To Share: Useful Video Links of Taiwan Tour

If you are not joining a guided tour, here are a few videos you can watch beforehand about Taiwan for your reference! All these are based from the six-day itinerary I wrote the last time at post:

To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary


Things you have to know before visiting Taiwan

Taiwan travel tips

Taiwan vacation travel guide. Note: This video is owned by Expedia.

Guide to Taroko Gorge

Guide to Jiufen

Yehliu Geopark Travel Guide

Maokong Night Market in Jeelung

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Exciting Ximending Shopping

Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall

Taipei 101

National Palace Museum

Comparing Two Palace Museums

A Tour of the Shilin Night Market

Danshui

Beitou Hot Springs Guide

Amazing what Youtube has on offer, right? Good luck!

Posted in Family, Favorite Posts, Fun activities in Taiwan, Lists, repost, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary

My family is planning a 6-day trip to Taiwan and they’ve asked me to prepare a customized schedule for them. Their tour agency suggested that they visit Sun Moon Lake and Alishan but I personally feel there’s more than enough to see just in Taipei alone. If they want to go outside Taipei, I suggested they go for Hualien and spend the rest of the days in Taipei.

Taipei is all about delicious and reasonably-priced food, a clean environment, convenient transportation and a mix of Japanese and Taiwanese cultures.

WARNING: People here speak Mandarin so it can be a bit hard to go around Taiwan if you don’t speak Chinese. But at the same time, they’re also very friendly and are willing to help. And if they don’t, it’s only because they’re shy.

Otherwise, below is the itinerary I sent them. The hotels I picked were not as expensive, and the food is still okay. I removed Ding Dai Fong because I felt that you can eat good xiao long bao anywhere since the restaurant already have branches globally, and replaced them with some good BBQ and hotpot buffets. I also removed Mitsui Taipei since my mom is paying for most of the dinner and each person was NTD 2000 a pop.

Overall, my family will come away exhausted. This is a jump-packed schedule!!! But they will have a good feeling of Taiwan’s true “essence” in just 6 days, and will understand why I love the country so much.

And if you readers would want to do 7 days, I would suggest visiting the a) Taipei Zoo and having tea at Maokong in the evening, or b) traveling to Wulai and visiting the Wulai Aboriginal Village. You can also do a day trip to Yang Ming Shan Park.

Enjoy!
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To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary

Day 1: MANILA – TAIPEI – HUALIEN (Book Tour)

7:40 am: Depart Manila to Taipei via PR896

9:50 am: Arrival in Taipei. Tour guide will meet you at the airport to transfer to train station going to Hualien. The tour guide should already buy TPE-Hualien-TPE tickets for group’s behalf

Lunch: Buy and eat Taiwanese bento box (around NTD 100) inside the train.

bento

Check-in: CLASSIC HOTEL CITY RESORT (
店) **Hotel is only a 5-10 min walk from train station**
Address: No. 139, Guolian 5th Road, Hualien City, Hualien (970
花蓮市國聯五路139號)
Tel: 03-835 9966

Dinner: Taxi to Zhiqiang Night Market (自强夜市) in Hualian

Must have: The First BBQ Store and Guan Zai Fan (蔣記花蓮式棺材板)

Guan Zai Fan sells French toast with your choice of filling. In Chinese, it means “Coffin Sandwiches.” Its popular flavor is black pepper beef but try the other flavors. The meal comes with free milk tea/red tea.

bento

The First BBQ Stall (第一家烤肉串). Because lines are long, just choose whatever you want them hand it to the stall owner at the end of the queue and pay for them. They will mark your sticks and send them for grilling and proceed with giving you a queue number.

Since waiting can be as long as 1 hour on weekends, head to this stall and choose your food first, go and try other food and then return to collect your BBQ treats.

bbq
On Fuxing Street (復興路), there are 2 stalls selling the same snack – yup, only one snack – that everyone is willing to come early / queue to buy. It’s the spring onion pancake with an egg! What makes this unique is that the egg yolk is still soft and oozy – the whole egg is added into the hot oil (yes, unhealthy deep-fried egg) together with the pancake dough and deep-fried such that the egg sticks to the dough. It is then scooped out and brushed with a soy-sauce-concoction and chili sauce before serving.
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Then walk to the Hualien Golden Triangle (花蓮金三角商) for shopping.

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Day 2: HUALIEN – TAIPEI (Book Tour)

Check-out: Classic Hotel City Resort. Leave luggage in concierge for pickup later

8:00 am: Tour guide picks group up from hotel

TOUR: Taroko National Park. Taroko Gorge is an exceptionally beautiful, narrow raving road created by a river which has cut deep into the mountains of solid marble. A road cared into sheer walls of rock snakes its way past forested peaks and cliffs towering thousands of feet above it, while hundreds of feet below a river roars past gigantic marble boulders.

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Stops will be made at Evergreen Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Nine Turns of Tunnel (pass by), Marble Bridge and Tienshiang.

Simple lunch at Buluoge Visitor Center.

Finish the tour in the afternoon. Then get luggage from Classic Hotel City and catch train to Taipei

Upon arrival to Taipei, take a taxi to Sunworld Hotel. Taipei taxis are generally clean and safe. They will take you to the right direction using the car meter.

Check-in at SUNWORLD DYNASTY HOTEL TAIPEI (王朝大酒店)
Address:
105 台北市敦化北路100 (No. 100 Dun Hua North Road, Taipei)
Tel:
+886-2-2719-7199 / Closest MRT: Nanjing East Road

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DAY 3: TAIPEI – JIUFEN (九份)– YEHLIU – KEELUNG NIGHT MARKET (Book Tour)

9:00 am: Pickup from Sunworld Hotel. Coach to North coast of Taipei. Travel time: 40 minutes

TOUR: Jiufen Old Street. Once  a prosperous town famous for its gold mining industry, Jiufen was abandoned in the 1970s and nearby forgotten. Now, it’s a mecca for artists and writers, as well as inspiration for films like A City of Sadness and Spirited Away.

**To do: Walk through Jiufen Old Street. Try the different snacks along the street, and buy souvenirs at own pace. No need for proper lunch as you’ll be full by the time you’ll reach the end of the street**

Lunch: IF you are still hungry, have tea in one of nearby teashop. You can try Jiufen Tea House (No. 142 Jishan Street, Tel: +886-2-2496 9056). The tea house was once a meeting place for many great Taiwanese writers and artists. You can eat at a quiet table at the lower levels or sit outside the back entrance in good weather. Choose your favourite tea and snacks from the menu. Sit as long as you like.

Afternoon: Drive to Yehliu Geopark.

Travel time: 50 minutes

Opening Hours: 8am-5pm, Entrance: NTD 50 for adults/NTD 25 for children below 115 cm. Allocate 3 hours for leisurely walk.

Wear a light jacket. It will be windy and cold. The park is divided into 3 areas: there are mushroom rocks, ginger rocks, candle rocks, slipper rocks, and even a queen’s head.

jiu

Make sure you have snacks and water for the trip because food is not as accessible inside the park. Upon arrival, treat yourself to the short English film at the visitor center. Then, follow the path for amazing views.

The Queen’s head resembles the head of an Egyptian Queen. From her narrow delicate neck to the imposing head dress. It is said that the Queen’s Head will break from natural wear and tear within 50 years. On the other side of the park, notice the statue of Lin Tien Jen, a man who sacrificed his life by jumping in the water to save some drowning children. After saving the children, he couldn’t pull himself back in. He left behind a wife and children, and a statue was built dedicated to this unsung hero.

Evening: After the park, drive to Keelung City.

Travel time: 30 minutes

Dinner: Eat at the famous Keelung Miaokou Food Street and Night market.
Must try: This light seafood noodle soup (similar to La Paz Bachoy), Mayonnaise Sandwich

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and Thick Crab Soup (Stall #5)

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After touring, ride back to rest in hotel in Taipei. Travel time: 35 minutes

DAY 4: TAIPEI (DIY)

Buy breakfast at 7-11 Convenient Store. Better yet, if you can wake up early enough, go for traditional Taiwanese breakfast at the famous Yonghe Dou Jiang (102, Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2, Taipei).

MRT to Da-An Station (Blue line). It’s 24 hours, 7 days a week.

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A definite must order?

The fantuan (饭团), a rice roll filled with a crushed youtiao (油条, translated as ‘grease stick’), pork floss, and some diced fried radish.  Fantuan is basically the ideal combination of sweet-savory (pork floss), chewy (rice), crunch (youtiao and radish), and greasy (all of it). I also like Dan Ping (Egg pancake) with soy milk drink, but many people order the salty soy milk with you tiao.

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If you choose the Taiwanese breakfast, you must finish by 9:30 am to make it to church. Church service starts at 10:00 am and ends at 11:10 am.

For church, taxi to Grace Baptist Church (基督教浸信會懷恩堂)

Service: 10am-11:10am at Sanctuary, 2/F Grace Baptist Church
Address: No. 9, Xinsheng South Road Sec. 3, Daan District, Taipei City (台北市新生南路三段90號)
Tel: +886-2-2362 5321 / Website: http://www.gbc.org.tw
Closest MRT: 5-10 mins walk from Gongguan MRT Station, Red church right beside NTU

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LUNCH:                Yongkang Beef Noodles
Address: No. 17, Lane 31, Sec. 2, Jishan South Road, Daan District, Taipei
Tel: +886-2-2351 1051, Hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-8pm

Directions: Take taxi or MRT. For MRT, Gongguan is on green line so must transfer to the red line for Dong Men MRT station Exit 4

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Must-try: Beef tendon noodle soup (a little spicy) and “fen zheng pai gu” (yam and pork ribs). Yongkang Beef Noodle is an institution and has been there since 1963 serving Taiwan’s most famous dish. Their broth is made out of tasty and beef and soybean based stock. Add pickled vegetables generously.

Then take MRT from Dongmen MRT Station to Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT Station. They are one stop from each other. Both are in the red line.

TOUR: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT: Chang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall showcases two buildings facing each other — the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall — right inside the gated Liberty Square. The CKS Hall lies at the center and situates a large Chiang Kai-Shek statue. Inside the hall, you can see much of what Chiang Kai-Shek’s life was like. From his bulletproof Cadillac to the clothing he wore, and the chair he sat on. A wall clock has needles set to 11:50pm, the time of his death.

Check out the bullet holes of Chiang’s car at the left rear part, and count the number of steps from the ground to the second floor. There are 89 steps to be exact, equivalent to President’s Chiang age. He lived for 89 years. The back of the bronze says, “Ethics, Democracy, Science.” This is the essence of the Three People’s Principles — To practice nationalism by ethics, by democracy, and by science.

Must do: Wait for guards to change. It happens on the hour from 10am to 4pm. Wednesdays are from 10am to 6pm. The army, navy and air force takes turns to be the guards every four months. How do you know who is which? The army wears the green uniform, the navy wears the black uniform in summer and white in winter, while the air force wears blue.

Then take MRT from CKS Memorial Hall to Ximending. Use the GREEN line.

Called as the “Harajuku” or “Shibuya” of Taipei, I personally think of Ximending as the place where the young people hang out. Currently, it’s a decent place to see Taiwan young fashion and Japanese culture. The shopping area is the first pedestrian shopping area built in Taipei, and is the largest in Taiwan.

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Must do: Shop a little and eat some snacks. Pass by the red house close to the MRT entrance.

 Note that the closest MRT to go anywhere is the Ximending MRT Station. So no matter how deep you go in, you still have to go back where you come from at the MRT station.

Longshan Temple

To get there: take the Longshan Temple MRT station. It’s one stop from Blue line from Ximending.

Longshan Temple is Taipei’s oldest, most popular temple, dating back to the 18th century, when it was first established by settlers from mainland China. In the meantime, it’s expanded and contracted in times of war and peace, very much integrated into city life, while offering an oasis of reflection and contemplation within its heart.

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Visitors are usually moved by the amazingly ornate carvings and other decorative elements in display. The ceremonial gateways, elegant pagoda roofs, and heady incense burners associated with traditional Chinese temples are found here. Also typically Chinese is the mix of faiths: Longshan is associated with Buddhism, Taoism and other local gods.

Longshan Temple is found in central Taipei and is served by its own MRT station. It’s open until 10am so you can consider an evening visit when the temple is at its atmospheric, perhaps before or after dinner at the nearby Huaxi Street Market. Admission: Free.

If you are hungry, go and eat snack at the Snake Alley, which is very close to the Longshan Temple.

Huaxi Night Market (or Snake Alley) announces itself with a ceremonial gateway with charming Chinese lanterns providing decoration and more powerful lights illuminating the area to near-daylight levels.

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Most visitors are drawn to Huaxi Street by the stalls collectively known as “Snake Alley.” Vendors attract far more onlookers than those willing to test the potency and vigor that comes from eating snake soup and other serpent derivatives. For the less adventurous, there is a huge range of dining options in the surrounding streets encompassing noodles, oyster omelets, chicken skewers, cuttlefish soup, traditional custard pastries, and local delicacies include stinky tofu.

If you don’t like to try the snake delicacy, suggest you skip this part altogether.

Then take MRT from Longshan Temple (or Ximending if you skip Longshan Temple) and travel to Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Blue line)

The National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

A memorial dedicated to the Father of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, this Memorial Hall was completed on 1972. The total building area covers 29,464 square meters (7.3 acres) with an open space of 115,000 square meters. It contains displays of Sun’s life and he revolution he led, and is currently a multi-purpose social, educational, and cultural center for the public.

Walk towards Taipei 101. Drop by Taipei Eslite Bookstore, the largest retail bookstore in Taiwan, and pass by Mitsukoshi Mall. Go around the higher-class area. This is where rich people go and shop.

If you don’t like to walk, Taipei 101 is accessible via MRT to the stop “Taipei 101/World Trade Center” station.

Taipei 101

Taiwan’s largest skyscraper, Taipei 101, enjoyed the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 up until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was completed in 2010. It remains as the world’s largest and tallest green building, standing at 1,667 feet and consisting of 101 aboveground floors, five underground floors, and houses a mix of offices, a multi-level shopping complex, food court and restaurants.

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Most impressive than the total building height is its structural integrity. Taipei 101 is designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoon-level winds thanks to a massive damper sphere, the largest in the world. The building’s exterior is meant to resemble bamboo, a symbol of longevity.

Ride the world’s fastest elevator to the eighty-ninth floor of the observatory. Take a self-guided audio tour in the indoor observatory before climbing to the outer deck to take in the bird’s eye view of Taipei.

Hours: 9:00am-10:00pm, daily. Last ticket entry: 9:15 pm.
Admission: NTD 450 for adults

8:00 pm DINNER: 2-Hour Eat-all-you-can BBQ at Gyu-Kaku  (牛角日式炭火燒肉)
No. 309, Fuxing North Road, Song Shan District, Taipei (台北市大安區忠孝東路四段177號2樓(忠孝東路 敦化南路口)
Tel: +886-2-2514 7070 (http://www.gyu-kaku/com.tw/all-you-can-eat)
Average price: NTD 599-899/pax

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After Dinner: Dessert at Dong Qu Fen Yen (Walkable from Din Dai Fung. Closest MRT is Zhongxiao Dunhua).

Walk to Dong Qu Fen Yuen near Chungxiao Dunhua.

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Dong Qu Fen Yuen
No. 38, 216 Alley, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-2777 2057)

Closest landmarks would be the Ming Yao Shopping Center and is close to Ding Tai Feng. The shop will be packed and you can choose all your favorite ingredients. Choose from the tofu, red bean and grass jelly sweet soup, fill up with crushed ice and select up to 3 toppings for only NTD 25. Toppings include yams, green beans, red beans, soft peanut, passion fruit, strawberry jam, gingko, pumpkin balls, almonds and pearls. The QQ balls glistens with the ice and is sweet, soft and very chewy.

Closest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua

DAY 5: TAIPEI (DIY)    

11:30am-1:30pm: Tasty Steak. There’s a close one near your hotel.
Address: 2/F, N. 11, Sec. 2, Nanjing East Road, Zhong Shan District, Taipei City) OR Taipei Fuxing South Road Branch (3/F, No. 152, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Road, Daan District)

Travel via MRT To National Palace Museum. Drop at Shilin MRT Station (Red Line). Then:

  1. a) From Shilin MRT Station, take bus R30 (Red 30), 255, 304, 815, Minibus 18 or Minibus 19 to plaza in front of National Taiwan Museum). Ask for directions on MRT personnel, or
    b) Take taxi

    Arrive at National Palace Museum by 2:45 pm

    3pm: Take English-guided tour at 3pm. Apply online and register to join tour. You need passport number, contact number and email address. Be at audio reception desk 15 minutes before.

After the Museum, take the bus back to the Shilin Station. Go to Shilin Night Market in the area. 10 minute walking distance.

Note: The closest MRT station to Shilin Station is Jiantan Station, NOT Shilin Station.

The Shilin Night Market (士林) is one of the most well-organized, most popular night markets in Taipei. One section covers the streets surrounding the traditional Yangming Theatre and stretching to the Chicheng Temple on Danan Road. The other sector is a centralized food court serving a wide variety of snacks that attract large crowds.

Must haves at the Shilin Night Market:

  • Chili Wantons (Stall #1), NTD 45
  • Hot Star Fried Chicken, NTD 60 (Stall#50?). It’s to the left of Chili Wantons, blue sign
  • Giant sausages, NTD 60
  • Frog eggs drink (青蛙下蛋). I usually order Aiyu (愛玉) with tapioca pearls (粉圓) and milk. Tastes better than milk tea.

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  • Fried oyster cake and oyster misua soup
  • Large Taiwanese sausages
  • Cold Layers milk dessert (Stall # 250)
  • Lou Rou Fan (Stewed meat in rice)
  • Teppanyaki, ~NTD 100
  • Sizzling giant steak with spaghetti and egg, NTD 120

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  • Pan-fried bun (生煎包) with sesame seed, NTD Like the fluffiness of cake and the crunchiness of potato chips? The pan-fried bun gives you the best of both worlds. The buns are made with spongy white Chinese bread that is pan-fried on the bottom. Break one open to reveal the moist porky filling. A Shanghainese staple, the Taiwanese version differs in two ways: it’s slightly bigger in size and it hits the pan upside-down.

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  • Cold La mian, NTD 50
  • Toilet restaurant for photo ops and desserts (Address: 2F, No 7, Lane 50, Xi-Ning South Road, Taipei Taiwan / Tel: 02-2311 8822) It’s at the very end of the Shilin Night Market
    http://www.moderntoilet.com.tw/en/store.asp)

Here’s how to find Modern Toilet
1. If you are coming from the metro, get out of Ximending station exit 6.
2. Head to the right side of Eslite mall. That street is called Emei street. Just go straight until you reach the end of the road which is called Kunmimg Street.
3. Turn right as soon as you see the parking lot.
4. Turn right once again. Walk a few steps. Modern Toilet is to your left and located on the second floor.

Day 6: TAIPEI – MANILA (Book Tour)

Check-out from Sunworld Dynasty Hotel. Bring your luggage.

8:30 am Depart from Hotel for Danshui

Danshui: Fisherman’s Wharf and GongMing Street

Upon arrival at Danshui, head to Fisherman’s Wharf by taking the R26 bus from Danshui MRT station. Go to the Lover’s Bridge, an infamous bridge born on Valentine’s Day and is the reason for its inspired name. Watching the sunset off this bridge is one of the most breathtaking moments.

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11:30am – 1:30 pm: Lunch at Man Tang Hung (滿堂紅), Danshui Branch
Address: No. 8, Zhongshan Road, Danshui District, Taipei (11/F, Meitou Department Store / Tel: +886-2 2775 3738)
Website:  http://www.mantanghung.com.tw/en

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Then, head back to Danshui’s GongMing Street, a street full of unique Taiwanese eats to enjoy some local food. Shops generally open at 10:30am. A mere 5-minute walk from the Danshui Main Station, try the following eats:

  • Ice cream shop that sells 6 different flavors — all at arm’s length: vanilla/chocolate, green tea/mango, taro/strawberry. Taste-wise, it doesn’t have the same creamy consistency and is more of a sorbet. But it sure is refreshing. Price: NTD 10
  • Freshly grilled squid with bonito flakes and onion garnish. The squid is usually moist and the texture is neither pasty nor chewy. The taste is a little sweet. Price: NTD 60
  • Ah-Gei (NTD: 30): Fried tofu stuffed with cellophane noodle and sealed with fish paste. It’s steamed and topped with special ketchup sauce.
  • Take home some souvenirs include iron eggs, almond tae and nougat (Flavors: Green tea, almond, chocolate). The iron eggs are stewed in a variety of spices and air dried, giving them a chewy consistency.

Travel to Beitou Hot SpringsA good source of information can be found here. Note that all photos from Beitou part is taken from this website.

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Visit the:

  1. Beitou Park (北投公園): Coming out from the Xin Beitou station, you will see the Beitou Park across the street on the right hand corner. The entrance is marked by a water fountain that perform shows on the hour, every hour during the day. Inside you will find pleasant trails, streams and popular sights such as the Beitou Library and Beitou Hot Springs Museum

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2. Beitou Hot Springs Museum. This is an old Western building constructed by the Japanese in 1913. This was the main public bath in the area during the Japanese Era. This historic building was restored and re-opened in 1998, allowing visitors to view into the former lifestyles of the Japanese. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering and change to slippers provided by the museum. There are 12 rooms including 1 tatami mat performance area, and the original public bath in the basement.

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3. Beitou Garden Spa (北投親水公園露天溫泉浴池 or Millenium Hot Springs). Up the road is the Beitou Garden Spa It is a modern day public bath located outdoors next to a river and among green trees. This is a mixed public bath, requiring bathing suits. Admission price: NTD40.

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4. Plum Garden. Beside the outdoor hot springs is another historical building called the Plum Garden, a summer house of the former Control Yuan president and calligraphy master Yu You-ren. The building only opened to the public in 2010 and displays Japanese colonial wood architecture and a number of calligraphy works by Yu You-Ren. Stroll through the manicured garden or sit down and relax inside the quiet house. Closed on Monday. Admission: FREE

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5. Beitou Thermal Valley: Go to the Beitou Thermal Valley (aka Hell’s Valley) You will see steam rising as high as 100 meters above the geothermal pools. The area is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. Admission is free.

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6. Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch. Once you are warm and relaxed, walk a little further down the road and arrive at the modern Taipei Public Library.

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WARNING: Both Xin Peitou and Danshui takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to your hotel. Please time your schedule accordingly.

6:45 pm:  Leave Taipei for the airport
9:20 pm: Departure from Taipei to Manila via PR 899
11:40 pm: Arrival in Manila.

               

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How to Keep Sane — Prioritize Only 3 Things!

Why does it seem as if time flies?” I asked my husband during lunch today. “I really wish that there are more than 24 hours in a day.”

After I got married, I found myself short on time.

Time-is-so-costly

But I am always gasping for time. Even right now, I have a huge backlog of things to do!

For some reason, the days pass by quickly and before I know it, it’s already midnight and I still have to do some accounting.

Some days, I get lazy and sleep immediately after twiddling on my iPad. Other days, I just zonk myself out to sleep.

After thinking a bit about time and the challenges on how to manage time, I find that in order to be peaceful and content, you have to prioritize three things in life.

Why?

If you take on too much, you’ll be stretched too thin, stressed and exhausted.

time-management

But if you take in too little, and you’ll be bored and frustrated. That’s why we say that many people are walang magawa (have nothing to do).

Here are my list of the biggest time-munchers — feel free to add more if you think of any:

  1. Taking care of your spouse or if you’re single, finding a husband/wife
  2. Your parents – worse if they demand a lot from you
  3. Your siblings
  4. Your work/job/career
  5. Your child(ren)
  6. Your friends
  7. Church activities or volunteer work
  8. PR work or business associations (e.g., Lion’s Club, Rotary, Jaycees International, Federation, etc.)
  9. Yourself and your own interests
  10. Your studies (e.g., studying for an undergrad, masters, an advancement program, etc.)

A friend of mine complained to me once that her husband was not so happy with her.

He wants me to help him out in the family business,” she said. “But how can I squeeze time into that? He is complaining that I am lagging in my work.”

Well, what takes a lot of your time?” I asked.

Well, I am helping my sibling to plan his wedding,” she answered. My friend by the way is an amazing event organizer. Even though she does it pro-bono, if my friend helps you out in your wedding, you’re pretty much in good hands.

Unfortunately, she has five siblings. Each of whom have been marrying once per year.

In addition, she is super close to her family.

A self-professed daddy’s girl, my friend cannot help but meddle in family affairs. My husband for example limits my family affairs to once a week and on special holidays or birthdays. My friend spends a lot more time than that.

Some friends find it hard to leave and cleave. But as my husband says, “If you guys want to spend a lot of time with your family, then why did you even bother to get married?”

What’s more, she has a one-year old daughter and a husband who hopes she spends more time with him.

So in terms of priority, she wants to fit the following into her schedule: 1) her husband, 2) her daughter, 3) her parents, 4) her siblings, and 5) their family business.

Her husband also wants her to take care of the household. She likes to cook and take care of the household issues so that also takes a lot of her time!

Result = Chaos and time pressure!!!

In other words, what she is doing is INSANE.

Personally, my priorities are only as follows — my husband, our business, and my mom.

In that order.

While our family business takes up most of my time — for example, I do the sourcing, pricing, balancing the books, sales and marketing — I know I should drop everything to be there for my husband.

For example, just two days ago, he wanted me to go with him to his friend’s birthday party. Even if I’ve spent the whole day going around our stores, I still mustered enough energy to go with him since I knew how important it was for him to spend a bit of time with his business associates.

The business can wait for an evening. It should survive.

As for my mom, she has been there for me ever since. So even if we are busy, I always try to spend one day per week with her, which she thankfully appreciates. She also bribes us with love, gifts and attention, which make time with her very enjoyable.

That’s it.

I think life will be much harder to balance once (if) I have kids. If I have kids, I would have to take out some time from the business, the hubby or my mom to take care of him/her. Thankfully, I think my mom would love to co-parent my kid with us, so there is really no conflict of interest.

But adding friends to the mix, my gosh.

Once a week or every two weeks is doable.

But if I have to spend time with a friend every day, I don’t think I can handle that anymore.

So think about your life. How do you manage your time? Do you agree that you can only do so much?

As usual, your comments below are appreciated.

Posted in entrepreneurship, Family, Husband, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 5 Qualities I Look for in an Employee

The key to a good business is finding the right people.

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When you have the right people in your team, you can rest easier knowing that your business is in good hands.

That’s the advantage of my parents-in-law’s 20-year business: They can take a vacation. Leave the country for 2 weeks, and come back still having their business intact.

Last year, we didn’t really focus on our business, and yet, we still managed to make more money in 2014 than in 2013,” says my father-in-law. “The business runs in auto-mode.”

I personally think that this is because his team are made up of veterans who’s been with them with an average of 18 years.

I look at my own team: My oldest veteran is an area supervisor who’s been with me for a little over a year. Everyone else is still new. I just regularized my second employee a month ago.

Big sigh — still a long way to go before we can leave the country in peace and not worry about our business. In fact, there is no such thing as a relaxing vacation.

Case in point, when we went to Balesin last weekend, I was still calling, texting and emailing my people just to ensure that we’re on top of things.

Up till the time I find veterans of our own, the company will be a revolving door of people. Just yesterday, I fired our sales coordinator for gross and habitual lates and absences, an offense serious enough because we just hired her the beginning of February!

You have to find better people, Bonita!” my father-in-law once chided me. “You have to be better in the interview process!”

Here’s the problem dad,” my mother-in-law countered in defense. “You’ll never really know what type of people you’ll hire unless they’ve started working.”

I found the latter statement to be true.

While experience teaches you to be better in filtering people during the interview, there is no better way to see if people are good or not than actually having them start working for you.

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The worst case I’ve had so far was an area supervisor who came for a one-day training then left citing personal reasons! That was really bad. See my entire rant here in my entry, “Disappointed with the Philippine workforce.

After awhile of managing a business here in the Philippines, I’ve now grown immune to people crying, asking for pity and begging. You never know if it’s a truth or a lie!

I’d like to think I get better when interviewing as time goes on. Now, I no longer accept every Tom, Dick and Harry who walks in the door. I used to, with disastrous results.

Anyway, to make life easier, here are the five (5) qualities I look for when I interview an employee:

  1. Available: The employee must be willing to show up at the times you need them.


    My business is in retail. That means, when the mall is open, we are open. The only days we are closed in Maundy Thursday and New Year’s. Seriously.

    Hence, whereas construction companies enjoy long vacations especially during Christmas, our office is still open up till 4pm on Christmas eve. Then we take one day off on Christmas day and then resume work on December 26 onwards.

    On regular days, we are open from Mondays to Saturdays, 9am till 7pm. And my people don’t go home until they finish their work.

    The first requirement is that potential job candidates have to accept the long-hours and our tedious schedule. If they want a 9:00am-5:00pm job, or they want to take long vacations on Christmas, they are knocking at the wrong door.

    We might be a great company, but we’re not a good company for their needs. NEXT!

  2. Competence: The employee must be able to do the job at the deadline you require.


    This is an important question to ask yourself when interviewing: Can this person do this job?

    So many employers are swayed because they “like” a person during an interview.

    “I can always train him,” you tell yourself.

    Or “He’s a friend and he needs a job. Why should I not take him on?”

    Sorry.

    I don’t care if the person is nice, or if I like his personality.

    But if the person cannot do the job, I will not hire him.

    What’s more, I personally prefer employees who are already competent and can do the job. If the candidate requires training, at least, the training would be minimal and they can more or less do the work I require right off the bat.

    Anyway, I didn’t hire this person to train him/her. I hired him/her to work. That’s what I am paying them for.

    Competence is very important.

    Competent employees make managing a business a lot easier.

    You hire people who can help you because they can lighten up your load. 

    On the other hand, hiring a person who is incompetent adds to this load.

    Case in point, one of our staff who is family is like that.

    He is always the first to come and the last to leave. And yet, because he often forgets things and does tasks inefficiently, which always pisses off my mother-in-law.

    Now, because he is family, we have to tolerate him. We can’t really fire him.

    But instead of helping out in the office, he makes it harder for us to manage the business. Most afternoons for example are filled with my mother-in-law sermoning him once again due to a boo-boo.

  3. Trustworthiness and integrity: The employee is someone who you can trust, who live their lives with integrity, and are actually good people in words and in deeds.


    Ever heard of the saying, “When the cat is away, the mouse will play?”

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    Most people are like that. Many employees work only when their boss checks up on them. But turn away, and they do things you dislike.

    For example, yesterday, we did a surprise visit to our stores. We do this at least once or twice a month when we have time.

    Imagine our surprise when our store in Pasig was found unmanned! We found the sales staff in another store, sitting on the floor and texting.

    Big sigh.

    Nope, we don’t like employees who are like that. They require constant supervision, and cannot be left alone.

    These are employees whom you are always playing cat and mouse games with. You have to install CCTVs to monitor them while you’re away. You need to call them constantly because you don’t trust that they are where they should be.

    I didn’t build a business to serve my employees. I did not hire them so I will be stressed about what they are doing.

    So if I find employees who violate my trust — and do things that they shouldn’t do — no matter how much I like them, I cannot keep them. Somehow, somewhere, I would have to get rid of them.

    In short, we have zero tolerance for those who are not trustworthy.

    We built out business so it can be filled with people who are good people. Those who do not lie, cheat and steal. It makes working and building a business more fun, don’t you think?

  4. Has initiative and is trainable: In Filipino, we call it, “Hindi namimili ng trabaho.” This means that the candidate is flexible and does not pick and choose tasks assigned to him.

    I once argued with an employee because she refused to pick up an item for the office. The item was a medium-sized easel used for promotions and was situated in a location 10 minutes away by foot.

    Ma’m, I can’t do it because it’s too far and I cannot carry the item myself,” she said. “I need a taxi just to bring it back.”

    I got pissed: “If I am only not busy, I would get it myself. Bakit ka namimili ng trabaho?” (Why are you picking and choosing your job).

    My employees know that one of the things that pisses me off is someone who says, “I’m sorry. That is not part of my job description.”

    As I myself wear many hats — for example, I am the one who manages the finances, the merchandising, and the sales of our company — I thoroughly dislike people who like to limit themselves to a single role.

    I’m sorry – There is no work divas in my office.

    I like surrounding myself with people like me. People who like and take initiative to learn. People who are willing to take on new challenges even if it is not part of their job description.

    For example, our company’s messenger boy.

    While he is just our messenger boy, he has managed to take on additional roles such as applying for our company’s business/mayor’s permit, and repairing and engraving items.

    This makes him very valuable. It shows he is not satisfied in just being a messenger boy, and is happy to prove to us that he is worth more than his salary.

    I look forward to the day we promote him and give him a bonus. :)

  5. Loyalty and staying power: When people believe in and are loyal to the company, they will help you. When they are loyal to you, your company will survive through thick and thin.

    A company is only as good as its people.

    If you have people who are loyal to you, then your company has a good chance of making it. That is by the way what my parents in law enjoy in their two-decade old business.

    Admittedly, I am envious of their team. I personally am still picking and choosing my own team. Truth be told, it’s not easy to find good people.Many candidates are only there because it is what is available at that time. Long-term wise, they have no plans to stay.

    Come a higher offer and they jump ship.

    At the first sign of trouble, they leave you at a critical time.

    Personally, while times are good, I am looking for employees who can stay a long time.

    Low staff turnover can only be good for the company. I like dealing with people I know I can count on. It keeps employees who already have the experience to do their jobs well, and already have a shared history with the company.

    That’s why I also reward people not only for their performance and competence, but also for their tenure and loyalty.

    It’s hard to find good people, and even harder to find people who believe in and are loyal to you.

There we go — the five qualities I look for in an employee. Do you agree or have anything more to add?

As usual, comments appreciated below.

Have a great week ahead!

Posted in Advice, Business, Conflicts, entrepreneurship, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Interests, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is Wrong with Working for Someone Else?

Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur,

I’ve always found you to be very admirable.

For one, you are very optimistic.

Being optimistic despite the odds is a very good trait. It shows you have resilience, and have the ability to keep on smiling even when things seem to be against you.

Look at the odds of being an entrepreneur — it’s not as high as people think. And yet, you dream of still having your own business:

will-I-succeed-with-my-startup-infographic (1)

Yup, the odds are really not at your favor.

So yes, it would be logical to assume that being an entrepreneur means that you are optimistic. Because you believe in yourself enough to succeed when others do not.

Personally, I am an entrepreneur.

I’m living the dream.

Our small business consists of seven regular employees and more than a handful of distribution channels. If you go around the mall, you might see one of our stores and buy one of our items.

But while I am an optimist, my business forces me to be a realist.

If I am positive all the time, I will hope for better sales tomorrow without doing anything today.

This is a trap. A deadly one.

Because as a businesswoman, I know I have to act today to change my fate tomorrow.

Ma’m, we have to think positive,” my area supervisor reminded me. 

Thinking positive — ahhh, if you have a business, thinking positive is not enough.

So I told her, “Yes, I have to think positive that’s why I’m in business. But you have to wake yourself up to reality if you want your business to last.”

The reality is harsh for a person who is in business.

Rain or shine, I still have to pay my bills. Unlike working for other people, I still have to worry about my company’s income and expenses on a regular basis.

Honest to goodness, I spent the better part of yesterday questioning myself and wondering if we can generate enough revenue to pay our bills.

