, which is very likely. This weekend was also spent having a fairly good time with friends. Yesterday I hosted a simple get together in a nearby bar and invited some village friends and Citibank colleagues. It was fun hearing stories and getting a bit tipsy. Things like these don't happen on the other side. I'll surely miss their company, especially my loved one. I'll miss Mitch whom I get to spend most of my weekends with. He's my technical guru and food buddy. I'll miss my room. My basic home comforts. My Harvey, almost 2 year old Jack Russell dog, which I would cry over for days I'm sure. I'll surely miss Essie and be fearing that she might be driven by the wrong hands. I'll surely miss a lot, but I could handle it.

This will be my last weekend here. I'll see Manila again sometime in September for which I will miss the birthdays of my dog, my brother and my boyfriend. But it's fine because my personality and the most recent technology could make the isolation bearable. I would still get to be in touch and as long as there's wifi, there's Facebook.

Sure that I'll miss all of the people, comforts and activities I hold dear. I will also shed sacrifice and adjust big time, but there's no reason why I should wallow in negative thoughts. All I know is that I'm excited, I'm nervous and I'm anxious of this new experience. I just hope it will all turn out all right and I come home a better and more valued person.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Bangkok on Hold

My mother and my two aunts are now probably tired from their late night flight to Bangkok. As I type they might already be scrutinizing the hotel, unpacking and planning for their early city-tour trip in a couple of hours. Or if their flight was fortunately on time, they're probably asleep right now. Well, I should've been there with them, but I'm here in Manila. If you've read my previous post about how excited I was on this planned trip, you would never have imagined me postponing the trip and writing this. But I figured certain decisions had to be made and timing really works in mysterious ways.

Just a brief background on this Bangkok escapade, I was the one who initiated the trip because I grabbed an international Cebu Pacific seat sale to Bangkok. I hardly have the skills to convince people to spend, but in this regard I was able to convince and excite my two aunts and mother. I convinced all of them to take a Bangkok adventure with me and so they agreed. Tickets were booked four months ago. But apparently within for the past four months, unexpected but happy things came up and I ended up not coming because of work. Since I just transferred companies, I have to adjust and "follow" management's corporate training schedule as strictly as possible. Mine is an extra special case since my function is fairly new and thorough migration is involved. In fact, in one week's time I'll be flying to New York then Ohio for a grueling 2.5 months training. So these past few weeks are concerned with documentation, concept training and access testing. My superiors are very understanding individuals, and probably they would've understood, but personally I didn't even attempt asking for a two day vacation. At this rate, I know within myself that I do not reserve the break and even if I did I wouldn't have the audacity to leave the compressed work schedule behind. I'm already tight in a tight schedule in the office and my leisure Bangkok trip should be the least of anyone's concerns including my own.

So early on I have gracefully accepted and decided that I would not be able to see Bangkok as planned. As much as I'm eager to taste their culture, duty to my new company comes first. Some of my friends said that I shouldn't feel bad about Bangkok since I'll be traveling to the States in a matter of days. But truth be told, I'm more interested in Bangkok. I've been to the United States and this time around, I wouldn't be going there for vacation but for work.

There is no use to getting frustrated now. I have decided early on and I know in myself that I made a right decision. It's not that painful now when I think about it. I just hope that my mom and aunts would enjoy without me and find whatever they expected to find there. I hope they may have great experiences in Bangkok. As for me, I know I would get to see Bangkok some other tine. It's not the end of the world. I even already planned to visit it with my brother as soon as I get back from the States. As for the ticket, it isn't that hard to digest since I got the ticket on a promo rate. I've wasted money, but I did it for justified reason.

So the temples, the culture, the street food, the plays, the elephant safari, the river market and all the shopping would just have to wait. I'll see all of it soon. For now, I would just let my mom and my aunts enjoy. I'll be waiting and anticipating on their wonderful stories of what I missed and will soon see in Bangkok.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Now Reading: The Dip

Four months ago I was slightly pissed at my previous job. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere despite the fact that I was just recently promoted. I felt the title was just a consolation of hard work and the supposed meaningful work that I should be doing. Most importantly, I didn't get an appropriate raise. Well in the first place, my salary for my position wasn't appropriate at all. It just turned out that I shared the same negative sentiments with almost three of my good colleagues who are also valued performers in the company.

