(2020 v.2) What I have in mind once this is over!

To brighter days ahead! – here’s a photo of what the sunrise looked like last Saturday morning, 18 April 2020 at 06:03 AM (GMT+8)

 

Oh, girl!

I don’t usually complain about staying indoors because I’ve always been built for it. However, cabin fever is really creeping in with the limited human interaction I’ve got. We simply don’t have any choice this time. We cannot go out as we wish to and we have to stay inside our houses to avoid contracting COVID-19. It’s the best that we could do to follow the government’s orders and to remain healthy during these trying times.

Our prayers and thoughts go for all of our front liners – healthcare professionals, law enforcers, people working at the groceries and food outlets, the maintenance folks that keep our surroundings clean and orderly… you’re our heroes! Thanks for everything that you do and now, more than ever, we will all get through this!

With that, I would like to encourage everyone who has some more resources to spare to continuously give and help amidst the pandemic. Your donations, regardless of how big or small it may be, will create an impact. Whether you donate for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) of our front liners or spare some cash and in-kind goods to feed our community, it can go a long way.

But what comes next after this?

I don’t know, really, but hey! I don’t want to get stuck thinking about what I cannot do. I want to focus on what I will do. This entry was inspired by Victoria’s post (she’s an awesome writer, please follow her!) and now that I have some time in my hands, here’s what’s on my list:

Adapting a new work set up

I don’t see any problem with my work set up now. I’m extremely thankful that I work for a company that allows us to be agile; that we’re not seen as a mere seat-warmers. And so, once the situation is finally over, I’m thinking about the potential of limiting the days I’ll be reporting to the office and simply work from home. I also hope that work-from-home folks now and their companies realise this and the potential to minimise, if not solve, the Metro Manila traffic.

Travel, travel, and travel!

I have not traveled this year. My cousins and I were supposed to head out-of-town for our beach outing but it went down the drain because of the quarantine and lockdown situation in the Luzon island. Here’s what I have on my list:

  • Assuming that the quarantine won’t get extended, a visit to Baguio with my partner this May for his birthday;
  • Assuming the COVID-19 situation gets better, I want to celebrate my birthday out-of-town this June;
  • Rescheduled beach trip from April to August;
  • Assuming the COVID-19 situation gets better, I will head to Japan for a week this September

The rest of the days in between, I’ll make sure to dedicate some time for my long, out-of-town drives. I honestly miss driving and I can’t remember the last time I used my car!

Have some (amazing) food

Whilst I’m lucky that everything we need is right within our reach, I still crave for some good food outside. I know, this will sound whiny, but dining in a restaurant (or even getting some take-away food) has been part of my routine and I cannot even do that not simply because we’re not allowed to leave the village anymore. I’m craving for some good Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese food… you know, anything Asian. But my first order of business is to get either a McDonald’s or Burger King fix!

Continue my passion projects

For a long time, I’ve said a lot of excuses to start my passion projects. This time, since I was able to start with some of it, I’ll make sure to continue doing it even when things lighten up. It doesn’t help at all when you have to worry about deliverables for work, about the global pandemic situation that’s getting worse day after day, and the incompetency of our government. Now that I’m getting the rhythm, aside from using more of my camera, I will slowly but surely start reading books again and make sure to hit my target number of books to read for this year. Moreover, I’m revisiting all of my notes from my language classes and will hit the ground running once I have sorted out my schedule, too.

Meet people and tell them how much I missed them

Aside from dedicating more time for myself, I want to make sure I meet some important people in my life. I realised that whilst messaging them and having a video chat with them is important these days, it cannot replace the warmth you feel when you see them in person. Even if I rarely say what I have in mind, I will like to take time to meet each one of them, thank them for holding on and keeping it together.

I miss my dad so much. He couldn’t fly back here in the Philippines because of the lockdown. He’s still working abroad but was supposed to be with us this April.

I miss seeing my cousins, aunties, uncles and my grandma, and by the next time we meet, I’ll make sure to let them know how much I missed them and that they’ve always been on my mind.

