In the last four years, my life has changed so much, mostly for the worse, but I’m trying to rebuild myself piece by piece.
If it’s your first time to travel to a foreign country solo backpacker style, here are some lessons I’ve learned the hard way that I hope will help you in your trip.
It’s Thursday, so here’s another throwback for you. This post written four years ago makes me feel so vulnerable because it documents the beginnings of my sinking into depression. Episodes still come and go, but working out has helped me a lot. This post was never finished, and I don’t intend to continue it. Instead, I’d rather write about my life today. It’s a struggle, but I’m starting to feel more and more positive about it.
When this semester first started, I told myself that I was gonna work my ass off so that when my birthday arrives in August, I feel deserving to have at least a few days off to have fun. Little did I know that August was the start of my “hell” months, not that I’m complaining.
To start off, I lessened my hours in my other part-time job so I can concentrate on writing my thesis proposal so that I could (hopefully) defend it this semester. I tried focusing on my academics, going to the university to do some lab work on human remains for the first part of the day, and going home early for my part-time job. It was tiring because I had to travel for at least 3 hours a day each time I do this. Valenzuela to Quezon City sounds really near but it’s not. The fare was also getting more costly because I pass by NLEx and sometimes would reach UP via cab on days that its too hot. Yes, blame it on me for being maarte. Haha.
Anyway, I was only able to do this for 2 months.
Come August, someone tried to hire on oDesk. Everything just snowballed from there. I started doing 3-4 jobs a week as a freelancer and it even reached a point that I couldn’t sleep regularly anymore because of all these multiple jobs I was trying to juggle. I capitalized on being a writer and once I edited my oDesk profile, a lot of job opportunities came my way. And I said yes to most of them. It’s funny because these are the jobs that I did not apply for. Those I did apply for never even gave me the chance for an interview, which makes me more thankful for all these money-paying endeavors.
My thesis researching started to suffer because once again, I couldn’t go to the university to study with my fellow graduate student friends, which was sad because it really is inspiring to be surrounded by people who are equally productive as you are. For once, I thought I was going to have a normal graduate life. But I was wrong.
I’m still waiting for her to come back anywhere in Southeast Asia. If she does perform again, maybe in Singapore, Taiwan, or Hongkong, I will spend money to visit any of those countries to see her again.
It’s a Thursday, so here’s what I dug from my treasure trove of unpublished blog posts. Four years later, I’ll finally finish my series of posts on our first mountain climbing experience.
So there we were, at the Timpohon Gate, finally waiting for our suffering to end. We had to wait for another 15 minutes or so for the bus to arrive and take us back to the headquarters. Believe me, you do not want to walk that route. We thought the previous night’s climb was scarier but apparently, the bus driver’s driving is scarier. He never seemed to mind the zigzag road. It’s as if he knows all the twists and turns by heart. But really, Mr. Driver, we did not survive the night just to die in your bus. He took us back safely, don’t worry, and once we unloaded from the bus, our mountain guide just walked away without even saying a word and headed to his quarters. I wanted to say thank you despite the bad experience but he never gave us a chance.
We thought our problems were over, but in reality, they weren’t. The first thing that greeted us was that we will be having a difficult travel back home since it was already late and buses that go back to the city only travel until 6pm. It was nearing 7pm when reached the headquarters. So we dismissed that idea for a while since we were starving and decided to make the most of the buffet dinner that was included in our package. Food wasn’t so great, but hey, we paid for it. It was expensive. Might as well make the most of it, right?
After dinner, we went outside and waited for a ride back home. For like 2 hours. Okay, an hour and a half, perhaps? We looked like freakin’ hitchhikers waiting to be picked up on the side of the road – in all our mountaineering gear and clothing…and wooden sticks. No one would dare mess with us. It was around 9pm when we decided it was hopeless. We were gonna take a private car back to the city and just pay that (inhale) 200RM ride. That’s around Php2,800 for us Filipinos.
The road and view at night was priceless though. It was like Baguio, except a little colder. It was an hour or so of straight driving before we reached our hotel and we had to withdraw to pay the driver (who was really nice despite having to drive all the way back to Mt. Kinabalu HQ at that late hour, with no passengers at all) since we ran out of cash already. As soon as we arrived, we praised the universe, took a shower, and paid 15RM for a 30-minute massage at the hotel lobby. I can’t even remember if we had eaten a decent meal that night.
So what have we learned from this experience?
First is that suicide never cost this expensive. Our parents were worried, yet at the same time, berated us for spending so much on this obviously suicidal mission. We were crazy, as what everyone said. Deep down I’m sure they were just happy we got home safely. We returned with as much pride we could muster. We were like kids on our graduation day.
