Saturday, July 01, 2017

Winter (Melon) in the Philippines

It's July 01, 2017 and half of the year has passed. This is not the time to reflect on all of our lost time - it's half of 2017 and you still haven't accomplished your weight goal. You still haven't laced up to run at least 10 kilometers in one go. You didn't avail of the promo Krav Maga lessons near your place because you think PHP 2,000+ a month (for 6 months) is too much wherein you'll actually learn and feel like Wonder Woman. You haven't started reading or studying for that dreaded exam and where are you now? You're xx pounds heavier, unfit, and you put the belly in belly dancing.

Well. It's not really you - it's me. I'm projecting my frustrations while it's raining peacefully and consistently here in Manila. And since I am enjoying this quiet at home right now (because my niece is taking her nap), it's like Switzerland during WW.

ANYWAY! The main point of this blog entry is to really just compare 2 kinds of winter melon tea. I have found the ready to drink variant from way back but it's just recently when we passed by the international (Asian) section in the supermarket that we found the powdered/instant one.

Presenting:

A.  Ready-to-drink Winter Melon Tea

The Tionghwa Winter Melon tea is made in the Philippines and has brown sugar mixed into it. It has 500ml (~PHP 55) and 1L (~PHP 65) variants. I get this thing whenever I see it and this is one of the reasons my mom doesn't want me to come whenever they go to the supermarket. I get it and slip it into the family cart. Leading milk tea stores offer a minimum of PHP 85 for your winter melon tea - whether it's just pure winter melon like in Gong Cha or it's mixed with black tea like in Serenitea. But you don't want to shell out a hundred bucks for something you'll down in less than 20 minutes right??

So what you can do is stock up on these winter melon babies and buy your fresh milk. Creamiest (not necessarily healthiest) brand out there for me is the Magnolia Full Cream Milk. In just 3 easy steps, you can make yourself happier than you were 3 easy steps ago!

1. Fill your glass with ice.
2. Pour yourself some winter melon. Be generous, it's only PHP 65 for 1L.
3. Pour full cream milk around 1/4 to 1/3 of your winter melon tea. Or whatever, suit to taste.

That's it!
Awww, Winter Melon and Fresh Milk on their first date.
I have shipped them ever since. Aren't they adorable??

B.  Powdered Winter Melon Tea

So I was content and really happy with my winter melon milk tea because it's so easy to prepare and all I need to think of after is to just wash my glass. However, I chanced upon this ray of sunshine and since I'm not a fan of powdered or instant anything, I saw one keyword that made me interested: STEVIA. It's a sweetener and acts as sugar substitute. And my mother is a diabetic. So this was an opportunity to introduce my winter melon tea to my mom. I got her one pack (I think this one is from Vietnam) and when I tried it out, it kind of tastes similar - it's winter melon after all! The only concern I have with this is that I can't pinpoint how much milk is needed to balance out the winter melon if I use just one sachet.



Verdict:
The ready-to-drink winter melon tea is still the reigning royal in this edition. The Cool Tea brand is good enough for diabetics or those who don't want all those sugar in their drinks. Winter melon is still the bomb for sweet fruit teas that doesn't taste weird when mixed with milk.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Singapore 2017

Oh hello, forever late post.

February is a pretty busy month for the family - both immediate and extended. There are lots of birthdays and get-togethers so scoring a weekend for yourself is a big feat. There was a seat sale last year for Singapore and so I decided to just book some tickets and fly out for my birthday. This would be the first time I'll be doing it because as I said, it's like a mortal sin not attending a relative's party. The most difficult part here is that my mom and I celebrate our birthdays just one day apart and I booked my departure flight on her birthday. This meant that after her birthday salubong, I have to go the airport already for my early morning flight.