As we are in retail, more than half of my expenses are fixed costs and in mall rents. I have to pay my people’s salary every 15th and 30th even if business is not doing well.

Compared it to the time I was working for a bank. Wow, at that time, though life can be as stressful, when it comes to paying the bills, I never really had to care for a thing.

Honestly, I cared only for my  own work.

I cared about coming to work on time, doing a great job and wait for my salary to be deposited to my bank account.

Those were the good ol’ days.

But as an entrepreneur, these worry-free days — at least when it comes to being personally responsible for paying for all the bills — are over.

People often admire entrepreneurs for their success.

Do you know why we can be successful?

Because we are afraid.

We are afraid that if we don’t push ourselves, our company will go out of business. Because if we cannot balance our revenues and expenses, we cannot pay the people who depend on us. And we are afraid to tell other people that we failed.

That is why, as an optimistic realist, I will spend the rest of the month pushing my people to sell more instead of leaving it up to my people the hope of an even better day.

There is no luck in business,” I would always tell my people. “Only action to change your fate.”

Two, it is not completely true that being an entrepreneur would mean more freedom to spend your time however you want.

A lot of people are envious of entrepreneurs because they get to leave work whatever time they want.

This is partly true —- For example, I managed to visit a sick ninong at the hospital at 5pm yesterday without asking approval from my boss. I wouldn’t have the same type of luxury if I worked for someone else.

My people can’t leave to buy snacks without informing others first.

So yes, it is partially true that you have the freedom to choose how you spend your time if you worked for yourself.

However, it is not true that these “escapes” don’t come at a cost.

There are no back-ups as the entrepreneur. There are still many things that you yourself would still have to finish.

Hence, because I was gone for the afternoon, I have to finish my backlog of balancing the checkbook later that evening. Someone still has to do it, and that someone is me.

Taking work off does not mean that you can afford for the work to be unfinished. Instead, it only means that the work gets delayed and would invade my personal time.

That is why, when we watched 50 Shades of Gray, I was nudging my husband about the unrealistic portrayal of a 27-year old billionaire who still manages to free up his schedule to see Ms. Anastasia Steele!

Christian-and-Anastasia-christian-grey-and-anastasia-steele-37287318-610-400

Uhhhh… how does he even have the time to leave his business?” I asked my husband.

Actually, I was more jealous that Christian Grey could leave his business for a good while without the business self-imploding than the good sex that Anastasia Steele was having.

Ahhhhh…. the things you never read from Entrepreneur magazine. :)

This Friday for example, we would be taking off for an overnight in Balesin resort. My husband’s sister is in town and the family creeds us to join them (family orders).

Don’t get me wrong —- I would love the chance for a nice R&R. Goodness knows, we deserve it.

But while the old me would jump at a chance for a free vacation, the new entrepreneur me groans that the vacation would cause us to stay away from our business for 2 days. :(

That would mean that I would be in calls with our people throughout our vacation,” I said. “And I would be worried about sales throughout the weekend.”

Such is the life of an entrepreneur.

Compare it to my Shanghainese friend who is here for Chinese New Year.

“How many days off do you have?” I meekly asked her. She currently works in corporate strategy for a large pharmaceutical company in Shanghai.

Oh, I only have 15 days,” she said. “Not that much.”

My husband who works for a Finnish company has 25 days off per year,” she added.

Shit. :(

Nope aspiring entrepreneur, 25 days off away from your business is still a luxury you most likely cannot afford until your team is in place and your business is stable.

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Bye bye long vacations.

For us, that would probably come in a few years time. Le sigh…

Lastly, I actually get little respect from peers.

Blame it on my friends having great jobs in huge companies. Most of my friends work in World Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, BOA Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, McKinsey, Amazon, LinkedIn, Unilever, P&G, Johnson&Johnson, and other leading companies.

Compared to the companies they worked for, my company… well, nothing much to brag about right?

When I first heard of my husband’s company, I cannot help but give him a blank stare. Seriously, I’ve never even heard of it!

When I heard of my parents-in-law company, I scratched my head. Never heard of it either!

Such is the life of an entrepreneur.

Most of the time, nobody’s heard yet of your company!

So when I meet people, they will politely nod their head after asking me what I did. And then they would change the topic.

Aiyo…

It can be a bit deflating to the ego that people have never even heard of your company.

Sure, that probably means that you need to do more marketing, and yes we are actually working on that part, but hell, it’s still a bit depressing when people are not as excited as you are about your company and your products!

Compare it to telling people that you work for McKinsey Consulting. Eyes would light up, and the immediate respect would be there. If you worked for McKinsey, that means you have the skills and the intellect to make it to their rigorous selection process.

Yes my friends, there is a difference.

Regardless, after bashing entrepreneurship — and yes, I can courageously do so because I am an entrepreneur — I cannot imagine myself being anywhere else.

Why?

Because for one, this is my fate.

I married into an entrepreneurship lifestyle. The business is ours by marriage. And if I want to continue to be happily married to my husband, this is the life I would have to live.

Plus it doesn’t help that I’ve been raised by two optimistic entrepreneurs who brainwashed me into thinking that there is no better option than managing your own business.

Two, because at the end of the day, this realist is still the ultimate optimist.

In the end, I still believe in our business. I believe in our products, and I believe in our strategy. We feel that we can grow our business through sheer force of will, and there is a future in our business. And yes, we are willing to put our money where our mouth is.

And lastly, I like to make a difference.

Whenever I hire someone new, I feel I am making a difference. Every person I hire, I always wonder if I can sustain his/her livelihood for the rest of his life.

Every time I sell my item, I imagine somebody else would be happy to receive such nice gift.

Every time someone actually knows who we are, I cannot help but feel a little bit proud, knowing fully well we have a direct hand in its success.

So is entrepreneurship for you?

Only you can answer that for yourself.

All I can say is, dive with your eyes wide open.

And then swim… swim as hard as you can.

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Love, Bonita

Posted in Advice, Business, entrepreneurship, Marriage, Ramblings, Reflections, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stalkerish Much?

Unlike many women, I like accompanying my husband everywhere he goes.

My mom used to go with my father everywhere so history repeats itself.

A friend used to tell me that the one time that my father went to Europe without my mother, she found him crumpled on the floor staring in front of his luggage because he usually relies on my mom to fit everything inside.

In short, my father was lost without my mother.

In my father’s lifetime, he left even the most mundane of tasks to my mother. He doesn’t even have a cellphone because he will just instruct my mom to call his friends on his behalf.

What can I say? My mom spoiled my dad a wee bit too much!

Now, my husband is more self-reliant and independent than my father.

While my husband doesn’t need me as much, it’s still cool that he likes me around as well. He’s not like other men who like to keep his work and wife separate.

Give me boys time!” an ex used to tell me. “Can’t you understand it’s important for me to have time with the boys?” 

Not so with husband…!

When we were dating, after work, he used to ask me to accompany him to car club meets.

People who go to these meets know that you do not bring your girlfriend along with you. Not only will the women would be bored, but combine a bunch of men with beautiful models and alcohol, then chaos ensues. Bringing the girlfriend was considered as KJ (killjoy).

So I am tickled that my husband always ask me to go with him. :)

It helps that his parents are almost always together too. His father spends the afternoon in his foundry business, before meeting up with my mother-in-law in the evening to help him in her business.

I guess, history really repeats itself, huh?

So whenever possible, I try to be with him. I can’t always have the time to go because of our business, but whenever I can, I try to be present whenever possible.

Like today, I managed to get away from our business to hang out with him at his shop. I keep busy by scheduling some interviews, mooching off the free internet.

It’s my way to offer him some moral support.

shop

Since I have a small business to handle, these moments are more of a luxury. I don’t always have time to go with him to his shop.

But when I do, he makes me feel very comfortable.

For example here he is bribing me with cheap Great Taste coffee.

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Warms my heart.

I think it’s great that we share the same beliefs on the amount of time we would like to spend together. If he is not comfortable in having me around, my regular calls and presence would be considered “stalkerish.” 

I have been called “needy” before and it hurts.

Great thing, I don’t have to worry about being needy with husband. Because he loves having me there as well. :)

Hope you’re having a great day as well!

Posted in Boyfriend, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Marriage, Reflections, Relationships, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Important is Sexual Compatibility? (Warning: NSFW)

It’s Sunday, and I’m in a good mood. Plus the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is coming out this week. So I will honestly answer what many people want to ask but are afraid to.

How important is sexual compatibility in a relationship? And if you are sexually incompatible, is there any way to salvage the relationship just because you love each other?”

*Cracks my knucles*

This is a fun question to answer, especially since I myself have adamant opinions about it. And while some of the answers are mine, others are shared to me by my other similarly opinionated and sexually independent girlfriends.

Yes, we talk about these things over cups of tea. :)

So back to the answer — Yes, sexual compatibility is very very important.

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If your libido is higher than his, it would suck if he rejects you when you want it. He will shy off from sex. If the guy has lower libido, this will happen very often. It will be very frustrating. And you will feel unattractive.

FACT: Yes, guys can have lower libido than women. They are not all horny rabbits as everyone tells us to be. I have met men with lower libido and reject their partners.

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If you like oral, and your guy does not like to give oral, then there’s no way in earth you can convince him to pleasure you. He will try to escape this job as much as possible. He will do it for a minute or two then stop and ask you to pleasure him instead!

Some guys like it super tight, while others like it wet and soft. It hurts their penis when it’s too tight.

Some guys like plain vanilla missionary and can only come in this position (Note to the ladies: It gets tighter if you cross your legs while doing it), while others prefer a lot of wetness (Add lubricant if you can’t provide lubrication) and/or variety.

Guys have their favorite positions — it’s our job to find out what it is and do it often. They will be bored or frustrated if we don’t try what they like.

Take for example hubby. He gave me a suggestion before of a position he liked.

Really? You like that?” I asked him nonchalantly, not really realizing I sounded as if I was dismissive of his idea.

He kept quiet about this until after a few months of self-reflection when he finally confessed that this was something he really wanted to try with me.

I totally forgot about it!

If it really meant a lot to you, why didn’t you ask me again?” I asked.

I thought you didn’t like the idea!” he exclaimed.

No, I never said I didn’t like the idea,” I answered. “I just weren’t sure if that was something you really really wanted to try.”

That’s why I asked you!” he said.

Oh, okay…. note to self, if you really want to try something, SAY IT. Ask for it. Because if you won’t, it would eat you up inside!

Sex is all about constant communication. Guys don’t usually know what to do with you. It’s all about regular exploration, and you telling them what you need.

Hubby for example got better with oral as our relationship progressed. He was open to instruction, and my gosh, sometimes, he could really make me come hard.

*Suddenly shy — oh well, we’re married. So it’s fine.* 

But honestly, for me, a non-negotiable is a guy who likes to give oral sex.

I know that some guys do not like giving oral sex.

For them, oral sex is dirty.

The mound is yucky, and you have to part hairs away. The taste is something not everyone is used to. His tongue gets tired.

Whatever the reason, he doesn’t like it.

Ironically, all guys want to receive blowjobs! So they won’t give it to you but asks you give them some.

FACE PALM

For me, if the guy does not like to give, he is selfish. Period.

He can’t get over his high horse and pleasure you the way women could be pleasured.

That means, a relationship with this dude will be marred with you constantly asking him for things you need, and him giving you a gazillion excuses why he cannot deliver.

Girls, bewarned: Your needs are just as important as his, and him not really giving you what you ask for is not a good sign!

So sexual compatibility is all about matching your natural sexual needs and wants. It’s either you have it, or you don’t. You can learn as much as you can, but if your needs are different, there’s really no forcing it.

For me, sexual compatibility is a non-negotiable. 

If you are not sexual compatibility, you will struggle in the bedroom.

He will try to convince you to try his kinks, and you in your own conservative beliefs, would shy away.

If he likes to be Mr. Grey and you shudder at the thought of blindfolding him, don’t be surprised if he dumps you to try that kink elsewhere. If you are married, be wary of him being loyal because he will always want to try that elsewhere. He will always wonder.

As they say, masarap ang bawal (Bad is sexy).

Even Anastasia Steele was open to trying BDSM, and yes, that openness is sexy! So should you!

There’s no way around it, or to fake it. It’s your body, and your boobs can’t get bigger (an incompatibility if he likes big boobed women), you can’t get any wetter or dryer, and your libido is more or less won’t change.

Woe is to the person who is not sexually compatible with their partners. It can work, but it will be a struggle.

Relationships is already as hard as it is. Let’s not complicate things more by being with someone who is not as sexually compatible as us.

calculate-sexual-compatibility

If you are the more dominant partner, you will always be frustrated. Why can’t he/she try this? Why can’t he/she do it more?

If you are the more submissive partner, you will get defensive. Can’t he/she understand you don’t need it as much? Why does he/she want to try that? It’s so…. taboo!

That’s how affairs happen.

I know women who were the mistresses in affairs. I knew women who were the wife in the affairs. And I knew the men who were involved in affairs.

Affairs happen because guys aren’t getting their needs met at home.

I condone affairs. I think it is hurtful to the wife and the kids. I feel sorry when an affair happens.

But I also understand affairs.

Big sigh.

If the wife cannot deliver, can we blame the guy for looking elsewhere? For being tempted with something he’s always wanted to try but can never really get at home?

I know of a guy who would have sex with his wife once a month. She would mark down that day in a calendar, and he would count to the days when they would have sex.

I know of a guy whose wife was an alpha female and was highly respected in the financial industry. He was also respected, but not as much as the wife. Was it a surprised he had an affair with a younger, more adventurous woman who was in another office who looked up to his greatness?

I know of a very respectable doctor whose wife is a housewife who successfully raised three kids but now spends her time playing online games with her daughter. Talking to her, the wife would complain about the drama in her family, her dogs and her kids. Coming from a position where critical decisions are made that can cause a patient to live or die, would it be too much of a surprise that this doctor would be easily attracted to someone who is his intellectual equal?

Yes, masarap ang bawal.

Now, can sexual compatibility be salvaged? Can love conquer all?

Honestly, I don’t think you can change sexual compatibility too much.

Love can make you stay in the relationship. “At least we are compatible in so many other ways,” you will tell yourself as you hug him/her tight, but I promise you, sooner or later, you will yearn what you don’t have.

When you look at other couples who are sexually compatible, who love touching each other, you will look at your partner and ask, “Why isn’t he/she like that?”

Later, as frustrations build up, you will ask, “If he/she loves me, why can’t he/she change for me?”

Trust me, nothing good will come out of this disastrous thought process. Confronting your partner regarding your frustrations would only make him/her say, “Hey, I thought we already talked about it, and I thought you understood!”

Oh well, I thought we could understand, but our bodies yearnings, well, they’re quite hard to control…

This is my official view: Sexual compatibility IS important, and no, if you are not sexually compatible, you and your partner WILL struggle.

So think very carefully if you really want this person if you are not sexually compatible.

Wait Bonita, how will you know if you are sexually compatible if you are a Christian and you can’t really try out the sex thing before marriage? What now?

It’s hard to know whether a car is good or not without giving it a test-drive.

But there are some ways to find out.

First, the way a guy kisses.

The first time I kissed Trader, I felt… NOTHING.

It’s bad to say it because it sounded very bitter, but honestly, it was nice. Tongue was given, but it was mechanical and yes, boring.

When I kissed him, I could hear other things happening. I thought of my work. I thought about his tongue. I could feel it going around, but that was about it.

I thought kissing him would improve over time. I became more aggressive and less aggressive, but kissing did not improve too much over time.

When I would hug him, the hug was mechanical for me. He would squeeze me and I would feel the squeeze, but there wasn’t too much warm feeling inside. It was really weird.

As for hubby, I could still remember the first day we kissed.

It was a dare between strangers, and we tried kissing each other. It was soft at first, but we couldn’t really stop.

After we left the restaurant, on the way to the parking lot, we heavily made out in the stairwell.

Phew, that was really hot.

Okay, now that we are married, those hot moments seem like memories, but heck, it was a good appetizer to the main course.

It made us think, “Whoa, this is good!”

Hubby didn’t really disappoint.

A man who has the guts to make out with a woman in a stairwell = A man who really don’t give a shit about common conventions and is willing to try out new things.

A man who can move like that = Must have more moves in the bedroom (True that, as I’ve discovered later after we got married).

Kissing Hubby and kissing Trader is like hot and cold. It was really different!

That’s when I learned how much I gave up just to be with a good guy. I closed my eyes and consoled myself that I was dating someone who was smart, decent and had a good job that I shut my eyes to the prospect that sex with Trader would’ve been boring.

I thought boring was acceptable.

Why not?

You got something better in return, right?

At least, in paper, you got a nice guy who can be a good husband and father.

WRONG.

Why do we always date/marry guys who look good to others? Often ignoring what would look good to us? If I married Trader, I already know that I would settle for a guy who couldn’t really make my blood boil. And he will always wonder why he couldn’t properly satisfy me.

And yes, it would’ve been terrible.

So guys/gals, please, think carefully before really getting into a committed relationship with someone you are not sexually compatible with. Please think carefully before putting a ring on it.

Sex is very important.

If you are not compatible sexually, don’t delude yourself in thinking it can get better. Thousands of pesos and a gazillion counseling sessions can only help too far.

Hope this helps. Feel free to agree/disagree in comments below. Good luck!

Posted in Boyfriend, Conflicts, Dates, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband, Interests, Life lessons, lovelife, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Have you found your “Soul Equal?”

This has been reprinted from Debra Faith Warshaw’s article, “There is Something Better Than Finding a Soulmate

I find this article quite accurate.

With ex-boyfriend Trader, I was the more dominant partner.

Frankly, I felt he was holding me down, and stayed in the relationship because I felt that women were supposed to find nice guys to marry. And Trader, to his benefit, was the typical nice guy (And I was the total bitch — but that’s another story).

I acted out. I tried his patience, but I wanted to see how much longer he could tolerate me. Honestly, I didn’t feel that Trader was an equal.

He was just there…

Sad I know.

With hubby however, I feel constantly challenged by his presence. It’s not always sweet nothings and roses, but at least with husband, I respect him more as an equal. While Trader was probably more academically smart, I felt that Hubby is someone I can really listen to. Hubby’s thoughts carried more weight, and they matter more.

Maybe it’s because we share the same wavelength?

I cannot stress just how important sharing the same wavelength is important in a relationship. If you and your partner do not talk the same language, if he/she does not find your humor funny, and if you feel bored when you are with them, for goodness sake, please DO NOT MARRY THEM.

Anyway, please do read this article. You might get something from it. I know I did. :)

———————————-

They say that when we’re choosing a tennis partner it is best to find someone that plays better than us so that it will help to improve our game.

tenniscouple

Unfortunately, this kind of sucks for the better player if what they’re looking for is a challenge and the hope of improving their own game.

Romantic love works pretty much the same way…sort of.

Romantic love thrives best when both partners share a perception of equality  between them and it struggles when we don’t.

Perception of equality means something very different to equality in the traditional sense of the word. This is not equality based around superficial or materialistic things. This is not about looks, age, gender, life experience, power, financial status or even intelligence. This is not about equality “in the eyes of God” sense either.

This type of equality is based on how both partners feel with and about each other. It is of a spiritual nature with an “essence” and “felt perception” that comes from a shared commitment to certain principles, values and a well-developed sense of self…A “Soul Equal” if you will.

Different than “Soulmates”—a term which can have more of an esoteric, intangible, serendipitous quality to it—“Soul Equals” are on similar spiritual paths to each other. These paths require choices and criteria beyond what we think of with a typical Soulmate connection. There are self-imposed standards here that are highly conscious and deliberate regarding ones thoughts, feelings and actions.

The two concepts often do merge, but not always.

Soul Equals truly value each other as equals and share an intention and dedication to the wellbeing and growth of themselves and the relationship. There is a strong mutual desire to keep healing and moving things forward. This happens through a daily practice of honest communication, self-reflection, and a high level of personal accountability.

When the sh*t hits the fan, Soul Equals do not run, hide or blame—instead, they pause, reflect and talk.

They support each other in the process of peeling away their layers.

When partners honor and live by these core traits and choices, a deep level of trust, honesty, adaptability, resiliency and unconditional support can flourish. And it flourishes well because of the wide-open space that’s created for safety and security. The ego may tempt, but rarely does it win.

The feelings generated through this kind of shared responsibility grounds the relationship with a tremendously strong foundation to build upon. Both partners can feel free and liberated to be their authentic selves and this will create a flow of high vibrational energy that will keep everything buzzing and humming with passion and aliveness.

We achieve our deepest levels of intimacy from this type of partnership.

These relationships are often completely mysterious to outsiders. We sometimes observe happy couples that seem to make no sense to us, yet they are blissfully happy. This is usually because we are viewing them through the lens of superficial, societal criteria.

Alternatively, when two people are not Soul Equals, if they are not aligned in many important and key self-development areas, the mismatched tennis game unfolds.

This will often show up when we begin a relationship because there is a strong physical attraction and perhaps not a heck of a lot more. Biochemical reactions take over and we ignore {or typically don’t even see} the half dozen or so red flags indicating the mismatch.

What started out with lust will turn pretty lack-luster faster than you can say “game, set, match.” A challenging dynamic of the fairly miserable kind will soon settle in.

The partner in the subordinate role will typically begin acting out of the fear of being left. They will abandon themselves and their needs and operate from the wounded ego; repeatedly giving in, hiding in the shadow of their partner, not voicing their truth, doing anything they need to do to hang on, remain “in the game” and try to win love and approval.

They may also take the opposite approach {with similar results} and repeatedly test their partner’s staying power by acting out and self-sabotaging anything positive.

The partner in the dominant role will fairly quickly become bored and frustrated by the inability to evolve and be challenged. Things will turn stagnant, the relationship will suffer a loss of respect, the connection will erode, resentments will build, and passion will wane, eventually grinding to a halt.

Intimacy cannot thrive in a union of misaligned souls.

So just how do we spot a Soul Equal?

Initially it’s really no different than any other way we look for a mate; attraction and compelling chemistry hopefully start us off. Then we need to chase that with a healthy dose of reality in realizing and accepting the intoxicating chemical effects of the honeymoon phase. Many of us get so sucked in and swept away by the early “high” that we lose our ability to be objective.

In order to evaluate if someone is a possible Soul Equal we need to take a deeper look and become investigative detectives looking for clues and evidence of a kindred spirit on the path—this is highly advisable before we run off to Vegas.

As we get to know someone there are definite things to look out for including: a person’s willingness and desire to take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions, their commitment to personal growth (what actions do they in fact take), how well they handle feedback and/or conflict, a fairly well developed (or developing) sense of self, an openness to share and express thoughts and feelings, and a wish to create an outstanding relationship.

Some of these things might reveal themselves fairly quickly but it’s more likely that it will take some time before we will see our new love interests “more authentic side.” For that reason it’s imperative to keep things light and unattached in the beginning.  We should keep communicating, stay intensely curious and try our best to leave our expectations and assumptions out of the mix.

We don’t need to be at equal points along every spot of our spiritual path; in fact, it keeps things more interesting when we’re not and helps facilitate greater learning opportunities. It’s really more about the desire and commitment to invest the time and do the work.

If after some time together we find we are “volleying” well on the relationship court, then it’s likely we have found our Soul Equal.

Posted in Boyfriend, Husband, lovelife, Reflections, Relationships, Reprints | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We are the Pussy Generation

Clint Eastwood called us “The Pussy Generation,” and I can’t help but to agree.

Compared to the older generations, we work a lot less.

We have more money and we have more things. And yet, we complain more.

We complain about the weather. We complain about our job. We complain about our colleagues. And we complain about our boss.

As if complaining would make us feel better, and all our issues would simply solve themselves.

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We arrive at work late, and leave on time. The last 15 minutes is spent shutting down your PC, going to the bathroom, primping and putting on makeup.

We are lazier, often choosing to chat, play our iPads and tinker with our mobile phones than taking work seriously. How many of us spend time choosing the right music to play on online radio instead of finishing a report? Or chatting with friends via Facebook or Gmail instead of finishing up our assigned task?

We expect our bosses to love us, and yet don’t do enough work.

We refuse to learn. “It’s not part of my job description,” we would say, and then feel shocked when we don’t get a bonus.

They should be lucky I am working for them,” you would say. And are surprised when they don’t give you a party when you leave.

We demand to be paid more, for sub par work.

I promise you the (insert sun, moon and stars here),” we would promise, and then feel surprised when the work is harder than we thought and we don’t get the results immediately. Nothing comes easy, my friend.

We believe just because we exist, we “deserve” to be successful without wanting to put in the hours.

We ask questions we already know the answer to. For example, asking our boss to allow us to take that family vacation since you’ve already booked your ticket. And then feel hurt and angry when bosses say “no” because apparently, they needed you at that time and you didn’t consult them first.

I guess for the pussy generation, questions are actually demands in disguise.

We want our bosses to keep quiet if we make mistakes. “It’s (insert excuse here)‘s fault,” we would say as if we had no part in it.

And then cry and feel hurt when they reprimand us for not doing our work well.

SHOCKER.

We blame everyone else about our shit of a life, as if we cannot do anything about it.

We blame our parents for giving us issues.

We blame our school and teachers for not teaching us the right things.

We blame our jobs for stopping us from achieving our dreams.

We blame our friends for giving us the wrong advice.

We blame the government for making us poor.

clint

We refuse to look long-term, choosing to insist on the here and now.

We get angry when we don’t get a big enough bonus because we felt that our contribution “made” the company’s profit.

Never mind that your company didn’t even break even. Did we not work hard for the company?

Now, pay up.

We choose to hop from job to job, never sticking around long enough to reap the benefits.

I don’t think they paid me enough!” we would scream. “Where are my vacation leaves and where are my benefits?!”

Then ask for even more money when we look for new jobs.

For every open position I have, I’ve had 100 more other applicants. The ratio is not good for the job-seeker. Everyone wants to have more money for less work, and yes, they want to start working on their terms not the company.

And they are shocked when they don’t get the job…

Honestly, I am part of the pussy generation.

I was darned lucky to have been born in a comfortable family who never really had to worry about putting food on the table.

I was fortunate to have been given a good education.

And I was lucky to have the opportunity to study and work abroad.

But as I look around, I saw how badly entitled my generation can be.

On how lazy and unreliable we’ve become at work. On how cold and distant we can be towards the family who’s worked hard to ensure we get the best things in life. On how selfish and self-serving we can be among our friends and comrades. And how much of a bitch we can be to those we love.

Love us because we exist,” we cry. “We DESERVE THIS. Give what we want to us just because we demand it.”

Bullshit.

So to the pussy generation, here’s what I have to say:

If we want success, earn it. Not take it, not wish for it, receive it, but EARN IT. 

Chad Howse says it best in his article, How to be Old School: 

Be old school. Don’t whine, complain, or wish you were elsewhere. You are where you are for a good reason, as am I. What we have and where we are right now is where we deserve to be – good or bad. But this is not where we’re going to end up. Keep pushing. Whatever you want to accomplish in life, whether it be career, family, or fitness oriented, hustle. Focus. Let nothing stand in your way, not even jealousy, laziness, or our burning desire to complain.

Then again, is that too much for me to ask from the Pussy Generation?

Yeah I guess so.

Posted in Business, entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, Reflections, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Intricate Balance of Getting Along with Your Husband

I think marriage is about getting along with another person.

Day in and day out, you’re pretty stuck with each other. And if you don’t get along well with each other, then life can really be hell.

marriag in hell

That’s why it’s really important to marry someone you can really get along with, someone who shares the same wavelength as you. The more you have in common, the better your chances would be.

Imagine marrying someone with a different values system or religion as you. My husband insists for example that those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ would not be saved. It would be an issue if I did not share the same beliefs. We will fight… unnecessarily.

It’s inevitable. When you do not share the same beliefs, arguments will come, tempers will flare and problems will escalate. Marriage is hard enough as it is.

I remember disagreeing with my husband last week. He said something that was hurtful to me, and because I was hurt, I refused to submit and follow him.

The more I became stubborn, the more frustrated he got. The angrier he got, the meaner things he said.

At that time, I did not want to touch him or talk to him.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why was my husband saying these things to hurt me, especially when we both knew that what he said were not true?!

You wouldn’t want the answer,” my husband replied. “Actually, when I get angry at you, and you hurt me, the temptation to fight back and hurt you back is strong.”

It’s true what they say: Just like any other relationship, marriage is like maintaining a bank account. For every nice thing you do or say, you add money to that bank account. For every mean and hurtful thing you’ve done or didn’t do, you significantly reduce money from that bank account.

Piggy Bank and Red Heart

There are marriages that become depleted after so many hurtful exchanges. Imagine years of saying or doing things that would hurt each other!

Consequently, man and wife no longer sleep on the same beds. Or they live with each other, but do so out of tolerance and sheer obligation.

Conversations become dry.

When they do talk, it’s only about their children or their work. Gone are the times when they used to talk about sweet nonsense and their deepest thoughts.

As I look back in our seven months of marriage, I realize just how easy it is to fall into that trap of resentment.

Matigas kasi ang ulo ng tao,” my mother would say (People are stubborn). “They always want to win. They never want to give way. But look, they may win the battle, but lose the war.”

A good friend of ours gave us this helpful tip before we got married, “What’s the use of being right if your marriage fails?”

“In the end, it’s all about submission,” my husband explained.

Submission?” I asked.

Yes, the Bible said women should submit,” he continued. “At first, it sounds so masochistic but actually it makes a lot of sense. Men have a lot of pride. If the woman is stubborn and does not submit, the husband’s pride would feel slighted, and the more he will not give the woman her way.”

resentment-hoarder

He will also start resenting her,” he added. “Hence, he wouldn’t like to talk to her, be with her, or have sex with her…”

Are you saying that men would actually say no to sex?” I asked.

Well, if you’re pissed at me, would you want to have sex with me?” he asked.

No!” I answered.

Well, there you go…”

Resentment is a tricky thing.

resentment

Resentment creeps in your marriage like a thief in the night.

resentment (1)

At first it starts with one argument, then the next. Before you know it, you’ve thrown your husband out of the house and changed the locks!

So again, who is the bigger loser?

The husband who is out of the house, or the wife who is out of her marriage?

Fortunately, I am a lucky wife.

My husband for example knows how to say sorry. When he says hurtful things, he does apologize for them and do a lot of cute things that help you forgive him.

I also know how to say sorry.

Of the 10 things I say when I am angry, 50% is usually true and must be said, 30% is usually true but should NOT be said and 20% is very unfair and shouldn’t even leave my mouth.

In the end, we would rather choose to be married than to be right.

And once one gives way, everything falls back in love again.

Are we friends now?” I asked my husband whenever we fight.

Yup, we’re good now,” he says as he gives me a hug.

Marriage is all about getting along with your husband all day, every day.

So are you getting along with your husbands? To those who are single, still think that marriage is a walk in the park? :)

Posted in Family, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Marriage, Ramblings, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Only in the Philippines – The Texts You Get in the Morning

When you work in the Philippines, you’d never know what you’re going to get.

Like yesterday, here is the text exchange between myself and an employee coming in on her first day:

Employee (Text: 8:51am): “Hi Ma’m. Good morning. Ma’m, this should be my first day at work, but Ma’m, may I request that I come to work tomorrow instead? Actually, I was already on my way to work when my sister called me and said she has an emergency at her house. Ma’m, I’m really hoping for your kindest consideration. I don’t mean to postpone my first day of work. Thank you in advance and God bless.”

PS

Me (Text: 8:55am): “I cannot do anything if you decide to go to your sister. But work is work. Your sister’s emergency is hers. I think it’s something she can take care of herself. I don’t think it’s a “real emergency” based on what we discussed on the interview. You have to know your priorities.”

Employee (Text): “Ma’m, I’m really sorry for this. My sister called me up saying that someone almost raped my daughter. It was the husband of my auntie. My daughter went to my aunt’s to bid farewell before school. They wondered why it took her so long. When they went to see her, they saw my uncle touch my daughter. Ma’m I am sorry and I await your consideration.”

Me: “Why would you leave your kid in an environment that there might be a rapist?! If you already know that your uncle is an asshole, why is your kid even there? I think you need to fix your family issues first before starting work.”

Employee (Text): “I’m really sorry. I will fix this issue first before starting work tomorrow.”

—————-

This is so fucked up. :-(

Apparently, the uncle was an unemployed alcoholic with a penchant for little children. And yes, he was left alone in the company of children.

As a child, I was always left alone in the maid but was never touched or raped by a driver or gardener. That’s what good parents do. They leave you in good capable hands.

The above only shows my employee shows poor judgement.

Oh and she was late today, citing it was traffic coming to work. We even rode the same elevator.

I think you can blame the traffic all you want,” I told her point blank. “But I think the problem comes in leaving your house earlier.”

Big sigh.

Not a good sign.

Posted in Business, Conflicts, enrepreneurship, Family Drama, Filipino Men/Women, First Experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Thought I Was Pregnant… And Then I Wasn’t

It was the perfect birthday gift.

After having a nice romantic dinner at Bonifacio High Street, I gave my husband a little dark gray box with a nice bow…

birthday

He looked at it and smiled, “So, we can now call our mommies and tell them that they’ll be grandparents.”

We have started trying for a baby since November after I stopped taking my birth control pills. Our respective parents had been slightly pressuring us for an apo (grandchild).

I haven’t had my period since mid-November, and yes I am a regular bleeder so it can only mean one thing. A trip to Watson’s again confirmed my suspicion, we were going to be parents!

Honestly, after I saw the results of the pregnancy test, I became afraid and nervous. Would I be a good mother? How can I raise good children? Where will I get the time?

But at the same time, I was happy and excited. Excited in such a way that a baby would be the perfect gift in our happy union. Happy because I can finally make my lovely mom a grandmother, a role she’s been jealously pining for years!

What’s more, I knew that my husband can be a good father. I’ve seen him with babies and it would be great if he can finally have one of its own.

“I don’t think our kid would be that pretty or handsome, but he/she would sure be smart!” I teased him.

I gave him his gift last Wednesday.

And it was great to see us adjust to the prospect of parenthood.

My husband started talking to my still invisible baby bump, touching the place where the baby would be staying for another 8 months.

We started talking about the baby, on who will take care of it and how our schedule would be.

We were excited to tell our folks, deciding to inform them of the good news this weekend when they take us to my husband’s birthday dinner.

Alas, just yesterday, I started spotting.

Spotting was NOT a good sign.

I called up hubby immediately, “Let’s not tell our folks yet that I’m pregnant. I have bad news: I’m spotting.”

He paused for awhile. “What do you mean spotting?”

I’m sure it’s not that serious,” I said. “But I am bleeding lightly. Let me google.”

A bit of googling showed that spotting is usual to 20% of women in their first trimester. According to the doctor, I am around 3-4 weeks pregnant. So that seems about right.

I called my husband back, “It’s okay, I think the Internet did say that some spotting is normal.”

“That’s a relief,” he said.

That evening however, the spotting became much worse, and the blood came out stronger. It was a much heavier flow, similar to my regular menstruation but worse.

I think we lost the baby,” I sadly told my husband.

Are you sure?” he asked.

Not yet, but I think if it doesn’t stop, I may have had a miscarriage.”

There is no real reason why miscarriages happen, although it usually happens on the first trimester. Up to 25% of recognized pregnancy ends in miscarriage.

miscarriage

Today, the flow is stronger as if I am on my second day of my period. There is some discharge and my lower abdomen hurt. I also needed to lie down.

In the end of the day, I came to the conclusion that if I was ever pregnant, there is no doubt that I am no longer pregnant.