I would like to meet my friends once again and say how much I missed them. As a huge fan of hugging, I would like to hug them but that’s not what social (and physical) distancing meant – see the change in the mindset of people? It has started!

What other interesting things do you have in mind that you’ll do after this quarantine? I’m sure most of you have already planned how they’ll spend their time once this is finally over. To everyone who needs help and is fighting to survive, please know that you can reach out to us and to anyone who can offer help. We’re here for you and we’re all in this together! xx

TRAVEL: Around Taiwan (Taipei/New Taipei City) in B&W (part 1)

Traveling with my parentals is a double-edged sword. You’d love them because they’re not a killjoy and they wouldn’t say no for any adventure. On the other hand, you’d hate them because they do not like traveling if everything isn’t arranged/booked ahead of time.

A little backstory: my parents had a traumatic experience when we first went out of the country. We visited Malaysia and we didn’t have any itinerary with us; totally cool for us kids but a hassle for these adults. We were there for more than a week and we didn’t know what to do. As soon as we got home, my mum and dad said that we won’t travel anymore without booking with a travel agency to arrange everything for us.

The last time we all traveled together was in 2018. We visited Taiwan, per my mum’s request. As you’d expect, everything has been arranged by a travel agency. Despite a delightful experience, I still didn’t like it when the tour had to cut short because we’re following a strict itinerary and schedule.

Fact: I hate traveling when I’m pressed with time.

We were in Taiwan for about 5 days. We went around Taiwan, as far as Taichung, but for this post, I’m going to feature some snippets during our time in Taipei and New Taipei City.

lrm_export_623888080618702_20180901_021652555
I love the ceiling of the Taipei International Airport.
A little aerial glimpse of Taipei at night time.
lrm_export_623809075737912_20180901_021533550
Around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
lrm_export_623797010593575_20180901_021521485
Inside Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
lrm_export_623818599270482_20180901_021543074
Witnessed the changing of guards at the Martyrs’ Shrine.
lrm_export_623759120968871_20180901_021443596
Taipei has lots of gaming/arcade centers and this was one of them. I saw this cute couple whispering something to each other and took a photo of them.
lrm_export_623735315557427_20180901_021419790
A nice graffiti art somewhere near Ximenting.
lrm_export_623788711197119_20180901_021513186
Ximenting at night.
lrm_export_623892002904622_20180901_021656477
Trying to find my luck for a local sim in Zhongshan District.
lrm_export_623898239081079_20180901_021702714
Right outside of our hotel (Hotel B-1) in Zhongshan District).
Taipei 101
A view of the infamous Taipei 101 from below.
Beef Noodles
Local Taiwan Beef Noodles at Chef Hung Taiwan Beef Noodles at Ruihu Street, Taipei.

For some weird reason, I didn’t want to use my camera (Nikon D3200) to take photos and videos. Instead, I opted to use my old Samsung Galaxy S8 and tried shooting everything on B&W.

What I love about Taipei and New Taipei City during our visit was the cleanliness. I love how refreshing it is to see how things are highly organised and how the air isn’t as humid as it is in Manila.

If you fear that the language barrier will stop you from exploring (most people don’t speak English and would only be comfortable conversing in Chinese/Mandarin), you shouldn’t get worried. In fact, you can either Google your way to your destination or simply hail Uber if you feel a little extra (yes, they have Uber in Taiwan – how I miss Uber in the Philippines!)

I highly suggest getting their local cuisine. Taiwan is really known for its rich selection of food. I recommend going to Chef Hung Taiwan Beef Noodles shop and enjoy their Taiwan Beef Noodles + unlimited noodles and soup!

More photos (and stories about my parents) on my next blog – until then!

(2020 v.1) Of new beginnings, music recommendation, and what’s going on

New beginnings

A sunny view from above.
A sunny view from above.

Summer is here.
Summer is here.

It’s exactly 30 days since I last physically reported for work. Everything has been virtual since 6 March 2020 and I tell you, it’s not always good times.

