Category Archives: Personal

I’m With Leni Robredo! #LabanLeni2022 #LetLeniLead2022

Vice President Leni Robredo filed her certificate of candidacy for president in the May 2022 elections. Robredo is running as an independent candidate, with incumbent Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her Vice President.

Robredo with daughters Aika and Tricia.

Ngayong may malinaw na lider na ang oposisyon, nawa’y gawin po natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya para masiguro ang tagumpay ng ating pambato sa pagkapangulo. Naniniwala po ako na may pag-asa pang makabangon ang Pilipinas at ito po ay sa pamamagitan ng paghalal ng mga lider na katulad ng ating butihing Bise-presidente Leni Robredo.

#LabanLeni2022

Kung kayo po ay maaari ng bumoto sa #Halalan2022 sa Mayo at kung hindi pa kayo nakakapagparehistro, extended po ang voter registration hanggang October 30, 2021.

Nananawagan po ako sa ating mga kababayan, na pag-aralan ng mabuti ang inyong gagawing pagpaili para sa magiging susunod ng pangulo ng ating bansa dahil hindi lamang po ang inyong kinabukasan ang nakataya dito, kung hindi na rin ang kinabukasan ng inyong mga anak, at ka apu-apuhan.

Lalaban po tayo. Dasal, tiwala at ang inyo pong boto ang kailangan natin para mapagtagumpayan ito.

My 12th Anniversary with WordPress.com!

So apparently, I’ve been blogging at WordPress for 12 years now. That is on-and-off blogging, of course. I started when a lot of social media wasn’t as big as it is today. I didn’t begin with WordPress. I had my first blog with Xanga, and then I opened a Blogger account that I maintained for a good few years until a colleague enticed me to transfer to WordPress, so give and take, I’ve been blogging for 15 years now. It’s mainly just a journal for me, to be quite honest, and until now, it is a way to relieve my stress, and I’m glad to be able to share things with strangers all over the world. Some I become friends with, some just online acquaintances or what the Gen-Z calls now ‘online mutuals.’

I appreciate your time if you’re reading this and have already read some of my entries. Here’s to many more years of blogging!

Euro Vacay Day 10-13: New Year’s Eve in Paris!

Okay, so I’ve been posting these throwback blogs I’ve been meaning to share pre-pandemic and I know that we’ve just welcomed the new year but let me still share with you my very short Paris adventure when I welcomed 2020! I know, who knew that it would be a very eventful year!

After returning from my visit at the AuschwitzBirkenau camp, I immediately took one hot shower at my hostel and booked for an Uber to take me to the Krakow Glowny where I will be heading back to Czech Republic for my flight to Paris. The FlixBus trip getting back to Prague took around six hours and from Prague Zličín, I had to take another Uber to take me to the Václav Havel Airport for my flight via Czech Airlines to France. 

A little bathroom selfie at the Charles de Gaulle Airport lol

I’ve arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport around nine in the morning of the 31st of December, so I really had all the time in the world to make it to my hostel before the celebration begins in the evening. I was expecting a lot of people to be at the airport, but surprisingly it just about the usual amount of people I see inside some of the busiest airports I’ve been to, considering it’s a holiday. It was very easy for me to navigate it, and you can also ask for assistance particularly about which train is heading to Paris!

Getting on the right train could be a bit tricky!

Ugh. Paris! I’ve been dreaming of visiting this place for so long and I was just very anxious and excited to explore the city since I’ll be spending four days in it!  Too short, I know but I’m pretty sure that there’ll be a next time.  I booked my accommodation at  the Perfect Hotel & Hostel located at Rue Rodier. Making sure that I won’t get lost, I opted to walk there from the Gare du Nord station. It wasn’t that far and I was able to easily navigate the Google Maps streets of that part of Paris. You see, I really do prefer walking when going overseas! Hah!

Outside the Gard Du Nord station

The hostel was very quaint and clean and the room isn’t so bad. After spending days with other people at night, I was already used sharing space. After lying down for a bit, I decided to walk around the neighborhood first while the sun is out. It is still very cold, mind you but the day is just beautiful!

Perfect Hotel & Hostel 4-male dormitory.