During those days of constantly assessing our situation, the thought of resigning and looking for a better opportunity was the main plan. We even had a betting system and a race on who's going to be the first one to leave. But we still exercised that hope that our situation might change for the better in that company. We just found humor in it. My colleague, Mr. Ivanovic, a tennis fan and an Ana Ivanovic admirer, even searched for songs to include in his personal soundtrack which contains songs of quitting, anger and stress. We would liste
n to it in dull afternoon hours even if our boss was just a few feet away. Mr Fitness Fan, my pseudo personal trainer, would engage in euphemisms in a very brash manner even if his boss was just beside him. Whereas I just entertained myself by always searching for books online wishing for that day when I would enter a bookstore and actually buy bookS. That's when I came across Seth Godin's book THE DIP: The Little Book That teaches you when to Quit and when To Stick.

Interesting. I presented to my colleagues the possible material that might present answers to all our career-oriented questions. I planned to buy it within the weekend and share to my colleagues as my contribution. But something always came up and my money was allotted for so many different things that buying books was below my priority list. My need had become a luxury. Feeling pathetic of my situation, with or without reading the book, I resigned last April and eventually landed a better paying job in May. Ironically, the resources I got from my new job allowed me to pay my debts, buy new supplies and most importantly, buy books.

Since I'm done with Susan Howatch's The Heartbreakers after a month and a half (Shameful record, I know), I went to Fully Booked last weekend and got books egging on my list. I hugged them while browsing and I thought I was going to cry at the counter due to overwhelming joy. I can honestly say that I'm now back in the game. I'm debt free. I purchased new items for me and most importantly I bought a new set of books. Life couldn't be better.

Nevertheless, I still wanted to know what Seth Godin has to say. This is plainly out of interest. I have no problems with my career now. I'm in a better financial and professional state, but I feel that this book might provide wisdom that I might use in the future in other aspects of life. I've never seen a book that encourages people to quit, that's one. There's something in here that I should know and I'm willing to find out.

From my new set, this will be the first book that I'll read. I've read the first few pages and I'm still hooked. Tell you more about it soon. Give me a week to internalize everything.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Easy to Spot

I think I've been educated about Jejemons. Before, I had no idea what or who they are, but now I have a fairly good knowledge...I think.

I was at the nearby mall last Saturday doing some errands, and in a pretty wild crowd, I spotted a total of 7 Jejemons. I don't think they know each other, which probably tells you how much their kind is going global.

They're really easy to spot. In a maddening crowd, you'll see an elevated cap. If you see someone with a gently placed and pseudo-worn cap, then he's your guy. After which you have to look at the details once you get closer just to make sure.

Just a question though. Do these Jejemons know why they're called Jejemons? And what do they really feel about it?


It makes me think. 7 spotted Jejemons in almost 3 hours. They multiply like kisses.

My recent SM experience

SM (Shoemart Department stores) are everywhere. In the Philippines, your city is not really a city if you don't have at least one SM Mall. It has been a Philippine beacon of civilization. Sometimes, they spring from one toll exit to another. It makes you think how they just want to build malls maybe because they're bored with their old ones. Nevertheless, I am very thankful because an SM mall is five minutes away from our village. Sure it's smaller and less luxurious than all the other SM malls out there, but it has a huge grocery, sufficient department store, hardware store, restaurants, retail hubs, book stores, pet stores and banks. It's a quick and ready option for us who don't want to go to Makati or Alabang just to eat out and shop.

Last Saturday, I planned to buy a new set of office attires, but I had no mood driving all the way to Makati. The answer? SM. Last Saturday I also planned to treat my family to dinner. I just heard that the Savory restaurant just opened. The answer? SM. My mom wanted to go out and do her grocery shopping. The answer? SM.

It was a no brainer. I went there with my mom, dropped her off at the other building while I did my business at the other side. In less than an hour, I bought a couple of work clothes and sniffed around Booksale. As soon as I stepped out of the department store, I just realized people began piling up at the activity center. Whenever this happens, there's a promo tour of some artist or there's a talent search of whatever. I'm okay with crowds as long as they don't touch me, so I mind my way around. I went in and out of stores to search for other reputable buys when I began hearing loud shrieks of delight coming from the hallways. I guess the artist people were waiting for finally arrived. The saleslady who was supposed to attend to me focused her attention outside her store. By then she lost one possible customer.