Despite saving a lot of gas money and time, I kind of miss my night drives going to the office. My drive wouldn’t be complete without my nice music playlist and a cup of coffee on the side. But, really, the main reason why I bring my car to work is because of the terrible commuting experience in Metro Manila. Ever since I started driving going to work and taking advantage of the free parking, my life has never been so easy. Since the pandemic began and the enhanced community quarantine took place, I haven’t been able to use my automobile. I’m not sure anymore if I still know how to drive (LOL!)

I haven’t mentioned I started with new work before 2020 began, have I?

It wasn’t the expectation I had in mind but I’m thankful I found a new home where my talents are not only valued but also taken to the next level. It was tough but here’s good learning that struck me: some things do not go as planned and that does not mean I failed.

One of the many things that I appreciate right now is how agile our work setup is. We are not seat-warmers. In fact, even before the pandemic, I’ve been taking advantage of this work-from-home set up a lot to look after my well-being more and to spend time doing my passion projects. What’s just quite odd is that I have to constantly meet with my colleagues almost every day to catch up on some things.

New passion project

Sums up my feelings.
Sums up my feelings.
Catching sunrise.
Catching the sunrise at the roof deck.
Catching sunrise.
Catching the sunrise at the roof deck.
Some weird statues over good food.
Some weird statues over good food. Somewhere in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Hi, it's me!
Hi, it’s me!

I have planned to read more books this year. Since I was able to finish more than 30 books last year, I want to finish more this 2020. However, with what’s going on lately, I can’t seem to find the rhythm to start reading something. My mind just couldn’t stay focused. I can’t help but worry about everyone who’s very much affected by this COVID-19 situation, most especially my grandmothers.

To keep my sanity intact and make sure I add fuel to my passion this year, I will be posting more of my random outtakes. I am nowhere near being a professional photographer but since I couldn’t find the exact words to explain most of my thoughts and ideas these days, I want to channel it through another medium. There will be moments when I might have to write things but expect that the future posts will most likely feature my photos.

New music recommendation

My cousins and I were supposed to head out of town by late April. It was supposed to be our annual getaway, sans our parents and other family members. Everything has already been booked and we’re extremely excited to finally hit the beach – then COVID-19 happened and so we had to reschedule this sometime August.

Anyway, this F*ck Im High playlist was supposed to be my road trip playlist this summer. I wish to share the vibe with everyone who will find their way to this playlist. Let me know your thoughts about it!

You can check this link if you’re a Spotify user and this link if you’re an Apple Music subscriber. For reference, the playlist contains 23 songs and plays for 1 hour and 18 minutes. Here are the songs and artists included in the playlist:

  • Sunday – Forrest, Biskwiq
  • Through and Through – khai dreams
  • Janet – Berhana
  • Sunday Candy – Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment
  • Belong to You (feat. 6LACK) – Sabrina Claudio
  • Somethin Tells Me – Bryson Tiller
  • Every Kind Of Way – H.E.R.
  • Sahara – crwn, August Wahh
  • After the Rain – Willow Stephens
  • Cos I Love You – Tom Misch
  • Say You Love Me – Patti Austin
  • Lover Boy – Phum Viphurit
  • Train in Vain (Remastered) – The Clash
  • Shake It Loose – Astronauts, etc.
  • Shine On Top – Surfaces
  • Scared Money – NxWorries, Anderson .Paak, Knwledge
  • Me & You – HONNE, Tom Misch
  • Younger – Ruel
  • Love Me Less (feat. Quinn XCII) – MAX
  • Good Day – Surfaces
  • Morning – Marc E. Bassy
  • Traffic In The Sky – Jack Johnson
  • Wait – crwn, Jess Connelly

New relationships

My 2019 was a disaster. It’s a difficult year for me, if not the worst one. I have to admit, I made lots of bad decisions last year which made me think twice about how I’d take on my 2020. I made up my mind: I will dedicate this year as my year of redemption. I want to focus on my professional development, to improve my well-being, and to find comfort in solitude. I knew I was ready to shut everything down and disappear. But then, somebody came and changed my mind.

