#wanderlust #reviews Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel, La Union

I know summer vacation is over for most students…but for me who’s in an air-conditioned building in a cubicle, summer ain’t over…I’m still not feeling the cool days…

How is your dry season so far? Seriously, it’s been burning and sweating for me here in the city. No wonder majority make the most out of their weekends for a quick getaway where it’s cooler and there’s water. Speaking of water, that’s where me and a friend headed to last summer — to have the feels of the breeze and the waves, away from our cubicles and laptops.

From a 6-hour road trip via bus, we were lead to one of our usual getaways — San Juan, La Union. This time around we tried settling in a place that has been currently receiving raves in some travel review sites. We got curious and we wanted to see it for reals, so that’s where our feet lead us — Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel.

Since we just commuted via bus, admittedly, we slightly got lost in the process. We were already in another town and just rode a jeep getting back to San Juan…Going back, so what does this hostel offer to travelers?  Let me just run it down in numbers:

1. Accessibility

Ok, fine we slightly got lost…but really, their place is along the road and accessible to public transport. Buses to and from Manila pass by in front of their vicinity, making it easy for travelers. In fact, when we were about to go home, we just waited outside the hostel’s area and got a bus already going back to Manila. I cannot guarantee though that it will only take you a minute to wait…There are some instances it might take you around 30 minutes or so, depending on the time and days you’ll be heading back.

If you also would want to visit San Fernando area (the city proper in La Union), jeeps and tricycles pass by the same road for them to take you there.

2. Rooms

Instead of availing a private room, my friend and I just got the dorm type room. Ok, of course, no big expectations cause it’s a hostel, ayt?! No offense to the places I’ve stayed in, but their rooms are good enough to keep their guests cuddled up. Each bunk bed has curtains and lamp shades for privacy during night time. No need for a locker room or area cause each bunk bed has an adjacent box-type of locker, that can fit backpacks, where you can keep your belongings. It’s also well ventilated and there are even mini-stand fans provided, especially during the hotter hours of the day. This also means each bunk bed has a socket where you can…(YES, I CAN READ YOUR MINDS! haha) charge your much needed gadgets (save those power banks for your road trip instead).

our mixed dorm

our mixed dorm

3. Facilities

They got the common area with pillows and stuff where you can commune with everyone (your friends and random travelers). Their restrooms and shower rooms with heaters (though unfortunately didn’t work when we were there) are common too, not sure with guests who stay in private rooms.

their common area (minus the commons...lol)

their common area (minus the commons…lol)

There’s a resto/bar within the hostel. If you feel like just chilling or winding down, whether it’s doing a foodporn moment or clinging of glasses, there’s something for you.

And yesssss…wake up with free breakfast (8 – 11AM) — bread, cereals, oats or fruits to munch, juice, milk or coffee to sip, take your pick. If you prefer heavy brekky though, the resto / bar is open (PS: It’s not for free ah…hehe…).

breakfast

breakfast

 4. and speaking of Food…

Obviously, their food isn’t the fine dining of sorts cause of the setup they have, but they got good comfort food in store. Honestly, it didn’t made me imagine that I’m steps away from the beach front. Though I’d be upfront, if you’re looking more of the thrifty but good tasting food / meals, there are more eating places near Flotsam. Let’s just say, their menu is like you will get what you paid for. They taste good but not for those in a tight budget. And if you are, better to just eat one of your meals there (lunch or dinner, breakfast is free anyway) and then the next set outside the hostel. Well, that’s what my friend and I did.

Reality bites, hostels shouldn’t be expected to give you 101% satisfaction or convenience you can get from hotels. But, there are some hostels that would make you feel you don’t need to pay the hotel rates to get what you deserve, one of them is this hostel. I’ve always been seeing raves about this place, no offense to the other hostels in LU, Flotsam and Jetsam is one of those that I wouldn’t give a gazillion thoughts to come back. It’s a mini-haven on its own.

Since PAGASA (Phil Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) mentioned that it’s El Nino (unfortunately) season with lesser rains throughout the year, make the most out of it — chillax during weekends and holidays, relax or go for a dip in the waters surrounding our islands.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Beating the heat,

Calai

#insights When worship is the one and only way…

I’ve been vocal about this for quite a while – that I served in our local parish ever since I was 9 years old – but there’s one thing that I rarely shared. That one thing is about the acts of worship and praises during church activities. I cringe when asked to sing while raising those arms and closing those eyes. For the longest time, I felt the awkwardness of doing that. There’s this cringe and thoughts like “it wouldn’t make me a lesser person if I don’t do that, right?”. The irony of it all is that back then, I was part of a choral group in church. Hmm…I guess that was one of the reasons I rarely attend Catholic charismatic activities or formation seminars. For 18 years, I preferred praying in silence. I opted to be in a corner of a room filled with people. I felt that praying and worshiping God should be something that’s private, simple and quiet. I even got to a point when I thought I might be in the wrong religion or wrong group of believers cause I can’t be like them.

But proven in ages, the rock bottom moments in our lives are the ones that will make you learn the hard-knocked way. It’s these moments that lead us to doing things we would never expect doing in a normal situation or day-to-day basis. Recently, two family life-changing situations made me do the one thing that I would rarely get myself into. When my mom went thru a different kind of illness back in 2013 and my dad got hospitalized (that made us close to losing him) just last year — both of them lead me to doing that one thing, which I now thank myself and the Lord, especially, for doing so.

Just last month, the 3-part series of talks at the Feast PICC (now Feast Bay Area) was about the value of worship. The theme was entitled “Advancers: Age of Worship”. The cringing and the awkwardness resurfaced in me as I started asking myself how would this series go and where would this lead me. Surprisingly, the series lead me to a stronger and a straighter mindset. I guess, it was because of attending here for more than a year that the cringe and awkward feelings were overshadowed with openness and sincere appreciation of worshiping.

Worshiping now made me less judgmental towards other people. It made me see that whatever or however they are worshiping, it’s their way of expressing their love for God. We may lose some things in life, in this journey, but the Lord deserves our love and worship is the only way. During our trials, just like what I’ve gone thru, it may be difficult to be worshiping joyfully. What’s important is that we honor the Lord that amidst our trials, we believe He is always with us and He will make sure we get thru those.

Hope you have a blessed weekend…

Less of the cringing now…Living to worship,

Calai

#themusicinme Backstreet Boys – 22 Years Later and Still Relevant (In A World Like This Manila Tour)

Last May 5 2015, the kids from the 90’s and early 2000’s were treated to an ultimate throwback — the concert of the Backstreet Boys…The group of 5 guys from Orlando, Florida, USA started hitting the airwaves during the 90’s and up to this day, which is on their 22nd year, they still are sharing their gifts thru music.

When this was announced months ago, I only had one thing in mind — I have to get the freaking ticket, no matter the cost and the date…Years back, they already had a concert here in Manila and unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch it. Surely, some would wonder why am I that persistent to see them in the flesh. Well, I have a confession to make…They were the first singers I admired and expressed my liking as a fan. Sorry, David Archuleta and Jason Mraz and the rest of I recently like, but these guys were the reason of my fangirl self to surface. A few of my high school classmates-friends and I are fans of these guys. In fact, each of us has his own personal fave from the group. Fast forward to that day, I was actually thinking if the concert last Tuesday would even fill the Mall of Asia Arena with folks considering it was a workday-weekday.