The shrieks were getting intense. I went to the other building, bought Savory chickens and asked my mom to hurry up. I went back to the other building, where I parked my car, and bought pizza while scolding myself for not doing this earlier since the crowd was now in full frenzy. After 15 minutes, I got my order and hurried towards the stairs to the parking lot only to find out that it was blocked. I was carrying too many bags and a long walk to the escalators would either kill me or the pizza. It seemed everyone also had the same idea and lined up outside the turtle-paced elevator.

I dashed to the department store, used their escalator to get to the ground floor where the activity center is. In the ground floor, there is a public stairs there leading straight to the parking entrance. When I got to the ground floor my hopes were crushed. Humans became like monkeys clinging on to the bars just to take a peek at the stage. Guards are everywhere to contain the crowd. I looked at the elevator and the line was impossible. The possible exit to the parking lot are the elevator and the stairs that was blocked.

I went to the guard holding a position in the barricade, which was blocking the stairs. The guard politely told me. "Ma'am, di po pwedeng dumaan." Obviously, with the metal railings, no one would be able to go through. I politely said "Kuya, pupunta lang akong parking." I raised my car keys so that he'd know I was telling the truth. Waving my car keys caused effort since I was carrying heavy bags.

"Ma'am di po talaga pwedeng dumaan. Sa elevator po kayo. (Ma'am, you really can't pass through. Take the elevator.)" He began to sound stern. With his choice of words it sounded like he didn't give me any other options.

I tried to look back and hoped to find a thinning line, but it was impossible. It would take me years to get down to the parking lot. I didn't need statistics to figure it out. I was in ground floor, there were two other floors above me that had snake lines of people waiting to get in.

"Kuya, marami po kong dala. Masyadong mahaba ang pila. Di po ba ninyo ako pwedeng padain saglit? Wala pa naman ata yung artista?" (Sir I have so many things with me right now. The lines at the elevator's crazy. Can't you just let me pass for a few minutes before the artist arrives?)"

By that time, I think I was already raising my voice because I felt stares already. That time, another security person in a barong and a walkie talkie approached us.

"Sir, can you just let me pass. I just have to get my car and pick up my mom at the other building who is waiting for me." I pleaded.

"Ma'am, di po pwede, mag-elevator nalang po kayo. (Ma'am, you really can't. Take the elevator.)" The guy wearing the barong said.

Then I lost my cool.

"Kuya, kung mapapansin ninyo, ang haba ng pila sa elevator. It would take me forever to ride that snail-paced thing at ang dami kong dala. My mom is waiting for me at the other building and where else do you want me to go? I'm not going to line up in that thing. Just let me through, I'll go to the parking lot quickly and wag kayong mag-alala. I won't ever think of loitering. I don't even know who's arriving and frankly I don't care. I just need to get to my car."

The guard, with a stern look, opened the metal gate and let me through.

While going down, I felt stares of people at my back. Apparently, I was the only one passing through. I was walking the path where the supposed artists will walk. Nearing the exit, I saw a huge van at the entrance. Frantic audience and fans were at the side of the path waiting for the artists to step out. I think I caused them delay. I was too mad to care. The other ladies even went as far as block the entire path where I had to squeeze myself and the pizza box in, tilting it. Clearly, the deranged fans have the tendency to lose respect and geometrical estimates.

I picked up my mom and she asked me how I did. It turned out we both accomplished what we needed to do, but we were both disappointed and stressed by the crowd control in SM. We realized there's comfort in isolated malls sometimes. We were just lazy to go anywhere else. We realized that there will be days wherein our nearby SM mall would be our savior, but there will be busy days when we have to consider other options especially on moments we want to avoid stress. We love SM, but apparently so do most people.

Money well spent

If you've read my previous posts, an amount of money came to me last Friday, unexpected. I didn't win any lottery. It's from my new work. I could've cried out of relief because God knew I had two major credit cards to clear and I had urgent needs that had to be acquired. With great deal of thanks and joy, I shared my blessings, paid what needed to be paid and got what I needed to acquire.

In a span of three days, the 3/4 of the money was gone. I didn't lose it. I spent it on...