Give me a hug,” I asked my husband. “I need to be consoled.”

Having no maternal instincts whatsoever, I am still surprised to experience that sense of loss of losing what could’ve been our little bean. While I was not entirely excited about being pregnant, it’s still a new beginning for us. And heck, maybe it’s a good time for us to be parents! I’m turning 35 this year after all.

Don’t worry,” husband said. “I can pork you again. Maybe this baby has some defect or something. Maybe it’s not meant to be this time.”

Maybe we are lucky. Maybe we would’ve lost him/her anyway through the process of the pregnancy. It could’ve been worse. We could’ve told our parents the exciting news only to pop their bubble later on. Maybe the kid would’ve had a defect, and an early pregnancy termination through God’s hands would’ve spared us from unnecessary grief.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But I am still a bit sad. Despite consoling myself of the maybe’s, I wonder what could’ve been.

And sad that we had a few days of hope, and now, a day of loss.

I feel sad for the Little Bean that now wasn’t.

So now I feel for those who were pregnant, and then wasn’t.

Cause now I can count myself as one of them.

And yes, it’s one of the sadder things that could happen to a woman.

I know this now.

Posted in Family, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What do you do when good people resign?

What do you do if two of your key people resign on the same week?

For an office with only seven people, it can be disaster.

Let me tell you, there is no worse feeling than getting a resignation letter from a valued employee of the company.

To be honest, it fills you with dread and self-doubt.

Like any failed relationship when a guy tells you that he’s leaving, and “it’s not you, it’s me,” you immediately jump into the conclusion that when a good employee leaves, it’s because it’s you.

quit job.jpg-550x0

Anyway, put yourself in their shoes, will you leave a company unless the ship is sinking? If the company gives a bright future to the staff, why would they want to anchor to somebody else?

In addition, you wonder if your management style can be too harsh. Maybe you scream at them too much? Maybe work environment is too much stressful?

Am I a bitch boss?” I asked my husband.

He laughs.

Yes, you can be a bitch boss at times.”

That doesn’t make me feel better. :(

When employees resign, it’s time for self-reflection. But I don’t like to wallow in self-doubt and self-pity. I’d rather go straight to the staff and ask them why they are leaving.

Employee 1 is our office manager. While she is only 27 years old, she has managed to endear herself to us. Her hands are fast, her brain is bright and she can be trusted.

So much so that by last week, she was helping us with the inventory, the hiring, the staff training, the paperworks and basically everything that’s needed to be done around the office.

Sure, there were some kinks that need to be smoothened out — say for example, her penchant of doing things too fast to the point that she overlooks mistakes because she does not double check — but overall, I like her, and if the boss likes you, she would want to keep you.

Employee 2 is our web designer.

We started off at the wrong foot. She was constantly late and frequently took leaves to take part on family vacations.

I live in Bulacan, ma’m” she reasoned as if it was an acceptable one. “The commute is long.”

“Regardless on whether the commute is long, every employee has the responsibility of coming to work on time,” I said. “It’s about employee discipline, and when a staff does not have the discipline, they cannot be relied on anything else.”

It all came to a standstill after we assigned her to take charge of an exhibit, and she was nowhere to be found!

Where the hell is Estee?” I asked my husband.

She must just be around….” said my husband. I later found her going around with the model we hired, babysitting her.

We did not pay you to babysit the model,” I said. “She can take care of her own self.”

The last straw was when she abandoned our kiosk displays at Market Market! As she was in charge, she was supposed to ensure everything was finished before she went home. Instead, she went ahead and left our kiosk, our people and our products at the venue.

Abandoning one’s post before the show is done is a no-no.

That was it. I’ve had enough.

I didn’t talk to her for a week. I didn’t care if she came or went, or what work she did. I refuse to work with someone who does not want to be taught.

She smartened up.

She came to work on time and started to finish her job without dilly-dallying.

We kept her.

And now, she’s also resigning.

I-resign-400x202

How did I handle it?

Here is what I did:

1) Talk to the employee who is resigning. Find out why they are resigning first.

If someone quits your organization, it’s important to stay calm and first talk to the person who is resigning.

Why are you resigning? Is it the company? Do you think that there is no longer a plan for you within the company?

Without information, you don’t know where the organization stands, and whether you would want to keep the person or not.

For Employee 1, I learned that she didn’t realize how important she was in the organization. While her actual role was the office manager, she thought she was merely one of the staff in the office who takes orders from everyone else.

Role misunderstanding is a common issue in the office and it was an absolute pleasure for me to correct her.

You are more important than you think,” I told her. “The company already has made plans for you since the third month you’ve started and begun to do more work in the office by training our sales staff.”

2) If you want to keep her, convince her to stay by showing her your plans for the company and what are your plans are for her. Show her she has a future inside your company. 

It’s true. We have already singled her out for promotion and a pay increase ever since she started. Good people are hard to find and when you find one, you try to keep them in the organization if you can.

I’d like to think that the company can give you a future,” I continued. “One of the best things of working for us is that we treat our employees as family. As you know, our longest employee has lasted us 18 years, and they would not have stayed if the company was bad, or if the company was there whenever they needed it.”

One of the perks of working with us is the close relationship between the employer and employee. Compared to a large corporation who cares jack shit about you and your family, our family business was instrumental in propping up our employees lives, be it support when a family member dies, when an employee gives birth, when they need a loan to buy a car or a house, and when times are tough and everyone else is shedding jobs.

greener-grass-2

Why do you think Tess had been moved to the parent company?” I asked Employee 1. “It’s because we are confident that given her age, we can support her and her family.”

At a time where everyone jumps ship, our company is still an organization that aims for employees who can stay long with us for decades. Once proven their service and loyalty, we do give back to our employees and support them whenever we can.

That’s why I would ask you to reconsider jumping ship,” I concluded. “Sure, your new employer may be good at first, but I doubt that they can give you what we can give you in the long run. You would once again have to start from scratch, and find your way in their political system, but I can assure you that as I know what your future would be like with us, I don’t think they can match up what we can give you if you stay.”

I have confidence to claim this because she told me about her supposedly new employer: a medium-sized construction company in Rizal where she is in charge of payroll and paperworks. Similar job description with what she’s doing now, but with less trust and a less brighter future.

I truly believe there’s a lot of politics inside the company. Her last company was a similar construction company and she left that organization after 8 years because there was too much politics. She was ousted by the president’s aunt who is in charge of accounting.

But here in our company, she has a bright future.

While she is only 27, she has already endeared herself to her employers, and we have good plans for her. Once you get a good egg, it’s a wonderful feeling to invest in this good egg instead of taking the trouble of looking for another one.

3) Dangle a pay increase if necessary. How to calculate for a pay increase.

I offered her a pay increase.

Now, I didn’t offer her a pay increase because she was leaving — that would’ve been blackmail — but I simply told her the pay increase we have planned for her ever since we have pegged her for a promotion.

How did I calculate the pay increase?

First, I looked at the company overhead. How much money can I offer this employee and still be able to support my business with a profit?

Two, I looked at what jobs she can do, and what is the fair pay for each?

Then, I looked at the fact that if she left me, how much more money will it take me to find a new person, and whether that person can deliver the same amount of goods.

Take for example, this employee does office work (e.g., tagging items, distributing them, making delivery receipts, recording our sales, etc.) and does the hiring and training of our staff. If I was to look for a new person, I would have to hire someone who is capable of doing office work and training.

Looking at the job market pool, it’s easy to find an administrative officer. It’s also easy to find a human resource person. But it’s difficult to find an administrative officer who can do human resource.

Hence, if she left, I would have to hire two people instead of her.

That amount adds up.

So I get the salary I would pay the two people, then compare that to her present salary. Given these two numbers, I would adjust my proposed salary to her that would be in the middle of what she’s getting now, and what I would pay if I hire two new people to replace her.

TA-DA! Salary increase — but a salary increase she actually deserves.

I make sure she understands that I am not increasing her salary because she is resigning. Nor am I increasing anybody’s salary because they are resigning.

Simply, I am increasing her salary because it’s about time I increase her salary, and because I like her and she deserves the salary increase.

4) Be gallant regardless on whether your resignation talk go well or not. It’s not a zero-sum game, and you can’t win them all. 

In the end of the day, you cannot convince a departing employee to stay. If they want to leave, let them go. :)

With Employee 2, because she was leaving to greener pastures — they offered her a 35% pay increase — there’s nothing better to do but to accept her resignation and get her promise that she will ensure a proper turnover.

There’s no need to burn bridges or take things personally.

don-t-burn-a-bridge-with-me-and-then-expect-me-to-send-a-boat

Employees come and go all the time, and nobody is truly indispensable. If your business is hinged on a single employee, then you’d better ask yourself if you’re really hands on or not. Maybe you shouldn’t be in that business after all if you are always dependent on your employees.

Anyway, there are more fishes in the sea.

5) Have Plan B, C, and D.

After I got their resignation and wallowed in a bit of self-pity, I braced myself and started looking for Plan B, C and D.

plan-b-1

Regardless on whether I can convince them to stay or not, life will go on. I then started looking for replacements in case they do leave me.

Businesses should not be hostages to departing employees. If people leave, new people will come so long as the business is good.

And our business is doing well.

We’ve just gotten an extremely good December, we have just opened a new store in the South, and are looking to open our first provincial store in February. Sales are healthy and after a tumultuous January, I am looking forward to a brighter February.

So it’s easier to ask prospective employees to come and work with a growing ship than a sinking one. And we’re far from a sinking ship. :)

I got employee 1’s resignation letter last Monday. Thanks to God, He gifted me with great people this time in my job search!

I already have three prospects in mind to hire. One to replace the cheating bastard who stole from us early this January, one to replace Employee 1 if needed be, and the other one who can head our provincial push.

One already accepted. I am waiting for Prospective Candidate 2’s response to my offer, and I have already asked Prospect 3 for a final interview.

In the end, the beginning of the week was a downer. What do you really do indeed when good people resign? That one is a tough question to answer.

But by yesterday, everything is already in place. New blood will come in to replace people who may be leaving you anyway, if not now then maybe in the future, and life will go on.

Hope that you’re all doing well! Happy weekend!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, enrepreneurship, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, First Experiences, Life lessons, Lists, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’m sick.”

I’m hungry,” my husband groaned last weekend while we were at SMX at the bridal show.

Uhhhhh… we’re still not yet done setting up,” I said.

But I’m hungry,” he moaned like a ravished child. I need something to eat.

I was torn.

While I don’t want my husband to be hungry — and grumpy — I do believe there is a time to work and a time to eat. A time to be game on and a time to relax.

It was almost 10am and we were still not done setting up. The guests were coming and our booth was not yet ready!

After the booth was almost ready, I went with my husband to eat. Once full, he sniffed and said, “I’m sick.”

First, you are hungry. Then once hungry, you are sick. What else is next?

And there he was sniffling and sneezing. Yes, he is really sick. And when hubby gets sick, he gets grouchy.

Oh, and I am sleepy.”

UHHHH…. WHAT THE HELL?

First, I have no sympathy for sick people… unless of course they are really sick. As in sick that they collapse on the floor and have to be taken to the hospital.

When I was very young, my father pushed me to go to school even though I was sick. “Sickness is not an excuse,” he would say, only taking me home if I am sick enough to be sent by the teacher to the clinic and sent home by the nurse.

I was almost never THAT sick.

So save a high fever that kept me bedridden and a one-week bout in the hospital, I had perfect attendance in school. In short, I was only absent if I needed to be, and I was not maarte about that.

Not my husband.

If he is sick, he cannot operate properly if he has a cold. To solve the problem, he sleeps it off. Drinking half a bottle of Dimetapp, my husband will zonk out after half an hour, snoring noisily in his sleep.

Sleeping does wonders for him. A bit of sleep and rest and he’s all spic and span.

The problem is, he is usually sick WHENEVER we need him.

Sickness chooses no occasion and last weekend, sickness caught onto him on the very first hour of the show.

So instead of having an equal partner who readily helps out in all elements of the show, I have to instead be very considerate and take care of my husband, who needs as much attention as the show.

Marriage is a delicate balance.

And here lies the dilemma — between the show or your husband, who do you take care of first?

I think therein lies my mistake: I chose to take care of the needs of the show.

I consoled myself in thinking that my husband is a grown man who can take good care of himself, forgetting that men also like to be showered with attention especially when sick.

The-Show-Must-Go-On

The show must go on,” I said to myself. And between the show and my husband, the show still needs immediate attention, while my husband can sleep his sickness off in the car.

My second mistake was to be frustrated.

I was frustrated that my husband was not pulling his own weight, conveniently choosing a very busy occasion for the company to be sick, as if it was only an excuse to get away from work. How convenient is it for him to be sick in the beginning of the show? That way, all he has to do was rest, leaving me to do all the work!

How can I leave the show alone? And our staff? Seeing my husband slumped by the booth looking sickly and sleepy is not the best showing of our company to our people and to the exhibit goers.

It’s a hard balance.

At one side, you want to be sweet and romantic, catering to every need and want of your ailing husband.

But on the other side, you have to instill discipline when it comes to work. No, you can’t take a break whenever you want to just because you’re a boss and no, you can’t abandon your people when they’re working alongside you on the weekend.

Wah, work has a way of dampening romance.

Up until now, I feel sorry that I lack empathy for those who are sick and in need.

I simply cannot sympathize too much when people are sick, since if I was in their shoes, I would still trudge on and get over the show as quickly as possible even when I am weak, sleepy or hungry. This has always been my training since birth.

I feel like a drill sergeant. :(

drill

Oh well, in the end, husband did sleep off his sickness in between the show.

I almost suffocated in the car,” he complained. “But I feel much better now.”

On the bright side, his parents did come by to check out our booth. I think they liked what they saw and was happy to see both of us there working.

And this my friends is what working with your spouse is all about. It’s not all beds and roses. In fact, we argue a lot about how to run the business.

And yet, there are roses amongst the thorns.

You almost killed me by letting me sleep in the car,” husband grumbled.

Well, almost. :)

Onto the next show!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, Family, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Life lessons, Marriage, Men | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No Rest for the Weary Entrepreneur

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week.

If you are an entrepreneur, theoretically, there is no sleep and there is no rest.

When we returned from a one-day vacation last June 2, husband and I were riding high from an awesome December month.

Sales were up 16.5% from last year’s high and our stores were humming and churning good numbers.

We’ve finally stabilized our team having hired five key people for the head office in less than six months. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing, and it’s good to finally breathe easy again knowing that your business is in good hands.

Most importantly, we are opening two new stores in the first quarter of 2015.

Life seemed great and perfect.

On January 3, it all came crashing down.

One of our area supervisors came to us wailing like a baby, claiming that a woman in the bus hypnotized him and took money from him. She rode with him as he went through store by store to get the cash sales from our sales staff. Since he was the supervisor, they gave the money to him.

The total damage? Php 54,000, 4.5x the Philippine minimum wage. A big amount of money for many people out there.

As we investigated the matter further, many holes appeared in his story.

For one, he changed company policy from the store directly depositing the money to the bank to him receiving the cash himself and bringing the cash to the office. This was done without management approval.

Two, taking advantage of the holidays, he also kept money in his boarding house for 5 days, saying he intended to deposit it to the head office when the money was given to the said lady. By policy, area supervisors are not allowed to keep goods and money at home.

Ma’m, hindi ako magnanakaw!!!! Mamatay na ang nanay ko, pero po, biktima po ako dito!!!” he meladromatically cried and wailed. What he was saying was, “Ma’m, I am not a thief. May my own mother die but I myself am a victim of this occurence!”

cry

Seriously, he could’ve won an Oscar.

If you manage a business, you know that many staff lie to your face. How many times have I heard a person swear to God that he didn’t steal (but did), or come up with a stupid excuse on why he didn’t come to work when in fact he was going out for an interview or something.

Filipinos can be really good at lying.

They will say things that would tug your heart and make it seem as if they are kawawa (to be pitied), but in fact, they are as guilty as hell. If all reasoning don’t work, then work on your boss’ mercy and emotions.

This is such a case.

As the investigation came about, I realized that things are not as rosy as they seem.

He was able to take money from the company because of a lack of control in the head office. Items and money were not recorded properly and several rules were not strictly implemented. Supervisors took it upon themselves to handle money even if they were told not to, and nobody said anything about this.

I was dumbfounded and angry.

First, angry at my staff for not doing what they should be doing. That’s why I hired someone to be our accounting clerk – for her to record and receive the right things. That’s why I assigned a second-in-command, for her to keep track of people in the company.

Alas, if something bad happens in your own business, the most guilty party of all is yourself. If I caught him earlier, this wouldn’t have happened. Money would not have been lost. If I double-checked their work, my staff would have been more on top of their game.

I enjoyed the high tide a bit too much, turning complacent when things were going well our way. I didn’t stay as late as I should nor did I push my staff to take their work more seriously because it was the Christmas season.

WRONG.

When you are in business, there is no rest.

I’ve looked at our business and found six (6) critical aspects of managing one’s business. They are as follows:

  1. Products: Product includes sourcing products that can sell or at least dispose of at a certain amount of time. If you have no items to sell, there is no business. And if you cannot sell your item at a price people want to pay, then you will also have no business.Distribution is also part of product. Customers must be able to access your product when they need it. If your product is always unavailable in the market, then customers will get frustrated and buy from your competitor.

    This was not a problem since our stores were all well-stocked with salable items. Even when sales were brisk, we did not run out of stock. Our products were great gift items, and hence, were salable during the Christmas season.

  2. Hiring and Recruitment: Hiring the right people is important to business. Hiring the wrong people is tantamount to a lot of headaches and pain. My area supervisor not only lost me money, but also my precious time, which could have been spent elsewhere. If you cannot also staff people on time, your stores have to close even if business is high.This was not a problem since our stores were well-staffed during the Christmas season. Even if there were a lot of people who left or were terminated, our stores were still open every day at prolonged mall hours and holidays, and sales were not impacted at all.
  3. Sales and Marketing: You have to source products people would actually want to buy. You have to hire and train people who can sales talk. You have to somewhat promote your business so people know your brand is to be trusted. Retail is about making your products desirable and pushing your customers to buy. If you have a store and sales are low, then you’re dead.Last December, sales were great. Our staff was pushing and chasing the quota. We gave out an annual planner for a minimum purchase. People were hitting record numbers. No problem in this avenue.
  4. Paying your expenses and liabilities: Managing a business requires you to balance your cash. If you are a good businessman, you have to have a good handle on how much cash your business is bleeding on a daily basis. Spend too much, you will run out of cash. Run out of capital and you have no choice but to close down your business. Bounce a check and you have to pay a fee, and worse, ruin your reputation and lose your supplier’s trust.Last month, I was on time in paying all of my financial obligations — from the payroll to the rental, and up to the miscellaneous expenses. Great!
  5. Receiving the correct amount of money back to the office: If your sales are high but no money is received by the head office, then your business is fucked. People will steal from you. Your bank may make a mistake (e.g., did not record the deposit even if you gave them the money). Your customers will delay paying for as long as you can. And people can conveniently “lose” the money like what happened in my case.Our money problems started because we were not tight enough with control. My girl in the office was receiving the money, but did not really relate that to actual sales that were happening. Our staff was delayed in depositing money. Our supervisors were handling the money even if they shouldn’t touch it opening up the temptation to steal.

    As a boss, it’s crucial that you have a tight hold in money coming in. If you cannot reconciliate your numbers and are still confused where your money comes from, then maybe you’re in the wrong job.

  6. Back office controls: Now this was where we had a problem. Money was being deposited, but was the amount correct? People seemed to be doing their jobs, but were they? My staff were leaving the office on time but were their work done? Our supervisors were turning over their documents, but were they correct? Back office controls means that not only that people are doing what you hired them to do, but they are also doing the right things at the right time.Take for example this image: Sure, you’re climbing the wall fast and efficiently. But are you climbing up the right wall?

    Ladder of success

Our company’s mistakes happened because I was so strict with the four, but lacked the time and discipline to check the deposits and check to see if people in the head office were doing their jobs.

Honest to goodness, I was too busy expanding my store, enjoying the fruits of our people’s labor and worrying about the other three aspects of the business. December was our peak month so I was more focused on getting our products out and ensuring that everyone can push our product.

This effort was successful, which was why we beat our quota.

But because I removed my eye from the other two, the whole thing bombed in my face. This is the reason why I was left with a wailing scheming son-of-a-bitch who managed to take advantage of the lack of controls in the head office to steal Php 50,000+ from us.

In summary, there is no rest for the weary entrepreneur.

Unlike a corporate dude who can still leave work in the office and focus on a few specific mandates, an entrepreneur cannot take his/her eyes from the six critical aspects of business.

Take your eye out from product, and you’ll find yourself with angry customers who are tired of coming back again and again.

Take your eye out from hiring, and you might force yourself to close stores because you are understaffed. You may end up with poorly trained staff with low morale. Worse, you get staff who will file a case against you for wrongful termination even if they needed to be fired.

Take your eye out from sales and marketing and you may find yourself with a lot of inventory you cannot dispose of. Whoops!

Take your eye out from paying your bills and your creditors will take you to court. You may be in jail and your reputation in tatters.

Take your eye out from deposits and people may be stealing under your nose.

And lastly, take your eye out from controls and you’ll find your people taking you for a ride. Nothing gets done, and even if it is, it’s the wrong thing.

My mother-in-law always said, “If I had a choice, I would rather be a bean counter in a large company. I don’t think its always good to be a businesswoman. Sure, there is fulfillment in managing your own business, but there is no rest for the weary.”

She is 100% right.

The only time an entrepreneur can rest is if he closes the business down willingly or unwillingly. Otherwise, one must trudge on. :)

Entrepreneurship is my fate.

My dad is an entrepreneur. My mom is an entrepreneur. My husband’s family is an entrepreneur, and my husband is also an entrepreneur.

Though I can easily jump to a cushy corporate job, entrepreneurship is my present and my future.

But it’s no peace of cake.

Hopefully, my sharing with you what I think are the six critical aspects of business would help you manage your business better. Till then!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, Family, First Experiences, Life lessons, Philippines, Ramblings, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Husband’s Guest Post — “My Wife Drives Me Nuts”

Does your mom, dad or sibling have a particular habit that just simply drives you nuts?

Burping out loud, leaving the door open, cluttered mess… these sort of things?

Now, take these irritations and multiply it by at least ten.

That’s the stress level of everyday married life.

Things that you’re so used to do, your partner simply doesn’t and it boggles your mind on how much common sense can be so uncommon. Therefore, in lieu of my wife being too busy running our business (Note: Christmas is our peak season), I now present to you my “Wife Drives me Nuts” habits.

Hair, hair and more hair everywhere!

I grew up with two sisters a mom. People naturally shed hair. Google says an average of 100 hairs fall of everyday. But my gosh, can my wife really shed!

Here’s her hairbrush for a yucky visual description. That’s how much hair she can shed in just a single brushing!

hair

Now, I have an issue with hair.

I hate seeing it on the floor of the bathroom. Ironically, God has seen it fit to give me a wife that definitely sheds more than a 100 strands a day.

I really fail to understand where it all comes from, or more mysteriously how it ends up at the back of the toilet bowl!

Like seriously?!?!?

There is no swirling air current inside our 10sqm bathroom.

The wife doesn’t even shrug at the fact that we have that much hair on the floor!

So my mornings are spent sweeping and collecting the hair from the floor and the shower area, and repeat cycle at night before going to bed.

Laundry blues

Why do you have to do the laundry?” my wife asks every so often. “I only do it when I have nothing left to wear. This is how I used to do it when I lived abroad.”

Now wifey has enough clothes that would last her months if she doesn’t do the laundry. According to her, her longest record was three months without doing the laundry.

I would just wear the clean clothes I still have,” she beamed proudly. “Why waste water doing the laundry. Save the earth!”

FACEPALM.

I used to have the same process when my mom always always packed laundry detergent every time we travel, and would yell at us to give the laundry every night. Why launder when you can just pack enough?

Well 15+ years of doing this made its way into a habit.

Thus, the wife snickered at me during our 1st week of the honeymoon when I walked 2km just to find a laundry service in Milan. And when I came back with clean clothes, gave me a loud scolding because I told her that I found one and paid 15 Euros for the service.

WHHAAATTTT???? HOW MUCH?!??!?” she moaned. “That’s highway robbery!!!”

I shrugged. It was the sweet old lady who did it and I don’t mind parting off my Euros if it meant clean clothes.

Two days later when in Venice, I gleefully squealed when our AirBnB place had a washing machine with powder soap, promptly getting a “What dafuq” look from the wife.

So yeah laundry is my department which I do every 2-3 days depending how much my wife recycles hers sleepwear. An overflowing laundry basket drives me nuts.

Clothes don’t walk by themselves to the washing machine and fold themselves you know.

And if my wife don’t care about the laundry, then I’d have to do it!

3 of a kind. Maybe 4…

I occasionally channel surf and land on a show in Lifetime channel called Hoarders, of which the mother-in-laws house can actually pass in for an episode. Years of training have made my wife a quasi hoarder.

While no, we don’t have piles and piles of stuff and endless boxes — yet — the wife likes to buy and stock bathroom supplies, so at any time we have 3 toothpastes, 4 toothbrushes, and 18 rolls of tissue paper at any time of the day. Let’s not even get started on the soap and the shampoo. I think we have enough Safeguards to last us two years.

But the kicker discovery I made is that she has 3 eyelash curlers!

Who needs or has 3 eyelash curlers?!?!?!

curler

“I do, got a problem?”

Nope”. Eeep!

And my bathroom clean freakiness demands that I wash the eye lash curler of accumulated gummy lash goop every week… All 3 of them. Can you believe that before she met me, she washes it once every six months?

Oh not to mention she does the extremely Chinese thing when checking out of hotel rooms, which is to take each and every shampoo, conditioner, perfume, lotion bottle there is… even the tissue paper!

Our luggage before checking out:

hoarders

Check out the tissue, free water and the hotel lotion.

“What??? I paid for the room! These are mine,” she says as she zips up the back with her goodies.

For the love of squeegee

Before you start thinking that how come it’s all complaints and gripes, rest assured it’s not.

One delightful thing we discovered is that we both like to squeegee the water droplets on our shower mirror. So much so we actually 3 different squeegees, but the red one is our favorite, which wipes clean and good.

And it’s not only the shower glass we squeegee, but also the mirror.

The feeling we both get when wiping the glass.

squeegee

Ahhhhhhhhh….. Squuuuueeeeee-Geeeeeeeeeee

Low battery bane

I also have a slightly battery life anxiety.

I cannot stand not to have my gadgets almost always fully charged.

My wife couldn’t care less.

So every trip I’m in charge of all the chargers.

Charge, chargers get it? Hahahahahaa, oh never mind.

I’m not particularly techy-ish but I do like cruising the cellphone gadget stalls to see what new quirky things they have, or what they say in Taiwan, qi qi guai guai de dong xi.

We each have a night table and I actually have 3 cords for my 2 devices and while browsing the internet, I came upon the Quirky desktop charging dock, and I swear, it is the most elegant solution I have seen.

Scouring eBay, I found a used one for US$15 and promptly bought it and gave it to her for Christmas. Here it is front and back.

quirky dock

quirky dock back

Fits her iphone and ipad very well.

Binge watching

Everyone binge watches, whether its LOTR marathon or The Simpsons.

And for this I thank almighty God that my wife barfs at shows like the Real Housewives of whatever.

Married life is about sharing and spending time together doing what you want.

My go-to channels before are always the documentary ones like History, Nat Geo and Discovery.

But since getting married, I have discovered a whole host of shows that I would otherwise not normally pick when visiting the DVD tiangge place.

6 months into marriage, we’ve already watched Scandal, House of Cards, The Americans, Orange is the New Black and so much more, and I’ve enjoyed each and every one, and am very happy I have someone to share it with.

On a slightly off topic note, I got a bunch of toe socks for Christmas and I have read somewhere that this is one of the dumbest fashion inventions ever, but I absolutely like them.

I think it’s cute, my wife wrinkled and brow and gave me the “Dafuq” once look, which promptly had me grabbing a leg and putting it on her foot.

toe socks

Cute isn’t it? Comes in pink as well.

So there you go. There are things that drive me nuts, and there are things I enjoy being married. And the things that drive me nuts don’t make me more miserable. It’s just the basic difference between two people.

We should not let the stuff that drive us nuts drive any wedge between us. In fact, it should endear us more to the other, just as my wife, somehow.. somewhat… given her many quirky habits make me want to love her more.

Wait, wife’s calling for us to watch a torrented movie of The Interview.

Let me know if there are also other quirky things you hate/love from your partner. Gotta go guys!

Posted in Conflicts, First Days of Marriage, Friendship, Guest Post, Husband, Life lessons, Lists, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Technology is EVIL

After over five months of marriage, Hubby and I remain happy and content in our togetherness.

He still makes me coffee every morning and massages my tired feet every night. He helps clean the shower (I never seem to get why you have to pick up hair in shower instead of allowing the hair to accumulate) and ensures that our laundry gets done twice or three times a week. For me, I am happy working in the day time then resting at night, often playing Anipop or watching our favorite shows per night. Not a bad life if you ask me.

We have admittedly fought twice in our marriage. Hubby calls them “complete melt-downs” where I am reduced to a “wailing, useless puddle.”

I call it, “fighting for what I think is right.”

Whatever.

The first fight happened around three months after our wedding. We were reduced to shouting at loud volumes to each other. The second fight happened last week at Disneyland where I gave him the silent treatment, and kicked him in the morning.

As newlyweds, we’ve always had our little irritants here and there — me for not getting my way and him working on his patience, but the two blow ups take the cake. And guess who is the culprit?

TECHNOLOGY!!!

Yes, evil technology.

evil-inside

You see, Hubby conducts a lot of his business online. He answers customer inquiries via email and Facebook ALL THE TIME. Even while he is away, it never ends. He is busy emailing his office.

And if you think he is secretly emailing other people, I’ve checked. His texts, messages and emails are all work related. So at any given time, Hubby is ordering an item, shipping the item, quoting a price, posting a comment or photo on the car club walls, or instructing his people. Ho hum.

The issue is this though — I DO NOT think it’s polite for us to spend time together, be it just the two of us or with family, and have your face stuck in the phone, texting or emailing.

It’s ironic that technology which is supposed to bring people closer together, is actually bringing people apart.

Imagine this, how usual is it for you to have dinner with someone and have that person Facebook while you’re talking to them? Or in the midst of an intense conversation, you see them interrupting the flow to text somebody else on the other line?

For Hubby, it’s okay to put technology over loved ones since I am a “kai ki e lang” (Fookien slang for own people). Hence, while he would not be texting while having dinner with the president, it is okay to text if you’re just having dinner with your parents. “Hon, you should be very understanding and know that I am working. So I should be allowed to get away with it,” he would say.

I find this concept ridiculous! Since when are you allowed to get away with rudeness just because you are close? Politeness should be universal. I think people should be polite with the president, with their friends and yes, even with loved ones!

Personally, I feel that there is always the right time to work, to spend time with family and to play. I find it preposterous that you are spending time with me, but actually your focus is somewhere else!

Sure, it is work.

And yet, I do believe that when having dinner, one should focus on your companions who are there with you at the dinner, instead of texting a customer who is somewhere else and can wait to receive his price quotation for headers!

Now hubby would insist that replying fast is good customer service. I agree. However, there is the case of good customer service and actually spending quality time with your dinner companions.

If you are a doctor, I can understand,” I told him. “If you don’t reply, your patients may die. But you are not a doctor so yes, your customers can wait while you eat with your wife.”

So the first fight was when he was twiddling on the phone during lunch time, replying to another inquiry. The second fight was when he was FlipBoarding (it’s a magazine app) in The Magic Kingdom.

I went bonkers then.

The straw that broke the camels back was when he was again FlipBoarding during the Disney fireworks which I was so excited to show him. I showed my displeasure and he curtly answered back.

So I didn’t talk to him for the rest of the night.

I am usually very sweet and understanding but if he wants to still talk or use his phone when it’s “meal” or “family” time, then I put my limit to that. I don’t think it is polite and I think it’s an INSULT to the people you’re with that they’re spending time with you and your nose is on your phone or iPad! If that’s the case, then why not text, Facebook or iPad at home?

I call it Technology Addiction and I think it’s a big problem. I really think it’s in bad taste and I know if not stopped, this bad habit will only get worse.

Do you know what else is interesting?

This Technology Addiction is mostly an Asian bad habit. Go around bustling Asian cities and you can see Asians on their phones or iPads all the time. They Facebook, read the news, or watch their favourite soap operas on their favourite gadgets.

Generally, Americans are not as addicted to their gadgets as Asians. While waiting at Disneyland, I noticed that my husband and my husband’s sister were the only ones Facebooking and twiddling on their phones. The rest of the people on line were talking to each other or patiently waiting for their turn.

But that’s because we don’t have universal internet access!” my sister-in-law insisted. “So we mooch over it as much as we can.”

I disagree.

I just think that Asians cannot control their technology intake, while Americans may know how to put their gadgets away and enjoy what is in front of them more. Technology addiction is truly an Asian thing!

Anyway, I digress.

In summary, I do agree that technology can be very helpful. But there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. As we focus on our phones and apps too much, we forget who we are with in the first place.

So when Hubby insists that his phone is important, I always tell him when I am with him, he is more important. Not the phone. If he noticed, I do not pull the phone out. Instead, I focus my entire attention to him or the people I am with.

Husband cannot protest. He knows when it comes to technology, people I am with comes first. Which is probably why mom always complain I don’t answer my phone.

In the end, we resolved our issue.

For one, my husband doesn’t like to upset his wife.

happy

No technology is worth that much as seeing a wife angered.

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And as a smart person once told us, “It’s better to be married than right.”

So we agree to the following:

  • On mealtime, all gadgets are put away. Inquiries can wait. Mealtime begins when you go in the restaurant and lasts until everyone stands up from table.
  • If someone calls, then you can answer phone. If people take the time and money to call you, it must be urgent or important.
  • When using gadgets, answering customer inquiries, ordering or any business related stuff is okay. But if I am with you, no Flipboarding or Angry Birds, especially when we are still talking. Insistence that you can multi-task well and can talk sense to me while Angry Birding simply isn’t true. Conversation quality actually goes down so no.
  • Lastly, everyone can Flipboarding and play games if the other party is doing so too. This usually happens when we are relaxing AT HOME.

I share this because I want you to know, like any couple, that we fight too. And we may fight for the silliest of reasons.

But technology addiction is not silly. This is the real evil. It’s smart really. Technolofy fools you into thinking they bring you much closer to people much to the detriment to the people you are with now!

Husband thinks playing with his phone is fine.

brookins

For me, I think it’s rude if you are in the company of other people. As I really believe in this more (e.g., I really get irritated when I see him twiddling on phone while we are with other people) vs. him (e.g., he agrees people can wait for his text), he gives way.

Then again I don’t ask for much and if this will keep me happy, why not?

Anyway, I think this is a fight worth having, and hopefully by hearing our story, you have a taste on what it’s like to be married and how it’s about giving and taking.

Posted in Conflicts, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Interests, Life lessons, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Husband Speaks — “Hello World!”

“I have something to tell you but don’t get mad,” my ex-girlfriend told me. “Because my ex-boyfriend went berserk when he found out about it.”

“Unless you happen to be a professional drug lord kingpin or an axe murderer, I don’t think there is anything that bad that you can do,” I replied to my ex-girlfriend.

