Month: July 2010

Deceived by Exaggeration

Last Friday, I and my friend Abigail, went to SM Manila to do our shopping errands. After shopping, we decided to have dinner and I suggested that we go for Burger King to try their duo meals. Burger King recently offered their, “BK A4dables,” which consisted of four different value meals. The BK A4dables features four different values meals for Php 99 each. The meals are as follows,

1. 3 piece Chicken Tenders with regular fries and drinks

2. 2 pack Chicken Cheese Shots with regular fries and drinks

3.  BBQ Grill Singles with regular fries and softdrinks

4.  Bulgogi Beef Singles with regular fries and softdrinks

We decided to order the 3-pc Chicken Tenders and 2-pack Chicken Shots. I was a bit excited because it was eating time and I will have the opportunity to taste something new. So here comes our order,

 

We were definitely deceived by exaggeration! Take a look at the promotional pictures again. 

 I love Burger King. However, on my next visit, I will definitely not allow myself to be deceived by their attractive promotional pictures. I’d rather pay extra for the regular meals, than become disappointed over their lower cost meals.

You are my few, counted and best

I was not blessed with plenty of friends. I was rather blessed with a few, counted and best of friends.  I met her five years ago, as I was entering another chapter in my life. I never knew that as a new phase in my life unfolds, a new friendship is likewise about to unfurl.

From being a classmate, she became one of my greatest educators, adviser, listener, sister, shopping buddy and my preventive ego in many ways.  

As an educator, she everyone now and then relates to me her painful and joyful experiences in life. She would tell me how she suffered, laughed, enjoyed and learned things on her way. She would tell me her personal sentiments, imperfections and dreams for herself and her family. One thing I would never forget about her teachings is how to be confident, brave, strong, and laugh at your own mistakes. Bravery, which meant being able to withstand and confidently ignore what other people, would say. I was always conscious of what other people would say against me. She was however my extreme opposite. 

Having a Chinese blood, she likewise taught me some important and useful practices from their culture. Pearls are not lucky for the single females and giving sweets for newly wedded couples are just some of the few Chinese beliefs she taught me. How could I forget our Binondo escapades! Binondo may be negatively characterized for its narrow and crowded streets. But she made me admire Binondo the way it is. She introduced me to Salazar Bakery’s mini-tikoy. The tikoy strips and the tikoy with peanut fillings, I just love it.

As an adviser, she would constantly correct my mistakes, especially on overeating and buying food, which you can’t consume in the first place. She may not be the best person to consult about problems of the heart. However, she would really try her best to help me analyze situations and give the best possible advice.

She may not be the best adviser, but she redeems herself for being a great listener. She’s always the first of the few people who makes the effort to respond whenever I am troubled with problems and hardships in life. I hope I will be able to do the same for her. Whenever I am in those trying moments, sometimes I don’t really need sound advices. Having someone to listen and join you in those moments of agony would already suffice.  

She is my shopping buddy. She taught me a lot of things about shopping including the concept of those plastic rectangular devices, credit cards! She is now partly responsible from all my shopping swipes. She introduced to me the heaven of being able to fall in love and take home those shoes, clothes and bags.   

Lastly, she is my preventive ego. You read it right, not an alter ego. In some instances, I am always empowered with the idea of do it or regret later. When I once got struck with Mr. Someone, I exhausted all means to fulfill that dream. However, she was one of the few persons who keeps telling me, “no,” “no,” don’t do it. Later on, she said agreed with that plans but gave me the necessary precautions. Both that intentional and unintentional text messages sent changed my entire life. At some point, I was regretful for giving in too much and not listening to her. However, regardless that text message was sent or not, what I will rather regret in the future is the opportunity of not allowing her to enter in my life.

Today is your day girl! On your second year of being 30, I wish that you would have a great life ahead. You definitely deserve it. I hope that you will be given more opportunities to touch other’s people lives, in the same way you have marked in my life. I wish you more strength, good health and more, more, more PATIENCE girl! Good luck in all of your endeavors and I am looking forward for more malling, shopping and eating escapades with you. Thank you for the simple reason of coming to my life. Our other married and committed friends could have already forgotten us or are just too occupied with their own lives. However, one thing that I can promise you is that you will never be erased or set aside in my life. You are one of the few people who made me what I am today. Diane will never be the Diane without you. 

You are simply one of the few, counted, and best friends I have. Happy Birthday!

Is there’s something wrong with being Single, Savvy and Shopaholic?

One of the benefits of being single and available is the ease of managing your own time and schedule. Lesser commitments, less obligations and easy decision-making are perhaps one of the few and counted benefits of being single. Singlehood is limited to

you-work-family-friends.

