December 10, 2013

Beware of Traveldotcom.ph

My mom hired traveldotcom.ph to do the legwork for our family reunion this year. She paid everything around June, but the travel date is December, last week.

On Airport Transfers

We spoke with someone named Amir Arzaga and it was such a headache for us. During the trip, he threatened to cancel our airport transfer (land only) because we refused to make a deposit for the boat transfer (which was optional and can be paid at a much cheaper price on the port itself - Amir was charging us 1500php/5pax but it was supposed to be 250php/5 pax only).

On Accommodation

We paid almost 30,000php for room accommodation, and airfare for 5pax. Upon arrival at the hotel, we found out that the room reserved for us was a single room. My mom ended up paying more to change to a much larger room. When we talked with the hotel staff, we found out that traveldotcom.ph and Amir Arzaga is blocked in their hotel. They were just able to book because they used Agoda and our names to reserve the room.

On the Travel Agency itself aka Amir Arzaga / Traveldotcom.ph

He was very rude to my mother and I. When I called him to clarify why he would cancel our airport transfer that we already paid (just because we didn't want to avail of the boat transfer he was offering), he raised his voice and told me that he already explained everything to my mother. Also, his text messages were more than unprofessional, it was tacky, arrogant, and downright blood raising. I've never been so hassled by a "travel agency" before. And I'm posting this because I was very disappointed and annoyed with their service. 

Because of what happened, my mom doesn't want to arrange our annual family reunion anymore so the responsibility to organize the family trip has been suddenly passed down to me, mleh. 

Beware of them unethical business people!
Arlet

P.S.

Look! I found similar testimonials too: http://go-travel-dot-com-reviews.measuredup.com/8772837

-----UPDATE (February 2, 2015)----------------------------

Just got a message from another traveler:

Hi sis, recent victim of Amir here. he now goes by the name of Arkian Austria. same modus, and Travel Dotcom now uses Asia Travel agency to book with La Carmela.

A simple search in Google, and you'll find other testimonials. Currently, I'm still coordinating with the one who messaged me on how I can help in filing a complaint. Let me know if you have further information or if you'd like to help.

December 2, 2013

Tuguegarao Sounds Far

Whenever my friends and I are lost, we would say that we must be in Tuguegarao. We just "figured" Tuguegarao must be far, because it sounds so distant from civilization.

I guess, that was my only reason for wanting to see Tuguegarao. Not one of us knows where it is, we just say, "hey, this place is deserted, are we in Tuguegarao?" Sometimes when I'm lost, I also text my friends, hey... I think I'm in Tuguegarao... HAHAHA yes we are all geographically-challenged beings. 

There's not a lot to see in Tuguegarao itself, but it's a good jump off point for different nearby caves, and beaches. You could also head to Batanes or Aparri from Tuguegarao. 

Getting lost in Tuguegarao

December 1, 2013

What it's Like to Travel Solo as a Girl

I have never been a big guy so I don't know how it's like to travel as a big guy. I am, however, a puny looking, cute, little girl who frequently travels alone. HAHAHAHA okay, I may have overdone it a bit with my adjectives. Seriously though, I look fourteen:

Sometimes, I can also look like twelve.

In general traveling alone makes you thick-skinned, and you become desperate for human communication so much that you learn to talk to anyone about anything - from NBA fights to religions, from tricycle drivers to churchgoers. Hopefully, you also develop a habit of taking selfies, otherwise, you'll have no photos of yourself at all.

As a female though, traveling alone can be a bit more tricky. You see, when you look like a good girl, nice people will usually be ten times nicer to you - interviewing you about your travels, warning you of things, places, habits to avoid, telling the drivers where they should drop you off, or even going out of their way to walk you to the bus terminals or something. Usually, these good souls are old, grey haired people or mothers.

Conversely, assholes also become ten times more of an asshole to solo female travelers. They try to advance acts that will solicit your attention - even if you make it obvious to them that you dislike what they are doing. This doesn't happen often though, but when it happens, it can be traumatic. The regular culprit for this kind of actions are middle aged men. If you're in a public place, you can just make a scene (make it obvious that you are being bothered) and someone will surely ask what's going on and he or she will help you.

As for people who try to rip you off, they don't care about what your sex is. If they think they can make a living out of you, they will.

By the way, I think what makes me feel safer during my travels are (1) my whistle - I carry a whistle everywhere I go so when someone bothers me, I can easily make a scene. If no one is around to help, I can just then run as fast as I can to the nearest "help desk", offenders don't usually pursue a target that seem prepared as it could put them in a difficult situation (2) the fact that I'm relatively a fast runner too, and (3) I know self defense since I was a taekwondo player back in high school - I wouldn't count on it though, I'd rather blow my whistle, run and look for help.

So what is it like to travel solo as a girl?


Well, you get special treatment - it can be good or bad depending on who is giving you special treatment. HAHAHA don't worry, most people are nice if you're nice, and most people will try to look out after you if they see you alone.

Stay safe and see you around!
Arlet

November 29, 2013

Why I Didn't Stop?

I make plans, and I follow it. And in rare cases that I veer away from my plans, it's usually because of my intuition. But during my last solo trip in Tuguegarao, I seem to have been too stubborn for my own good.

My itinerary was a cave and a nearby town.

The weather was bad and occurrence of thunderstorms were reported - not an advisable weather to go spelunking. But hey, the weather could lighten up, right? So I went on.

On my way to the cave, the tricycle I was riding got flat, so we had to stop by at a vulcanizing shop. Usually, I would hail a new tricycle rather than wait for almost an hour to have the tires fixed and replaced- but I waited anyway, and so I went on.

When the tires were fixed, I asked the driver if I could sit on the roof of the tricycle since the one occupying that "seat" got off moments ago. The driver just laughed and dismissed my request, saying that the road ahead is rough and mountainous.

