Monday, January 09, 2017

Oh, Sherlock!


Pic grabbed from the BBC page

I'm a late fan of the series. I just started watching last year and binge-watched everything. I was surprised that it has been running since 2010 and that there are only 3 episodes per season. Nevertheless, watching it turned me into a raving Cumberbitch and a lifelong/obsessed fan of Benedict Cumberbatch.

Benedict plays such smart characters well and him playing Sherlock is no exception. Since he became famous, there was a long gap between Season 3 and 4. They actually had a special episode last year but it was enough to make me thirst for more.

This season is as superb as usual. I'm excited for next week but sad at the same time because it will be the last episode and reportedly, the last time that Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, playing Dr. John Watson, will be reprising their roles in the small screen. I will truly miss them.

Out of all the 12 episodes I've seen, probably my favorites are the one featuring "The Woman", John's wedding and the Episode one of Season 4 with the last one reducing me to tears.

Maybe someday, they can make a movie out of it. Though there have been movies already inspired by Sherlock (that of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law), I would love to see Cumberbatch and Freeman on the big screen. Granted that each episode is 1 1/2 hour long, it's still different watching them in a movie.

In today's episode (S4E2), there were two lines that stuck to me and I'd like to share them here:

"By saving my life, she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend." - Sherlock Holmes

"It is what it is." - mentioned by almost every character in the show and it different contexts which made it more poignant.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

I Recommend...

DISCLAIMER: I was not paid whatsoever for this post. These are based on my own experiences and have not contacted the vendor to ask for remuneration.

ZALORA

I love this shopping site. All of the stuff that I bought from them fit me perfectly. Whenever something arrives that does not fit, I can easily return them through LBC. And if they cannot find a replacement, they just credit my e-wallet. I really do not mind as I find their inventory really extensive. Maybe the only drawback is that they only sell clothes and accessories. But their customer service is quite excellent.

ALEX FRANCO

It's been almost 10 years since I got married and that was the last time I dealt with Alex Franco. But his cakes continue to haunt me as they are absolutely delicious! I again tasted his cake during our NewlywedsAtWork Christmas party last December and it's as wonderful as I remember them to be.

I called him last week as we wanted to order a cake for Alden. But he's fully booked. However, what amazed me was that he still remembers me after almost 10 years! I'll definitely buy another cake from him in the soon--for personal consumption!

TCAT

For a shopping site that's not well know, all my ordered items were delivered promptly and with no delay. Don't expect high-end products though as you get what you paid for. I'm just impressed with their delivery turn around time and I never had to email them to follow-up my orders.



I Do Not Recommend...

I do not hesitate to recommend stuff or places whenever I have good experiences with them. But at the same time, I will not hesitate to share not so good experiences.

As I have not updated for a long time, here's my new list:

PHILIPPINE AIRLINES

This may not be a surprise for some as there have been a lot of horror stories about this airline. Though how tear jerking their viral video in FB, it will not diminish my hesitancy in flying or dealing with them ever again. Odd though that whenever I fly using PAL for work-related instances (or at least for local or Asian destinations), I never had any problems. But this incident really takes the cake.

For my 40th birthday last 2015, my mom booked me a flight to LA to celebrate with my twin sister at Las Vegas. On my second day in LA, we learned that my uncle in NY passed away. There were plans of moving my flight from LA to JFK and postpone the LV trip. But we decided to push through with the LV celebration.

On the night before my departure back to Manila, I tried checking in but could not. We found out that I was supposed to fly from NY instead of LA! Apparently, my mother's secretary rebooked my flight, but since we decided to push through with LV, we did not pay the rebooking fee. However, PAL still rebooked the flight without the payment!

But it did not stop there. When we asked them to return the booking back to LA, they wanted me to pay $495 for the rebooking. Though how much we argued, they would not budge and since I wanted to fly out so badly (and I was by myself!), I paid for it. When I got home, I filed a complaint and fortunately got a voucher for the same amount, 11 months after. I asked it to be transferred to my mother which they readily did.