Second is that this physical and mental challenge made our relationship stronger. Sure, we’ve gone through a lot. But man, this was our make or break situation. This would have defined the course of our relationship. Had we fought, argued, and blamed each other during the entire climb, we knew it would take a lot of time to repair our relationship – if it will ever be fixed. This was that one challenge that tested two of us. How we dealt with this is a preview, or rather a reflection, of how we will face future trials in our lives and in our relationship. No one is as thankful as I that we made it. I am the proudest girlfriend for being able to pass this with flying colors. How Love and I supported each other throughout the entire ordeal only proved how much we value, respect, love, and commit to each other. I never thought it possible but it is.
Finally, this experience seemed to be a sneak preview of all the “firsts” I am about to experience this year. What “firsts” those are you will have to watch out for.
Here are a few more photos that made the whole experience actually worth it.
Summing up 2011, I’m more inclined to say that this was a good year, financially-speaking. I decided to reward myself more than a few times and started to purchase a few luxury items as reward for the multiple jobs I do. I discovered new places, food, drinks, products, and activities that made 2011 an awesome year. Here are my top 15 discoveries of the year.
1. Podcasts – I started listening to podcasts because of Becky Nights, a podcast for all the beckys and beckys-at-heart. I laugh my heart away each time I hear the voices of Buern Rodriguez, Matt Gozun, Jake Galvez, and Divine Lee. I’m not a huge fan of Jake Galvez and Divine Lee but I like Divine Lee’s outlook in life. What I said was true when I called during the season 2 opener of Becky Nights – “POSITIVITY” will really help you change your disposition. So that’s one thing I discovered when I started listening to Becky Nights.
Another podcast that made my year was Monster Radio RX 93.1‘s The Morning Rush. I’ve been a Rusher since college but I seldom listen to them live because I always wake up late. One morning when I pulled an all-nighter to finish some money-making tasks, I decided to stream TMR on my laptop. I only listen to two radio stations: RX 93.1 and Love Radio 90.7 (but only when Nicole Hyala/Chris Tsuper and Papa Jack were on). Now that I’m addicted to RX 93.1’s TMR podcasts, I felt so stupid listening to Tambalan for the past few months. HAHAHAHA. I can’t believe I patronized this radio station! I mean, they’re funny and all, but comparing them to TMR (which shouldn’t be since they target different segments of the market), hands down, my loyalty is with RX. Chico’s corny jokes, Ginoboi’s exasperation with Chico’s corny jokes, and Delamama’s reprimands on both Chichi and Gigi’s dirty jokes never fail to make my morning great.
2. Milk Tea – I’m a sucker for anything sweet which is why I like Milk Tea. This is Milk Tea’s year though they’ve been around for quite some time now (ever tasted Chowking’s Nai Cha?). Because of the establishments Moonleaf, Chatime, Serenitea, and Happy Lemon, Milk Tea has become really big nowadays, well at least for me. Here are my favorite milk teas from different shops. You may also want to try Kitchen of Cakes and Coffee’s milk tea for Php80. It’s best served hot though, unlike these two.
3. Speaking of Kitchen of Cakes and Coffee, I discovered this place only during the later this year. A few days before my birthday, I met my college friends at Little Asia to do some catching up since we had a friend who went home from New Zealand for a month. We decided to cross the street and head to Kitchen of Cakes and Coffee for some dessert. I heard it was good and the food isn’t as pricey as your regular cafes so imagine my excitement when I saw their fridge full of mouth-watering desserts at very affordable prices. Since then, I said nothing but “Let’s go to KoCCo!” until finally Love took me there and after a few tries, she appreciated the place as well. Of course, since she’s not a big cake fan, what she loves best about KoCCo are their yummy omellettes. It’s also a better alternative to Starbucks, CBTL, and all other expensive cafes not only because of their food selection but also because of the homey ambiance and cozy environment.
4. Maybelline [LIP] Smooth Color and Care – I’m not a smoker; in fact, I can’t remember the last time I puffed a cig. People have a different opinion though, because of my not-so-red lips which is why I always need either a lip balm or lipstick, which Love never understands. I have a penchant for lip products because of this. Honestly, it’s okay with me to have nothing on my face except for lipstick and mascara. With Maybelline’s [LIP] Smooth Color and Care, I found the perfect lip gloss that isn’t hard to apply and looks as natural as someone with pink or red lips. I love this product because I don’t need a mirror to apply it and it moisturizes my lips instantly. It brings a natural gloss.
Another Maybelline product that I discovered this year is the Clear Smooth All-in-One Shine-Free Powder Foundation. It feels natural in my face and it isn’t as sticky since it’s shine-free which is just right for my oily face. I was really never into pressed powders because I think it’s too hot for my face and I can’t just use any facial products because I get zits easily. Though this product did not give me pimples, it cracks so fast I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. I found some reviews and they all said the same thing. It can easily mess up your purse or pouch. I even had to put mine into a ziplock or wrap it with a tissue just so the crumbs won’t scatter on my bag. I thought it was just me because I’m a careless owner but when I bought a refill and it happened again, I knew I’d never buy it again. It’s too bad because I rarely appreciate facial products and I really liked this one but I’m never gonna buy one ever again.
