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 , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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)

Posted in Updates | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

To Share: My One-Week Travel Itinerary of Amazing Taipei

Most people don’t give Taipei a lot of credit preferring mostly to spend their vacations in Hong Kong or Singapore. However, having stayed in these countries for prolonged periods, I still find Taipei to be the best travel destination in terms of food, sights, culture, people, and value for money.

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It’s only in Taipei where food is consistently delicious, be it when you’re forking out NTD 25 for a braised pork rice at the street market, or NTD 2,000 for the best Japanese sushi in town. Taiwanese people are cute and polite, and red carpet service is rolled out to you wherever you go, so long as you smile and persist. Though they have some difficulty to understand you as Taiwan is mainly a Mandarin speaking country, most will try to help as long as they are not busy.

Taipei transportation is also top-notch, way better than Hong Kong and Singapore in my honest opinion, with extremely clean, air-conditioned subways that can get you around most places in the city via the help of an Easycard. Looking for a bathroom while traveling? No problem, every subway station in Taipei has one — and they’re clean too!

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If subways don’t work, taxis make traveling around Taipei extremely convenient, and drivers are much more polite than those in Hong Kong. Just ensure that you have Chinese translations of the names of your destination written on paper.

Lastly, Taipei is one of the best cities to party, with various clubs offering events from Wednesdays to Saturdays. Most of my friends from Hong Kong used to fly to Taipei on Friday evenings, de-stress, and fly back to work again come Sundays. Entrance fees are relatively cheap, with free drinks usually included, and the music is good, the girls hot, and the vibe electric.

Do spend a few days in Taipei, a bustling metropolis with interesting things to do and places to see whether you are there for a quick 1-day stopover, or if you have a week to spend. A suggested itinerary is included in this package.

  • Day 1 – Taipei: Arrive at Taipei – Eat beef noodles lunch @ Hsimenting – 228 Memorial Park – Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat Sen Park – Eslite Bookstore – Taipei 101, Dinner at Mitsui Japanese restaurant – Party at Barcode, Room 18 and Luxy Taipei
  • Day 2: Stroll around Sogo area – Lunch at Ding Tai Fung (Xinyi) – Dong Qu Fen Yen for Dessert – Longshan Temple, Dinner at Huaxi Street or “Snake Alley”
  • Day 3: Dihua Street – Danshui’s Fisherman’s Wharf (Sunset) and Gong Ming Street – Dinner at Villa 32 – Beitou for hot springs and overnight
  • Day 4: Peitou for Hotsprings, Lunch at Tasty Steak – National Palace Museum by 2:45pm, Shilin Night Market for dinner, snacks and shopping
  • Day 5: Daytrip to Yehliu (No. 167-1 Gang Dong Road, Yehliu Village, Wanli Township) and Jiufen Mining Village
  • Day 6-7: Hualian, Taroko Gorge National Park – Taiwanese Dinner

Flights

Flights from Manila to Taipei

  • Philippine Airlines 896: 7:30 am –> 9:40 am (Daily EXCEPT Sunday) **
  • China Airlines: 10:45 am –> 12:55 pm (Daily)
  • Philippine Airlines 894: 12:35 pm –> 2:55 pm (Friday)
  • EVA Air 272: 12:50 pm –> 3:00 pm (Daily)

Flights from Taipei to Manila, 2 hours:

  • China Airlines: 7:35 am –> 9:35 am (Daily)
  • EVA Airways 271: 9:30 am –> 11:50 am (Daily)
  • Philippine Airlines 897: 10:40 am –> 12:55 pm (M, T, Th)
  • China Airlines: 1:45 pm –> 3:55 pm (Daily) **
  • Philippine Airlines 895: 3:50 pm –> 6:20 pm (Friday)
  • Philippine Airlines 899: 5:30 pm –> 7:50 pm (Wednesday)
  • Philippine Airlines 899: 6:35 pm –> 8:55 pm (Sat) **

Day 1 – Taipei: Arrive at Taipei – Eat beef noodles lunch @ Hsimenting – 228 Memorial Park – Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat Sen Park – Eslite Bookstore – Taipei 101, Dinner at Mitsui Japanese restaurant – Party at Barcode, Room 18 and Luxy Taipei

Upon leaving customs, turn left and look for the airport bus terminals. Take the city bus (NTD90 approx) to “Taipei Main Station (台北車站).” Bus company should be called “Toward You.” Get down at the Taipei Main Station stop, and the hotel is close to the Mitsukoshi Department Store.

Recommend to check in first at the City Inn Hotel (No.7, Huaining St., Jhongjheng District, Taipei 100, Tel: +886-2-2314 8008). It’s located two streets down the Mitsukoshi Department Store. Below it is the is the Family Mart Convenient Store.

Before grabbing a bite to eat, check out NOVA Computer Center.Entrance is just beside the hotel. Other side of entrance is the street across Mitsukoshi Department Store. This used to be the tallest building in Taiwan before Taipei 101. PC prices here are the cheapest in Taiwan. Formal address below:

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NOVA資訊廣場站前店
台北市中正區黎明里 館前路2
Tel: +886-2-2381-4833 

Then, after checking out goods, take the MRT right in front of the Mitsukoshi Department Store to Hsimending (西) MTR Station, Exit C2. Turn to right upon exit, and go straight till you see a Sony Style store on your left. Turn right on that corner (you know it’s correct when you see a Family Mart Convenient Store) on your left side. The beef noodle chain is right beside the Family Mart Convenient Store. Order the 紅燒牛肉麵 and some appetizers. Should come with a nice set.

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Restaurant Address: 10 峨眉街, Wanhua  District, 台灣. Order their beef noodles. Cheap and yummy.

Tour around Hsimending (西門町). It’s similar to “Harajuku” in Japan. The local bookstores carry mostly Japanese oriented magazines, books, CD albums, etc. These are where the “young” people all roll…

228 Peace Park (Optional):

Take the MRT to red line, Taiwan University Hospital Station (臺大醫院捷運站) to reach the park.

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Originally called Taipei Park, the 228 Peace Park (二二八和平公園) is one of Taipei’s most interesting historic sites. Just a few minutes walk from the Main Station and Bus Station, the 228 Peace Park houses the neoclassical National Taiwan Museum, which used to house a radio station operated under the Japanese and Kuomintang rule. The park contains a number of memorials to victims of the 228 Incident of 1947. In the evenings, it’s a popular place where gay men go cruising at night.

CKS Memorial Hall:

You can walk or take the MRT for one stop to CKS Memorial Hall. Personally, I would just prefer to walk.

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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.

Take MRT from CKS Memorial Hall to Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Park MRT.

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 to Taipei 101. Drop by Taipei Eslite Bookstore, the largest retail bookstore in Taiwan.

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.

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.

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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

Dinner: Mitsui Taipei (三井日本料理)

Serving Japanese food made from the highest quality ingredients, today, Mitsui operates at ten locations and offers a hierarchy of omakase selections. The basic Yue Yin set comprising of 7-8 courses is already at NTD 1,800 but is worth every penny. The only difference is in the types of dishes and quality of ingredients. The sushi is handpicked by the chef, and is flown every morning from Japan to keep the freshness.

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Mitsui Cuisine, B1, No. 108, Sec. 1, Dun-hua South Road, Taipei City (Tel: +886-2-2741 3394, http://www.mitsuitaipei.com.tw/en/home.html). Reservation required.

Alternative: Cuisine M, No. 1, Songzhi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City (Tel: +886-2-2345 1101, About NTD 1,500-2,000/pax or NTD 1,800/pax for a 6-course dinner set, MRT: Taipei City Hall)

Partying in Taipei

Head to Barcode first, then to Room 18, Neo 19 Building, NTD 700 with 2 free drinks. Then, check out Spark, which can be found at the Taipei 101 basement. It’s not huge but gets the job done if your task is to dance, drink and sweat. (No. 45, Shifu Road, MRT: Taipei City Hall Station, NTD 600 for entry)

Luxy Club, No. 201, Zhongxiao East Road Sec. 4, Taipei (NTD 300 for entry with 2 drinks, Closest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, http://luxy-taipei.com)

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The biggest, baddest club in Taipei is Luxy. With multiple floors going from all-out pop extravaganza to four-on-the-floor electronics to some more experimental stuff going upstairs, Luxy brings out the best DJ and is the most famous club in Taipei.

Best times to party: Wednesdays (Ladies Night), Fridays, Saturdays

Day 2 – Taipei: Stroll around Sogo area – Lunch at Ding Tai Fung (Xinyi) – Dong Qu Fen Yen for Dessert – Longshan Temple, Dinner at Huaxi Street or “Snake Alley”

Take the Chungxiao Fuxing MRT station and walk to Din Dai Fung. If you are early for lunch, you can walk around the area and check out the Pacific Sogo Department Store (Exit 2) or the surrounding boutique stores. Best to come in at 11am for lunch at Din Tai Fung to avoid the lunch crowd. Ding Tai Fung does not accept phone reservations so you have no choice but to line up.

Lunch: Din Tai Fung:

When you think of xiao long bao, there is no other restaurant that comes to mind other than Din Tai Fung. The restaurant originated in Taiwan and is the country’s pride despite offering Shanghai staples like the xiao long bao. Make sure to give this place a visit when in Taipei.

Their Xinyi Road location is right at the heart of Taipei City, a 10-15 walk from the Chungxiao Fushing MRT station. This location has long line-ups but the queue moves quick and they allow you to order while waiting.

Start off the meal with a bamboo steamer full of xiao long bao, each with the characteristics of a good xiao long bao: a super thin skin, succulent non-pasty meat, and the skin that holds the meat sauce that doesn’t tear easily. Eat this with a chopsticks and your soup spoon after dipping it lightly in the vinegar and sliced ginger sauce.

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Must order: Xiao long bao, steamed vegetable and pork dumplings, red oil wonton, chicken soup, hot sour soup, fried rice with shrimps and eggs

Alternative: Din Dai Fung, No . 194 Xinyi Road Sec. 2, +886-2-2321 8928 (Opening hours: 10am-9pm)

Dessert: Chungxiao Dunhua

Walk to Dong Qu Fen Yuen near Chungxiao Dunhua.

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

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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

Tofu Dessert
No. 26, Lane 131, Yanji Street, Daan District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-8771 8901)

Try their strawberry tofu with little tapioca balls, soft bean curd, strawberries and milk. Other selections include black sesame tofu, red bean tofu and mango tofu

Longshan Temple

To get there: take the Longshan Temple MRT station.

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. 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.

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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.

Dinner: Huaxi Street or “Snake Alley”

Huaxi Night Market 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.

Day 3 – Taipei: Dihua Street – Danshui’s Fisherman’s Wharf (Sunset) and Gong Ming Street – Dinner at Villa 32 – Beitou for hot springs and overnight

Dihua Street

Dihua Street is Taiwan’s most preserved, most historically significant old street lasting generations. It’s the best place to check out Chinese fabric stores, traditional Chinese medicines and is the largest dried goods market outside of China. A walk down the full length of Dihua Street’s three sections is a good 20 minutes. Along the northern section, there are a number of old historic stores. In the central section is a collection of dried good stores of any and every kind you could imagine, including a variety of products from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. The southern section is a dried goods market with a long history. The dried goods available here are all fresh and of top quality.

To get here: A 5-minute walk from Nanjing West Road. Closest MRT is Shuanglian MRT Stop (Red Line).

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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Then, head back to Danshui’s GongMing Street, a street full of unique Taiwanese eats to enjoy some local food. 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.
  • 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.

Beitou Hot Springs District

The Beitou district is the most mountainous in Taipei, and its geothermal warming has created a series of natural hot springs, one of the largest concentrations in the world. Beitou Hot Spings was originally developed as a public bathhouse during the Japanese occupation beginning in 1895. For decades, the area was one of the country’s largest red light districts before a major cleanup by the government in the 80s and 90s.

Today, there are luxury hot springs resorts in place of brothels in what has become a family-friendly area of Taipei. The Beitou Public Bathhouse, the largest during the Japanese era, is now the Beitou Hot Springs and Museum, where visitors can read up on the history of the hot springs before soaking in the healing sulfuric waters. Since the baths of Beitou Hot Springs Park are public, men and women share the same pools and wear swimsuits, and women must have their hair tied up.