My thoughts were washed away, when my friend and I came to the venue. Not only were the seats were filled, there were even standing folks on the aisles (However, this made me and some fans slightly pissed thinking that SM and the concert organizers oversold the tickets…NOT A GOOD IDEA BTW *tsk*). And when the lights turned off, the screams got louder by the second as they came out of that stage. From start till their very last song, the audience kept screaming and singing along with their songs — IT WAS NON STOP VIDEOKE PLAYING WITH A SEA OF PEOPLE.

And now the concert is already over and I still have what is now recently called as Post-Concert-Dilemma (I don’t want to call it depression…I’m not depressed naman for them leaving…), allow me to run down the highlights of that concert in relation to why are the BSB still relevant after 22 years:

 1. They evolved.

It is really obvious from where and how they started in the 90’s till the men I saw days ago. They evolved as artists from just singing and making records to now composing their songs, singing and performing. They didn’t allow themselves to be stuck in a box that majority of boybands go thru. From just singing songs with catchy tunes, they leveled up to delivering songs away from the ‘basic love-hate’ kind of themes. Well, in reality, they’ve always proven to us they are a vocal group, not just a boy band.

From simple swaying of hands and hips or the basic dance steps you would see from singers, their dance moves and choreography evolved too.

Backstreet Boys --- the 90's and at present

Backstreet Boys — the 90’s and at present (credits to the owner — via Pinterest)

2. They kept going.

The one thing that makes boybands end up earlier than expected sometimes is that when one leaves the group or when everyone feels going solo is their way to stardom. For whatever reasons they have, still the one thing remains with BSB, one leaves but comes back while the group keeps going. Well, they went on hiatus for two years, but it wasn’t actually something the fans felt of a major heartbreak. Each had their solo endeavors too. Also, Kevin left the group but they have managed to make use of what is just left and kept going. In fact, the remaining four that time (Nick, Brian, Aj and Howie) were able to pull off a few albums and singles that became hits in the airwaves. Those hits and albums may not have been their bests that time, but definitely, made their fans still see and feel their existence.

Let me give you a sample, this is from their “This Is Us” album entitled “Straight Through My Heart”. The song isn’t just a catchy tune but the way they delivered the song doesn’t sound too pop to me. Adding to the coolness is the concept of the vid.

3. They weren’t engulfed in whole by the fame and the fortune.

Since their fanbase grew worldwide, I haven’t heard so much news from these guys being linked to lavish, overspending lifestyles or attitude problems due to fame.

Unfortunately, majority of those who manage to stay long enough in the business, end up in controversies due to mishandling of the fame and fortune they get. At the end of their tours and media exposures, it’s nice to see that they come back to their hometowns with their families now and spend all the time they can have with them. It only goes to show that it’s the intangible stuff are what they value in life overall, which leads me to the next number…

4. They are relationship-oriented.

This was something time and time again I have learned thru time and have established to keep (thanks to attending the Feast!). Surely, the guys aren’t perfect individuals and may have had their share of mishaps or rock bottoms in life. The best part is that amidst the fame they have been getting since the 90’s, they remained to be loving kids and siblings; now, husbands and fathers. None of them actually married very prominent personalities in their industry — either somebody connected to them pre-BSB days or somebody who they bumped into their journey. Not only were their personal lives kept semi-private, but at least, they get to have a life behind the cameras.

Because of how they developed to become matured adults and family-friend-oriented folks, they were able to establish a good rapport with their fans. They treat their fans their second family, which again will link to the next in my list.

5. They got the humility and the gratitude.

These two qualities are what really sets apart those who stay in the industry and are being noticed still in a good way. Backstreet Boys have set records in music history just like any artist who have reached worldwide fame, but…instead of letting that stature get into their heads, they remained to be the crazy, cool boys 20 years ago — from the way they dress up to how they spend time with their families and friends to how they still goof and joke on each other (and even with their fans).

A very recent example of this is when they took a time off (away from their families and the limelight) to London to stay in one house and go back to the drawing board; thus having an album we now know as “In A World Like This”. I maybe bit of a lame fan recently, but when I listened to the entire album, I was overwhelmed with joy knowing that after 20+ years, they still make beautiful music together…and they even got way better…

Just like any other being and artist in the music industry, the group had their share of mishaps — management dilemmas, illnesses, dependencies on vices (alcohol and drugs to be exact). Amidst these, they accepted and learned from these mishaps and bounced back to where they are now. Instead of allowing the group to go down the drain, they drew strength from each other, from their families and even from the fans. They’ve always been vocal in being grateful to their fans, that they wouldn’t be “THE BACKSTREET BOYS” if it wasn’t for the fans. No wonder the fans in return have been understanding and supportive to them, whatever endeavors they took.

Lastly, I believe this item I would share is what really kept them all together and relevant for quite a while already…

6. They keep their faith…

In two avenues —- faith in the Supreme Being and faith towards each other…

They may come from different religious groups, but it doesn’t matter. They very obvious thing in them is the belief that their success and their gifts in the field of music comes from God.

They may have experienced hardships just like any other person, but it’s their belief that things will get better thru time that makes them the vocal group that’s still standing.

One thing that would also set them apart is their relationship towards each other. Two of them are cousins, while the rest were friends. They met at a common point — the passion for music and the gift of singing. As they got older, the friendship grew stronger. In fact, they treat each other as brothers. I remember seeing a post when Brian mentioned on how he sees Nick to be a younger brother he never had, which lead Nick into tears on his wedding. I’m sure there were more than that off cam…

Fellow fans, especially those who get to follow them more in their timelines, can give more than I listed.

Time to break the truth (well, I might have shared this much na…haha) — Howie Dorough is my most loved from their group. He was (and I think I still have a bit…haha) my high school – college celeb crush. Of course, I respect their own personal lives now and I’m happy he has found his match and soulmate with their kiddos. But, I love them all, cause they wouldn’t be the Backstreet Boys, if it was just Howie in it, obviously?!

Overall, I am just grateful to have seen them altogether, along with the fans of my generation in that concert. It really gave me goosies most of the time hearing the fans sing along with them — in every song, pramisssss!!! I know time is short and nobody knows until when they can still keep up with the dance moves of ‘Everybody’ or ‘As Long As You Love Me’. One thing certain, while they are still able and here, gotta make the most out of it. And if they would still have the chance to go on a tour again (especially here in the Philippines), NO hesitations, count me in…NO shame, I grew up in the 90’s! This is one part of my past and present I wouldn’t hide…

And hope the younger generations would ponder a bit on this…It might help…

Again, to the guys — Nick, AJ, Brian, Kevin and of corrrrrzzzz, HOWIE!!!! — thanks for giving us an awesome concert here in Manila…TOTALLY UNFORGETTABLE and one of the BEST for me!!! Please don’t get tired of visiting us in our 7107 islands!!! And thanks for your efforts, passion for music and being the inspiration to many…God speed to you and your families!!!