I couldn't care less if I have to sacrifice just to clear my credit cards. I don't like open credit lurking. Majority of the unexpected resource was focused on erasing debt. I finally paid my two credit cards in full leaving no trace of a balance lurking. I am so happy and accomplished. I wasn't very proud and vigilant on my spending habits recently. I just had, by far, the worst credit card debt so far. I knew I would pay dearly for it, but I never thought God would provide me a more convenient solution. Probably he knows how sorry I am and how bankrupt I've become. I may have the solution now, but the lesson certainly stays with me forever. Never go on a debt again.


I don't shop. If I do, it's usually during on a crisis or a need. And if and when I do shop, I shop on a wholesale, which means that I buy all other stuff at the same time just because I wouldn't know when the patience and mood to shop would strike me again. This afternoon, after paying my debt, I took a small portion of my money and bought five pairs of shoes. Others might find this impulsive, but you have to take my word that those shoes would last in two years time and I would never shop until all of my pairs of shoes would disintegrate. In fact, it is the main reason why I shopped today. Majority of my work-shoes have already died their painful death. I've even extended their lives more than you could imagine. It's time to get them out of the cabinet and be replaced by new ones. I think I owe it to myself to buy a new set of shoes for my new job.


Same reason in number two. I can't even remember the last time I shopped for clothes. When I shop clothes, I do it on a one-time basis. I buy several tops, dresses and jeans all the same time. If I liked a piece so much, I buy it in several colors. I seldom do window shopping since I already know of what brands work for me. Consider this my last or second to the last shopping spree for the year.


During my personal recession (extended till last week), I would go to Fully Booked's site and list down all the books I would buy once I am able since my money before was only allotted for more important things. Apparently books were last at my priority list. My need had become a luxury, which is sad. It came to a point that I couldn't even buy a single paperback. You can't imagine how depressing it was. But now since my resources have been reaped, I've spent almost 4K for new books last night. I can now walk around the bookstore feeling empowered. I feel renewed. This won't certainly be the last book spree, I'm sure.


I did share my blessings with my family and some friends. I treated them to dinners and hang outs. I treasure them all especially my family and Mitch because even when I was "financially in shambles" they were still there to listen and support me, though not financially, but they were there to give advice, humor and strength. That is more than enough and I shall forever be thankful.

In short all I did this weekend was spend for the right things at the right time. I fixed my finances and acquired things on my own without having to depend on someone or something else. It's a liberating and a happy experience. Now I can sleep.

No worries on what may be saved. Frankly, it's not my concern right now. The saving and investing would come on the next phase. The important thing for now is to stay clear by paying bills, be debt free and using the money for what I really need. Next time, my money would focus on other things like purchase of other stocks, car maintenance or other worthy investments that I can now freely sink my teeth into. The important thing is that I've learned my lessons the hard way and hopefully I won't make the same mistakes again.

I may have spent my money this time, almost all of it, but no regrets. Nothing beats spending money you thought you never had on important and meaningful things.

Karate Kid

I promised my brother that I'll treat him to a sumptuous lunch and movie on my first payday. So I did. On a rainy Sunday afternoon, we went to Greenbelt to dine in his favorite restaurant, Mr. Jones, and I gave him the liberty to choose any movie. He picked Karate Kid.

It was an interesting choice. I didn't know what to expect in this year's Karate Kid. I've seen the three 1980's series version. It's definitely a part of my childhood, but I must admit I'm not a big fan. So when JD picked Karate Kid, I knew it would be either a win or lose situation.

First, I didn't know if this Karate Kid version would be an exact remake of the old one. In the old version, America was the primary setting, while in this season now, it's China. Also, the main character before is a teenager italian-american. Now it's slightly younger and black. While the mentor before was a bonsai-loving Japanese, now it's a Chinese Kung Fu expert slash building Maintenance personnel, Mr. Han played by Jackie Chan. Probably the aspects of kung-fu tournament finale and rivalry over a local girl will still be there, which is fairly predictable. But the thing that caught me off guard was Jaden Smith's performance, the same kid that broke your hearts in Will Smith's movie, In Pursuit of Happiness.