Dinner: Villa 32

Villa 32 only has one Italian restaurant, providing classical and fine Italian delicacies. Chef Jimmy selects the best local and worldwide ingredients to present aromatic food and delicacies. Set menus and a la carte menus are available.

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Villa 32 is located at n°32, Zhong Shan Road, a five minute walk from Xin Beitou MRT Station. Near Beitou Park, Spring Museum and Hot Spring Valley, Villa 32 is the nearest backyard garden of the city you can reach

If you have special dining requirements, they can provide customized menus. Call for reservations.

  • Set menus for lunch start from NTD 980 + 10%
  • Set menus for dinner start from NTD 2,200 + 10%

Villa 32
For reservations, call: +886-2-6611 8888
Website: http://www.villa32.com/frameset-en.htm

Check-in Overnight: Aquabella Hotel

Suggested accommodation:  Hotel – Aquabella Hotel

63 WenQuan Road, Beitou, Taipei
Tel: +886-2-2891 1118
http://www.aquabella.hotel.com.tw
Closest MRT: Xin Peitou MRT
General direction: It’s less than a 10-minute walk up a road behind Sweetme. It’s in front of KFC. Stay overnight and includes a tasty sesame dumpling dessert, with free complimentary breakfast. Check-in at 5:30pm.

Day 4 – Taipei: Peitou for Hotsprings, Lunch at Tasty Steak – National Palace Museum by 2:45pm, Shilin Night Market for dinner, snacks and shopping

Complimentary breakfast at the Aquabella Hotel. Checkout at noon.

Lunch:  Tasty Steak

Tasty Steak Restaurant, Set Menu: NTD 550/pax for 8 courses

  • Taipei Chongqing South S. Branch, 2/F, No. 129, Sec. 1, Chongqing South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-2370 8292)
  • Taipei Nanjing East Road, 2/F, No. 11, Sec. 2, Nanjing East Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei
  • Taipei Fuxing S. Branch, 3/F, No. 152, Sec. 1, Fuxing South Road, Daan District, Taipei
  • Taipei Guangfu South Road, No. 94, Sec. 2, Keelung Road, Xinyi District, Taipei
  • Tianmu Zhongzheng Branch, B1/F, No. 188, Sec. 2, Zhongcheng Road, Shilin District, Taipei City (Tel: +886-2-2876 6591)
  • Beitou Zhonghe Branch, 2/F, No. 366, Zhonghe Street, Beitou District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-2896 2109)

National Palace Museum

The Museum has a permanent collection of more than 696,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest in the world. The collection encompasses over 8,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic age to the late Qing Dynasty. Most of the collection are high quality pieces collected by China’s ancient emperors.

The National Palace Museum and the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing share the same roots. They split in two as a result of the Chinese Civil War. Its most famous items are the Jadeite Cabbage, and the Meat-shaped Stone. The Jadeite Cabbage with Insects is a piece of jadeite carved into the shape of a Chinese cabbage head, and with a locust and katydid camouflaged in the leaves.

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It’s best to join the English guided tours that is available twice daily, at 10am or 3pm to fully enjoy the relics. Each guided tour is open for 15 online reservation applications, and should be completed 3 days prior to the visit. You need your passport number, contact number, and email address. For those successfully registered, visit the audio reception desk on the first floor at least 15 minutes before the start of the guided tour.

To get to the museum, take the MRT to Shilin Station, and take bus R30 (Red 30), 255, 304, 815, Minibus 18 or Minibus 19 to the plaza in front of the National Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum is open daily from 0830-1830 all year around. Tickets: NTD 160/pax. Allot 2-4 hours for tour.

Shilin Night Market

Take the bus back to the Shilin Night Market.

The Shilin Night Market 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:

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  • Hot Star Fried Chicken, NTD 55
  • Giant sausages, NTD 60
  • Frog eggs drink
  • Fried oyster omelets
  • Cold Layers milk dessert, Stall No. 250
  • Chili Wantons, Stall No. 1, NTD 45
  • Lou Rou Fan (Stewed meat in rice)
  • Teppanyaki, ~NTD 100
  • Cheap steak, NTD 120
  • Pan-fried bun (生煎包), NTD 50. 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. Hsu Ji (許記), Shida Night Market, Taan District, Taipei City; +886 9 3085 9646
  • La mian, NTD 50
  • Oyster misua, NTD 30, at Shilin Market Food Street arch
  • Toilet restaurant

To MRT to get there: Jiantan MRT Station, NOT the Shilin Night Market Station

Day 5 – Northern Taiwan: Daytrip to Yehliu (No. 167-1 Gang Dong Road, Yehliu Village, Wanli Township) and Jiufen Mining Village

Yehliu

Off the coast just north of Keelung sits one of Taiwan’s most fascinating geological parks, the Yehliu Coast. Over thousands of years, wind and rain eroded away parts of the softer top layer of rock to reveal interesting patterns. Some look like honeycombs, others like potholes, a shoe and even a queen’s head. The exposed sandstone landscape is littered with fossils, old relics of a past era. The mushroom and candle-shaped rocks are among the more alien-looking formations. It’s a perfect trip to combine with a visit to the Keelung seaport and Yehliu’s Baoan Temple.

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To get there: Take a bus from the Taipei West Bus Station Terminal A (near Taipei Main Station) to Yehliu (NTD 96-102, cash or Easycard). It’s the “Jin Shan Youth Activity Centre” route, bus number 1815 and is operated by Kuo-Kuang. The first bus departs at 0540 hours (weekdays) and 0615 (weekends). Bus frequency: 15-20 minutes. Travel time: around 1 hour 20 minutes. Be sure to request the bus driver to alert you when the bus reaches Yehliu.

From there, it’s a 10-minute walk to the Yehliu Geopark after passing a quaint fishing port town. There isn’t a lot of variety for snacks on food stall at the park so if you’re hungry, grab some fresh seafood along the row of restaurants outside the park. Better yet, bring some bread and snacks with you so you don’t get hungry on this trip.

Entrance to the Geopark is NTD 50 for adults and NTD 25 for children shorter than 115 cm. They are open from 8:00am – 5:00 pm daily, or 6:00pm from May to September.  The Yehliu Ocean World is just next door, but we usually just skip this attraction and focus on the Geopark.

Allot yourself 3 hours to leisurely visit the park. After paying the entrance, catch the short English film at the visitor center introducing the park. Follow the path to observe rocks and amazing views and allot yourself 3 hours to go around. Please wear a light jacket. The park is divided to 3 areas: there are mushroom rocks, ginger rocks, candle rocks and even a queen’s head.

yehliu 2

The Queen’s Head resembles the head of an Egyptian Queen from the narrow delicate neck ot the imposing head dress. It’s been said that the Queen’s Head will break due to 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 kids and a the statue was built dedicated to this unsung herl.

You can take a separate day for Jiufen and after the park, visit Keelung City by taking a bus from this stop outside the convenience store. Travel time: 30 minutes. Eat at the Keelung Miaokou food street and night market. It’s just a 10-minute walk from Keelung Railway Station where you can get back to Taipei. Alight train at Keelung Railway Station and board a trip to Songshan Railway Station (for Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market) or Taipei Main Station. Alternately, take a Kuo Kuang bus back to Taipei Main Station.

Jiufen

If you want to take a separate day trip. From Jiufen to Taipei: From Taipei, take the Jiufen bus # 1062 (Bus company: Keelung bus) from Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station Exit 1. Make a U-turn as you come out of the station so the Sogo mall (big red letters) will now be on your right hand side and the elevated railway line will be in front of you. Walk a minute and take the first left, then after a few meters, you will see the 1062 bus stop. Cost is NTD 102 so bring exact change or easycard. Travel time: 1 hour.

From Yehliu to Jiufen, walk back to Yehliu stop and cross the road. Take the Keelung Bus #790, 862 or 1262 to Keelung City. Fare: NTD 43 and travel time: 40-50 minutes. Then, transfer to Bus #788 or 1013 to Jiufen. The bus stand for Keelung bus from Keelung Railway Station to Jiufen is located at one of the staggered bus stands to the right if you are exiting Keelung Railway Station. Board Keelung bus with destination “Jinguashih”. Fare: NTD 40 to Jiufen and travel time around 40 minutes. The Gold Ecological Museum is a short walk from Jinguashih bus terminal. Alight at Jiufen at the 7-11 at the right of Jiufen entrance.

Jiufen is situated in the hills overlooking a small harbor on Taiwan’s northeast coast. Once a prosperous town famous for its gold mining industry, Jiufen was abandoned by the 1970s and nearly forgotten, and is now a mecca for artists and writers, as well as the inspiration for films like A City of Sadness and Spirited Away. Jiufen so much inspired Hayao Miyazaki, the director of the 2002 Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away, that he used the town’s scenery as a backdrop to the Japanese film.

jiufen 1

Follow through the narrow cobbled streets past stone walls and tea houses that provide a picture of the town during the Japanese occupation. The Jiufen Old Street offers plentiful food stalls throughout the entire town. Walk down the long, narrow street that brims with traditional crafts and delicious snacks such as sweet taro balls, rice cakes and grilled squid. In the Jiufen residential area, try to find the restored Shengping Theatre House, the first movie theater in northern Taiwan, originally built for mineworkers’ after-hours entertainment. Admire authentic details such as the ticket office, seats and stage, as well as vintage movie posters and defunct equipment.

Drink tea at the Jiufen Tea House (No. 142, Jishan Street, Tel: +886-2-2496 9056). The tea house was once the meeting place for many great Taiwanese writers and artists when it first opened. When you enter from the narrow crowded street, you will come into a spacious and calm interior. The host will lead you to a quiet table on the lower levels, or you can sit outside on the back terrace in good weather. Choose your favorite tea and tea snacks from the menu and sit for as long as you like.

jiufen 2

To get back, walk back to the bus stop just near the convenience stores near the entrance to the town. Fee: NTD 90. You can get off at MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes.

Day 6-7: Hualian, Taroko Gorge National Park – Dinner in one of Taipei’s nicest restaurants

Some of Asia’s most spectacular scenery awaits at Taroko Gorge National Park, Taiwan’s foremost tourist draw. Marble rock faces plummenting into chasms, teeming rainforests, crystal waterfalls, and pine covered alpine reaches, offer breaktaking panoramas wherever you look.

Among the park’s unforgettable sights are the looming Chinghshui Cliff on the Pacific coast, the twisting vistas of the Tunnel of Nine Turns, and the dramatic hanging bridges of Swallow Grotto. Few buildings make the most of the topography, particularly the Eternal Springs Shrine, which hugs a lush green hillside next to its namesake springs.

Take the high speed Express train from Taipei to Hualien. It only takes 2 hours 15 minutes. Book online: http://www.railway.gov.tw/en. While on the train, have a lookout for vendors selling Taiwanese (便當)) or Taiwanese lunch boxes.

biandang

A lot of Taiwanese have a love-hate relationship with Taiwanese biandang (bento), the takeaway lunchbox that packs rice with a main dish (usually a type of meat) and small, often unappealing side dishes such as fried and preserved vegetables. It’s a convenient, quick, cheap (around NTD 100) and generally decent way to eat. Biandang isn’t one of the most delicious foods in Taiwan, but it’s a staple for countless working parents and busy urbanites. Bento with chicken cutlet is a good biandang choice.

As it’s not possible to walk to the main points in the park, best to book a local tour agency in Hualian (Approx fee: NTD 1,000/pax) to get around (Tel: +886-972 501 921)

Tour itinerary: Pickup from Hualian train station at 8:15 am → “Clear Water Cliff” →Taroko National Park →Eternal Life Temple situated atop a waterfall → Swallow Grotto Trail → Lunch at Buluoge Visitor Center → Hulian Train Station by 4:00pm. This tour requires you to take the newest train in Taipei from the Tze Chang line at 6:10am.

taroko

Other local drivers:
– Mr. Zheng (+886-989 777 576 or +886-989 055682)
– Mr. Lu Lai-Fu (+886-928 569 081) and ask him to bring you for Zha Dan. It’s open after 1pm and will close shop when out of dough. Wait 20-30 minutes.

