18 August 2011


I'm retiring in a few weeks, at age 35.

For the first time in my professional career, I'll have the chance to enjoy a month-long (or more?) vacation. The longest I've gone on VL since after college is only two weeks. So I'm really looking forward to the long break.

As I mentioned in my past entries, this is my 35th birthday gift to me: freedom!

Freedom to:
  1. Wake up to no-alarm clock days
  2. Attend morning yoga sessions (without worrying that I'll be late for work)
  3. Run all I want
  4. Read all I want (lots of books in line)
  5. Nap when I want to
  6. Take long hot showers
  7. Spend time with my family (My parents and sister are scheduled to come home soon!)
  8. Spend time with my nieces
  9. Maybe even bring / fetch my niece S to /from school (I'd love that!)
  10. Spend time with my relatives (Balikbayans by September!)
  11. Meet up with friends
  12. Practice my make-up skills
  13. De-clutter the condo
  14. Pack for SG
  15. Organize a garage sale
  16. Try out simple, budget recipes
  17. Organize files
  18. Do photo shoots with my Hubby
  19. Plan out the next chapter of our lives
  20. Enjoy DVD marathons
  21. Watch films at the cinema for free (Yey, free!)
  22. Walk around the city (Confession: I haven't seen all of Manila. What a shame!)
  23. Volunteer for charity work
  24. If I have extra money, maybe enroll in more fashion / hair / makeup workshops
  25. Do nothing
The list excites me! But I have to admit, the no-more-payday reality is haunting me. But I know I / we will survive. Sandali lang naman. Hindi naman ito forever. We've saved a bit, of course. But we don't plan to drain the "Singapore Dream fund" dry.

This is where our childless by choice stance comes in handy. No child will go hungry with our decision to "retire" now, nang sabay. If ever, kami lang ang magugutom. Hahaha! (Thank God our families have pledged to feed us pag nagkagipitan. LOL.)

So how do I plan to survive the no-payday-for-awhile reality? I've been reading "simplifying your life" articles. And I'm actually inspired to try the ideas! Operative word: try. My recent ukay-ukay success may have been the first step towards...zen. Hmmm...

Sharing with you ideas to Simplify Your Life, from ZenHabits.net:

The Short List
For the cynics who say that the list below is too long, there are really only two steps to simplifying:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate everything else.
Of course, that’s not terribly useful unless you can see how to apply that to different areas of your life, so I present to you the Long List.

The Long List
There can be no step-by-step guide to simplifying your life, but I’ve compiled an incomplete list of ideas that should help anyone trying to find the simple life. Not every tip will work for you — choose the ones that appeal and apply to your life.
One important note: this list will be criticized for being too complicated, especially as it provides a bunch of links. Don’t stress out about all of that. Just choose one at a time, and focus on that. When you’re done with that, focus on the next thing.
  1. Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.
  2. Check out their website for the complete "Long List"

17 August 2011


Paris Hilton is in Manila. No, I didn't get to see her (have no plans of doing so). But just for fun, I'm playing six degrees, haha.

Paris arrives at the NAIA.
Every one wants a piece of her.

Paris had dinner with Manny & Jinky Pacquiao.
Makati Shangrila Hotel

Read from chuvaness.com that Paris is here for Century Properties' latest project, Azure.

Among Century Properties' award-winning high-rise projects is Essensa. Other Century Property condos: the SOMA project at the Fort, Grand Soho, Century City in Makati, the Versace-designed Milano Residences, Acqua, and our condo, Soho Central.

There's the connection! She endorses Century Properties, we live in a Century Properties project. Ang layo. LOL. So magka-level na ba kami? Hindi rin. Hahaha!

Paris with the Antonios,
the real estate family behind Century Properties.

Does the Paris connection make Century Properties' Soho Central a more prime property? Will that be good for us if we do decide to sell our unit as we go on our SG adventure? We'll see. *wink*

"It's a small world after all..."