I’m sure I’m not the only one saying this…They are back and better than ever…

Howie, Nick, Brian, AJ and Kevin (In A World Like This - Manila, Philippines Tour)

Howie, Nick, Brian, AJ and Kevin (In A World Like This – Manila, Philippines Tour)

From the BSB fangirl (that I’ll always be),,,xoxo,,, Calai ^_^

 

ps: For those who can tolerate screams and moving vids from concerts, I uploaded a few of my personal takes from that concert…Here via my YouTube account — luvinlifebycalai (click here). Just don’t forget to credit if you wish to share, highly appreciated!

#insights the random Pinay’s #100DayProject

I came across a friend who is currently doing this in her Instagram account and my curiosity just lead me in checking what is this all about. Started by an artist, designer and writer named Elle Luna, it became a trending activity and post on social networks, majority in Instagram. Called as #The100DayProject, it is about doing an activity and repeat it for 100 days.

Sometimes, admit it or not (WELL I AM ADMITTING THAT I’M A CULPRIT OF THIS AT TIMES…), there are things we tend to start doing and then just stop at the middle. We stop for various valid and not-so-valid reasons. Bottomline, we procrastinate and end up realizing we left something unfinished thru time.

In my opinion, 100 days symbolizes that one’s motivation and actions can lead to an activity into a habit — a good habit, hopefully.

Elle Luna, with The Great Discontent, started publicly the 100 day project last April 6. But since it took me weeks to seep in what I can really do for the next 100 days and since I’m not hurrying up, I’m starting just now and gonna keep going for 100 days. This is my phase.

And as my prelude to a mini-movement I will be sharing formally thru this blog, here’s my 100 days version.

I’ll simply call it #100daysofsmallwaystoselfimprove — It looks a bit long I know, but I want to take my 100 days into a different direction. And I’ll do it in the best way I know how, #100daysoflettersandsymbols.

Much said, time to start in my little ways and to get going to the 100th!

Till we all achieve our 100ths,

Calai ^_^

#insights 3 deaths

Three different people, who aren’t related to each other, with two common connections — me and the fear I have since I was a kid (and I’m sure many normally fear of). That thing I fear, let’s not prolong this, is called death. The three folks I’ve known in my life have already succumbed to death and are now on their journey towards God’s kingdom. Earlier this year, one of the people I’ve dealt with passed on and then another and then another…Who are they anyway? Am I here to exalt them and let them be known just because they died? Well, that ain’t my purpose for this…To begin with, they are never celebrities or famous personalities. They are just simple, plain individuals whom just like me have been dealing with their day-to-day living….Where am I getting to? Allow me to give a snippet of them…

The choirmate

Most of my growing up years was spent with being exposed to two things — music and church. Being in a choir for almost 17 years, I didn’t only gain knowledge about music, about the church and about my faith, I also gained connections — music mentors, family members from another bloodline, even a previous relationship. Majority of us grew up or matured altogether, making every milestone occurring to a fellow choir member a joyous thing for the rest while pains or aches lead the group to being sad yet supportive to each other. She was one of the majority I was referring to.

Life is indeed a mix of everything — triumphs and hardships. Not all people though have the courage to let others see the realities of that mix in their lives, myself included. But for our choirmate, she allowed us to see the side of her joys and pains without considering what other people would say. I can’t say it’s a 100% open book, but most of the time she’s with us, she never had inhibitions of telling what she’s going thru at that moment. She may not have been financially rich, but she gained treasures immeasurable by any device — good relationships and friends. Those treasures have been visible during her trying times and even on the day we bid goodbye to her (on her interment).  From her, I learned that we can be a blessing to others despite the lack of a thing or some in our lives…That we can make use of what we have to be better and to make others better…

The officemate

Being in a corporate world, especially on a 5-day 8-hr kind of atmosphere, can be a make or break in building relationships. The colleagues we deal with could either be a blessing and a connection in our lives thru time or could make them be the long-term disease in our everyday ordeals (admit it dear reader, I’m so sure there is a much more poisonous description you have in mind…if you have one…hehe). Therefore, being the officemate is a test — of determination against stresses, of patience and above all, of hardwork as the employment stage is just a detour at times to our dreams.

The officemate was not of the closest folks I’ve had here in my current work, but I’ve had encounters with him as he joins us in riding a shuttle to head home. He was also one of us during our overtime moments. Months ago, he used to be on-off in the office as he was always on sick leave. All of a sudden, we got an info from his connection in a social network that he passed away. That day we learned about it, no one from our team can even crack a joke, not because we were all crying, but because you can’t really think of a way to make fun and be positive. When visited during his wake to extend our condolences and see him for one last time, in as much as you would want to look strong or non-emo, it was heartbreaking to see him in that coffin — holding back the tears isn’t an option. Adding to the heartbreak were the stories from his family of a side we don’t see even if we are with him everyday — a hardworking provider for his mother and siblings and a fighter up to his last minutes of breathing. Part of the illnesses he had, believe it or not, sprung from the daily stresses he had at work and not getting the proper R&R for his health.

This struck me and most of our colleagues who came to his wake. Considering he was still young (still in his 30’s), the illnesses he experienced could have been avoided. It was just a matter of much needed rest and curing the illness, moreover, it could have been better if the early symptoms were not shrugged off. Sad to say, in a community or country that one must work ultimately hard to get the needed tangibles, there are a majority of people who ignore the consistent physical pains they go thru and only have them cured when it’s already late. However, on a different note, the officemate’s stories from his family and friends also made us admire him of how he lived his life meaningfully before his last days —- spending time in serving the Lord (as a church servant) and taking time to appreciate God’s creations (by hiking mountains and hills during weekends or his leaves).

The matured-decades-old friend

My parents and grandmother (even a few of my friends) used to say I have this old-soul thing in me. They often call me “pilosopa Carla” cause I answer back to oppose what we discuss or argue on each other and I talk as if I’m too old. I felt back then that it’s seems to be a negative comment. Of course, thru time, I just ignored the teasing and the comments and go on with life. Now, everything made sense to me and with the flashbacks in my head, I just smile thinking about it.

Just a day before Palm Sunday (barely two weeks from today), I got a surprising call from my mom while she was on her retreat (with her org mates in church). One of their org mates passed away. To me, it wasn’t just a surprising news but another heartbreaking one. After the phone call, I even told my dad “grabe naman, quotang-quota na ako sa mga balitang gaya nito…puro mga nakakahalubilo ko pa” (translation: this is too much…i’m already on quota getting news such as this…worse, some are folks I’ve been dealing with).

She isn’t just my mom’s org mate, but prior to that, I treat her to be a grandma-auntie-friend somehow. Years ago, I joined sort of a renewal retreat for church servants in our parish. I am not sure if there are one in most parishes, but to us it’s called Parish Renewal Experience (PREX). She was one of the facilitators there and surprisingly, I became in good terms with her. She is a very active church servant and leader. She has lead various organizations in our parish in Pasig, making her a familiar name for most of us there. When I even lead a church organization handling Marian events previously, she was one of my confidants relating to leadership, faith and even about life. Through time, I eventually felt my old soul mode having a friend like her who is a decades’ different from me. In fact, she has been one of my inspirations that someday when I finally have my significant other, I could also have a husband who’s God-fearing and a servant in the church and for others cause her husband is just the same as her.

