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.

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I love the ceiling of the Taipei International Airport.
A little aerial glimpse of Taipei at night time.
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Around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
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Inside Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial.
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Witnessed the changing of guards at the Martyrs’ Shrine.
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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.
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A nice graffiti art somewhere near Ximenting.
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Ximenting at night.
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Trying to find my luck for a local sim in Zhongshan District.
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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!

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!

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: 20 October 2018

Quezon City, Philippines

It was Becs’s idea to meet up here at Marindo, a newly opened restaurant located at the heart of Araneta Center in Cubao, Quezon City. Conveniently located at the G/F of Manhattan Garden, it’s not that hard to find but caveat that there are no parking space available except the open parking outside.

They were operational since 6 October and serves Indonesian-Malay menu. I MUST try their Laksa, even if it meant skipping my diet for the night, and boy, it did not disappoint for something worth PHP195 ($3.61). I’ve also ordered Vegetable Fritters for PHP90 ($1.67) for everyone (not in the photos) which was surprisingly good and it reminded Japan’s Okonomiyaki but less savoury which is what I like. ($1 = PHP54)

The first I’ve noticed was probably the clean vibe that Marindo exuded and I have to give it to those white walls, clean utensils and Instagram-worthy lighting which only some restaurants have. They operate on a self-service set up and you have to pay as you order, so please do not expect this to have a fine-dining set up.

Some of the best people I’ve known for roughly 9 years, albeit my first time to meet Marvz with Kiefer today. Thanks for Jeric, too, for still going all the way to Cubao from Cogeo even if it was already late. If it wasn’t for Becs‘s business (go check @powercasesmnl!), this wouldn’t be possible. Look at what I’ve ordered from them too, and it costs way cheaper than your Starbucks Venti drink! It was seeing everyone last night, and I think I should do this more often now. 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

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

[Week 8] What’s New?

One thing I like about 2017 is that it keeps on challenging me. Professionally, I have been tested on how I handle pressure at work. Personally, I have been challenged to increase my threshold and not allowing my emotions to get best of me. It’s only been 8 weeks since this year started and a lot has happened and changed already. I can’t wait to discover more things that 2017 has to offer to me!

Last January, we successfully launched a new campaign and we brought back our Blowout Party for our new Teammates. Spearheaded by one of our recruiters, Kyle, our Blowout Party was one of a kind, filled with exciting activities and good food. It was a first for this year and we will definitely do more moving forward. I can’t wait to meet our new Teammates soon and deliver a ridiculously good Blowout Party for them.

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After 11 years, my best friend and I had the chance to meet again! She and her family moved to the US circa 2006. Even though she would come back here in the Philippines from time to time, we never had the chance to meet. I am happy that I was able to see her, to hug her, and to tell her all of my stories. One day was not enough for us to do our catching up but knowing and seeing her again would be one of the best gifts that this year has given me.

In the hopes of living a healthier lifestyle and looking better than ever, here are some of my recent selfie. I am back at sporting a short hair and removing my facial hair every other day. A lot of people have been telling me to try to look cleaner. At first, I didn’t know what they wanted to say until I realized that I look differently without my messy hair and thick goatee and beard. Also, I’ve been jogging these past days. I promised myself to eat healthier and so to reinforce that one, I needed to exercise. The inter-site sports cup will happen this summer and I should be ready by then. We aim to win and in order to win, we all must be fit to play. I started mine and I will definitely continue this!

Just recently, TaskUs has been tapped as one of the major sponsors for Paragala: Central Luzon Media Awards and we were able to witness the best and the brightest stars in the media industry. I was able to meet a lot relevant people in the business and so our network here in Pampanga and the whole Central Luzon widened. I am thrilled and honoured that our ridiculously good company has been recognized and made a lot of noise before, during, and after the event.