 Being in a relationship brings a little more or should I say more complications in life. In a relationship typically means

 you – work – girlfriend or boyfriend / hubby or wifey -your family – his / her family – his /her friends – your friends.

The first week of July gave me reasons to realize that somehow I’m still lucky to be in the state of singlehood. I could easily manage my schedule and I could go out just when I want to.

 Monday, June 28, 2010 – Lani informed me that Jo wants to have a meet up on June 30, an unexpected holiday declared by the government. It’s been a while since I last saw my MBA girlfriends, so as always Miss Single and Available easily said, “”Yes and see you!”

 But before our June 30 meet up, I realized that I have other responsibilities to accomplish. I promised my friend Anna to make and deliver two notepads as gift for her friends. Apart from that, I need to drop by my dentist to have my coil springs fixed.  If I have other commitments, perhaps I could not have done things smoothly.

 I was able to meet Jo and Lani. Actually it was not just Jo and Lani. Jo brought with her Sophia (her daughter) and Lani was with Jasmin (her niece). We only spent a limited time together. Eat out at Jollibee (because of the kids), catching up stories and strolled for a while. If I were in Lani and Jo’s place, I would not have accomplished my other tasks well. I have to transfer to different types of public transportation, which is definitely not ideal when you are with kids.

 After our meet up, I walked around Landmark and bought a t-shirt just to suffice my effort of going to Trinoma. I think it’s more appropriate to call it to fulfill my shopaholic need!

 Saturday, July 3, 2010 – This was a planned meet-up with my college buddy, Gracie. It’s another meet up in another mall. Gracie arrived late so I had the chance to explore the shops on my own. SM Megamall then was hosting a three-day sale and it was heaven for me. I stayed at one of my favorite shops, Kamiseta, and was able to buy a yellow-checkered ruffled blouse, 50% off of its original price. If you were with Mr. Someone, he would never understand the heaven brought by the word “sale” to every member of the female populace.

When Gracie arrived, we ate Chicken Parmigiana and Cheesecake at French Baker and made a lot of catching up stories to death. We also managed to explore other shops that were on sale. Forever 21 also opened that day at SM Megamall. We noticed the long lines and initially we refused to try the shop. However, when it was already 7pm, the long lines were gone and we decided to give the shop a try. I tried two leggings, which unfortunately did not fit me. However, seeing the long lines at the fitting room made me again realize some perks of being single. Mr. Somone would definitely never understand and have the patience to fall in line to fit 3 or more clothes. Mind you girls, the lines were yards, yards, yards long!    

 

After once battling the long lines at Forever 21, I decided to call it quits. It’s a day for Gracie and me. However, when I saw a black capri pants at Cache Cache, Gracie and I went inside shop. The pair of pants was 70%. From Php 800, it’s now down to Php 200. Fortunately, the lone size left fits me. It was my second purchase on a “sale” day.  This only proves that part of being single is becoming shopaholic and why not? Apart from family and savings, shopping is the next best activity that fits the singles. Shopping is likewise one of the limited activities where singles could indulge. Not all people, especially the male populace, could understand the therapy which shopping brings to all the single ladies.  But I think everything lies on the simplest explanation that by getting the materials things you like, you will eventually be in a state of experiencing a little or material-based satisfaction. Other than your family and friends, no one else could really make you happy. Getting the things you want out of your hard-earned money is the next best thing for most of the Miss Single and Available.

Sunday July 3, 2010 – It’s the last day of the weekend and I was hoping to get a complete rest day. Just when I thought it was already rest day, Anne texted me, “meet up with anna?” It has been months since the three of us went out together. Even though my legs are really tired, I replied, “see you 3pm.” This would be another catching up session, malling and shopping opportunity again.

I was conditioning myself not to buy anything. I thought I would be able to really control myself, not until when we saw the Ipanemas and Grendhas.  My friend Anne has been wishing to purchase that pair of flat black pumps of Grendha. I fell in love to a pair of white and lavender Ipanema sandals. Anna liked the silver jelly sandals from Ipanema too. So after some convincing actions, all of us bought our footwear through my credit card’s zero percent interest and six months installment program.  A pair of sandal for Php 1,600 is too much for me one payday. Thanks to my credit cards, another girlfriend of every single and shopaholic lady like me.

Anna, Anne and me initially ate at Red Ribbon – Robinson’s Metroeast because we wanted to try their new cake frap. However, it wasn’t available in that branch. Though we still ate at Red Ribbon, we never gave up looking for another branch that offers the cake fraps. Our next stop was the nearby Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall. Luckily, the branch of Red Riboon at Sta. Lucia have cake fraps. Yehey! The three of us pigged out again! Well, if you’re with a hubby or honey, you could have given up on the first try at Robinson’s Metroeast. Lucky for us singles because we get what we really wanted!

