Category Archives: i like

Paper Junkie, Journal Love

People can be addicted to a lot of things: money, good make-up, nice clothes, living the high life, travel, smokes, drugs and sex. Me — my addiction is pinnacle geek girl — I am hopelessly, addicted to paper.

happy-valentines-day

My love affair with paper (notebooks, journals, drawing pad) began as a snot-nosed six year old. Usually depleting a month’s worth of pad paper in a matter of days because I can’t stop writing or drawing in them. Since I write quite heavily and forcefully on paper, my notebooks all bear the marks of previous day’s note like a forgotten fossil unearthed embedded in stone.

By the time I was twelve years old, I was already keeping journals. Back in the day, they come heavily-scented, with lock and key and usually in color pink. I would usually write my teenage angst and wrote laborious love letters to whoever was my object of affection at that time. I would detail perceived injustices, parental woes, dreams and wishes and pinings and drew whatever tickled my fancy back then. When I was in my 20s, I made the mistake of reading all of them (diary entries from the time I was in my early teens to right after college) and I immediately barfed on how clueless and how woefully romantic I was. I wanted to burn them lest I get famous and they come back to haunt me.

_aaa_calligraphie

Now in my 30s, I am happy to say that I have a really good collection of notebooks/journals – they range from Harry Potter journals from Universal Studios in Japan; a stitched-up notebook made from an old book by a street-side gypsy in Paris; to Calligraphy worksheets bought from a Paperia in Barcelona; to the ubiquitous Starbucks and Coffee Bean Christmas journals.

In between that are the many notebooks I collect, now gathering dust in my bed side table because it takes me a great effort to use them. In my paper-junkie mind, I wanted to use them for something great (like a travel notebook or bullet journaling) and not just as a mere notebook for mundane stuff like Comm Campaigns or work notes (for that purpose, I often use a Jordi Labanda/Milquerius wide-bodied, graph lined hard covered notebook).

_aaa_journalcbtl

In between the notebook hoarding, of course there’s the extensive pen collection: ball point pens, nib-point, calligraphy pens, brush pens, etc.

Some women love the smell of a newly-bought leather bag, me -I get a kick out of the smell of a newly-opened notebook and the sound of a pen scratching on paper.

_aaa_paperjunkie

Hopefully, one day, when I am already blessed with kids — I hope to have a little tyke who will share her mother’s love for paper and ink. Sure, everything is online now – but, tell me what can be more romantic than a wonderfully-written poem, it’s ink barely dry, on parchment? Or a great journal entry, detailing an adventurous travel, concealed in a leather-bound, well-worn, dog-eared journal?

 

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GrabTaxi and Lazada – Making Life Easy

I am not exactly the techie type and I easily, easily get rattled when my Smartphone acts up and I have no idea why. My work demands that I immerse myself in social media while my foray in blogging has kept me sane — however, deep in my heart, I am still an old-fashioned girl who loves writing letters instead of email, reading actual books than Kindle and writing on my journal (been journaling since I was 14!)

But I do know when to appreciate technology — mostly because of the convenience it has brought us. Right now, there are two service companies whom I have recently discovered and have thoroughly enjoyed using.

GrabTaxi

I love my city — but let’s face it. Hailing a taxi in Manila, in the middle of rush hour and in the pouring rain, is like being subjected to eternal damnation in hell. Cabies sprout horns and tails turning into devils behind the wheels. They will negotiate with you, tsk-tsk-tsking madly either because you are going too far or too near or too crowded and it’s traffic. They will attempt to haggle a price they find appealing never mind if it’s worth your kidney and spleen. In the rare chance that you do get a ride and your driver happens to be a minion of Lucifer Morningstar, you will go to places you’ve never been as he tries to drive you around the Metro. This blog post won’t even discuss perpetuated by so-called “evil cab drivers.”

And then comes GrabTaxi.

grab

GrabTaxi, available for FREE download on iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms, is the first and largest taxi app in Philippines and South East Asia that enables passengers to book taxis in just a few taps of their smartphones. It is also available in Malaysia, Singapore, and Bangkok. GrabTaxi aims to revamp the local taxi industry by introducing simple, cost effective mobile-based technology to both the supply (drivers and demand (passenger) sides of the distribution chain. With this technology, GrabTaxi hopes to optimize the matching process between drivers and passengers. (from the GrabTaxi website)

Bottomline: it allows you to have instant access to taxi using your mobile device without having to be subjected to the torture of hailing a cab in the middle of the city streets. I downloaded GrabTaxi before and its competitor and used them both for hailing cabs.