Photos: from the internet 


Yes, the headlines bother me -- "Singapore tightens rules for hiring foreigners." But they can't scare me off. No one said the road would be easy. We just need to keep our seat belts on (plus helmets and butt cushions?) for the rough road ahead. "Have faith, not fear."

In times like these, I'm inspired by more lessons from extraordinary lives:
  • You're gonna have trouble doing a lot of things in life, but they can be done. If you say "I can't," that means there's no solution, you've given up, you've quit. But if you're "having trouble," that means that even though you may not know at the time how to solve the problem, you know there's a way - you're just having trouble. Let's figure it out. -- Matthew McConaughey, Actor, Director, and Creator of the j.k. livin Foundation
  • Don't give up. Fatigue, discomfort, discouragement are merely symptoms of effort. You quit, you fail. -- Morgan Freeman, Academy Award-Winning Actor
  • You can't figure out what you want to do from the sidelines. You need to jump into the pond and splash around to see what the water feels like. -- Ina Garten, Bestselling Cookbook Author and Television Host
  • If you have a strong desire and passion to do something, even when the smart advice is encouraging you to downgrade your expectations, I say don't listen. -- Davis Guggenheim, Academy Award-Winning Film Director and Producer
  • Have faith, not fear. Faith not just in myself but in something larger. It was this faith that allowed us to push through, without being stymied by potential consequences or paralyzed by what-ifs. -- Wes Moore, Entrepreneur, Bestselling Author, and Youth Advocate

12 August 2011


Hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday. Right away I said, "a photo shoot."

We're really a team, you see. He's into photography. And I'm practicing my styling, hair and makeup skills. A photo shoot would definitely be a perfect birth-date! So we turned our tiny condo into a photo studio. The first hour was devoted to hair and makeup; and the background, lights and camera set-up. The second hour was all test shots, experiments and adjustments. By the third hour we've found the "formula" and started having so much fun.

Through Hubby's Eyes: Me at 35

Dear J, thank you for always making me feel like I'm the most beautiful woman in the world (even though we both know I'm not!). Hahaha! Thank you for loving me, seeing me the way you do.


I knew my 35th would be a very special birthday. It'd be the year when I'd finally step out of my comfort zone to finally explore the world. It'd be the year I'd be spreading my wings. New country. New life. New job.

My gift to me: FREEDOM!

But as usual, nothing tops God's gifts -- the wonderful people in my life. Birthday bonding with my parents and sister abroad was via Facebook video chat. Birthday date with my Hubby: my dream pictorial (hahaha!). Will blog about it separately.

My other birthday dates...

A simple lunch at my cousins' Inasal place.
Above, clockwise:

With two of my favorite girls, S and S;

My dear brother's beautiful family
(another pamangkin on the way!);

S and S with books from Tito J and Tita A
(Yes, ako may bday pero ako ang nagbibigay ng gifts. Love that.)
plus a new Barbie from Grandpa and Grandma;

our Bday Lunch Group;

my yummy birthday cupcakes from little S;

a birthday surprise;

my dear cousins K and D;

my "30 something" cherry cake.

If you're in Marikina, try Ar-J's Manokan!

My business-savvy cousins opened another business:
an authentic Inasal joint,
in front of the Blue Wave Mall in Marikina.

AR-J Manokan gets to two-thumbs up from us!

Loved the Inasal (Paa) with unlimited rice
and their Kansi!
Hubby J had the Inasal (Pecho) take-out.
We agreed it had a lutong-bahay flavor.
Yung may pagmamahal sa preparation, not so commercial.

Our super busog lunch group also had
chopsuey and KBL (kadyos, baboy, langka).
Everything is so affordable.

My cheerleaders and best friends.

L and F are in town!
It was the perfect time to meet up.

We had dinner at Banana Leaf (YakiMix was super puno), Podium.
Then dessert at Cafe Breton.

See our big bags?
Dami kasing gifts!