I was sitting inside the tricycle, the front was transparent plastic so I could see the outside. On the corner of my eye, I saw the driver looking down; I was texting, and when I looked up... we hit the owner jeep in front of us. The impact was so great that the back of my seat toppled over me and out. The driver's hands and head were bruised and swollen with blood, but I think he was fine by then... he went out and argued with the owner of the jeep. All that time, I was just staring outside and thinking what if I was sitting on top of the tricycle, would I be in coma right now? I hit my head and my left knee, but I didn't want to burden the driver so I just laughed it off, and fixed my seat. And so I went on.

A few minutes later, the driver apologized. He said he can't drive anymore - he was hazy. I was nowhere near the cave. He said I could hail a new tricycle or calesa, but there was nothing to hail... And so I went on, walking.

I was walking alone on what seemed like an excavation area, without locals. It was heart pounding, if I may say.

I walked on slowly for less than an hour until I reached Callao cave. I was pretty damn proud of myself. Once there, I found out that there were only 4 guides, because it was Pacquiao's match. I couldn't wait for the 4 tours to be over since the locals strictly reminded me that I should not take long there for I will have a hard time getting back in the city. And so I toured the cave, alone.

It was dumb, very dumb thing to do - especially when you see warning all around saying "No Guide, No Entry" 

The trail was so muddy, slippery, and unknown to me that I decided to go back. I almost got lost. By this time, my left knee was aching terribly. I thought I was done with my adventure, but lo and behold, I still didn't stop, I went on.

I hitchhiked with a couple of guys to Baggao cave, without knowing (1) how far Baggao cave is from where we were and (2) who I was with - probably not the best idea to do if you're a girl. It was ughm... very thrilling and awkward at times, and I'll be more careful in case I repeat such acts. 

In Baggao cave, it was already too dark, and an old lady warned us of the mermaids that play tricks on people. It was like a scene in Pedro Penduko. Well, it made me smile. I am a sucker for these kinds of narratives. Because of the darkness, we ended up in the corner of a sari sari store, they drank gin and smoked weed. I was eating biscuits and drinking from my water bottle - I could very well be drinking milk to their eyes, HAHA. The discussion suddenly shifted to Duterte, and I stupidly mentioned the word NPA.

Everyone tensed up, and hushed me. One of the guys whispered that I should not mention "that word" in the barrio because someone might be listening. Suddenly, a flashlight went on and someone walked toward us and scanned our faces. My face was blank but my mind was scared. One of the locals who were drinking with us assured me that I'm fine, just don't mention the term in rural areas again...

I could still mention a lot of things that went wrong, but what I am most disappointed of is getting german measles after the trip, and ultimately, missing my trip to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia today.

So why didn't I stop?

Because I didn't want to. I didn't want to worry about what bad people can do to me, what bad the world can do to me. I didn't want to worry about the bad weather, or getting lost, or not following my itinerary, because if I did worry about every thing that went wrong, then I'd have a hard time enjoying the world.

That solo Tuguegarao trip was my scariest and most exciting so far, but I don't think I would want to experience such again - maybe with little subtleties I'll think about it. 

See you soon!
Arlet

September 27, 2013

Six Minutes per Chapter

Six minutes per chapter is my average reading time for Hunter x Hunter manga, however it can take longer around 10 minutes if the story is circling around a complex strategy or technique of sort or if the story is too emotional that I have to take a few minutes to smile/contemplate/ whatever. HAHAHA

Some Hunter x Hunter spoilers ahead.

I was 11 years old when I first started watching Hunter x Hunter. Gon Freecs, the main protagonist of the series was 12 years old. Now, he is 14 and I am 21 - WTH, HAHAHA but seriously speaking, Gon Freecs is kind of my role model in life, WAIT WHAT? HAHAHA yes, I get really weird when it comes to Gon. I mean his strategies are admirable - creative and smart! and his character is also inspiring! It's making me awkward too. WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I SAYING?! HAHAHA but yeah, some friends have called me out on this weirdness saying I can't have a fictional character as my "role model in life." But I can't help it, most people I meet or know are just... never mind. HAHAHAHAHAHA

I hope Togashi Yoshihiro gets himself together and continue Hunter x Hunter already. it's been 15 years since he started the manga, and I believe we're only halfway through the story because Togashi mentioned 3 or 4 more stories after the chimera ant arc. If this goes on, we'll need another 15 years for it to end. Is Togashi like Komugi (Chimera Ant arc) who has calculated everything from the start or is he still thinking of the plot (especially now that Gon and Ging have finally met?)

As I mentioned, Gon and Ging have already met, that was the previous plot of Hunter x Hunter, so I suppose the next 3-4 stories are the 2nd part/plot of HxH? Will it be enough to tie all loose ends - Dark Continent, Netero's son, Gon's mom, Killua's grandmother, Alluka, Kurapika's revenge, Kororo's fight with Hisoka, Gon's transformation to that ... big guy, the chimera eggs that's about to hatch, the next hunter exam, Leorio's ambition, etc. Hmm, the story's progress is just taking too long!

Sorry for spouting out all these, I just can't stop thinking about HxH after doing a marathon of the 2011 anime series and the manga. I swear this anime makes me smile and contemplate positively about (my) life. I'm really reconsidering getting a Gon-inspired tattoo. And again, yes, I'm weird. HAHAHAHA

"Sometimes you shine so brightly, I need to look away" -Killua to Gon. I died a little.

Anyway, playtime's over. But I must say, a little nonsense from time to time feels amazing.

Cheers!

September 18, 2013

California Maki, Almost

Because of a series of unplanned events, I now have (relatively) more time for myself. That being said, I try to catch up with my whims - that includes movie marathons, brushing up my history, reading books, drawing, swimming, prank calling my friends, occasionally contemplating with life (WAIT whut? mehehe), and of course, being in the kitchen!

For last night's midnight snack, I decided to make California maki for my father and I (my brother and mother are not fans of Japanese food.) Let's start?