When I first used it in early 2014, I was more partial to the other taxi app because it was faster and drivers from GrabTaxi had a habit of canceling my ride at the last minute. But by the time Christmas season of 2014 rolled in, the other taxi app has become annoying — drivers won’t bid on my ride unless I add a tip or there are fewer confirmed cabs in your area when compared to Grab. GrabTaxi, meanwhile, seemed to have cleaned house. Gone are the rude cab drivers and those who had a habit of cancelling rides at the last minute. A conversation with a GrabTaxi driver while in the middle of traffic confirmed this. According to manong,the company has become more stringent in affiliating drivers, especially those who received complaints. The driver also seemed very happy being affiliated with GrabTaxi — they talked about winning cameras or bringing in extra earnings to their happy wife. This year, I decided to save space on my phone and deleted the other app. I am okay with just having GrabTaxi on my phone.

How to use

cred
it to source
credit to source

Since I don’t have a car and my job needs me to do ocular inspections for branding of branches, media visits or interviews, I have become really dependent of GrabTaxi. It gives me the convenience of having a cab wait for me as I exit the office (especially nowadays when the heat is too much), gives me peace of mind that I don’t have a psycho for a driver (Driver profile appears as part of your app), you can have your ride receipts sent via email for easy filing of reimbursement for Transpo Allowances.

Convenient shopping with Lazada

As a woman, I should love shopping. But…when it involves long lines, swollen feet from all the walking, frazzled salesladies, crowds that rival the next 1D concert and grumpy customer service agents — then I tend to tap into my (non-exitent) male gene and skip the mall altogether. I love quick visits to the mall when really needed. For instances such as these, I tend to drop by, choose what I want, bring it to the cashier and get the hell out of the store as fast as possible. I don’t like haggling or jumping from one store to another to compare prices or being followed by a salesperson while I inspect the goodies.

Then, I discovered Lazada.

credit goes to owner
credit goes to owner

Lazada positions itself as the Philippines’ hassle-free online mall, where consumers can choose the product they need in the convenience and safety of their own home.

According to the Lazada website:
“Lazada is offering to every shopper in the country—an internet shopping mall that will make your every online purchase effortless and risk free. Seek, find, shop, and enjoy your items right at the comfort of your home. Gone are the days of hearing the never ending tunes of malls, the crowded department stores, and enduring grueling traffic; Lazada is here to keep everything you need within your reach.”

The Lazada Homepage where the list of products are arranged based on their brands
The Lazada Homepage where the list of products are arranged based on their brands

I am not a frequent or avid online shopper, but I like browsing online shopping sites like Amazon, Rakuten (for my Japan goodies) and Lazada to see if there are tempting deals that are just too good to pass up. What’s good about Lazada is that all the products are listed according to brands so you’ll have the option of choosing the one the best fit your budget. There also deals that are too good to be true. My sister and I purchased our favorite perfume, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea when, during net browsing, we chanced upon one of their advertisements announcing up to almost 70% price drop on selected perfumes. In fact, we only paid PHP999 each for a 3.2 oz bottle that sells for more than PHP3,000 at the mall. Lazada gives you the option of paying on delivery or paying online, depending on your preference.

How to purchase
LZD-Delivers_compressed

Recently, I am considering of buying a water dispenser for more parents but had no time to shop and look around the many appliance centers near my office. First, because I was just too busy in the office and too tired to even consider going to the mall. I also have no compulsion to go from one place to another to check and compare products so I decided to visit Lazada and see if there are water dispensers on sale. I saw three brands, and was planning to buy one already — until mom came home the next day lugging a huge box with a water dispenser inside.

For a busy person like me, the presence of services like GrabTaxi and Lazada provides a bit of relief in an otherwise already chaotic schedule. While I am still waiting for the time when we can already order groceries online and have it delivered to our homes like in South Korea, these new services are already a big step towards the development of more and more apps or websites that makes life a little bit easier.