Our first conversation had been about how fond I am with reading books. He said he couldn’t even finish a book. I get it – reading books is not really for everybody. I’m happy that he noticed that from me.

Anyway, we weren’t supposed to see each other until 29 March because we both like things when it’s planned down to the smallest detail. We wanted to go to this restaurant in Antipolo City but the COVID-19 situation got worst and we had to cancel that. One random weekend night, I asked him if he’s free to meet me. I wasn’t sure where to take him. Pampanga was clearly on top of my mind but thought it would already be too late for us since we left Metro Manila past 9pm already. We spent the night somewhere in Quezon City and Taguig over food, coffee, booze, and stories. It was probably one of the longest yet the best night I’ve ever had in my recent memory. We connected on so many levels and ways that I am actually lost for words to describe what I felt at that moment. 

I was afraid that he might be another case of hi-hello-goodbye. After a series of failed dating attempts and cheating incidents in the past, I couldn’t help but remain skeptical and guarded. However, he was a different story.

My worries and insecurities are out of this world, I tell you. Yet he gives me a sense of validation at the right time, without asking for any of it.

I have the tendency to think that I’m not enough. Without any hesitation, he makes me feel that I’m the best part of his life now.

I am apologetic for almost anything in life. Despite his lack of patience, he provides me assurance that my ‘sorry’ should be reserved for something more serious simply because he understands.

You know what? I’m honestly still scared that everything is happening too fast. But the thing is, I’m ready to grab whatever the universe throws my way. I never asked for something big but life has blessed me with so much more than what I have hoped for.

And if you ask me if I’m happy, I would gladly say no.

Why? Because what we have for each other is more than the feeling of happiness – it is that true sense of security that we know cannot be found everywhere.

You are the sunrise to my sunset.
You are the Yin to my Yang.
You are the warmth in my coldest night.
You are the cool breeze in my summer days.

Thank you. Padangat takang maray!

+++

Travel Notes: 25 November 2018

Intramuros-Binondo, Manila, Philippines


My mum used to bring me with her to their office in Intramuros so it’s easy to say that I’m very much familiar with the area. Last Sunday, I went here with my brother to visit some of the old-but-reused buildings for their assignment. I’m delighted that I was able to go with him because it made me remember how happy my childhood was. It’s good to see that despite major developments here and there, the ambiance stays the same and that everything could still be reached easily by walking.

Head over to my Instagram and check out my new IGTV upload here featuring my weekend shenanigan with my brother!

Foulards for days! #HelpAFriend

#HelpAFriend: We have a couple of foulards (pronounced as foo-lards in English and foo-lah in French) at home and I plan on selling them. We don’t use them here — heck, I only use it as a “bag tag” to identify which one is mine. I’ve included some photos to let you all see how it looks like and how it can be tied on a bag (thanks mum for letting me borrow something out of your bag collection!)

Aside from being a bag tag, foulards can also be a great way to counter summer heat and to deal with the cold winter. It’s lightweight, made up of 100% silk and is very easy to wash and dry.

Our foulards measure 34×34 inches (about 87×87 centimetres). However, this ships straight out of Singapore, and so I apologise if the designs and stocks are very limited for now and might take a while to get delivered.

Giorgio Armani sells them for about $300 (PHP 16,200, $1 = PHP 54), which I don’t intend to do of course. Haha. If anyone’s interested, I’ll be delighted to help.

Thank you! 💕

Travel Notes: 1 November 2018

Cainta, Rizal, Philippines

On this day, when we remember what a great man my grandfather was, I’ve had the chance to be with my cousins, aunts and grandma. Finally, our busy schedules have aligned today, and as a bonus: I was able to speak to my dad on the phone albeit short. He’s travelling to France as of writing. I’m wondering what Tatay has been doing up there and whether he’s proud of what I’ve become today. I mean, who knows? X

Travel Notes: 26 October 2018

Pasay City, Philippines

The sun is setting

And you’re right here by my side

And the movie’s playing

But we won’t be watching tonight

I have no words to describe this week, but let me tell you than I am happy. I don’t think I am in the position to complain about anything, even though I feel empty; consciously know that there is something lacking in me. I am tired—beyond exhausted—but happy and content. To remind you how beautiful life could be, here are some photos I took on our way to the City of Dreams Manila in Pasay City for the #PFIP2018 5th Gala Night.