It was 3AM. There was no traffic and we got there early. I was with my friend and we were thinking how we're going to spend 2 hours waiting for our boarding time. We walked and walked and rode the lift and saw the lounges. I remembered I have Citibank Premiere Miles as my credit card so I checked with the receptionist if they accept it and lo and behold, "Do you have a companion, ma'am? Just please present your boarding pass, sign here, and we're good."

Free food! Free access to a little more comfy chairs! Free coffee! Free alcohol! Free food! And they have cookies! It's my first time to get into the lounge probably because I'm also usually just about in time for boarding. Haha.

(Citibank's memo online says that their contract with the Mabuhay Lounge is only until Jan 2017, that's why I checked with the receptionist first who accepted my card anyway.)

I love you, Mabuhay Lounge.
I waited for take-off and then I was off to La La Land. I don't usually sleep on travel - land and sea - but for some reason, I always now fall asleep on plane rides. There was even a time I didn't even get to see the plane take-off. Once I am at peace in my seat, I buckle my seatbelt, and my mind flies away faster than a SpaceX rocket. In case you missed it, I went to Singapore.

How to get away from Changi Airport
If you have a lot of things with you, best bet is to hail a cab or Uber/Grab your way to your place. If not, you can still ride Bus 36 into the city. Take the lift or escalator down 1 floor and you can find the bus stops there. Look for the number and check your stop. Note that you have to stand at the open area if you have a luggage with you. Please be considerate and don't sit at the prioritized seating.

Kopi Teh? Teh Tarik? <3

We stayed at Strand Hotel along Bencoolen Street. The place is nice and convenient. They are currently building an underground station for downtown spots and there is a station smack in front of our hotel. This will probably bring up the accommodation price soon but for now, we're good with this. It's around ~ PHP 3,000 a night for 2 people and the room is huge. There's a lot of space for your guests and a lot of unofficial chairs to sit upon. You can have a party and you won't elbow each other's faces off. There is a 7-11 and a Food Republic (like a fancy foodcourt which houses a variety of food) just across the hotel. The only downside is that it has probably seen better days. The bath tub and the furniture are not new and there are lots of scratches on the television. Not the best but I won't trade it for bunk beds.

Say hello to the trees. 
Met with my cousin and another friend who live in Singapore and by default, they felt like they needed to help us go around the place. Well, I showed them my itinerary and they said it was too detailed. I'm risk-averse and I hate wasting time getting lost (or confused). I might still work on how I can wing things, but definitely not on a foreign land with borrowed time. So we went to the usual touristy spots because why not? Gardens by the Bay, Merlion, MBS, Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, and dinner at Makansutra. That was a wonderful day.

Holy shimutznaosfeasf! Always go crazy with chili crab!

Aforementioned sights can be found in one area - so you can take the very efficient metro and you'll also notice that their escalators are also on the rush compared to laid-back Manila.
It also gets better at night.

Hello, birthday! It was a Monday and Chinese New Year just concluded so we were not expecting lots of people who will squeeze with us. We were able to ride all the attractions we wanted, even those we didn't want to ride just because we have the place to ourselves. No long lines, no long lines, and there were no long lines! <3 I also bought our tickets online from the USS site and there was a promo then aside from our discount, we also have free photos as souvenirs. Haha. Ready for a family photo?? Since we were notorious in clocking extra steps in our Fitbit, we also went around Sentosa Island. Needless to say, that place is very interesting!
Who's your Mummy???
Thanks. I knew celebrating my birthday at Universal Studios was not a mistake.

Food in Singapore is one thing they're really proud of. You can grab snacks left and right and you'll only go hungry if you don't have money. 
Food is life in SG.
Definitely one for my birthday book. :)
I'm still hungry and foolish.


Wednesday, March 01, 2017

How to Clear Your MMDA Alarm for License Renewal

Reviving my blog because blogging is life. 

This is how an experiment of almost 3 years has finally come to an end.