Step 1. Ingredients

You will need (1) Japanese rice, (2) nori, (3) crabsticks, (4) fish eggs, (5) mango, (6) japanese mayo, and (7) cucumber. We didn't have japanese mayo so I just used regular mayo, and I don't really like cucumber so I didn't put one. HAHAHA 


For 25 pcs of California maki, I used up the following

1. 2 cups of Japanese rice
2. 2 spoonfuls of fish eggs (I don't understand, why is this thing so expensive?)
3. 5 crabsticks (the thick ones)
4. 2 sheets of Nori

September 8, 2013

Lifehack: Get drunk to know what you really want

When making an important decision, I tend to be very procedural about it: I list down mutually exclusive pros and cons, and then give it a week (sometimes more) to see if I will still feel the same way. There are even times when I keep an ad hoc diary just to list and rate my emotions per situations. Unfortunately, there still comes a time when I just can't make a decision firmly.

That's when I give myself the room to be emotional instead of logical. And what better way to find out what you honestly want than to get really drunk and remove all your pretenses and politically correct adjectives? Well... there might be a lot better ways to do that, HAHAHA but getting drunk produces the fastest result. And since I'm pressed for time:

Cheers to a good person! Always.

Just like that, the die is cast. Change is on the way. 

Another revelation: My ear is bleeding

I think it's obvious, but let me state it anyway: I am fascinated with dreams, and how it processes our waking life. Hence, I keep it a habit to write dreams that give me immense feelings of wonder. Some (not so complicated) dreams actually make it here in my blog.

A few nights ago, I had another dream that I think would do me good if I try to understand it:

I dreamt that I was accompanying someone to have his health checked up, but instead the doctor and nurses noticed that my ear was bleeding profusely. I checked it and saw how the blood was gushing from the inside of my ear. I was worried. I tried wiping off the blood from the inside to stop all the bleeding, but to no avail. 

My interpretation:

I think this means that I'm losing too much emotional energy listening to so many people and taking their considerations more than my owns - that I'm not acting in accordance with my true self - hence the dysfunctional ear.

Prophetic interpretation:

I also feel like I will be hearing some bad and offensive news in the very near future. Deep sigh.


Cheers to a good person!
Arlet


Edited September 9
I did hear some bad news.

August 26, 2013

Abolish Pork

Abolish Pork

We do not care as much as we want to believe we do. And because of that, we will get tired of participating in this movement. And we will get back to living our comfortable lives - complaining about the system or worse, not even caring about the system. We will think that it is someone else's duty to do the right thing- someone's son, mother, cousin, friend, but never ours- never ours, because we are too busy chasing our dreams or our family's good future.

We are so damn proud about knowing current events, participating in one day demonstrations, or sharing information in social media. Perhaps, our country is really too stupid and rotten for us? We are pathetic, aren't we?

But whatever, I still support the abolition of the pork barrel campaign, and I think, that in a way, the protest shows that the people (regardless of status) can take a stand against something or for something - albeit short-lived.

And for that, non believers should not be too quick to judge.

August 18, 2013

Lifehacks at Home, in the Office, and on the Road

Listed below are some of my most favorite lifehacks at home, in the office, or while travelling:

A. At Home

1. Organize the jumbled wires in your room

I have lots of ponytail wraps for my hair. I like it because it's waterproof, but it's not very durable - or maybe my hair is just too big for the poor ponytail to handle. Whenever I broke one, I use it to organize the wires in my room (laptop/wifi/modem/etc)

Wire ponytail wrap

2. Make sure you use all of your clothes in the closet

I have (relatively) a lot of clothes, but I tend to use only my favorite ones. I have solved this problem via folding my recently used clothes in reverse. Thus, I am forced to use only the clothes that are not yet folded in reverse until all of my clothes are folded in such manner. For hung clothes, I look at the direction of the hanger's hook. If it is facing the wall, then I haven't used it; if it is facing me, then I have used it.

Clothes that are folded with their tags showing are the clothes I've used recently

Hangers with hook facing me are the clothes I've used recently

Curiosity vs Fear

Lately, my news feed is filled with sentiments on "The Conjuring" or "The Purge." I dislike horror movies. I try to stay away from it as much as I can, since I get terrified and jumpy easily. In fact, I don't watch movies that have any hint of horror or psycho-thriller scenes - explains why I haven't watched Human Centipede, Silence of the Lambs, The Grudge, The Ring, Child's Play, etc.

I remember watching Kakaba-kaba (a local horror tv series) back in grade school; it was shown that tasty burger patties were made of humans - I didn't eat burgers for 2 years! Also, back in High School, I was forced to enter a horror house in Star City; I got so scared that I just sat in a fetal position - refused to move until one of the staff escorted me out. HAHAHAHAHAHA - of course I'm a bit braver now, but still, the fear is still there.

Sometimes, I can take horror movies during the film showing, albeit with a bit of shying away from the screen, screaming, or holding back tears. HAHAHA. What I cannot stomach is how it toys with my mind long after the film is finished - when I'm alone in the house, while taking a bath, while I'm brushing my hair in front of the mirror, while walking in a dark alley, when I shut my eyes off, or even when I just look at a blank space. It's making me paranoid.

It was making me very paranoid and jumpy that I stopped watching horror movies altogether.

Unfortunately for me, most of my friends enjoy watching horror/gory/or psychological thriller films. Hence, the discussion can inevitably lead to such. Of course, I do not contribute anything (unless I've already read the story online - I do that to make sure I can at least carry a conversation), but I still listen intently so as to (1) get a grasp of the story and the emotions it harbors and (2) keep mental reference in case I need to use the knowledge in the future. The scarier it sound, the more conviction I have in avoiding the film.