My dear college friends have been instrumental
in my finding the strength to finally do IT.

For the nth time I say -- I may not be rich, famous or powerful, but with my marriage, family life and friendships, I know I DO HAVE IT ALL. It was a blessed birthday. Thank you.


Among the many things I'll miss when we fly out: sizzling sisig (Wikipedia: Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of pig's head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers).

So today, for lunch, I suggested we eat at Trellis (Matalino Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City), our favorite sisig place. When we lived in the neighborhood, we were Trellis regulars. As in pwede na raw kaming stock holders, hehe.

Our sisig style: Well-done. With calamansi. With rice and Coke.
Me: With lots of Knorr seasoning and hot sauce.


What's your sisig style?

11 August 2011


Watching the last main feature (aka last full show) is among our after-work no-gastos (thanks to our "super pass") bisyo. Below are the titles we saw the past two weeks.

Captain America: Saw it on 3D. Entertaining. Pero pambata.
  • Best thing for me: Chris Evans!
  • Best thing for J: The Avengers teaser

Rise of the Planets of the Apes: I was pleasantly surprised. OK siya.
  • Best thing for me: "No!"
  • Best thing for J: ?

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank: Loved it! Loved Eugene Domingo! Is it true the title's being considered as the Philippines' entry to the Oscars? (Pwede!)
  • Best thing for me: 3 types of acting (LOL)
  • Best thing for J: For quite some time now he held the same opinion about indie film making. Ayan, na-"immortalize" na. Hehe.

Larry Crowne: Slept through some parts. It's either the film was boring or I was way too sleepy.
  • Best thing for J: Age-independent learning. Second chances.
  • Best thing for me: I'll give it another go. I promise to stay awake.

10 August 2011


Andy MurdockLonely Planet author

Here’s what you need to do: take a break from your career and travel the world for an extended period of time. How does that sound?

If your response is ‘Sounds fantastic, but there’s absolutely no way I can do that,’ you’re not alone. But people do take career breaks, and quite successfully – so what’s the secret?

To cut through the many myths and fears surrounding the concept of leaving your job to travel, I spoke with Sherry Ott, a self-described ‘corporate IT refugee’ who writes the popular travel blog Ottsworld: Travel and Life Experiences of a Corporate America Runaway. Sherry’s initial career break trip inspired even more traveling, which she has been doing nearly continuously for the last 4½ years. Eventually (and somewhat ironically) career break travel turned into a career itself when she co-founded Meet, Plan, Go!, which offers resources, workshops, and general inspiration for aspiring career break travelers.

Sherry spoke to me from Beirut earlier this year about her experiences and what she’s learned from other career break travelers.

What were your major worries when first setting out?

It’s easier to answer what I wasn’t worried about …because I was worried about everything! However the main worries were:

I was worried that for the first time in my adult life, I would no longer have a paycheck coming into my account. There would only be money going out for the next year-plus. That was scary to me.

I was worried that I wouldn’t like being on the road, as I had never traveled for more than 2 weeks before and it was always a vacation.

I was really worried that I had to find a place to sleep every night for a year – 365 days of lodging. When I was in the planning stages, I was all of a sudden very aware of my own room and bed and that I took it for granted that I could just come sleep in my bed every night without thinking about it.

Not a one turned out to be a big issue at all. I loved being on the road, and at some point I was worried that I would never be able to be satisfied with standing still again (which is the case with my life now!). The money issue I had to adjust to, but pretty soon the idea of only watching money go out instead of in became normal. I had a certain threshold and I knew when my balance got down to a certain amount it meant I had to go home. As far as lodging, that turned out to be pretty simple too. I had no problem finding places to sleep nor did it bother me after I was on the road. It loved the benefit of meeting new people every night!

What are common leaving (and returning) worries you hear from others?