After a pregnant pause, she finally mumbled, “Well, I have a blog, and I don’t want you to read it because then I can’t write about you.”

A blog?!” I was flabbergasted. “That’s it? Geeee, okay…….”

“Trader didn’t like it that I was complaining to the world about our private stuff,” she confessed.

Uhhhh why?” I asked. “Got any X-rated posts on it?”

I snickered. Maybe there was… who knew what type of blog she can come up with. She was always full of surprises.

No lah,” she snapped as she slapped my arm. “It’s just a way for me to vent off and organize my thoughts, I tend to focus better when I write it down. And no you can’t read it.”

Eventually I did.

Maybe the fact that I didn’t make a big deal out of it gave her the encouragement to share with me her deepest thoughts.

But I think the fact that I finally married her had more to do with it.

Anyway, marriage is forever.

Can’t dump the weird girl who has a blog if you’ve vowed in front of everyone you love that you’ll forever be loyal to her and stick with her through thick and thin.

So a year something later, ex-girlfriend graduated to wife status and I now get first dibs on her latest blog entry here at Namelessintaipei.

She is really weird, my wife.

You’ll often find her, during breaks from work and life, often writing in bed or in our home office.

Geee… and all the while I thought all the furious tapping of her keyboard was work related. Ha!

So now, here is my contribution to that blog, and damn it, I better get more likes on this article than the usual 2-3 she normally gets.

She does care about her readers, my wife. And she really loves it when she says something significant that hopefully helps other people.

So what to write about…….

Ah yes, the ever loving topic of married life. I can write about that.

Funny though, most written articles out there about married life are written by women. You would assume that since the man is 50% of the marriage, there would be more out there written on how to deal with women.

But alas, that would make us pretty pathetic sissies!

Real men don’t talk to their buddies about their girl problems.

Hell, that’s the last thing we wanna talk about when we get together with the boys.

We only want to talk about girls who are not our wives. Or cars. Or sports.

Nobody wants to go around with the boys and vent about their wives!

So yes, I’ll be one of the few brave souls that dare approach this deadliest of topics and delve straight into sissy-hood. So behold, the quasi-official men’s point of view on marriage.

There are five thoughts I have about marriage – in lieu of my five months with my wife.

1.  The Honeymoon Stage.

We are now 5 months married and every one, and I mean everyone tells us we are in that syrupy sweet honeymoon stage.

All I can say is:

honeymoon-phase

Ah, honeymoon — that one word already means Mars and Venus.

For many women including my dear wife, they think that the days should be filled with romantic bliss and endless passionate love-making every night with the both of you too tired to work the next day.

It’s all about the two of you and only you. And you hold hands as you watch the sunset together, sighing how lucky you are you’ve found each other.

Sorry ladies, the sex all night until morning is not humanely possible, unless you are on drugs.

When I come home, the first thing on my mind is food.

buffet

Yes, food.

I am grumpy and sour until this need is satiated.

Satisfy that need and then we’ll talk.

So while we do know how to have a pretty good roll in the hay quite often, there are simply some nights where bliss is just the both of you watching TV together.

Take for example last night, we picked up a new series called “The Americans.”

I would admit I never really watched these government-spy-conspiracy shows before, and guess what? Neither does she. It’s actually something new for the both of us to enjoy together as a couple.

The honeymoon stage is to find out what both of you enjoy together — both old and new things — now that you’re together 24/7. Who knows what you may discover?

2. Dun-dun-duuuunnnnn…. The romance is over.

My wife slaps me in the shoulder many times. It starts to hurts especially after seeing a rom-com.

Where has all the effort gone?!” she would say. And no, wifey has no shame in complaining about my lack of romance after we got married. No shame at all…

“Before, you used to pick me up, we’d have dinner, movie, go see a play, go to concerts, and now it’s gone. ALL GONE!” my wife would tell me. “What the hell just happened? All we did is to get married!”

The hard fact of the matter is, my wife and I — despite her accusations that it’s not the same anymore — do actually spend a lot more time now as husband and wife than when we were still dating.

Before, I would pick her up at 6:30 pm, go for dinner, then a movie and then take her home by 12:00pm midnight before her mom starts calling me up, or worse, starts calling MY MOM.

And yes, this has happened before.

Now that we’re married, we spend a minimum of 8 hours non-stop together. Ok, this is sleeping time but who’s counting.

I saw this at 9Gag yesterday, and it totally reminded me of my wife.

wife

Yup, that’s her. She’s like a log while sleeping. You can literally steal a pillow under her head and she won’t even wake up!

But kidding aside, let’s face it. You cannot always eat at a restaurant everyday, and you’d finish off all the movies in a week. Life is not just about distractions. It’s about moments that matter.

Just because you’re not doing the usual dating stuff, doesn’t mean that the romance is over.

Far from it.

In fact, in our case, it’s been replaced by other little things, such as me making coffee for wifey in the morning (I do like seeing the Nespresso machine hum and gurgle), massaging her feet the second she kicks off her shoes and flops into bed (consider her immovable at this point), making the bed in the morning (I used to never do this, because my reasoning is why make it when your just gonna mess it at night?), going to work together, having lunch together, and the list goes on and on.

Sure there may not be expensive flowers anymore, but do you really want flowers when you can be with each other?

3.  All your bad habits get exposed. And it doesn’t make you any less sexy. If it does, he’s not the right dude for you.

Well you’ve seen each other naked, what else can you hide?

One of the first things that will come out in the open, literally, is when any one of you farts.

As my wife would say:

6-funny-fart-jokes

Women in particular are ashamed of this and while yes it’s not very sexy, neither does it matter to the guy.

As for me, I have no shame. Especially with my poor wife.

You can’t hide, conceal it or prevent it.

You’re a human being — what you eat has got to go somewhere and it’s all about natural.

There will be ewwww and go away moments, but definitely not a deal breaker and the situation is often more humorous than not.

Farting does NOT change or diminish our desire for you. Neither should it be.

Do you really think we’ll be thinking or turned off by the way you fart when we’re about to get some nookie?

Definitely not!

There are nights that I do a series of continuous short bursts and my wife hits my arm and says, “What’s wrong with you?”

And you know what?

That’s what makes us us, and that’s what makes us work and enjoy each other’s company all the more.

4.  Date night.

Before marriage, this is used to be almost every night for us.

But now, it’s once a week, twice at most.

Marriage forces you to be more creative than the “Hey, wanna movie dinner?” routine. Because heck, you’re married. Who else are you having dinner with aside from your wife?!

So for a guy who owns an automotive performance shop, I don’t like long drives.

But just the other day I took my wife to Tagaytay just to have coffee and back.

We literally had guyabano juice at Good Shepherd’s and then came back to Manila and had a chocolate pao from Chowking.

I kid you not, these things are cheap AND delicious.

chocopao

Ok ok, breaking in the new car had something to do with it. But you get the point.

It may not be out of town trips all the time, but simply doing something different and still spending time with your spouse aside from the regular movie dinner CAN be special. And it doesn’t even have to be expensive to be memorable.

Wifey and I are perfectly happy to eat in the mall’s food court and share a Razon’s Halo-halo.

razon

5.  Lastly, all the other small things.

One thing I suspected but never confirmed was that my wife is domestically inept.

So it’s up to me to do the laundry, clean the bathroom, make breakfast, trim her finger and toe nails, sweep the bed of dirt, empty the trash, etc. etc. etc.

Sounds like a real chore but it doesn’t feel like it for me.

Yeah yeah you might say that I do it because of the honeymoon stage (See #1), but here’s the thing, I do it even before we got married. The biggest and only difference now is that I do it gladly and am happy that she gets to lounge in bed, ipad in hand flicking away at Ani-pop after a long day at the office.

I love her that way and I like to see her happy.

—————————————-

Anyway, the reason I’m writing this guest post (and allowing her to edit it a bit, correcting my grammar and all), is that wifey just celebrated her supposedly 28th birthday yesterday and things didn’t really go according to plan.

She got a nasty fever and rumbly stomach the night before.

So instead of going to Ocean Adventure in Subic just like I planned, we simply skipped work, had lunch at Rockwell and just enjoyed each other’s company without worrying about the everyday happenings of life.

The office kinda cooperated with by leaving us alone and not calling… most of the time.

So to my dear wife, happy 5 monthsary!

Here’s a happy birthday to my 5-month old wife and cheesy as this will sound, may we have many more birthdays and milestones to celebrate for the next 60 or more years!

Old love

I love you!

– The Husband -

Posted in Dates, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, First Days of Marriage, Guest Post, Husband, Life lessons, Lists, Marriage, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s that time of the year again where I celebrate yet another birthday.

As I looked back on my blog posts, I realized that I haven’t been blogging as much as I should. That’s what happens when you get engaged (November 2013), plan your wedding, enjoy the wedding, go on a 28-day honeymoon, and then start managing your own business. There are so many posts I want to share and yet so little time to write them.

How time really flies…

Anyway, it’s been another interesting year for me. For one, last October, I never realized I would be married by this year. In fact, that was the FARTHEST thing on my mind.

I also didn’t think I would be managing my own business. Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve always wanted to manage my own business. And now, I am.

Truth be told, I’m still very new and inexperienced. There’s still a long way to go. Managing your own business is hard. I managed to hire a bad area supervisor and sales dropped 30%. I got a few bad employees and got involved in some labor cases. On the flip side, our business is stabilizing and the core group is coming on nicely. Our staff quality is getting better, and I love our company culture. People are workaholics and thankfully, through God’s grace, their heads are in the right place. I really do hope that this period of stability will last.

And finally, I love being married.

It’s only been 5 months, but it’s been blissful so far. People say it’s the honeymoon period but I really do hope this is forever. My husband is so sweet and loving, I’m glad I married him!

Anyway, enough with the summaries. As per tradition, here are the Q&As:

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1) What have you done when you were 33 that you’ve never done before?

– Bought wedding magazines. I’ve never bought them in my life!

wedding

– Shoot pre-nup photos and videos.

– Get engaged. Whoah, I never knew organizing a tinghun was so tedious! Lots of traditions to follow! It was tons of fun though.

– Get married! Yeah, that was a night to remember. Right, Hubby? ;-)

get

– Travel with my Husband. Believe it or not, we’ve never stayed overnight together. Our honeymoon was our first foray in how to co-live together. And boy, was that an adjustment.

– Smoke weed. And then have sex while still high. Chronicled here.

– Visit Amsterdam, Milan, Venice, Verona, Athens, Mykonos and Santorini.

– Ate delicious durian fresh in Singapore. Never thought they could taste so darn good. They tasted like warm chocolates! First time in my life!

durian 2 durian

durian3 durian4

2) Did anyone close to you give birth?

– Yes, my sister-in-law gave birth to my husband’s family first grandkid. She’s six months now and uber fat! Cries a lot though…

3) Did anyone close to you die?

– Not really. I wasn’t also allowed to go to any wakes.

4) What countries did you visit?

– Singapore and Hong Kong to buy things for our tinghun. 

– The Netherlands: Have I mentioned I love their curry fries? I still dream of them till today.

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– Italy: George Clooney made a good decision to get married in Venice. It’s one of the most romantic and most interesting places on earth. And I’ve been to MANY countries.

– Greece: I loved their laid-backness and their Frappes! Can’t get any cheaper coffees than these in Europe! I could drink them morning, noon and night… for only about EUR1.5!

frappe

5) What would you like to have when you’re 34 that you lacked when you were 33?

– For me to have a good relationship again with my brother. So far it’s been a year and we’ve come to a friendly truce, but I would love to have that level of closeness back.

– For my husband and my brother to repair their relationship together. They still dislike each other and it’s awkward during family gatherings. Since they’re the two men I love most in my life, I would like for them to have a good relationship with each other.

– Even better relationship with my mom and my in-laws. I love my parents-in-laws but since it’s the first year they have with me around, there are still things that are new. I hope that they can love me more deeply and we can enjoy good relationships together.

– Good business acumen: I’m far from perfect and am still learning every single day. I still get frustrated and there are days when my head would just hurt. I would like to make less expensive mistakes in business and more better business decisions in the future.

– Better people at work: I’ve chronicled in several posts — You Get What You Pay For and Disappointed with the Philippine Workforce — how hard it is to find good people here in the Philippines. I pray for better people in the coming year.

– For growth. I hope to grow our business more aggressively in 2015. I hope that the road would be smooth and our plans would come to fruition.

– For me to be able to blog more with more interesting and relevant posts. :)

6) What date this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

– June 1, 2014: Our new anniversary date

7) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

– Surviving wedding planning while still maintaining good relationships with my family and all my in-laws. Weddings can be expensive and can be an easy source of tension for both families. Thankfully, both families survived and we were able to organize a nice wedding.

– Making a livable home with Hubby. Thank you SM Our Home for reasonably-priced furniture! My cousin sells expensive furniture and we managed to buy our sofa, dining, and bedroom set for a price that is just a sofa in their store. Proud! :)

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our home

– Staying happily married with Hubby. Almost five months and counting… hey, it’s not easy! Marriage is all about give and take. Thankfully, Hubby is also generous with the giving and letting me take more than my fair share of goodies.

8 ) What was your biggest failure?

– Not spending enough time with my mom. I miss her and understandably, I could not spend more time with her. It’s good though that we spend Saturday afternoons together.

– Not increasing sales in my business. I blame my folly for hiring the wrong people in the organization. Yes, it’s been a steep learning curve. Ganbatte for 2015!

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?

– Not really, maybe just a lot of back ache due to stress. Same as last year.

10) What was the best thing you bought?

– Our Tempur Original Collection bed. Actually it was a wedding gift from my mom and it’s money very well spent. Now, most beds cannot compete and our backs ache when we live elsewhere. Once we sleep, we don’t want to get up. :)

the-the-grand-bed-by-tempur-pedic

– A Chanel GST with gold hardware in Athens. Should’ve bought it in Venice where it was cheaper, oh well. Isn’t it an impractical beauty? Should be the last expensive bag I’d ever buy.

chanel

– Rolex watch for my engagement party. It’s a watch I’ll most likely buy once in my lifetime.

11) Whose behavior merited celebration?

– Husband: for putting up with my quirks and idiosyncrasies. And for letting me have my way most of the time.

– My mom: for being a great mother and mom-in-law.

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Our area supervisor whom I fired a month ago. Honestly, she was a manipulative liar.

13) Where did most of your money go?

– After getting married, mostly savings? We’ve been saving up most days and eating at my in-laws. You suddenly become more responsible after getting married.

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?

– My marriage and our business. :)

15) What song will always remind you of this year?

– Katy Perry, “Unconditionally” and “Dark Horse

– Pentatonix, “Daft Punk”

– Christina Aguilera & A Great Big World, “Say Something

– Pharrell Williams, “Happy

– Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minah, “Bang Bang”

16) Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier. Being married is good!

ii. thinner or fatter? Oh gosh, fatter.

iii. richer or poorer? A LOT poorer. Being an entrepreneur means lots of sacrifice and savings!

17) What do you wish you’d done more of?

– Spent more time with mom when I was still single. How the hell was I supposed to know I was getting married this year?

– Maybe spent more time with my brother. I wonder if there was anything I could do that would’ve made my relationship with my brother better.

– Gone to Morroco with my girlfriends before I got married. Oh well, put it in the bucket list of places to go with Hubby.

18) What do you wish you’d done less of?

– Get mad at work. Useless stress.

19) How will you be spending Christmas?

– I don’t know yet. When you’re married, you follow Hubby’s family’s instructions. So far, I don’t know what we’re going to do yet.

20) Did you fall in love between October 2013 to October 2014?

– Yes! I’ve fallen more deeply in love as time goes on. :D

21) How many one-night stands?

– Hahaha, do many night stands count?

22) What was your favorite TV program?

– “House of Cards” – I wonder what would happen to Underwood once he gets what he wants. What else would keep us at the edge of our seats?

– “Scandal” – Premise was interesting in the beginning but went downhill really fast. Enough with the sappiness and more with the intelligence!

– “The Americans” - Russian spies posing as Americans? Count me in!

23) Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

– Yes, let’s keep it at that.

24) What was the best book you read?

– Haven’t been reading a lot of books this year. Too much Anipop. :(

25) What was your greatest musical discovery?

– Tiffany Alvord: See her haunting rendition of “Royals

– Ed Sheeran, “Lego House”

– Labrinth feat. Emelie Sande, “Beneath your Beautiful”

26) What did you want and got?

– The Chanel GST. It was half the price of the Chanel Classic and bigger, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make.

– A very nice engagement and wedding party

– A European honeymoon

– A loving marriage

27) What was your favorite film of this year?

– “Snowpiercer” – Interesting story. It tells of a high speed train that runs 24/7, 365 days a year on a rail that goes around the world. The premise is something that I haven’t seen before, and I couldn’t help but be in suspense every time Chris Evans opened a new carriage.

snowpiercer-international-poster

28) How did you celebrate your birthday?

– I was sick with fever the night before my birthday. 38.6! My hubby nursed me back to health — with lots of love and water. Come noontime I was fine and we tried out a restaurant in Rockwell, Grace Park.

Had 2-way chicharon (Php250), hubby had muscovado beef belly (php580) and the seafood pasta for me. The food was fine but not as satisfying as I’ve thought. Company was great though! Always love spending time with hubby especially our green tea latte in Starbucks.

Dinner at Gumbo followed and some relaxing one on one time with hubby. Overall a peaceful yet pleasant birthday! :)

29) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

– A good relationship with my brother.

30) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

– Still the same, lots of skirts and dresses, interspersed with a little pants and shorts. Lots of cardigans since the AC in the office is especially cold.

31) What kept you sane?

– My husband and my mom.

35) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

– Joy Tan-Chi, she is the writer of the TeachwithJoy.com blog. Her candor, faith and good example is a model for many women and wives everywhere.

36) What political issue stirred you the most?

– The Umbrella Protest in Hong Kong – then again, it got old pretty quickly

37) Who did you miss?

– My dad, hands down.

38) Who was the best new person you met?

– None really. I’ve not met a lot of great people lately. Maybe Tess, our office manager, who has been employed by my parents-in-law for the last 18 years. Her steady presence, retail expertise and willingness to teach have really helped me in learning more about business. I really appreciate her presence in the office.

39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned between October 2012 to October 2013:

– Good people are not easy to find.

– People have no qualms lying to your face. They will be frustrating and irritating. The most important thing is to stand your ground and stick to your principles. Just do the right thing.

– Managing a business is HARD. It’s not easy to make money. Every day is a learning experience, and you really have to love what you do. Otherwise it’ll be hell on earth.

– Prioritize your husband. Make him feel special and he will make you feel special.

– Buy a good bed. And nice pillows.

– If your wife irrationally wants to see the Santorini sunset, you give her the freaking sunset. It’s not worth arguing with her.

– Getting fat is inevitable. Remnants of stress. Oh well.

– You really have to trust God in His ultimate wisdom. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

40) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Taylor Swift, “Shake it Off” — Sometimes, you have to stop caring what other people think of you.

I stay out too late
Got nothing in my brain
That’s what people say, mmm-mmm
That’s what people say, mmm-mmm

I go on too many dates [chuckle]
But I can’t make ‘em stay
At least that’s what people say, mmm-mmm
That’s what people say, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I never miss a beat
I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm
that’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm

I’m dancing on my own (dancing on my own)
I make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that’s what they don’t know, mmm-mmm
that’s what they don’t know, mmm-mmm

But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop grooving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Hey, hey, hey
Just think while you’ve been getting down and out about the liars and the dirty, dirty cheats of the world,
You could’ve been getting down to this sick beat.

My ex-man brought his new girlfriend
She’s like “Oh, my god!” but I’m just gonna shake.
And to the fella over there with the hella good hair
Won’t you come on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake

Yeah ohhh

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate (haters gonna hate)
I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break (mmmm)
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake (and fake, and fake, and fake)
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off (you’ve got to),
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off

Have a great week ahead everyone!

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Posted in First Days of Marriage, Husband, Life lessons, Lists, Marriage, Philippines, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Marriage is all about Compromise

Marriage is all about compromise.

For me, it’s about getting my hot Nespresso coffee made fresh by my husband every morning.

For him, it’s about me letting him get that extra 10 minutes of sleep in the morning.

For me, it’s about him carrying my heavy backpack to work.

For him, it’s about me remembering to carry his Samsung pad because he always forgets it on his way to work.

For me, it’s about him being in the office, listening to what’s going on and him giving his output once in a while.

For him, it’s about me giving me his peace and quiet while he manages his other business remotely.

For me, it’s about him listening to me while I rant and rave about my frustrations about running a business in the Philippines.

For him, it’s about allowing him to eat whatever junk food he likes for the moment. Like for example, the Jollibee Ultimate Burger Steak we had for lunch today.

jollibee

Yes, burger steak, mashed potato, garlic, mushrooms, rice, egg and gravy looks like a weird combination — and it is — but it makes my husband happy, and subsequently, me happy.

For me, it’s about him answering every single one of my phone calls and letting me share with him whatever’s going on during my day. It’s important to have someone who keeps you sane in the crazy afternoon.

For him, it’s about me letting him get mad and stew without being critical and offering helpful suggestions.

For me, it’s about us having dinner at home together. And he gets to cut me sweet mangoes for dessert.

For him, it’s about me letting him eat his favorite Potato Chips Classic every night… without too much nagging that he will get fat.

potato chips

And yes, he can finish one whole bag in one entire sitting.

For him, it’s about me showering before getting into bed at night. “Hmmmm… warm and clean,” he would say as he sniffs me.

For me, it’s about him brushing his teeth before going to bed. Especially after the barbecue potato chips.

For him, its about his daily dose of DVD watching that’s cool at the moment. We already went through Games of Thrones Season 1 (yes, we are so far behind), Scandal 1-3, House of Cards 1-2, and now we’re watching The Americans.

For me, it’s all about letting me AniPop in peace.

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Yes, it’s a stupid game I know. Graphics are cute though.

In the end, marriage is all about compromise.

You can’t win ‘em all, and you can’t lose ‘em all.

It has to be a give and a take.

And for us, it’s about giving and taking.

And that’s what makes for a happy marriage.

Posted in First Days of Marriage, Husband, Life lessons, Marriage, Philippines, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Labor in the Philippines: You Get What You Pay For

I realized that you always get what you pay for.

This month, my business is looking for a junior administrative officer. The minimum wage is Php 466/day or Php 12,200/month (that’s USD 285 for 26 working days).  I’m willing to pay up to Php 13,500, which is already slightly higher than minimum wage.

And boy, did I get peanuts.

The job itself is deceptively simple — data encoding, reviewing of receipts, preparing the payroll from the daily time sheets. Anybody who can add and subtract can do it.

Finding the right person to do it is another story.

For one, there were many interview no-shows.

This is I believe, a distinctive Philippine labor issue.

You have a job post, then many people apply for it.

You contact them for an interview and they confirm that they will come.

You give them the details and address, and reconfirm with them the time.

Come the proper time…

poof

They simply don’t show up for the interview.

Your normal reaction usually is:

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Or

images

Then again, after several hiring cycles, you become immune to the absenteeism and no-shows that have become so rampant in the Philippine recruitment market.

People just don’t care about appointments, or informing you earlier if they cannot make it.

They’ll just go, “Whoops. Sorry dude, can’t make it.”

Like today, after not showing up for her interview, I texted one applicant, “No show for interview, Shella?”

No answer.

I try again, “I will be putting you as a no show on Jobstreet. Will you still want to reschedule?”

With the threat of blacklisting herself, she finally answers, “I’m sorry mam for not coming. I have an emergency in our home.”

hmm

Hmmmm…. very dubious.

Seriously, if I can give myself a peso for every number of times Filipinos use “family emergency” as an excuse for NOT showing up for something, I’d be a multi-billionaire.

Put it this way, I’ve had five (5) interviews lined up today. Three had family emergencies. Coincidence much?

I think not.

Two, many of the applicants seem to not take work seriously. You cannot rely on them too much.

Two weeks ago, I was interviewing one applicant who said that she’s been hopping jobs every five months because she was bored of the position.

I want a job that challenges me,” she said. “Someplace where I can expand my skills and talents, and develop my career.”

Can you write?” I asked. “We are looking for someone who can help us do research.”

I can write,” she answered.

Okay, I am interested in hiring you but want to see your writing samples,” I challenged her. “Can you send me your writing samples to this email address? XXXXXXXX@gmail.com?”

No problem, ma’m,” she replied.

Two weeks later, and I’m still waiting for her writing samples. I followed up but wasn’t even given a polite answer.

Another girl we were interested in was interviewed and came to our training. We then asked her to go to the agency to sign the contract so she can start working.

No problem, ma’m,” she said.

And off she goes. The next day, we called the agency to followup if she showed up for the contract signing.

Lo and behold, she didn’t.

We called her up a few times again to try to get in contact with her.

No answer.

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Seriously, people here have no word of honor. They don’t show up when they say they would, and they’re not even that polite to tell you they are no longer interested.

After finding out that it’s not just our business that has this problem, I ignorantly asked my husband, “Why do they always do this?!”

Because they usually can get away with it,” he explained. “In the Philippines, there is no consequence. If you don’t show up, what can you do anyway? Nothing. So they don’t show.”

And 3) It’s rare to find someone here who can keep their personal and professional lives separate.

Filipinos are very close to their families. There’s a local joke actually, “Marry the Pinay, and get their family as part of the package.”

I remember when we went to Singapore and our taxi driver was telling us that he married a Filipina when she was on vacation in Singapore with her friend.

“How many times you go home to Manila?” I asked.

Once a year, and thank God for it!” he replied.

As it turns out, every time they would come home, they would pack two balikbayan boxes full of pasalubongsPasalubongs mean gifts for the family, and they look like this:

balikbayan_philippines

Just imagine how many chocolates you can pack in this humongous box. :)

The pasalubong itself already makes for a very expensive homecoming trip.

What’s worse, when the taxi driver and his wife comes home, the family treats him like a regular Santa Claus.

All of a sudden, people I’ve never heard of before come to the house and pick us up,” he related. “Then we would go to the mall, and I would pay for their food, their gas and the movie. There would be 20 of us going out.”

“Thank God it’s only once a year,” he again repeated while shaking his head.

It’s the same with hiring people in the Philippines.

For many applicants, their lives are too intertwined with either their families or their boyfriends.

Take for example Nelain, one of our salespeople. She was absent for two days because of boyfriend issues. She was cheating on him with a customer and he caught her and beat her up. For some reason, women in the Philippines cheat too, and they’re always caught and beaten for it.

The sales of our best selling salesperson, Jho, dropped 50% because of husband issues.

Robby had to be absent for two days because he had to take his auntie to the bus stop.

One of our salespeople feigned sickness on a weekend, only to find out that she was out with her police boyfriend while her husband thought she was working.

Conflicts at home have a way of affecting performance. It’s hard for my people to separate their personal and professional lives.

Walang personalan,” or “It’s nothing personal,” we would say.

But it’s not true: Here, many things are personal.

Criticisms are taken personally.

When you give people performance feedback, you have to be very very clear that what you are criticizing is their performance and not them as people. They take it the wrong way, and they mutter under their breaths that you’re out to get them instead of seeing it as a way to improve.

When families are involved, especially parents and children, you’d have to give leeway. Work is important but if your child has a slight fever, people here have a tendency to drop everything and go cater to the child.

I personally have no issues with this by the way. Health is wealth and of course, family is more important than work. What irks me is if they use the excuse of sickness or family emergency to escape work, when it’s not actually true!

Happens more than you think. :(

So in general, with many Filipinos, when you hire them, there is no security blanket. You are not sure that the job would be done correctly, and you have to be patient in teaching them to be more careful over and over.

Here, there is no such thing as limited supervision. Stop monitoring them and productivity goes down. Facebook, Youtube and shopping online goes up.

Big sigh.

Look, all I’m saying is, it’s not easy to get good help here in the Philippines.

Problems that are rampant here that are not as rampant elsewhere include: absenteeism, stealing, gross gossiping, insubordination, tardiness, and letting other issues affect work.

That is why, doing a business in the Philippines is hard.

It’s not the business aspect per se that makes things hard. It’s the managing people aspect that makes life difficult.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Not all Filipinos are bad. There are some that is competent, loyal and have good working attitudes. I am proud to say, a lot of people in my core team are people I value and respect, and I do not regret hiring them.

However, they are much rarer than you think.

And comes with so many hits and misses.

Mostly misses.

And so the search goes on: For the perfect employee.

Like my mother in law said, “It’s not that we don’t want to pay people higher. It’s not that we don’t like to regularize our people. It’s just that we cannot find the right people whom we can trust to reward better.”

I 1000% agree.

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How about you guys? Are you running your own business and how are your experiences in hiring people in Manila? Are they the same as mine, or are you having better luck?

And yes, I know that to get better candidates, I have to increase the salary range. However, for clerical work, paying the person a little above minimum seems about right. I only need her for data entry and permit applications anyway. I cannot go too wild on the salary knowing fully well there are other places I can allocate the funds to.

Anyway, looking forward to your comments if any!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, Filipino Men/Women, First Experiences, Life lessons, Philippines, Ramblings, Rants, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Me: The Green Eyed Monster

I’m sorry, but you’ve had a cancelled line before and Globe cannot process your application for new phone lines if you don’t pay your bill,” the friendly customer service personnel informed my husband.

Huh? What do you mean?” my husband asked. “I’ve always been a good payer of Globe…”

Well, it’s for number 0917-XXX-77X7,” she replied. “Does the number ring a bell?”

“Not really…” my husband said as he keyed in the number on his phone.

We were right there at Globe applying for more phone lines for my husband’s business. A good subscriber should be able to apply for at least 11 phone lines.

Oh,” my husband said.

What?” I asked.

It’s for Wabbit,” he said. Wabbit is the nick name of his ex-girlfriend.

Aiyo…”

Now guys, I’ve never really been much of a jealous type.

Demanding, sometimes.

Stubborn, often.

But jealousy is not a problem that’s plagued any of my relationships ever since.

However, I don’t like it when an ex-girlfriend gets involved. Unfortunately, having been in a relationship with that girl for 2.5 years, her name does pop up now and then.

Like right now.

So how much does she owe?” Husband asked.

Php 29,000+, sir,” the customer service representative said.

I almost choked. “Php 29,000 of phone bills?!”

Php 29,000 is around USD 675 but hey, who’s counting?

Our situation is a Catch-22.

Since this is an ex-girlfriend husband hasn’t seen in the last five years, it’s going to be weird if he/we contact her again asking her to pay her Php 29,000 that is in my husband’s name. Even more so, the fact that she hasn’t paid her bill for almost a year also meant that she had no intention of paying her bill. Not now. Not ever.

It’s a dilemma created by the past.

And yet, my first reaction was anger.

Why would anyone not pay their bill?” I thought. “If you incur the charges, you should pay! Why run off from your obligation just because it’s inconvenient?!”

There I am again… projecting my ethics and values towards others. This is silly of course. A lot of people here don’t care about unpaid debts. One of which is dear Wabbit.

My second reaction is jealousy.

Hence, the Green Eyed Monster.

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Yes, I was upset that my husband applied for a line under his name for his ex-girlfriend. Obviously, that should’ve been cut when they broke up, which he wasn’t able to do. I do believe that he forgot to do so, and it was an innocent, careless mistake.

Honestly, I don’t want to hear of ex-girlfriend’s name.

I don’t want her to be spoken off positively, or to be better than me.

Honest truth, hearing of her again reminds me that husband had a past. He loved someone else other than me. And even after we are married, she is still somewhat present in our lives. What’s worse, ex-girlfriend has reared her ugly head once again via an unpaid extravagant phone bill.

Which somehow has to be paid for my husband’s name to be cleared off in Globe.

My third reaction is frustration.

What else can we do? We’re stuck in this problem now. And somehow problem needed to be solved.

Also, criticizing my husband would not help. In fact, it would simply make matters worse.

Finally, after thinking about it a little bit more, I calmed down.

First, it was a mistake.

Careless, true.

Somewhat expensive, yes.

Intentional, absolutely not.

Two, I realized that jealousy makes me paranoid.

And this particular paranoia is not based in reality.

Hubby has not been in contact with her for 5 years. He has been nothing but devoted to me ever since we met, and I truly believe that I am the only girl in his life.

And there lies in our redemption — the realization that jealousy is irrational and can cause us to act in ways that are not correct.

So I apologized.

Honey, I’m sorry for my reaction,” I said. “I think me being jealous makes you think that I don’t trust you. That I am doubting your loyalty.”

“Yes, I feel that way when you are suspicious,” he answered. “As if I’ve done something wrong and you caught me. It makes me feel that I am not worthy of your trust.”

“I trust you hon,” I replied. “It’s just that jealousy is an irrational feeling. It’s a girl thing and it makes our imagination wonder. However, it doesn’t mean that it is right, nor is it justified.”

It’s fine love,” he said

And we snuggled and hugged.

And we were fine again.

That’s what marriage is like folks.

After almost five months of marriage, all I can say is marriage is what you make of it.

You can overreact, cry and nag, and only cause sadness and contempt.

Or you can talk about issues with your husband, and try to find a happy compromise so you can get back to loving.

It’s how you manage it.

As a friend once said, “Would you rather be right, or married?”

No other truer words have spoken.

Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Conflicts, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Ramblings, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Traveling again

Cebu Pacific is once again delayed. We don’t mind though. That’s the price you pay for saving a few bucks.

So what’s our schedule now?

After waking up at 5:30am, we are on our way to Hong Kong for a classmate’s wedding. It’ll be great to see everyone again. Lots of nostalgia on our MBA experience and finding out how everyone is doing.

Ironic, I am not using too much of my MBA in my business. I think an MBA degree would’ve suited me better if I stuck in the corporate world.

Regardless, no regrets. I’ve made tons of lifelong friends and I no longer need to contend on “What ifs.”

At least I took the program and know I wouldn’t regret not taking it.

Boarding now. See you all soon!

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Posted in Updates | Leave a comment

Just a Normal Day

8:45am – Wake up and take a shower. Makeup for 5 mins

9:30am – Arrive at work.

9:35am – 11:00am – Drink my Nespresso as my sales supervisors and I go through their yesterday. I advise them of strategies and solutions to their issues

11:00am – 11:15am – Write an incident report for an AWOL sales staff. Email agency a copy.

11:15am – 11:30am – Update training document. Send to assistant for printing. Prepare for ingress papers as we are opening a new store tomorrow.

11:45am – Have a nice peaceful lunch at Subway. I feel sleepy so we grab an extra cup of coffee to wake me up.

1:05 pm – Return to office.

1:05 pm – 7:00 pm – Conduct sales training in between ordering new inventory. Also write costing sheet.

7:00 pm – Followup on what was forgotten on tonight’s ingress. Give me the new stuff to stock the store. Whoops, forgot to order net. Rush order.

7:15 pm – 7:25 pm – Call and admonish a sales staff who seem to be obstinate and who doesn’t want to go to work on Thursday. I insist he is nuts and arrange for him to do his rest day on Friday instead.

7:30 pm – Leave for ingress. Lug heavy stuff down to car.

8:15 pm – 9:00 pm – Find a nice Korean restaurant. Eat a nice dinner before mall closes and ingress begins.

9:30 pm – Where the hell are the people? They’re supposed to be here 30 minutes ago. The guard pesters me for a gate pass.

9:55 pm – There they are with our kiosk. Yehey.

10:00 pm – My sales staff comes. We start turning over inventory to him. I help him write in his inventory sheet.

11:00 pm – Kiosk is ready. Lights switched on. Yay.