Whenever I see Jaden Smith, I see a new era of Will Smith. Jaden has a cute mix of charm and confidence. You could see that beneath his actor persona, he is beaming with energy and talent. Right after his character gets beaten up by his rivals, who are trained to be local kung-fu masters, Mr. Han rescues him and takes him in under his wing. It turns out that Mr. Han is this authentic Kung Fu master and you'll probably know what to expect after that.

What I loved about the movie is the genuine and heartbreaking performance of Jaden Smith and the calculated and strong performance of Jackie Chan. More than just the technical fighting sequences, is the story about an adolescent adjusting to his new life and how Kung Fu strengthens him and heals the broken Mr. Han.

There are basic attempts of comedy in the movie. It's nothing grand, but it's needed. Taraji P. Henson, who plays' Jaden's mother on screen, was a strong supporting actor while the Chinese counterparts are very endearing and interesting. I admit I was scared by the Chinese Kung Fu kids who despite of being actors, I believe, could really kick ass in actual life. They remind me one time in grade school we had a physical fitness soiree with pure Chinese students. We were grouped to play softball in their well-equipped, hardcore gymnasium. I don't want to go into details, but that softball turned out traumatic for me when softball was the "in" thing then. I got bruises and poker faces. Those Chinese students were tough. I think that's just how they are trained. I can't imagine for other major sports..what more for Kung Fu?

Karate Kid is not only a good and educational escape, but it is a good advertisement for China and it brings back childhood memories...even scary ones in my part.

Recession's over

I promised myself that once I get enough money, I'll pay off my credit card debts even if I have to struggle for the remaining days until the next pay day. I was so determined that I went too conservative with my expectations and I was ready to sweat it off for a couple of weeks until a certain miracle from God arrived. I went to an ATM machine last Friday to get my expected money, when my eyes nearly dropped upon seeing a relatively generous amount. I got a friend over to confirm the numbers and indeed it was true. I thought I would be paying my debts in installment basis, but a certain miracle from God, something that I didn't expect at all, arrived. With the money I received, I would be able to pay off all my credit card debts, shop for new office attires, treat my friends and family and buy myself a new set of books, things that I thought I would only do one payday at a time.

So, first things first. I withdrew the large chunk to clear my credit card debts. I also used some and had one whole day of retail therapy. I treated my family and some friends to dinner and I just recently went to a bookstore and bought all the books that I wanted, the same books that I wasn't able to buy due to my most recent personal recession.

For others they already think I will put all the money straight to the bank, but little did they know I already spent 3/4 of it. It's not out of recklessness, impulse and frustration this time. 3/4 of that money went to paying debts. And I tell you, being debt-free is priceless for me. A chunk of it also went to meaningful sharing and some of it was used to buy me new clothes and supplies. I still have something left of it, but quite paltry compared to the original amount I got last Friday. I didn't feel bad, in fact I feel happy that all the money I spent this weekend was put to good use. Besides I got more than what I expected that instead of feeling disheartened, I am still very thankful.

I'm happy that I've sorted out my finances somehow. I'm proud that I did the right thing and I'm very thankful that I now have the means to do it. I'm now on my roads to recovery while being totally debt-free at that. I couldn't have done it on my own. I have so many reasons to thank God, you can't imagine. I've waited and sacrificed so much that the term: "God provides" has become an understatement.

This is the new me. Debt-free, from recession to recovery.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NOYBI Administration

It's official. The votes have been counted and it's consistent. We are now under a NOYBI administration.

However, I'm not here to tell you the strengths of these two political guns that could change the country. The society knows that already, that's why majority elected them. We've had too much analysis already and expectations are off the roof. I'm not even writing to tell you how much I feel about them. I didn't vote for Aquino, but I did vote for Binay, but this is not the time to tell you why. There's really nothing to feel or think about. We're so done with wishful thinking already.

Now that they've been proclaimed, let's not pin all our hopes and expectations to them. We have a major part in this desire to change too. Even a grade school student knows that. People under them, working for them, with them and people they serve should have a unified goal, and that is to make the country and the Filipino lives better.

For those losing candidates who would want to file protests and create noise, you have every privilege to do so, but please show heavy and meaningful evidence. As candidates you should know how to accept defeat. Remember that protests are filed if there's a strong basis and not only produced by flaming emotions, hearsays and paltry coincidental documentation.