After the story sharing and frap session, Anne and Anna still managed to accompany me to purchase my long wished leggings. I was able to find the leggings that perfectly fit me while Anna was able to purchase a pair of swim wear. This activity would not have been undertaken if not because of my girlfriends. If you have a male partner, he could have said quits and let’s go home, long before the frap session.

Overall I could say that being single, especially if you are a female, savvy and shopaholic allows one to celebrate and enjoy womanhood better. This meant lesser complications and more time for yourself and your family. However as the saying goes,  some good things always come to an end. I believe that you cannot be single forever. No man is an island or for the basic reason that at some point we all need companionship in life. All of us grow old and over time you tend to diminish your youth and energy. In the future, you cannot anymore withstand commuting, driving and walking around the mall for hours. You and your girlfriends will all undergo that process of deterioration or aging. When the time comes that you are already weak but still single, you might eventually value and realize the importance of companionship.

 So I would like to post this question now, is there really something wrong with being single, savvy and shopaholic?

Pains and Pleas of being a Rank and File Employee

I woke up two hours earlier of my everyday schedule today. I need to arrive at my destination two hours before my official working time. My destination is the Lawton, Manila branch office of the Social Security System (SSS). I have to make a little sacrifice of waking up early to submit my salary loan application. It might be different in other countries, but here in the Philippines, we are allowed to apply for loans out of our Social Security contributions. 

I arrived at the branch office at 7:24 am. I got a queue number, which read that I am the 23rd client to be accommodated. The queue machine reads that the teller is still serving the 8th client. This only meant that I have to wait for hours, considering the fact that there is only one teller attending to all the early clients.

While I was sitting and quietly waiting for my turn, I observed the different people who come and go the branch office. Each of us is coming from different places, professions and walks of life. As I was observing the people, my attention was caught on the section that processes claims for Sickness, Death and Retirement. I became more observant on the clients, who were likewise patiently waiting for their turn. The picture of the situation gave me some realizations.

The clients in the Sickness, Death and Retirement section are living testaments of the thousands rank and file employees in the country. After years of waking up early, reporting for work everyday, rushing to take the public transportation, dealing with demanding bosses and uncooperative coworkers, rendering unpaid overtime, getting tax deductions from a meager income, praying it would already be payday, lining up to the long pile of people on ATM machines; one would likewise end up filling out forms, gathering documents, seeking signatures from previous employers, taking the public transportation, waiting in line with other people, and praying to have processed and accepted papers. All in all, these long and tedious processes will hopefully provide a limited monetary support.

The more distressing of this situation is the minimal amount of retirement or sickness benefit which an employee will receive. After taking time and effort to submit and process your papers, the money is not really enough to recover expenses from sickness, support life after employment and reimburse death related expenses.

I may sound harsh, bitter and too pessimistic. However, my sentiments further intensified when I saw those elderly people patiently waiting for their turn. I felt pity, depression and to some extent hopelessness from the government.

I felt depressed because the situation clearly depicted to me one of the painful faces of life’s reality. A little comfort or just a minor financial support (which you have worked for years) always demands a certain level of effort and sacrifice. 

I pity the elderly people, who have devoted half of their lives for working, and yet they still has to endure the burden of securing requirements, processing papers, waiting on long lines, and praying that the entire process will turn out fine.

I also felt a form of hopelessness from the government. As I have personally observed, the existence of the Social Security System is the nearest and decent assistance, which the government could provide for the rank and file employees, who have worked hard and are now constrained by the limits of time and age.

I am not demanding an immediate and drastic action from the government. However, I cannot discount the fact that the government can contribute in different ways to improve the welfare of every ordinary rank and file employee.

Rank and file employees also deserve actions and programs from the government. After all the tax deductions and service they have rendered for the country, they also have the right to become part of the government’s vision and advocacies.

At around 8:10 am, my number was finally called. It’s now my turn to submit my loan application form. I was hoping that everything will turn out fine. However, the teller told me that my employer’s authorized representative’s specimen signature had already expired. I was asked to get an ISL 501 form and forward it to my employer. I was told that my papers will be processed only when my employer submits updated specimen signatures. I went back to the office to report for work and informed the concerned office. Don’t anymore ask me what happened.  I just gained two reasons to become disappointed in just one hour. So I thought that those applicants under the Retirement, Sickness and Death sections were the only pitiful rank and file employees in the country. Frankly, not really!