Suggested Accommodations: Leader Village Taroko (No. 231-1 Fushih Village, Sioulin Town, Hualien 972), Grandview Chief Suite for 2 nights. You can book a one-day private tour for two from the hotel at NTD 1,400 per person.

Great food, location, culture and service at excellent aboriginal-styled villas with free 1.5-hour aboriginal shows every night. The rooms are lovely, simple, in faux-rustic style. Simple but delicious food is served with kings of local special products like wild barbecued pork, mushroom, and sweet potato.

Farewell Dinner: AoBa Taiwanese or Shinyeh Restaurant or Flavors

Aoba (No. 116, Anhe Road, Sec. 1, Tel: +886-2-2700 0009) or (Minsheng East Road, Sec. 3, Songshan District, Taipei, Tel: +886-2-2547 1111)

Making the most of Taiwan’s culinary traditions but presenting them in an environment of quiet luxury is what AoBa is all about. Menu ranges from set menus priced at NTD 800 per head or NTD 2,800 for four. Seafood set at NTD 3,800 for four.

Must try: Soup Noodles (NTD 80),Taiwanese style spring rolls (NTD 70), Shrimp with egg yolk (NTD 380).

Shinyeh (2/F, No. 112, Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 4, Daan District, Taipei, Tel: +886-2-2752 9299, shinyeh.com.tw)

What started as a tiny back-alley mom-and-pop joint in 1977 has blossomed into one of Taipei’s most reknowned restaurants. Although its gone progressively upscale over the years, the menu is still about home-style Taiwanese classics.

shinyeh

Closest MRT: Chungxiao Fuxing Road. Open daily 11am-3pm, 5pm-10:30 pm. / Must order: Fried oysters, three cups chicken.

Three-cup chicken is cooked in a cup of rice wine, a cup of oil and a cup of soy sauce. To this Taiwanese culinary triumvirate is added fresh basil, chilies and garlic for an irresistible combination.

Flavors (No.13 Alley 26 Lane 300 Ren Ai Rd. Sec.4, (02) 2709 6525, flavors.com.tw)

TripAdvisor hails it as the top 5 restaurants in Taipei. Swedish food in Taipei? I guess so! Flavors has moved to a bigger location and is apparently still delicious. Try out their Swedish set menu and definitely order the apple cake. It’s moist, crumbly, sweet, flaky- just SO good.

flavors

The English and Chinese menu is pretty huge and can be a bit overwhelming. If you choose a main dish, it comes as a set with the soup of the day, bread, salad, apple cake and coffee. There are also a few multi-course set menus to choose from- “Taste of Sweden” (NT$1700) with aquavit (a flavored spirit) and snapas (small shots of snaps), or Chef Ola’s “Summer Gourmet Menu” which included 3 appetizers and 2 desserts (NT$1100).

Bistro Le Pont 樂朋小館

Your goose is cooked at Bistro Le Pont (樂朋小館)). The restaurant is an extension of Le Pont (橋邊)), a Kaohsiung-based restaurant that specializes in dishes and condiments made from goose meat and goose fat. The space off Yongkang Street (永康街)) captures the spirit of a French bistro, with large picture windows and low lighting. The menu even lists prices in New Taiwan dollars and euros. Bistro Le Pont’s food, however, is made with mostly locally produced ingredients and features a fusion of French, Taiwanese and Chinese flavors.

bistro le pont

Bistro Le Pont’s signature dishes are its plates of goose meat, viande d’oie au sel maison (NT$250) and viande d’oie fume maison (NT$280). The latter is smoked and has a heavier taste. Both dishes feature juicy, slightly oily, slices of poultry. An alternative is the confit d’oie maison (NT$450), made from leg of goose and very robust and complex in flavor. People prefer these to the two previously mentioned goose dishes.

Bistro Le Pont
176 Chaozhou St, Taipei City (台北市潮州街176號), Tel: +886-2-2396 5677 (Near Yongkang Street)
Open: 11:30am to 10:00pm
Average meal:: NT$350 to NT$500

Day 8 – Taipei: NOVA – Heading Home to Manila

Head to NOVA where you can find every laptop, phone, printer, cord, cable, accessory and every attachment known to the tech-dependent man. NOVA Electronics Center (2 Guanqian Street, Taipei Main Station MRT, Opening hours: 11am-10pm, Weekends start at 10:30am).

Lunch: Yong Kang Beef Noodle

We started our Taiwan journey with beef noodles and will also end our trip with this famous dish. The Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup shop has been around forever, or since 1963, as the sign proudly declares. The beef tendon noodle is only a reasonable NTD 180 a bowl, and its broth is made out of beef and soyabean-based stock. Very tasty indeed.

yongkang

Yong Kang Beef Noodle
No. 17號, Lane 31, Section 2, Jīnshān South Rd, Daan District, Taipei City (Tel: +886-‎2 2351 1051)
Hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-8pm
Closest MRT: Dongmen MRT Exit 4
Must try: Beef tendon noodle soup , little spicy, and “fen zheng pai gu” (yam and pork ribs)

Other Notable Restaurants in Taipei (Taken word for word from: A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei)

Best Hot Pot - ORANGE SHABU SHABU 

If there was gourmet shabu shabu, Orange Shabu Shabu would be it. Offering luxe meats and seafood like prime rib beef or emperor crab for the customized copper hotpots, Orange also offers sashimi and cooked seafood dishes in a romantic ambiance.
No. 135, Da An Road, Sec 1, B1, (02) 2776-1658;
29, RenAi Rd, Sec 4, 2 FL, (02) 2771-0181; orangeshabu.com.tw

Ding Wang Spicy Hotpot
No. 89, Guangfu N. Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei, Taiwan
Tel: 02 2742-1199

Best Steak - RUTH CHRIS

American chain Ruth Chris Steakhouse’s broiled steaks are topped with butter and apparently that’s how the readers like it.
No. 135 Min Sheng East Road, Sec. 3, 2 FL, (02) 2545-8888; http://www.ruthchris.com

Best Buffet – THE KITCHEN TABLE

The Kitchen Table is with no doubt the best buffet restaurant in Taipei! The food they offer is diverse, the ingredients-fresh, the service-impeccable! I tried both the Chinese and Western food they have and both were incredible! In addition, the restaurant makes its own ice-cream which is fantastic! The decor is unusual, fresh and inviting and makes you feel you are at home, having a world-class chef just for yourself. Taipei has so many restaurants, but the Kitchen Table is a real gem!

10 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 5,Xinyi District, Taipei 110, Taiwan
Tel: 02-77038888, www.­wtaipei.­com/­thekitchentable

Best Pizza- ALLEYCATS

Locally founded Alleycats wins votes with its stone oven baked pizzas and fresh toppings and multiple locations. One of my favorites is the “Napoletana” with fresh tomatoes, goat cheese, anchovies, olives and spinach.
No. 6, Li Shui Street, B1, (02) 2321-8948
No. 285, Song Ren Rd, (02) 8780-5421;
Da An- No. 2, Lane 248, Zhong Xiao E Road, Sec 4, (02) 2731-5225;
Tien Mu- No. 31, Lane 35, Zhongshan N. Rd Sec. 6 , (02) 2835-6491;
Nei Hu- No. 67-1 Cheng Gong Road, Section, 5, (02)2630-6278;
Xi Men- No. 49, Alley 10, Cheng Du, 2FL, (02) 2370-8858;
www.alleycatspizza.com

Best American/Western- MACARONI GRILL

You can find huge American sized salads, pastas, pizzas and desserts at Macaroni Grill, and though it’s a little more than what we’d pay in the states, there’s nowhere else in town you’d get table side opera.
at Neo 19, 30 Sung Shou Road, (02) 2722-4567

Best French- CHEZ JIMMY

You can’t get more decadent than the foie gras and steak at Chez Jimmy. Apparently there used to be locations in Tien Mu or on Fuxing N Road (or so says Yahoo Travel and other websites) but after a call to the restaurant, they confirmed only 2 locations right now.
No. 128 Xin Yi Road, Sec 5 (02) 8788-3336
No. 180, Zhong Cheng, Sec. 2 (02) 2874-7185

Best Italian- TUTTO BELLO

Another place I hadn’t heard of until now and am looking forward to trying. Upscale Italian that might surprise you in Taipei.
No. 15, Lane 25, Shuang Cheng St, (02) 2592-3355
tuttobello.com.tw 

Best Japanese Restaurant- SUMIE NOUVELLE CUISINE at SAN WANT HOTEL

I always get the multi-course set menu and my friends new to the restaurant always are dazzled by Sumie’s plating and presentation of every dish. Don’t let the upscale modern interior scare you away from some of the freshest sashimi in Taipei.
No. 172, Zhongxiao E Rd Sec 4, 4 FL, (02) 2781 6909, www.sanwant.com 

Best Uniquely Taiwanese Restaurant- SHIN YEH

When even the locals line up for this Taiwanese restaurant, then you know that it’s good. Shin Yeh offers Taiwanese classics in a sit down, family friendly setting.
No. 112 Zhong Xiao E Road, Sec 4, 2FL, (02) 2752-9299
No. 34-1, ShuangCheng St, (02) 2596-3255
No. 12, NanJing West Road, 8F, (02) 2523-6757
Shinyeh 101 at No. 45, Shifu Road, 85 FL (02) 8101-0185
shinyeh.com.tw 

Best Romantic Restaurant- VILLA 32

Complete your romantic evening with some hot springs or a couples massage, or just wine and dine your honey at ultra-luxe Villa 32’s Euro restaurant, tucked in Beitou, about an hour outside of the city.
No 32, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou, Taipei, (02) 6611-8888, villa32.com 

Best Unexpected Find in Taipei- FLAVORS

Swedish food in Taipei? I guess so! Flavors has moved to a bigger location and apparently still delicious. Can’t wait to try it.
No.13 Alley 26 Lane 300 Ren Ai Rd. Sec.4, (02) 2709 6525, flavors.com.tw

Best Super Cheap Eats (Meal NT$100 or Under)-
 SABABA

Sababa is one of those restaurants that I’m surprised is in Taipei, but am very glad is successful. Part of the reason is its fast and fresh pita sandwiches and hummus platas- all great prices, especially for a “foreign” specialty food. Must try the Plata Sababa- hummus with roasted eggplant topped with a falafel.
No. 8, Alley 54, Ln 118, Heping E Rd Sec 2, (02) 2738-7769;
No. 17, Lane 283, LuoSiFu (Roosevelt) Rd, Sec 3, (02) 2363-8009;
No. 3, Lane 12, Yong Kang St, (02) 2327 9159;
Breeze at Taipei Main Station,
www.sababapita.com

Best Breakfast/ Brunch- THE DINER

The first time I ate at the Diner, I couldn’t decide what to eat- but in a good way. Offering a wide selection of Western brunch/breakfast options all day, it’s definitely the place to go if you’re missing tasty pancakes, eggs benedicts, omelettes or even a breakfast burrito. Just be prepared to wait for a table and don’t forget to try the dessert menu.
No. 145 Ruian St, Taipei, (02) 2700-1680;
No. 6, Ln 103, Dunhua S Rd Sec 2, (02) 2754-1680,
www.thediner.com.tw

Best Late-Night Bites- CONGEE on FUXING

While voters didn’t vote specifically for No Name, I included its address and review so you could get a gist for the general area. Offering Taipei’s version of comfort food until the wee hours of the morning, a row of restaurants offer up congee and all the sides you’d want on Fuxing South Road.
No. 130, Fu Xing S. Road, Sec 2, (02) 2784-6735

Favorite Night Market- SHIDA NIGHT MARKET 師大路夜市

Beating out the previous long time winner Shihlin, the new favorite Shida Night Market is a winding collection of lanes and alleys of shops and street eats including traditional favorites like baos and fried chicken and new offerings like Yofroyo and slider burgers. It’s one night market that I’ve been meaning to explore and write about. Try the following dishes:

Must try: Hsu Pan-Fried Dumplings and Lantern Hot Stew.

Lantern Hot Stew. Basically the stall has a large variety of different stuff to eat, all braised in a tasty broth then plopped onto a place for your enjoyment. On offer are about a dozen types of fishballs, meatballs, noodles and vegetables.