DAY XX: Start of the Experiment
It was last August 2014 that I was traversing Manila with a friend and we were stopped by an MMDA Officer. As per suggested approach, I asked what was my violation and he shared the information freely and adding how much my violation will cost me. MMDA Officers need not to confiscate your license if you are stopped for having minor violations. I think they will only confiscate if you are either involved in a car accident or probably a major violation. So my fine is worth PHP 150. He said I can pay in any Metrobank branches within 7 days.

Check your violation and its corresponding fine here:
http://www.mmda.gov.ph/images/pdf/FAQ/Fines-and-Penalties.pdf 

So then I thought what if I don't pay my violation? Will they be inputting the violations in the system and have some implication in the future? Previous feedback from some friends of friends mention that they just ignored the ticket and it didn't have significant impact in their lives. I need to find out.

DAY 01: Renewing My License
Well. Here were are! Enter February 2017. I was able to find an LTO Satellite Office so I can renew my driver's license. Went to Ever Gotesco Commonwealth at around 1PM and found less than 10 adults in the room (there were a few kids and I'm pretty sure they were not there to apply for student's license as their feet can barely reach the floor from where they're sitting on).

I had my eyes checked and then the doctor mentioned that I was there at the perfect time - only a few folks come in at 1PM and 3/4PM. So if you're going to LTO Ever Commonwealth, be there at those hours. The eye test is already similar to optical shops and with new machines come a heftier fee - the medical fee costs PHP 350. No problem. I'm still within my budget.

And then I hear my name even before my bum gathered heat. I approached the counter and wham. "Ma'am. You have an MMDA Alert and this is preventing you from continuing the renewal process. You need to go to MMDA Office in Orense, Makati and clear your alarm. Once done, you can restart your license renewal." I cry. My violation from 2014 which I blatantly ignored is now haunting me with a promise of stress and unnecessary expense (hello, Uber or Grab).

DAY 02: Trying To Clear My Alarm and Redeeming My Pride
So! There. How do you settle your Violation? If you don't pay your MMDA violation, they add it to your name now. This, I'm sure of. I challenged them last 2014 and it looks like they do use the system now.
This is where you should be. There are multiple buildings around the area but
this is where your mission leads you.

MMDA Office Hours for clearing your violation is only until 5PM. They are open Mondays to Saturdays but I bet your license people flock in on Saturdays. I don't recommend that you go there early because this is not a case of "the early bird catches the worm". There is no lunch break and you better grab that opportunity. I went in at around 1:45PM and first thing the guard tells me is I need to have my license photocopied. Obviously, I didn't bring any. It was not mentioned on the website. There is a nearby photocopying station so I walked over and handed in my license. I got 2 copies because why not? There was no line so it was a fast transaction.

Back at the station, I filled out my form - name, address, license number, birthday, and phone number. Then you give it back to the receptionist and then they'll call you. Proceed to the Assessment Window (this is annoyingly called Window 2, where the heck is Window 1?!). Assessment person will tell you how much your violation fee is and you will proceed to...Window 1. Yes, Window 2 is Step 1 and Window 1 is Step 2.

There are 2 Window 1's in there. First is for the Violation Fee payment and the next one is for Clearance Fee payment. Clearance Fee is at PHP 30. It doesn't matter whether you've done your violation from 2 years ago. It has the same fee. I read in their flowchart online that if you have more than 3 unpaid violations, you are required to attend a seminar and from what I heard from my MMDA seatmates, you have to pay PHP 450 for that. It is scheduled 2x a week, with 2 sessions per day (7-11am and 1-5pm if I'm not mistaken).

After paying the Violation and Clearance Fee, you give your form in the Clearance Window. Wait for your name to get called and they will hand you out your Clearance Form after. It's a sigh of relief similar to getting your approved visa.

So I looked at my Certificate of Clearance and it says that it has 10 days of validity from date of issuance. What does this mean? I have to return to LTO ASAP and have my licensed renewed within 10 days.