1. General fear of travel

I think there’s sometimes an element of fear of traveling in general – people don’t think it’s safe to do. If you read the US State Department warnings, you’d never go anywhere. I certainly wouldn’t be in Beirut now! They worry about everything that could go wrong and then they talk themselves out of it, which is sad as I feel very safe in most countries. Even more safe than I do in the US!

2. Family/friends won’t understand, will be judgmental

I find that people were quite accepting of my plans and the most common phrase I heard was ‘I wish I could do that.’ However I do believe that the people who may push back and be judgmental are people who are quite frankly jealous and really are upset you aren’t fitting the mold of what you are ‘supposed to do’. They are stuck doing what they are ‘supposed to do’ an most likely unhappy about it.

3. There’s never a good time to go

This sometimes feeds into people thinking their kids are too young or too old. Or maybe they are the age that they ‘should be’ getting married and be responsible. There’s all kinds of excuses we make for ourselves. What people forget is that your life goes on while you are on the road…you can still meet people, your kids can still learn, you may even fall in love and get married. For some reason we think that our possibilities end or our lives stop if we take off and do long-term traveling!

4. Stuff: what to do with all of it

I recommend to start this early – start downsizing a room at a time. I like the book The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. It helps you goes through your stuff and downsize each room. Also, start looking into options of where you can store things. Ask landlords if you can sublet.

5. Money: travel is really expensive

Tripping yourself up with the ‘travel is expensive’ myth is a sure-fire way to defeat the dream before you even give it a chance to breathe. Consider this: A vacation is different from traveling. On average, a vacation that includes a flight, hotel stays, and eating out for every meal can cost anywhere from US$1,000 to $2,000 per person per week. Plus when you go on vacation, all of your other monthly expenses don’t go away. You still have to pay for your mortgage or rent, car, electricity, water, magazine subscriptions – this all continues while you are on vacation.

However, when you travel, monthly expenses go away – no more electricity, water, heating, gas, car insurance, rent, cable, internet, gym memberships, etc. Plus you stretch your airfare dollar further when you fly and stay somewhere for a month as opposed to 5 days. The airfare is spread across 30 days instead of 5.

Before you know it, your monthly expenses disappear and the amount you will need to simply travel becomes ‘reasonable’. So don’t think about your budget in terms of a vacation budget; extended travel is much different!

6. Going back to work: the résumé/CV gap

You don’t have to hide your career break, you should address it. Include a short section about your career break and if you did any work related activities during that time (volunteering, teaching ESL, freelancing, ran a blog). Include an area/continent that you focused on especially if it has ties to your work in some way. Soft skills: most every career breaker will return with better soft skills acquired from their time on the road. Key areas involve risk assessment, negotiation skills, flexibility, patience, adapting quickly to changing environments, and enhanced decision making. List your travel website if you feel it’s professional enough to mention. Look over it with a critical business eye before touting it on your résumé.

However, be careful not to let your sabbatical sound like an extended holiday. Tell your potential employers that you wanted to improve your skills, take your volunteering/teaching English/diving/skiing/whatever ability to a new level to challenge yourself. If you describe your time in a focused manner it will help highlight your ability to push yourself.

Keep in mind some companies may think that taking a career break is irresponsible and means you could leave them at a moments notice too; therefore, be prepared to explain how loyal and committed you are. And consider if you really want to work for a company that can’t understand or appreciate the values of world travel.

Any unexpected benefits of taking a career break?

For me personally there have been a ton of unexpected benefits: an increased patience level and confidence that my future is on solid ground. I never felt confident about my skills before and my ability to simply survive…but now I’m super confident in those areas. I have picked up an immense amount of technical skills thanks to blogging. I have awakened my creative side in photography and writing. I have completely built new skillsets, while I was doing something I loved.

But I think the biggest benefit is that you learn not to sweat the small stuff. No issue seems as big as before you left.

Do you still have worries about what happens next?