Favorite Afternoon Tea- SMITH & HSU

Winner second year in a row. As someone who thought scones were always rock hard and dry, the warm-out-of-the-oven buttery scones from Smith & Hsu were a revelation. You can’t go wrong with a bit of clotted cream, lemon curd or jam on top, and the inviting space to chat with a friend for afternoon tea. For serious tea drinkers, there are over 50 teas to select from, as they give each table a tray of bottled tea leaves to browse and there is a shop area to buy teas and tea sets.
No.33, Section 5, ZhongXiao E. Road, (02) 2747-4857;
No.103, Section 3, Minsheng E. Road, (02) 2546-6088;
Tianmu Sogo, No.177, Zhongshan N. Road, Sec. 6, (02) 2838-1828;
No. 8, ZhongXiao E. Road, Sec. 5, 6FL, (02) 8786-2877;
No. 21, Nanjing E. Road, Sec. 1, (02) 2457-6842;
smithandhsu.com

Rose House, a Victorian-themed tea house on Li Shui Lane. Has Little Prince Afternoon Tea Set (NTD 399), featuring cheese cake, rose lychee jelly, rose macaron, roll cake, scone, creme brulee, quiche, bacon burger and petite sandwich (No. 1, Lane 3, Lishui Street, +886-2- 2394 8202, 11am-10pm)

Best French- SAVEURS 歐洲風味餐坊

Saveurs shows that you don’t have to empty your wallet to have an amazing French meal. Tucked in the lanes off of ZhongXiao, it’s one of those restaurants you’d pass by and never notice, but it’s worth looking for. Advance reservations strongly recommended for lunch.
No. 14, Lane 219, Fuxing S. Rd, Sec 1, (02) 2751-0185

Posted in Food, Fun activities in Taiwan, Interests, Restaurant reviews, Shopping, Taipei life, Taiwanese women, Top picks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

I’m Not Perfect — Are You?

When I was in Hong Kong, most guys never really bent on bended knee to ask a girl to marry him. It happened, sure, but not like here in the Philippines where a guy dates a girl a few months and then decides he wants to be with her for the rest of their lives.

Instead, guys would be surrounded by perceived choices. Perceived being the operative word. They would look around at all the lovely ladies around them and tell themselves, “Why should I settle down when there’s a gazillion beautiful women out there?”

I know a guy who struggles with this decision indecision.

He’s a good friend of mine. American, lived in Taiwan for a few years, then moved to Hong Kong. Very cool guy. I remember we used to have house parties at his flat near Carnegie’s Taipei. I think his house was one of the most logistically desirable in Taipei.

If you’re hungry, go to Carnegie’s. Want a good time? Go to Carnegie’s.

He’s already in his mid-40s, an eternal bachelor, always dating yet never really finding someone to settle down. Though he’s a great guy, I think he struggles with always finding out what is wrong with somebody he’s dating. And he thinks maybe, he can get someone better.

So next!

Look, everyone has issues. My fiance has issues, I have issues, everyone has issues. Nobody is perfect.

As my relatives keep on asking me, “Are you sure Bonita that he’s already the right guy for you?”

In my mind, I wonder if I’m the right girl FOR HIM.

Case in point, unlike other demure girls, I snore.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it’s embarrassing to admit but it’s true. I snore. And according to my evil brother, I snore quite loudly too. Not as bad as exhausted men, but it sure is louder to a woman who DIDN’T snore.

And it’s not something I can change. I’m unconscious, so what can I do?

Secondly, I talk. A LOT.

I used to tell my ex just how lucky he was to have an interesting woman like me. Someone who had witty insights and can hold you in conversation for hours.

His answer?

Your friends aren’t with you all the time. I am. Sometimes, I just want you to keep quiet.”

Of course he said it nicer than that, but that’s the gist of it.

Even with fiance, I find myself never really shutting up. Yakkity-yak-yak. I ask hypothetical questions that are awarded with punches if the answer my fiance gives is wrong. I ask him questions like, “Would you ever cheat on me?” or “Will you get tired of me if I get fat?”

Thinking about it now, I think my incessantly hypothetical questions stem from the unwritten, undeclared fact (till now) that like many women, I am also insecure. I wonder if men would really find me that interesting to stick with me for the rest of our lives. And if I was found to have breast cancer or in an accident that ends me up in a wheelchair, will he really be there for me?

Fortunately, fiance still humors me by answering my questions over and over. Even if they’re the same questions, only asked on different days and moments.

And lastly, I can be quite stubborn.

Yes, I know the Bible tells us that women should be submissive, bowing to the needs of their husbands. That for a relationship to work, the woman must give way too.

Having been raised by a domineering father who taught me to be obstinate and stubborn, I fight hard not to be seen as a pushover. If I think I am right, then I fight for it. I won’t really back down. This is a problem when I don’t agree with my mate.

The list goes on and on.

As other people choose to see the positives, I choose the see the negatives. Like the shortlist of personal faults I’ve highlighted above, I snore, I talk non-stop, and I’m stubborn and obstinate.

Nobody is perfect.

I’m not perfect.

So instead of focusing on how much I deserve a 10 because I’m a 10, I’d like to pop my own bubble and say, I’m human. I try my best to be good, but I make mistakes too.

And it’s in realizing just how flawed we are can we open ourselves to a real relationship by someone who is equally flawed… but someone whose flaws you can still accept, even if it’s for the rest of your lives.

Focus on the Negatives, Not the Positives.

Instead of deluding ourselves with happily ever after — and no, it doesn’t exist — I’d rather face the reality that shit WILL hit the fan. And hopefully, you are with someone who sticks with you in the long-haul and won’t leave you no matter how bad it gets.

Because like you, he would also look at himself and say, “I’m great, but I’m not THAT great. And this girl is the best I can ever get.”

And we are…

A month ago, I had lunch with a girl friend who told me that she and her boyfriend were retailing fireworks in time for Christmas. They bought fireworks from wholesale suppliers, rented a small space at Timog, and is selling fireworks in retail. She is tall, pretty, smart, hardworking and dependable.

On the flipside, she is also someone with is a bit bossy, has strong opinions, challenges her boyfriend once in a while, and gives him the ugly truth when he’s in the ground.

But her boyfriend proposed to her after only half a year of dating.

Why?

Because despite all her so-called negatives, the boyfriend smartly realized that finding a girl like her who’s willing to sell fireworks in retail on the street is HARD, and if you can find someone who can do that with you, you’d have a girl you don’t want to lose forever.

There are always two sides to the coin.

You can have confidence and yet be seen as arrogant.

Clever and yet be seen as too smart-ass.

Efficient and yet be seen as cold-blooded and heartless.

Sweet and yet be seen as a pushover.

Opinionated and yet be seen as stubborn.

It’s a hard balance.

And most of the time, we fail at balancing it.

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So focus on both the negatives and the positives. And stop putting oneself on the pedestal. You ain’t all that. I ain’t all that. And admitting it is the first step to finding a real relationship that would also accept your negatives AND your positives.

Have a great week ahead!

Posted in Boyfriend, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Hong Kong Life, Life lessons, Men, Personal opinion, Philippines, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wedding Prep #2: Secure a Venue for the Wedding

Wedding preparation is harder than I thought. Having organized a gazillion events back in university, at work and after work in at least four countries, I thought organizing a wedding should be a piece of cake.

Why the hell would people book their suppliers a year in advance?” I thought. “It’s just a wedding. A one-day event. Why stress out about it?”

After almost two months of wedding planning, I’ve come to realize that weddings are hard not because of the suppliers themselves. Weddings are hard because of the high expectations of everyone — the bride, the groom, the family of the bride and the family of the groom. If you’d like to add best friends of bride/groom to the mix, then all hell breaks loose.

Personally in my case, the hiccup came from my side of the family.

Since my fiance’s family will be footing most of the bill as per Filipino-Chinese tradition, my family can be very careful of making their opinions known. “They’re paying for it,” my mom would say. “Ayaw kong makialam (I don’t want us to meddle).”

Which can be an issue when making decisions.

The issue arises because despite statements of wanting to meddle, moms do have opinions and they do feel slighted when their opinions are not asked or followed.

Take for example, securing a venue for our wedding.

The groom’s side of the family only had a few requests:

  1. To have the wedding this year, preferably in June. Because that’s the time my Shanghai-based fiance’s sister and her husband are both here in Manila.
  2. The wedding should be in the afternoon/evening as they don’t like waking up early.
  3. They don’t want to have a hotel wedding since it’s already been done over and over, and they do want something special/different.
  4. They would like a plated sit-down dinner, catered by Chef Jessie, one of their favorite restaurants.

Total attendees should be 500 — 250 for each side. Since this is the third wedding for the groom’s family, they are wary from inviting acquaintances from eras before, and plan only to invite close friends and relatives. Since I prefer an intimate Western dinner, their ideas mesh with mine, so I have no problems with fulfilling their reasonable requests.

The problem is my mom who initially chose to stay out from the planning process.

When it came to booking a venue, we had limited options. For one, we are booking a bit too late in the game, half a year away, so most venues are already full. Two, not a lot of non-hotel venues that is not named Gloria Maris and Century Park Seafood Restaurant (both of which are Chinese restaurants) can comfortably hold 500 guests.

So in the end, we only have two choices.

1) Fernbrook Garden (Address: Portofino South, Daang Reyna, Las Pinas, Metro Manila / www.fernbrookgardens.com) or

2) Blue Leaf Filipinas (Address: Belle Avenue, Aseana City, Paranaque / http://www.theblueleaf.com.ph/)

Fernbrook Gardens is in Alabang, a 20-minute drive away from Alabang Town Center. For those who are not from the Philippines, for the normal Filipino, Alabang can be a bit far. “At least 30-40 minutes drive from Makati (the business center), and expensive tollways all throughout.” Toll ranges around Php 150++ one-way.

Despite the distance, Fernbrook is beautiful as you can see in the day and night photos:

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Nice, eh?

There’s a nice fountain by the lobby and the reception area is beautiful, full of greenery and small waterfalls.

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I kid you NOT. The photos is as beautiful as reality. There is also a quiet little man-made river and a gondola for picture taking opportunities. For sure, guests would gape and awe at the venue. It’s really that nice.

If you are interested in booking Fernbrook Gardens, you can contact the friendly Ms. King Flores (Tel: +63-917 862 4357, or landlines: 217 9968, 710 8545 or 710 8608). Her email is at king.fernbrook@gmail.com.