That night, I’ve introduced myself to one of  my room mates, a guy from Spain teaching English in Colombia who’s spending the holiday in Paris and asked him if he’d like to go out together. He and I decided to head near the Eiffel Tower site to celebrate New Year’s Eve but unfortunately, the traffic was terrible and it’d take us forever to get there so we decided to celebrate it at the Arc di Triomphe. It was a very exciting and unforgettable experience to say the least. I had a blast waiting along with everyone for the clock to chime in at 12midnight, the dawn of the year 2020.

My first time celebrating the new year’s eve without my family and in another country!

A little photo op at the famed Moulin Rouge on the way back to our hostel! It was so freaking cold!

On my next post… I’ll be posting my little walking tour in Paris. I didn’t get to see everything because it was cloudy, wet and cold but it’s still an experience that I’d treasure forever.

My Unforgettable Auschwitz-Birkenau Day Tour

I’ve never learned what the Holocaust meant in school. History lessons were very much compressed at my public elementary and high schools. My first exposure about the Nazi genocide against the Jews in Europe was the film Schindler’s List which I accidentally watched around 1997-1998. I’m not particular about the exact date but during that time, I was at the cusp of puberty. I was a very sensitive and emotional child and that film just touched something in me that stayed with me into adulthood.

I’ve tried learning more about it in high school, but the inept teaching and inadequate resources made me thirst for more until I went to uni where I finally got the scope of this terrible part of our history. I’ve read books, articles, news reels, film archives and tried to absorb as many information as possible. There were so many questions that I wanted to get answered but until this day, some of them remains unanswered, rather unanswerable. The whys and the hows are just too much and just unfathomable.

That is why this trip was extra special for me. To have the opportunity to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, a couple of places amongst the thousands of Nazi concentration camps feels like a blessing somehow. It felt like it would answer some of the questions that I’ve had since I was a teenager and I feel that I’d be able to somehow connect with the victims of this horrifying human tragedy and most importantly, pay my respect by never forgetting about them.

For the record, I do not personally know a single Jewish individual but I do believe that as human beings, we have to acknowledge what transpired here and the rest of the concentrations camps around Europe because I believe that we owe it to the victims to keep their memories alive for all the time we have to be reminded what is at stake and what should be done to avoid such humongous tragedy in the human history ever happening again.

The tour started very early in the morning. It was freezing that day. I thought I was already accustomed to the cold but the weather that day made me lethargic for some reason.

 

Took this picture of the beautiful Krakow morning while waiting for the bus to pick me up.

Auschwitz is located in Oświęcim which is 66 kilometers west of Krakow or around 2 hours from Krakow.

“Arbeit Macht Frei” over Auschwitz gate is one of the most recognizable symbols of the holocaust. It means Work Makes You Free, a very disturbing reminder of the Nazi cruelty.
These are Zyklon B cans, which contained the gas used as a killing tool in the gas chambers.

The Museum collections include:

• about 40.000 m3 of shoes;

• about 3,800 suitcases, 2,100 of which bear the names of their owners;

• over 12 thousand kitchen utensils;

• 470 prostheses and orthoses;

• 397 striped camp garments;

• 246 tallisim;

• about 4,100 works of art (including about 2 thousand of which were made by prisoners). Source

Our group tour around Auschwitz took about 2 hours and we had a little break before heading to its adjacent camp, the Birkenau concentration camp.

Bought a copy of this guidebook and Viktor Frankl’s book about his time in various Nazi concentration camps.
Heading to Birkenau concentration camp.
I was able to go to the quarters and touch what remains of their bunk beds. It was heavy and sad.

It took me a while to share these pictures that I’ve taken when I visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps last December 2019 because I didn’t think that it’s proper to post them at all. I posted the pictures of the exterior of the camps instead on my Instagram page instead but not these images because they just felt too personal then, but I realized that I wanted people to know, especially the young ones who have not heard or read about the Holocaust to be aware of this tragedy, to know its history and to see a glimpse of a dark past in human history that should never happen again and must never be forgotten. We should forever honor their memories for they’re a constant reminder for us to always treat each other with dignity, respect each other’s differences, learn not just to tolerate but to accept and view life as a gift. The victims – those who perished and alive up to these day gave their lives to be our social conscience and may we never forget that.