Disclaimer:
This is not a sponsored post, nor a paid advert. This material was written with my own biases and opinion.

Why is it hard to be financially responsible?

Infographic from the Money Summit & Wealth Expo 2012
Infographic from the Money Summit & Wealth Expo 2012

How do Filipinos rank in financial literacy?
News from Rappler, 16 July 2013

The Philippines recorded 68 index points and ranked 8th among 16 Asia-Pacific countries covered by the latest MasterCard Index of Financial Literacy.

The Philippines’ score in MasterCard’s 4th annual survey is almost the same as the Philippines’ index score of 68.2 in 2011.

“This Index of Financial Literacy is a good measure of whether and how people in the Asia/Pacific region are making informed decisions around their home finances,” said Georgette Tan, MasterCard’s group head of Communications, Asia/Pacific, Middle East & Africa.

The recent survey, released on July 3, was conducted with 7,756 respondents aged 18 to 64 from Asia/Pacific markets between April and May 2013.

Three major components are considered in the calculation of the final index score: basic money management (50% weight), financial planning (30% weight) and investment (20% weight). Regional Aggregates had been calculated via the average of the components of individual countries before these weights were applied.

Philippine respondents rounded up 67 index points for basic money management, 74 index points for financial planning and 58 index points for investing.

The ability to manage money involves skills such as day-to-day budgeting, paying up bills, handling credit commitments and saving up for big purchases. Investment proficiency includes understanding bank statements and complex investment concepts.

New Zealand remained at the top of the list, with 74 index points, and also in matters related to fundamental money management skills. China has come out as the most proficient in investment, Myanmar in financial planning.

Japan fell at the bottom of the chart with its overall financial literacy at 57 index points.

“There are divides across our markets that reflect the gap between the developed and the developing. Financial literacy is a concern where a large proportion of society are without the support and education that is taken for granted in the developed world,” Tan added.

A developing country, the Philippines was the sole market from the list to have low levels of financial literacy from the demographic of 30-year-olds who are married at the same time. Becoming financially savvy is more pronounced with marriage and increasing family obligations, such as household expenses, education and financial commitments.

Link to original site here

saving is a bitch
saving is a bitch

How about you? Do you find it easy to arrange your finances and set it in order?

For almost five months now, putting my finances in order has been my sole obsession. I don’t know what prompted my quest to scrimp, save and invest aside from the fear of dying and leaving nothing to my family in spite the crazy hours I spent working.

As embarrassing as this may sound, my financial IQ is nil and almost non-existent. I lack the discipline to save my money and look the other way when it comes to my wants and not needs. I am currently trying a lot of ways to save, invest and keep. I’ve read somewhere that 10% of our salary should go to our savings, 20% to our investments (different from the rotating money in the bank) and 70% should go to our day-to-day expense.

I wish I could tell you that everything is going according to plan and that all my savings are growing according to the same gaant chart that I prepared with gusto. However, the reality is that, like any other Filipino, my monthly expense sometimes outweight my monthly earnings. Instead of allotting money first for my investments (mutual and emergency fund) and savings (revolving fund) accounts, what happens is that I am forced to pay for my bills before I set money for my savings. According to the many investment and financial websites I have studied, what is correct is to pay yourself first before you pay others.

Here are some financial literacy tips from Investopedia

1. Responsible use of credit cards
If you have a credit card and you’re barely paying the minimum payment due per month, then there is something seriously wrong with your financial spending. Credit cards are convenient tools and provides you financial flexibility but they shouldn’t be taken in as substitute to cash. Stop using your credit cards to pay for your wants (yes, very easy to say when there’s no H&M, Forever 21 or GAP near your office). Credit cards should be used for emergency expenses only (thing is: a plane ticket qualifies as an emergency to me).

2. Pay yourself first
As mentioned earlier, make it a habit to pay yourself first before you start paying your bills and other obligations. Since this is the part of my financial journey where I struggle the most, I am planning to do something to improve how I do this. One plan is to NOT use my money, and not withdraw anything unless I have paid myself using the medium I discovered — 10% savings (revolving funds) and 20% (investment/emergency funds).