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11:30 pm – We wave defeat. Too many items to list. We decide to finish tomorrow.

11:45 pm – Get home and take a rest.

Just a normal day in the life of an often times frustrated yet more happy than not startup entrepreneur.

Posted in Business, First Experiences, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Edric Mendoza — Many Women’s God’s Best

Eeeeee! He’s on TV!” my husband shakes me as he sees Edric Mendoza on TV.

If you are wondering what is causing my husband’s excitement, here is a photo of Edric Mendoza that I’ve gotten on the Internet:

edric

Cute, ey?

Bespectacled, clean cut, tall and popular, Edric is many a woman’s dream for God’s Best.

For one, he is cute.

Edric is not only voted one of the cutest newsmen on TV as per a 2012 survey — ranking #1 of course. How many men can boast of that award?

Two, he seems to be a wonderful husband to his wife Joy.

Edric and Joy are totally cute together, and many of their photos show them always awash with love and devotion even after five children together and counting!

Here’s a short version of their love story by the Philippine Star for you guys to swoon upon: The Love Story of Joy and Edric Mendoza. :)

edric and joy
The photo is taken from Joy’s website, and was googled off the Internet.

Joy’s well-written posts on her blog, Teach With Joy, chronicles their lives as the family walks and serves the Lord. With much humility and candor, Joy shares her many struggles in submitting to Edric’s role as a man, his leadership and many moods, and yet provides encouragement when she shares that the Lord rewards her obedience with an insane amount of joy happiness in her ministry, in her children and in her husband.

Joy’s posts strikes a cord. Often times, they reflect my own personal struggle as a married woman. Submission is never easy especially given my headstrong personality. Many times I ask, “Why submit when I am right, and husband is wrong?!” 

As you can see, it’s a real struggle for me.

Anyway, reading her blog has always been a joy (sorry for the pun but it’s true!), and there’s always an insightful takeaway after almost every post. Honestly, I applaud her for her candor, transparency and humility in sharing with us her story. For me, I still love my anonymity and can’t imagine opening my life up as much as she does.

But back to my point, Edric is a fine catch.

Not only is he a good-looking man and a doting husband, but Edric also seems to be an amazing father to his children, all of whom are ridiculously cute, well-behaved, and smart children who seem to walk closely to the Lord.

His eldest even joins him in their ministry, and looks well on his way to be a son any father can be proud of.

I can imagine just how many women want the same marriage and family life as the Mendozas have.

Whoa, she is so lucky to have him!!! Lord, when can I have what they have too?!”

No one can fake that adoration! It must be true! I hope I can find someone who can adore me as Edric adores his wife?”

When can I find my God’s best already? And can he please be as cute as Edric Mendoza?”

Lots of coveting there, but who could blame them?

The Mendozas are adorable together, and their down-to-earth personalities make us want to cheer them on. :)

Which is why my husband was so kilig to see Edric on TV. He seems like the perfect guy. A family man with a great head on his shoulders — Hey, it’s not easy to be a well-informed host of a popular financial TV show in ANC — Edric is an epitome of a God’s best.

Do you wish you could have married him instead of me?” my husband playfully asked. “I wouldn’t blame you if you think he is cute.”

I looked at my husband.

My husband is a far cry from Edric Mendoza.

Physically, at 5″8, Hubby is slightly shorter than the tall and handsome Edric. What’s worse, he’s starting to grow a small pouch, a testament as to how much happy and satisfied men eat. If I don’t watch him closely, he steals away to the refrigerator to heat up his favorite midnight snack.

He doesn’t command a room as Edric does, and feels uncomfortable in a room full of strangers. I don’t think he can work a crowd as well as he is not used to the public eye. In fact, he prefers our own quiet office to a social event.

Style-wise, as Husband has a car garage, his daily attire of t-shirt and shorts pale in comparison to Edric’s smart suits and preppy look.

Personality-wise, Hubby can be quite direct and tactless. While Edric can be friendly and diplomatic, Hubby can’t lie to save his life. If he doesn’t like the person, it shows, and he’s unafraid to show it. While Edric can go to an event and befriend even the crankiest person around, my husband prefers to stay in his corner until something interests him.

People call him suplado (standoffish and haughty) a lot behind his back.

Not only that, Husband has a past. He’s gone through his fair share of sins, and has probably disobeyed most of Moses’ ten commandments. When I dated him, my mother worried about my relative innocence and was afraid that my husband would corrupt me and bring me to the darkness.

He is also a relatively young Christian. I remember when we were going through premarital counseling and our pastor asked him if he was a real Christian, he was surprised to hear that Christians needed “fruits” or real change to have salvation. He thought all he did was to accept the Lord in grade school and that was it. There was no real change to his life then, although the Lord has made great leaps and bounds since then.

In short, my husband is not a lot of women’s God’s best when I first met him. He was brusque and rough and uncontrollable. He did what he wanted and ran with the consequences.

Two years later though, I realized that I wouldn’t exchange him for the world.

Sure, Edric is a wonderful friend, husband and father, but he is Joy’s, as my husband is mine. :)

I love my husband — as Joy loves her husband.

He is perfect for me, as Edric is as wonderful to Joy.

Sure, he’s not voted as the cutest car dude in the industry, and he’s not popular in any survey, but my husband is attractive in his own right, and I find him to be way sexier than Channing Tatum, Ryan Reynolds, and yes, even Edric Mendoza.

He may not be everyone’s best friend and sometimes, I struggle with the lack of social invitations given our anti-social tendencies, but he is also a devoted husband and companion. I am never really in want, and whenever I ask for water, some fries, or a foot massage, my Husband always provides.

He also tries not to disappoint me and tries his best to make me laugh, even when it comes at his expense. I remember him sitting on the escalator the other day to make a point. He sat on the escalator because the escalator specifically instructed people NOT to sit on the escalator! It’s this unabashed silliness that adds spice to our marriage.

So yes, even though I agree with him that Edric Mendoza is many women’s God’s best, my husband is MY OWN’s GOD’s BEST and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

Happiness is NOT a zero-sum game.

I find what the Mendozas have as adorable and cute, but in no way do I covet it. It is their life, and hurray to them! But it doesn’t mean that I have to be unhappy so she can be. Everyone can be happy as long as they are satisfied with what they have.

We can all be happy with what we have.

And the Lord is really good: He gives us what we need.

And my Husband fills me up.

Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Christian Life, Family, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Marriage, Men, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does God answer prayer?

My husband and I are born-again Christians.

In the evening, we try our best to have quiet time together, reading a few chapters in the Bible and reflecting on what they mean. Afterwards, we say a little prayer thanking the Lord of our good day, and asking for guidance in the days to come.

So we think about prayers a lot. What they are for, how they are effective and what do they mean.

Praying Woman

According to Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

therefore I tell you

In 1 Chronicles 16:11, the Bible tells us to “Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”

We believe in God and the powers of prayer, not for what it gives us but rather, because we believe that it’s good to cry our requests to God, to give him thanksgiving, and to leave our concerns up to Him.

I always tell people, “If you are worried or scared, that means you are not trusting in Him enough. Because He always has plans for you, to take care and to prosper you” (Jeremiah 29:11).

So it confounds us when our Christian employees tell us that they’ve been praying for good sales performance every night, and yet right in front of me, I only see consistently low sales performance.

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How is that possible, Bonita?” my husband asked. “If indeed, she is praying for good sales, then how come the Lord does not seem to answer her prayers? Does that mean that prayers are useless?”

Does God really answer prayers?

I looked back on the days when I prayed really hard.

Two examples came to light: 1) When I was in Taipei, I applied for a marketing job at DeBeers, and I prayed to God that I would get the job, and 2) When Trader and I broke up, I prayed to God to open Trader’s heart and make him realize that he loved me once again.

Both times, the Lord didn’t answer my prayers.

In fact, in my hurt and pain for not getting the marketing job at DeBeers and for finding out that Trader technically cheated on me and replaced me a month after we broke up, showing that he had planned the breakup all along, I asked myself if God really answered prayers.

Lord, why don’t you give me what I wanted?!” I would ask as I wept in my sleep (Note: This was when I was broken-hearted with Trader. “I prayed so hard.”

When the Lord still kept silent, I tried a different prayer, “Lord, what is it you want for me?! Let Your will be done!”

But please, show me what Your will is RIGHT NOW!” I would add to my prayer.  You see, I was very impatient in seeing what the Lord wanted for me. My heart so wanted to be healed, and at that time, it was broken.

Still no answer.

Over time, I healed my heart.

I wasn’t really killed over not getting the DeBeers gig. Anyway, I was still in good employ in a multinational company and wasn’t really in a hurry to leave.

As for Trader, well, I moved on. I traveled around Europe, healed my wounds, and decided to come back home to the Philippines, a decision I’ve chronicled extensively in this blogpost, “Why I Went Back to Manila After 10 Years Overseas.

I met someone online (See refresher in The Pros and Cons of Online Dating (And How I Met Someone There)), and two years later, I am writing to you today in happily wedded bliss.

I then realized that I was looking at prayers ALL WRONG.

Why do I say that?

I seem to think of God as my personal genie, as if God will grant my wish simply because I asked for them. The same way as we make wishes on our birthday, “Lord, grant me my wish, I beg you…”

make a wish

But looking back, I think it’s the wrong way of looking at God and prayer.

God is Almighty and is NOT our personal wishing well.

On the contrary, He does what He wants as He pleases.

The only promise we can hold onto is that, although we may not know where He would lead us, we DO KNOW FOR A FACT that He would not lead us to the wrong path (Again, my favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11).

Prayers however is for us to show Him our deepest desires. He wants to know. He delights in being dependent on. But it is really up to Him whether He wants to grant our prayers or not. And if so, it’ll be in His perfect time, and not in the time we demanded Him to give us.

That is why we don’t seem to feel that God answers our prayers. We feel that He ignores us. That He doesn’t care.

If you love us and care for us, why can’t you answer our prayers NOW?!” we would cry — not knowing fully well that if God answered our prayers the way we wanted Him to, His plan, which is way better than we could ever have dreamed, could not have come to fruition.

If I got the DeBeers job, I would not have been able to find an even more awesome job six months later. I would’ve crashed and stumbled and failed miserably mostly because I couldn’t speak Mandarin as fluently then as the job would’ve required.

If I stayed with Trader, I would’ve been utterly miserable. I would not have met my husband and his wonderful family.

No, the Lord brought me to places I never even thought existed.

happy-girl-jumping

The better way to look at prayer

Instead of looking at God as our personal genie, would it be more fair to actually quiet our heart’s desires and try to listen to what God is telling us?

Why do I say that?

Because it seems that we are so preoccupied in telling God our heart’s desires, that we seem to hold onto our own desires. Because what we want is so strong, we blind ourselves with the possibility that God may want us to follow a different path — His Path.

Looking back at our Christian staff, I discovered how easy it is for her to invoke God into her conversations.

Two months ago, she said, “I was really pushed by God to apply in your company. I feel that this is what He wants for me.”

Or…

I really feel that God wanted me to help your company, Bonita,” she would say. “After I came into your company, I found myself a sense of purpose. I am no longer depressed.”

At first glance, you cannot help but feel how Christianly she is! How close to God is she that she would talk to God daily, and the Lord would show His direction to her. And that, in a way, you were the answer to her prayers.

On our side, we were similarly happy to consider that maybe God is answering prayers through her. Anyway, how can you argue with God’s calling? If God truly wants her to apply in our company — and yes, we do have an opening then — maybe she is truly God’s answer to our prayers (since we were also praying for good people).

However, as I got to know her better, I felt that she was using God as a crutch to further her agenda.

In Matthew 6:5, the Bible warns us, “”And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

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Her prayers got her inside the door.

But it should take more than prayers to keep her in the door.

It’s like when she prays for good sales every night, she tells me that she hopes that more people come to our store. That our business would blossom. That she can keep her job. That we can all grow together.

Prayers are good and fine, but I think she has to work on her listening skills.

Whereas she is good in bringing her concerns to God, she is not good in listening to what God is telling her, through us.

Melissa, I am telling you, your sales are low because on how you manage your people,” I told her a month ago. “If you find that they are not following the rules, you have to discipline them promptly.”

Yes yes yes, I will do it,” she would answer. And then proceed to hide her people’s faults away from management’s prying eyes.

Melissa, you have to make people realize that the low sales is a result of them not selling every hour, every day,” I would say. “Do not believe their excuses. Ultimately, they’re not selling because they are not giving their very best.”

But they told me they are giving me their very best,” she tries to explain. As if now, her people’s excuses are now her very own.

Finally, the nail in the coffin came when she told me this week, “Bonita, after analyzing my results the entire evening, I can tell you that I’ve had low sales this month and last month.”

“THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE LAST THREE WEEKS!” I finally said in exasperation.

It was then that I realized that Melissa doesn’t listen. She has no clue what I’ve been telling her every single day. She cannot comprehend what I’ve been telling her, and is merely holding on to what she believes, which is what she thinks is God’s purpose for her.

I pray for good sales every night. I cannot sleep,” she says. “I pray that God can tell me what to do so I can do my job better.”

That is when I realized that she was using prayers as a crutch.

As a weapon to keep her job.

To allay our sense of pity in letting her keep her job.

And instead of listening to what God is truly telling her — maybe, that this career path may not be so good for her, or that she has to listen to me, her boss and make drastic changes to herself and her management skills — she chooses to hold fervently to her own prayers.

This is a lesson for all of us — LISTEN TO GOD’s COUNSEL!

When we pray, we also have to listen to God’s counsel.

He talks to us you know. He talks to us through our friends, our colleagues, our parents, and everyone around us. He talks to us through circumstances. God has a way of leading us to the path He wants us to follow.

If it’s really God’s will for you, He will make the path smooth,” my mother in law once said. “If He makes it too hard, it may be that this is ultimately not His will, and you may have to follow another path.”

I found this to be true especially in my relationship with Hubby.

Our relationship is not perfect, in fact, we went through 16 pre-marital counseling sessions because our pastors saw us as a troubled pair! While most people get only 6, we got a whopping 16 sessions with three different sets of pastors and elders. :)

However, I realized that whenever our relationship hit a curb, the Lord always found a way to let us find each other again. When all things seemed hopeless, we somehow managed to find encouragement from those around us. And we never really managed to break up.

On our wedding night, Hubby and I cannot help but thank God’s grace in letting us find each other. There was so many ways our relationship could’ve imploded, and we wouldn’t had made it to the finished line!

It’s the same in Melissa’s case.

She has been praying fervently that she can do a good job. That we can let her keep her job.

And yet, she seems to be fighting against the tide.

For every encouragement we receive that she is not a hopeless case, there is another way that she seems to have lost her way. That she truly is indeed a hopeless case.

The path is not smooth. In fact, sales had suffered 30% under her tutelage.

You can bullshit how you perform your job, but nobody can argue figures. Her sales performance really sucks.

So I think that while I applaud Melissa’s religiosity, I do want to share her story with you so that you can be warned against following her example: Of praying without listening, of using “prayer” and “God” for your own personal agenda.

If it’s truly God’s will, He would’ve found a way to make her management style effective. Results will follow: Her people will follow her, and they will deliver.

Instead, it’s the other way around: Her people does NOT deliver. In fact, they deliver when they are new, and 3-4 days under her tutelage, they all become complacent and lazy, without any reprieve.

So is it God’s will or Melissa’s will?

I think it’s the latter.

You be the judge.

Stay dry and have a good weekend, everyone!

Posted in Business, Christian Life, Conflicts, Family, Filipino Men/Women, Husband, Life lessons, Marriage, Personal opinion, Philippines, Reflections, Relationships, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“You’re Fired!”

The only thing I remember from Donald Trump’s Show The Apprentice is him telling aspiring candidates, “You’re fired!”

Trump You're Fired

He makes firing so easy.

As a business owner and a female boss, I don’t feel as comfortable firing people as Mr. Trump.

Whenever I am about to terminate someone’s employment, I remember that I am removing from them their livelihood. Maybe they live alone, or they have other mouths to feed. People depend on them and their income. And here I am, the big bad boss removing from them their source of income.

I also remember the good side of them. Of the days we used to kid around in the office. Of the days of friendship and camaraderie that comes in working closely side by side. “They are not bad people,” I think to myself. “Only ineffective managers.”

I also see that they are trying very hard to fit in the company. To be productive and to be of help. One of our supervisors for example do put in the hours and effort in her job. “This job removed my depression and gave me purpose,” she said. “I do not feel sad anymore going home to an empty house.”

I am very fortunate to have people who want to work for us. It’s not as easy to find good help. As I’ve written before, many people I meet were Juan Tamads.

That is why when you find decent help, you hope against hope that they can meet your expectations so you can keep them and pay them more. You want to increase their salaries so they will be happier to work for you and be an asset to your business.

My father-in-law tells me that he is looking for a few good qualities in order to keep an employee. They have to have the following qualities — TOMKK:

  • Tapat – Integrity, Loyalty and Honesty
  • Oras (Having The Hours for the Job) – You are available on the times we need you. The staff is willing to do overtime and work on holidays if necessary
  • Malasakit (Empathy for Work) – You understand the business owner. You know to increase your salary, the business has to grow, so you help the owner to grow the business so everyone can benefit
  • Kusang Loob (Initiative) - To have initiative for work. Nobody has a gun to your head and you give your work your all
  • Kakayahan (Competence) - The ability to perform the job description

Unfortunately, I have to fire someone next week.

She has integrity, the availability and the initiative, but not much the competence.

Under her tutelage, sales had dropped a whopping 30% in two months. That means, if our business earned a million before for example, we would not have only 700,000. Not even enough to pay for our overhead and rent.

The loss of business is directly caused by this person.

As a manager, you must know how to handle your area, your people and yourself. Good managers must know how to act when an issue arises. They must know what to say AND what not to say.

Unfortunately for this manager, she almost always says and does the wrong thing. Consequently, whenever she does something wrong, the staff under her reacts and sales drop.

I love my job, Bonita,” she said today as if feeling that her job was already in jeopardy. “I get purpose in coming to work for you everyday.”

I have to remain calm, empathetic and firm.

That’s okay Melissa, I know,” I said. “But in order to keep you, there has to be actual results and performance. And I can see that your sales has really dropped. Your people don’t listen to you.”

I know many of you are wondering why I haven’t booted out yet. If low sales is a result of her being the manager, why haven’t I canned her yet?

I think it’s because like many managers, I don’t like yanking the rugs off people’s feet. I am not as cold-hearted as people think. I also feel bad when I let people go.

But I have to do it.

If I don’t let her go, my business will suffer. Sales will continue to drop because she is what she is and you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

If I don’t let her go, staff morale will go down. People will not be able to understand how one person can be so ineffective and get away with it, while they have to pull in their fair share. For the organization to remain efficient, I must kick this manager out.

If I don’t let her go, things will start not working out. Bad influence has a way of catching on, and if I don’t stress the importance of performance and outcome in choosing my people, then the company becomes a charity or a political organization, operating without profit.

I have to let her go.

It’s not easy though.

But I have to do it.

So the next time you clap Trump for his audacity to simply fire people and say, “You’re fired,” think that most likely, this is an exception than the rule. It’s a show anyway, and Trump has to do this to keep people in watching his show.

But it’s not like that in real life.

Firing people — though necessary — is harder than it seems. It’s also not easy for the business owner.

But it has to be done.

So I’m sorry Melissa.

But I have to let you go.

Posted in Conflicts, Filipino Men/Women, Philippines, Reflections, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disappointed with the Philippine Workforce

While I am lucky to have a few good men, I couldn’t help but observe how disappointing the Philippine workforce can be. There are just a lot of headaches that occur here that would probably not happen in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

It’s true what they say: Only in the Philippines. :(

Honestly, I am still at a shock on how many things can happen here that wouldn’t happen anywhere else.

Case in point, the day before yesterday, one of my sales people told my area supervisor that she is taking a few days break because she was traumatized of something she experienced on the way home from work.

Muntik na daw siyang na-rape,” my area supervisor said. (She said, she was almost raped.)

What happened?” I asked. Experience has shown me to keep my calm and never be surprised about these things anymore.

Apparently, on her way home, there was a car who stopped beside her, and a man came out. He then asked her to take a ride with her, and they hailed a taxi,” my area supervisor retold the story.

Okaaaayyy….” I said. This is going to be good.

While in the taxi, he was hugging and kissing her, telling the taxi driver that she was his wife and they were on his way home.”

Did she scream?” I asked.

No, she said she was too confused and scared with what happened to scream,” my area supervisor replied.

Did he have a gun or a knife?” 

Well, she said he had a weapon…” she answered.

I asked her to go on.

After they hailed the taxi, they drove for almost an hour and came to Libertad, which is consequently, very near her house,” my area supervisor said. “There, they met a friend of hers, who was just there. Seeking him to save her, they both rode in a jeepney, and the weird guy followed them all the while saying that she was his wife.” 

Okay…. this story was becoming weirder in a minute.

When she was near her house, she and the friend went down the jeepney leaving the weirdo behind,” my area supervisor finished her little tale.

“So do you believe her?” I asked my area supervisor.

Well, weirder things have happened,” my area supervisor replied.

Okay, so you believe that she would board a taxi with a stranger and not make a sound?” I asked. “If it was me, I would be screaming from hell to kingdom come!”

Maybe she is afraid?” she asked.

And what are the chances of all the places that while the dude has practically kidnapped you, he will let you get down of a taxi at a place close to your house, and whaaaallllllaaaaa, your friend is there, COINCIDENTALLY, waiting for you?” I asked.

Well, she said she was surprised to see him there too,”  my area supervisor shared. “But at least she was glad that she was saved from a guy raping her…”

I think her story is complete bullshit,” I said. “There are too many holes for it to be plausible. Everything you said is not the real story. Go and talk to her and get the real story out from her.”

Two days later, she comes back to me with the REAL STORY.

And boy, people here can lie.

Apparently, she met the dude in another mall she was working on. He was the owner of the cafeteria that was operating in that department store.

She has arranged for him to pick her up and take her home, most likely for some hanky panky.

They got in the taxi and she did not even fight him. Then when they alighted at Libertad, she saw her boyfriend waiting for her in the jeepney stand and they were caught red-handed.

The trauma she experienced was due to her boyfriend probably beating the shit out from her.

That is the real reason why she couldn’t be at work the next day.

So that is one of the problems with the Philippine workforce: THEY LIE.

And while everybody lies, you have to give Fiipinos the credit of having a very active imagination.

I mean who else can come up with this sort of shit?!

jesus-facepalm

My second example came today.

I recently hired a supervisor for our business.

We followed his 30-day notice, waited for him, and just yesterday, oriented and trained him.

Today, when I got to work, I was expecting to see him there, all set and ready.

Instead, he wasn’t there.

I texted him where he was. And this was his reply:

Mam sorry po. Di po kinaya ng katawan ko ung pagod mam eh di po ako nagising ng umaga. Cnsya na po sobrang sakit ng katawan ko po mam. Wala po kasi akong day off sa sportshouse. Mam eh cnsya na mam. Baka po di ako makapasok mam. Sori po.

Mam sori po baka po di na po ako mamakakatuloy sa inyo kasi po absent po ako ngayon. Mam nahihiya po ako sa inyo mam eh. Sori.”

Rough translation as follows:

Mam, I am sorry. My body couldn’t take it and I overslept. Apologies because my body hurts. I didn’t have a day-off from my last company so I hope you understand. Maybe I won’t be able to come to work. Sorry.

Mam, sorry but I don’t think I can no longer join your company because I was absent today. Mam, I am so embarassed. Sorry.”

Upon reading his text message, I was mad. How the hell is being absent one day related to not continuing to go to work? He was just looking an easy ass excuse NOT to work in our company anymore, and he was using his inability to get up to work as the reason for backing out.

Unacceptable.

And fucking unprofessional.

I texted him: “Come to work tomorrow and don’t quit. You should be more ashamed if you quit. We are counting on you.”

He then texted me that he will come to work at 11:30am.

Okay mam, thank you. I am already on my way but apologies but I will be late. But I will come in. Thanks for your consideration, thanks.”

My husband and I were off to lunch, and I asked him to wait.

Go to my secretary and apologize for being late. Then ask her what you can do to help. If you are embarrassed, then just don’t do it again.”

I am at the waiting area,” he texted back. “Thanks for your consideration.”

When husband and I got there, he was gone.

Where is he?” I asked.

He said he was going down,” my guy said. “Don’t know where he went.”

We waited and waited and waited.

The whole day, he didn’t freaking show up.

The guy waited, sweated in his pants and didn’t want to face us, and decided to simply walk away.

That’s it. He didn’t even have the galls to show up and apologize to our face.

He’s acting like everyone else!” my husband said. “He is not acting like a manager! I can imagine if he was a lowly employee but this is a middle ranked person!”

I am as well surprised. Never have I really experienced it. For me, word of honor is very important. You turn up when you say you will, and you do what you say. Never have I experienced anyone who simply don’t show up.

I’ve noticed this in many of my people, They are people pleasers, and are afraid of conflict. If they do something wrong, they will say a gazillion lies to cover it up. Usually if they have something else to do, they will simply not show up and say that they are sick or they have a family emergency. Most of them lies. How many times have a sibling/father/mother/grandmother/grandfather died in my workforce? Why can’t they just tell the freaking truth?!

The funny thing is, since they know they are wrong, they are afraid to face the consequences.

They avoid the penalty if they can.

That’s why, they hide. Back out. Simply not show up.

They will risk everything — even their reputation and word of honor — so as to escape the consequences of their wrong actions.

This goes beyond everything I’ve learned.

When I was young, when you do something wrong, expect a sermon from dad. It’s scary and nerve-wracking, but expect dad to sermon you the whole night. He will not mince words and you get no reprive.

But when you do something wrong, the sermon is valid. There has to be a consequence. You don’t escape it. Instead, you face it head on.

That’s how you learn.

The manager I had chose to run away from the consequence.

As a result, he lost far more than our trust, and our respect.

He has no word of honor.

His reputation with us broken.

And while these have no consequence in the real world here in the Philippines — in fact, many people get away with many things here — it still has consequence in the long-run.

I value my reputation. I guard it very well.

And I guess, herein lies my advantage in doing business in the Philippines.

Because so long as I know that I am conducting myself and my business in a fair manner, I know I will get ahead. I know I will treat my people right, and incidence like these will not break me.

People with integrity and with word of honor will get ahead.

And I plan to protect my integrity, word of honor and reputation at all costs.

Posted in Conflicts, Filipino Men/Women, First Experiences, Husband, Personal opinion, Ramblings, Reflections, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What would happen if I didn’t marry my husband

I was thinking about what my life would be if I did not marry my husband.

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If I married my first boyfriend, it would’ve been a loveless marriage. 

It was a one-sided relationship which started wrongly — with Michan first being head over heels in love with me, then when I turned away, it was I with him. It was a seriously fucked up relationship dynamic with two people falling in love with each other, but not at the same time.

We were together long distance for 6 months, and were together for a year before breaking up on our first year anniversary.

If Michan and I married, I would’ve lived in Japan. Since Michan didn’t have a college degree, he would’ve worked as a cook or waiter or a massage therapist, the latter of which he ended up doing.

In Japan, there would’ve been a glass ceiling for educated women so I’ll probably just end up teaching English to Japanese kids, or working as a secretary in a big company somewhere. I would earn enough but I won’t be rich.That is, if I worked.

Another option was to be a housewife. To cook Michan’s food and to take care of his children. In Japan, it’s not likely that a woman is better than her husband. Michan’s pride wouldn’t had allowed it, and to save the marriage, I would’ve made sacrifices.

But hey, that’s the cost of being with Michan.

If I married Mark, it would’ve been another story.

Mark was a nice guy.

He had a stable job working as a Head of IT for a big global bank. He was paid very well, and lived well.

Mark was the first one who introduced me to the delights of fine dining and delicious wine. He taught me that money was supposed to be enjoyed, and one has to spend in order to make life worthwhile. I even remembered he offered to fly me to Hong Kong for the weekend just to have a nice dinner at the Mandarin Grill in Central.

It was a very nice relationship.

Whereas Michan and I were imbalanced, Mark and I were more like equals. We were both educated, with good stable jobs, and can talk for hours and hours. We spoke the same language, and it was at that time that I realized just how important it was to be with someone who shared the same culture as I did.

We never fought, and shared the same interests. We loved to socialize, spend time with friends, and became healthy by going rock-climbing. We would rock-climb three times a week.

If I married Mark, we would’ve been blissfully happy. It would’ve been a peaceful relationship, and I would’ve been content.

However, he was also 18 years older than me.

Stop looking at me like that! At the age of 24, it was fine to date a 42-year old man.

Anyway, he looked like he was merely in his early 30s (no kidding). People would ask him to bring out his ID because nobody believed he was already above 40.

Whereas we can date the pros and cons of dating an older man, I only saw the good. He was happy, stable and had his life in order, different from Michan’s lost life. For once, he talked to me like an adult.

We broke up after six blissful months. Don’t ask me why — I think he realized the folly of dating somebody younger than him, and he was more concerned about what others thought than what he believed.

In the end, it would’ve been good.

If we got married, he would now be in his 50s. Marriage would mean I would be a mom earlier when I am not really prepared for motherhood, and it would’ve mean that he would die earlier than me.

So while I’m still relatively young at 42, he would’ve been a senior citizen already.

It would mean that I would’ve taken care of him more when his health gave way. That would mean more visits to hospitals. Even at the age of 42, he already had a bit of arthritis and he wasn’t as sprung as he was in his youth.

Mark ended up marrying somebody else closer to his own age. They now live content and happy in Taiwan. :)

Personally, breaking up with him was honestly heart-breaking. It took us six months to get over each other, and a few more months for me to get over him.

But it did give me around 2 years of awesome freedom!

Party… party… party…!

My relationship with next dude was a short one, and was with a colleague.

Aiyo, that was a mistake.

I have nothing against office romances, but it sure was a bit difficult trying to keep this relationship under wraps.

It wasn’t entirely because I was ashamed of it, but rather because I was already getting ahead in my career and I didn’t want anything personal to tarnish my work. Like many women, I didn’t want to be identified because of my relationship. It would rather be best to keep personal and professional life separate.

He was part of our regional office, while I was in another country, and yet we connected well. I liked his fast confidence, smart wit and his wide-range of industry experience.

He was also quite senior in our company, although we had different bosses. You can say we were in different departments.

I just went out with him just for the hell of it. He was available and I was curious. Hey, sometimes, relationships don’t need a lot of explanations. You just give it a go and see where it goes.

Unfortunately, the relationship fizzled out.

Maybe it was the long-distance, or maybe it was because of the absurdity of it all?

But right before it fizzled out, I thought to myself, “My, this person — after looking through his immense confidence and abilities — is actually quite boring.” 

That’s the problem with people: Strip them of their achievements and you realize that they can be quite one-dimensional after all.

Boyfriend for the meantime, sure. But for a lifetime? Well, how else could it have last? I don’t think we could’ve tolerated each other for a week straight after the newness was gone.

He tried three times to get us back together, even coming to Manila to ask for another chance.

This is one relationship where “No” really means NO.

And I am so glad that I declined.

I think it would’ve been an empty shell of a relationship if ever we pushed through.

Then there came Trader.

I was three years older than him, and I remember when I was in college, he looked up to me. He said he had a crush on me then, but these get bungled up along the way. All I can say was whenever I needed a ride home from school, if he was there, he would offer saying that it was on his way.

He was quiet, conscientious and a bit nerdy.

He liked watching Chuck, playing video games, and working on Macros in Excel.

Trader was like the kid you’ve always wanted to have: Never really got into trouble. Got top marks from Xavier, graduated with a double degree in our university, and is working as a derivatives trader in Singapore when I met him.

Impressive resume for a kid from Manila.

If you saw him, you would think of him as a nice guy. He honestly looked the part. Polo, jeans and nice nerdy glasses… yes, that was Trader. He dressed neatly, was careful about what he said and how he acted, and ruffled no feathers.

We were so cheesy then and called each other “Bee,” for baby. Yes, that was our nickname for each other. A bit embarrassing I know, but hey, that’s what people do when they’re in a relationship.

Even though we were in a long-distance relationship, we would see each other every month, alternating trips between Hong Kong and Singapore.

It’s funny though — despite flying across countries, when we get to see each other, we do boring things. — Like go to the mall, buy books from the bookstore, watching a movie and eating cheap food at hawker streets.

It was a very practical relationship, and though I was somewhat bored, I felt that it was a good relationship to have.

Women were supposed to marry the nice guys right?

After years of partying, having fun and moving forward in my career, maybe it’s time to settle down with a nice boy.

And Trader was truly marriage material.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

First, his parents didn’t like me. “You are too bossy,” Trader said, explaining the obvious. “They would prefer someone who can be more of a housewife and take care of me and the kids.”

I asked him if that’s what he would want, as I am not at all housewife-material. My parents were both businessmen. I was already working abroad. Being a housewife was not something I planned to have since I was born.

Two, I think that we realized a few weeks in the relationship just how different we are.

Trader was peaceful, but our relationship was not. It truly brought the badness outside of me. I remembered being a total brat, and expecting to get away with it. To Trader’s defense, he usually let me have my way.

I think I acted out because I was less than satisfied with this relationship. 

But since he was a great guy, I didn’t have the guts to break it off, thinking that this was the last chance I may have with a decent guy.

It’s sad I know.

I was with a decent guy who gave me most of what I wanted, and yet I wasn’t content.

I wanted more.

In the end, I found out that Trader was not as nice as he claimed to be.

In fact, I realized he was in a way very manipulative. Whereas I originally thought he was quiet, he was actually surveying the entire room and trying to observe a situation, trying to see if he can move the people around him like chess pieces.

I also found out that his trips to Hong Kong were just not to see me, but to conduct his family’s personal finance issues.

He was definitely not the most forthcoming guy I know.

Even after we broke up, I realized that whereas I was such an open book, he was not. I came away from the relationship not knowing too much about him. Like seriously, you can spend hours with him and not know him any better than when you first started.

I shudder at the thought of actually being married to him.

If he can keep a lot of secrets when we were dating, how worse it is if we got married? Then I would’ve been sucked in a place I cannot escape, and I have to be part of his secret world and live in fear of being discovered.

In the end, we broke up because there was another girl he met when he visited home.

The breakup was swift: As soon as he found out he had a chance with her, we broke up via Skype while I was in London. Exactly a month later, he was already in a relationship.

See? I told you he was a manipulative bastard… :)

I dodged a bullet on that one though. No offense to Trader.

Let’s just say I chock it up to experience, but every failed relationship I had paved the way for my Husband today.

Whereas Michan was lost, hubby had a family and a business he built from scratch.

While Mark was bothered with what other people thought, my husband cared nothing about what others felt, sometimes to a fault.

While my relationship with my colleague was a secret, this wasn’t. And it was great being paraded as the One and Only Girlfriend. Such freedom is something I really yearned and wished for!

And while Trader was a manipulative nice dude, my husband despite his rough exterior was truly a nice person. He would give his last salary to someone in need if he felt they needed it more. I remember him buying a breast pump for his secretary who just recently gave birth. It’s these little acts of genuine kindness that had made his people so much more loyal to him.

So for those who are single, and with failed relationships, my heart goes out to you.

How many days have I also cried and shouted? How many times had I been disappointed when a guy I put my hopes on disappoints me? How many times have I been hurt when a relationship ends, be it in my hands or his?

It’s not easy finding the One for you.

But as I look back on my own life, I realize that every failed relationship led me to my husband. Somehow, some lesson stuck and I learned something that moved me closer to where my husband was.