During this Holy Week when I went to her wake, I felt a bit bad cause I know there was a promise I wasn’t able to fulfill — a simple promise that I could have done if I did cut the slack. She used to request to treat her for lunch or in fact, a breakfast in a fast food in our place in Pasig. No matter how much I weep and say sorry, it’s too late. From her, it daunted realizations that death is inevitable, but there’s a lot we can get from it.

In this earthly life, death can lead to hard knock thoughts…

1. Taking good care of the body God gave us is important. Yes, everytime we go to church, we are reminded to invest in doing good to others for your spiritual path. But just as how we do our best every day to be better faithful folks, we have to invest making ourselves be of sound mind and body. If we could live for an extra 5-10 years in this lifetime to eventually help other people get better because of having a healthy body, why not, right?

2. The cliche we keep ignoring but the reality remains —- An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure…Not all illnesses are curable by just popping a pill of paracetamol. Worse, there are illnesses that could even cost millions and vacuum your bank accounts. But if you will trace back how they started, some are just because of a simple ignored pain. I know I didn’t finish a medicine course. I guess I’m just coming from the fact that I don’t want the loved ones to be left to go thru different sets of pain — financial pains included, which leads me to my next trail of thought.

3. Choose to enjoy this earthly life and working on finances at the same time. Sadly, another thing ignored by many is their finances while living on this earth. These three may not be directly affecting me on this thought, but I’ve heard stories of families being left by their loved ones even with the one thing that seems to be a cross to carry — debts. If there’s one of those things I’m working on recently, it’s the financial aspect of my life. Fine, I’m still single and for some they might think I shouldn’t worry about it…HELL NOT?! I should worry, same as those married with kids, ok?! Let me just share this — The officemate, while he was still alive, invested in buying a house for his mother and siblings…Now that he passed away, good thing though that it was done thru a microfinancing agency like Pag-Ibig, his family will not have the burden of paying the remaining amount to be paid plus they would own the house really soon. He wasn’t married, but at least, he lessened the pains to be carried by the family thinking of where should they stay…So I guess you got my point already? It pays to at least work on this aspect too…I’m not on my ultimate target just yet, but I’m working on it and I believe I will definitely get there.

4. Be the miracle to others, as you receive miracles from the Supreme Being…Acknowledged if I get some eyebrows right here, but this thought will stay here…Just last Easter Sunday, while attending the Feast, I heard this from Bro Bo Sanchez…If there’s one good thing the three connected in my life did, it’s they became a miracle by doing good deeds to others while serving in the church. All they learned and shared were not just of lip service, they did their part. Success isn’t measured by the position you achieved, the tangibles you got or the awards you reaped. It’s measured by how you have worked towards that success and how have you touched and inspired others to be better…

5. Living life to the fullest…Enjoying each day as if it is our last…Creating lasting moments and memories one day at a time…Build lasting relationships  — We often hear this but why not live it? No further explanations…You know this… #notetoself and #notetoothers

6. Lastly, PRAY…as simple as that…

We maybe living different lives at the moment…but all of us will be of equal footing towards the end…Some of us may cheat it to extend because they have more means to do so than the others, but nobody can totally escape it…

Honestly, as I’m blogging these all down, the truth still remains…I have this fear of death; at times, I can’t even accept it (sorry, but that’s me at the moment)…I’m not yet ready, really…The thought on its own is killing me in my brain…One thing certain, there’s nothing I can do with that thing I fear. I eventually will go thru it…There are a lot of things though I can or I must do before I face that thing I fear…Nobody knows when is our exact date and time, so while I’m still unaware of it, I’ll just have to deal with this earthly life…To my dear readers, please pray for me that in God’s grace and power, I will overcome this fear and realize that death is a phase cause that will be my journey towards our real home…

To the three I have known, thank you for everything you have shared in this world and for making me learn as I continue my journey…May you all (along with those who’ve gone ahead) be at peace and in a speedy journey to our Father’s kingdom…

PS: Dear God, please naman po wag muna too soon…I must meet my God-fearing and dedicated bf then marry and have kids muna…Kung makakatawad lang naman…Amen ^_^

#wanderlust #reviews Marco Polo Hotels

Getaways or spending holidays don’t have to entirely be involving long road or plane trips. Sometimes, all it takes is just a break from your daily grind or rituals, waking up in a place that you are not used to.

Since last New Year’s Eve of 2013, it has been a family ritual to have a staycation away from home and celebrate New Year’s just chilling and relaxing — away from the noise and smog of the firecrackers in our village. Last 2014 approaching 2015, we booked our stay at one of the newly built hotels in the metro, Marco Polo Hotel – Ortigas. Situated within the Ortigas Business District in Pasig City, it is part of the Marco Polo chain of hotels that we already have in the country, like in Cebu and Davao, and within Asia.

Actually, May of 2014, I went to Davao with my fangirl friends to witness the wedding of a fellow fangirl too and we stayed at the Marco Polo Hotel. My dad (who was assigned for work in Davao for 2 years, way back) used to say this hotel is a good place to stay in compared to others…an he was right. It somehow exceeded a bit of my expectations, thanks to the good service they provided to us.

Going back to the most recent, their Ortigas hotel did just the same, in my opinion. When I travel I rarely stay in hotels, usually hostels are good enough for me already. Having said that, staying in hotels is a bonus. Of course, we look for better comforts, security and perks. During our stay on NYE, I booked a deluxe room so that the four of us will be in one room.

Room

I am not an interior designer by profession, so let me run down by basics and layman’s terms. The interiors are ok, simply stylish. I loved the bed and pillows. Their bed actually made me, my mom and dad fit in it (ok, this one would depend of course on the body size of the customer…). There is an extra bed which is also comfy to lie on. It has flat screen tv, a long desk, phones, sockets for charging gadgets, mini-ref / bar and a water heater for your quick caffeine fixes.  Drawers are spacious to fill in your bags. That day, we brought a lot (hmmm…cooked our food advance for our NYE dinner and media noche).

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There were complimentary fruits upon our arrival in the room…Well, not sure though if they have it on usual, regular days…

The best part I loved here is the bathroom. It was spacious enough and there’s even a built in speaker so you can hear what’s being shown from the tv. Actually, I also love their toiletries. I assume one of their suppliers might be in the cosmetics kind of industry (if somebody could inform me on this, I would gladly update this part ^_^).

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There are two things we didn’t like though. One was that our room was fronting another building (the one beside their hotel). Considering it was NYE, of course, we would want to have a glimpse of the fireworks from various areas of the metro. Unfortunately,  their family sized rooms are on corners so if you prefer having a good view, you would have to downsize your room options. Another is that there is no pre-heating equipment (eg. microwave oven). Actually, even their Davao branch doesn’t have one too. Though I assume, it might be due to their safety measures. Still, it could have been complete if there is one and it could have been good for staycation folks.

Facilities

NYE normally falls on a cool climate vibe, so we weren’t able to use up much of their facilities, specifically the swimming pool. Unlike when I went to Marco Polo Davao, it was summer so I was somehow able to take an hour’s dip. They also got a gym area where you can sweat all out. They have a resto bar area on the topmost floor where you can chill without going out of the hotel. If you are on a thrifty mode, there is a convenience store in the hotel for your quick fix needs.