Blue Leaf Filipinas on the other hand, lies in the reclaimed land in Manila Bay. Just a stone throw away from the newly-opened Solaire Resorts, Blue Leaf is as chic and modern as Fernbrook is as whimsical, and at the time of viewing last December, was still undergoing some last-minute finishing.
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The halls were pretty big though. The three halls could handle a thousand guests. We were happy to just book Sinulog and Pahiyas Halls which can cover 800 people.
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A stone’s throw away from the newly-opened Solaire Resorts, Blue Leaf is as chic and modern as Fernbrook is as whimsical, and at the time So given our tight schedule, we were lucky to have these two equally beautiful halls still available on our dates. But we had to make a choice, FAST.
Since my groom’ family was happy with either, I proceeded to ask my mom which venue she’d like.
Bahala na sila mag-decide,” she said. Translation: It’s up to them to decide. “But don’t you think that Alabang (where Fernbrook is situated) is a bit too far?”
“Hmmm, not really. If my guests really want to come, they’ll still go over there even if it’s in Singapore or Hong Kong,” I answered. “But since Pam (my fiance’s sister) was married in Fernbrook, they would prefer Fernbrook Gardens.”
Uncle Ellison, do you think that Alabang is far?” she then asked my uncle who came to visit us that day.
It’s a bit far…” my Uncle replied. “But if that’s what they want, we’ll still go…”
My mom proceeded to ask my auntie and our real estate broker the same question that day. Their answers were pretty consistent: It’s perceived to be far, but if needed be, they’ll make the trip.
My mom then changed tactics saying, “It would really be frustrating if my friends would call me up to complain about the distance. It would make a happy day to be very frustrating.”
Mom, I’m sure they would grumble but not directly. If ever, they would do it in a joking manner and shouldn’t be taken seriously,” I said in defense.
Mom: “Yes, but it would be bad…”
Mom,” I somewhat rudely interrupted (my bad). “Are you trying to say that you would prefer Blue Leaf rather than Fernbrook?”
Nooo, I didn’t say that,” she said defensively. “What I just said is, it’s up for them to decide.”
Okay, if it’s up for them to decide,” I explained. “We would go for Fernbrook. Because they’ve done a wedding at Fernbrook and they like it there. They don’t care about the distance. Are you SURE you are okay with what they decide?”
Well, Fernbrook is beautiful,” she then replied. “It’s very very nice. But so what if it’s nice if it’s far?”“So if I get it right,”I clarified, “What you are saying is you like Blue Leaf?”
Nooo, I didn’t say that,” she again answered. “What I did say is I’m okay with both Fernbrook and Blue Leaf.”
I wanted to throw my hands up in despair. Waaah, that’s a lot of passive-aggressiveness going around. :(
Aiya mom, let me make a decision for both of us already,” I firmly stated. “Let’s just do Blue Leaf.”
But but I’m okay with…” my mom started to insist.
No mom, I insist,” I replied. “Choosing Fernbrook would relentlessly drive me up the wall. I cannot really stand choosing one, then having our side resent and not fully accepting the decision. It’s clear to me that everyone wants Blue Leaf so let’s just go with Blue Leaf.”
Not wanting to be the bad guy, mom insisted again she’s fine with both venues.
No it’s fine,” I insisted. “I already texted Auntie. We have decided on Blue Leaf.”
And then there was nary a talk about Fernbrook and Blue Leaf already. Auntie was fine with our decision and paid for the deposit a few days later.
Waaaah, if deciding on a venue was enough to drive me up the wall, how much more are the rest? As you can see, there’s a lot of indirect passive-aggressiveness that came about and Lord help me in keeping my sanity as we decide on the other details.
Regardless, we’ve finally chosen a venue. It’s an achievement, and onward to the other wedding details such as the dress, the photographer and videographer, the stylist, among others.
Have a good week ahead!
Posted in Boyfriend, Family Drama, Filipino Men/Women, Philippines, Updates, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wedding Prep: Step #1 — Secure a Date for the Wedding

Wedding preparation is not as easy as everyone thinks as I’ve already listed down here. A lot of people focus on the happy day itself without realizing all the pain and drama that comes beforehand.

The first step of wedding preparation however is to first secure a date

It’s harder than it looks, my friends.

Most families in the Philippines take a whopping ONE YEAR to plan their wedding because of the date. 

And while I still think that it doesn’t take a monkey to plan a wedding (especially since in previous years, I have planned larger 2,000-people conferences overseas for a quarter of the allotted time), there are still several factors to consider.

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For example, there’s not a lot of days available when you can get married.

Let’s do the math.

First, there are 365 days or 52 weeks in a year.

Of course, if you are any normal couple, you would honestly prefer getting married in a weekend because it’s the times when most of your guests will find it convenient to go to. There’s also less traffic in the Philippines on a weekend so you’d want everyone to be on time. That leaves your wedding date to fall on a Friday, Saturday or a Sunday when most of your guests are available. Overall, that’s just around 156 days left.

Now the Philippines only has two seasons — rainy and sunny.

March to May is our summer season while forget June to September where it incessantly rains and typhoons, literally putting a damper to your wedding. You’ve seen how bad typhoons in the Philippines can be. It kinda sucks if you’re in an archipelago encircled everywhere by bodies of water. Photos of massive destruction can be found here.

So after removing June till September, the only remaining perfect months to get married are from November till May.

That’s just only a smaller 6-month window. So half of 156 days, or 78 days left. 

Out of the 78 days that are left, you’d then want to pick a date that doesn’t fall on a long holiday.

You see, like normal human beings, Filipinos pack their bags and families and take extra days off on long holidays. Of course, after working very hard, they’d like to take an easy vacation somewhere. Especially with the great offers from CashCashPinoy (See more travel deals here), traveling has now become a commodity and everyone’s flying off somewhere especially on long weekends.

So you’d want to shy away from Holy Week, or Christmas long weekends. Both weekends before and after that. Assume that’s around 18 days more or less, leaving you with only 60 days to choose from.

What’s more, in a season where people get married ALL THE TIME, you have to pick a date where nobody you know is getting married. It’s really rude to pick a date when you know a friend is getting married in. That’s like sabotaging their wedding because guests are forced to pick which weddings they’d go to.

Of course you don’t want that. 

That’s why after securing a date, tell EVERYONE so nobody will steal your date anymore.

And to top it off, there’s actually only a limited number of acceptable perfect church and reception venues most Filipino-Chinese families look for. Filipino-Chinese is all about “face” and a child’s wedding is a perfectly acceptable venue to show off without being too obvious about it. 

Specifically, if you are Filipino-Chinese, you’d have to worry about additional issues such as finding:

1.   The correct “date” — Especially for the Fil-Chi community, one must consult with a feng shui master for the right date and time to get married. This is to increase your luck of a successful marriage, and the feng shui master takes you and your partner’s birthdates and times to compute your compatibility.

A friend of mine for example had to get married at 28 years old, and before 8 o’clock in the weekend, or suffer a lifetime or regret. So by 2am, the entire entourage were already doing their makeup. It was terrible.

This unfortunately is called “kua-dit” (to look at day) in Fookien, and must be followed especially if your grandparents are still alive. Only they can insist on this draconian practice and still get away with it.

2.   The perfect venue — As I’ve explained earlier, for the richer Fil-Chis, your children’s wedding is a chance for you to show off. That’s why while ours at 500 people may seem big, others would go above 1,000 guests for a mere 1-day wedding.

A word of warning to the novice, there’s not a lot of venues that can accommodate 800-1,000 guests and seat them comfortably in an air-conditioned room. I’ve been calling wedding venues and while 300-400 pax is reasonable, anything over 450 pax is gigantic for many places. Unfortunately, having guests number 300 people is “too small” for many families. It hints that the family is poor so as not been able to invite that many guests.

So more guests there is. And understandably, there’s only a few places that can accommodate that many people.

It’s a joke amongst us young people. If you get married, you’d have to do it at the the Big 2 for their wedding:

     a) Shangri-La EDSA, or

     b) Shangri-La Makati.

Why?

Because they’re the most expensive hotel, charging more per table and hence show your family more face, and yes, they can handle 1,000 guests. Hahaha!

Unfortunately, the novelty wears off after the first wedding you’ve attended a few hundred weddings at Shangri-La. It came to a point that you’d already correctly guess what type of dishes they’ll serve at a Shangri-La wedding before they even serve it!

If you want to save on costs or want a more Chinese wedding, there’s always Century Park Seafood Restaurant, or Gloria Maris Greenhills. With a lot of little kiddies wanting to get married, you’d have to understand why everyone would have to stand in line to get the wedding venue they want!

3.     The nicest Catholic church — If you’re Catholic, you’d want to have that nice church wedding where you slowly walk down the aisle and the choir sings a solemn song. The problem is, there’s not a lot of old-charmed churches to get married in the Philippines in whose dates had not been taken by someone else. Often times, there’s even a wedding going on per 2 hours on a weekend in a popular church! 

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 I’m not Catholic but this is a list of Christian churches people in the Philippines get married in. Not a lot as you can see.

4.   It’s a date both your parent/s and future in-laws would like — Everyone has the right time of getting married. For example, with my fiancee’s family, they’d hope that the date is right after my fiancee’s sister gives birth (she’s pregnant now), and the time when their son-in-law is in the country (he travels around). For my mom, the date should be a year after my dad’s passing. 

Regardless, pinpointing a date that suits both parties can be difficult especially if one side is indecisive. This time, it’s my side so my mom has yet to sit down with the future in-laws to decide on a date (Big sigh).

So in conclusion, it’s not easy finding a wedding date for a couple wanting to get married here in the Philippines. 

I for one have already been engaged for 3 weeks and nary a talk of wedding dates had already been made.

Still, we have to make a choice soon. My fiancee wants a non-hotel wedding and after making a few calls, there are only 2 venues left open on the dates we’re targeting to get married in.

Oh well!

Anyway, I’m praying for a smooth wedding prep.

I for one don’t want to arrange my wedding FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. In my heart, I know you don’t need to take a whole freaking year to arrange everything!

It’s enough to make even the most rational of people go bananas. 

Thankfully, from our initial talks, it seems that my future Christian in-laws are quite easy on the preparation. Their only requests is that we have a Christian ceremony, and the wedding should not be early in the morning (following feng shui). And since fiancee doesn’t want a conventional hotel wedding, that frees up several options. 

Happy weekend everyone!

Posted in Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wedding Prep is NOT a Fairy Tale

Most women dreamt about their wedding since they were young.

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They’ve leafed through wedding magazines, pinned their favorite colors and motifs on Pinterest, and started random conversations with, “If I got married…”

No, not me.

Actually, the first time I’ve even dared buy my first wedding magazine – for research of course – was a week after fiancée proposed.

I was admittedly embarrassed and fiancée was gleeful. “You know, it’s okay to be excited about your own wedding,” he said. “As long of course you don’t turn into bridezilla.”

Then he paused and requested, “Please don’t turn into bridezilla.”

Wedding preparations not really all the happy fairy tale people dream about. As an events organizer, I know arranging a one-day event is a breeze.

“Just be decisive,” my friend from the US advised.

Unfortunately, a one day wedding where you hope you’d only have once (unless you’ve already separated and divorced” becomes complicated once other parties start coming into the midst. It’s also doubly complicated since it’s the groom’s family that is footing the bill and I don’t want to spend unnecessarily.

“Your mommy sounds unenthusiastic,” my future mother-in-law observed. “Maybe it’s because of the issues between you and your brother?”

“Oh no auntie, it’s just that she’s been busy,” I explained.

And she was — she just returned from a weeklong vacation from Ilo-Ilo and Cebu for a friend’s wedding.

Still, it’s a dark cloud that hangs on everyone’s head when everyone is happy you’re getting married except your brother. He doesn’t really like the fiancée as much, though I think it’s mostly because of unfortunate misunderstanding and circumstance.

Regardless, it’s a wedding and nobody wants to be a bad guy and rain on anyone’s parade.

So the good news is, people in the office is happy about our engagement. Finally, they’ve allowed to let their hair down a bit.

Two, we already have the invited number pegged at 500-550 people. This is a medium-sized wedding. A richer family would probably have double that number.

Three, fiancée had been mighty supportive and tries hard not to laugh at me while I navigate around the wedding preparation mess. He has been so far helpful and has helped me direct some details such as:

  • Color motif would be white, light sunny yellow and gold accents
  • My bridesmaids would be my two beautiful cousins and some best friends from overseas. My brothers girlfriend will NOT be part of the entourage.
  • The venue would not be a hotel. We prefer it slightly whimsical and unique. Fiancée wants the Christian ceremony at the venue itself followed by a cocktail and sit-down dinner.
  • Dinner would be plated and not buffet-style. Our caterer would be Chef Jessie, who also catered my future sister-in-law’s wedding
  • We will have an engagement party. As to where and when, I’ll keep you posted

Anyway it’s been early days so we shall see. Till I have more details, I’ll let you all know.

Pls pray for a smooth wedding preparation! Happy happy joy joy!

Posted in Family, Family Drama, Relationships, Updates, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How do you know if he’s the One for you?”

When people ask me if I am sure about my boyfriend-now-fiancee, and why I said yes to his proposal despite the turmoil that’s happening internally within my family, my best answer is this.

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This pair of hot pink/gray rubber shoes is by Adidas, and I remember buying this in a sports surplus building in Singapore.

When we arrived at the surplus building full of sports shoes and sports apparel/gear, I knew I was going to buy a pair. My old New Balance were of the thin air-ism kind, and I wanted something stronger and more for running.

As you would know, when it comes to shopping, I can be indecisive. I can try multiple styles all at once, but will start filtering between the styles I liked. This pair was one of the styles I liked. And whereas I tried different pairs, I kept on coming back to this style.

My brother then urged me to buy a different pair of shoes. I think it was a darker shade of gray. He said it looked good on me, and it’s uso (fashionable). 

I tried this pair, and the pair that my brother recommended. Both my brother and my mom said I should buy the other one.

In the end, I stubbornly chose this pair. And paid for it at the cashier.

Months later, I am happy with my purchase. I use it every other day, Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I accompany my mom to the gym. 