This morning, I called their hotline so my mother can use the voucher and the person who managed to assist me had to consult with different people before my query could be accommodated. Moreover, she gave me incorrect information wherein she said that the voucher can only be used upon booking of the flight at the airport. I argued with her that how can we do that when the security won't let her in without the flight booking? Adding fuel to the fire, they wanted to know how I came about with the voucher--and I had to rehash everything all over again.

Ending, we still cannot use the voucher as only my mother can use it. Even if she will be booking with a companion, the voucher can only be credited to her airline ticket. I can understand this but getting to this answer really taxed my patience.

I do give credit to the customer service person who assisted me earlier because she was friendly and called me back immediately to give the correct information but it resurrected the negative feelings I had with them before.

Lesson learned. Try to avoid PAL at all costs unless left with no other choice.

LAZADA

Lazada's inventory can be quite impressive. However, you really have to read the fine print when you buy from them.

I recently bought a maternity top from them last October. However, it turns out that it's not available locally and it was shipped from abroad. When it arrived, I tried it on but though the size is right, the sleeves were too tight.

I tried returning it but they called me back to say that they cannot accept the return as it's from an international merchant. I guess I got used to ZALORA that accepted my multiple returns that Lazada's reason really disappointed me.

Lesson learned. Read the fine print before buying an item and check if it will come from abroad or sourced locally.

GOODS.PH

Their site was included in a list of top 5 shopping sites in the Philippines. I purchased three items from them on the last week of October as I wanted to give them as gifts for Christmas. After a month, I still did not receive the items so I filed a complaint. Though they were prompt in answering emails and giving me feedback, I cannot figure out why my items were so delayed.

They were kind enough to give me a refund although I can't understand why the bank teller is saying that my account number could not be found. I sent proof of the existence of my account number to belie their claim.

Lesson learned. Go to other shopping sites instead.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Pregnancy Announcement

My pregnancy announcement posted in my IG and FB accounts

I just realized that I did not post this in my blog when I announced my pregnancy last July 23, 2016.

It's really amazing as I didn't know nor did we plan this pregnancy. We've always wanted another baby but I accepted that we will only have one child when I celebrated my 40th birthday on December 2015. 

But God had other plans.

I went to Japan last June for a work-related trip and all the walking restarted my reproductive system. There were no obvious symptoms of my pregnancy and I was not really expecting it. I did notice that I would get frequent flare-ups of my allergies (hives and asthma attacks) and I would be so tired at the end of the day. One morning, I almost fell asleep on the wheel of my car driving to work--to think I did not drink any medicine and slept within the proper hours the night before. I shared this with my colleague and she was the one that prompted me to take a pregnancy test.

Still disbelieving, I went home that night and took one. I shouted in the bathroom when I saw the two lines. After all those years of testing, there are two lines. I called out to my husband and he was also surprised (although I did give him a smack when he asked how it happened. Duh! He was there and participated during the whole thing!).

When it did sink in though, I started crying. For one, I was not prepared for it. I've already conditioned myself that I will no longer be caring for an infant and my husband and I are already 40 years old! How old will we be when our youngest reaches college? But what really contributed to the tears was that I was not taking care of myself the past few weeks. I was drinking antihistamines to address my allergies and I couldn't remember if I drank any alcohol the previous weeks.

I immediately had an ultrasound which confirmed the pregnancy and the presence of a heartbeat which also made me cry. Regardless of my lack of knowledge, my baby was ok.

However, I got sick the week after with the flu. I had to drink antibiotics which made me worry more. I was on leave for a week as the fever wouldn't abate. I was so worried about my baby but it turned out ok. And then my allergies also got worse wherein I would cough badly at work. Turns out, I was having full blown asthma attacks. I was made to rest again and was pumped with 3 different kinds of inhalers.

Here I am on my 29th week, almost at the finish line. We're having another baby boy, much to my consternation, but my husband's contentment. I really wanted a girl but as long as this one is healthy, I'm ok.

Prayers are very much requested as I'll be having another caesarean operation and I'm fearful that recovery won't be the same as my first considering my age. This pregnancy is so much different compared to the first that it's more difficult.