No matter how you rant, procrastinate and go on a hunger strike, you will not change what has already been proclaimed. It's not that bad once you think about it. Binay knows how to run a local government. His political will, influence and knowledge would help the Philippines. His connection and reverence to the Aquino family would make him cooperate with the President more. And both he and Aquino should know that the people they are serving are seasoned and wised up through time and experiences. It's not going to be an easy crowd to please, but a wise crowd that could help them nonetheless.

Let's all play a part in this proclamation. First step, let's all accept this single fact. It's now NOYBI. Say a prayer and wish all of us well. Then we could move on to bigger and more important things.

Third Week

Despite the hectic training schedule and information overload at work, I'm not complaining. Probably because I like the people I work with. The office facilities and IT infrastructures are top notch. I love the food accessibility and surprisingly, the time works well for me except on days that I really have plans on a weekday night. I would just have to swallow those little inconveniences. For now, I'm hyped up. The real production work would come in three months' time after we've been properly trained, and I'm sure all the unimaginable stress will be experienced. But for now, I'm just enjoying this pace, which is a perfect time to get to know people (observe) and transition to a new environment.

My ex-colleagues keep on asking me how I'm doing in my new "home." I think they want to hear something unfortunate. But the truth is, I'm enjoying. Even if they throw my work schedule back at me, I would just dazzle them with the truth that I am adjusting this fast. I have advantages that normal shift doesn't have and those I hold valuable. In terms of social life, I only hold a couple of people that I need to see regularly and a little sacrifice and love here and there, I could definitely make it work. People think that I'm totally cut off from the world, but glad to say that I'm not.

My family understands the demand of my job and they don't question me. Sure they keep their fingers crossed that I won't find any reasons to resign soon, but in fairness to them, they don't really care where I go and what I do as long as I'm happy and stable. As a goal minded and independent daughter, I appreciate them for that. Ever since they've given me the tools and the room to decide on my career and in my life. And they can honestly see that maybe, just maybe, this is where I belong and I hope to prove them right.

My friends are also always surprised on my career moves. I can say that comparing myself to the rest, I move more and fast. I'm not afraid to test new waters and going for the kill. It helps that I don't have the social-relationship attachment when it comes to work. In fact I don't get attached too easily and if ever I do, I put career at the top of my considerations and I let go with a snap. Comfort zones are fine as long as you're still growing.

As for Mitch, he also understands the demands of my job. He is completely supportive of me and I am very appreciative of him for letting me be. In this case, I put more ounce of trust in him that he doesn't give up on little sacrifices especially with time. He knows that I act on my best interest and he knows that it'll kill me if he would restrict me from doing anything to advance in my career. As long as he knows that what I'm doing is right and that I'm happy, then he's very happy too that's why I'm very lucky to have someone like him. He inspires me to treasure life outside of work and he strikes a perfect balance.

I am writing these realizations over and over again, I just realized. Reading my previous posts I've been writing my transitions to my new job and my insights in life for days now. Probably I'd like to stress that I'm not lost anymore. I'm still wild and racy, but I believe I have wised up. Seven years of working is not a joke. I've experienced the worst and being the lowest of the low. I've experienced it all while my friends, my boyfriend and my family are still with me. They've all witnessed and adjusted through the times and with that I'm lucky that they're still here. Beyond my career advancements and personal achievements, I think I keep on writing about these reflections because of the people I hold dear. My reflections and gratitude never seem to end because they constantly remind me that I am such a lucky girl that no matter what happens, they would still be there. And believe it or not, in a life of a career-oriented girl, their roles are much more important than what I originally thought.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Persian Weekend

I just had a sumptuous free lunch, a treat from Mitch's mom for accompanying her to a supposed birthday lunch of her sister. It didn't turn out quite as expected so we ended up at Mister Kebab instead, which is not a bad choice either. In fact, it was a stomach-filling and satisfying experience. I have a staple thing for beef Kebabs, hot rice with margarine on top, sided with plump grilled tomatoes because for Persian dishes, I seldom explore. Ox brains and the like aren't my type. And truth is, it's hard to find affordable, authentic persian dishes that stick to the real taste. Now I know the reason why Mister Kebab echoes so far to the south, which is enough to stir southerners to make that journey to West Ave. The place serves a variety of Persian dishes at an affordable price. I'm a true blooded Southerner and I seldom ever go beyond Greenhills, but for a quick and cheap Persian variety fix, this is definitely worth it.