Finding the One for you is much like shoe buying. 

There are too many opinions out there.

Everyone has an opinion.

It’s free anyway.

So if you ask people whether or not this person is really for you, some will say yes, while others will say no. If you open your ears to what they say, you can never really make a choice. Too many opinions can only be confusing.

Instead of being confused, I followed my own gut. I asked myself three questions:

  1. Does he make me happy?
  2. Can I see a future with this man? Is the future he paint something I myself want as well?
  3. Does he have the fear of God in his heart, and has the openness to know what is right or wrong?

The answer to all three is a solid, “Yes!”

That’s why when fiancee asked, I gave my affirmative.

Not because my parents or my brother totally love him, but rather because, in the deepness of my heart, I have faith that I am making the right decision. I knew if I followed my parent/brother’s advise, I wouldn’t really be 100% happy with the choice.

In the end, it had to be MY choice. 

Because only when we make our own choices can we hold ourselves accountable. Whatever happens to us (boyfriend and I), I have nobody to blame or pat my back to but myself. Nobody forced me to make such decision. I made the decision. I lie on the bed I made.

So how did I know he’s the One for me?

Because he’s my choice.

Happy weekend!

 

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Boyfriend Proposed…

…last weekend.

It was during awarding, at the largest and most prestigious car show in the Philippines. My company’s car won third place, while his won second.

After receiving our prizes, he gave a short speech about how I was his inspiration and source of many good ideas, on how it’s been a pretty fast one year since we both got together.

Then, he dropped on his knees and asked, “Will you marry me?”

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Everyone was shell shocked, especially my mother who was in front of the audience. Yes, the entire proposal was in front of a few hundred spectators cum strangers. It was truly a public spectacle.

After a pregnant 15-second pause, I said, “Yes…!”

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Everyone, especially my entire family was shocked. They didn’t see that coming at all. My brother felt as if a bullet train hit his chest. I think he was more flustered than I was.

For me, I suspected that my boyfriend – now my fiancee – was up to something. For one, he made a big deal of attending the awarding ceremony, something he’s never really done before. If he could miss it, he would.

Two, the organizer even texted me that all participants are requested to attend the awarding. Usually, she’s too busy to do that.

And lastly, boyfriend’s hands were clammy that late afternoon. I think he was really nervous. As we went down the stairs from the awarding booth, I think he was even tearing up.

So there it is, the culmination of our one-year of togetherness. Today is our one year anniversary, and it seems that time, flew by so fast. So many things had happened — my MBA graduation, my dad’s death, the numerous power plays and fights amongst siblings, a few dramatic episodes from my boyfriend’s side, yadda yadda yadda.

When we first started this journey, Boyfriend did say, “Let’s date for a year and see how we handle it. At least, it gives us the chance to see how we are in different areas.”

And so we did. There were a few tough moments peppered with a lot of happy ones. There were good times and bad. I told him, “Gee, I’ve never had a year this bad…”

And yet we held on, still going strong after 12 months.

Honestly, I don’t really know where to start. I wasn’t really your typical child who planned her very own wedding. Everyone in my family is predisposed to staying single. And now, I’m getting married.

Yes, we’ll see how it goes, and I’ll be more than happy to share more of the ebbs and flows of wedding planning with you!

Have a good one!

Posted in Boyfriend, Relationships, Updates, Wedding saga | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

World War IV

My brother and I aren’t doing well.

We just came off from a testy episode where my brother already cursed me to the noon, with the exception of “SOB” since that would mean cursing his/our own mother.

As you can imagine, we are not yet in speaking terms.

I really don’t understand him. Over the last few weeks and months, he had been very paranoid, overly sensitive and quick to anger. Despite no concrete actions to prove his paranoia, my little brother thinks that my Boyfriend is out to get his business since they’re both in the same industry (although they do sell widely different products),

In the end, it was actually my brother who tried to import the same products as my Boyfriend is selling, and launching it to the local end-market.

This is kind of sad — he has crossed a business ethics line, choosing out of all the products out there, to compete head-on with my Boyfriend with a product that Boyfriend himself has launched in the Philippines. He did this almost 10 months after my Boyfriend launched his.

It’s always sad when siblings argue and fight. More so because when you were little, things used to be so untouched and innocent. Now, there’s a lot of hurt and cracks. Sometimes, I don’t even know how to solve it anymore.

What’s worse, I think my brother has it all wrong.

For one, Boyfriend is not out to get him. He thinks that my brother’s business model is widely different from his, and he despises the hassle of collecting from dealers. It’s also not very ethical, and I would break up with my Boyfriend if I ever found out he was doing something as despicable as this.

Two, despite all the pain he has put me through, I still do love my brother. There’s only the two of us, and I hate fighting. I think that despite harsh words, we can still kiss and make up.

And lastly, a lot of his fears are from his misunderstanding. My brother is just a very indirect, indecisive person whereas I am the complete opposite. If he thinks I don’t care, it’s more likely that I didn’t really understand the weight of it all.

Hope we can solve this issue. I don’t want any more heart aches.

Posted in Boyfriend, Conflicts, Family, Family Drama, Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Whoops, I’m Accidentally Pregnant”

A friend of mine got his girlfriend pregnant. According to her, it was a “Whoops!” moment.

Yes, need to save up because the baby’s on the way,” he sheepishly said.

They have already been dating for 7 years.

The last time I talked to him a few months ago, he was enjoying the bachelor life. After taking over his brother’s business, he has managed to successfully step out his brother’s shadow. Many of his work are now winning awards, and he’s now starting to make a name for himself.

I don’t want to get married yet,” he said. “So many things yet to do.”

Oh well, it’s a bit too late now.

Here in the Philippines, you usually marry the girl if you get her pregnant. A lot of marriages start out that way. Not the best reason to get hitched, but that’s the way love goes.

Whereas it is shameful to actually impregnate your girlfriend, it’s even more shameful if you don’t do right with her and marry her.

Oh well, it’s about time anyway,” some people justified. “They have been dating for 7 years now. Matagal-tagal na din.” 

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She’s nice naman e, and has been there for him since the beginning,” others would say. “Maybe it’s a sign from God. A blessing in disguise.”

My personal opinion?

NOBODY GETS PREGNANT BY ACCIDENT.

I have two theories. If you get pregnant, either:

  1. The girl is stupid who was born in the 1900s and don’t know anything about birth control, or
  2. It was intentional, and that makes her evil because she wants to trap the guy in a marriage. It’s not uncommon. In Taiwan, I know of some women who would intentionally take a pin and poke holes in the condom.

Look, if you do it, you know that there’s always a risk of pregnancy. If you don’t want to get pregnant, pick your poison: condoms, pills, the morning after pill, or abstinence. There’s a gazillion ways to prevent pregnancy IF you don’t want a kid.

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If you don’t want to use pills or any sort of birth control because you’re a Christian/Catholic, then how about abstinence? You really don’t have to do it, or put yourself in a position to be tempted.

And what about being a Christian?

It’s bad enough that you’re doing it because the Bible had always been clear about its views in pre-marital sex. But to make it worse, you get caught doing it, and your baby is the direct result of that.

All through your life, people will look and say, “Oh, nabuntis siya kaya sila nagpakasal.” (They got married because she got pregnant).

And who would want that?

Marriage is all about choices. You choose to marry the person because of so-and-so reason. Marriage because of pregnancy is the worst reason to get married.

I stand firm in my conviction.

There are no accidental pregnancies.

Only the wise women (who want to trap a non-committal guy into a marriage) or careless ones (who are complete idiots).

Do you agree or disagree?

Posted in Boyfriend, Life lessons, Personal opinion, Philippines, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Brother Has Crossed the Line and Became Unethical

Irrefutable fact: My boyfriend has brought in a new category of products to the Philippines. Before he brought it in, that product was non-existent.

On a grand gesture, he offered my brother to be his official distributor last January, but my brother refused. Maybe it was disinterest or maybe he thought it wouldn’t chose, but my brother ignored his proposal and didn’t get back to Boyfriend.

Since then, Boyfriend has found his own dealers and distributors. The product, after marketing it at this year’s Manila International Autoshow, TransSport Show, and the upcoming Manila Autosalon, was a big hit. It was even awarded the Best Innovative Product for TransSport Show 2012.

10 months later, I just discovered my brother has imported 50 cans of the same product under a different name, and offering different colors. By all sense and purposes, everything else is the same product — The application, the use, and the market.

My brother tried to sell it at a small car show in Taytay, and via Facebook. He has demo-ed to his people at least a week before of the product features, and wants them to sell to his dealers.

I knew that my brother didn’t like my Boyfriend but why did he do that? Of all the accessories he could have done, he tried to copy Boyfriend’s idea (when Boyfriend was the one who introduced the product to him), and when he saw the market is ripe, tried to compete with Boyfriend?

I haven’t imported (a container) yet. That was just to try,” he said defensively.

Yes, but those cans didn’t just fly to the tables like that,” I countered.

He has no defense. At 28, my brother has become a shrewd businessman who puts money above family. Even though Boyfriend has done nothing but help him, my brother has tried time and time again to create fights like this.

It’s a hard truth to take — that my adorable brother is no longer as adorable.

From a business setting, it’s scary.

It means that he’s the type of person who will be your friend and partner, and if he sees that your product is good and profitable, will import the same under his own name without any consideration to who you are. He is willing to say, “Fuck this relationship,” if it meant more business.

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Who can trust that type of businessman? If you have no business ethics, then what else do you have?

From a family scenario, it’s doubly scary.

My brother did this despite knowing that he will create unnecessary fights with me. We are all doing good already, and yet, he has chosen to throw the first stone and intentionally imported a product to compete with an existing product. Of all of his products, this is his baby.

He has also spoken rudely to my mother saying, “Don’t pressure me. I haven’t imported (a container) yet. And if you push me, I will.”

He is also willing to sacrifice his relationship with his only sister by doing so. At present, how can I be friendly to him when he has intentionally tried to backstab me? Mostly because he sneakily imported the products to try and sell.

My brother has cried, and is confused. He feels bad about this, but refuses to admit that what he did.

That’s the scariest type of person.

The person who is closed minded and refuses to see reason, who doesn’t want to see other’s people’s view and admit he is wrong. The person who knows what he did is wrong and still continues to do so.

And has no qualms cutting ties with his sister.

I don’t know. Understandably, I am very upset. And may be not thinking clearly. But I think this is more due to the admittance that my brother has been a jerk, and while other people can be, knowing that my one and only little brother is one is a hard pill to swallow.

Posted in Boyfriend, Business, Conflicts, Family, Ramblings, Relationships, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m Different

I worry about things most women do not worry about.

For one, I worry about money and income, and how to become financially independent. When I think about salary, I think about how your compensation is worth the time and effort spent into an activity. I think about how long I can stay doing that particular job and if long-term wise, it is of any use for me. Hefty salaries don’t really impress me that much, but how the job would work in my long-term goals do, and I am willing to work for cheap(er) if the job can teach me something, or can be a stepping stone for something long-term.

When I look at a property, I think about association dues, yields and how much rent or selling price per sqm. I look at who their previous tenant was, and how much rental can the surrounding areas be. I wonder how lucky or unlocky that property can be, and how you can make more money out of the property — even if I’m as poor as a mouse and don’t have any resources to develop one.

When I look at the person, I look at their eyes, to see how fast their eyes dart around, and how smart their answers can be especially when I throw them question after question in rapid-fire sequence. I observe how well traveled they are, and if they think the world is bigger than what we usually encounter after we wake up, eat then go to work. I like to work and chat with smart people. If your English is kind of poor, and if you’re left with uhms and ahs, that’s not a good sign and I quickly get bored.

When I go to the restaurant, I look at the ambiance, quality of food and service. But at the same time, I cannot help but wonder how much their rent is, on how much their overhead can be and whether the restaurant can make money, and how.

I worry about my livelihood and what business I can do in the future. It bothers me a lot that I don’t have a business I can call my own yet, and I worry that if I don’t build one soon, I would be left behind. Sure, it’s a me issue and nobody’s pressuring me to make more money (because I don’t), but still, I hope I can build one soon so I won’t worry too much.

I worry about whether a guy thinks I’m attractive and whether he feels I am interesting or not. I get a bit worried about crossing the line, and ensure I don’t give guys false hopes.