Have a good weekend, people! x

Travel Notes: 19 October 2018

Makati City, Philippines

Let’s all admit it – we never like how bad the traffic could get on Fridays and how humid it could be in the afternoon, but there is something about Makati Central Business District (CBD) which makes you love it as it is.

I visited Makati today after attending some brotherly duties at home. I had this sudden itch to feel the city vibe that only Makati CBD exudes. Although I weren’t able to roam that much, I still found myself in awe whilst at the elevated walkway near Paseo de Roxas and Greenbelt. I think it was just a great timing as there were few to almost no passers-by when I took these shots.

I didn’t bring my camera with me because I want to test the camera of my new phone – and it did not disappoint at all! For edits and colour play, I have created this new orangey preset from Lightroom. I’m sure this will work on natural lighting and I will continue using this until my eyes could not take it anymore.

Indeed, it’s a good way to get my weekend started and to end a busy work week! X

September music suggestion with Spotify and Spotify Premium

And August has ended – just like that! We’re finally entering the “-Ber months” and it means 2 things in the Philippines: one, the traffic will go from bad to worse because of the early Christmas sale and shopping madness; two, Jose Marie Chan will be all over the malls and parks. If you’re curious to know about his songs, you can check this Spotify playlist.

September

This month’s music suggestion, brought to you by Spotify and Spotify Premium, will feature artists you probably have never heard of. This is my way of reminding myself that there’s more to life than listening to my usual pop songs. Don’t get me wrong – I love pop songs and listening to one makes me happy instantly, but it’s about time I step out of my comfort zone and continue discovering new artists and songs to listen to. If you’d notice from my August music suggestion, most of the songs I’ve included were a little slow and soft. I don’t know, but it reminds me of the time when R&B was such a hit in 2000s.

Here’s the line-up of songs for your reference:

  • Diddy Bop (feat. Cam O’bi & Raury) – Noname, Cam O’bi, Raury
  • Inner Child – SATICA
  • B.O.M.D. – Clairo, Danny L Harle
  • Rebound – Brian Puspos
  • I Know The Answer – Rendy Pandugo
  • Your Eyes (feat. Jay Park) – Hoody, Jay Park
  • Mornings – RICEWINE
  • 4EVER – Clairo
  • Dead To Me – Kali Uchis
  • Poolside Manor – 88rising, AUGUST 08, NIKI
  • Like You – Hoody
  • Perfume – Roy Blair
  • April – Mondo Gascaro
  • Easy – Mac Ayres
  • Best Part (feat. H.E.R.) – Daniel Caesar, H.E.R.
  • Grey Luh – Berhana
  • Hunchback – Sobs
  • Flaming Hot Cheetos – Clairo
  • Sunflower – Rex Orange County

Out of the line-up this month, my favourite song to listen to would be Easy by Mac Ayres. The song reminds me of how easy it is to love somebody. Loving should never be complicated, although sometimes what we feel towards another person is something words could never define. With its slow beat, my mood can turn from frantic to calm in no time.

20 songs. 1 hour and 6 minutes total run time. I don’t know what can go wrong whilst listening to another chill playlist. I also want to know your thoughts after listening to the playlist and you can do so by posting comments or directly sending a message to me – would appreciate all of these to help me improve! X

Can You Survive Metro Manila for 1 Week in 1,000 Pesos ($19) or Less?

Where are you headed to?
Where are you headed to? Photo taken in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

What if everyone could take the public transportation because you know it’s efficient? We’re confident that our trains wouldn’t break down because it’s been maintained well. We’re happy to take the major roads and never worry about getting late for school or work – but that’s in a parallel universe where we don’t live in.

