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Our Own Herb Garden

By On October 20, 2013
Basil in the Philippines (bloggermother.com)
Last year, I and my husband decided to put up a small herb garden of our own. Since my sister and his aunts are living outside the country, we asked them to send us some seeds of the plants that we want to cultivate. Some of the plants that we were able to grow under Philippine climate are the Italian Large Leaf Basil and Jalapenos.

The Italian Large Leaf Basil is an herb that we use most of the time when we cook pasta. We are very fond of pesto so the leaves are always being harvested, leaving the plant almost bald. Haha! 

It may seem impossible for anyone in the Philippines to grow these plants but researching a lot about them definitely gives some good results. However, there are some plants that no matter how hard we tried growing and taking care of them, they just wilt and die. Like rosemary. When my sister came back from Italy, she managed to hand-carry a mature rosemary plant. It lasted for about a month (we kept it indoors, near the kitchen sink, even though my sister insisted that it just grows outdoors and is fine with it) but slowly wilted. Probably due to very high humidity here in our country. Before that, during one of our visits to Baguio City, we bought three very young plants and brought them here in Nueva Ecija and the plants got the same fate. We just decided that we'll just have to make-do with those dried rosemary leaves in bottles that can be found in supermarkets.

Taste N See Toasted Pastillas: A Milky Treat

By On October 20, 2013
My husband went home from work one day with a packet of tasty treats. At first, I thought it was just a small bag of crunchy croutons (I was puzzled actually, as I can't remember we bought some stuff for salads). But then, it turns out those little cubes were actually pastillas! I wouldn't really know if he hadn't told me.

Honestly, this was my first time to taste toasted pastillas. And this thing tastes great! This is the kind of pastillas that I'd always wanted. The sugar coating on the outside makes it sweet. I think the sugar was torched to make it stick to the milk mixture, thus giving it a toasted look. The pastillas cube may have been coated with sugar, but, surprisingly it tastes just right and not too sweet. I was so used to the pastillas that we usually buy from sari-sari stores that I was expecting Taste N See Toasted Pastillas to be the same in terms of sweetness.

I took some photos of it before opening the bag. I'm afraid I might not be able to take some pictures once I've started munching on them as they might be gone in a snap! Haha!


Note: Unfortunately, due to my carelessness when I switched to WordPress, I did not create a backup of the photos (ikr), so isipin mo na lang yung itsura ng croutons 😩


I'm now a fan! I was told that our friend who gave it to my husband ordered it online. Immediately, I've scoured the web and found the candy store through https://www.facebook.com/officialtastensee. The store is located in Malolos, Bulacan. That explains why the delicacy is made to perfection. The Bulacan province is well-known for it.I'm not really sure if they have a physical store, but anyone who wants to try their products, they can be reached through their Facebook page and through mobile number 0915 719 3817.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The bag of croutons, err, toasted pastillas was paid for by a friend.

Sleepless

By On October 08, 2013
cup of coffee
Great! It's one in the morning and I'm still wide-awake. Thanks to my companion for more than fifteen years: coffee. It's effect on me never fails. I just had a cup of instant coffee after dinner and here I am, very much awake, alert, and alive (not that enthusiastic though, haha!).

I've started to have a relationship with this buddy when I was twelve (I know, I was way too young but I just love it). The bond between me and coffee is going strong as ever. I became more drawn to this alertness-enhancing beverage back in college when I had to read stacks of lecture manuals until the wee hours of the morning. I thought it's going to end after I graduate. I was wrong to believe that 😂.

When I used to work call centers, my bond with the aromatic brew became stronger. I wouldn't have survived the graveyard shifts if not for this wonderful caffeine-packed decoction. Back in the days when I had to stay up from 10PM until 7AM, my average consumption's around several cups (each cup is about 240ml) for the entire shift. It's like coffee's running through my veins. When I can no longer feel that caffeine rush, I had more than the usual, making my body tremble after shift. Hah! Those days.. I know. Less (almost none) sleep + Caffeine, bad combination.

Then I thought when I became a mom, a caffeine fix wouldn't be necessary anymore. How wrong I was again! Taking care of my son requires me to stay up late to feed him. Therefore, coffee's there, again, to the rescue.