3. Have an emergency fund in hand
Shit happens — people get sick, appliances get broken, unemployment happens and insane discounted tickets to Japan gets announced (kidding on this one); it’s best to always have money in store to use for instances such as these. Since I was young, I was told that one must have at least three times the worth of her salary in her bank account. But apparently, amount should be equivalent to six times your salary in order to cover living expenses and even cases like hospitalization.

4. Stop keeping up with the neighbors
Just because your neighbor happened to buy a new car doesn’t mean you have to line up to the dealership also. Be contented with what you have. Your neighbors do not pay your bills, so their opinion doesn’t and shouldn’t count on how you live a financially-independent life.

5. Have a budget
…and stick with it.

Tales of Sayuri: Have you ever tried to bathe a cat?

I didn’t know when I started to be a cat person. For as long as I can remember, I have always been in love with dogs. I owned a good number of dogs growing up — the oldest was Nick who lived to 70plus in human years. Nick’s whole name was Nicholas Carter-Mesias, yes — he was named after the youngest member of Backstreet Boys by my obnoxious college friends.

It’s only when I got married when I started being the equivalent of a human slave to my lovable (but bratty) cat, Sayuri. Sayuri was picked straight out of the middle of the road, after I chanced upon her — then just a tiny kitten — picking a fight with a neighborhood dog. Sayuri, about a month or two old then, was determined to hold her ground against the large dog which was known throughout the neighborhood as a bully to cats and smaller breed. With one swipe of her tiny paws, I was immediately fell in love with the little devil who has a wild shock of black fur. From hanging laundry to dry, I ended up plucking the kitten from the street and bringing it to our home.

sayuri3

Sayuri is now six years old, no longer the cute, little kitten battling the dog ten times her size. But I guess it’s true when they say that cats have their own personality — because, this cat, has tons. Sayuri knows how to push our buttons (do cute things, get treats in return), and has assimilated herself in our little unit that it is now impossible to think of life without this “bundle of misery” (that’s my term of endearment for her).

Maybe, because we don’t have kids yet that we tend to spoil Sayuri so much. Deep inside, we knew that Sayuri can never replace having children or that she is a manifestation of another person whom our two-person family is lacking. However, having Sayuri with us given us insight on what real responsible pet ownership means.

mike

sayuri2

We have a very limited grocery budget, a part of that goes to Sayuri’s food. She is partial to kibble from Friskies, but preferred the Ocean Fish soft food from Whiskas. Imagine calculating the number of cans of soft food and pouches of kibble she needs for a month. Imagine the dent it makes on our budget! I can assure you, that cat is more well-fed that I am!

When she was younger, she used to catch rats. Actually, she is well-known for being a mean little rat-killing machine and the neighborhood loved her for that. But we all know that rats are dirty like hell. So, we had to have her treated due to the gum disease she developed due to trapping and killing all those pesky rodents. She smelled really bad and suffered from gum sores — the vet recommended that we make sure she stopped from hunting rodents and quarantine her along with a steady intake of vitamin C, antibiotic and brushing of her gums to rid of the bacteria.

sayuri

Imagine trying to brush your cat’s teeth and gums! Suffice to say, I emerged unscathed, save for a few scratch marks on my hand. This was nothing. When she was younger, we attempted to bathe her. The bathing experiment ended to a quick trip to the City’s Veterinary Office to get rabies shots after Sayuri freaked and made a hotdog sandwich out of my right hand after I attempted to shampoo her hind legs. For close to three months, I was known as “the stupid girl who tried to bathe a cat.” (FYI — In the Philippines, there is an old superstition that it is bad luck to bathe a cat. Will lead to seven days of rain). More like, it’s bad luck to bathe a cat because it leads to rabies shots.

Another problem with having a cat on “house arrest”is addressing the cat’s need to poop and pee – two things that both carried the smell of instant death. If you are a cat owner, you know what I meant. The stink of cat poop and pee is second to none. It will make your house smelly and will drive you mad with the stench.

For this, we had a kitty litter. We were using the store bought kitty litter brands which is also hell when it comes to maintaining the cleanliness of the house. It’s a constant cycle of scooping, cleaning, vacuuming and scrubbing. After running out of kitty litter tonight and being informed that kitty litters in 2 of the nearest grocery stores are out-of-stock, I was forced to improvise.

