Posted in Europe, Lessons Learned, Travel

Blooming – slowly but surely

IMG_8903It can’t be denied that travelling is one of the best sources of one’s learning and maturity. Whether you travel alone or with family/friends, you get to learn a thing or two about yourself, about others, about life in general. You just bloom and continue to blossom from the experience.

We have different reasons why we travel. After reading this post (from seed to flower) by Mari Jasmine, I too asked myself the reasons why I love to travel. The first reason that comes to mind is that I want to see and experience God’s wonderful creation, when we travel, you get to see that the world is so vast and so beautiful, you couldn’t grasp how great our Creator is. I love all things beautiful, I think everyone loves beauty, one of the best ways to experience beauty is to travel, I haven’t traveled much, but so far, every single city that I get to visit looks beautiful to me, each one is different but each one has its beauty to showcase and to put anyone in awe.

After I experienced spring in Seoul, South Korea for the first time, I dreamt of traveling to cold places, to experience spring and autumn in different continents, most especially, Europe. It’s generally warm (sometimes really hot in the Philippines) so when I travel, I hope to feel cool breeze, fresh air and lots of beauty around.

Aside from witnessing God’s wonderful creation and experiencing the cool weather, I also want to eat different food, and just savor the flavor which each distinct city offers. Everyone loves to eat, right, I am definitely not an exception. 😉

Alright, I want to shop too, but I know it’s not too practical to buy a lot because there’s just so many more wonderful things than stuff/material things, so I try my best to limit my spending so that I can save up the money for another travel.

In my recent travel to Europe, I’ve learned a lot, for someone who is a self-confessed late-bloomer, I definitely have a lot more to learn!! Thank God for the opportunity to travel, I get to learn lessons which make me wiser, a little bit stronger and better as a person, and as a traveler.

  1. Travel light.

Duh, Ryah? When will you ever learn?

IMG_8845 (Edited)This trip is my 7th international travel, but it’s the farthest and the longest. All of my first 6 travels took only a week and only within Asia. This time, it’s in Europe, we traveled to 6 cities within 3 weeks. Next time, (i) I should start packing early, not on the day of the travel. (ii) I should plan my wardrobe ahead of time, (iii) mix and match, (iv) remember that I can wash my undies right after taking a bath, so don’t bring too much, and (v) I can also do the laundry too, laundry shops are available everywhere. If I didn’t bring enough clothes, (vi) I can shop for more clothes, right? Shopping is part of travelling. 🙂 (vii) If I will be hopping from one city to another, bring medium luggage only. (viii) If I will stay in one or two cities only, I can bring the large luggage only if the vacation is two weeks or longer and I expect to do some shopping.

2. Stick to your budget.

I have budgeted Php2,000 per day for the trip. It should have been enough if only I used the daily budget to food and transportation only. The budget for shopping should be separate. For future travels, especially to Europe, I will budget Php3,000 per day for food and transportation, pls note that this is a pretty generous daily budget. The budget for shopping should be in a different wallet or pouch, never mix up the money for both allowances. Before the trip, the only must-buy in my mind is the leather bag in Florence, well I planned to buy a few more stuff like the Little Prince book and Jane Austen classics, I forgot to budget on the fridge magnets which are my mandatory souvenirs. If only I have more space in my luggage and if only it’s not too heavy, I wanted to buy the Starbucks demitasse in cities where it is available. Oh well! No regrets though…. sometimes I think, the “heavy luggage” situation happened because I am being spared from shopping too much, which is good. 🙂

IMG_9965Are there things I regret not buying because of my fear of carrying an even heavier luggage? Yes, there are a few things – some hardbound books in Notting Hill Bookshop, the Starbucks demitasse in Paris, France, a few more Leonidas chocolate bars, some more Cath Kidston handcreams, and the Lovea shampoo & shower cream, this is a French brand of natural products which I bought in one of Milan shopping malls, had I known that I would love these products, I should have bought more travel size tubes, or 1 big bottle for each. Oh well, lesson learned!

3. Chill.

More often than not, we travel because we want to relax, we want to rest in a far place, somewhere far from work, or from anything that causes stress. We spent 3 to 4 days in each city that we visited, we stayed longest in UK, 5 days, because I requested for it, I wanted to see my family and a couple of friends. As you know from experience, 3 or even 4 days are not enough to explore a city, even the small one. Since this is our first time in Europe, we wanted to see most of the tourist spots, so we booked tours and hop-on-hop-off buses in Florence, Milan, Paris, London and Rome. In Brussels, we depended on Leah, since she lives there and we only had 2 full days in Brussels, on our 3rd day, we even managed to go to Gent, in Graslei Canal, before we moved to London.