Anemia Problems

My Red Blood Count and other related items during my CBC are always low. However, in my recent blood test, I saw my hemoglobin count at its lowest. I was really alarmed. It was normal considering that I'm pregnant but it seems I really do have thalassemia, contrary to the test conducted 9 years ago.

Nevertheless, I'm striving to pull that up lest I would need a blood transfusion during my caesarean operation this coming March. I had to take a leave today as I woke up feeling dizzy--an effect from my anemia. I thought I can sleep it off but I felt really awful the whole day making me miss the birthday dinner of my husband's nephew.

I'm already taking iron in my supplements (Sangobian Pre-Natal) and Folic Acid with iron. But it feels like it's not enough so I need to eat more green leafy vegetables to bring my iron up. Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow. I need to hit the ground running this January considering I'll be going on maternity leave by March.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2016 Recap

I usually make year-end recaps but I’ve stopped for the past few years. Considering how eventful my 2016 was, it deserves to be noted down so I will not forget.

HONGKONG TRIP / BASTI’S 7TH

As our 7th birthday gift for Basti, we celebrated it in Hongkong. Unfortunately, he did not love Disneyland but enjoyed the trains and the hotel more—so that was what we did.

ALDUB FANGIRLING / ADNFEST 2016

On January, Vic Sotto married his fiancée, Pauleen Luna at St. James. And for the first time in my life, I gatecrashed a wedding so that I can see my favorite LT, Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards. I had the opportunity to be near them and I was just stunned.

On February, I again had the chance to see them when I was invited, for the first time, to go to Broadway to watch Eat Bulaga! live. It was such an experience that I will always treasure as it was during their 7th monthsary and it was one of the rare times that they’re both in the studio.

On June, my friends and I managed to raise funds for the Isang Lapis, Isang Papel project of Eat Bulaga! and we again when to Broadway to deliver the supplies that we raised—worth P200,000! Too bad Maine and Alden were not there.

 October 16, 2016 was the 15th monthsary of ALDUB. A group of friends and I put together AldubNation Fest which gathered fans from all over the Philippines and the world. We did not announce that Alden and Maine will be coming so imagine the chaos it brought when they arrived. It was the pinnacle of my fangirling and I had the opportunity to sit and chat with my two favorite celebrities ever. What made it more notable was that the fans also appreciated the effort and it was also the highlight of their year. 

A week after that, on October 22, we had the privilege of attending the Kalyeserye wedding of Alden and Maine held at Christ the King at E. Rodriguez (near Broadway). I was so emotional that time as it felt so real when we knew it was just meant for the show. I guess what made us feel that was that the vows that were said by both transcended the show and meant for their non-showbiz selves. Nevertheless, it was an event that I will forever treasure.

LES MISERABLES

I’ve always wanted to see Les Miserables ever since I heard the soundtrack 25 years ago. Whenever I’m in the US, I never can seem catch it in Broadway. That’s why when they had a show here, I grabbed the chance and booked front row tickets. I was ecstatic and cried when I heard the opening strains as well as “One More Day”.

JAPAN TRIP

For the first time, I visited Japan for a work-related trip. Good thing I had a day and half to go around and was able to see a bit of Tokyo. What made it exciting was that I went around by myself. I was able to navigate the complicated train system but I got lost finding the right exit. I also did 30,000 steps which is equivalent to 22Km in a day!

MIGRATION OF MY FAMILY 

2016 was also a year wherein the rest of my family decided to settle elsewhere. Ten years ago, it was my mom and twin sister who settled in the US. This time around, it’s my dad and brother. My father purchased land in Cagayan de Oro where he built a house near the beach—his retirement home. My brother’s Canada immigrant application was approved and he left last November. For the first time in my life, I spent Christmas Eve without my family. Technically, I still have a sister here but she had plans during Christmas Eve. It felt different and I can’t wait for the time that I can spend Christmas with them once again.