I worry about aging and looking good. And I worry about looking like an old aunt if ever I have children, if even I have any.

What do I not worry about?

I don’t worry about the trivial things.

Or dream about my wedding day. While I do know I hate the bridal march and want Pachebel Canon, I am resigned to my fate of actually being single for the rest of my life if that is what God wills it. I know I hate Chinese and prefer to have a sit-down dinner instead of a buffet, but that’s about planning I’ve done so far vs. other women who’s been dreaming about their wedding day since they could talk.

I don’t worry about not having close friends. I am okay with meeting my good friends once in a while, chatting and catching up with them, but I don’t mind if the next time they see me, or I see them is 6 months later. For me, friendships are forever and people are busy, and if they don’t return your call immediately, that’s fine. It’s not the end of the world.

I don’t really worry about being liked by everyone. I can say I am a bit of a polarizing spirit and that’s okay with me. As long as I am true to myself and I hurt no one, then it’s all good.

Fortunately and God willing I don’t really worry about my relationship with Boyfriend even though this year had been full of ups and downs. I’ve always believed that a woman should be with someone who treats her well and makes her happy. He does in both aspects, so yeah, on we go!

So in summary…

I am different, and I thank God for that. I am uniquely made — full of quirks and all. I know I am not perfect and I’ve made my fair share of mistakes but if I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret anything.

I’m different and so are you! Let us all celebrate our differences together!

Posted in Boyfriend, Filipino Men/Women, Friendship, Ramblings, Updates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Yoogane – Cheesy Korean Goodness!

It’s a bit of a pity regarding Yoogane, the Korean cook-yourself restaurant at Il Terrazo Mall in Tomas Morato.

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For one, compared to its more crowded Banapple counterpart at the second floor, Yoogane was not full.

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This is a pity considering that the restaurant was both spacious and cheerful. The tables were large and each four-person table had a large cooking area. I especially loved how they decorated their brick walls with colorful cartoon-ish stickers. They made me feel more youthful and adventurous.

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Ambiance wise, the place screamed casual dining, and their prices of around Php 200-400 reflect that. This is a place where you would take your boyfriend/girlfriend of a few months or your family, not your first date.

AS FOR THE FOOD… WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?

First up, the appetizers.

How can you say anything bad about free appetizers?!

Teasing aside, I liked it a lot. For a party of three, we were given six (6) appetizers to share — bean sprouts, the sweet dilis, boiled small potatoes, white pickles, traditional kimchi, and cabbage with salad dressing — with free refills! Now, that’s a great deal.

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We loved everything.

Boyfriend LOVED the dilis and bean sprouts, which were fresh and sweet as if they were newly bought from the market. Mom finished the simple cabbage salad, while I devoured the kimchi and the boiled small potatoes. The small boiled potatoes were my favorite: they were just of the right crunchiness and was dipped in sweet sauce. We couldn’t help but ask for refills (Sorry, Yoogane!).

Meanwhile, we ordered only two dishes to share — the Yoogane’s Chicken Galbi Fried Rice (Php 245 + Php 80 mozzarella cheese) and the Beef Bulgogi (Php 260). We also ordered a pitcher of Iced Tea (Php 100) which was served cold in a silver container.

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I think the Galbi Fried Rice was based on Dak Galbi, a South Korean dish cooked by stir-frying marinated diced chicken in Korean chili pepper paste, sliced cabbage, sweet potato, scallions, onions and tteok (rice cake) together on a hot plate. (Source: Wikipedia). Just add rice and waaaalaaaah! You have our dish.

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Don’t be too fooled by the reddish color though. This dish is actually not that hot, in fact, I wish they could have added more Korean hot sauce to add more flavor and zest to it.

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Nonetheless, it was pretty delicious. Maybe it was the novelty of eating fried rice with cheese on it, or the fact that the marinated chicken was soft and tender, but our fried rice was something different, and I would recommend anyone who visits Yoogane to order it!

Again, let me warn you to not expect an orgasmic blow-your-mind type of fried rice (the rice will taste just exactly how you’ll imagine it… with cheese added), but the fact that the server comes to cook it in front of you as you wait is still an experience by itself, and should be one of the reasons why you should come and eat at Yoogane.

What’s more, though it needed a bit more taste (maybe some more salt and cracked pepper), the fried rice was still a great complement to our Beef Bulgogi (Php 260.00), which was just-the-right-amount-of-flavorful. It was soft, sweet Pinang-ulam na namin yung Bulgogi. :)

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We finished our meal within 10 minutes. They even gave us each a small Yakult bottle to finish the meal.

Overall, I would strongly suggest for everyone to give Yoogane a try. It won’t be your favorite restaurant, but it’s a place that’s good to visit at least once or twice given how novel some of its dishes were, how convenient the place is (walk-ins welcome!), and how reasonably priced its dishes were.

Service was relatively okay, though we have to wave our hands a bit for service.

Regardless, at only less than Php 700 for all three of us, who can complain? And I’m sure we will be back at least one more time for more cheesy goodness!

Yoogane
G/F IL Terrazzo Mall, 305 Tomas Morato Ave. cor Sct. Madriñan St., Laging Handa, Quezon City, Tomas Morato
Tel: 966 2348
Like their Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/YooganePhilippines
Follow them on Twitter – https://twitter.com/yooganephil
Cost of Meal: Php 250/pax

Posted in Restaurant reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Night We Got Pulled Over By Cops for Lewd Behavior

Boyfriend and I went to the Top Gear Philippines party last night at Prive in Fort Bonifacio. Everything who’s a who’s who in the car industry was there.

After the party, Boyfriend took me home.

And of course, after an awesome party, what do couples usually do?

Answer, they park the car in a dark spot somewhere, and start wildly making out. Clothes will be flying off, hands will go to where it shouldn’t go, and yes, you will be in a compromising position.

Which we in some ways did.

We parked the car in a dark spot close to where I lived.

Turned off the engine.

Proceeded to pull back our seats for a more comfortable position.

For comfort sake, I propped my feet up the dashboard, still with my white heels on.

We both got comfortable…

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And then we started talking.

We talked about the party, on who were there, and our friends.

We talked about his shop, and our upcoming trip.

We talked about a prospective business together.

I think we talked for about twenty minutes, when the cops suddenly pulled over. Out came three nicely looking cops with flashlights.

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In the Philippines, if you get caught with your pants down, you will be charged with indecent exposure. According to Wikipedia, Indecent Exposure is “the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior.”

More information about this crime here.

Fortunately, because of our purity agreement, Boyfriend and I were caught fully clothed, merely talking, with my legs propped up the dashboard. You cannot imagine our relief for being caught with our pants and skirts on.

It’s okay officer, we were just talking,” we said as we waved them over.

Closer came the three officers, each with their flashlights.

Put up your shirt,” one officer said as he flashed his light to the direction of Boyfriend’s pants.

Boyfriend puts up his shirt.

He still has his belt on.

Problem abated with smiles.

The officers tell us to just move our car since our neighbor has already reported us.

Boyfriend takes me home, kisses me goodbye and I go in.

I think these are one of the days when God’s grace truly shines. When we signed the purity agreement last August, Boyfriend and I embarked in a difficult journey to keep ourselves pure until the day of our honeymoon, if ever we reach that point.

So far, it hasn’t been easy. Anyway, people have needs right? And nobody believes us that we can keep pure, the same way that nobody believes we can stop drinking alcohol. Hence, the large intake of super sweet iced tea at last night’s party.

And yet, despite a few hiccups, in God’s grace, we have managed it.

And in nights like these when there’s three police guys flash their lights at you trying to catch you with your underwear off, it’s great when you’re actually just talking. It’s not uncommon for people getting caught for lewd behavior trying to bribe the police with at least Php 1,000 each, or having their parents called to the police station as your heads hang in shame.

Oh well, it’s great we don’t have to be in that situation, praise God!

Anyway, hope that you are all doing well. Have a great week ahead!

Posted in Boyfriend, Filipino Men/Women, Men, Philippines, Ramblings, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fights Happen When You Don’t Listen

Yesterday, Boyfriend and I had an argument. 

Basically, the context was that two of my friends got engaged after only two months of dating. I pointed out to Boyfriend that I was jealous that my friends’ respective boyfriends were so sure of their feelings for the women that they could not help but pop the question.

Of course, given that marriage is for the rest of your life, it was amazing that these guys would want to be that committed after knowing the women after a mere two months of dating. Hence, it was either these guys were:

  1. Super crazy that they’d take that big of a risk, or
  2. Very desperate that they tend to cling on these women and snapping them up before anybody does, or 
  3. These women are so perfect and wonderful that these guys think that “Yes, these women are the one!” almost immediately after dating exclusively.

Since these men seemed sane and secure about themselves, I hypothesized that maybe it was because these women were so great (and they were!), that these men snapped them up before they even had the chance to think.

Boyfriend took this the wrong way. 

He felt that I was cornering him and unfairly comparing him to these men, especially since we’ve been dating for almost a year.

It is impossible to turn back time!” he said. Back when we were dating for only two to three months, it really didn’t seem it was the right time to propose. To top it off, my dad was in and out of the hospital then, and passed away very soon after. 

Actually, what I was just looking for was some reassurance — Reassurance that he loves me (he does), that I am valued (I am), and that he was serious (he is).

Instead of attacking him for what he did not do, me telling him those stories was me telling him that I as well was a woman, and that women do compare, and yes I was being unreasonably insecure, but yes, I do have these moments at times, and yes, he would have to just take me in his arms and reassure me.

Why? 

Because yes, women do have these bouts of insecurity. And yes, I still do hold that when we become insecure, men must comfort. Or risk facing the wrath of an insecure woman which happened yesterday because Boyfriend became instantly defensive and refused to listen to what I really needed!

I think in many arguments, people have a tendency to react very quickly and defend themselves. 

Enough with the defense mechanism, people!

What could’ve easily allayed my insecurities was a simple, “Honey, what do you mean by that?” followed by a simple smile and comforting hug. 

Women do yak yak yak on. And we always believe in our minds, we have a point.

It’s a losing battle to argue with us. We can always out-speak, out-nag, and out-reason you. We would not be arguing otherwise if we felt we had a losing case. 

So instead of arguing, try to understand us first. 

STOP. LISTEN. UNDERSTAND.

In the end, after an hour or two of argument, we finally came to a consensus.

  • No, I was not attacking him. Though yes, I was being unfair.
  • That yes, it was not right for me to compare myself to other women when I am clear that I was valued and loved.
  • But I was not incorrect for asking for some reassurance and some love. It was my right as a girlfriend.
  • And I was not incorrect to be hurt when I did not get this reassurance. If my fears were properly allayed, there wouldn’t really be an issue would it?
  • So in the future, Boyfriend just has to listen to what point I am driving. Usually, I do have a point, and yes, there are some specific things I am asking for. 
  • I do have to be super clear though and try to explain. Which I did after some time.
  • And yes, that when you fight, you need to remember to resolve it and bring it back to love, which we did.

Wah, relationships can be tiring.

Yet it can be totally rewarding as well. 

Hope everyone’s having a great week ahead!

 

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ThaiPan: Elegant yet homey Thai dining in Tomas Morato

I’ve been wanting to visit Thaipan ever since I’ve seen the yummy-looking food pictures our Christian cellgroup leader posted when he celebrated his anniversary dinner there. Good thing, my post-birthday celebration provided an excuse!

The place was relatively easy to find. From E. Rodriguez Avenue, just turn right to Tomas Morato, and then right again on the corner of Starbucks and California Berry in front of BPI Bank. The restaurant is right beside Bagoong Club with parking just by the street side.

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WHAT DO WE THINK OF THE AMBIANCE?

We love the ambiance!

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The place looked a lot more spacious through the smart use of floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and the interior was clean, elegant and classy. It didn’t look very Thai, but it was still welcoming and is a great place to hold casual dinners, romantic dates, or corporate events. There are a few private rooms available for a small consumable fee, well worth the extra privacy.

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There are two floors available, and we ate at the second level. As you can see, the decor was light and breezy, and we felt at home immediately.

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WHAT DO WE THINK OF THE FOOD?