As a child, I was often told that it's not good for me, and now I know that it's not as it has some adverse effects on our body. But being the stubborn kid that I was, I didn't listen, haha! And I've found through research that coffee is loaded with plenty of antioxidants preventing free radicals that cause cell damage in the body. That meant that coffee could act as preventive agent for getting old (yeah, I am actually aging--err, old, so I'd like to know how to delay it, hahaha!).

I know I'm getting a lot of benefits from drinking lots of coffee. Being able to stay up late when I've got projects to work on is one. This benefit alone turns out to be a drawback as there are times that I'd like to sleep early but I obviously can't (just like now). And I know that doing something (like blogging) while caffeine is very much active in my blood just makes it worse. Now, even if I stop what I'm doing and try lulling myself to sleep with the nocturnal sounds from outside, the land of oblivion is still going to be a far destination.

Well, though coffee might not be the best thing to turn to if I want sleep, this won't keep my hands off of a steaming mug packed with activity-inducing caffeine. Nah. Nope. Won't. Stop.

Blog Makeovers And Personalities

By On October 06, 2013
Over the past few days, this blog went through a series of re-"fashioning" (if you can find any fashion in it, haha!). I've done that to simply make it look different so, to justify individuality further, I made some changes according to my whims.

Most often, blog readers often look at blogs first from its looks then the contents. I must admit that my blog isn't the "Wow!" type of blog when it comes to looks. It's a bit plain, actually. But I just don't want to overdo things so I kept the look more on the subdued side. I'm more on inclined on that side as a person and my goal is to make this blog resonate that.

To make the blog personality thing more interesting, I tried the Typealyzer, the brainchild of Jon Kågström, created using Wordpress for the site's framework coupled with his own text classification server called uClassify. This thing compares texts on a URL provided based on the predefined sample texts compiled by Mattias Östmar. And parts of the type description texts, some of them slightly modified, are courtesy of Wikipedia and CelebrityTypes.com.

Typealyzer
Now, the results are actually interesting as the Typealyzer was quite accurate on some points but not the entire personality. Here's what I got after having  this blog's personality-type analyzed before this particular post's published:
And there it is! It's just amazing to see how it accurately analyzed the type of person that I am. The personality based on the posts that the typealyzer analyzed was just spot-on indeed. Though my profession does not fall in the common satisfying careers. Many other websites or blogs may be classified under different types but the results are not always as accurate as what I've got. That's why users of the site are encourage to submit the right author-personality type to improve the database. You can try it yourself, actually. It's free to use. Alright! So much for my writing inspiration today. I'm not really planning to blog my brains out today but hopefully, I can still reserve my "creative juice" for the coming days. 'Til my next post then!

On Getting Inked

By On August 28, 2013
Most elderly people look at tattooed men or women as if they have just been fresh out of jail (read: jail ink). I totally understand this as our elders lived in a time when people got inked while serving time. So when my husband got his very first tattoo recently, he hesitated a bit as he knew how his parents are going to react.

I, however, supported him all the way, as I am open to this kind of penchant. I have an uncle who's a tattoo artist, who happened to be the one behind the tunnel piercing for my ears (done 11 years ago) . And oh, by the way, I've got a plan on having my own tattoo but I haven't really decided yet as to which tattoo designs I'll have. I'll have to choose something that's not unpleasant.It's quite common for older people to disapprove of getting inked. "Dinudumihan nyo lang ang balat nyo" (You're only tainting your skin), they usually say. Or most often it's "Mukha kang adik!" (You look like a substance abuser/druggie). 

That's how they (mostly old folks) see inked people. It's due to the fact that people their age who have tattoos used to spend time in the slammer or were addicted to prohibited substances. I find this notion so disappointing. It's become a reason anyone with a tattoo to be ridiculed or be a victim of discrimination. Totally different from OUR generation and from OUR time. At present, tattoos are artistic representations of oneself permanently marked on skin.Some crowd get tattoos for different reasons. Many of them choose to document the highlights or significant events in their lives through tattoos. I've known a few people who got their inks just because of heartbreaks (some may find it ridiculous, but that's what they felt like doing at that time, so their reasons are none of our business, haha!) There are also people who get tattoos because it's "uso" (fad). Masabi lang na astig sila. Or it could be due to a kid's impulsiveness and curiousity. The list could go on forever.