So far, that strategy has worked fine. However, recently, I'm getting very very very very curious in horror movies, especially the classics. I was actually thinking of hypnotizing myself into believing that I'm not scared of horror movies- but of course I don't know hot to do that. HAHAHA

I tried Googling for answers:

There have been a few cases where people have had such strong aversions to horror movies, in such a case, the only way that the psychologist found to treat the case was to expose the woman to over fifty hours of horror movies over a period of two weeks. She died of a heart attack two hours into the treatment (needs citation.)

Well, that wasn't very encouraging, was it? HAHAHA I was thinking of watching a horror movie once a week during daytime, but I'm worried that it might affect my productivity afterwards. And that is just not practical at all.

Now I'm back to that phase of I wanna watch it so bad to see what the fuss is all about, and how brilliant the film might be, but I don't want to watch it, because that will not give me peace of mind for at least a week or two - the scary scenes will just play over and over again in my brain.

Curiosity vs fear, I wonder which will win in the next few days.

I don't know. What do you think? Did you ever experience a similar fear? And how did you address it?

Miyazaki Films: "It's good to be alive."

"I would like to make films that tell children, it's good to be alive." 
- Hayao Miyazaki
And that's exactly what he does. I'm not sure if I can be included in his definition of children, but I'm certain that I always feel positive about life and the world after watching his films. Perhaps, this is why Hayao Miyazaki is the 2nd person I admire the most in this lifetime (the 1st being my father.) He made possible the likes of Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Lupin III, My Neighbor Totoro, and a lot of other noteworthy films. Just recently, I found out that a new title, under his wing, was released - The Wind Rises.

But this post is not a review for The Wind Rises, rather this post is a review of all Hayao Miyazaki films that I've watched - or at least remember (from the ones I like the most to the ones I like the least.)

1. Spirited Away

Spirited Away's Chihiro and No Face

August 10, 2013

First Attempt at Ice Skating

I have rode a bike only once, it was roughly four months ago (when I first learned how to ride a bike.) Learning to cycle just kept getting pushed back in my priority list. And just yesterday, it got pushed back some more :)

Yesterday was a non-working holiday (Eid ul Fitr) so I easily gave in when my friends invited me to go skating with them (but I was mostly just, falling and standing still, HAHAHAHA.) It was my first time to go skating and at first I was so embarrassed to try it, but once I was inside the rink, all my embarrassment disappeared into thin air. All I could think of was, why in the world did I wear shorts and ankle socks and not bring gloves.

Since I can stand and walk on ice without problems, I started with gliding small distances. And toe pick proved to be a problem. I kept on tripping on ice because majority of my weight rests on my toe instead of my heels. Good thing, I was pretty good with balancing (said my mentor, NUUKKSS Prin! HAHAHAHA) so I avoided falling down. As for me, there was no other way to avoid toe pick but by keeping on practicing and letting my muscle memory do the job.

Princess (the mentor) on ice

Once I significantly lessened my toe pick accounts, I prepared myself for longer glides. It was all okay, and I was learning relatively fast. And I was enjoying myself a lot... until I had my first fall.

My first fall took all my previous learning. Suddenly, I was scared to glide, scared to move, scared to get hurt, and just plain disoriented. HAHAHAHA well it hurt! It was when my learning curve plummeted.

After the first fall

After the first fall, I was unable to relax. I tried hard to not think of falling, but the burning sensation in my knees and hands kept on reminding me not to fall. Thinking of not falling resulted in me thinking of not trying at all. Thus, I did not try. The end.

LOLjk

I kept trying, but this time I was taking more steps and less glide - safer in my vocabulary. And then, there came my next and final fall.

After the 2nd fall

That did it. I stopped gliding and just rested my mind and body in the corner. HAHAHAHAHAHA that said, ice skating is one of my top priorities for weekends. This is because I did not get what I want. I just want to learn how to glide calmly and continuously. I wasn't asking for much, was I HAHAHAHAHAHA. 

I'll guess I'll see you guys on ice when my knees and arms don't hurt anymore! (And hopefully we're both wearing long socks, gloves, and knee-covering garment by then.)

Knees apart, guys!

I don't know. HAHAHAHA

Cheers!
Arlet

The Rookie Among the Honchos

I was tasked to deliver a presentation about our company, but I never expected to be speaking next to the COO of AXA Philippines.

It was ASPLI's 2nd Learning Session for 2013. ASPLI or the Association of Service Professionals in Life Insurance is composed of different life insurance companies such as AXA Life, Sunlife, Cocolife, Manulife, BPI Philamlife, Prulife, Asianlife, Insular life, and others. It is dedicated in uplifting customer service here in the Philippines. 

Before entering the conference center of Asian Institute of Management, I was expecting to see a small crowd of young professionals, but as I opened the door, I saw a big crowd of old(er) people in suits and dresses. I saw a photo of me in a pull up banner next to photos of the other speakers: the COO of AXA life, the president of SmartQ System Corporation, and a senior manager of Eastwest Bank Corporation. I felt like running away from the building. HAHAHAHAHAHA.

I tried to compose myself by thinking about my past encounters with different people: the head honchos that I have negotiated with, the demanding business owners that I have closed a deal with, the big names that I have been given the chance to discuss matters on business expansions, and even the old owners who frown upon seeing how young I look. (cue in the Phineas and Ferb's "aren't you a bit young to be doing x?") In a way, I was able to calm down.

My peace didn't last long; when Sir Ariel "Ton" Magtoto (COO of AXA Life Philippines) started his speech, I was swept to my feet. He was so good, and the very specific best practices that he was sharing were things that only someone who has dedicated his whole life for his craft can share. I actually had a whole page for all his pieces of advice and at that brief moment, I was so engulfed in thinking that IF I stay in the corporate world, then this is the kind of person that I would like to aspire for.

Sir Ton finished his speech, and there I was - rattled. I mean how could I match that?! There was no way. I drank a glass of water and gave myself a goal:

"Arlet, your only goal now is to not trip, not puke, not swear, and deliver your point about your company. Absolutely no one is expecting anything from you, no one is expecting for you to match a COO's speech. Don't fret, Arlet. Don't fret."