I had this ‘Eureka!’ moment last weekend when my mum and brother got stuck at UP Town Center because of heavy raining. While having some sumptuous late lunch at KOS Greek Ouzeri, I wondered, what if my job don’t pay as much as I get now? Will I survive an entire week of not being able to buy what I want and just stick to only those what I need? For this week, I’ve challenged myself to limit my work week budget to 1,000 Pesos ($19).

In a hot Friday afternoon, I’ve decided to ride an ordinary bus from Bulacan to Makati – I didn’t regret that moment. Photo taken in Valenzuela City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

Cost breakdown

What’s a good way to prove an idea and to tell a story? Experience it, and so did I! It wasn’t easy to start the week in a morning schedule whilst half of Metro Manila is ‘submerged’ because of the heavy raining for the past 48 hours. I do not know what’s with mornings but it wasn’t easy to course through the traffic. Gladly, I was able to manage this – I rode ordinary buses in broad daylight whilst exposed in dirt and pollution; to get to my destination, I walked for more than a mile or two to save money; I even have to ask for mum to drive and take me to the train station to cut my expenses down. I am very lucky to have supportive parents, but what about those who don’t have such luxury?

Total transportation cost sums up to 741 Pesos ($13.72).

I was lucky for my 2 days training at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education, they served free food – morning and afternoon snacks, and full-course lunch meal, all in a managed buffet style – (Shout out to Villa Salud!) During the remaining days of the week, I’ve brought packed dinner with me and some biscuits, crackers to save money. Moreover, I used the Starbucks stars I’ve accumulated in exchange for free drinks. The only two instances I bought food this challenge week were last Monday when I met my best friend and ate lunch other and last Friday when I bought turon and pancit on my way to the office.

I think this was the most difficult part of my challenge. I cannot simply win over a battle against hunger, and I realized – what if I didn’t have those stars, where could I’ve ended up to? What if I didn’t have time to prepare for my packed meals each day, would I be able to survive? What if I didn’t have those 2 days training, would I be able to eat decent meals?

Total food cost sums up to 184 Pesos ($3).

I usually have my hair cut every 2nd or 3rd week of each month. Coincidentally, my hair cut is scheduled during the course of this challenge week. I felt torn between sacrificing 200 Pesos ($3.70) with my preferred shop and going for this newly opened hair salon for only 40 Pesos ($0.74). I ended up choosing the latter despite the bad service. My hair cut was fine, but I wouldn’t date to go back there.

Total miscellaneous cost sums up to 40 Pesos ($0.74).

There’s a missing 30 Pesos ($0.56) which I couldn’t remember where I placed/spent on but I as of writing, I’ve managed to save 5 Pesos (less than 1 centavos in US $) the entire week.

The first time I felt helpless was when it suddenly started to rain heavily and I wanted to take a cab going home but couldn’t because I simply can’t afford one. Photo taken in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig using Nikon D3200.

About budgeting

I thought I was just too confident to ask people favour. I always believe that desperate times call of desperate measures. I also have instilled to value of walking instead of taking public transportation. With how the Metro Manila traffic is going, especially when it’s raining and the roads are impassable due to flooding, the only best option left sometimes is to walk. I have also skipped meals when possible and I could. This wasn’t something I’ve done before because I usually eat when I want to and when I have to.

If you’re wondering what’s the secret, really, there’s none. I don’t think that’s budgeting that I did because it felt like I didn’t have much to budget in the first place. Now I suddenly felt envious with those people who would just walk going to work from their residence. I wish it was fast, easy to commute from Bulacan to BGC, Taguig. But here’s what I have realized:

  • One battle you cannot easily win over is hunger. This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problem to deal with. If only my level of discipline was heavens high, I could easily do this, but I have a body of a mortal that needs feeding.
  • 1,000 Pesos per week is not applicable to everyone. As a disclaimer from the video teaser I made, I implicitly mentioned there that there is no ideal budget each week. Some people would spend more than 1,000 Pesos (like me), whilst others could spend less, but that doesn’t mean that we, who spend more than 1,000 Pesos each week, have inferior budgeting skills than those who spend for 1,000 Pesos or less every week.
  • The thing that will differentiate us from each other would be our expenses. If you’d have a look at your expenses, you’d easily notice that your weekly expenses would differ from each other – and that is okay.
  • Always think twice, thrice before purchasing anything. The first question you should always ask yourself is if you really need this thing you want to buy. Definitely, if you can afford and have extra money, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t even dare to think about using your credit card, if you have one, to meet your ends. It’s not healthy for you and your financial credit, most especially if you can’t pay off the credit right away and/or not familiar with the ins and outs of credit cards.
  • Find alternative options… only if you can afford it. I hate to break this, but most people these days wouldn’t trade comfort and convenience for anything that’s practical. I felt that a lot of people do not patronize carinderia anymore and we all have our reasons – sanitary issues, proximity, availability in the area, laziness to walk around… I am guilty of this and should never use my time as an excuse since my work has a very flexible schedule.

In Metro Manila, you can’t afford to walk slowly, most especially when it’s rush hour. You’ll get bumped, people will push you… you simply can’t. Photo taken along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard using Nikon D3200.

What I’m trying to say is…

Open your eyes.
Notice what’s happening around you.
Remain vigilant.

I have a renewed and now a never-ending respect for those people who are able to stick with their budget, especially to those who have a family to support, those who need to pay for their rent/housing, those who can afford to save even if there are tons of expenses each month. I am definitely not alienating anyone or any group here, but to those people who have the sheer determination and the ability to provide for their needs – the inspiration to do better and to keep a good financial standing moving forward is simply overflowing.

Some of my observations include:

  • Our traffic has gone from bad to worse. When I was in college, sometime in 2013, to get to my university, I used to take the same McArthur route from Malanday bus stop in Valenzuela City to Muñoz, Quezon City for only 1 hour. Now, it would take me 2 hours to do the same, and 3 hours at most if the traffic is really awful. How come, despite tons of road widening, improvements, that this has been the case?
  • If living within your means is fine, how about those who couldn’t even afford basic needs? I’ve always been told by my parents to never live beyond what I could pay for, and that’s true. I’m very lucky to land a good paying job to support my needs and wants and to, basically, live independently. I just feel for those who couldn’t even support their basic necessities in life. I wish the world isn’t that unfair but who am I to complain? I’m just a tiny voice out of the vast jungle full of predators ready to swallow me whole.
  • The basic burger with fries and drinks now cost at least 80 Pesos ($1.48). It used to 50 Pesos ($0.92) but now, your 50 Pesos can only buy an à la carte – without fries and drinks.
  • The commute to work or school kills us. This is a reflection of how bad really our traffic and transportation system is. We haven’t even reached our destination and yet we’re already tired. It’s exhausting – imagine allotting 5-6 hours each day on road, this could have been spent on other more productive things.
  • Our transportation system couldn’t support the volume of commuters each day. I wish to find options was as easy as changing socks. Could you imagine what kind of life we would’ve had only if our mode of transportation is more convenient?

This challenge also brought me to another level of understanding of how our supposedly basic needs are easily affected because of the changes in the tax scheme, the worsening inflation of the country, and the surging prices of goods and services. Why am I saying this?

My point is simple – my 1,000 Pesos ($19) last year could already last for a week and a half. Now, it barely lasted for a week. Had I not taken desperate measures, I would’ve gone overboard. Last year, my daily budget for commuting was just amounting to 165 Pesos ($3). This year, it has gone up to 180 Pesos ($3.33). Whilst some of you would think that it’s only 15 Pesos ($0.28) difference, it’s still a big amount of money – multiply 15 by 22 days (average no. of work days in a month), that’s still 330 Pesos ($6.11). I could’ve spent my 330 Pesos to paying for our water bill which don’t normally go above 400 Pesos ($7.41) per month.

Is this what we deserve after working hard, trying to provide for our families, in the hopes of being a law-abiding citizen by duly paying their taxes and contributing to the country’s supposedly booming economy?

I don’t know, but what I know is that I survived 1 week with 1,000 Pesos – if have to grade this, then my grade would’ve been “Barely Passed.”

*$1 = 54 Pesos