While I savored my beef kebab, I cannot help but automatically pull the most recent movie experience I had this weekend. The food and the movie have a direct connection. Yesterday I was able to watch Prince of Persia: Sands of Time with Mitch. Verdict? It was an..okay movie, not as bad as Clash of the Titans, but did not come close to the epic greats either. The 200 bucks a ticket was a bearable purchase for more comfortable theater chairs in Promenade, the digital projector system and the productions efforts of Walt Disney.

I am quite familiar the game Prince of Persia, though I have not finished it. I think I knew what to expect from the start. Great action scenes in an old Persian village for a playground, sword fights, acrobatic stunts, eye candies and sadly I expected good acting since I have always been impressed with Jake Gyllenhaal. But this is just a pure action-eye candy from the start. I don't even know if Jake Gyllenhaal was even the right fit. There's something odd from the neck up. Don't expect the female lead to save the movie either. Watching Princess Tamina in fake tan and luscious lips reminds me of Gemma Arterton in Clash of the Titans. But wait, it is Gemma Arterton! Can you believe it?! Sadly she didn't redeem herself from her Clash of the Titans role. Just bless her that she has a beautiful face. She plays again a rectified damsel in the distress slash eye candy that throws witty lines in a husky bedroom voice...again. But with forgettable acting...again.

The only character I felt for was the one played by Ben Kingsly. I felt the hatred and the subordination even if his lines were minimal. Superbly powerful, but sadly he's the bad guy so ideally you wouldn't root for him. You could also give thanks that Alfred Molina was there to provide a cute punch.

If you know the Prince of Persia game, you shouldn't expect anything more from what you see in the game. In fact you should expect a little less. Sure there are fight scenes, the eye candy, the acrobat scenes in a Persian village, but sadly there isn't anything new except for the vast temple deteriorating visuals, the profiles of the eerie Hassansins and an artistic sandstorm, which are clearly products of technological advances that usual movie goers had already seen. The ending was even a slight letdown if I might add. If you want to risk watching it in 3D, go ahead, maybe it would enhance something. But try at your own risk. For those who are not familiar with the Prince of Persia, the outcome will be the same I think since the movie's plot is a far off cry from the game.

Prince of Persia and Pirates of the Caribbean have the same producer. It almost has the same flavor in production and pacing, but my vote goes to the Pirates than than the Persian. You go see for yourself. But after that, if you get disappointed, go eat at Mister Kebab to give the Persian flavor another try. At least it's satisfying and a meal is less than 150 bucks.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

La Nina

I don't know about you, but I'm so loving the weather for the past few days. Especially for me who has to sleep during the day, I appreciate the gloom and the slight improvement in temperature. El Nino was such a drag. Seriously. Some might think I'm biased because I'm really not a fan of summer ever since I was born, but I doubt if the summer-beach fanatics could also genuinely love the heat we've experienced for the past four months.

Forget about El Nino guys because it's official, La Nina's taking over the country.

Rainy season has lots of advantages and disadvantages just like summer, but it still works for me. It really depends on the person. For me, I like the rainy season and seeing everything in gray because it calms me completely. I happen to like my disposition when it's gloomy and cold because I'd get to think and be more productive. Unlike during summer, I'm just hopeless. I'm cranky and the heat affects how I work. It's true that rains may be a bit of a hassle in long commutes and trips, but as long as you are prepared and the infrastructures are ready, it shouldn't be that bad.

For those who like summer, well, your time's over. The rain will reign. In fact, 2 tropical cyclones (aka: Storm) are coming this month.

But of course, everything in good quantities. I also don't want a repeat of Ondoy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I left early for work and I initially intended to leave her at home. But my father was there and he insisted I drive the car to see for myself. Yesterday was the first time I ever drove Essie. From the moment I started the engine until I reached my destination, I never had any problems.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was superbly smooth.

The body maybe vast, but the driver has great leverage to see the vehicle's surroundings. The dashboard may be simple, but it has everything I need including the obviously powerful air conditioning system. Steering wheel was awesome. The drive was firm and elevated. Unnecessary roadblocks can be easily maneuvered. Even the engine is quiet and read this: THE GAS CONSUMPTION'S MANAGEABLE, 9 kms to a litter. It is one of the best SUVs I've ever driven. I'm loving the purchase more.