Well, that worked. And I was so thankful that I didn't do anything that would be disgraceful for myself or for the company that I was representing (or did I? HAHAHA). The audience were also very gracious. And it's true, "The audience almost always want you to succeed. Unless you're a politician, chances are, you are facing a nice crowd."

They were answering my questions, laughing at my jokes, and participating in the discussion. Sir Ton was even so nice to congratulate me after the event, while Sir Jim (senior manager of Eastwest bank) talked with me regarding how we might be able to help each other in the industry.

It was a very insightful event and an inspiring experience for me. In the future, however, I know I will not get away with only humor. I need to have more substance as I grow older. For that, I have to learn KPIs, finance, a bit of how systems and technology works, etc. There's just so much to improve on that it becomes very exciting!

"Even if you are the youngest person at the table, you're at the table. Don't be afraid to make your voice heard. Just make it count"

Cheers!
Arlet

August 4, 2013

Disclaimer


I know that this is not a valid excuse, but I am terribly sorry for my improper behavior last Friday night; I ran out of mefenamic acid. Hoping for your kind understanding :) 

The Non-Sexist Filipino

I don't remember how I came across Google's Endangered Language Project, but I remember planning to research on Alibata (pre-Hispanic way of writing in the Philippines) to contribute in the project. Unfortunately, I wasn't really that interested in Alibata so I never got started.



I still haven't prioritized learning Alibata just yet, but since it's Linggo ng Wika (National Language Week of the Philippines), I'd like to share my favorite aspect of the Filipino language:

I'm not sure for other countries, but at least in the states they have the gender specific "he" and "she" to refer to a singular person. In the Philippines, we only have a gender neutral pronoun "siya". We don't have any Filipino pronouns that specify if the person is male or female. And I prefer it that way, because my gender has very little, if not nothing, to do with my decisions and actions.

I'd like to think that ancient Filipinos didn't care enough to distinguish males from females in their language because they cared more for people's functions and abilities rather than their vaginas or penises (unless of course they want to reproduce.) I cannot prove this theory as of the moment though.

By the way, in the Philippines, we celebrate our national language (Filipino) every first week of August; we call this Linggo ng Wika which can be literally translated as "week of language". In schools, we used to celebrate it by having competition and presentation of sorts - ranging from monologues to speech choirs.

July 21, 2013

The One Time I Had Hoped for the Existence of Manananggal, Kapre, Tikbalang (etc)

In an alternate universe (namely my imagination), Maria Clara would have been a manananggal, avenged the death of her Ibarra, and kill Sibyla in the most grotesque way possible; Sisa would have been the infamous white lady in balete and would have killed as many constabulary soldiers as possible, and... so on.


Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are both fantastic novels, and it's quite a shame that it is not read for its story but for its "historical significance" alone. Honestly, I did not expect Noli and Fili to be ensnaring, because who the hell expect school books to be ensnaring?

Anyway, more than the historical accounts portrayed in the books, there were also comedy, drama, action, romance, thriller, and lots of tragedies. Hence, making Noli and Fili colorful and alive. Another amazing thing about the story is how it would make you imagine what life was like during Rizal's time, why he wrote what he wrote, and why such events unfolded the way it did, e.g. why the revolution has to fail in El Filibusterismo (huhu, I felt really bad that it did :| HAHAHA)

While reading El Filibusterismo, Bernardo Carpio was briefly mentioned, and it reminded me of all the other Philippine Mythological Creatures, and how I wish that they were real at the time. Then, I remembered a manga (Occhio del dyo?) that I read when I was in grade school. It was narrated there that the Filipinos who were far up in the mountains were not baptized so they turned into duwende, mananggal, engkanto, tikbalang, etc. Also, a friend told me that Spaniards made up stories about wicked spiritual beings so as to scare Filipinos who might go against the will of the Catholic church.

That got me thinking, which could have gone first: the kwentong bayan (of these mythological creatures) or the Spanish regime? What do you think?

"Where are the youths who will dedicate their innocence, their idealism, their enthusiasm to the good of the country?"



July 14, 2013

Regrets at 12 in the evening

Looking back, one of my greatest regrets was my grave disinterest in books, history, and literature. I dreaded reading and sitting long hours in class. I didn't know mythology of sorts because I didn't bother listening to it. All my book reviews were based on a one paragraph summary on the internet (or on the summary and opinions of my classmates).

I haven't read a single book until my first year in college.

Even then, I wasn't interested in books, I find reading as a difficult endeavor - it required me to come running for a dictionary every 5 seconds. I think that was the reason why I bought an electronic dictionary during my first year. That year was challenging for me, I was learning things for the first time - things that my classmates already know.

Pang, I felt ashamed of my ignorance in all aspects. I had to exert more effort to understand things that were mere reviews for my classmates. Fortunately, my friends didn't mind my lack of knowledge.

Still, I wasn't interested in books.

But I was exposed to different titles, stories, etc. because my closest college friends genuinely enjoy reading. I would be quietly astonished as they discussed themes and narratives that I've never imagined. I was like a child hearing all sorts of miracles. It was exciting!

Alas, I was interested in books!

Fast forward to the present, I still haven't read a lot of books, but I'm reading one regularly - mostly self-help books. Although I would like to read more story books, I'm trying to finish first the ones that my father and brother have- and these are mostly self-help books.

Currently, I find myself immensely curious in Philippine and world history. I really feel bad that I didn't take history lessons seriously. Although I also think that the way it was thought by most high school teachers is partly to blame. They teach it with emphasis on names and dates only, and not on the stories itself. This is not to generalize though as 2 of my favorite teachers in High School were history teachers.

I think teachers (and parents) should rethink the way they are selling history and literature to children, because apparently the status quo is not working.