Having a tattoo does not necessarily mean that one doesn't respect or take care of his/her body. I remember a feature that Kara David of GMA once did for i-Witness in 2010. It's called "Ang Huling Mambabatok". It's about the Filipino culture, particularly of people of Kalinga. Our ancestors' bodies' used to be embellished with intricate patterns or "batok" (native term for tattoo) to signify their strength as warriors. This is the very reason they were referred to as "Pintados" by the Spaniards. So, you see, that's just their artistic way of telling everyone that they've been through a lot as warriors. These markings represent who they were and what they've done. Which is similar to someone opting to get his/her skin ink marks to artistically show what his/her passions are and what makes his/her entire being.Or simply just for one's love of the tattoo art.

Time For A Break!

By On August 23, 2013
Whew! I have never felt so refreshed. I've had another project done. Yay! Good vibes! It really feels good to know that at least one person believes in my ability as a writer. Though I'm just making some baby-steps to my own success, I am on my way to reaching it. I'm a hard knock, y'know. Haha! No one and nothing could stop me from pursuing this career. And Stef Gonzaga released "The Freelancer's Manifesto" just in time. It's such an inspiring piece that freelancers must read. In case you're wondering what I'm referring to, here's the link to the book: The Freelancer's Manifesto.To any freelancer who might be reading this, you can click on the link I've provided, make sure to share it with anyone whom you think might need it. It'll surely boost your confidence and morale.


Reading it made my day. What a nice way to have a break. Plus warm hugs from my husband and son. I had no idea that freelancing can be physically and emotionally draining until I went full-time. But it's worth my time and effort. I have all the time to work, get into some other gigs online, take care of my family and write on my blog every now and then Great, right? Being happy with what I have and what I do keeps me going. I'll still continue what I've chosen to do, and I'm going to work really hard to become a seasoned freelance professional. To all new fellow freelancers out there, don't let anything or anyone stand in our way to stop our success.After all, we are solo professionals and no one owns us.

My RCBC MyWallet Visa Experience

By On August 15, 2013
I recently got my RCBC MyWallet Prepaid Visa Card and initially, I was happy with the service. I got a personalized card (with my name on it) and Paypal verification was a breeze using it. The RCBC Cabanatuan branch personnel made sure that all the necessary fields in the form were filled out during application

Note: Paypal cannot make a charge for verifying the card if your email address was not included in RCBC's system, so you better fill out the email field during application)

For the application process, I just presented my police clearance (I have no other valid ID card at that time, as I have surrendered my company ID when I resigned and great, I lost my postal ID). I had to photocopy it for bank records purposes. I made an initial deposit of PhP 120.00, activation fee included. I was then advised to come back after a week to claim my card. And so I got it and happily went home to have my Paypal account verified. Once I linked the card, I immediately sent an email to their contact center to request the expanded use code be sent to me through email. After five hours, I received it,  and had my Paypal account verified after a few minutes.

I have added it as my bank account on Paypal for withdrawal purposes. The first few withdrawals, I only got charged PhP 10.00 each (there's a PhP 50.00 fee for Paypal withdrawals below PhP 7,000 though). Transactions went through within the given time frame (2-4 business days). So, to sum it all, I was pretty satisfied with the service.

The experience was good until recently, something went amiss. I've transferred my Paypal funds to my MyWallet account. The funds did not arrive until after 5 days (if they say 2-4 business days, I expect the funds on the fourth day). And, I also found out that they funds I transferred did not match the account balance on my RCBC account. I was only expecting a PhP 10.00 fee for the transfer but it turned out I was charged an extra 100. It may not be a huge amount, but as a customer, I should be made aware about changes on their banking fees. I only learned about the "foreign fee" they've deducted from my account after I sent them an email. I was so frustrated that I lashed out on them through my email that the changes weren't well-communicated to customers. It's not even on their website.

It was disappointing, knowing that RCBC is not transparent enough for small clients like me. I don't really know how they treat their big-time clients. I just hope they make it a point to let all customers know about any changes as soon as they implement those.

Casapsapan Beach in Aurora Province

By On August 08, 2013
Here's another must-try whitesand beach in the Philippines. The Casapsapan beach in Aurora Province (I'm a fan of beaches in this province 'coz they're just a few hours away from Nueva Ecija). In case your point of origin is Manila, here's a map showing the route that you will have to take to experience one of the less popular but great beaches in the Philippines.