For a more environment friendly kitty litter, I took some old newspapers and tore them into tiny pieces, placed it in the litter box and sprinkled it generously with baking soda to counter the smell. Saw Sayu did the number 1 and 2 and it was a success! And no smell at all!

Ideally, the shredded/torn up newspaper should be washed with water, mixed with a bit of fabric conditioner, drained of water, mixed with baking soda before being turned into small pellet-shaped “nuts” which can serve as a more environment-friendly and organic kitty litter. Read instructions here:

1. Shred newspaper in a paper shredder and collect it in an unused litter box.

2. Soak the paper in warm water mixed with a few squirts gentle, biodegradable dish soap. The shredded paper takes on a cooked oatmeal consistency. The paper won’t come completely clean, but the water will turn grey.

3. Drain the water (an old colander works wonders) and repeat the soaking process minus the soap.

4. Sprinkle baking soda liberally on the wet paper. Knead it in to the mixture (you might want to wear gloves to avoid getting ink on your hands).

5. Squeeze the remaining moisture out until it’s as dry as you can get it.

6. Crumble over a screen and leave to dry for a few days.

7. Once it’s dry, put about an inch and a half to two inches of the paper crumbles in the litter box. Scoop solids daily and change it once a week. It takes about a half an hour to 45 minutes to make a 2-3 week supply of litter

Source: http://www.treehugger.com/culture/pet-topic-make-your-own-newspaper-cat-litter.html

Unfortunately, I really don’t have time right now so I resorted instead to newspapers shredded into small pieces and sprinked with baking soda. Worked really well.

There are days when I get really lazy and I am tempted not to deal with Sayuri’s food, litter and even her gum-brushing. For times like these, I always think of the fact that having a pet (like having a child) is a big responsibility and it doesn’t end the moment the cat stopped being a little ball of fur and cute. I do not regret any minute of taking care of Sayuri. Her loyalty and love is enough payment for me.

…starting you blog anew

It’s almost the end of December — so how do I recover the many days that this blog has been left untouched. I could give you a lot of reasons why I haven’t been updating lately —

The Sad, Melodramatic Truth
I have been busy with life, particularly saving a dear uncle’s life who suffered a stroke. Without a family, without health care insurance, without anything to his name — someone had to be the decision-maker and make all the financial and health decisions for him the whole time he was confined in a hospital. Guess who that was?

The Painful Reality
Truth be told, there are instances where I thought of finally giving up blogging. I mean, what am I to say to still catch your interest? Sometimes, I run out out of things to say or write. Or worse, I have a great idea only for me to self-edit the rough draft and click the “trash” button instead of “publish.” But no matter what I did, I simply can’t let go of this space. This has been my little haven for more than three years and I can’t imagine not having the avenue to share my thoughts. Also, it tickles my hardened, blackish heart to know that people take the effort to read what I write. I don’t need to be famous or blog for profit — having people read my posts and comment. That’s reward enough for me.

The Excuse
I have been too busy with work. Getting promoted as department head had its perks but also a lot of drawbacks. Not having time (to even brush your teeth!) for anything, much less update a blog has become a convenient excuse.

Eventually, I decided it’s about time I change the tone and angle of how I present my little adventures through life. While I still won’t be able to share about my the glitzy lifestyle of the rich and famous (which, I am neither) — I can still assure you of unabashed, unapologetic views to life. As my new title says about this blog, you may use this as a guide — but only if you are ready to a life of constant chaos, adventures and mortifying moments that can leave you pining for anonymity.

I am glad to be still with you and I hope my future posts can guide you through your wild abandon and through this cycle called life.

I am so glad to be back 🙂

Writing about Nothing

What should I write about?

That’s the common dilemma of someone who maintains a blog. I had the opportunity to read this blog from beginning to present and I saw how this blog evolved from a diary of “All Things Japan” to now a venue of rants for a “thirty-something corporate slave-desperate mom-wannabe.”

I have written about adorable Japanese boy bands, questionable fashion sense from JPop girl groups, fashion magazines and food up to fertility woes, marriage and the joys of being a corporate slave. Reading on my previous entries, I noticed that I had time then to write. And I write about everything!