Food

Another perks of being in a hotel is getting free breakfast, buffet style. The good thing about their free breakfast is you can have them in either of the two floors in their Ortigas hotel. No need to squeeze or be pissed waiting because it’s full. Both floors can accommodate their customers. It has a wide array of intercontinental dishes, which caters to heavy and light breakfast eaters. The best part is that they are conscious of refilling food. They don’t give much room for the people to wait for the refill to arrive. Though some would disagree on this next statement I’ll say, but their dishes are ok for my palette. Well, I’m not a food critic and since I’m also not a fan of dishes with MSG on it, so I’d better have less salty or no salts at all. I’d rather be the one to adjust the taste using condiments than not knowing how much MSG is on it. Oh, and not failing to mention, I love their hot choco with just the right amount of sweetness…

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Service

To me, a quality place to stay at isn’t all about the facilities and materials. It must be a balance with the desirable service you will get from the staff. The lack of some facilities that might be part of your expectations are compensated in a way by their accommodating and friendly staff. Let’s admit, we would want to feel special especially in these kinds of establishments and we would take no for an answer most of the time. I assume from the reception to the housekeeping staff, they are being groomed to be able to provide the customers’ proper service. The staff know how to say no in such a way that the guests will feel they are not totally rejected. Considering we stayed there during a very hectic holiday season, but they were able to manage their guests with composure and I’m sure even the other guests that day will agree with me. Even in their Davao branch, the staff are friendly and accommodating too (unless, sometimes, IT’S THE GUESTS WHO HAVE THE WEIRDEST AND ANNOYING REQUESTS TOO, SERIOUSLY).

Overall, Marco Polo Hotel is generally worth every centavo you would spend for staying here. I hope my inputs would somehow help in deciding where you can have your staycation this summer season (to cool down from this soon-to-be unbearable heat) or where you can spend the upcoming holidays.

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xoxo,

Calai

#reviews that thing called tadhana (and why can we relate)

If there are different emotions that can be combined in one four-letter word, no contesting, it’s definitely L-O-V-E…It can make you happy, sad, mad or emo-less even.

If there’s one subject you can’t take away in a movie, song, literary piece or even art, that is…YES you saw it, L-O-V-E…Fine, we got action or horror movies, but so long as there is a human being in that movie and there are connections, even if it’s just for a minute or the entire film, LOVE comes in the picture. Cliche or cheesy as it may sound, but it is simply because LOVE is what makes this world go round.

No pretensions, but I guess for the regular readers of this blog would notice, I seldom talk about topics related to LOVE in the relationship perspective and all its cheesiness. Not because I hate it, but simply because I’m just a random person who can talk about various things, not just all about LOVE. In fact, truth be told now, I’ve experienced the joys and pains out of love — being in relationships, close to relationships and losing them too. So in a nutshell, you who may be reading this now, I too have my share in the LOVE-sphere.

Anyway, where is this heading to? There’s a movie currently getting raves or positive reviews in the social media sites. It was actually one of the entries in a local movie festival here months ago. From the festival to the big screen viewed by the masses, to this date, the positive remarks keep coming.

A story about two people who met at an airport, headed back home and embarked on a road trip in the process of healing their broken hearts. The movie, That Thing Called Tadhana, may seem to look like movies with travel-themed settings, but of course, this has got that Pinoy flava and twists. In as much as I would want to tell the plot of this story, but I don’t want to be thrown tomatoes at, cause fellow readers might say I’m such a spoiler…hehe. So for everybody’s sake (who’ve watched and will still watch this), let’s put it this way…Why or how can we relate to this movie?

1. Moving on and healing a broken heart has its stages…

Fine, an hour and 40 minutes movie won’t be able to trim down how, but this movie shows you a way or two how we try our best to move on or heal from getting brokenhearted. And I’m sure, for those who have experienced break-ups from relationships, there is at least one Mace or Anthony way you’ve done before you have finally said to yourself that you have truly moved on (Mace and Anthony are the lead characters’ names po ha…played by Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman, respectively).

2. Travels or getaways…

Admit it or not, majority of those who started traveling at their adult phase would say they initiated it as a way of mending a broken heart or a way to start all over. Again, I rarely talk about my lovelife aspect (let’s have that on a separate post, shall we? haha). I would just like to admittedly say I was one of those and related a bit in this movie. The only exception? I traveled not with a random good-looking, nice stranger to heal this broken heart back then (LOL!). I traveled with my sister for a quick getaway and realized there’s life after the breakup.

Sometimes, the pressures and pains in life aren’t easy to tolerate, so rather than sulking in one corner for a long time (which I hope you don’t end up on a bad note…no pun intended), better get a quick escape and be refreshed in a place not so common to you everyday. This movie has literally and figuratively answered somehow the Whitney Houston song, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”. From getaways, we unload our baggage one at a time till we feel a little lighter than usual to accept new loads.

3. Cheesiness minus the vomit…

I remember a fellow fangirl from overseas told me that Filipinos are really loving and romantic people. She said that it even manifests in movie themes and songs.

Some won’t believe me, but I notice that not all Filipinos are the same who have the idea or concept of cheesy / romantic as clingy / PDA (public display of affection). In fact, there are running jokes or ridicules of feeling to vomit cause of too much PDA (nakakasuka o nakakauta sa sobrang PDA).

Sorry to burst the bubble of folks who might be thinking this movie is like the modern romantic movies, wherein kisses and love-making is a must. Save your thoughts for Mr Grey…hehe. This movie is one of those who have proven you don’t need to incorporate those stuff to make the viewers feel there is love going on. No need to be too touchy just to feel the connection…The conversations and the stares give you the implications of where their emotions are heading to. No one would feel the “echhhh” nor the “get a room” reaction. It goes to show that love can be felt and experienced even in it’s simplest forms…

and lastly, 4. the simple things and the throwback moments

From Whitney Houston to belting out in the videoke, from bus trip hits and stopovers — it was the little things and lines. We might not be able to remember every single part of this movie, but definitely, there will be a thing or two that we will always remember eventually make us smile or get teary eyed at.

Majority of us believe in fate, especially when we speak of the four letter word. Majority have this connotation that in this world, there is one that is fated to love us for the rest of our lives. If you aren’t, I think you maybe reading the wrong post (LOL!). For us Filipinos, we call it in Tagalog as “tadhana”. Excuse me as I need to say it in my native tongue, in Tagalog, “marami ang naniniwala na may nakatadhana para sa’tin…pero ang tanong, hinahanap ba ito o kusang dumadating o pinaghihirapan?”. The answer to my question may not be 100% answered in this movie, but it makes you realize that love ain’t just butterflies in the stomach. It may be lead to pain because of how or why we love a person. The most important thing though are two things: the blessings of loving and being loved, and the hope and faith of being loved again (after heartaches). In a nutshell, this movie is worth your money and time…This is more than a plain ok remark for me…

So I know, the Valentine’s fever is still with some of my folks here, I won’t waste your time much longer…Love is meant to be shared and given, as we receive it. Continue to spread the love in whatever aspect of love that is, everyday. Who knows from spreading that love to others, one might reciprocate it to you and eventually, he might be (what most say) the one…

Happy Hearts’ Day!