If I married Michan, I would be in Japan, alone and helpless. We could also not communicate in the same language. Michan taught me how important is language in a relationship. If you can, speak the same language!

If I married Mark, I would’ve been the child in the relationship. He would forever take care of him, and only I can take care of him when he’s old. The age gap does exist and it’s not optimal. Sometimes, it’s good to be with people more similar to your own age. The common experiences and thought process would’ve been beneficial in making you closer to each other.

If I married my colleague, it would’ve been a mess. We were simply not right for each other. Why force it?

If I married Trader, I would’ve been stuck in his secretive life. I would not be really happy knowing fully well that my husband is plotting many things behind other people’s backs.

I am fine where I am. It’s not happy all the time, but I am here, right where I belong.

So I end this post with a quote, Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

The future is here.

I hope you can also benefit from my experiences as well.

Posted in Boyfriend, Conflicts, Dates, Family Drama, Favorite Posts, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband, Life lessons, Marriage, Men, Philippines, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

It’s Not Easy Being a Girl

My mother tells me the story of her friend, who was so proud of her daughter.

Tess was so proud that her daughter graduated magna cum laude in a prestigious school in the Philippines,” she said. “She never had a problem with the kid. She always had good grades, and didn’t get into trouble. To top it off, she was very bright and never had any problems in school!”

And then what happened?” I asked.

When the daughter graduated, she was dead set in getting a scholarship to study abroad. The mother thought she could work in ADB (Asian Development Bank) or something international institution.”

And then?”

Well, five years later, I saw the mother again,”  my mom said. “I asked her what happened to the daughter she was most proud of.”

What did she say?”

She said, ‘Aiya, woe is me. My daughter got married to her college sweetheart and had three kids, one after another,'” my mom related. “‘So despite my dreams of having her have a good career, she is now a stay-at-home mom, taking care of her three kids and taking care of the home while the man pursues her dreams.'”

No, it’s not easy being a girl.

girl

Ever since we were young, women were taught to be docile.

To be submissive.

To follow the rules.

While men were allowed to run around, take risks, and make mistakes, women were encouraged to stay behind the sidelines, to keep quiet, and to sacrifice for the better good of everyone. This Youtube video embodies the ridiculousness of the girls stereotype as if we were truly the lesser sex.

But the pressure is there.

It is real.

From a young age, most women are taught that they need a man to feel complete. 

How many women dream of getting married as their ultimate goal in life?” my husband says. “Everyone!”

“I never dreamed of getting married…” I protested.

Well you’re different,” hubby replies.

It is true though.

In my Bible group sessions with single ladies before, the topics were common. We wished to get along with our colleagues, felt pressure in following our parents, and hoped to find a man and get married. All the time, it seemed that we relinquished control to somebody else, be it to our colleagues, our parents or a guy.

When will there come a point that we can independently live our lives simply for us?

My half-brother married his college sweetheart a little bit after college.

Soon after that, she gave up her job and followed him to Taiwan and then to New York, as he climbed up the corporate ladder, becoming one of the more powerful officers in his bank.

He didn’t want children, and because she loved him, she gave up that dream.

He also didn’t want her to work, and because she believed he can count on him, she gave up her career and became a full-fledged housewife.

For years, I used to drive him to New York every morning for work,” she tearfully told me. “Then in the evening, I will pick him up and we’ll go home together in our house in New Jersey.”

You did that everyday?!” I exclaimed.

Yes, I gave up my life for him. I gave up kids for him. I gave up my dreams for him.”

I looked at her pitifully. 

After decades of loyal devotion, my half-brother was assigned back to the Philippines to head their call centers in Manila. He didn’t bring home his wife. Instead, he left her there.

I know for a fact he’s also been having an affair.

It is common knowledge.

And my half-brother doesn’t care.

After being unemployed for the last 20+ years, how the hell am I going to find a way to be independent of him?” my half sister-in-law asked. “What else can I do? Who will hire me?”

I looked at her sadly.

Not only did she lost her career and her life, she also lost her confidence and self-esteem. 

Even though she knew her husband was screwing her behind her back, she couldn’t do anything.

She couldn’t leave him.

She had no money for divorce, and she had no money to turn to.

It’s sad, and all that is left is a pity party.

That is why, I always urge women to still have something left for herself.

My mother, despite her submissiveness, ensured my father was thoroughly dependent on her. She did all his books, managed his business, but smartly made him feel he called all the shots.

In my own marriage, I am lucky that my husband never called me to stop working. In fact, he preferred it.

In Picket Fences, there was a story of a sheriff and a town doctor,” my husband related. “The town doctor, who is female, had an affair with her medical colleague because their marriage became boring. She didn’t find him exciting any more. Reason being, she couldn’t share with him her latest medical findings, and she lost respect for him.”

Guys are funny.

When you’re married, they want you to dress conservatively and stop wearing makeup.

When they are already the breadwinner, they want you to stop working and focus on them and the kids.

But if you do it long enough, they start losing respect for you. 

Their eyes start to wonder as you talk about the stressful moments of home, of the time you had to tutor your children or when you have starting having problems with the maid.

All the while you’re talking about your daily stresses, their minds wander. Either they’re twiddling on their phone, or they’re thinking about work.

You are not their equal.

Instead, over time, you’ve become their maid.

Their nanny.

And yes, they start believing that they’re better than you.

That is the beginning of the end.

So ladies, before you give up your job, think carefully what else are you giving up.

Motherhood is noble, and to be a housewife is an amazing sacrifice.

Just make sure it doesn’t bite you in the butt. 

Have a good evening everyone!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, Family Drama, Filipino Men/Women, Husband, Life lessons, Marriage, Personal opinion, Rants | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Reasons Why Women Are Still Single

I have a lot of single girl friends.

And they’re worried.

They’re worried that they don’t have anyone special in their lives.

They’re worried that they won’t find The One.

They’re worried that they’ll be single forever.

I have a lot of girl friends who worry.

The older they are, the more they worry.

Case in point — my best friend, Fanny.

Fanny is very honest with me. On weekends, we talk. When we talk, she tells me what remains in the hearts of many women. Her cries echo the sentiments of many single women out there.

I’m more upset about my situation and the lack of confidence that I can find someone I can be with for the rest of my life,” moaned my 30-plus year old girl friend. “I just don’t feel that God has prepared someone for me. Maybe he wants me to stay single forever.”

It’s not that bad, Fanny,” I told her. “Sometimes, it’s better to be alone than to be with someone who hurts you and makes you cry.”

But I’m lonely…” she said. “It would be great if I found God’s best for me.”

Well, look at the bright side. I’d like to think being single gives you the time and space to explore,” I replied. “Once you are married, you’re stuck with just one person. And what if that person turned out to be controlling, mean or hard to deal with?”

I’m just upset that my mom is complaining that I look old. She said I am too outgoing, too poor and no one wants me,” my best friend complained. “Well you know how honest moms can be… Maybe it’s true. Girl’s value declines with age.”

Gee, don’t focus on that girlie,” I replied. “You know that’s not true. You’re attractive. This is fact. But you have to act it. Your wit, your personality and your heart is what makes you attractive.”

But being single makes you depressed. If that’s the case, then that’s an issue.” I added. “Because the more depressed you become, the more unlucky you become in love. That’s why many people say they meet someone when they’re not looking. Because often they look happy and are enjoying life. And that’s very attractive.”

Having gotten married recently, I wonder why not a lot of women can find themselves a husband.

Maybe finding a husband was just pure luck?

Or fate?

Or maybe a lot of prayers?

My mom had been praying for the right person for me for years! :)

But as I think about it and talk to my friends, I realized that these single women — as lovely as they are — share a lot of things in common. While they may come from different countries, they do have certain commonalities.

So in lieu of a new blog post, here are 7 reasons why you most likely cannot find yourself a man:

1) Your parents are too strict.

I know this is true because MY own dad is very strict.

Screen-Shot-2012-12-06-at-5.14.59-PM-1-1024x959

And it didn’t help me in the love department.

Back when I was in high school, I managed to catch the eye of my childhood crush.

It was like fireworks.

Can you imagine your crush of four years finally having a crush on you too?!

But when my dad caught wind of our blooming romance, he put a stop to it.

And I never saw Jason again.

Boo hoo.

Since then, Dad has not stopped sabotaging every almost-relationship I’ve had.

Of course, he’s always meant well.

Maybe I was too young to date. Maybe there were boys out there who just want to break my heart. Maybe I did deserve someone better.

But regardless on how rational he made things seem, the result was the same: He’s always made it hard for me to have or keep a relationship.

Not only did he scare every potential suitor away, but he made it so hard for me to get away.

Nobody is good enough for your dad,” my mom moaned as she saw another suitor turn away. “Oh well, he only wants the very best for you,” sighed she.

The truth was, nobody was very good for my dad. I was his most precious possession. Only the best could deserve me. Everyone was too irresponsible, untrustworthy, not very smart, or unaccomplished. Somehow, they all fell short from his standards.

So I remained single.

Single until I was overseas, away from the prying eyes of my formidable parents.

It was only after my dad passed away that I managed to have a real serious relationship.

You’re lucky,” my dad’s best friend jokingly told my boyfriend now husband. “You waited until her dad to die before you pursued her.”

We nervously laughed.

Only my dad’s best friend can get away with such an inappropriate joke.

But it was true.

My husband and I wouldn’t have gotten married if my dad was still alive.

2) You don’t take good care of yourself.

I’m sorry to mention the white elephant in the room, but if men don’t find you attractive, they won’t chase after you.

THIS IS FACT.

You’ll be the reliable best friend.

The cool chick.

The funniest person in the room.

But if you are unattractive in a guy’s eyes, you will never be the girlfriend/wife.

As my guy friend once said, “I am not superficial! I just like pretty women!”

The unfortunate fact is, we live in a superficial world, and men ARE superficial.

So while you cannot change your height, skin color and to a certain extent your face, you can improve your odds by maximizing how you look.

And you don’t have to go through plastic surgery.

Often times, being more attractive is as simple as putting on makeup, dressing in clothes that fit your body size, losing a bit of weight and taking good care of yourself.

It’s easy — making yourself look good is not that hard.

Makeup really helps.

Personally, I look ugly without makeup. Objectively speaking, I think I look like a different person without makeup, and if I am to go out in the world without makeup, I would look bagong gising (as if I just woke up). I will look older and more dowdy.

Don’t want to believe me?

Check out these celebrities with and without makeup:

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See?

Makeup matters.

Makeup not only hides your facial flaws, but they can also make your eyebrows richer, your eyes look bigger, your cheeks healthier, and your lips fuller.

You look more full of life instead of seeming as if you just got out bed.

But my mother doesn’t want me to wear makeup!” one friend says. “She says it’s best to wear makeup only on special occasions!”

Here’s the funny thing — If you wait for a special occasion to look good, you are intentionally making yourself look not your best on a daily basis. And what if you meet Prince Charming tomorrow?

Personally, every time I go out without makeup, I almost always run into somebody cute! :(

Bloody hell!

So if you want to find a man, please, put on some makeup, dress a little more feminine-like, lose some weight healthily, and try to be your best self.

It won’t guarantee yourself a man, but it’ll really put you on a higher place than you were before.

3) Women who are single say no to life. To chances. To men who aren’t really their type. It’s true: You’re too picky.

A lot of my girl friends refused to be kai-shiao‘d (Note: For non-Filipinos, kai shiao is like a referral with the understanding that if everything works out, the matched couple will get married. It’s very common amongst Filipino-Chinese).

They hate the idea.

No, people will think I’m desperate!” my girlfriends would say. “Nobody kai shiaos you to somebody decent. They’re usually fat, stable and ugly.”

And therein lies the problem.

I think many women are single nowadays because they close their minds to opportunities that can lead them to a real relationship.

Take online dating for example… a friend of mine refused to try online dating because it’s only for “desperate losers.” 

Her words not mine, okay?

But the thing is, if I didn’t try online dating, I wouldn’t have met my husband!

And there’s a gazillion ways to meet someone.

I’ve met guys at MBA, at school, in the gym, and even at the super baduy speed dating our Chinese association organized.

I also met a potential guy via kai shiao. It didn’t work out between us but the person who kai shiao’d us did actually become our principal sponsors at our wedding. :)

The trick was, I never said no.

I didn’t wait for a guy who was tall, cute, smart and handsome to ask me out.

In fact, regardless on whether the guy was fat, thin, rich, poor, in their 20s, in their 30s, or in their 40s, I said yes to every invitation as long as I could put it in my schedule.

When I was single, If guys asked me out, I went.

Honestly, I just wasn’t picky.

I went out with anyone and everyone, knowing fully well that even if it didn’t work out between us, at least, I would’ve still made a friend.

And why not?

These men took a lot of guts to ask me out. For many men here in the Philippines, asking a girl out can be a nerve-wracking event.

The least I can do is say yes.

Anyway, what did I have to lose?

My time? :)

My effort?

Bah, I never really went out with anyone and had a bad time. The date was for me to enjoy. If my date was boring, I still found something else about the date to enjoy myself about.

And even if my date was a complete disaster, at least I had a few interesting stories to carry with me.

So girls, it’s this aura of openness that made me more attractive than usual.

Besides, with more “yeses” I think one of them might actually be with the guy you’ve been waiting for all your life!

4) They have low standards.

While I did say that women cannot be too picky, there is such a thing as being too considerate, too understanding, too giving, and TOO NICE.

Here is an article where I complained about women with low standards.

In the end, they got into a relationship limbo… neither here or there.

While men do not like women who have extremely high opinions about themselves, they also cannot get themselves to be seriously attracted to someone who has a low opinion of herself.

Or to be with someone who wants to get married, and will bear and suffer many things just to be with a man.

Case in point, Amanda.

Amanda was my best friend in grade school, but but lost touch after we graduated from high school.

I later found out that she started hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Amanda had pretty low esteem and was willing to do anything to be with someone.

Back in high school, I remember she would write love letters and slip them inside the lockers of the upper batch.

Omigosh, you know Amanda?!” my guy friend exclaimed.

Yeah, she used to be my best friend in grade school,” I said. “How did you know her?”

Oh really? A friend of mine used to make her his f*ck buddy.”

Oh.”

Yeah, all you did was call her and if she was horny, she was there.”

Oh.”

As I later found out, Amanda was willing to exchange sex with love. It made her feel that if she didn’t spread her legs, no guy would want to be with her. I found this conclusion sad and unnecessary.

You shouldn’t be too desperate for love that you lose your self-respect.

Up till now, Amanda is still single.

Unmarried.

But when guys get a bit frisky, she gets a call.

And she’s okay with that.

I asked my friend, “Would you ever introduce Amanda to your mom?” 

Of course not!” my guy friend exclaimed. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Because she’s a nice person?”  I asked.

Nah, you don’t ever bring her to my mommy,” he said. “She’s not really marriage material.”

A guy has to respect you in order to want to marry you.

No respect = no marriage.

Take for example my husband. My husband and I do have our differences, and when we fight, we really fight.

Sometimes, I just wish you’d keep things to yourself,” he’d say.

Yes, but if I can’t tell you the truth, then who will?!” I’d reply.

But in the end, I really think that he appreciates my candor. Knowing that I have my own values makes him respect me more.

When you’re in a real relationship, you have to be honest with each other. There shouldn’t be a fear of walking on eggshells and saying the wrong things. You should not be afraid of your partner.

I think one of the reasons my husband married me is because I always told him the truth even if it hurt, and even if I could lose him. It made him realize that I was choosing him for him, and not because I was so desperate to get married.

But what if he breaks up with me?” you may ask.

There you go again girlie… the desperation. Guys do not want to be obliged to marry you. He doesn’t want to marry you because you want to get married. He wants it to be his choice.

So if he breaks up with you because you’re not being yourself, would you rather want that? I think it’s better to be honest and real today, and tell him what you want instead of being quiet and meek, and letting him get away with things that make you unhappy.

In the long run, please, have standards. Earn his respect. I promise, he’ll value you more for it.

5) They wait for their knight in shining armor to come and sweep them off their feet.

That’s the problem with many women nowadays — A guy comes a calling and shows interest, and we shoot them down because they’re not up to your standards, OR you believe you deserve much more.

Well guess what?

You’re not exactly the prettiest princess with legions of suitors pining for your hand in marriage.

You’re not the sexiest, most attractive girl in the room.

Someone will always be thinner, nicer, smarter and better than you.

We not perfect and we all have our flaws.

Honestly, in moments of truthfulness, I look at myself and then my husband, and wonder, “Why the hell does my husband want to marry me?”

To be honest, I am not exactly the prettiest girl in the room nor the thinnest.

I think I’m smart, but I can be ignorant and clumsy at times.

I may be competent and capable at work, and yet I can be so lazy at home.

So let me repeat… Why did my husband want to marry me?

I think the answer came two years ago when we first started dating.

Back then, our life was not as peaceful as it was now.

Specifically, my husband drank a lot, partied a lot, and was always surrounded by half a dozen models who had already been featured in FHM.

Truth be told, my then boyfriend was rude, cursed a lot, and made a lot of enemies.

He was not my knight in shining armor.

In fact, I believe that he’s my mother’s biggest nightmare.

Can’t you find anyone better, Bonita?” she pleaded. “There are a gazillion men better than XXXXXXX.”

And she was right.

But I stuck by him.

Despite my brother and my mother’s pleas, I stuck with my hubby.

I stuck with him when he got in trouble with the law, his parents, and with people in and out of work.

I stuck with him even when he became despicable.

I believed in him.

And I prayed for our relationship.

I prayed especially to God to give me a lot of patience and understanding.

There were times I doubted and questioned our relationship.

There were a few times that we almost broke up.

It was only because of God’s repeated interventions that we managed to stick together this long.

Over time and a lot of prayer, he improved, I improved, and our relationship improved.

It improved to the peaceful level it is today.

So what if I dumped him in the first initial months just because we were having problems? Because he didn’t seem to be my knight in shining armor? If I didn’t stick by him as he worked on himself?

Then I wouldn’t be Mrs. XXXX today.

So girls, before you heap judgments and reject a man, remember Chris Pratt. Here is Chris Pratt before Guardians and the Galaxy and after:

Chris pratt

See the difference?

Anna Farris married Chris Pratt when he wasn’t yet the “Guardians of the Galaxy” hunky super hero today. Take a look of him before:

"Zero Dark Thirty" - Los Angeles Premiere

Doesn’t he look like a cute over-sized teenager who seemed to never lose his baby fat?

Do you find him attractive?

He’s cute… but honestly, do you find him hot?

Not many women did.

But Anna Farris did.

Anna Farris saw the potential and snagged him while she still could.

Back when Chris Pratt looked like your favorite nephew.

And now, who’s laughing all the way to the bank?

Anna Farris that’s who!

Take a look at Chris Pratt today:

Marvel's "Guardians Of The Galaxy" - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

So if you were Chris Pratt, would you dump Anna Farris who “discovered” and “appreciated” you when everyone didn’t?

Hell no!

So girls, don’t give up on your men if they’re worth it!

And lastly, 6) They’re just not interesting.

I’m sorry but some girls can be B-O-R-I-N-G.

Maybe their lives are all about their families, or their dogs, or their jobs. When you talk to them, it’s all about their parents, their siblings or their colleagues. And who can blame them? Their life is mostly about working, then home, then time with family! :)

And it’s the same banana day in and day out.

Ladies, please, have a life!

The world is your oyster… slurp it!

For those who is interested, there’s always yoga lessons. There’s cooking lessons, or a hike to Mount Pinatubo. There’s going to Antipolo with your friends. Taking shooting lessons or boxing time at Elorde. Tons of books to read aside from Cosmopolitan.

I personally like to rock climb. And I like medium rare steaks.

These were the few things I placed on my online profile that caught my husband’s attention.

Finally, a girl who doesn’t say, ‘I’m a simple girl looking for love!'” my now husband thought to himself.

To be attractive, BE ATTRACTIVE.

Learn.

Live.

Love.

You don’t have to make a radical change in your life to be interesting.

You just have to be interested about life and everything around you.

Try new things once in a while and step out of your comfort zone.

Who knows?

You might be surprised with what you can discover.

Maybe you’ll even meet the guy of your dreams?

=============================

There you go. Six reasons why many women are still single. I’m sure you can think of more.

Can you still add more to the list? :)

 

Posted in Boyfriend, Dates, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Husband, Life lessons, Lists, Personal opinion, Philippines, Reflections, Relationships | 1 Comment

Is Entrepreneurship FOR YOU?

It requires at least a 20,000 circulation for Summit Media to continue publishing a magazine.

One of their magazine, “Entrepreneur,” boasts of a 30,000 circulation, a 4x pass-on readership, and a total monthly readership of 150,000. While this may not be impressive to some,  it is still one of the most popular magazines in the Summit Media stable, trumping Top Gear, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Real Living, Good Parenting, Town and Country, and Esquire.

entre

The point is, Filipinos like to read about Entrepreneurship. They like to know industry news, facts, and figures, and get more ideas about how to start their own business.

However, being an entrepreneur is still an uphill climb.

Some statistics reveal that the micro-, small and medium sized sectors account for a whooping 99.6% of total establishments in the country and 61.2% of the country’s total employment. However, micro, small and medium sized businesses only account for 35.7% of the total value added. Now, that’s low.

This means that despite the hoopla about owning and managing one’s own business, wealth is still restricted to a limited few, namely the big tycoons and corporations.

Or inheritance.

The second and third generations can be quite good in spending their parents’ or grandparents’ hard-earned kayamanan (inheritance).

So I wonder why so many people want to be entrepreneurs.

Maybe they were brainwashed from birth that the road to wealth is to start your own business?

That you can never earn a lot of money if you worked for a big corporate, because you are making money for them and not for you?

That being an entrepreneur is all pomp and glamour? And it’s the best way to get rich in the Philippines?

This is flawed thinking.

As I grew up, worked abroad and joined one of the largest investment banks in the world, I realized this paradigm is NOT entirely true.

Corporate life was EASY! At least, it was for me…

All I had to do was get good grades, talk eloquently, and bullsh*t my way to a good, high-paying job.

While it was hard to get in a good paying job (e.g., it took me 6 months just to start working at the bank I worked for), it was easy to get used to the early hours and the highly stressful environment. Quickly, my work became like clockwork.

In the morning, I would wake up and be at work by 7:30 am.

I’d work my ass off and take a quick lunch at Central.

Then it’s back to work till around 8pm or 9pm where I pause to have my dinner. Takeaway of course.

While eating, I was always on my Blackberry. The Blackberry was my best friend and boyfriend.

On weekends, I’d have dinner, dessert and drinks with my friends in Soho.

Despite having my fun, I would still be at my Blackberry talking to people from the US and Europe. I only put it down at 2am when I go to bed.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Sure, the work was hard. I had superiors to answer to. The pressure was overwhelming. 

But I got rewarded generously for it.

On my first year of corporate life, my bonus was a year’s salary.

I was dumbfounded. At that time, at the age of 26, I was not used to that type of money.

That wasn’t all.

Travels were in 5-star hotels and airplane tickets were all business class.

business-class-flights-amsterdam

Everyone at work owned a YSL, Prada, Chanel, Bottega, and even Hermes! People at work no longer touted Louie Vuittons. We went for the more expensive bags. It didn’t take long for me to start my own bag collection.

bags3

My point is, so many people lambast the corporate life. The employee mindset.

But given MY OWN EXPERIENCE, I LOVED the corporate life!

I worked and was paid tons of money for it.

I was given 15 working days of mandatory paid leave, and I had to take it every year.

Bonuses were always a pleasant surprise, and the people I worked with were one of the nicest, and most competent people in the world.

The Head of Asian Equities knew me by name, and working there was one of the best years in my life.

I made a lot of money, and I spent a lot of money.

I traveled everywhere — In Asia, I went to Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, China, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka.

I got time off to visit Australia, and Europe, specifically, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, Italy, the United Kingdom.

My business trips were to the United States. I would’ve gone to Africa and Russia if I didn’t quit to get my MBA.

Every year, my worry was never where to get the money but where to go.

My husband teasingly calls it my “glory days.

He’s right. 

They were the good ol’ glory days.

After seeing how much money I actually made on my employment certification from my last employer, he nervously asked me whether I have any regrets coming back to money and earning the money I do today.

I laugh.

Those days are over,” I said.

That’s why I wonder why some readers lambast the employee mindset.

I was an employee and now an entrepreneur.

I’ve seen and experienced both sides of the coin.

Both had his pros and cons. 

But never would I say that being an employee was the worst days of my life.

In fact, it was a time where I cruised my life, enjoyed my evenings, and experienced an even full life!

Here are five specific reasons as to why corporate life is better than entrepreneurship life:

1) In the corporate world, I was in total control of my work and my life. My days were organized. My life was organized.

Not anymore!

Back when I was in Hong Kong, every day, I knew exactly what I was going to do.

My schedule was pre-planned weeks and months before. 

For large projects, our timelines were already set and were religiously followed. 

Relative to my experience now, there were no big surprises.

From the time I woke up till the time I slept, I was in total control of my life. 

I bid that control goodbye when I became a businesswoman.

When I had my own business.

Ma’m absent po si Julie,” my area supervisor would tell me as she would be busy finding a reliever for Julie (Ma’m, Julie is absent).

Working in retail in the Philippines, it can be a big headache if one of your store employees disappear or go AWOL (absence without leave). This happens more than you think.

Filipinos always revert back to “not feeling well” and “family emergency” when they don’t want to go to work that day, and there’s nothing you can do to get them to come on duty.

This does NOT happen in the corporate world.

If you do this crap, you’ll be fired, stat.

Everyone is professional.

Not when you have a business in the Philippines.

Many people are NOT professional.

That’s just the beginning. 

As a business owner, you cannot control many factors. A few examples:

  • You can’t control the daily needs of your business. Yesterday, I had a business meeting with someone in Fairview, then proceeded to Banawe to meet a client. Lastly, my husband and I did a dog and pony show in Ortigas in front of 80 people to hawk our products. On a freaking Sunday today, we will be visiting Pasig and Novaliches to scour out good locations. Even on Sunday, we are working! There is no rest for an entrepreneur. 
  • You can’t control the weather. If it rains or if there’s a typhoon/flood, sales inevitably go down. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Sigh.
  • You can’t control your people too much. If people don’t show up for work, there’s nothing you can do about it. If people steal from you, you’d have to go back, catch them and try to prove that they did it. You can’t control how good people sell. If they’re in a bad mood, if they’re unhappy, or if they have personal problems, their sales will suffer. Yes, you can pick better people, but good people are hard to find nowadays. It’s always a hit or miss.
  • You can’t control government policies. One day, what you’re doing is legal. Tomorrow, it’s not. This happens in the car after-market industry. Today, it’s okay to modify your car. Tomorrow, the government comes up with another policy. Then you’d have to change your entire business model. Aiyo…

2) In the corporate world, you don’t need to care about the company you’re working for. It’s different for an entrepreneur. YOU ARE YOUR BUSINESS.

The only time I was truly afraid for my company’s fate was during the 2008 global financial crisis.

At that time, my company lost USD 50 billion due to a wrong business decision.

But I was not afraid for my job.

My department was making money.

Actually, we had a very good year that year — and I was a key part of the department.

Usually in the corporate world, if you make yourself indispensable, you become indispensable. 

You have job security.

It’s different when you have your own business.

You are your own business. 

Every right business decision grows your company.

Every wrong decision has serious repercussions for your company.

Case in point, we made a wrong hiring decision last year.

The candidate came from the same industry and worked for a competitor.

She seemed strong and had the potential to lead.

She’s managed people before.

She made a lot of promises. 

Here’s the clincher, she couldn’t live up to her promises.

Our sales from her area fell 20% this year. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot.

We thought it was just her adjusting to her new job.

But I now believe a lot of it was complacency, her inability to handle different scenarios well, and her lack of managerial competence. 

Oh well, how the hell were we supposed to know?

When you hire people, it’s always a hit or miss.

 

You trust your gut but it’s only after they start working that you can see just how good they are.

Oh well, chuck it up to learning experience.

But unlike in the corporate world where wrong decisions only elicit sermons from your boss, when you make wrong decisions like this in your own business, your wrong decisions ALWAYS come at a cost.

And the cost inevitably comes out from your own pockets!

3) In the corporate world, it’s a dog eat dog world out there. You only care about your own job. In your own business, you have to care about every body’s job.

It’s a huge responsibility — being a business owner.

Not only are you responsible for yourself, but you are also responsible for a LOT of people.

with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility-spider-man

Hiring people takes a lot of guts and thought.

By taking them under your wing, you are taking them away from what could be a more stable business that can provide them with better job security. 

In a way, the people you hire trust you.

They’ve bet on you and your business.

They believe that your business can make it, and so choose to work for you instead of another.

While they care about money, they work for you because they think you’re a good boss and you will help them grow as your business grows. 

People will not work for you if you’re an asshole.

They won’t work for you if your business is not stable.

They leave when they feel you have no money to pay them.

As an employee, your staff takes a bet on you — If your business grows, you can give them more responsibilities and a bigger salary.

So with owning a business comes the responsibility and the pressure of providing for everyone’s livelihood.

That you have enough capital to resist economic downturns.

That you can make enough money to pay everyone’s salaries on time.

And that your business will grow, taking your employees with you.

4) In the corporate world, money is not really a problem. You get paid a monthly salary regardless on how the business does. In the entrepreneurial world, money is ALWAYS a problem.

When I was working for someone else, I never worried about money.

Every month like clockwork, the company deposits the money straight to my bank account.

All I had to do was spend it. 

In the business world, I worry about money.

Every single day.

Even holidays and Sundays!

I worry about sales and income, which gives my company its lifeblood.

If sales are low, I worry. I still have to pay my overhead. 

I also worry about expenses.

I cannot over-hire, because my overhead will balloon.

I cannot over-spend.

Everything I spend must be well thought out of. 

It should be a need, instead of a want… And the trick is deciding what makes a difference.

For example, is promoting your company via a Php 300K billboard ad space in EDSA the best way for your company? Or is it just throwing away more money.

How about hiring an endorser which will cost you Php 500K or more? 

Decisions, decisions…

Regardless of how my business does, I still have to pay my rent and my people. 

I can never tell my landlord that I have no money to pay the rent.

Woe is me if I have to tell my people that I can’t pay their salaries on time because of lack of capital. Everyone would resign!!! Nobody wants to work for an unstable company. 

If a business don’t have enough working capital, it dies.

It shuts down.

Nobody is exempt, even the big conglomerates.

5) Lastly, having your own business is scary.

Being an entrepreneur is a gamble.

You put your money where your mouth is.

If it works, you make more money than what you invest.

If it doesn’t, the best case scenario is you don’t lose all of your capital. 

There is no job security. 

Zero.

So even if you work your ass off, there is still many things beyond your control.

Delays put a dent to your capital.

Wrong hiring decisions can break a business.

A gazillion shits can still hit the fan.

And if you think having your own business can give you more time for your family, you’ve got to be kidding!!!

My husband’s dad used to bring the kids to the mall.

Not for fun but to scour for better mall locations.

They would drag their kids out to new malls every weekend just to check out how the mall was doing.

To see on whether they should open a shop there or not.

My parents used to bring us to the loading warehouse.

We used to give our trabahadors (workers) sticks so my parents can count how many bags of coffee they have loaded to a container.

I remember bringing my homework to business meetings.

My parents would meet with their business associates while we were outside reading and answering take-home quizzes. 

My mom would do her accounting in the evenings while my dad would play mah-jong.

We would watch DVD in the living room while she’s bent on balancing her books.

Entrepreneurship is not just a job. 

IT’S A LIFE.

And the life is not really a walk in the park.

You’d really have to love your business,” my mother in law advised. “Because once you get into business, you’ll have no choice but to stick with it.”

She is right.

Today, I worry about our business.

I worry about business opportunities.

I worry about inventory and receivables.

I worry about rent. 

I think business shortens your life.

So why do business, do you ask? Why not just go back to your cushy corporate job? 

Well, to cut things short, I am in business because my parents were in business. They brainwashed me that having your own business can be the most rewarding thing ever. It was in their lifeblood, and they sure worked their asses off to ensure we have enough food in our table, and we can get good educations.

I am in business because my husband’s family is in business. They are judging me based on my abilities to maintain and grow a business. For them, keeping a business afloat is akin to how good I am. If given my credentials and experience, if I can’t manage a business, then I’m not really as smart or as good as I say that I am.

I am in business because I love challenge. And having a business is one of the bigger challenges there is. Can I test fate? How good am I? Can I survive? These are questions only finally executing your idea can answer…

I am in business because I believe in our business model. I like my products. I know how hard it is to start a business, but I believe in dreams. I am an optimist and a dreamer. I believe I can survive long enough to build scale. I believe that managing a few people is not a big jump to managing a lot of people. I believe in scale. Once I have enough scale, I can spread my overhead thinly, and more profits can come. I actually believe my business can grow and survive.

I am in business because people are counting on me. I love it that I’m employing people and they trust me with their livelihood. I am making a difference in people’s lives. And I work hard not to disappoint them.

And lastly, I am in business because I believe in time value of money. Over time, things will just get better and better. Experience is the best teacher, and while I may not manage as optimally as I would think, I would be a better manager tomorrow than I am today. Sure I will make mistakes but better to commit them when I am young enough to brush myself off from failure and try it out again. And while I still have the energy, I can still work my ass off. And hey, with perseverance comes success, right?

So again, entrepreneurship is not for everyone.

But it is for me.

Is it for you?

Comments — both positive and negative — are very much appreciated.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

 

Posted in Business, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Interests, Lists, Personal opinion, Reflections, Work | 6 Comments

Juan Tamad

I am browsing through Jobstreet.com, the Philippines most popular online job hunting site. For the position of sales associate, I have already received 100 resumes and counting. Not bad for a job posting that only cost me USD 100.

Here’s the problem with Philippine wannabe employees…

Out of 100 candidates, only 50 are qualified to be invited for interview. The ones I automatically reject are those who ask for too much and yet are not worth the moolah given their limited experience, or are under qualified. Hey, it happens.

The 50 I invite for interview, only 20 confirm attendance and show up. The rest either ignore your invitation, or confirm and simply don’t show up. Those bastards!

The 20 who show up, only 9 are truly qualified for the job. These people, I invite for training.

At the training, only 3 show up.

So out of the 100 applicants, only 3 are successfully trained and get deployed. Given this low conversion rate, I can only deduce that the high unemployment rate is Filipino’s own issue. The unemployment rate is high not because there’s not enough jobs.

There are.

Just this month alone, I have hired at least 12 people.

They are high because many Filipinos are unprofessional, under qualified or are entitled job hunters who want a high salary without doing too much work.

And this is why the Philippines find it hard to pick itself up. As a whole, they seem to be lazier, more lax and less qualified than their Asian counterparts.

Wake up kababayans! Enough of this Juan Tamad syndrome and start showing people what you can do. Many people already say only the good ones work abroad. The ones who cannot leave are those who suck.

Please, show us this is not true.

Alas, my own experience prove there is much truth to this statement.

*Hangs head in shame*

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Posted in Personal opinion, Philippines, Work | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

My Personal Experience with Nu Skin – The Company with an Ulterior Motive

My phone rang. It was an unknown number. 

Bonita here,” I greeted as I picked up the phone.

Hi Bonita, this is Patricia!” 

Patricia had been my college classmate back at college. We worked on our senior year project together, doing an operational and marketing project as a requirement for graduation. I have also not been in contact with her for the last 12 years, only managing to see her at Starbucks last year.