Tips:
- Look for the MMDA Sports Gym / Sports Centre. Do not go to the other MMDA buildings, you are not intended to be there.
- Bring a photocopy of your license.
- Bring a pen as you need to fill out a form and sign the release book.
- Bring cash. Duh.
- Smile.
- Rejoice upon receipt of clearance form.

DAY 03: Renewing My License For Real
Armed with my Certificate of Clearance, my beautiful expired license, cash, a pen, and my medical form, I went to LTO San Juan (Aurora Blvd Branch) at around 11:55 AM and as it seems, my timing is perfect again. There were only a few people seated at the waiting area. There is no aircon here but it will not matter once I get my license. So I approached the "receptionist" and he stapled my driver's license to my medical form. I showed him my certificate of clearance which I had an adventure for and he just shrugged, "Okay na yan." I proceeded with Window 1 for assessment wherein  I just handed the lady my form. Please wait for your name to be called. Time check: 12 PM. Lady calls me at 12:11 PM and asks me to sign digitally and then have my photo taken. Well. That was quick. After 8 minutes, I get called to proceed to the Cashier and pay my renewal fee and late penalty. I was advised to call by June 2017 and that was it. In and out of LTO in 20 minutes.

They will return your license and will just issue you the receipt stating your new license has an expiration date 5 years from now. Ahhh, the power of a piece of paper. I am now guarding it with my life.

Total Expenses (PHP):
3 - Photocopying Fee
350 - Medical Fee (This is apparently the amount for mall-based LTO offices. At LTO San Juan, it costs PHP 200.)
150 - Violation Fee
30 - Clearance Fee
585 - License Fee
75 - Penalty Fee (because my license has expired already before I renewed it)
68 - Computer Fee

Total Time Spent:
Initial Renewal - 11 minutes (including medical check)
MMDA Clearance - 20 minutes
Legit Renewal - 20 minutes (no more medical check)

Wow. Life is an improvement when you go to the stations at 12PM onwards!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Post-Birthday

I can't believe I just had this post rotting here for February 2016. Seeing this, I finally had my grand reunion with this baby. The cap of my Nalgene was sliced through by an unknown force, rendering it sort of useless since it spills at the top. I can't find any other replacement here in Manila so my gracious friend gave me a replacement instead.

You can sip using the straw or you can twist the cap open and drink like a thirsty person.
But this is the surprise of the year. The Alunsina Handbound notebooks are the prettiest notebooks you can see in Manila. The paper might not be top-notch and you can score better notebook refills elsewhere, but they provide the best covers. Mine is a small soft leather Kislap with a Palamuti of a tree design. It has a pen holder which makes it the best notebook to bring on your trips or wherever you want. Need a notebook for your life goals? Check. As a bullet journal perhaps? Here it is. How about grocery shopping? This baby is a marvel. So how am I using mine? Well. I have a thing for notebooks and this is just sitting there bringing a smile on my face whenever I see it. In summary: I'm not using it. Shame. :|

<3
These 2 items are the only ones I uploaded last year. I must have something more but oh well. This can do for reminiscing my birthday last year. :)

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017

It's 2017 already! You're pretty sure time flies really fast whether you're enjoying it or not.

We know that "the days are long but the years are short" and it's applicable whichever way you want to see it.

2016 has been pretty stable for me and I just had a very realistic goal that time - to adjust and learn from what I am doing as well as of course, still travel. Maybe my 2016 is pretty good, not much has changed, just me getting older and wiser (by my own standards).