PREGNANCY

My husband and I have been trying for another baby since 2011. In our family plan, we wanted to have a second baby by year 2012, wherein Basti would be three by then. But it was futile so when I reached 40 last December 2015, we just accepted that Basti will be an only child. But lo and behold, my Japan trip (and the 30,000 steps) managed to reset my reproductive cycle. Probably the wondrous thing there was that I had no idea that I was pregnant. I felt nauseous but only during in the car which I attributed to me using my mobile phone. My allergies resurfaced but I just ignored them. It was my officemate that suggested I take a pregnancy test when I shared with her that I felt really sleep when going to the office one day. So I did. When I went home that night, I took a test and shouted in the bathroom for my husband. Both of us were surprised but my husband was quite happy about it. He couldn’t let go of my hand the whole night and kept on hugging me.

I don't know how to top this year or if it could get any better. That's why my wish for this year is to make it if not equally stellar, but at least kind.

Happy New Year everyone! May the odds be ever in your favor and may the force be always with you!

Joyfully Japan

In June 2016, was in Japan for four days for business. I was initially not excited to go as it would entail me traveling almost by my lonesome and my family is not with me. After my very traumatic experience last December, traveling by myself is the last thing I want to do. Although I'm with a group, most of them have their own agenda so I basically had a day to myself.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and the weather was not cooperating. A small group wanted to go to Shibuya to see the crossing but it started raining. We initially did not want to buy any umbrellas but when the drizzle became a downpour, we had no choice but to buy some.



It's supposed to show where the vacant seats are available. Took us time to decipher this.

My little cubicle.

My first ramen in Japan

Posting with my cute umbrella (which I could not bring home because of the size)

Behind the bright lights of Shibuya

The neon signs are absolutely breathtaking


After walking around, we were pretty hungry already as some of us haven't had lunch yet and it was past 6 in the evening. We ended up in Ichiran where we basically figured out their ordering and seating system. We each had a cubicle where we ordered our personalized ramen and ate in silence (and hunger).

We then explored Shibuya afterwards where I ended up in a store to buy the pens of my friend.

The next day was our planning session so we were stuck in the conference room for half of the day. Afterwhich, we had lunch at the hotel restaurant where I saw how beautiful a prepared Japanese plate could be. Then, we attended another session with our host, JCB where they treated us to dinner afterwards.

The fun part happened on Saturday.

We woke up early where a couple of colleagues and I went to Tsukiji market to taste some of the freshest sushi that I've ever tasted. We took the train and we ended up here where the lines of people greeted us outside the restaurants.

People lining up for their taste of sushi

After patiently waiting for half an hour, we were seated where we ordered our own sushi bowls. The colors were so beautiful and it did not disappoint. I completely demolished this bowl including every grain of rice. Everything was just so fresh!

my sushi bowl over rice
After breakfast, we ventured back to our hotel where I planned my route for the day. We went our separate ways and my first stop was Akihibara where I checked out toys and video games for my friends. Finding that everything was as expensive, I went to another mall where I bought a pair of sneakers for hubby from Onitsuka Tiger. I then went to Ginza where the Pandora shop was located so I can get my mandatory charm (I buy a charm from every country that I visit).

I managed to successfully navigate their complicated rail system but managed to get lost in the exits

I was pretty beat when I returned to the hotel as I have already walked more than 25,000 steps (I got lost while looking for the exits at the station). We visited a nearby shrine/temple and had merienda at the local Shooters. Afterwhich, we had dinner at a nearby ramen place.

I really fell in love with Japan. Other than the US, I found a place where I would want to settle down and live. People are SO polite and the city, considering its population, is so peaceful. We were supposed to return this year for our 10th year wedding anniversary but I got pregnant so so much for that plan. Hopefully, we can make the trip soon.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Les Miserables - Manila

I was supposed to post this last April but I've forgotten all about it.  Since I'm stuck at home for the week recuperating from a bad bout of asthma, I'm continuing this post.

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When I was in high school, it was the time that Miss Saigon was launched. We would sing the whole album and memorized every line, especially the duets. Since we were into musicals, we also discovered Les Miserables. I can't recall who lent me the cassette tape but I think it was my dad who bought the album and we listened to it over and over again.

The songs were just enchanting and haunting. When they had the 25th Anniversary last October 2010 at the O2 at London, I remember scouring YouTube looking for videos of the event. One Day More will always be my favorite song from the musical and the cast then was just perfect (well, except for the Jonas brother. Yes, he can sing but I had different expectations for Marius).