#throwback2014 and #movingforward2015

We are still on a high from the Pope’s visit and since it’s still the start of the year for us, here I am sharing you a throwback of the year that was, 2014 and a little bit of deets for 2015. Generally, 2014 was a fair year for me. There had been some low points, in fact very low points. However, I consider them more as lessons learned in my life now and ways to look forward to the brighter side of life. There were also highs that are keeping me at pace and inspired to keep going too. People, relationships and faith mattered and will matter some more this 2015…

Last 2013, I shared my influential folks. For 2014, allow me to share this time what stuff contributed and symbolized the year that was…

1. make up kit

Ohhhh yes!!! Friends who grew up with me for years would definitely attest that I’m a low maintenance kind of person when we talk about vanity or physical features. Mainly because I’d rather waste my time and money for more relevant stuff and I’ve had that mentality of “better-be-seen-appreciated-loved-of-my-natural-looks”. But thru time, I’ve come to open myself to the reality that sometimes, we have to look good, stand out and make ourselves prep up especially for social events like parties and weddings. Thanks to my mom and sister who never gave up in pushing me, I have invested late 2013 to buy key pieces for make-up as a Christmas gift for myself. And last 2014, they somehow helped me in various events I attended to, especially during a fellow fangirl’s wedding — Kreng and her hubby, Robbi. May of the said year, it was Davao 2.0 for me but this time with my fellow fangirls for Kreng’s wedding. I must say, my make-up kit helped cause I didn’t have to go thru the hands of a make-up artist, not failing to forget to thank my fellow choir member who gave our choirmates a make-up tutorial session. Somehow, before I said my slight toodles to chorale singing, I learned how to do the basics on my own.

2. tank tops and printed pants

Let me simplify this — I am more into prints! Well, I am versatile when it comes to outfits. I also have plain colored outfits, but definitely, my closet has a bunch of prints, which includes printed pants and skirts. Hmmm…I don’t follow trends and usually, I just go with my instincts, what will make me not so common and not too overboard. Overall, I’m more into looking and feeling good enough — not sacrificing comfort and how you should look for the occasion. These outfits symbolize my way of embracing life’s uniqueness for each other and so for me too. Prints allow me to see life minus boredom, a little crazy in a positive way. In addition, these kind of clothing is my constant reminder not to stop my passions and my travel pursuits (they’re light and don’t make me travel with an overweight luggage…hehe).

from one of my posts: Skybridge at the 41st floor (damnnn...just covering up the fear *nailbites* hehe)

from one of my posts: Skybridge at the 41st floor (damnnn…just covering up the fear *nailbites* hehe)

3. juice cleanse bottle

I must admit, turning on your 30’s makes you conscious on the health aspect. After all the partying and I-dont-care-what-I-eat-and-drink during the teens and 20’s, it is just right to get make my body breathe or exhale the not-so-good stuff and intake what my body needs. There have been a lot of diets and physical activities in the market to keep you fit, but one of those that a bunch of Filipinos have gotten into last 2014 was the juicing diet. So many brands are out there in the social networks, selling them either just for one bottle consumption or for a day / few days cleansing. 2014 was my partial health conscious year. From doing a few exercises with colleagues or solo at home to eating at restos serving healthy good food, I just really had a different perspective on my health. Adding to it was making my friends and family join in the idea or fun sometimes. Sad to say, I didn’t shed pounds to achieve my target weight, but getting less sickly and no hospitalization for myself last 2014 is already an achievement. I hope I could target it this time, let’s see how much it’ll take me…hehe

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4. MH / plane tickets

Being an occasional wanderer (call it weird, I don’t care), airports and plane tickets bring heaps of joy to my heart. I am sure (and hope) that many of us by now realize and experience that you don’t have to be a millionaire to travel. I’ve had road trips and two plane trips last 2014. Due to some personal and family circumstances, it wasn’t like how much my friends or acquaintances have had, but to me they were all life changing and worth while.

via instagram -- @therandompinay

via instagram — @therandompinay

However, last 2014 was also the year of a few mishaps and disappointments in the aviation industry — plane accidents and unsystematic bookings and flight schedule issues (this last one is especially here in PH). 2014 was saddening for me especially for what happened to two Malaysian Airlines planes during the mid of the year and a sudden plane crash of Air Asia before the New Year’s 2015. Just to share, I had the experience of flying to Malaysia via Malaysia Airlines with my mom years ago, so there was a piece of us (me and my mom) that was heartbroken when we found out of those news. But amidst the mishaps, I won’t stop flying to destinations where I might be heading. It may be creepy and scary to die in a plane crash, but as what we always say, we only live once, so I’m not gonna take out the wanderlust in me. Hopefully, 2015 will spring better heights for the aviation industry — perhaps, new discoveries and technologies to minimize such incidents and better systems to minimize complaints and headaches of passengers (paging Cebu Pacific and PAL!!!).

5. umbrella

Umbrellas remind me more of the rain than the unbearable heat. No one can compare the massive typhoon Yolanda so far, but 2014 was a year of unexpected rainfalls and storms in the country. Some places unexpectedly felt the floods or landslides even. We know that it’s due to the climate change, but somehow, we can still pacify Mother Earth by doing our own little shares to make this world still conducive for our future kids. It also is symbolical for protection so one can still go on walking while raining. Hardships and disappointments will be there in life, but sometimes, we just have to allow a little protection (or a little help) but still head on.

6. MRT card

Ok!!! I rarely ride the MRT now, thanks to shuttle vehicles (vehicles that can bring you from one point to another) and that my working area is near my home now. But it would be hypocrisy to say that MRT ain’t beneficial. This transit for me is a mix of good and not so good hits for me. I don’t ride the MRT daily, but last 2014, it became an essential transit for me to the happiest place on earth venue that opened up myself to realities and the goodness of life — The Feast PICC. For me to be able to attend there and get on time, I would need to ride the transit rather than riding the bus that’ll take me…forever. Beneficial in a way, indeed, but that ain’t always the case especially last 2014 when MRT was put on hot waters. Consistently there were delays on trips, due to the dysfunctional trains at times and even some suicidal attempts (ain’t funny though I know). The worst so far happened last 2014 when one of the trains smashed the barrier in the end station of MRT, even hitting vehicles and causing injuries to the passengers. MRT was even audited and got a failing mark last year.

On a little upside (that many see as a downside), they are currently doing little changes including a fare increase (like WTF after x # of years guys! for the longest time, the government subsidized the costs). I hope in the next few months we could feel better changes in their system and trains. We deserve what we pay for…but let’s do our share — adjust our costs and our discipline too ha (wag pasaway!!!).