I am still in progress for my goal-setting this 2017 but so far, I'm liking the goals I have thought of. :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

nawalan na ng gana ang tadhana
nanlalamig yung dating nagbabaga

ang sabi mo walang hanggan
ba't nandito tayo sa dulo

pangako mo walang hanggan
bakit nandyan ka sa dulo?

pwede bang kalimutan mong may dulo
handa ako sa walang hanggan
pangako mong walang hanggan
akala ko walang hanggan

pero nandito tayo sa dulo

kung ika'y mawawala sa aking piling
dinggin mo ang aking bilin
lingon ka lang paminsan minsan
dito lang ako di ako lilisan

sa ating dulo

di ako lilisan

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ang daming nakapila sa Drafts pero ito uunahin ko:

Kung tingin mo unfair para sa iyo at tingin niya unfair para sa kanya, at walang gustong magbigay, baka mas fair sa inyong dalawa na huwag na lang. Huwag niyo na lang ituloy.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Engagement

My sister got engaged last March 12, 2016 and I was nowhere near Manila then. I was out in Badian, Cebu canyoneering and holding on to dear life. I was just told of the event (it's a surprise, I mean, who tells the girl she's going to be proposed to?) a week before, meaning I've confirmed my reservations and have committed to my friends. I know I'm questioning myself as to how I chose to proceed with my Cebu and Boracay trip while my only sister is getting engaged. It was supposed to be "just" a birthday dinner of her boyfriend, Kuya LJ, of 6 years.

Yaya Belle sent me a video of the event the same night and when I watched it, waterworks happened. My friend who's close to the family and was with me in the trip, cried, too. When our other friend came into the room and saw us crying, "Ay. What happened? Are you guys crying??" The usual retort while wiping our eyes with a "duh" tone we just had to say, "Ay hindi. Sinipon lang kasi may pinanood kami."

I heard of the full story when I got back to Manila. So my sister had no idea about it and she usually discovers the plans of Kuya LJ before he can pull it off. She said she initially thought during their anniversary that her boyfriend was going to propose. I was part of THAT surprise! Turns out he really planned to propose then; however, there's one major thing that didn't go as planned - the ring was not yet available. After that she didn't want to get her hopes up anymore. And so on that day, my sister was told by her boyfriend to wear a dress he got her before. He also was able to convince her to have her nails done a few days before. He didn't say where they'll be going (as they are weekend warriors, out travelling on weekends) so he just said she bring a lot of clothes. They might go surfing in La Union or up in Baguio or wherever. 

My sister said she was amazed by the family's acting skills. It was just like a lazy Saturday for them. My dad even had a haircut and had his hair dyed. "Dad, bakit ka nagpapa-dye?" "Gusto ko lang bakit ba." My niece was just following her all the time and tried to foil the plan by saying my sister's boyfriend visited the house. Good thing Yaya Belle was quick to add a few words to make my sister dismiss what was said. Such a sumbongera kid. 😂

What my sister didn't know, after she was picked up, everyone else took a bath, quickly prepared, and went to the venue. They even joked, "Ninang, sama raw Chesca sa 'yo!" And when the couple went to their dinner venue, Kuya LJ changed to a long sleeved polo and slacks from white shirt and tsinelas to which my bruha sister said, "Ay bakit ikaw bihis na bihis ako mukhang naka-rubber shoes?!" "Birthday ko eh!" Fiiiine. Haha. She was also surprised she saw my mom there. "Errr why are you here?" "Birthday ni LJ," ignored her and proceeded to walk somewhere else. When she saw lots of people, she already had an idea and she was getting nervous.  

He said he practiced, even going down on one knee in front of their boy, and yet he was so anxious that day he even took a bath twice to which his friend pointed out. He was sweating it out and couldn't hear well as his heart was pounding really loudly. 

Kuya LJ forgot his lines, cried his eyes out, broke the case of the ring (for some reason he can't open it!!) in the process, but when he got down on one knee, you know it'll be a yes.

A lot of anecdotes, photos where my sister looked like she's wearing rubber shoes while getting proposed to, everyone bawling their eyes, and kids screaming and crying with the crowd. I may have missed the moment when that memory happened, but I'll be pretty damn sure to be there for more stories worth sharing to the world. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

I remember the time my friend and I brought with us a plush toy of a dog, named Russell, and pretended he was a puppy. We even brought him with us in the restaurant and carried him while walking around UP Technohub. Good times. :)