I loved the musical so much that the last three times I was in the US the past 5 years, I tried my damned best to catch it in Broadway or wherever it was playing but the schedule does not seem to mesh with my itinerary. So when I heard the announcement that they will be coming here in Manila this year, I did not hesitate to buy tickets. And I certainly did not scrimp. Front row seats (well, 7th row that is) FTW!

I managed to persuade my husband to join me as he has seen it before in the US. We were at Solaire Hotel early on the showing date  as we haven't been there before. I couldn't help but have my picture taken of the big wall poster of the musical. I was so excited to be there and to finally see my dream realized.




We were so close to the stage and I didn't mind. I relished everything and tried very hard not to sing along.


I'm thankful to have finally seen the musical that I waited 25 years for. Next goal is to see Wicked and Book of Mormon.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Yes, Digong, I Voted For You

For the first time in voting history, I went to an election without a clear president in mind. I am usually not ashamed to reveal who I will be voting for but this time around, I could not pick anyone.

During election, especially a national one at that, we usually choose the best leader for our country. But this time around, I had to choose the lesser evil. It's saddening because I felt that nobody was fit enough to be what this country need AND deserves.

There were so many arguments floating around like we NEED this leader but we DESERVE this leader. What is the difference between the two anyway?

The Philippines has sadly devolved through the years--from the traffic, to inefficiency to several unfortunate national and international issues. We are a country that has lagged behind our Asian neighbors as we continue to be bogged down by graft and corruption.

I honestly had high hopes when PNoy got elected to office. I really did. To be fair to him, we made headway in our economy but there were too many glaring instances that I felt, would've been handled in a better way (e.g. Hongkong tourists held hostage; Mamasapano; Yolanda; decline of the MRT; traffic; among others).

I am 40 years old and among my siblings, I am the only one who has chosen to stay in this country. Like some of our countrymen, they chose to live their life abroad because they believe that they have a better future there. I chose to stay here as I still believe in this country (in reality, my husband does not want to live anywhere else so I had to make it my reality as well). But seriously, I still have hope for my homeland regardless of all the issues that we're facing. This is my home and being Pinoy (even if I use a foreign language to write this post) will always run through my veins.

While casting my vote at the precinct last Monday, I still had doubts on who I was voting for. I shaded his name with an accompanying prayer that I hope I will not be sorry that I chose him. I wanted to cry afterwards because my heart was not fully in that vote, but I had to make a choice. I knew I could always abstain, but for my country, I had to decide.

Though he has yet to be proclaimed, the clear winner and our soon-to-be 16th president is the former mayor of Davao City, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. As a reluctant candidate, he won the hearts of more than 38% of the voting population translating to an absolute value of more than 15M.

When I was at the voting precinct, I was still deciding between him and Mar Roxas as both had pros and cons. Now this is where the "DESERVES" and "NEEDS" statement come in.

We are sadly, a nation who lacks discipline. One of the reasons why traffic is horrible in Manila is that most of the drivers disregard traffic rules and make their own rules instead. Being a driver for more than 7 years, I can relate to the frustration when somebody cuts me because he/she refuses to line up; or when I'm driving at the maximum speed limit but the person behinds me flashes his/her lights because they want me to speed up; or when someone counter flows because they want to be first in line.

Discipline is basically doing something right even when somebody is not looking. I am reminded of this group from the Bureau of Customs who refuses to have CCTVs installed because they say, it violates their human rights. They even said that their salaries should be increased so they would not be forced to resort to graft. It was a facepalm moment right there and made me more ashamed of my poeple.

A lot has been said how Duterte imposed his own form of discipline in Davao and made the city progressive and one of the safest places to live in in this country. Imposing your will in a city that is only 2,400 square kilometers and with a population of 1.4M is different from a 300,000 square kilometer country and a population of almost 100M. The difference is actually daunting so I do not blame Digong for crying over his parents' tombs to ask for guidance. The challenge is quite intimidating indeed.

Perhaps Duterte is the leader that we need right now, and probably, deserve as well. Filipinos are known to be a happy lot and are known for our positive traits around the world. But our negative traits are the ones that bring us down and prevents us from moving forward.