For me, it's one of the best beaches in the Philippines as it's not been commercialized yet. Many beaches in the Philippines like Boracay Beach has been receiving too much amount of popularity that most people, celebrity or not, choose to explore it than the other less known ones with the same amount beauty.



The map above shows only the route that you can take using your own vehicle. There's a different route available if you take public transportation

Casapsapan, Casiguran, Aurora, Philippines

The snapshot above gives you a clear view of what to expect during your travel to Casapsapan beach. Notice the muddy terrain, which is just a usual scenario in the daily lives of Casiguran locals.


Road going to Casapsapan, Casiguran

Now, this shot of the road above also mirrors the description I've posted for Dinadiawan. Here, you can see a brook running across with some really bumpy and muddy portions of the road. That's why you may have to travel using a SUV for more ease in traveling.


Dinadiawan Beach

This photo above was taken in one of the many spots along the way that are often used for taking pictures by travelers. This spot is located somewhere near Dinadiawan beaches.

Finally, after approximately 5 hours of travel time, having covered around 221 km, we have pleasured ourselves looking at this beauty sans the crowd that you'll usually see in Boracay.

Casapsapan beach shoreline, Casiguran, Aurora Province

The view up here is even more awesome than in Dinadiawan due to the almost pristine whitesand beach (well, almost, since some folks have already been here). This shot was above taken around 10:30 AM when we arrived.


Sunrise at Casapsapan Beach

Casapsapan beach is even more breathtaking at dawn. Unbelievable as it may seem, but this snap above was captured around 4:00 AM.

The Aurora province has a very rich flora and fauna. So during our visit in Casapsapan, we took time to see what the place has in store for us. One of the most fascinating plant we have encountered was the Catmon tree.

Catmon Flower

From afar, it may look like any ordinary tree and the fruit somehow resembles a guava fruit. Look at the flowers more closely.


Catmon fruit unopened

The catmon fruit (better known as Elephant apple in some countries), to me, seemed like it was a flower bud. Little did I know that it was indeed a bud that would turn into a flower.

Catmon fruit peeled

Note the red vein-like structure. It's similar to the "veins" you'll find in the middle of the flower. Locals said that if a fruit was not harvested, it further matures and grows into a flower. Interesting, isn't it? For other regular plants, it's flower first, then turns into a fruit.For catmon, it's the opposite.

We have also visited a little zoo which houses several species of the animals that can be found within the region. Some of them were the deer, monkey, and wild pig. It was such a great experience that five-day stay seemed to be too short. This place will surely be included in our vacation this coming summer (may be too early to plan, heck! I just love the place).

Wild Hog, Casiguran, Aurora Province, Philippines

Deer in Casiguran, Aurora




It's Nice To Be Back!

By On July 23, 2013
Whew, I have been wanting to post a few days back, but my keyboard just wouldn't allow me. Some of the keys seem to be stuck that I had to open the laptop by myself (yes, I do it all the time with any gadget that I have hahaha!) and clean the keys. 

A lot has been going on since I was gone (as if I was gone for a year). Anyway, I just want to let every one know who might have been reading my blog (if there are any), that I am keeping my promise of updating this blog regularly. And while in the process of updating, I again managed to create a few new ones. I just got so excited because I was able to fix my laptop (smug look on my face). 

Apart from the laptop fixing episode, I was also surprised that our pet Douglas (he's a dog) munched on my sandals the other day. Yes, my ever trusty (and dirty) Crocs got torn and bitten by the pooch. Well, I guess he was just bored being imprisoned in his cage the whole day. Or he was just trying to get our attention. He's already an adult so it's less likely that he's teething. (Wow, the love for animals is still there, I still have it in me. Hahaha).

The bored doggie sure did some more damage as apparently, it's not just my Crocs sandals. The beast also chewed on my black rubber flats with much gusto that it's reduced to tiny bits, almost beyond recognition. Yup! Two pairs of footwear completely became a bored-doggie's chew toys that all that's been left of them were rubber dust (if there's such a thing). Well, that's life. Anyway, I have to go back to my project. I'm up to something big (evil laugh). I'll be back as soon as I can. Thank you for choosing T-- what the?! hahaha. I gues I miss taking calls too. Goodnight every one!