Hi Patricia,” I answered. “How are you?”

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been in contact,” she said. “Do you have time to talk?”

Sure, I have only a few minutes,” I said. “What’s up?”

Yeah, it’s just that I thought about you recently and I wondered if it would be good to catch up? It’s just coincidental since I saw you last time in Starbucks and we go to CCF together,” she said. CCF stood for Christ’s Christian Fellowship, one of the largest and most aggressive Protestant church in Manila today.

Sure, that would be nice,” I said.

How about Monday or Wednesday?” she asked.

I think Wednesday would be okay. 5:30pm?” I answered.

Sure,” she said. “Wednesday it is then at 5:30 pm. At Starbucks where we last saw each other.”

I thought nothing of it then though found it weird when she texted me a confirmation of our meeting. 

Hi Bonita! Patricia here. See you Wednesday next week, the 6th, 5:30 pm at Starbucks!

 “Thanks and see you!” I replied.

As I was busy with work, I thought nothing of it until on Wednesday morning when she texted me to remind me about the meeting. People can be organized, and it was a breath of fresh air to people who are less so. 

But when I saw her on Wednesday, I came out of the catch up a little bit disappointed. Why? For the following reasons:

1) She caught up with me not much that she wanted to know how I was, but instead, to tell me about a wonderful entrepreneurial opportunity that was available, which turned out to be Nu Skin.

After asking me about how I was after college, and how I met my husband, Patricia then shared with me that she was working for a group called Nu Skin, and how interesting it could be if I wanted to have more income. 

“I know you’re an entrepreneur, Bonita.” she said. “My group Nu Skin offers you the opportunity to set up your own business, make additional income. Look at me, it’s enough for me to quit my job and do it full time.”

As an actual entrepreneur, I wondered what she meant. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, an entrepreneur is “a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.”

Personally, I feel that an entrepreneur develops the product or service, and sells it to somebody else. With Nu Skin, you are selling somebody else’s products and services. In my book, we call these people AGENTS, NOT an entrepreneur. 

She then shared with me how multi-level marketing works: Basically, you recruit people — Nu Skin calls them distributors — and you ask them to sell Nu Skin products with you, with you the recruiter getting a cut on their sales. 

The long compensation plan is detailed here: Nu Skin Compensation Plan.

If you have no patience to read the 5-page document, let me summarize it for you. To make the long story short, if you are successfully recruited as an Agent cum Distributor, you will get products at a whopping 30% discount. For any recruit you have at the first level, you will be given 10% commission for every sale they have. On the second to the sixth level, 5% commission.

nuskin

It’s basically a pyramid scheme where you profit from people below you. Depending on how your recruits perform, your profit can reach “millions,” or so Patricia said if you’ve reached the Blue Diamond level.

Long story short, Nu Skin employs GREED to recruit people who can recruit people to sell their products. Not that there’s anything wrong with greed — as businesspeople work for money — but it becomes an issue when it’s not explained well that to get the money, you have to work hard. Products that are mostly for weight loss or for stem cell therapy, innovative products that they say works but require you to try out first all at cheap packages of at least Php 24,000 for a month, and Php 75,000 for a program. Their weight loss program for example lasts for 90 days and costs Php 75,000, 6.25x the monthly wage of an average Filipino.

Honestly, I felt a bit suckered. Even more so when I realized the whole meetup was a ploy to get me to listen to Nu Skin’s sales pitch.

I felt even worse when I came home and talked to Ben, my husband’s cousin, who was also a new Nu Skin recruit, and hence, was more forthcoming on the many sales strategies Nu Skin distributors employ to find new recruits.

Ben told me that distributors were provided a script on how to get people to meet up with Nu Skin agents. 

They give you a script which tells you how to word the call,” he shared. “First, you have to smile while making the call because people can hear your smile. Then you should keep the call short — less than 5 minutes — and the purpose of the call is to get the person to meet with you.”

“We aren’t allowed to say what organization we work for,” he said. “Just say ‘you’re part of a group’ and tell them you’d like to catch up. Then give them two options of date/time to meet up. Don’t ask them when they are free. Ask them a choice of two — Day 1 or Day 2. That way, they would most likely to say yes.”

I was dumbfounded as I heard Ben share with me what Nu Skin has been telling their agents. Basically, the whole catch up was to get me to meet up so they can talk about their organization!

If Nu Skin wasn’t such a bad word,” my husband said, “Then why do they even advise their agents to NOT mention their organization’s name? If you were so proud of your company, why not let other people know until you’ve fallen into their trap?”

Good point.

I myself am proud of my own company, and I want all my other employees to be proud of their work too. I would never advise my staff to dodge the question on where they worked if asked.

It saddens me that my college friend cannot even declare where she worked until I was there having coffee in front of her.

It’s to stop close minded people from judging you immediately,” Ben said.

Well, I can tell people where I worked and close-minded people will NOT judge me. So what does that make of Nu Skin?

 2) The purpose of the meeting was to invite me to their talk in Octagon Building in Ortigas. And the talk was full of misleading marketing messages!

“One of our members, Mr. Dennis Ong, is giving a talk this Thursday,” Patricia invited me. “You should listen to him. He used to import PC hardware before computers became popular, and made a pretty buck. But now he’s doing Nu Skin and makes millions a month. As you can see, now that he’s a millionaire, he’s not doing this for money but instead because he likes what he does.”

The pitch is that Nu Skin provides you with passive income, a lot more money than if you’ve worked on a traditional brick and mortar business. Honestly, I was curious – I wanted to see what type of organization can get my college friend to ask long-lost friends out for coffee to share them wonderful opportunities to make even more money. I wanted to check out the organization that seems to have an ulterior motive in every step.

I attended the talk.

The talk first dealt with how Nu Skin Products were in the forefront of technology, with breakthrough products that help with anti-aging and weight loss. “You want to have a stable partner who can give you the products that works,” the speaker said. “With Nu Skin as a partner, you’ll have a low cost of entry and high profit potential as we can give you products you can sell, and people will need.”

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I don’t have a problem with this. Personally, I believe that Nu Skin products aren’t bogus. You can’t be a listed company in the US if you market fake products. However, I do believe that the company misleads their recruits.

Case in point, at last Thursday’s presentation, they showed a Discovery Channel clip as an introduction to their product. The Discovery Channel showed how people were much worried about aging and many scientists were developing medicine to find the fountain of youth.

Here’s the clincher: The Discovery Channel segment did NOT even mention Nu Skin or its products! It merely talked about anti-aging and the search for the fountain of youth.

But immediately after the clip, the presenter showed a Flash presentation of Nu Skin’s anti-aging product. As if the two clips were one and the same, and the scientists of the Discovery Channel were endorsing Nu Skin and their products!

I was flabbergasted. This is truly misleading marketing!

Then Dennis Ong came in and talked about his background. He first started his talk saying he wasn’t in here for the money, and that he has more than enough to already live a comfortable life. But then he shared that he is a graduate of architecture and how he decided to go to business because architects don’t make a lot of money.

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Wah, Nu Skin truly is a company full of conflicting statements. First you say you don’t care about money, then you tell me that Greed is good. Ano ba talaga, pare?

Then he talked about the principles of Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad Poor Dad. Paraphrasing Kiyosaki’s book and seemingly convincing everyone that these ideas were his own, he briefly talked about the principles of asset vs. liability, and how people should count on passive income if they want to be wealthy and retire before the age of 65.

While talking, I was observing how in a room of 70, half of the room consisted of old agents who would excitingly answer every one of Ong’s questions. 

Do you want to be rich?”

“YES!”

“Do you want to retire before the age of 65?”

“YES!”

I felt it was weird that the whole setup was like a semi brainwashing process. Put enough monkeys in the room, and the non-primates would think they’re monkeys too.  

I also found it funny how new recruits were chaperoned to sit in front while their recruiters sat at the back. The whole set-up was to make more converts.

Personally, I felt Ong spewed a lot of financial common sense that was mostly taken from the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. Taken apart, it made sense, but if you really thought about it, a lot of the things Ong said was misleading.

For example, he stressed the importance of having passive income instead of just putting your money in the bank where it’s being killed slowly but surely by inflation. To have a passive income of Php 50,000-100,000, you have to have a savings account of Php 30 million. This is WRONG. 

You would need more than Php 30million to get an income of Php 100,000. Bank rate for savings is just 1.25% per annum. So to get Php 100K monthly income, you’d need a savings account of Php 96 million!

Two, I don’t understand how passive income is related to multi-level marketing. Passive income makes you money night and day, non-stop. It’s like rent — once you lease out your place, your tenant gives you his monthly rent whether he likes it or not. Even if he doesn’t stay in the place, he still has to pay you. Same goes with borrowing money from the bank. Night or day, you still have to pay for the interest. 

It’s radically different from multi-level marketing!

If people from your downline don’t work, you get no income if you stop working. You and the people below you would have to continuously work in order for you to get money. Once you and they stop, the money also stops. And once it stops, unlike property which you can sell at a capital gain, you are left with nothing except your savings.

This is not passive income, my dear. Which is why I am unsure why Ong would link passive income to a multi-level marketing scheme, except maybe to dupe more people in signing up.

Two, he also talked about how Nu Skin gave him financial freedom.Because Nu Skin can be done full or part-time, agents can control their own time.

After I got married, my priorities shifted.” Ong shared. “All of a sudden, I wanted to stay with my family. Working hard for another corporation would not have given me the time or money to do what I want which is to spend time with family.”

This concept is once again true. 

Working part- or flexi-time gives you more time for family and for other endeavors. But like any other job, you don’t work, you don’t eat. So how hard you work recruiting for Nu Skin will determine your income. The more you work, the more money you’ll have. So depending on how greedy you are, there is a big chance you’d be out schilling for Nu Skin products with your friends instead of spending time with your family!

Ong continues on and on about misleading principles on how to get rich and how Nu Skin might hold the key to being wealthy. The talk I think was 85% recruitment and 15% about the product!

Mercifully, we finally end the talk by spending the last 10 minutes talking about the three products Nu Skin is endorsing that day — The TR90 Weightloss Program, the R2 and the Galvanic Spa, all of which was sold at a cheap wholesale price of Php 68,000 to Php 77,500. But a starter kit would only cost you Php 24,000-30,000. Ong said for any questions, our distributor friends would talk to us more about these products, then signalling the end of the talk and the start of my one-on-one session with Patricia.

Again, I am amazed on how effective Nu Skin’s marketing can be. First, they bring you to the talk to fire up your greed, then funnel you back to your distributor/recruiter who will share with you how you too can be part of the Nu Skin family and make thousands and millions of bucks, depending on how you worked.

3) The one-on-one session invites you to buy Nu Skin products for yourself, or to recruit people you to know to buy the products.

You have to use it so you can believe,” Patricia cajoled.

I’m afraid I’m not your target market Pat,” I quipped pointing out to my 50 kilo frame. “I am not in need of weight loss, and I am too young for stem cell therapy of r2. My father has also blessed me with very good skin. I have never been to a dermatologist in my entire life and have no need for a Galvanic Spa kit.”

“But you know of people who can use it, no?”

I do, but I don’t feel confident to offer them products as I am not a doctor,” I answered. Personally, I don’t like to offer or endorse products I have never used, or to do so for personal gain. It makes me feel as if I am using my connections for profit and I don’t feel very comfortable about that.

If you can suggest to me 5 names of those who can potentially take advantage of these products…” Patricia said.

I then asked how many Blue Diamonds – the highest rank at Nu Skin – the Philippines has. 

15,” Patricia answered. “Dennis and his wife are two of them.”

I nodded my head. Nu Skin has been in the Philippines for the last 15 years. Dennis has been at Nu Skin for 15 years. As Blue Diamonds make Php 2.2 million per month, that gives the Ong family at least Php 4.4 million of income if the statistics were true.

Dennis and his wife must be gazillionaires,” I laughed. “Why is he still working at Nu Skin?”

Oh he stopped for three years because him and his wife wanted to make a baby,” Patricia explained. “But stopping, well, you know what it does… and yes, after AgeLoc came out, Dennis decided it was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

People work to have money. Once they have enough money, they stop. The Ong family, bless their heart, are more hardworking. Or just greedy. Maybe it’s both. My theory is, like what I’ve said, multi-level marketing is not really passive income so once you stop, money comes in trickles and you have to get back to the horse again.

So how long have you been doing this?” I asked.

Oh a year…” Patricia answered.

Later, I learned from Ben that Patricia was already an officer and was doing Nu Skin for more than a year. Maybe even a couple. It’s disappointing how an organization somehow makes their agents lie through their teeth. :(

To summarize, I have nothing against Nu Skin. I will not be like these bloggers who have written blog posts against Nu Skin distributors lambasting them. But personally, if there’s smoke, there’s fire… and the fact that Nu Skin tells their distributors not to mention that they’re from Nu Skin is smoke for me.

Now again, let me repeat. I have nothing against Nu Skin.

But I do have an issue with the way they recruit new distributors.

Or the way that they mislead people into thinking this is an easy get-rich scheme.

Or the fact that they misconstrue facts with bullshit. I still can’t get over the fact that they’ve linked the Discovery Channel clip with their product even though the clip didn’t even mention Nu Skin and their product!

Or that they try to blind people with greed. If your product is really good, you don’t have to give people a multi-level compensation scheme to market your products. Your products will sell themselves for you. So if this is the case, why emphasize money and greed instead of product knowledge in your training sessions?

In short, I don’t like that Nu Skin is a company with an ulterior motive. It gave me a bad taste in my mouth, and I felt bad hearing how experienced salespeople have to come up with misleading facts to sell their products. I think it is unethical AND wrong.

So the next time somebody invites you for coffee, be wary. Nothing is an innocent as it seems. 

To Nu Skin leaders and distributors, please be more forthcoming with your customers. We are not idiots and we don’t like to be misled. Your products, if they are really good, should speak for themselves. Please don’t give me a get-rich scheme because you and I both know there is no easy way to get rich. You still have to work your ass off to get somewhere. And please stop with the ulterior motives. If we do discover you’re a Nu Skin distributor, then great! But please, please don’t ask us for coffee to catch up and then give us a pitch for Nu Skin.

You are better than that. Please do better than that. 

For the rest of you readers, I think it’s better to watch this super short clip by billionaire John Paul Dejoria on what success is than to go to a Nu Skin pow-wow. 

Happy weekend guys!

Posted in Business, Conflicts, Finance, First Experiences, Friendship, Life lessons, Personal opinion, Philippines, Rants, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 93 Comments

Which one is which?

After a while, you realize stereotypes may exist for a reason. Just to juggle up your mind, who do you think owns these sinks? One is my husband’s and one is mine.

Now which is which? :)

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Posted in Updates | 1 Comment

Brain Dead

After a hard days work, I can’t help but plop to bed, laze around and play Candy Crush. I know it’s a time waster but after interviewing new people for sales positions, talking to manpower agencies and negotiating for mall slots, my brain needs rest. It needs to be useless.

i think I am spoiled. Our parents never had a life this good. My mom did say they have to operate with only a few hours of sleep because there is work to be done.

but I can’t help it. I am tired. And I need rest.

sometimes when your brain is dead, you have to listen to it. Forcing yourself to work removes the joy of it. Thankfully, I still like working. And I hope I can share more of what I do with you in the future.

going to watch a DVD now with hubby. Love you all!

 

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When Old People Brag…

My father in law told us that he used to work 70-80 hours a week.

With only seven days a week, that’s around 10-12 hours per day, EVERY DAY.

As he wrote to us in an email:

Every old timer Chinese will tell you that they did not have anything on their back when they came to the Philippines from poverty China. Your generation are lucky to be able to start your life with some financial means. The Chinese old-timer was able to convert their poverty to business mogul and taipan. Your generation should be able to do much more considering that the old-timer are not educated. They should serve as an inspiration to you two to achieve the same.
I have heard Bonita saying a few times that “nobody can argue with success”.  I fully agree with her on that. It is useless talking and gift wrapping issues and things to camouflage reality. People know what success is. You don’t have to brag it yourself.
To succeed, you need to plan well and execute your plan diligently.  I suggest there should be “more work, more action and less talk”. Of course, hard work counts a lot. As (Husband’s Name) very well know, I used to work 70-80 hours a week. I hope I can live to see you guys become successful.
How is the 70-80 hours even possible? Well, it doesn’t mean that when you get home, the work stops. Even when you’re home, you can still work an additional 2-3 hours a day!
That’s nothing,” my own mother huffed. “We used to work from 4am in the warehouse loading coffee to the container to be ready for shipment.”
So when do you guys stop?” I meekly asked.
What stop?” my mom exclaimed. “We don’t stop till the work is done. We sleep only when we really need it!”
Aiyo, the older generations are bragging who works the most. Still a long way to go for us spoiled entitled younger generation… 

Today, I start working at home…

R
Waaah, still a lot more work to go! Jia you!
Posted in Business, Family, First Days of Marriage, Life lessons, Mom's advice, Work | Leave a comment

Enjoying Corporate Overseas OR Come Back and Build Your Own Business in Manila (Extra: The Hard and Joys of Coming Back Home)

So many of you have wondered whether you should give up your nice cushy job abroad and come back to the Philippines to start your own business. Having done both — going corporate and being self-employed — I feel I’m in the right place to contribute my 0.02 on the matter.

To start, I’d like to share with you how I decided to come back to the Philippines.

At that time, I’ve just finished my MBA in HKUST and work was not hard to find.

For one, I’ve already accumulated four relevant years of experience working in one of the best investment banks in the world. I’ve headed an Asian team and had helped organized some of the largest conferences in Asia. Headhunters still called me up.

Two, I was still young, ambitious and hungry. I was unafraid of working long hours and was newly single. Companies just love employees who were willing to live, breathe and die for the company. My old company would’ve taken me back if I asked.

But then, I asked myself, Where do I want to be in the next 20, 30, 50 years?”

This question, though deceptively simple, was important. Location is important.

Location is important because where you are impacts who you will meet, what you will do and which networks you will build. For example, it’s difficult to build a business remotely. If you want to have your own business, don’t leave it to someone else to manage. If you have someone, it’s hard to be in a long-distance relationship. You can only do so much. And if you want to build your business contact, it’s hard to keep in touch if limited only on email and mobile phones.

That is why, you have to ask yourself, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE IN in the next 20, 30, 50 years.

Moving back is not as easy as deciding one day to come back, pack your bags, then try your hand at “making it” back home. “I can always go back,” you console yourself as you hold onto your airline stub on the way back to Manila.

WRONG.

Coming back is a big deal for the following three reasons:

  1. It means quitting your job and telling your boss that you will help him find a replacement. This means that there won’t be a ready waiting job for you if in case you decide to “quit” Manila.
  2. It means packing your things into a balikbayan box, and moving out of the country you’re staying. That means if you decide to come back, you’d have to ensure you get the proper working visa documents and find a new place again, all of which takes time.
  3. Lastly, it means telling all your friends from both countries that you’re going home. There’s that unsaid expectation that something better is waiting for you back home. Otherwise, why come back? For me, it’s a pride thing. After all that effort and hoopla, I don’t want to go back abroad with my tail hanging between my legs admitting defeat. That I couldn’t make Manila work.

Maybe there’s more reasons relevant for you. I just listed a few above to show that the decision to come back isn’t something you should take lightly. Moving home takes effort. You will be culture shocked, and you’ll realize that so many things you thought were so, are actually radically different.

Personally, I realized that despite having lived in Manila for 21 years, after having left for another 9, I didn’t really understand Manila at all.

When I came back, I was culture shocked.

My first thought after leaving the Ninoy Aquino Airport was, “I don’t remember the Philippines being this hot, gray and dusty!” Whereas Taiwan was full of greenery and Hong Kong was shiny, Manila felt very gray and dull. It was also hot and humid, a lethal combination for someone who is already used to the four seasons.

The second thought that came to mind was, “Wow, people here are kinda chubby!” 

Yes, it’s superficial but true. Because cars and parking are too darn expensive, people from Hong Kong and Taiwan walked and used the public transportation most of the time. This daily physical exercise enables citizens to keep slim. Admittedly, people there are also much vain where friends greeting you with “You’ve gained weight” and “You’ve lost weight!” are the norm.

Not so in Manila. People who can afford it take the car almost all the time. Cars have aircon and you don’t need to transfer from bus to jeep to tricycle just to get where you want to be. People here also enjoy an unhealthy diet of a lot of fried foods, oily pork and a plethora of sweets. Even our spaghetti is sweet!

Working back home is also a surprise.

Yes, labor is cheap. Minimum wage is Php 12,100/month (USD 275/month), a meager amount compared to a 21-year old HKUST graduate which would earn almost 8-10x that amount. You may think that this comes off as a very good deal! Woah, labor… at a fraction of the cost of Hong Kong’s!

But wait… before you pack your bags and move back to start your own business, remember:

1) Most Filipino employees do not value work as much as their Asian counterparts.

Filipinos are not as hardworking as those I’ve met in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This is in general, but whereas employees in Hong Kong find 7:30 am time-ins common especially if you work in a bank, people here cannot even manage to get to work on time by 9:00 am or 10:00 am!

Why are you late?” I’d ask my employee.

Ma’m kasi po traffic,” my employee would ask.

Then why don’t you leave the house earlier?!” I would ask.

Ma’m, I cannot wake up po.” 

**FACEPALM**

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Two, absents for the most ridiculous reasons are quite common. If one their family gets sick, they have to take leave to take them to the doctor. Now, Filipinos have BIG families. This means, after counting their brother, their sister-in-law, the mother, their kids, their cousin, and their nephews and nieces, you even wonder if these people really want to keep their jobs!

Do you really have to be the one to take them to the hospital/bus stop/interview?!” an employer would ask.

Then the Filipino would casually shrug as if to say, “What to do? It’s not as if I have a choice?”

What’s worse, work time isn’t necessarily work time. For example, Filipinos have no qualms taking long smoke breaks, merienda (snack) time, and just Facebooking. If work ends at 6:00 pm, Filipinos would already start preparing for home by 5:30 pm.

And woe is the dude that calls in at 12:05 pm to inquire about a product.

Sorry, lunch break na po,” the staff would answer. “Please call back at 1:00 pm when everyone’s returned.”

This wouldn’t happen that often in Hong Kong. If the client calls up, you have to accommodate him/her. If not, at least have the decency to ask what his/her issues are, get his/her contact number and promise to call them back at a given time.

2) Filipino employee average productivity is lower compared to their other Asian counterparts.

Whereas salary is cheap relative to its Taiwan and Hong Kong counterparts, the Filipinos seem to not be worth this minimum wage. Sure, Filipinos can show up and be there to ask questions and ring up your purchases, but honestly, productivity per employee is quite low.

A friend of mine once asked one of his employees, a University of the Philippines (UP) graduate, the task of shipping 200 wipers to client addresses all around Metro Manila. All the information is there, and all she had to do was to organize the items, stick the addresses into the package and send it via the local courier.

Two weeks later, she still wasn’t done!!! We were flabbergasted. UP is considered the best school in the Philippines, and yet, my employee couldn’t even finish what a normal student from Hong Kong or Taiwn could finish within less than a day. What’s worse, she got some of the addresses wrong, and clients were starting to complain.

Woah, it is ridiculous. Filipino employees can show up for work, stay there for 8 hours, and have little to show for it. They can hold several meetings, answer a gazillion emails, and yet produce an output of zero. They’re an expert of busy-ness but employers don’t want you to be busy. They want results.

3) And lastly, the system is not as efficient as their other Asian counterparts. Corruption is rampant and ubiquitous.  

Taiwanese and Hongkies all love to complain about their government. They love to hold rallies to complain that things could get better. Haha, they should live in the Philippines! Then people would be more content with what they have.

Here in Manila, prepare yourself with a lot of waiting time. Wherever you go, bring your iPad or mobile phone to twiddle away time. If the traffic doesn’t bore you, the long lines will. And lines are everywhere.

Just to pay for my mobile phone bill or withdraw some money, I have to wait 30-45 minutes just for my turn. For some reason, lines are such the norm that efforts aren’t really made to cut the lines shorter. People seem to accept that you have to wait if you want to get things done.

Getting impatient doesn’t help. It won’t speed things up, and you’ll just be branded as the asshole people would intentionally serve even slower. Complaining about it doesn’t help either. It’s not as if the managers could do anything about it. “It’s just the way it is,” my friend tried to console it. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Which makes you imagine just how anyone could make money considering the amount of waiting time that accumulates. Then again, that’s how some companies get ahead.

If you don’t want to wait, pay,” my friend recommended. “Get your connections to help you.”

Ahhhhhh, and there lies the conundrum: the Philippines can be inefficient. But if you want to go ahead, money speaks. And if you want to do it the clean, long tiring way, then don’t pay and be prepared to wait. :(

In amidst of all the above complaints, why do I even care to stay in Manila? Do I even regret coming back home? Most importantly, would I make the same decision if I had to do it again?

The answer is still a YES. For the following reasons:

1) Family.

In my case, I was able to stay with my dad for at least a year before he passed away from liver cancer in February 2013. I don’t think I would’ve been able to live contently with myself if I didn’t spend as much time as I could with my dad. I owed him everything, and it’s the least I could do for him. This reason alone justified my entire “sacrifice” of moving back home.

What is money if you don’t have family?” I thought. You may have the entire world in your hands but if your personal life is in shatters, what is money still for? Life would be empty no?

Also, when my dad died, I was still able to help my mother grieve and heal. My mom and dad had been stuck to the hip for the last 40 years of their marriage. Where my dad went, my mom went also. Spending time with her and ensuring she was okay made my coming home worthwhile. Sure, my brother was there to help but it wasn’t the same. I’d like to think that a woman’s touch made a difference in consoling my mom and helping her once again stand in her own two feet.

2) My personal life blossomed after coming back.

I didn’t come back to find love. That wasn’t one of the primary reasons why I moved back. I still firmly believed that I could have found love even if I stayed in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

But I did meet my now husband after I came back. :)

We met online, dated for a year, got engaged and married in 6 months, relatively fast compared to some of my friends who are still single and happy to mingle abroad. Some people say I’m lucky that I came back. If not, I wouldn’t have met my husband.

While this is all true, I do also have a couple of friends who were single when they came back, and are still single years after they returned. Not for the lack of trying — a friend of mine went on blind dates 10x a year — but rather, they just couldn’t find the one for them.

So coming back and finding a husband does NOT hold true. And I warn anyone who wants to move back because they hope to find a husband to reconsider: It’s still a gamble. You may find the One or you may not. I found my husband, but so many of my friends who stayed overseas for years and came home, still remained single up until now.

What I can vouch however is the type of guys you can meet when back home. They’re a lot more conservative than normal guys you’ll meet abroad.

Personally, guys I met abroad would ask me out, date me and then try to sleep with me right within the third date. If I haven’t even made out with them by the third date, there won’t really be a fourth. “Too much effort,” they’ll think.

Here in Manila, guys don’t really expect you to sleep with them. At least not immediately especially if they see you as a good girl. And if you were a virgin, oh well, it’s not totally uncommon back home.

Guys also take dating a lot more seriously than those abroad. On our second date, my now-husband has already deemed me as “marriageable”  and had no qualms introducing me to his sister and brother-in-law. Now imagine a guy taking you to see his family as early as the second date overseas. It’s a lot rarer than you think!

And of course, marriage is always in the cards with the right person. Where my friends can date someone for 10 years, live in and still not be married to them, societal pressures make these occasions more rare in the Philippines.

Yes these things happen but if the girl is from a good family, woe is to the man who beds her and then dumps her. If you get a girl pregnant, you automatically have to marry her. And if you date her for a few years, parents would start to grumble when you’ll want to make it official. A lot of pressure to get married here!

3) And lastly, honestly speaking, life is what you make of it. I truly believe that after taking the plunge, success comes to those who seek and are willing to work hard for it, irrelevant to where you live.

Sure, staying in Hong Kong enabled me to earn hundreds of thousands of pesos on a monthly basis. I could honestly buy a Chanel bag every month and still pay for all my living expenses. That was how much I earned back in Hong Kong.

But to tell you the truth, having lived in a high-pressure work environment, I always thought to myself that money would always keep on flowing in so long as I worked, and one should enjoy life to alleviate the stress I was experiencing at work.

Hence, I took very nice vacations to Egypt, India, Turkey, Eastern Europe, and all around Asia. All of which were paid from cash and savings. I also splurged and bought my first Miu Miu, Prada, Louie Vuitton and Chanel, luxury bags I don’t even use that often now but seemed so relevant before. And lastly, I spent money like it was water. I would withdraw HKD 1,000 per day and could spend it as if it was nothing. Dinners in Soho was at least HKD 250, desserts was another HKD 100 and I don’t mind spending another HKD 100 for taxi.

In short, I spent as much as I earned. And I don’t regret any of it. In hindsight, because I was earning so darn much, I also spent a lot thinking I was worth it. I earned every damn penny and what was wrong for splurging?

Years later, I realized just how foolish I was.

Now newlywed and not as rich as before, I discovered that it was silly to buy frivolous things that brought me temporary pleasure. With a house and a new husband, money could’ve been better spent on furnishings, our business, and our future. :)

I think I learned after going home was that life was really more of a balance. You cannot earn a lot of money and that’s what life is all about. After spending all that cash, if your life was really unsubstantial and only consists of just work and play, then you’ll be once again discontent and empty.

How many more parties can you go too before you realize it’s all the same thing? You dance, you drink, you go home and then do it again?

How many more bags do you buy before you realize that other people don’t give a shit? They get old too… and my Miu Miu bag which I bought for HKD12,000 now has a broken lock. To think that these investment pieces would really last me forever… humbug!

And how many more artificial relationships would you go through before you realize that life isn’t about superficial happiness?

It’s about the boring hum of a contented life, of being with family who appreciate you being there for them, a husband who is content to hold your hand at night, and employees who appreciate your taking a chance at them and encouraging them to be the best person they can be?

Yes, life in Manila is boring.

And hard.

I worry about money a lot lot more, and I get frustrated on an hourly basis.

And yet I look at the big picture.

Where do I want to be in 20, 30, 40, 50 years time?

Do I want to live abroad where I will always be a foreigner?

Or do I want to be back home and try my luck here?

Sure, there are no guarantees. And if I was more risk averse, staying overseas was a much safer and logical choice.

But then again, beauty is chaos, and it’s only when you stick your neck out can you actually experience something significantly greater.

I’m sticking my neck out. That is why I am here.

Do you want to experience the same hardship for a chance of something more fulfilling? Knowing fully well that you can also find yourself jaded and disappointed? Once again, do what you think you’ll regret less in a few year’s time.

I miss Hong Kong, but if I really think hard about it, I don’t regret coming back home.

It’s a lot more difficult and exhausting, but heck, I’m still here… trying my best to make my decision to come back worthwhile. Though I’m not there yet, I think I’m doing okay. :)

So the question is there — do you want to come back? Or do you want to stay with what is comfortable?

That my friend, is something only you can answer.

Good luck!

Posted in Business, Family, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Hong Kong Life, Life lessons, Personal opinion, Philippines, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships, Taipei life, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear XXX — The first days of marriage

Dear XXX,

How are you?! It’s true what you said before. After marriage, you’ll miss your parents (or in my case, my mom) a lot. I didn’t shed tears or try to run home to her, but there were times I am guilty of not being more there for her and keeping her company just like I did when I was still single. She is sweet, enjoyable company and I miss the nights where I sleep beside her snoring, comforting presence. Instead, I am beside my husband whose presence took awhile to get used to. It’s true: we don’t really know each other that well. And marriage truly is a risk, a leap forward with eyes closed. Despite your best efforts, you (or at least me) never really know what to expect.

I am good though. Lucky that hubby is very sweet. People ay it’s only because the marriage is new, but I’d like to think it’s Truly mu husband’s nature beneath that rough exterior of his. I realized that unlike you, I am not that domesticated so Hubby picks up the slack. So far, he’s been able to get cable TV and internet in the house. Even better, he makes the bed every morning, prepares my coffee and sets up our shoe rack. I didn’t know he would be willing to do that.

As for me, I am useless. Or at least, I admit Hubby is better at more home things than I am and let him take the lead. The only thing I do is wash the plates, make sure he has enough soap to use and clothes to wear, and tease him a bit. It’s still cute so I am milking it for all it’s worth.

We also had our petty fights just like other couples do. Voices raised and both of us won’t back down. Maybe it’s the honeymoon but we give way for now, somehow after we’ve exhausted all our points. There is no makeup sex, as by that time, we’re too tired to even care, but there’s a lot of hugging and some sorry’s before drifting to sleep.

Other than that, we are good. So far, still married after a few months! Hubby makes the experience pleasant but equally, I’m blessed to have good parents in laws and my mom to help us two out.

Work-wise, I’ve been working for almost a week and have already hired four people. Not bad. Still a lot more to come. Lots of self-inflicted pressure though. I do want to do a good job. It’s not easy though because of course, in business, who knows?

Anyway, I miss you. Thinking of you. But I am glad you have your baby and your lovely husband to keep you company. I do want to meet up once I get back in the groove. You are one of my favorite people and what I’m going through, you’re already a master at it. Would be great to exchange some notes.

Big hugs and happy birthday!

Love,
Bonita

Posted in Business, Family, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband, Marriage, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Buy One, Take One

My mom today SMS’d me to ask if I would be available to attend with her my uncle’s 94th birthday. If I was, she can pick me up at 6pm.

I asked if my husband is included. She said, given limited budgets, partners are not included. Even my brother will not be bringing his girlfriend who is usually stuck to his hip.

My answer was that I couldn’t really go unless my husband went.

You see, when we got married, everything somehow became a “Buy one, get one deal.” My husband suddenly became included mandatorily in all my dealings.

buy one get one

It wasn’t the case with my college barkada. Next week, she is going to Hong Kong for a day of shopping with her sister.

“A day of freedom for you, Joseph!” I exclaimed.

“More of a day with her other husband,” Joseph sadly answered as if he was the other husband and not the sister. “It’s not as if I wouldn’t want to go.”

Joseph has a lot of patience. He is willing to keep quiet and let his wife go out of town with the sister. But I think he would’ve wanted to join in, even at a limited capacity.

Same goes for my husband. He likes to do things together, and when I am invited and he is not, inexplicably, he gets a bit hurt. And he will make tampo with this person.

Somehow when he isn’t really included, later on, when the name of that friend pops up, he’s not as gung-Ho as he should be. He would somewhat discourage me and point out some flaws he saw about that person.

It’s different when he is actually included.

For example, because my college barkada was so open to him, he is as well open to them. Last week, we had dinner together and hubby was so excited to join us. It really comes to like attracts like — if you like me, I will also like you.

So I told my mom my regrets.

For one, I don’t want my husband to think my family doesn’t want to include him. That would be a grave misunderstanding.

Two, it would be nice to have husband involved. The more involved he is, the more I can get involved. Again, after marriage, it’s really a buy-one-get-one deal.

And lastly, after marriage, your priority shifts to your husband. It has to, for the sanity and safety of your marriage.

Once you place your mom, brother, friends or work above your husband, it’s already the beginning of a difficult road. Cracks begin to show and feelings will get hurt.

And since your wife or husband is the person you go home with every night, I think it’s logical to assume where your loyalties should lie. Anyway, you made your choice. You married the dude. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

Okay, more relaxation this Sunday! Hubby is asleep beside me and I’m off to prepare for today. Happy weekend everyone!

Posted in Family, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, Marriage, Personal opinion, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t You Have It All?