We need a leader with strong political will and somebody who can instill the change from the usual traditional politics. We need a leader who can makes things happen and not let himself be bogged down by red tape. We need a leader who can show results and compassion for his people.

We also deserve a leader who will punish us whenever we cross the line. We deserve a leader who will treat us like children whenever we act like children. And most of all, we deserve a leader who will tell us if we are wrong and show us how we can be better.

Duterte trumpeted the word "Change" in his platform. But we should remember that change should come from us. We want change? Then start following the goddamn traffic rules! Start lining up! Start paying your taxes! Start throwing your trash in the right places!

Yes, Digong, I voted for you. Please prove to me that my precious vote did not go to waste. Please prove to me that you are the leader that we need and deserve. Please prove to me, and to the other 90+ million of my fellow citizens, that we are still a country worth living and dying for.



Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Sa Tamang Panahon

Eat Bulaga came up with an ALDUB song writing contest last February. If I'm not mistaken, it went on for several months and it was only on February that they announced the winner.

The song below was my favorite but it did not unfortunately get the top prize (the winner was another catchy tune and is being played during the Sugod Bahay segment).



I Write, Therefore, I Am

When I was in high school, I wrote a lot as I expressed myself better in writing rather than verbally. I dabbled mostly in poetry but not much in fiction. I was ecstatic when in my senior year, one of my poems was published in our school organ. Unfortunately, I didn't get a copy of the paper for posterity's sake but knowing that my editor told me that it's included is enough. I even kept numerous journals which were unfortunately lost during our countless residential moves. My memory is so bad lately that it was the only way for me to prove that whenever somebody tells me a story about what I did in the past.

When I joined our university's literary organ in college, I was encouraged to write more. I was exposed to better and prolific writers. We also had a theme for the paper per trimester and it was (un)fortunate that the theme for my first year with the publication was Erotica.

So, what does a 17 year old girl, fresh out of high school write about erotica? Lest to say, my short story that was submitted for the workshop was sliced and diced to pieces. I don't know if the panelists knew that that story was written by a naive, innocent girl who knew nothing about diving, sucking or licking. Whatever the case, it was enough to strip my confidence in my writing capabilities that I stopped writing fiction and focused my efforts on creating poetry instead. I found my niche in Filipino poetry that I even won two awards because of it. It was quite ironic when my thought language is English.

When I graduated from college, I stopped writing altogether and immersed myself in the banal life of corporate world.

Fast forward 23 years later.

I got into this ALDUB craze and am still an avid fan. My ALDUB friends introduced me to Wattpad and the wonders of fanfiction. I got so engrossed into reading made-up stories of our favorite celebrities and even read the not-so-good ones (read: grammatical and typographical errors). I was an interactive reader in a sense that I would let an author know if I liked her work and kept quiet if I didn't (I don't know if people are open to constructive criticism here. And it's hard to give not good feedback when you don't see the person face-to-face).

Anyway, I sent this author a tweet telling her how much I enjoyed her story. She tweeted me back and invited me to collaborate with her. The rest, is history.

I never thought I had it in me to write fiction again. Yes, I can edit but writing is another matter. There's a saying that goes "Write in white heat. Edit in cold blood." I sometimes write something but after a few days when I read it again, I mostly end up deleting it. Due to my training and the level of literature that I was exposed to way back in college, I always felt that my works were not good enough. I still feel like that up to now. That's why to see my collab with this other writer to be well received by our readers somehow revived my interest in fiction and made me believe that I am capable of coming up with well-written stories. Granted that they are not thought-provoking and mostly fluff, but at least, our readers like them.

Due to a writer's block the past few weeks, I had to take down a couple of my stories that are pending, I really liked the concept and I just hope I have the strength and will to see them through.

The past couple of months that I've been writing made me realize how much I enjoyed the process. There were times that my fingers were just flying on the keyboard trying to get down as much thoughts as I can on the word application. There are days wherein I would just stare at the screen and try to pick out something from my brain.

One thing I always keep in mind though is that, I write for myself. It'd be nice if I would attract readers but I'm not getting paid anyway. Being recognized and finding my niche is enough for me.