For appetizers, we ordered the Mieng Kham (Php 170.00 for 6 pcs.), a traditional Thai appetizer of fresh spices and roasted grated coconut served on betel leaves with palm sugar sauce. It was kinda cool.

The taste was refreshing as if the betel leaves were just plucked out before serving. The palm sugar sauce tasted more like sweet tamarind which was nice, and there was enough coarse textures thanks to the grated coconut and maybe even nuts to give it that special crunch. The leaves rolled up were perfect. They weren’t soggy, and they were more than enough for the two of us. It’s an appetizer that’s something different from the norm, and it’s a great way to start your meal.

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Meanwhile, for our mains, we ordered the Item Poo Nim Phad Prig Thai Dam (Php 395.00) or soft shell crab with black pepper sauce and the Phanaeng Neur Yang (Php 375.00), or U.S. Beef tenderloin in fragrant phanaeng curry.

Now, the soft shell crab entree was a WINNER. You should definitely order this if you’re in Thaipan! :)

The crab meat was both tender and tasty at the same time. There was a bit of chili (we asked for a mild spicy dish), but there was also an extra level of sweetness that gives you that extra kick. It’s not one of those blah black pepper sauces you’ll eat at most Asian restaurants. We especially loved it that they added in a bit of red pepper and onion (we love onion!) as a complement. It’s eaten best with fragrant white rice (Php 50.00/cup), and boyfriend and I had more than our usual share.

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Meanwhile, the beef curry dish was great, but not really that remarkable. After an amazing Mieng Kham and Soft Shell Crab servings, the beef curry was a bit of a letdown.

The meat was medium thick and a bit tough. US beef tenderloin is supposed to be a lot more tender. The eggplant was nice but a bit soggy. They were also sliced too thinly. And the curry sauce, it was of a nice consistency — definitely way better than Basil’s version, but it’s still nothing to crow loudly about.

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In the end, I wish the sauce was a little bit creamier and richer. It already was, but it’s still nothing compared to other good casual Thai restaurants out there.

TO SUMMARIZE…

Thaipan is a terrific venue for lunch/dinner, to meet up with friends or with colleagues and clients. The interior impresses, and the food is consistently delicious. I guess, given my more scathing review of the curry, it’s just that everything else works so my expectation for all dishes were higher too, and the beef curry just didn’t match up with the other dishes.

The only let down was perhaps the service.

IT SUCKS.

Though the waiters were nicely dressed in white shirts and black pants, most of them could not be seen. The restaurant doesn’t have a button to call on service, and we had to resort to constantly waving our hands to try to get our waiters’ attention when it was time to order, to refill our water glasses, and to ask for more rice. It was so unbecoming of us given the restaurant’s ambiance but that’s how bad the service was. It was either we wait to be served and go hungry, or be uncouth and be fed. We chose the latter.

Despite the service, we will definitely come back to Thai Pan over and over. It’s just that type of restaurant. Anyway, service can be improved, and the food’s yummy-ness outweighed all other negative impressions. We’d also love to try the other dishes. Overall, a great place for a great date.

Thaipan
120, Scout Dr. Lazcano Street, Laging Handa, Quezon City
Tel: (02) 352-4926

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Happy birthday to ME!

It’s that time of the year again where I celebrate yet another birthday. Honestly, I feel I’m growing old way too fast and find myself trying to hold on desperately to my youth. I mean, where the heck did my 20s gone? They seem to zip by so fast! :)

Regardless, it’s been a fruitful and interesting year for me, more so because there were so many changes that happened. For example, the biggest ones were:

  1. Getting a boyfriend in November 2012. 1 year and a month after Trader and I broke up (4 months of which I cried myself regularly), Boyfriend and I got together. It was November 21st when finally, I admitted I had feelings for him as well. So far, it’s been a wild adventure with many ups and few downs, but Boyfriend has become such a big part of my life that I start wondering how life would be quite empty without him. Our love story is best told by Boyfriend here. :)
  2. Dad passing away in February 2013. Dad was diagnosed with liver cancer in September, and passed away less than 6 months later. It was so very fast. Being in the hospital, sleeping beside him and holding his hand, and then him passing away! Though we all tried to be practical about it, I still very much miss him.
  3. Spending more time with mom on 2013. With my dad gone, we’ve been spending a lot of time with mommy. Back when dad was alive, mom was always with dad. Day in and day out, they built their lives and family together, only separating in death. Today, I spend lots of time with my mom, exercising and doing yoga 4x a week, watching movies and having dinner together. It’s been such a joy!

There were a few pains and disappointments that happened. For one, my brother disapproved of my choice of boyfriends and somehow made life and work more difficult for me as documented here.

There were also a few challenges that tested our relationship, but we’re still going strong and happy so guess God was looking out for us.

And lastly, I had a few successes at work. From a company nobody knew, at the very least, people are already seeking our company actively. It’s great. Unfortunately, given the difficulties with working with brother, am taking a step back and working with mom instead. Not a bad move indeed.

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 32 that you’ve never done before?

- Go to Zhangjiajie (March 2013) and saw the Avatar mountains come alive.

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- Went to Guangzhou in the hopes of finding a new business. Came back empty-handed but full of respect for the enterprising Mainland Chinese who come up with EVERYTHING.

- We also participated in two car shows, both of which I’ve actively organized. There was the Manila International Auto Show in World Trade Center last May, and the Transport Show at SMX last June. Both booths and events had proven to be quite popular, and our Baby Beetle was a head-turner, winning second place in its category.

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- Dated one guy and had a relatively smooth and enjoyable relationship. We spent everyday together, and even underwent pre-marital, pre-engagement counseling. Now, that was a first!

- Tried out yoga with my mom. Now we go twice a week!

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2) Did anyone close to you give birth?

- Hmmmm… not really, though a lot of my friends and classmates are already in their 2nd kid!

3) Did anyone close to you die?

- My dad. I still miss him.

4) What countries did you visit?

- Xiamen with my dad where we spent our last Christmas/New Year’s together. Boy I have so many regrets from that trip. I didn’t know that dad wouldn’t be with us by February. I miss him a lot.

- Zhangjiajie in March,Guangzhou a few months after.

- Singapore in August for a short trip to renew our relationship. It was a nice 5 days with just my mom and my brother.

5) What would you like to have when you’re 33 that you lacked when you were 32?

- A lot more luck I guess. I think that my year of 32, I lost a lot of people. My dad, who I still miss, and in a way, my brother, whom I didn’t really understand much of. I think my dad’s death really impacted us all, and we didn’t really know how to handle the hole my domineering and demanding dad left after he passed away. It changed the family dynamic losing someone with that big of a presence and personality in our lives.

I’d like to have the good relationship with my brother back.

6) What date this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

- November 21, 2012: when Boyfriend and I formally got together.

- February 2, 2013: when dad passed away. He was buried in February 9.

7) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

- Participating in two of the Philippine largest car shows, and coming up with booths that substantially increased our company profile, and customer awareness of our products! Our car even won second place in its category, and we organized our part of the show a mere 4 months prior. Haha, and I don’t even drive! :)

- Oh, and I finished my MBA degree. The graduation was last November 2012! I still miss HK and my friends there.

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8 ) What was your biggest failure?

- That I couldn’t retain a good relationship with my brother while working together with him. It pains me a lot to this day. We used to be super close. I hope we can solve this issue especially since I’ve already moved away from working very closely with him in his company, and is now helping my mom.

- That I didn’t know how short a time my dad had, and I could have savored my time together with him a little bit more.

9) Did you suffer illness or injury?

- Not really, maybe just a lot of back ache due to stress.

10) What was the best thing you bought?

- After months of deliberation, I finally bought myself a Black, Medium Chanel 2.55 in caviar and with gold hardware, justifying it was an MBA graduation gift (yeah right). Up till today, it’s still one of my prized possessions, and I’ve made good use of it during cocktail and evening parties.

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- Oh and a Nespresso machine. Got it cheaper from HK and I’ve never looked back. Nespresso offers consistent, flavorful coffee that does NOT disappoint. It’s definitely a lifesaver given the limited availability of good coffee that packs a punch.

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11) Whose behavior merited celebration?

- Boyfriend: for being able to spend time with me daily, and not getting sick of me yet.

- My mom: for staying strong despite the many ups and downs this year.

12) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

- My brother: there are still many things that he did that I don’t understand. I feel at times he is a bit torn, and he doesn’t really understand why he does what he did. I wish he can be a lot more open, a lot more forgiving, and a lot happier.

- His girlfriend: for still not getting to work on time. Oh well, but she is improving!

13) Where did most of your money go?

- Starbucks coffee: that’s my happy place. When I’m away from my Nespresso, Starbucks sufficed.

- Shopping: I still love to buy dresses, shoes and bags. Hey, I’m a girl!

14) What did you get really, really, really excited about?

- My boyfriend and the future! What sort of business can I come up with in the future?!

15) What song will always remind you of this year?

- Psy, “Gangnam Style” and “Gentleman”

- David Guetta, “Titanium”

- Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

16) Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier with my boyfriend and mom. Sadder everywhere else.

ii. thinner or fatter? Oh gosh, fatter.

iii. richer or poorer? A LOT poorer. The Philippines salary is a joke.

17) What do you wish you’d done more of?

- Spent more time with dad when he was alive.

- I wonder if there was anything I could do at work that would’ve made my relationship with my brother better.

18) What do you wish you’d done less of?

- Fought with my brother over useless things. In the end, I still value my relationship with my brother instead of anything else.

19) How will you be spending Christmas?

- Hopefully abroad. Haha!

20) Did you fall in love between October 2012 to October 2013?

- Yes! :D

21) How many one-night stands?

- Uhhh none, I was in a committed monogamous relationship.

22) What was your favorite TV program?

- I really liked Suits and The Bitch in Apartment 23. Didn’t really have that much time to watch TV although Boyfriend and I are currently watching American Horror Story: Asylum. Creepy max.

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?

- I liked Games of Thrones though haven’t finished all five. I also liked Tim Gunn’s book, ” Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work

25) What was your greatest musical discovery?

- Piano Guys, we watched them when they came to the Philippines. Here’s their take on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.

- Revisited Daft Punk. Their “Get Lucky” was amaze-balls.

- Pentatonix, they were discovered in a talent show. Here’s their take on “Radioactive.”

- KurtHugoSchneider, their take on Adele’s “Skyfall” tore into my heart.

26) What did you want and got?

- The Chanel 2.55 bag. Haha! Then again, that was my choice anyway.

- A loving relationship

27) What was your favorite film of this year?

- “Pacific Rim” I loved the imagination and effort that went into this film. Although it starred a bunch of nobodies, Pacific Rim broke movie making barriers in my own opinion.

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28) How did you celebrate your birthday?

- On the 15th, I went out with two of my best friends from high school. We had dinner at SM North EDSA, and then had coffee at Starbucks.

- On the 16th, my family took me to Sakura in Makati where we had the best beef teppanyaki!

- On the 17th, boyfriend took me to Enchanted Kingdom. The Lord was good as it didn’t rain! We afterwards spent the evening eating Subway, and watching American Horror Story.

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 pants and shorts. Because of my dad’s passing, I removed all bright colors and anything that was yellow, orange, red, or pink. Most of the stuff I wore were white, black or blue.

31) What kept you sane?

- My boyfriend and my mom.

35) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

- Miley Cyrus, it’s great how she’s managed to be the most talked about polarizing celebrity in just a few months. She did what most people only talked about but never dared doing.

36) What political issue stirred you the most?

- The gross stupidity of the US’ Tea Party. What the hell were they thinking putting the global financial markets on hostage by threatening NOT to raise the debt ceiling?!

37) Who did you miss?

- My dad, hands down.

38) Who was the best new person you met?

- My Auntie Baby, whom we rediscovered. She offered her place for us to do our gym and yoga.

39) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned between October 2012 to October 2013:

- That wealth is unimportant if it’s at the risk of losing your good relationship with loved ones.

- Don’t sweat the small stuff and be too greedy about money. Think big picture, please.

- That all problems can be handled calmly through a soft voice and lots of explanation. Sometimes, we have a tendency to balloon things up and not hearing the other side. We could basically solve a lot of problems by listening first and talking later.

- That you have to be detail-oriented. You can get away with carelessness at times, but not all the time.

- 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:

None really.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

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