Now, posts are fewer in between and usually it’s even my every day woes. Not surprisingly, this page has become therapeutic since I get to air out all my hang ups and rant about the general suckiness of things. Posting has become a cheaper alternative to therapy or seeing the shrink. By writing down my frustrations sometimes, I have managed to avoid pushing people off the railings of the penthouse floor. It is an escape, an opportunity to go back to the old days when I used to maintain a diary.

In the early days of this blog, one of my former office mates recommended that I monetize the blog by placing ads or working with some PR people. It’s something I refused to consider, being happy of the traffic I get. I also enjoy the fact that this page is not beholden to any one and that my reviews are solely my personal beliefs and not potential online pick-ups for the PR agencies and their respective clients.

Sometimes, I don’t know how much I could share online — especially on my personal and private life. I always say that I have resorted to cannibalizing my life just to give you my daily fodder. All secrets out in the open, worries and challenges flayed and discussed up to the last detail. After all, who would be interested to hear about the office woes of a typical Filipina?

I used to think that starting a blog is merely a hobby, but in the end it’s really a commitment to the discipline of writing and the timelines usually associated with it. You have to find new topics to write about. Or maybe you could write about nothing and make it sound like it’s something?

Superhuman, possible.

In a perfect world, I wish to believe that I run through sheer willpower and awesomeness, and yes the manic OCness that feeds my desire to arrange and plan everything. In my desperate bid to be “Employee of the Century”, I have resorted to working 12-hour work days, literally burning the candle both ends until I am reduced to a miserable sickly wimp. In the process, I have also managed to alienate and piss people off — no thanks to my sheer impossibility.

Unlike the Man of Steel who can recharge his powers through prolonged exposure to the sun, I need something to recharge my dying cells and replenish my energy without having to resort to burning myself to a crisp. While a big part of me is crying for a permanent vacation from work, we all know this is impossible — no thanks to the responsibilities usually associated with growing up and growing old. There are bills to pay, friends to meet, projects to finish, a family to take care of — the list is endless. How do we even keep up?

In my mind, this will be possible if only I have Superman’s ability to fly, The Flash’s superhuman speed, Batman’s trust fund and Iron Man’s brains — but alas, the only I one I got was Robin’s inability to keep himself out of trouble. So with an event to finish, a three page to do list and an advocacy campaign that needs attention, what’s a girl supposed to do? I wish one of the options was to hibernate, but a girl can only dream.

You see, I am sickly. I maybe tough but faced with stress and the lack of sleep these fast few days, I can feel my energy flagging away. I am also beginning to resemble Princess Fiona (before the curse was lifted).

I don’t know if it’s because I am slowly turning into an ogre or because I was just too sickly for my own good that my friend gifted me with Berocca, an effervescent drink and vitamin tablet, promising me that I’ll be back to my usual groove in no time at all.

Berocca. Cape not included.

When DH had the case of the sniffles, I told him to take Berocca and what do you know? The sniffles did not progress to the usual route of colds turning into cough turning into flu. I tell you, DH is one of those people who gets really sick whenever he gets the flu. But just one tablet of Berocca diluted in water did the trick.

Well, it’s really not surprising considering that these little babies have Vitamin B-Complex (to sustain stamina and vitality), Vitamin C (my favorite vitamin! for a healthy immune system), folic acid (helps body produce energy), among many others.

a healthy alternative

And the really great thing about Berocca is that it does not contain sugar, caffeine or any artificial stimulant–which is weird, considering you’d feel all juiced and wired up after drinking. Literally, it’s taking your energy level from zero to maximum, giving you the energy to finish your work and not look like a harried slave at the end of the day.

I have developed a habit when to pop these into a glass a water. It’s usually around 3PM when my energy level is starting to give way and I am starting to literally melt from the stress of work and the pressure from the bosses.

So yeah, I may not have access to Clark Kent’s “Fortress of Solitude” or with Bruce Wayne’s Batcave but I got all the “power” I need, neatly tucked into a green tube. So, the next time that Justice League is recruiting, give them my number. I might be able to save the world in between lunch meetings and a power point presentation!

FULL DISCLOSURE:
The publicists of Berocca has gifted me with samples for my own personal use. I received no compensation for writing this piece.