“For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” – Elie Wiesel

My Schengen Visa Experience at the VSF Netherlands (Philippines)

After reading several blogs and forums to get tips on having a successful Schengen visa application, I thought I should also give back by posting my very own Schengen visa application experience. For us in the Philippines, getting a travel visa is always a tedious process since we need to spend time and money on collating several documents, paying fees and the actual submission of application and /or attending the actual interview. (Most of the embassy does not require interviews anymore though.)

At the beginning of 2019, I’ve decided to spend my Christmas break overseas. I thought, a South American trip will be easier because I won’t have to get any visas to enter a few countries but upon realizing that the flights are way more expensive there and with last year’s tragic Amazon fire and the economic turmoil in the region, I opted to just push through with a European getaway.

I will also be sharing some stories on my month-long mini-Euro vacation but before that, para sa mga pinoy who are also looking for some tips, I am going to list down what I’ve submitted for my Schengen visa application. 

First off, What is a Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area. It is valid for 26 Schengen member states and is for short stay for a maximum period of ninety days within a six months period. A Schengen visa allows the holder to travel freely across the Schengen member states.

The following 26 countries have implemented the Schengen Agreement: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

The Schengen visa application goes through VFS Global –

VFS Global, also known as “Visa Facilitation Services Global,” is an outsourcing and technology services company that serves governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-discretionary tasks for its client governments.

I applied for a short-term Schengen visa mainly for tourism so this post is only applicable for those who will be traveling for leisure in and around the Schengen states.

The general requirements I’ve submitted are the following:

1. Valid Passport

2. Round-trip flight reservation.

(Remember, you just need a reservation. Please don’t buy your tickets without an approved visa yet.)

3. Travel insurance policy with a with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros (I got mine from Malayan)

4. Proof of Accommodation (I booked all of my accommodations via booking.com which are all cancellable – again, do not pay in advance if you’re not sure that you’d actually be getting a visa.)

5. Proof of Financial Means

I’ve submitted a bank certificate indicating my account number, its daily balance and account balance.

I’ve also submitted the following:

Employment contract.

Current bank statement from the latest 6 months upon submission.

Leave permission from the employer. (The one that my employer provided includes the start date of my leave and the date I was expected to return.)

My latest income Tax Return (ITR) form or the 2316 form.

6. My Trip Itinerary (I included the places that are on my bucket list of course, but I also did a lot of research on what I should be see in each respective places – I think it helps that you personalized your itinerary as much as possible.)

7. A cover letter which really helped, I think.

The submission of application is by schedule through the VFS Global website, just register, log in and select a date and time of your submission. The Netherlands Embassy does not require any interview, at least as far as I know. You will be evaluated by its consul based on all the documents you’ve submitted.

I’ve had my schedule on November 15, 2019 – about a month before my intended trip and I chose the earliest time available – that’s around 07:00 AM. It was actually very straight to the point. You will be instructed on where to line up and just follow the procedure and give out the documents and pay. No interview needed, although the lady who collected my documents asked the purpose of my application (tourism was my answer) and the date of my intended departure from the country as well as the date of my planned return and that’s it!

I’ve paid around P4,876.00 which includes

Logistic – 901

Courier – 400 because I cannot afford to pick it up myself due to work but you can choose to personally claim your passport or have a representative pick it up for you.

SMS – 150, I thought this was a good idea at first but it turns out it’s just a waste of money. I’ve only received one message saying: Visa Application MAKA/********01 has been forwarded to the Netherlands Regional Support Office in Asia on 11/15/2019 and never got an update. I even had to call the office because I cannot seem to track my visa status online regularly because it’s not working all the time.

So the whole two weeks, I was being so paranoid because I am second-guessing my chance of getting approved since I’ve read horror stories of some pinoys who are well-traveled and well-funded still getting rejected for some reason. I’ve only been to eight countries prior to this application with 2 visa-requiring territories so I’m kind of hoping that would give me a bit of an advantage but yeah – it was a nerve-wracking two weeks for me.