Trekking Taal Volcano – A Dream Come True

One of my favorite places in the Philippines is Tagaytay. I’ve learned to love its cool temperature, lush green surroundings and more importantly the scenic view of Taal Volcano. Tagaytay gives me an instant break from the city life, without exhausting my energy from the long hours of travel. Tagaytay is about an hour from Manila, not too far yet not so near, to take me away from the noise and stressful atmosphere of the city.

Even though I already stayed at Tagaytay several times, I admit that I haven’t fully explored the place. The picnic grove and the Palace in the Sky were only the two places I have explored. If given the opportunity, I want to visit the Pink Sister’s Convent, Tagaytay Highlands, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and the restaurants and coffee shops that provide a scenic view of the Taal Lake.

 In one of the visits I made in Tagaytay with my family, I saw a group of men holding a signage, which reads, Taal Trekking – Php 1,000. As my daddy drove further, I saw more men holding the same signage, trying to get the attention of vehicles that pass by. I got so curious with the idea of having a trip at Taal Lake itself. However, my family would definitely not like that idea. I then said to myself that if I will come back to Tagaytay, trekking Taal would be something that I will work out.

After two years, my dream of trekking Taal Volcano was granted! However, it’s not a Tagaytay trip that made me experience Taal. It’s our company outing in Talisay, Batangas  that made me experience two first times in my life, trekking and Taal Volcano.

 April 7 and 8, 2010 was the schedule of our company outing at Club Balai Isabel, Batangas. During our briefing and orientation, I learned that one of the amenities offered by the resort is Taal Trekking. The resort charges Php 1,500 for an all expense paid trip to Taal Volcano. This specifically includes the boat ride to Taal Lake and the tourist guide services.

 When April 8 came, we were instructed to wake up early because the resort personnel advised us that early morning is the best way to go trekking. Why? The afternoon is also good but we might not be able to resist the intense heat of the sun. Late afternoon to evening is not ideal too because the pathway only depends on the light of the sun.

I woke up early and I was excited even though I was tired of our night swimming. With no breakfast, we went straight for trekking. A motorboat that carries a maximum of 7 passengers transported us at the foot of the Taal Volcano. I enjoyed the motorboat ride though. Since we were traveling on a lake, the water was very calm. I appreciate the view of the lake and the fresh air it brings to me. After approximately a 30 minute boat ride, we were brought to the Tourist Center and were introduced to our tourist guides. This is one minor comment that I want to address to the proper authority in charge of the Taal Trekking. We were given two male tourist guides who obviously smelled under the influence of liquor and cigarettes. In our course of trekking Taal, one of the tourist guides further insisted that he assist one of my female officemates. He held her hands and shoulders, which gave my officemate an uneasy and annoying feeling.

 

 

 

 

Trekking Taal itself was the biggest challenge one has to conquer if he wants to see Taal Volcano up and close. In order to reach Taal Volcano, one has to walk a steep, narrow and dusty pathway. Tall trees and sharp rocks further surround this pathway, so one has to be really careful. My carelessness by the way gave me small wounds and bruises on my feet. Apart from my carelessness, the fact that we don’t wear hiking shoes gave us extra challenge in trekking. I was wearing my Havaianas and what should I expect. On the positive side, I have to thank my Havaianas for not leaving me during my trek. By the way, my Havaianas is still alive today!

 If you want to reach Taal without the hassle of walking, a horse ride is one alternative. A horse ride could transport you back and forth Taal and the Tourist Center for Php 400 (around $8). When I reached the top of Taal Volcano, it was truly a dream come true! Seeing the crater of Taal Volcano up close, proves that a long, perspiring and risky walk was definitely a worth sacrifice.

 

 

 

 

 

After viewing and resting on the magnificent Taal, we took pictures and went down the long winding, steep, and dusty pathway for the second time. Though seriously, going down was easier and faster. A boat ride to Club Balai Isabel, took a quick bath, pack up our things and back to Manila, back to normal life. My officemates were complaining because they suffered extreme leg pains. Luckily for me, I did not experience any leg pains. I’m used to walking and climbing the high stairs of the LRT! In fact, when we arrived in Intramuros, I still managed to take the LRT with no elevators or escalators. Yahoo, no signs of aging!!!

I was thankful of the opportunity of trekking Taal Volcano. In fact I am willing to repeat this experience with my other friends. However, with the recent condition of Taal, it might take me years to experience it again. It’s recently showing signs of  irregular activity according to news. I’ll repeat this experience when Taal is safe and inactive and my age and legs still permit me to trek!