I am glad and thankful that I have discovered the joys of reading :) It is almost like traveling, but less costly!

P.S.
I just finished reading Noli and El Fili (for the first time) last month, and I have to say, Noli is my favorite book yet. Rizal is truly a wonderful author.

"We shouldn't teach great books, we should teach a love of reading" - B.F. Skinner

July 13, 2013

Intramuros - The Spaniards' Crowned City

Intramuros must have been a glorious city, so glorious that remnants of its glory can still be witnessed now - some 400 years later. 

When the Spaniards came in the Philippines, they had their first colony in Cebu, but having heard of the richness of Manila (Intramuros was Manila), the Spaniards decided to explore the said island which was then in control of the Muslims. Spaniards gained control of Manila after defeating the Muslims.

Manila was then made as the center of political, military, and religious control of the Spanish Empire in Asia. As such, walls were built to protect the city from pirates and foreign invaders. Thus, Intramuros. 

Within the Walls

Intramuros literally means within the walls (some 8 ft thick walls, that is!). Only the Spaniards and Mestizos were allowed to live in Intramuros during the Spanish regime. Observing the beauty and intricacy of the architecture of Intramuros made me a bit sad as images of hundreds of Filipinos rendering forced labor flashes through my eyes.


Surely, I'll be back in Intramuros (perhaps on my own) as I want to understand the place more (without fear that my companions are getting bored with this city's olden glory). Should you be interested to do the same, just let me know! :) 

Reminds me of the convent mentioned in Noli Me Tangere where Maria Clara died

Tips:

1. To go to Intramuros by train, get off at LRT Central station, and walk to Intramuros. Make sure to visit before 5pm as most parks close by 5pm.
2. There is a visitors' center near Fort Santiago. You can drop by there first to get maps, advice, etc.

See you around!

June 22, 2013

Unsurprising revelation

It started with me getting pregnant.
And it ended with me losing the baby.

What happened in between was the weird part. When I found out that I was pregnant, it wasn't particularly remarkable. I just couldn't care less. Then when I gave birth to the baby, I was lending it out to people- like it wasn't anything precious. I was handing it to people I didn't even know, or at least people I couldn't recognize or remember at the time. After a while, I lost the baby. I just couldn't remember whom I've given it to. Then, I woke up.

It was my dream last Thursday night.

Upon waking up, I already had an interpretation of the dream. I immediately came up with the conclusion that I'm giving something of high value to just anyone. I was giving away my time to people who don't matter. I was giving away my time to things that aren't important- like I was taking it for granted. I was shortsighted.    

Now let me tell you about my work. I am originally in business development and sales - which I find fulfilling most of the time. But since the company is still relatively small, I am also in accounts, marketing, etc., I get to be berated for things that are oftentimes out of my control. It's similar across industries - according to different business blogs and satirical comics I've been following. You apologize for things that wasn't even your fault in the first place. But you try to solve it anyway because you genuinely care for the business and the clients. You get all worked up trying to solve things- only to realize that your actions are just band-aid solutions. You have to dig deeper, and you need more power to be able to implement the grassroots solutions.

Sadly, you don't have that kind of influence.
You try to suggest anyway.
But your voice gets lost in the voicemail.
That's when it gets clear, you're wasting your time.

Perhaps, it's time I give up this accounts job completely until further notice. I'd rather focus my resources on things that I can influence directly. Otherwise, I'll be having a "lost baby" once again (and I'll hate myself for it.)

Arlet

P.S.
It seems that the patriarchal society is deeply ingrained in my unconscious that I equate motherhood/baby to something very precious. I wonder if guys would ever have a similar metaphor.

June 12, 2013

To be truly a free man in a free country

Protect your freedom; get rid of unnecessary commitments and possessions

"Perhaps when we find ourselves wanting everything, it is because we are so dangerously close to wanting nothing."

I frequently dream of being a nomad, and occasionally I act upon it by going out at night and taking a very long walk until I get tired (or scared from the unfamiliarity that the night brings). My feet brings me back home because of fear, or because of bracing realization that I have work tomorrow. Lately, this dream happen in my waking life - while commuting, walking home, staring at the computer, talking with clients, etc.

I want to go, and go, and go, until I want to go back, but some socially constructed reality have been solidified in my head, making me think that it is more important to be "successful" than happy - however that plays to be.

I wonder when "this" will end. Oh well, happy independence day to those who truly have it! Careful darling, that can be easily snatched from you. Guard it with your life. 

May 20, 2013

Why get inked?


Why get inked?
Just because.
Just because you want to.

You may regret it after a day, a week, a month, a year, or a decade, but leave that worry for the future. For now, it is enough that you trust yourself and your decisions. And in the event that you do change your mind in the future, know that you will be okay. After all, your past decisions alone does not define you.

Cheers to us - who are capable of making decisions that we know we may regret, but do carry on still! Cheers to us, the brave ones!

Cheshire cat by Joey Viar of Ouch Tattoo Rob Ermita | 2009

Carpe Diem by Gene Testa of Rob Galleria | Mandirigmang Siopao by Bored Arlet :D | 2011

White Ink by Totoy of Sin City Tattoo | 2012

Warrior by Elbert Batioco of Dherts Tattoo | 2013
Mountains by Grace (Batok Tattooing) | 2014

Earth by Elbert Batioco | 2017

During the Tattoo Sessions



See you around!
Arlet

May 19, 2013

Hunter x Hunter movie could have been better.

I've been waiting for this movie for a long time so I anticipated it to be very good. Unfortunately, high expectations inevitably result in disappointment.

The movie didn't offer anything new at all when it comes to Gon and Killua's friendship. We go back again at Killua's internal dilemma which was almost the highlight of the movie. Rather than being a great story about friendship and adventure, the movie turned out to be a poorly executed film on cheesiness and shallow character development. Maybe the meager 1.5 hour screen time is one of the culprits for this.

courtesy of movieseer.com

On cinematography and soundtrack 2/5
One thing is for sure, it wasn't breathtaking or notable in any way. 