But the odds are definitely in my favor as I’ve received my passport with an approved visa! It took 14 freaking calendar days! I was very happy because I was given a multiple entry visa, with 45 days validity and 30 days duration of stay!!!

Looking back, I thought it’d be very difficult but it’s really just straight forward. You just have to make sure that you have the resources, the right intention and the correct documents.

Hit me up privately or through the comments if you have any concerns or questions that I may help you with!!!

When this pandemic dies down, I would definitely apply again because I really had a blast visiting parts of Europe for the first time and I wanted to see more!!!

P.S.

Because we have this on-going pandemic and we’re now living the new normal, I am not sure about the changes when it comes to the visa application but I reckon it will still be the same, but with more precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid19.

I wrote this article a few months after the Pandemic hit the Philippines and I didn’t think that it would be so catastrophic that even now that the year’s about to end, the cases are still getting worse particularly in Europe. I hope the vaccines that were approved recently will give us hope to move forward from this darkest year of our generation.

My Blogging Resolutions for 2020!

Looking back, 2019 has been a very eventful year for me. I went through some changes and had some unforgettable trips where I’ve met new friends. Professionally, I couldn’t ask for more from my current job! With all of these happening, I feel like I’ve also missed doing some things that I used to do. Most notably, I was not able to read enough books. I think I’ve just read less than 20 titles in comparison from the last five years where I have always read at least 50 titles in a year. This means, less book reviews from me. I guess, I just didn’t have enough time to do it, or I just really need to manage my time wisely! Hah!

My trips overseas were the highlights of my last year and I forgot to share those with you. I may just find the time in the coming days to do that since I’ve just finished my month long trip to Europe where I spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve! Oh, I’m dying to share the pictures with you too.

I guess, my top blogging resolution this year is simply to write more and share more. I know that I’m not obligated in any way to do that but I just love that I’m able to practice my not so good writing, and share all of these experiences to the world, the new books I’ve  discovered, places, TV shows and basically everything in my life now.  I am also considering of actually consolidating all of my “blogs” into this blog where I get to share everything under the sun.

Another resolution is to be more active with the forums I’ve used to visit regularly. I know that we’re at the age where everything is in pictures, videos and social media but I believe that blogging is still a thing that would help us remember the past in a more detailed way! As for me, even if nobody reads my blog, I’d love for me to have something to look at to in the future and see the changes I’ve made or what I did or wrote at a particular time in my life.

I wish everyone a happy new year, and I hope to meet more people who blog about their pets, favorite films, TV shows, about Hillary and Donald, about climate change, about their latest thrift store hunt and just about everything in the world and beyond!

Updates! Travel, Work Loads and Just Adulting in General!

I was a bit preoccupied these past few weeks and have only updated my blog intermittently when I keep on telling myself that I should post more but because of life getting in the way, (or maybe I just had the lazy bug) I was unable to put up posts regularly like I used to. When I’m not working, I am traveling (or planning my travels while reading books) and basically just doing some nice stuff to counter-balance my stressful environment at work.

 

Just to give you a bit of an update, I went to one domestic and three international destinations recently – a Coron, Palawan getaway, a trip in Taiwan with a couple of my travel friends and a solo-trip in Thailand and Cambodia! The Taiwan trip was planned since last year ( a supposed SouthAm trip), as well as the Thailand and Cambodia trip (which was supposed to happen at the time Britney had her concert at the Mall of Asia arena but ya’ll know I had to prioritize Mama.) I will be writing separate posts for each trip which may or may not help travelers like myself who wanted to go to these cool Asian destinations which by the way are all visa-free for Filipinos! (Just recently, Taiwan extended their free-visa entry for Filipinos until July 2019!)

I also just had my birthday last Friday which I spent half of in Bangkok! Hah! And right now, I am just chilling in front of my PC (yes! PC) after watching Belgium snatched the third place from England in World Cup!

I am so not looking forward to coming back to work on Monday but a man’s got to do what he’s got to do yeah?

And one more thing, I am thinking of revamping my website but I’m still in the process of thinking what improvements should I make  and exactly what should this blog be really about. 🙂

Thank you for reading! ❤

Reaching Greater Heights: Mt. Pulag – The Third Highest Peak in the Philippines!