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7. monopod

Being a traveler for years, one of those I learned to love in the process is traveling solo. How come? You’ll find out soon. But before one of the dilemmas of solo travelers is having a picture of himself with the scenery without looking like a pop-out head only or without so much arms…

Thanks to what is being sold out in the market called the “selfie stick” (also known as monopods), solo traveling is made a little bit convenient just like my trip last year to Malaysia. After a 6 year hiatus and a few years of promises to revisit, I finally made it in time even for a holiday they call Merdeka. Though I was accompanied by my very good and gracious friends, Mia and Lina, it won’t be nice for me if all the photos are just solo. The monopod was a life saver. Though some were giving the looks (like jagger? haha) of what is she seriously doing for that stick and camera, well, we didn’t care at all. Being a citizen of a country that is soooo hyped with social media and posing for pictures, I guess it is a good investment for me who travels once in a while (and alone even sometimes). Besides, I’m not the only one who did selfies ‘ayt? Celebrities were also in the hype for selfies, posted in their social networks (eg. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

As what I said in one of my photos in FB, “I don’t know who exactly invented the monopod, but he is definitely one selfie addict…” :p

8. coloring materials and crafts stuff

Arts and crafts wouldn’t have flourished if life wasn’t introduced in colors. Just like music, colors add zest to one’s life and lead to symbolize one’s personality. 2014 was the year when crafts and lettering by hand (via calligraphy) flourished especially here in the metro. The ignored calligraphy pens, sign pens and drawing pads in supplies’ stores or bookstores were now given much attention by people (young and old, men and women). You can see of their works on Instagram and Pinterest and some even offer workshops to enhance your love for the arts or make you discover new hobbies and skills.

In my case, coloring materials and other crafts stuff lead me to two effects: rebuilding my love for crafts and made me move on from the heartache last year. College years when I started doing crafts or artsy fartsy stuff, so it’s refreshing for me to see I’m not alone in the journey that many find it weird or waste of time years back. As for the heartache, don’t get me wrong. It was my way to move on from so much stress I had during the last months of the year, when my dad was hospitalized. While he was on his road to recovery physically, I was also doing my own ways to recover — apart from being with friends and officemates, books and crafts became my avenue to get away with the pain.

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9. smart phone (mobile phone)

Who wouldn’t live without it, once you have it? Maybe we’ll get a rare count. Surprisingly, there have been random days I forget my mobile phone at home and yesss…I am able to survive those days without it. I am not sure though if I can live without it for a few straight days or weeks. Somehow, this new piece of technology is indeed helpful — in times of emergencies and stress, in times of communicating in between distances, in times we need to be informed. For so many times, I have been saved by this little piece of stuff — during work, during my travels, during emergencies.

At the end of the day, I hope and pray we all don’t get engulfed by the little gadget and still value the real stuff — interrelationships with other people, face to face, communicating with God. Regardless of brand, let’s have the thought — less on materials and more on people.

10. rosary

I never leave the house without one in my bag or purse. Not because I want to brag about the topic on religion (cause I’d rather embrace all kinds of beliefs every person in this world has…no to hate ^_^), but because this is my constant companion and reminder that the Lord is always with me and of the power of prayers.

2014 was a year for me of rekindling my life to God. I can’t exactly say I turned away and became a rebel of sorts. What I mean in saying this was the past few years were my weak moments. I pray, I attend Mass but because they were obligations, not because I do it for loving God and believing in His power and grace for me, my family and other people. It was this year that I was hit to realize prayers can move, not just mountains, moreover, ourselves. It even came to points where I know I am praying the rosary, but I can’t say the words…I just end up crying…No words, the tears were my prayers…

via instagram -- @therandompinay

via instagram — @therandompinay

Everything that happened in 2014 not only made me learn, but made me change my perspectives….These and other thoughts are what’s making me motivated to head on 2015, little by little, to a better plight.

Here are just a few highlights of what transpired last 2014 (aside from the barest and common essentials…hehe):

1. Introduced and attending the Feast PICC

2. Trips here and there: Zambales (with colleagues); Rizal (teambuilding with colleagues) Davao (with fangirls) and Malaysia (s0lo trip)

3. weddings: The Rocket Weds (Robbi and Kricket) in Davao

4. contests: won via Instagram — #BeautyBeforeIDo (c/o Bianca Gonzalez-Intal and Facial Care); L’Indochine x Marie Lozano

5. seminars / conferences: Proj Management (at work); iCon2014 (with Marvin Germo, Randell Tiongson, et al); Stock Market Basics (c/o COL Financial and Bro Bo Sanchez)

And as for my #movingforward2015, allow me to share a few thoughts I have in mind to reset or to start with:

1. Health: a decent med check-up; reset to have a fitness activity; get some proper zzZZz; no rice for dinner (YIKES!!! let’s see if I can keep it up for long…lol) and no softdrinks -__-

2. Finance: not just the basics, this time literate :) ; spend wisely *ISANG MALAKING EHEMMMM* ; more rakets (ATTENTION TO THIS GUYS, cause I would be needing some folks for this soon (FINALLY!)

3. Relationships: ample time with family; rekindling time with friends; meet new folks in circles; join a group or club; continue to keep the faith and live it *PUSH DAPAT ‘TO*

4. Career: — zipping my lips for this — posted just for a reminder…haha

5. Travels: local — 2 islands please; out of Pinas — one in SEA (not yet visited) and Seoul (na sana finally mapush na ^_^)

6. Self: learn new skills; revisit a craft or two to do; loving / appreciating self and learning to accept love from others…and lastly, a sum-up of things to do or work on, which I would rather call #therevampproject — FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN MY TAG THIS ON MY SOCIAL NETWORKS, updates soon ^_^

And with that, I hope your year 2014 has been a memorable and learning curve to a better year ahead. Hope your 2015 is starting well and on track…

To all my family and friends who became blessings and lessons in my 2014, thank you so much and I look forward to have 2015 spent with you…To all my readers and followers (especially those I don’t have very close encounters with), thank you so much for your support in my passions and my tinkered posts and I look forward this time around to hear or see some of your thoughts too…To God, beyond words, thank you so much for everything…I look forward and open myself to the boundless and limitless blessings and I pray that your guidance to strengthen me to attain a better life for myself, my family and for my future…

#BlessedbythePope Just in Time

In a nation that struggles…

from their day to day living and sustenance…

from injustice and inferiority brought by the difference in socio-economic classes and educational levels…

from the plagues brought by corruption and other greed-related activities by some government leaders and employees…

from achieving peace and order as there are crimes and armed conflicts…

from being belittled or discriminated by some nations, whereas we Filipinos deserve a spot in this world with respect and acceptance…

from calamities, man made or natural, that lead to grief due to loss of lives and properties…

from people, especially the youth, who are forgetting the value of relationships, due to clinging too much on technology…

from keeping the faith, believing in God’s greatness and spreading goodwill towards others…

Reality bites…this is a part of a nation where I breathe and thrive…It ain’t easy, but certainly, it ain’t permanent…

The best part amidst these struggles are two things: we are still here surviving and we aren’t alone in this journey…

I was a young witness 20 years ago to a multitude of people praying together and keeping the faith with a man we could say, God’s ambassador to mankind — the Pope. 20 years later, the ambassador came back, in the form of Pope Francis with a main objective that he kept stressing during his stay — he came for the poor and the oppressed. Last 2013, the Philippines was heavily hit, especially in the Visayas area, of typhoon Yolanda causing mass loss of lives and property. Back then, Pope Francis was really eager to visit the country. Fast forward to this year, 2015, he was able to fulfill his bucket list. Apart from this, he came to send messages to make people rekindle their faith to the Lord. He came to send God’s message of love to all of us and share that love by doing good towards others and for the country.