Here are sine of my goals for the coming days/weeks:

  • Increase our candidate foot fall, thus close out the big ramps and classes this coming March and April.
  • Continue jogging and exercising everyday.
  • Increase engagement activities and initiatives for candidates and employees.
  • Watch move TV series and movies.
  • Save for my Cebu trip this June and our Japan trip this October.
  • Finish another book.
  • Research things and possibilities of getting to either Law school or Master’s Degree program in the future.
  • Find ways to not get bored at work.
  • Fall in love soon. Not that it’s a priority, but I want to keep this as an open option.

No words can explain how much I love how things are going my way and my pace. Nothing is going either too slow or too fast. I feel like I am on track in life not only because I know what I am doing, but also I feel good because of the people that surround me. This is the first time I can say that I enjoy everything that’s been happening. This would be the only chance I would say that I feel like I am growing. Here’s to more winning moments! +++++

  

In this life, I’m a wanderlust.

I don’t travel to places but wander and explore one life to another. You see, I don’t have that much friends unlike the others but I can easily find a connection to anyone. I neither have a clique to call upon when I’m down nor a batallion to fight back for me if I’m hurt. I only have my faith and my free-spirited mind.

The most difficult part of being a wanderlust is when you feel lost and empty but you don’t feel alone because you are one with the world; that loneliness is such an understatement; that when it’s easy to build a connection you can destroy one in a snap of your fingers.

When I see the potential to anything which might lead to something permanent I can’t help myself but wander and back off. 

I’ve grown tired.

I used to take things seriously, thinking that it will permanently and consistently stay there in my life, but wouldn’t. Now, I have learned to love the idea of impermanence and inconsistency. I have seen the beauty of people being inconsistent, things changing rapidly, and life evolving drastically. I’ve learned to accept the fact that I am temporary in anyone’s life.

I can get dumped because of my look; get forgotten because of my personality; get neglected because of my ideas; get taken for granted because of my long understanding and patience… I can either accept it or die with it, and I choose the former.

As a wanderlust, I’ve learned the value of solitude because it is where wisdom begins. If I stay here and do not leave, then I’d be the one left out. Who wants to be excluded and left behind? I don’t, but I have to accept it. +++

The Day I Quit You Was The Day I Started Loving Myself

 

Photo taken at Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, on a busy Tuesday afternoon.


I’m in a limbo
. I couldn’t say that I have moved on already but I know that the hurting is not there anymore at least. I don’t know why, but maybe I’ve moved on even before we broke up. I saw it coming. I had to be ready.

I remember when you talked to me once sometime around last week and found out that I was having a crush on somebody, you got upset and jealous. I didn’t understand why you were like that but I knew to myself that I was not making any form of revenge against you. But, did you realize that when you told me you had a crush on him I didn’t even flinch at all? Did you not think I got hurt? Did you not feel that I was upset but I was just not showing it to you? That day, I realized that I had to quit you.

You were my opium because you kept me high all the time that I didn’t even feel that I was hurting. You were the drugs you knew that I couldn’t quit before. You were the rapist because you used your charm to abuse me and my existence. You were the storm that kept raining on my parade. You were the excess baggage that I had to carry every now and then. You were once the alpha, but never was – and never will be – the omega.

Today, I’m planning my next adventure and I am so glad that you are not even part of it anymore. Moreover, it was really a tough decision to leave the group and to cut ties with you, even when you were offering friendship and peace to me, but this has to be done. It’s not about bitterness but finding a good way on how I could pick myself up again.

Then, you told me that you two were finally together but in a not so smooth sailing though. I was not hurt that I found out about the two of you. Why? I knew and learnt the hardest way possible – that getting sad about something that has been broken before is absurd.

Today I had to quit you to find myself that I lost 2 years ago for you. This time, I am ready to find a new love; to start a new chapter of my life; to settle down for good; to leave those lingering memories behind. Today, I had to quit you to make room for new learning for myself. Today, I had to quit you to give myself some breather and happiness. Your presence once shackled, suffocated me and I deserve nothing about you. You were once my sweetest downfall, but never again. +++