I’m an amateur mountain climber. I’ve climbed a few in the past, yes, but my health and time didn’t allow me to really get into it. This year, as part of my new year’s resolution, I promised to climb more mountains.

I found myself already on my second climb this year at the highest peak in Luzon, the Mount Pulag which also happened to be the third highest peak in the whole archipelago of the Philippines (next to Mt. Apo and Mt. Dulang-Dulang – both situated in Mindanao).

I even trained for this because I was told that it’s going to be strenuous. I’ve tried strengthening my legs for about three weeks since I just started working out around the same time this Mt. Pulag climb came about.

I joined the Bokal Extreme event along with with my officemates – the Kaladkarins – for this little “expedition” lol.

Travel time from Manila to Baguio was very smooth and fast – thank you SCTEX! At least around 5 hours inclusive of a couple of stopovers.

We got picked up at the Baguio Victory Liner terminal by what they call the “Monster Jeep,” I don’t have the foggiest idea why they call it like that since it looks like a regular passenger jeepney to me, though a bit bigger (ding!) . From there, we went to the DENR office for the registration and orientation. The travel time here is about 3 hours. We had a 30-minutes stopover for breakfast and a little photo-ops.

(Side note: You can also buy hiking gears here which I thought are way cheaper! ‘Bought my mess kit here!)

Before you’re allowed to climb Mt. Pulag, you have got to present a “Fit to Climb ” medical certificate and attend the 30-40 minutes orientation regarding Mt. Pulag, a bit of its history and the know-how of climbing it.

After the informative lecture, we went to the jump off site to set up camp for the night.

We woke up at around 130 in the morning and started the trek at 2AM. It was really muddy since it rained the night before and it’s still drizzling throughout our hike.

My number one advise for newbie climbers of this great mountain is to wear appropriate clothing. I was stupid enough to think that I could endure the cold by wearing my favorite football jersey so I was freezing by the time we arrived at the “first summit.” It was such a foolish move on my part so please, just please, wear something warm during your climb here.

For amateurs like myself, Ambangeg is the preferred trail. The hike wasn’t that hard even if it’s all muddy so I think if the weather was real good at the time, I thought it’d be a way easier trekking for us. It’s a good thing we waited for the weather to clear up and saw the beautiful mossy plains at the summit and the sea of clouds which is the summit’s main attraction. Watching it is like being one with nature – just beautiful! I think the whole hike ascending and descending took us close to 12 hours. Yes, it was that long but it was all worth it.

I cannot wait to revisit this majestic mountain in the future!

(This was a long overdue post. Since most of my blog posts are pre-scheduled, I didn’t realize that this one didn’t make it to my published posts. It’s still on my draft folder which I’ve only seen today! Ugh! Anyway – here’s my adventure at Mt. Pulag)

Cover Thursday: Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry by Peter Carboni

You’ve probably seen Fergie’s viral rendition of the Star-spangled Banner during the NBA All-Star Game last Sunday where she infused the US national anthem with her very own and very Fergilicious style. Uh, no. I’m not going to discuss that at length. She already apologized (I sincerely don’t know why she had to) but anyway, I just want to pay homage to my girl Fergie by featuring one of her hit songs as a solo act with our Cover Thursday this week – Big Girls Don’t Cry!

This version is an acoustic one from Peter Carboni. He sang it real good. And he’s cute too! Hah!

via Peter Carboni’s IG (@petercarboni)

We still love you, Fergie ❤

My January 2018 Book Haul!

I promised myself that I would try minimizing my book purchases this year and be more vigilant on book sale and promos! Hah! So for this month, I’ve acquired five books which got me busy for the first three weeks of the year. I was so engrossed with The House of the Scorpion* whose review I just posted earlier tonight as well as the disappointing I’ll Give You The Sun*.

I am currently reading Number The Stars by Lois Lowry and once I finished this, I’d try to reread one of my favorite books in 2015 – Wolf by Wolf* so I could start Blood by Blood as soon as possible! So exciting!

I bought The House of the Scorpion from PowerBooks and the rest are from Fully Booked. Big thanks to Fully Booked for carrying Ryan Graudin’s Wolf by Wold Duology! ❤

*Links of my reviews.