On the story and characters 2/5

At first I thought that the movie will center on Kurapica and the gang but it was more of Killua and the gang - which would totally be fine, had the story presented something fresh. Sadly, it didn't. 

Meanwhile, Retz and #4, the only new characters introduced, were not properly built up in the film. We see former Phantom Troupe member #4 as a caring brother with incredibly low EQ to misunderstood his little sister's feeling. We see Retz as a delayed hero without much character. As for the rest, they're nothing new. 

On certain scenes

1. Did Killua have to run (again) from himself/ Illumi? Haven't we seen this dilemma so many times before (Hunter exam, Greed island, Chimera Ant, etc) When will he truly resolve this? The part where he was implied to be crying while running away was absurd considering that his character is a top assassin. His devastation could have been portrayed differently and more gracefully. 

2. There is a post-credit scene so stick until the end. I can't make opinions on the post-credit because I didn't stick around to watch it, because I didn't know that there will be a post-credit :| lalala

Overall

I would not recommend the film to (1) people who are not familiar with Hunter x Hunter since they will have a hard time following the plot, and (2) die-hard fans of the story who do not want to get disappointed with the story's execution, but if you are die hard fans, then you'd rather get disappointed than ignorant of it, right? :D

Arlet

P.S.

Hunter x Hunter is my favorite anime series of all time! I even planned on getting a Hunter x Hunter inspired tattoo (silhouette of Gon fishing while sitting on the crescent moon - like that of Dreamworks production.) HAHAHA 

"So help me, Gon," became my motto during my challenging thesis days. HAHAHA

"Mr. Spock, not Spark." said the Trekker

How did you find the movie? said the Trekker.
I love it, Spark is my favorite character! I exclaimed
Mr. Spock, not Spark, retorted the Trekker 
I didn't plan on watching Star Trek, because I am not a fan. No, not a fan would be an understatement; I was absolutely clueless about its story, characters, etc. Hence, the above correction, and the following request to kindly inform me should you find any misinformed opinion on my part.

courtesy of hdwpapers.com

On cinematography 4.5/5

The very first thing I noticed about Star Trek was the vividly-produced graphics. The movie opened with such rich colors and effects, that I told myself, "Perfect, now I have something good to say about Star Trek (since I was not expecting to enjoy the movie)." This fascination of mine, however, did not sustain until the end of the film.

On story 3.5/5

I like the plot, because it didn't alienate me. Moreover, there were plenty of audio-visual content to guide non-fans in understanding the contexts of the film. After watching Star Trek Into Darkness, I got interested in watching its earlier versions. That's a good thing. 

Despite that, I felt that the themes presented in the movie are nothing new. 

On characters 4/5

I love Spock! HAHAHA even if I got his name wrong. His lines (though I don't remember) made me chuckle.

As for the others, they were not my cup of tea. Kirk reminds me of Thor, portrayed as a brash but caring leader. Khan is a typical villain with a reasonable backstory. Uhula was, well, a love interest for Spock - she didn't serve any purpose in the film but to force Spock to explain why he chooses not to feel. Scotty was conveniently around to help save the day, but his pep talk on Enterprise crews being explorers and not a military body delivered the point to me. Oh, Sulu! I like him a bit because he reminds me of power rangers and because Bones wouldn't want to piss him off, HAHAHA.

On being science-fiction 3/5

Is this really science fiction? Or was it based on science fiction? 

Sure, the events took place in some distant future, but there weren't any new possibilities (presented) due to science advancements. It didn't make me think about science at all. I hoped that the content writer deconstructed at least one science concept and then reconstructed it differently to hold the film together. But I guess, science doesn't sell that much to our crowd anymore. 

On certain scenes

1. Was Dr. Carol's half naked shot really necessary? I heard myself internally groaning at that part. 
2. The shots on the Enterprise reminds me of Vandread 2nd Stage :)
3. Seeing London in the future, with mostly skyscrapers, bothers me. I want a future with more trees and mountains than buildings. However, I agree that the future with less trees is more believable. 

Overall

Star Trek was a pleasant surprise. I'd recommend it to mostly everyone! -except to people who gets bored with action films. 

BTW why was it entitled Star Trek Into Darkness?




May 11, 2013

Taiwander: My first is in Taiwan =)

But that's the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don't want to know what people are talking about. I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses. 
Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

Right now, I have made myself believe that one of my purposes in life is to understand the world and its people through travelling without prejudice. Easier said than done when you still value society's advice to save first for your future. Perhaps, the only way to do it is (1) book that flight (and worry about the finances later - follow at your own risk, HAHAHA), and (2) be mindful of your thoughts about others. 

Pre-departure: VISA application

Prior to this trip, I am guilty of having prejudices against Chinese due to the hassles I've gone through in getting a visa to Taiwan. I found all the TECO representatives to be rude and disrespectful, but after thinking about it carefully I've accepted that they were very efficient in doing their jobs. And sometimes, one cannot be efficient and nice at the same time. 

Departure: Immigration interview

Often, anticipation is worse than the actual situation. This is my first travel abroad, and I'm alone. You could imagine how uneasy I was feeling. During the immigration interview, I was asked if I was excited, I told her that I was scared. She jokingly asked me if I would rather not go and she would just deny my visa. Eeeep.

Arrival: Taipei and around

It is very easy to go around in Taipei - that's saying a lot coming from someone who lacks average navigation skills. I didn't get lost in Taipei (Holla! I always get lost in Manila.) HAHAHA. 

Maokong Mountain

Riding a gondola to get to Maokong Mountain

Taipei Exhibit

Art Revolution Taipei Exhibit: Fascinating night sky

Art Revolution Taipei Exhibit: We all have the same goal

Taipei 101

View from 89th floor of Taipei 101

Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf/ Lover's bridge

kainis, puro lovers nga. HAHAHA

Shilin Night Market

So many people, and food, and things to buy (but not for a cheap price)

The people are disciplined, healthy-looking, and fashionable! I have nothing but praise for the country.