5. Revlon’s Powder Blush in Softspoken Pink is the perfect pink shade for me. It never gave me zits and it looks naturally pink, unless of course you put too much. It matches perfectly with the RevlonColorburst Lipstick in Carnation that I bought with it. I realized that red isn’t a good shade for my lips since they’re relatively thin so I settled on investing in pink and old rose type of shades instead. They are more natural-looking and I don’t look like someone who’s trying hard to look so made up.
6. I used Nivea’s Sparkling White cream for day and night just because I wanted to be a little more mature and arte-arte. I wanted to use night creams to have more glow and possibly lessen the oiliness of my skin. This is the same reason why I bought other Nivea products such as the Deep Pore Control Foam and Toner since I believe it’s best that you use the same line of products to achieve the best results. So far, it hasn’t disappointed me. I also didn’t have zits from using Nivea skin products which is one reason why this brand has my loyalty. Heck, I even bought the Nivea My Silhouette Cream even though I’m sure it won’t work for me. It doesn’t hurt to try right? The prices range frmo Php150-200 for each product so buying all these four normally costs around Php800.
7. Posh Nails – I’ve always been curious how these upsale nail salons differ from your local manicuristas and affordable salons. I figured that since I always have mani-ped sessions, I should not spend too much on them so I just go to Freshaire or Let’s Face It if I’m feeling a little sosyal for my bi-weekly treatments. I only visited Posh Nails because I was going to be my best friend’s Maid of Honor so I wanted to look really nice for her wedding. A good friend of ours also told me that the more upscale nail salons are very particular and detail-oriented when cleaning nails and applying nail polish. They also use expensive brands like OPI, Orly, Misa, and China Glaze which have so many shades of pink. Since my first Posh Nails treatment, I never went back to my usual salons. I also started investing in Sally Hansen nail products and I found out myself why these are great products. Once your polish chips, you can just re-apply on that specific area and it blends easily so you don’t have to redo the entire nail. Amazing, right?
If you’ll notice, I mostly invested in kikay products this year. I didn’t buy any gadgets, save for a new laptop because I wanted to play Sims 3 on a gaming notebook. Other than that, I think I spent most of my money on food, travel, and arte-arte stuff. Part two of my post will focus more on the intangible things.
For many years now, I’ve always made a list of the movies I will be looking forward to watch for the upcoming year. This year, it’s no exception. Here’s what I’ll be waiting for come 2012. Judge me if you like, but many of these films I watch because of tradition alone. Not that I’m trying to defend myself. LOL.
1. Men in Black:III starring Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thompson, and Josh Brolin. In theaters May 25, 2012.
2. G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation starring Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Adrienne Palicki, and Bruce Willis. Rachel Nichols is not here anymore and so are more of the cast from the first installment. BOO. In theaters June 29, 2012.
3. Underworld: Awakening starring Kate Beckinsale. After 5 years of waiting, she’s finally here! Don’t get me wrong. I liked Rhona Mitra on the third installment (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans in 2009) but no one can ever play a better vampire than Kate Beckinsale. I never thought she’d come back to do another installment. CAN’T WAIT! In theaters Jan. 20, 2012.
4. The Avengers starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel Jackson, and Jeremy Renner. Okay, Mark Ruffalo as the Incredible Hulk too. Why can’t they just cast a more permanent Hulk this time? Oh, and Cobie Smulders (Robin of How I Met Your Mother) is also in this film. In theaters May 4, 2012.
5. Resident Evil 5: Retribution starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Ided Fehr, and Kevin Durand. Jill Valentine is back! YEAH! In theaters Sept. 14, 2012. Sorry, I can’t find the official trailer for this film. In the meantime, enjoy this.
6. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, and Noomi Rapace, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In theaters January 2012 (Delayed screening due to MMFF).
7. Ice Age: Continental Drift starring Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, and John Leguizamo. In theaters July 13, 2012.
8. The Dark Knight Rises starring Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. In theaters July 20, 2012.
9. The Expendables 2 starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Scott Adkins, and Randy Couture. For all you Mickey Rourke fans, he won’t be returning in the sequel. In theaters August 17, 2012. No official trailer but Clevver Movies shares details on the casting of this installment.
10. Step Up 4 starring Kathryn McCormick, Chadd Smith, and a whole bunch of unknowns. Adam Sevani, aka Moose, and Alyson Stoner, aka Camille, is not sure to come back yet. Admit it. You don’t watch it for the story, either. In theaters July 27, 2012. Here’s a sneak peek of what dance moves to expect for the fourth installment of Step Up.