Marriage is tough. The first week of my marriage, I felt stuck.

“This is for the rest of my life!!!” my mind screamed.

As a Christian and married to a twice married man, I knew that divorce for us was not an option. After fighting tooth, hand and nail for this relationship, failure is not an option. My pride couldn’t take the numerous “I told you so!” from families and friends!

It gets worse during your first fight. It makes you question as well if you’re ready for marriage, and if he is… And it can be scary just how uncaring both of you can seem to be.

That is why, it’s important to marry someone you really want.

Not because it’s “time” even though for women, I know that the ticking biological clock can be stressful.

Not because you’re forced to marry someone just because someone got “accidentally pregnant.” There are no accidents by the way. I wrote about that here.

Not because your parents or somebody else wants you too.

And not because you’ve been dating for a while and it’s what other people wants you too.

Don’t marry someone just because he’s a nice guy and you’re supposed to marry someone who can take good care of you. Don’t do it if the feelings aren’t really there.

Marriage is a risk. It’s a big leap forward. And damn it, if you’re going to take that chance, at least be man or woman enough to make that choice yourself.

The first days of marriage pushes this issue. You really have to marry your choice, and your choice alone. You really have to ask yourself, “Do I really really want this?”

Because hell, this is for the rest of your life.

Hence, the feeling of stuck issue. After the vows has been said and people are gone, it’s now just you and your partner. To be honest, you’re stuck with each other… For the rest of your life.

And honestly, despite our flaws, my husband makes it nice to be stuck with.

I’ve talked about how he made instant noodles and gave me a spoon. Simple joys but a reinforcement that my husband is not inconsiderate.

Yesterday, he made me coffee. Of course he didn’t have to and he didn’t know how to operate my Nespresso, but he tried and succeeded. And I was able to spend more time in the bathroom and also get my coffee. Sweet, ano?

My husband also helps fix things in the house. He did our laundry, put together our shoe rack and installed internet in our house. Now, that’s amazing for me. My own dad for example never lifts a finger in the house.

During our honeymoon, he tried as best as he can to bring my luggage.

Yes, my husband is very nice to me. He takes initiative and very sweet.

But him being nice isn’t enough. My ex, Trader, was nice but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why my feelings couldn’t exceed a certain level. With Trader, the anticipation wasn’t really there. I was bored.

Come hubby, so far, still not yet bored.

Despite an abundance of cute guys out there, I still find him cute. Sexy. “You look like one of the dudes in F4,” I teased him.

I think it all boils down to husband being my choice. I literally fought for him and believed in the relationship when others doubted.

If it succeeds, credit to us. If it fails, the blame falls on me too. I have nobody else to blame.

To have it all, you need to make your partner your choice. Otherwise, you would second guess him/her every step of the way.

I made my choice.

Have you made yours?

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Simple Joys of Marriage

There are sweet moments in marriage.

Case in point, last night, husband was hungry and wanted to eat his favorite instant noodles.

instant

As I waited with him in the dining room as his instant noodles was just starting to heat up, I mentioned to him that he only has a fork, wherein I need a spoon to eat.

I usually just eat it this way,” he said, motioning him bringing up the bowl up his mouth.

Yes hun, but I need the spoon to eat,” I teased. “Me being a lady and all.”

Hubby then went to get a spoon for me in the other room.

th

And then he let me had first dibs on his favorite noodles even though I know he wanted to eat it.

We ate the instant noodles together. Me first, then him next.

It’s these very simple moments that put a smile to my face. My husband has so far shown he is quite an understanding man. He is not always understanding but he mostly is.

And I make sure he knows it.

Just to share…

Posted in First Days of Marriage, Marriage | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Overheard in Santorini: what happens when an Indian woman walked into a shop…

An Indian girl goes in Santorini shop 1.

“How much is this bag here?” She asked. The bag is made out of simple linen and says “I love Santorini.”

“It is EUR 5, miss,” the shopkeeper said. “It’s on sale.”

“How about this one?” she asked pointing to a similar bag with a different design.

“That is EUR 8, miss.”

“Why can’t this be EUR 5 instead?” She asked.

“The EUR 5 bag is on special price,” the shopkeeper said. “The EUR 8 bag is our regular priced bag.”

“So why can’t you make this bag EUR 5 instead?” the tourist persisted. “They are both the same bags.”

“If I wanted to make that bag EUR 8 miss, I would’ve done that earlier,” the shopkeeper patiently replied.

The Indian tourist walked into the next shop. “How much is water?” She asked, pointing to the 1 liter bottle.

“1 EUR,” the shopkeeper answered.

“Can you make it 50 cents?” she tried to negotiate. “If so, I will buy…”

“If you want to get it at 50 cents, there is a grocery or marketplace that you can buy,” the impatient shopkeeper politely answered. “But here, it is EUR 1.”

The Indian female walked away.

No offense to Indians but I don’t think that Europe is a place where you can haggle and negotiate down the price. It’s not a marketplace especially in tourist areas.

Here, either you take it or leave it.

And if you think you can set the prices better, then maybe you can set up your own shop.

It’s a bit of a pity. We’ve met a lot of very educated, cultured and well-traveled Indians on our vacation. Talking to them, you cannot help but admire where they’ve come from and how far they’ve come along.

But there are also a few less well bred Indians who destroy the positive impressions we have, showing us that you really meet people from different walks of life. They don’t have very good hygiene, have unruly children and act very funny such as my above example.

Oh well, then again, I’m sure others are laughing at us too, albeit quietly. Just shows that when traveling, you do really get to meet different kinds of people. And it’s important to observe, learn and follow what is good, and not what is bad.

Have a good weekend!

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So what’s it like to be high on weed? (Warning: Has R-18 Content Below)

My husband and I finally tried the weed at the Green Place Amsterdam (not to be confused with The Green House) located at Kloveniersburgwal 4, Amsterdam.

We picked it particularly because it was voted as one of the Top 3 Coffeeshops in Amsterdam thanks to their Rollex OG Kush cannabis strain. Of course, if you’ve come to Amsterdam, you only wanted to try out the best. And a four out of five stars is good enough for us beginners. :-)

The Green Place lay in an indescript location by the canal, right along the many canals of Amsterdam (we used a GPS to find it) but for those without technology, it’s there right by the New Market.

GreenPlace

From the outside, it looked just like your ordinary coffeeshop, but on the inside, it looked more like a friendly pub, complete with bar stools and tables with a lone bartender — or shall we say weedtender — on the back.

GreenPlace 2

There are no alcohols on sale.

It is illegal for a coffeeshop establishment in Amsterdam to sell both alcohol and weed/hash. The lines are short and there are many types of weed to be bought.

We weren’t able to take photos in the establishments (boo hoo!) but this is what a sample menu looks like. As you can see, it changes all the time as this version didn’t have the Rollex OG Kush which we ordered at EUR 15/1 gram.

The bartender was nice though. He didn’t laugh at the two clueless Asians coming in for a hit and he did lend us his lighter.

So what did we order?

As beginners, you are bound to make mistakes.

Hubby first bought two pre-rolled joints with tobacco and weed at an EUR 3 each. Given the half-half mixture, it wasn’t that potent and just left us wanting for more. We managed to then exchange the joint for a pre-rolled pure weed joint at EUR 6.

Marijuana joints are readied for sale in a medical marijuana center rolls in Denver

After two pre-rolled joints — one with tobacco and the other one with just pure weed, we thought to buy a space cake (EUR 6) just to amplify the effect since I remained as perky than ever.

The Space Cake looked more like a chocolate muffin. It wasn’t the most delicious cake I’ve tasted but oh well.

space cake

After splitting and downing the cake, we waited.

I still have no effect while hubby was starting to get sleepy. He proceeded to further disintegrate after that. I guess that’s what weed is for him — it makes him increasingly lethargic and sleepy.

As for me, I remained my normal self and even made friends with a lone female in the coffeeshop.

Andrea is Austrian who lives in Amsterdam. She is also a coffeeshop tender in another part of town and comes to the Green Place for some hot tea, good music and the only weed she smokes, White Widow, which she mixes with Marlboro Cigarettes.

We asked her why she had the same marijuana strain all the time. She said that she wants the relaxing effect to last longer, and given that she mixes the weed with tobacco, she can smoke 5 joints instead of the normal 2, spacing the effects out.

Finally, after thinking that the cannabis experiment was a dud, I then went for it and bought 1 gram of Rollex OG Kush. It only comes in clumps like this, and thankfully Andrea was able to expertly roll them up to cigarettes for us.

rolex-OG-Devils-Harvest-BlogMarca-229x300

She managed to squeak out two and a half (2.5) joints of pure Rollex OG Kush for us, and we proceeded to smoke one.

By this time, husband was already half asleep struggling to keep his eyes open. I energetically puffed away, only to feel some disappointment that after every puff, we had to light the joint again. Oh well.

In the end, we bought ourselves a coke (EUR 2), a pre-rolled cigarette with weed (EUR 3), a pre-rolled pure weed cigarette (EUR 6), a space brownie cake (EUR 6), and a gram of Rollex OG Kush (EUR 15).

We left after the Rollex OG Kush joint, giving the extras to our new found friend. Husband couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to go home and sleep.

Again, I for one didn’t feel much of an effect, and still dragged him to buy some Dutch ice cream nearby, and buy takeout dinner for us in case we got hungry.

The night was still early anyway, and it was only 7pm.

And then it hit me…

After walking for a good 30 minutes, it finally hit me on the walk back.

I don’t know if it’s the Rollex OG Kush that gave that effect, or the combined 2.5 joints that did it, but it did. And when it hit me, there was no way I could stop it.

So what is the effects of marijuana?

Time slowes down dramatically.

For both husband and I, time slowed down dramatically. When we were buying our dinner, husband felt that it took at least an hour to get our burger and doner roll (EUR 10), when in fact, it only took 15 minutes. He was pretty spaced out most of the time when we were walking.

When it finally hit me while walking back, it made walking back seem like forever. The road was not too long, but it felt as if we were already walking minutes when in fact it was mere seconds.

As soon as this happened, I immediately knew that given that we’re both high, we are in trouble if we don’t get home immediately. We then struggled to get into the nearby hotel cab and for some reason, was sober enough to give him directions to our bed and breakfast.

Thankfully, the taxi driver didn’t kidnap or hurt us, but proceeded to give us a good merry-go-around using a farther direction than usual, charging us 50% more than if we were sober. Fortunately, he did take us straight to our bed and breakfast’s door, sparing us the trouble of taking the tram and walking home, which would’ve taken forever.

Some things you just have to let go. It was one of the longest taxi rides of our lives though…

You also laugh uncontrollably at ridiculous times.

Things that aren’t so funny became funny.

For us, it was how the hell we can get home when we’re both high. We had a nice laugh at that in the streets.

We also worried if people would know we were high. They do — and we’re really at their mercy.

But found this funny as well.

What’s more, at this semi-lethargic state, you are truly in the mercy of others.

I think marijuana is unsafe if you are around people you don’t trust. Thankfully, Amsterdam is relatively safer than most cities and nobody took advantage of two high Asians walking around and try to rob or attack us.

But if they did, we would be completely at their mercy.

Being friends with a stranger like Andrea was slightly dangerous because knowing we were high, she could’ve sent goons to attack us. Good thing she didn’t and we are thankful for it.

We could never chase after the robbers (it would seem forever that we would reach them), and can only look at them while they take our money (as we did when the taxi driver took the longer route). I was suspicious and afraid we would go in the wrong house, or if we left our packages anywhere. There was really no point to struggle and just accept the fact that you are really at people’s mercy.

Finally, what’s it like to have sex while high?

Seeing that we’re finally married and in our honeymoon, it would make sense for us to take advantage of our high states and try to see what sex would be like while high.

If you think this is too much for you, please stop reading immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since you haven’t stopped reading immediately, let me now tell you how sex was for us.

Well for husband, given his almost vegetative state, he merely lay there.

He was cooperative though in such that he did get hard. Since time slows down, if you go down on a guy who is high, for him, it would seem like long minutes even though you’re only doing it only for a minute or two. So yay for the female giving the blow! The only caveat though is it would also seem as if you’re sucking him longer than usual, but heck, sometimes it’s okay to give than to receive.

His equipment would stand in attention though as they usually do when you give them some attention. So though husband couldn’t muster the energy to do missionary, but he did do a bit of spooning and allowed me to go on top and have fun that way.

Sex while high is a lot like being drunk and having sex. Except it’s a lot cleaner (no puking) and more mellow (everything just slows down considerably).

It just feels like you’re sloppily dancing and just following the motions as they come along.

Since it takes energies and effort to do anything, you just follow what your body is naturally wired to do and follow through the music. Come to think of it, we didn’t do it with music, but if you have some nice, soothing, mellow music (like Sade), the pleasure should be more amplified.

The kisses are sloppy but feels very very nice. I think we both kissed terribly as our tongue was all over each other, but for some reason, we still felt very connected and together.

Anyway, orgasms are slightly better than expected.

For me, they are slightly muted but pleasurable just the same.

I think I came four times.

Hubby just came once until he was wasted.

I think weed makes me extra horny so I still made myself come at least three more times. All while hubby is by my side. By that time, I don’t think he cared anymore than his sleep.

He was snoring in 30 minutes or less.

The whole experience from being hit to getting home, to having sex felt like hours, but in fact, only an hour has passed.

Thankfully we are both still alive with no crimes experienced.

Our host still thinks we are sweet and nice. At least, we didn’t trash their home or made fools of ourselves.

And we managed to wake up energized to make it to our flight this afternoon.

Overall, a productive trip in Amsterdam.

We did go for the windmills and the weed, and gawked at the girls, so we can really say we enjoyed the first leg of our trip, and hope we can come back again someday for more rowdy experiences!

 

Posted in Europe Trip, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband, Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Honeymoon First Day: Amsterdam — The Land of Weed, Whores and Windmills

Hubby and I specifically picked Amsterdam as our first stop on our extended 21-week honeymoon because of its three Ws: weed, whores, and windmills.

What can we say? Most Filipino-Chinese would pick the traditional London, Paris, Rome for their honeymoon destination but no not us. We are unconventional, naughty people, both hubby and I.

We arrived Amsterdam at an early 7:10 am and proceeded to buy myself a tall cup of Americano from Starbucks. Aside from its hefty EUR 2.80 price tag, the taste is exactly the same as Manila (as it should be). Lines are much longer here though, and service is a tad slower than their local Filipino counterparts.

Who cares though? We are on honeymoon and are not rushing for time.

We breeze through the immigration and customs of Amsterdam Schipol Airport quickly, and take the train to Centraal Station. For something so central, it’s not as crowded as that of Taipei’s and Hong Kong’s. In fact, it looks like we came in a train station in a provincial country — so different from what is to be expected from an international hub:Image

The whole thing cost us a mere EUR 9.00 and 20 minutes. Trams took us quickly to our B&B Garden House Hotel. It’s quite quaint and tired hubby took a 2-hour nap while I mooched over the fast Wi-Fi.

We then left and availed of the Free Walking Tours by Sandemann at 2:15 pm. Meeting Point was at the Monument and Dam Square, and you can’t miss the people holding big red umbrellas in the middle of the square.

Rob, our tour guide, is American with a background in music. He has been in Amsterdam over the last decade and speak fluent Dutch. That’s him in the black hat.

Image

Our group of 30 pax was just perfect, and Rob expertly led us through narrow streets, over bridges and canals.

Given my memory, what I remember a lot was that:

  • Amsterdam was named after the Amstel river. Amstel + Dam = Amsterdam. Get it?
  • The country is known for its conservative tolerance if there’s such a word. People here are discreet but have liberal views given their broad tolerance for the LGBT community, cannabis use and prostitution. Holland was the first country in the world to ever allow gay marriages.
  • While they are tolerant, the Dutch do have a lot of legal restrictions for weed and whores. Prostitutes have to be at least 21 years old to practice their trade, and have to be tested all the time. Weed cannot be technically “sold” but can be distributed through more legalistic terms. Dutch people are happy to turn their eyes away while all these things are taking place.
  • Dutch people are very good in trading. They are also very pragmatic and direct. Origin of the Dutch Indies Companies which revolutionized the concept of diversification, loaning, and stocks.
  • There used to be restriction in practicing Catholicism such that Catholics have to practice in secret. One such place is called the Church in the Attic.
  • Amsterdam was built one canal at a time. It’s made up of lots of pieces of reclaimed land.

Overall, the tour was wonderful. The guides work for tips and I cannot recommend their city walking tour highly enough. If you’re in Amsterdam, make sure you get into their tour which is twice a day at 11:15 am and 2:15 pm.

Afterwards, we joined the Canal Tour (EUR 15), which was more like a lazy boat ride for 1.25 hours. Nothing too spectacular except for the fact that many Dutch people live in house boats as land get increasingly scarce.

Image

Not my cup of tea but whatever rocks their boats.

Image

Afterwards, we rushed to join the Sandemann’s evening tour (EUR 12) to go around the red light district.

Hubby was already feeling sick and not up to the task. I think being on the plane for 12-14 hours took too much toll, and the only thing he wanted to do was sleep and rest.

That took the thunder away from the red light district, but this is indeed still our first day and there’s more other days to come.

So after an early rest at 9:30 pm, so concludes our first day of vacation in Amsterdam.

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So How Does It Feel to be Married?

June 14, 2014

We are two weeks into our marriage, and I’m writing this entry enroute to Amsterdam, our first stop on our extensive 3-week European honeymoon trip.

So how does it feel to be Mrs. XXXX?

For one, it’s obviously a change in status.

My rings

I call him My Husband now, and for those who are married, you can understand just how scary the initial days of doing this can be. People call me Mrs. XXXX now, instead of my usual Ms. <Unique Surname>.

Don’t hyphenate your surnames,” he said. “Just use Bonita XXXX going forward.”

I know my husband would love for me to change my passport to reflect this status change. But given the hecticness of our schedules given our honeymoon and the hassle of making these official changes, I instead concede my updating my Facebook name for now.

Two, it’s also a transfer of families — from the protection of my own family to his.

Girls, be careful who you get married to. It’s true — you not only marry the man. You also marry the family. So when getting married, consider your future in-laws.

From the day I got married, I can no longer run to my mother’s without risking my husband’s anger. “She would think I am not taking care of you enough,” he reasoned out. “If you are happy and content, you usually don’t need to run to your mother’s for help.” The day before my wedding was the last day I’ll probably sleep beside my mother.

It only sinks in after the ceremony.

And you immediately miss something what you know you can never have in your entire life.

I guess that’s why people are so distraught about breaking up. Not that they really love that person that much, but more of bidding that person farewell, forever.

Three, this of course means cutting off part of your family. The relationship changes. Instead of placing your own family on higher priority, you have to place your husband and his family on a higher priority than yours.

My mother-in-law shares that when her younger daughter got married, she transferred her care to the husband. “I trust that he will take care of her now. So I don’t worry.”

Leave and cleave,” my husband’s parents chide me. “Your mom needs to understand that you are in good hands. She doesn’t need to fuss as much anymore.”

My mom still calls me every day. She has a hard time leaving and cleaving. All throughout her married life, she’s always had someone by her side. When my dad was alive, it was my dad who kept her company all the time. In his death, it was either myself or my brother.

She calls me and asks how we are and reminds me of things I already know. I welcome these phone calls. I don’t think it’s a problem but my husband worries that my mom is having a hard time letting go. I think it’s safe to say it’s the both of us. Maybe he’s right, and I don’t deny it. But I think given how drastic the change is, it’s best to dip your feet into the pool instead of jumping in it immediately.

Let her be,” I consoled my husband. “It has nothing to do with you. Rather, I’m her only daughter and I’m one hell of a daughter. So if it makes her happy giving me a call, let her be.”

Fortunately, my husband lovingly understands and let us be.

It’s a nice thing to miss family members. Sometimes, you take them for granted.

Lastly, it means that I have a constant companion for life. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

It’s great in such that Mr. XXXX is always by my side. When I wake up. Get a bite to eat. Work. He goes off to his shop, but I see him later afterwards and we have dinner. Then we take a shower and relax by our TV.

It’s not that great when we are cross with each other.

That means you’re stuck with the person and have to resolve the issue together. It’s not like dating where you can dump each other and find somebody else. Marriage is for life, and you can see it as either being trapped, or being protected in the marriage in such that nobody leaves the other regardless of the reason.

And given that you’re stuck with each other, you make the best out of the relationship.

You realize you can’t do whatever you want and piss the other person anymore because damaging the relationship now would come back to you a gazillion times in the future. Hurting the other person meant hurting yourself if not now, then sometime tomorrow. So you grow the relationship. You do little things to improve it. You boost your partner up.

Because a happy partner means a happy life.

You know the adage, “Happy wife, happy life?”

Well it goes both ways.

When Mr. XXXX is happy, he makes me happy too.

So marriage do change people. Like for us, we do the same things as we did when we were dating, and yet, there are some differences.

And the differences is a good/bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Almost in Amsterdam for the first leg of our honeymoon.

Amsterdam: why Amsterdam?

Well, there’s the three Ws — Weed, whores and windmills. What’s not to like?

To more posts about being married. Sorry for the long hiatus, been really busy with wedding stuff. I’ll post wedding stuff when they’re available.

Love you all!

Posted in First Days of Marriage, Marriage, Relationships, Travels, Updates, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tinghun List

Praise the Lord that my future in-laws are so good. As per Chinese tradition, they are gifting me with a semi-traditional engagement party (tinghun). Whereas in many Filipino-Chinese families, tinghuns are no longer mandatory, they’re still definitely a nice to have.

For one, it shows the girl’s side just how much the boy’s side welcomes their future daughter-in-law into the family. For example, if the guy marries a girl the parents do not like, they would opt not to pay for the tinghun and go straight to the wedding instead!

Two, Tinghuns are an added expense to wedding preparations that are already quite expensive. While it does sound so simple, a tinghun party can be quite expensive for the boy’s side, as their contribution usually includes an expensive watch, a few sets of expensive jewelry and around 8-12 sets of clothes. Whereas the woman’s side also do contribute like the matching watch pair, the boy’s side usually pays for the food at the tinghun on top of the wedding preparations! 

Filipino-Chinese weddings in the Philippines are damn expensive lo!

These days however, sometimes, the girl’s side do foot half of the bill. This usually happens when the boy’s side has no money, or the girl’s side wants a grander party than what the boy’s side is willing to give. If the boy’s side wants to have face however, they would insist that they would like to handle all the expense. It would be very embarrassing indeed if the boy’s side cannot afford the tinghun. It signifies a bad start to the marriage because the boy’s family signifies that they are not that well-to-do and cannot offer the woman the lifestyle she has had in her own family.

We usually call such woman, “pai mia” or bad name. Muttered under the breaths of older relatives, pai mia means that the luck has turned for the woman, and upon marriage with the other family, she would have to give up all the luxuries and comforts that her parents gave her. Westerners may better understand it as “to downgrade one’s life because of X and Y.” 

That said, weddings and tinghuns in the Philippines are no piece of cake. Though organizing it may not be so difficult, paying for it usually does. And that’s where the conflict begins.

Personally I have never seen a wedding or tinghun where the couples doesn’t fight about the budget. The boy’s side always insist that the money allotted is more than enough, while the girl insists on having her dream wedding. After spending months and years looking at Pinterest and bridal magazines, the bride will usually have a lot of ideas on what she wants to happen come the time of her wedding. Of course, bespoke items do not come cheap, and when the other party needs to pay for it, conflict ensues! :)

When push comes to shove though, couples usually compromise. The woman usually has to follow the limitations given by the guy’s mother as she has to think about her future of being a daughter-in-law at the boy’s house. Harmony still needs to be kept, and it’s better to be friends with the future mother-in-law than to insist on having one’s own way. If push comes to shove and she would like to have more budget for the wedding, it never hurts to asks her more generous daddy to foot some of the bill himself. All it needs is a little bit of sweet talk and subtle manipulation. We’re not called Daddy’s Girls for nothing!

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Thankfully, I have less of this problem so far as my future in-laws are quite reasonable. I really love just how rational and understanding my future mother-in-law is, and whenever there is a potential conflict, we do sit down and talk about it. Even when it comes to my own issues, she gives amazing advise. It’s truly a blessing that they too do not want to cheapen their son’s wedding so as to save a few pennies.

As for the size, an engagement party is relatively small with only around 100 to 200 people attending. This is only for very close friends and family. The word only is admittedly relative. Mind you, a party of this size is already a wedding reception in most Filipino and Western standards!

As I’ve explained earlier, costs continue to escalate especially on the boy’s side if you count the gifts they offer to the girl’s family. Including the Rolex watches (purchased separately but exchanged on both sides) and at least four sets of jewelry — diamond, pearl, emerald/ruby, and another gem stone — all of which will be purchased from the boy side, costs do go up to millions of pesos.

A cheap Rolex will already set you back at least Php 350,000 (USD 7,740), while a nice jewelry set will cost around the same price. Count around 3 to 4 sets and the costs is enough to put the boy’s side in huge debt! A nice dress would cost around Php 8,000 to Php 20,000 each, so multiply that by 8 to 12 pieces, then you can easily see how costs add up!

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So how does one save on costs? 

Well, as I’ve said, you can come up with a smaller party. My best friend for example had a tinghun months ago and his list had around 22 tables! That’s around 220 people. My tinghun will invite around 140 guests. This is a decent number, neither big or small. But if the budget per table of 10 pax is around Php 20,000 (USD 450), that would already be a saving of Php 160,000 (USD 4,500)!

You can also buy cheaper gifts for the woman. My other friend was given a modest budget of Php 20,000 as her clothing allowance. Jewelry and watches come in many price ranges too, and you don’t have to buy a Rolex to perform an enjoyable tinghun.

In the end, tinghuns are a significant part of Filipino-Chinese tradition and is a party where the couple declares to their elders that they want to get married. Whereas many of the symbolism at the party signify fertility, good luck and respect for elders, the tinghun is also a way to show the boy’s family financial clout and to tell the girl’s family, “You have no fear leaving your daughter with us. Financially, she is in good hands and will never go hungry.”

In the end, I am happy in going through this journey.

It’s not here yet, and we’re still preparing for it (See list below for the items that need to be prepared on each side), but I am happy going through this adventure, discovering the hidden side of Chinese tradition only open to upcoming brides. :)

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For the Filipino-Chinese community, a tinghun can be a big deal. For me, it’s going to be a memorable event.

I’ve already ordered my 12 sets of clothing (bought cheaply though as I’m buying them online, and they’re coming here soon. Hopefully, everything goes smoothly.

Anyway, will keep you posted, and if there’s anything else you would like to ask me about tinghuns or Filipino-Chinese traditions, do let me know!

Posted in Boyfriend, Conflicts, Family, Family Drama, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Philippines, Relationships, Updates, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

To my Dear Little Brother

March 18, 2014

Dear Little Brother,

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I thought it would be best to write you a letter. I write to you because I struggle with some indecision. Honestly, I am afraid to make a mistake, and I want to ensure that my wedding day would be a happy occasion for everyone. So, I don’t want to make a decision without getting your input first.

First, the issue is about who will walk me down the aisle. Personally, I would like you and mom to walk me down the aisle. This breaks tradition because usually, either the bride’s parents walk her down the aisle, and if one is deceased, the living elders. Having prayed about it for weeks now, I’ve come to the conclusion that given that there’s only the three of us left, I would like to give you this honor, as dad-alternate and my only brother. The walk is halfway the aisle as I will enter the hallway by myself (for better photographs), but the symbolism is clear and there, with you and mom right beside me hand in hand. I would like to ask if you are comfortable with this arrangement, and if you would like to accept this honor? It would be a great gesture to me if you will accept.

Two, I would like to ask you if you would want (your girlfriend) to be part of my entourage? She of course is already a guest, but I ask you this because normally, (my fiance’s) family do not allow anyone who is not yet a wife to be part of entourage. They think it’s a bit premature, and puts a lot of undue pressure on the couple. Friends are fine, but boyfriends or girlfriends can be a bit tricky. We have discussed this in detail however, and believe that it’s best to ask you directly for your opinion on this matter. Look into your heart. It’s about what you want. Is this important for you? Would you rather have her as entourage or as guest? As I love you and respect your decision, I would leave this decision up to you and act accordingly to what you want.

Please let me know your decision. Whatever you decide, I will follow accordingly. My only request is for you to let me know by March 21 (Friday) morning because I would like to finalize my invitation for Ahia William to make. Lead time is at least a month, and I need to finish all invitation before the end of April to give guests enough time to respond to our invitation.

That said, I want you to know that I love you and care for you. I still look fondly on the months when we were always together. I remember I was always the awkward third wheel, and yet, you never made me feel out of place. You were always so protective of me and it was always great fun discussing random business ideas and issues within the office. You even gave me my Valentine’s flowers when I had no Valentine’s and crying over the creep, (Trader). Those were fun times!  These days, I still hope for the nights where you, mom and I can go out once again once in a while for dinner as a family, without any of our significant others. When can we have those again? The family is still the three of us, and I will still be a (my surname) even as I accept another surname beside ours in 2.5 months time.

In my heart though, I do have faith that this rift between us is temporary. Call it folly, but hey, if the three of us love each other, I’m sure we’ll find a way to figure things out. One big first step is for me to learn to let go of what I expect you to do, and instead accept on what you want to do.

So here are the first two decisions I want you to make. Pray about it, and without any prodding from anyone else, let me know what you want by Friday. I will respect your decision and support it. Know that despite our conflicts (anyway, all family have conflicts), I am still your older sister and will love you no matter what. Also, I will strive to be more encouraging and supportive in the future. On hindsight, I think in the hopes of trying to help you at (his company) and trying to protect you from making the wrong life decisions, I have in turn behaved too harshly and critically on you. You my dear were also doing the same to me. This is unhealthy, and for my part, I am very sorry. We could’ve saved each other a lot of pain if we could have let go of our expectations and only trust each other to make the right decisions.

Oh well, we live and learn. Let me know lo!

Your beautiful and ever so lovely sister,

Bonita

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Wedding Prep #4: The Perils and Joys of Finding the Right Wedding Dress Online AND Offline!

Since fiancee and I met online, I found it fitting to actually try to order my wedding dress online.

Unlike many brides who have their couturier design their gowns from scratch, I wanted to see the final look and feel of my dress beforehand. I didn’t want to be one of those brides who take the time to show the designer her pegs, and then come back for the first fitting to only disappointingly discover that it’s not the dress she wanted. By that time, it would be too embarrassing to back out.

So I scoured the internet for beautiful ready-to-wear wedding gowns, and there were tons of amazingly beautiful wedding dresses available.

I checked out Allure and Maggie Sottero. MissesDressy.com and other online shops were great one-stop shops for everything bridal. I even managed to look into Vera Wang White, her RTW line which was available at still reasonable prices of USD 1,000+/-. Online prices were still more reasonable compared to many couturiers here in Manila who can easily charge Php 60,000 (USD 1,350) to Php 150,000 (USD 3,380) for just a dress. Veluz for example even quoted prices of Php 120,000-150,000 for their beautiful RTW gowns! Prices of custom-made dresses of course were even more out of control at prices ranging up to Php 250,000-300,000!

After a few days of looking into wedding dresses, I finally settled on this Cinderella-like gown, Mori Lee # 5163:

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Why did I pick this design? For one, I wanted a gown that had a bateau-styled neckline and a semi-low back, a great mix of the sexy and the conservative. In addition, the dress also had a lot of lace crystal beadworks that upped the oomph factor. The style was still different from the lace and bead works most common in many Filipino-designed dresses, but it was elegant enough. The poofy skirt only increased the wow factor. “You’ll definitely look like Cinderella!” my fiancee exclaimed.

Since I was a size 4-6, I ordered the dress in size 6 via MissesDressey for USD 1,100 last December 2013, just on time for the holiday season. The dress arrived in February and it came in a humongous box as you can see below:

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Like seriously, the box was HUGE. We were even more surprised when we opened the box… the dress was huge too! We were surprised on how such a big dress even managed to fit the box.

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But the most important thing about the dress is the fit. Upon fitting, the dress was a bit disappointing.

Something was off.

For one, the skirt wasn’t made out of soft tulle as I’ve imagined but a harder organza. Personally, I liked soft materials and from the photo, the skirt looked really soft, so it was a bit of a surprise to see how hard the skirt was.

Secondly, the lace was not pulled very tight when the beads were sewn on, leaving some very unsightly lines especially in the central bust area. This was a frustration. It’s easy to alter a dress, but when it comes to beads sewn on lace, it’s a lot harder to repair. Maybe that’s why people order Vera Wangs: her dresses are simple but at least, they were carefully made. My Mori Lee was nice, but seemed a bit too hastily done.

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The last issue was the skirt. We knew it would be poofy, but my gosh, the skirt enveloped the room! It was really big with a long two feet train. There was also an extra petticoat layer which made it look too My Big Fat Greek Wedding-like.

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There was a very thin line between elegant and tackiness and the poofiness of the gown sort of crossed that line. I ordered my very lovely alterer/couturier friend, Bong de Ocampo, to remove the petticoats.

In the end, that’s what you get when you order online: no matter how beautiful the dress may be, there will still be a few surprises.

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In my experience however, I’m still blessed to have friends like Bong de Ocampo (Mob: +63-917 811 2664), who was good enough to come to my rescue and help me alter my dress. Omigosh, she’s really wonderful! Actually, if I can do it all over again, I would just have my wedding gown made by her.

Alas, I’ve only met her after I’ve ordered my dress, but you guys from Manila who want to have beautiful dresses made can still avail of her services. Ms. Bong is super duper nice and a jack-of-all-trades who can both design, make and alter clothes like magic. And her prices are still very reasonable, ranging from Php 30,000-45,000 per dress.

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Haha, I wish I met her earlier. Nevertheless, you learn something new every day. :)

Overall, the entire wedding preparation experience is fun and exciting, not only because I’m getting married in a few months but because of the great people I’ve met the last couple of months (like Bong!).

So there you go. I’ll try to post more photos of my wedding when it comes this June. Till then, watch out for more updates! Have a great week ahead!

Posted in Boyfriend, Filipino Men/Women, Friendship, Philippines, Shopping, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding Prep # 5 – How to Pick Wedding Favors for your Guests

Kate Aspen had a nice Spring Breeze Palm Tree Bottle Opener which I found at Pinterest/Etsy. Since I have a few overseas guests, and we’re always in the need for a nice bottle opener, hubbie to be and I felt it would be a nice wedding favor for our guests. So what we did was:

Step 1: Searched for Palm Tree Bottle Opener from Alibaba (http://www.alibaba.com/).
Step 2: Emailed suppliers and asked for quotations. For 500 pcs for example, each favor only cost us Php 50 (around USD 1.1) inclusive of shipping.
Step 3: Wire transfer the money to chosen supplier. Wait for goods to arrive. It should take a month. 

The goods are arriving by next month, well in time for the wedding this June. After it arrives, we’ll add a nice note in the back to personalize the gift. :)

Will keep you posted what happens, but more or less, US wedding favors make it in China din so we’re less worried about quality issues. It’s just a matter on how comfortable are you ordering online and from China suppliers. For us, at Php 50/pc. for a very nice bottle opener, we’re happy to take the risk.

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Favor: http://www.kateaspen.com/palm-tree-bottle-opener.html
Supplier Site: http://zejian.en.alibaba.com
Supplier: Yiwu Zejian Gifts & Crafts Manufactory
Contact: Esther (zjesther@gmail.com, Tel: +86 13819954070)

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