I think I'm entering a great partnership. At the end of the day, the drive and performance are the ones that matter. So far so good, we're both doing okay.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010 Essie finally comes home

On my previous post I was describing the anxiety and excitement of waiting for my very first car, a car I could really call my own. After writing that post, I slept to prepare for my graveyard shift. It was put to a stop when my brother broke into my room and just like a dream told me to go down because it finally arrived. It took me roughly 5 minutes to digest what he meant.

I grabbed my phone, the remote control of the air-conditioning and my camera. In my favorite green pajamas, I went out of my house in broad daylight just to see Essie gracefully parked outside of our gate. I was mesmerized. It was like we said "hello" to each other.

I carefully smoothed my palm on its exterior while saying praises of thanks and whispering to her all the promises of care a driver would show. I promised to introduce her to the rest of our cars. I know I had a freaky moment there and I treasured it.

I had a mental battle if I should drive around or not until my father came home and tested the unit. He wanted me to take it to the gas station; and I just stared at him stupefied. He knows that I'm really excited and scared stiff. He offered to do it for me as I was still clearly mesmerized. As a gift, he filled the gas tank for me since this may be the start of my happy poverty.

I just love the smell of new cars. This is definitely not the only model and color out there, but I have made that connection and that makes Essie different from the rest.

PS: I forgot to mention another reason why I like Ford so much. They have kick-ass air conditioning. Very powerful and right now, that's a major plus.

Special thanks to my father for his insight, additional cash and Ford connection, not to mention the free full tank! :)

Signed Sealed and Waiting

Signed. Sealed and waiting to be delivered.

I have already decided on which car to get and I have discussed and signed whatever's needed. Now I'm just waiting for the delivery.

I chose to get the Ford Escape.

A couple of reasons:

1. I am a Ford fan. I can attest that Ford cars are powerful, comfortable, reliable and durable.

2. My father knows how to maintain a Ford. In fact, we have already established a relationship with the Ford support team to assist us with whatever.

3. Despite what others may think, I like the exterior of Ford. It's classic. It's not too sporty and it's not dainty either. It's a professional, urban SUV, which matches my personality more. I'm not what you would call a weekend warrior.

4. I like SUV's ever since. If I had to choose between a sedan and an SUV, I'd choose SUV because it's a multipurpose vehicle and I like the leverage and exposure the driver experiences behind the wheel.

5. Ford enabled me to work around my budget. Ford's discounts through my father enabled me to own an SUV. Price is always a concern in my world and I want to get a durable car without possibly slaving for it for more than 2 years. 10 K - 15 k per month difference with other brands is a big consideration on my part.

But with excitement, comes anxiety and preparation.

I've been driving since 16, but I don't even know how to change tires or name parts of a car. The most that I can do are panic, bring it to the shop, bring it to the car wash and pay for gas.

Now since I'll be a certified owner, I have a lot of things to learn. There is no more excuse. I have to read automotive care tips and terminologies. I have to be knowledgeable since I would be using this car 24/7 and I would be the one to maintain it. I would frequent car wash joints and be be religious with waxing. I see this car as my partner and I can't be a suitable driver if I don't know the basic things. To add up, I will give treats to my sister's Honda City car for accommodating me all these years, before Funky Esmee arrived.

Since I would be paying roughly 30 K per month for my car in two years time, it's definitely not a joke. That excludes gas and maintenance. That's why I picked a car that I'm comfortable and happy with.

Ford Escape wouldn't require me to drastically adjust too. I've driven a Mazda Tribute before and the experience will certainly help.

Now I'm just waiting for my dad to drive it home. My friends are saying that I should be the one to go to the plant and fetch the unit. But I prefer to stay at home and let my car come to me. I am too excited to drive sanely anyways.

My car was supposed to arrive yesterday, but my excitement was subdued. There's been a delay with the color delivery. Ford promised to iron out my order and deliver the car within the week. I'm holding them to their promise. I can't help it if I get too excited. I even already have a name for her.

I love Ford and I believe I made a right choice. It feels so right.