National Taiwan University

The only photo I got in Taiwan. HAHAHAHA 

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

The exhibit inside is also worth a visit 

Doesn't Chiang Kai Shek always smile in his photos?
Pogi pose

Longshan Temple

It was a Sunday when I visited Longshan. People were praying and having some offerings. As I walk inside, I can hear their chants more. And it was getting louder, people were standing up and some women were crying. I was struck with awe. I don't know what it's called, but I felt something. After witnessing their chants, I went out immediately because I felt like a nuisance in whatever they were doing. I felt like I was not giving them privacy of sort - but that's just me
Longshan from the outside

People chanting
People offering food

Huaxi Night Market / Guangzhou Night Market

Huaxi street is like Divisoria. It is where you see people wearing normal clothes, you see beggars on the streets, sidewalk vendors, etc. It is a place where you feel that pickpockets are nearby. It kind of awakened the alert being in me. I didn't stay long in this place, but I'm happy and thankful that I saw this part of Taiwan. I didn't want to form a one-sided opinion about the country. 

Before going back

My early days passed by so smoothly that I became too relaxed and fell asleep on my way to the airport. The driver got frustrated because I can't speak Mandarin so he gestured that I get off the bus. As a result, I got lost in a nearby province in Taiwan. Good thing, I spotted some OFWs who were nice enough to help me. One OFW even gave me her cheeseburger when she found out that I haven't eaten yet T.T

Dan (from Wisconsin) who was with me in the bus to the airport also helped me communicate with the driver. We talked about each other until my boarding time. He works at the Grand Canyon (National Park Service?) as ... actually....I didn't understand his work HAHAHA but he seemed very happy with it. He's an optimistic fellow.

I have observed that you will definitely meet inspiring and like-minded people when you travel. Just thinking about it makes me giddy, yay!

Arlet

P.S. 

My first out of country destination is in Taiwan, and you know what I say about first? It always gets followed by a second (and a third, a fourth, a fifth...)

P.P.S.

As dumb as it sounds, I wanted to go outside the country to see if the colors are really different. HAHAHA I was curious to see if the photos posted by my foreign friends are indicative of the colors of the environment they are in. In the end, it was just a filter effect; the colors are more or less, the same. HAHAHAHA  

The texts I got from Taiwan

I have a sim card which I don’t really use, but I check it every now and then just to read old and new messages. Last week, I checked it and saw that I received some international texts from Taiwan. Here goes: 

Saturday

1. It's 1 am and I just landed at the airport. I'm nervous.
2. Everything is written in Chinese. Chinese characters scare me.


3. The cab driver didn't give me enough change, but he was smiling and all so I didn't bother. After all, I'm too overwhelmed by the fact that I'm alone in a foreign land to argue over $2.

Sunday

1. Too bad, no one is here with me to take my photos. 


2. Wow, people are much disciplined in lining up - the left side of the escalator is for overtaking only. People who wish to just ride and stop in the escalator must stay on the right side and not occupy the whole space

3. I'm now in a Gondola station. It is very noisy - Chinese noisy. HAHAHAHA I'm excited and scared.

4. Taiwan is highly modernistic with their tall buildings and praiseworthy landmarks yet the place maintains its trees and mountains, an urban forest in my standards.



5. MRT, buses, and roads have distinct spaces for the elderly, pregnant, and disabled people. It's amazing how people on wheelchairs stroll the city without any companion or help. It just goes to show how easy and safe it is to go around the city.

6. It's almost my departure time and I'm not in the airport yet; I fell asleep on the bus and got passed my destination. I'm lost in a province where it's difficult to find someone who understands English...

It is very scary when no one understands you. 

Monday

Compared to the Philippines, Taiwan, the country, is more tourist-friendly: there are english maps everywhere and the transportation system is such a breeze to follow. Moreover, Taiwanese people are generally helpful - just not as cheerful, approachable, and English-savvy as Filipinos. That said, Filipinos (the inhabitants of the Philippines) are more tourist-friendly than Taiwanese. 

After all has been said and done, I still love the Philippines dearly, but Taiwan is a country that we could learn from.

Arlet

P.S.

Did I mention that I was in Taiwan last weekend? HAHAHA I have a crazy habit of texting my old sim card about my feelings and insights everyday. Unfortunately, I forgot that international texts is enabled in my postpaid line. Why, hello 15php per text! 

April 28, 2013

Achievement Unlocked @ 21

I promised myself that I will learn to ride a bike this year.


But first. I had to get myself a bike. Otherwise, I'll always have a reason not to try it. Yet, my embarrassment in learning cycling at my age seems like a bigger challenge: I didn't want to practice it in our neighborhood. I don't want people who know me to see me struggling in learning a skill that can be done by 7 year old kids. Hence, I had to schedule a day to learn it in some place else. 

Self esteem issues HAHAHA brad, salamat talaga sa concern mo sa self esteem ko ha.
Yesterday, I finally tried biking. I asked help from my dad so we could bring the bike in UP. He was also on standby in case I needed help in stopping myself from heading to the gutter or from running someone over (which happened quite a few times, Acad Oval is not as straight as I imagined it to be.) Thank heavens it was raining hard yesterday, there were few people outside to witness my training. HAHAHAHA, cough cough #feverish. 



I studied and continued biking in the rain for about an hour and a half. I can't bike straight yet, I'm still wobbly and I find it challenging to cycle in uneven pavements, big road humps, very fine/ smooth pavements, etc, but I'll get there.

Sometimes, we only need to start. 

Arlet

P.S.
My hands, shoulder, neck, and butt hurt. And I have fever, but I'm very happy :) I'm 21 years old and I just learned how to ride a bike! Booyah!