From Call Center Agent To Freelancer

By On July 20, 2013
The sudden switch from working as a call center agent to a full time freelancer brings so many changes. I, myself, have proven it. Giving up something that you've been doing for years is not easy. It could be one of the toughest situations anyone could ever be in. It's even more difficult if that's your main means of putting food on the table.

Having a regular 8-hour job in a call center means shorter time to be with the family. Presence in family gatherings is very rare (reps often sleep during the day). To get an approved leave, you must have a so called "valid" (read: life and death situation) reason, unless you're brave enough to face the wrath of your boss when you get back from your absence.

Socialization with friends outside the company you're working in almost never exist. And many other sacrifices. Including one's own health. You cannot be absent (unless you're on your deathbed). You have to brave the storm just to get to work. More often than not, you have to appear and sound like you're not affected by the constant ramblings of your boss and the customers you're assisting over the phone. "Life sucks" is what you say almost everyday. You're always itching to press "Log out" on your desk phone but you can't. You keep glancing at your watch, longing to see that hour-hand strike the time that you can finally go home. And so on. This daily dose of I-don't-want-to-say-what-I-call-them is what a call center agent has to endure. What I used to endure.

Why jump-ship then? What gives? My family, of course. Any of you who did the same might have the same reason. Is there anything more fulfilling than working from home in the presence of your family? Some might think it's not the way to go if you're sending your child to school. In my case, it is. If you have a family who's willing to help in any way they can, like mine, then this is the right track. I may be wrong, but it is worth a try. I tried, and now I can work whenever I want. I can send my kid to school, feed him, tend to him when he's sick and all other things I failed to do when I was still a call center employee. I once wrote that work could be hard to come by if you're freelance. But it must not end there.

What motivates me is my family. It drives me to continue what I am doing. And I love what I do. I mean, I used to think that I will be in the call center industry for a while, as it's what I'm most comfortable with. Yet the industry does not give any promise of stability. Not going out of my comfort zone is what kept me from giving up that job. Now I am glad I did.There's a lot life has to offer if one would make the most out of what he or she does. Giving up the job that you're comfortable with could be one of the hardest decisions you're ever going to make. You wouldn't really know what it'll be like if you're afraid to try. Trying is your stepping stone towards a whole new life. I did it, I am continuously learning, and I am sure something big is going to happen.

Dinadiawan Beach!

By On July 13, 2013
Dinadiawan Agri Beach Resort


This is a very long overdue post as these photos were taken on the very last week of March 2013. It's rainy season now, but what the heck?! I just posted this for the sake of other people who may be looking for other travel destinations during summer breaks or company team building activities. Boracay may be way too far people who live in the northern part of the Philippines. I know it's worth the wait but why settle for something too far when you can have same look and feel with less than half the travel time?

Dinadiawan is a part of Dipaculao, Aurora Province. If you've ever heard of or traveled to Baler (one of the most popular surfing spots here in the Philippines), then you might have an idea about how much time you'll spend traveling to get to this nice place. Approximately, it's a 2-hour drive from Baler, Aurora. I recommend riding an SUV or something that's higher than a car. No need to ride a plane if you live in nearby provinces. Just expect some bumpy ride ahead. On the way to the Dinadiawan Agri Beach Resort, you may encounter some parts of the road that were under construction. There are also some parts where brooks flow across or alongside of the road. I haven't taken some pictures of the terrain but I will update this post as soon as I have some from my sister's camera.

When we arrived at the resort, we were welcomed by very accommodating staff. The front desk lady ensured that we got really nice rooms. For less than 3000 PhP, we got air-conditioned rooms with bathrooms where we can stay in for 24 hours. A kitchen, which was separate from the rooms, was made available for us for 500 PhP., including the wood stove and barbecue grill gave us a chance to whip up our own meals.

In the resort premises, we were required to wear baller IDs with the resort logo to make sure there are no outsiders in the area. Me and my husband took a walk around the place and we've found a bar, that sells liquor in the evening, and some food and coffee in the morning. There was even a live band that performed there for three nights, so it was pretty much like Bora. But if you're after the serene, peaceful retreat, there are some quiet spots as well. Unlike Boracay, it's not too commercialized. not many know a place like this exists here in Luzon.

So why bother booking flights and preparing yourself to bask under the sun in Boracay when you can have that here in Dinadiawan?