Back when I was a student and watched Pope John Paul II during his visit here in the Philippines, I was moved seeing how a true leader must be. True enough, it helped me strengthen my faith and my dedication even to serving the Lord thru music. 20 years later, I have already given myself a break from serving in church. In addition, within those 20 years, my faith and beliefs were shaken and lapses due to frustrations, hardships and disappointments came over me. Just last year, I regained and refreshed myself spiritually, thanks to good influences I have of pushing me again to prayers and by attending The Feast Sunday sessions. Pope Francis’ visit made me see my life in a much better perspective, apart from where I started over again.

I never had a face to face personal encounter with Pope Francis, not even I had the chance to attend his concluding Mass nor wait for him like a fan on the streets in Manila. Thanks to technology, the television became my medium to see him up close and to hear his messages, God knows why. Despite that, my emotions weren’t half baked nor sugar coated. It passed thru the boob tube to our homes. Goosebumps were felt and tears welled up once in a while, from the moment he came down the Sri Lankan Airlines up to the wave he made before entering the Philippine Airlines that lead him back to Rome. Not because I treat him as a superstar or a celebrity, but somebody whom I can follow or live by, from his good examples and teachings.

He, just like any other priests only of higher post, mediates between God and His believers. The moment Pope Francis assumed seat as the Pope and head of Vatican, we learned things about him that truly made us Catholics see his humility and willingness to reunite and revamp the church. From commuting in doing his priestly activities to giving blessings and hugging the poor and sickly, to bringing his own black bag and not letting his guards bring it, simple gestures but it does make sense in a world that evolved from materialism and self-center living. He also teaches to make this world unite living in acceptance of differences by each and every human being and extending help to the needy and oppressed.

So in this nation of struggles…

we can always believe good things happen, if we will think, feel and do well towards others…

we are blessed with such natural resources and human resources that we can utilize to progress, if we will eradicate corruption, no matter how big or small…

we have the freedom to enjoy and to have fun, if we will only exercise that freedom with less abuse…

we have the Supreme Being who is always with us and even gave His only Son to be man and suffer just like us, if we will accept His love and blessings…

we can still be grateful cause our life isn’t always just sufferings, disappointments and hardships, if we will open ourselves to claiming those blessings and change our negative perspectives in life…

The Pope’s entire visit awakened my napping faith and dedication to God and to others. It wouldn’t take days to ultimately make me revamped, but the learning and small deeds could be a good start.

As I’ve said since Pope Francis visited, Thank You Pope Francis for giving your time and sharing God’s love to us thru you…Awesome sunshine, we will pray for you everyday. Please pray for our country, the Philippines and its people…In my heart and mind, your words will be my guiding light and reminder (when my bi***y attitude starts to surface) to live the simple yet happy and faithful life, and serve the Lord and His people in my own special ways…And Pope Francis, I believe you weren’t late to visit us…God intervened, you came in just in time…

my little doodlin letterin moment... #PopeFrancisPH

my little doodlin letterin moment… #PopeFrancisPH

Hanggang sa muli, Pope Francis…

I was indeed blessed and I hope you, my dear readers, were blessed and will continuously be blessed too…I hope that you will be able to live up Pope’s words not just for a day, a week or a month, but for the rest of your earthly lives…

#insights notes to Dear Self 2015

Dear Self of 2015,

It took me days to post my warmest welcome to you. The holidays engulfed my time for socializing and the much needed effing rest and relaxation…

365 days of 2014 passed and here we are — the world is welcoming you with open arms. Who would ever think that a lot of stuff happened in 525,600 minutes? It’s been a heck of roller coaster ride for me. Challenges took a toll in some aspects of my life, but the best part was I learned from each one of them, after all the shitty tear jerking. Surviving by the day wasn’t easy, but at the end of the day, they will all pass.

As everybody says, never dwell much on the past and that is what you must be doing head on…Let’s keep this sweet and less of a novel…Here’s what I’ll pass to you, not resolutions but maybe thoughts to keep in mind, regardless if they became blessings or lessons to me:

Hardships and disappointments will come at some point. It could cause you to feel bad, down or stressed. In fact, New Year’s Day doesn’t mean the hardships I had won’t be passed on to you this year. But, definitely, it ain’t gonna be permanent. Who knows, you might be able to get rid of them this year. But telling yourself to be a positive thinker won’t be enough. Believing and hoping aren’t the 100% ingredients to a better future or year ahead…You have to do something. You mustn’t settle.

When you look at the mirror, smile, accept who you are and your flaws, but don’t stop from there. I had some physical changes last year that made me look at the mirror and say “Why did I let myself look this way?” But after that, I stopped and realized, “Hey, we are all created different…There are ways how to make yourself better but still embracing the real you…”. Before the year ended, I took baby steps and in fact, fate and faith intervened. One of them was when I won in a contest to have a facial makeover (that never I imagined winning of and even meeting my favorite personality, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal). When people say “tumataba ka na (you’re getting fat)”, just ignore. Start doing things to make your physical self better…

I can say that we have survived for our daily sustenance (with a few simple pleasures) last year. But from the experience that dad got hospitalized and not knowing how to survive for the payments and other needs, I am passing to you the knowledge, hunger and passion to be financially literate…I started when I attended an investment seminar spearheaded by Marvin Germo and Randell Tiongson, followed by seminar on stocks c/o Bro Bo Sanchez…To top it all off, I had friends who constantly reminded me not to slack on handling finances…So dearie, this year you can do this! You must werrrrk it!

Lastly, I am sharing to you this year to be persistent and never stop praying, no matter how long it takes for you to see your dream or goals coming to life…No boyfriend for 2014? So what?! I enjoyed my year and learned much how capable I can be of various things. I know you can make a few starters and get back in the lurvveeee zone soon. Not yet in the country you really wanna be? So what?! Just be persistent to do things to reach your destination. It took me years to finally realize attending this happiest place on earth called The Feast, but it only took a short while to help me get back on my feet…It took me a while to realize that my faith and God never leaves me in my journeys and He never punishes nor hides blessings to His children…In fact, I was challenged much but I got some wondrous blessings that I will forever be grateful too. I could go on and on and on about this spiritual and emotional realizations, but what’s important is from the challenges I went thru, I never resorted to doing bad stuff against myself and others. What’s important is that year made me know what I really want, what I really want to do, what I really want to achieve and gain and above all, what I should really be doing towards fellowmen…

Much has been said, you already know what I mean…so make this year a better, SWEETER and more awesome than mine…You know the drill *wink*

Let me leave you with a very simple note I got from Bro. Bo Sanchez. “DON’T STOP AT SIX!” — So no matter what, keep praying and keep going, ‘ayt?!

Have an awesome year and to your family and friends too!

xoxo,

Self of 2014

Have you tried writing something to say to yourself? I just did…Hoping and praying that by next year I see this post, who knows, I might be writing a different story to myself already…Just a random thought to begin my year…Bottomline: let’s create new and better memories, enough of the b***craps of the past years…Just moving forward ^_^ Happy New Year dear readers!