I might be a special case. For me – no – I don’t worry about what happens next. I can’t even begin to predict the possibilities that will come my way from day to day. I’m so used to uncertainty that I’m now afraid of things that are concrete. However, I feel like after 4 ½ years of travel I have developed this attitude.

When I first came back from my career break of 1 ½ years, I was worried about what my next steps would be. I didn’t feel like I could fit back into the corporate world and it took a while to simply fit back into the US.

At this point, my life has completely changed. I sit here writing this from a family’s apartment in Beirut Lebanon. I have a place to sleep tonight, I have adventure waiting tomorrow – that’s all I need.

From: http://inside-digital.blog.lonelyplanet.com/2011/07/30/career-break-travel-myths/


They say timing is everything.

After my resignation, people have been asking – Why now?

Photo credit: time-management-central.net

Hubby and I have always had our life plan and calendar. The Singapore Dream has been part of it since our very first trip to the Lion City in 2005. We came back a few times to double, triple, quadruple, pentuple check – do we really want this? And every trip just reinforced the plan to work and live there one day soon.

2011 was the target year.
  • Because this year we would have saved enough.
  • Because this year we have better early retirement packages.
  • Because this year J turned 40, and I just turned 35. You know how you yearn for big changes, especially during major birthdays?
  • Because this year we prayed for “two things” and we got them!

It was not a knee-jerk reaction. We’re stronger, smarter, more practical than that. (And no, it’s not about you. You must be really so full of yourself to even think that!)

Why now?

Because we finally got our SG work passes! Yey!

Seriously now. Because we do not believe in "there’s never a good time to go." People can forever make up excuses for themselves. But the bottomline is – NASA SA IYO YUN. If not now, kelan pa?

Throughout my life, God has shown me that His timing is impeccable. His promise stands – He makes everything beautiful in His Time. Everything we asked for, He sent our way. Right on time.


When we woke up Saturday, a day after we've resigned from our TV jobs, my first line to J was -- "Ang lakas ng loob natin ha!"

Then I thanked God.

It has been a very, very long process for me. It was not like I woke up Monday, and decided to resign Friday. I've been praying for courage to walk away from my comfort zone and explore the world for years (Yes, years. No, I don't blog about everything). All those time J patiently waited. With a kiss, he'd always assure me, "When you're ready...." My family, relatives and closest friends were there throughout my struggle; and again throughout my victory over fear.

I'm really blessed with such loving, solid relationships. But above all, I'm blessed with a Father who reminded me every day -- "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Each time we visited Singapore
the dream to live and work there is reinforced.

Photo: J's

For anyone who has a dream but has been too afraid to pursue it, I hope these help...
  • "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway." -- Actor John Wayne
  • "When it comes to going for a job, a promotion, or just about anything in life, I'm pretty convinced that the meek will not inherit the earth." -- Award-Winning Broadcast Journalist Katie Couric
  • "I believe in serendipity, but I also believe there are times when you have to be the one who lines up everything so it can fall into place... After all, what's the worst that could happen? 'No' isn't really so bad, and 'Yes' might take you places you'd never expect." -- Broadway Director & Choreographer Susan Stroman
  • "You are surely afraid: of leaving what you know, of seeking what you want, of taking the wrong path, of failing the right one. But you can't allow any of that to warp your life... Acts of bravery don't always take place on battlefields. They can take place in your heart... You may still falter or fail, but you will always know that you pushed hard and aimed high. Take a leap of faith. Fear not. COURAGE IS THE ULTIMATE CAREER MOVE." -- Bestselling Author and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Anna Quindlen
  • "Fortune favors the bold!" -- Comedian and Host George Lopez

09 August 2011


We've taken the first big step towards a dream!

Living the Singapore Dream
Photo: J's

Each time I pursue my heart's desire, I feel equally excited and scared. And since I'm pursuing this dream with my dear hubby J, the excitement doubles, the fear is cut in half.

I'm glad to be moving forward, forward, forward while holding my Life Partner's hand.

As usual, God's timing is impeccable.