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I will surely come back for you, Toscana…

In every place that we visited, I can say with all conviction that we didn’t have enough time to chill one day and then explore the next day. Well, this is perfectly understandable, next time, we know better. On my next trip to Europe, 4 cities will be maximum in 3 weeks or 1 month, and spend atleast 4 full days in each city. I personally wanted to explore more of Tuscany, more of Paris, but we just didn’t have enough time. I love San Gimignano that’s why I want to go back, as for Paris, we barely had time to go to other landmarks except for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, I want to go back to see the Eiffel Tower at night, to see more of the Louvre Museum, check out more museums and gardens, chill more, drink coffee at pavement cafes, eat more macarons and other French pastries, and maybe, just maybe, finally buy my first ever LV or Chloé bag. 🙂

4. Avoid last minute shopping.

Since we didn’t have enough time to chill, explore and shop in each city, we always made the most of our remaining hours in the city to shop or buy souvenirs for family and friends. When we do this, there’s a chance that we miss our flight or train ride, which actually happened to us in Paris going to Brussels, and almost happened again in Brussels going to London. It’s expensive to book a new ticket on the day of travel, well, we’re grateful that there’s another schedule that afternoon from Paris to Brussels.

On our last day in London, I went out even though it was raining hard because I wanted to buy a big  bottle of Pixi glow toner, which I thought might be cheaper since it is a UK brand. I was lucky enough to be able to buy it. After getting it, I went back to the hotel just in time for our check out, we went to the airport via Uber. At the airport, all liquids must be put inside a seal-able plastic bag. The ones which are 100ml or bigger should be checked in. I totally forgot about the toner that I bought, 250ml, which I put inside my bag after I purchased it in the morning. So naturally, I was not allowed to bring it with me, I had no choice but to leave it, and “throw away my £18!! 😦 Mailing it to my cousin’s home is more expensive than the item itself so I let it go and charged it to experience. 😦

5. Savor the food, the fruits, the flowers, as much as you can.

IMG_7626Back in Manila for 20 days, I must admit, setting aside the beauty and charm of Europe, including the cold weather of Brussels and London, what I miss the most are the fruits (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) which are soooo yummy, readily available in grocery stores and so cheap!! So while I was there, I ate as much as I can, but I still miss it, if only I can bring a lot back home. I miss the flowers too, they’re too lovely and visible just anywhere. Next time, I won’t hesitate to buy a bouquet and have a photo op with it. 😉 I miss the coffee, the chocolates, the macarons… Okay, I miss Europe, pls take me back! ;D

6. Take lots of photos.

IMG_7042Yes, I did take lots of photos but I think they’re not enough to make a good album, most of the photos were taken thru the IG stories which have low resolution. One lesson learned is to use either digicam or iPhone for high resolution so it’s ready for album or for printing. If you want to have your photo taken in a particular place, don’t hesitate to ask your travel buddies. I actually don’t have much photos because I was too shy to ask my travel buddies.. Next time, I won’t be shy anymore. 😉

7. Save up for travel.

Don’t spend too much on stuff, so you can travel more often. My dream place is Europe, since it’s a big continent, with lots of beautiful cities to experience, I need to save up a lot so I can go back often and visit three to four cities at a time. 😉

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Hope you’re able to learn something from this post and apply it on your future travels. 😍😘

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Posted in Bucketlist, Europe, Good gifts, Travel

77++

When I travel, I am happy with the reality that I am with family and/or friends, and we will share lots of wonderful memories together in a different place. That’s why I only have very few musts – must see, must eat, must buy – the rest of the trip, I happily go with the flow, go where my family or friends wish to go or what they wish to do.

For my recent trip to Europe, my dream destination, I’ve been listing my musts even before I bought the ticket for it, that’s why when it’s already actually happening, my list came in (so) handy. 🙂

I posted this list in my previous post, I was able to do 12 out of 19. I am very happy because the 7 things which I wasn’t able to do were replaced by 77++ more beautiful experiences (trip to Bellagio, Lake Como / Lugano, Switzerland / Brussels & Gent in Belgium) which I wouldn’t trade for anything else. 😀

France

  • Eiffel Tower – ✔
  • Eat macarons at Laduree Pierre Herme – ✔
  • Coffee at pavement cafes (done in Italy) – ✔
  • Buy Little Prince hardbound book – ✔ not in Paris, but in Notting Hill, London

Italy

  • Pasta, pizza & gelato! – ✔✔✔
  • Leaning tower of Piza – ✔✔✔ Kim and I even climbed up the Pisa and we were stunned by the gorgeous view from the top!
  • Colosseum – ✔✔ We saw it both day time and night time, in both times, absolutely picturesque, right Caye? 🙂
  • Buy leather bag in Florence San Gimignano – ✔ So happy to find a very lovely but not pricey brown leather bag

UK

  • Bond with Jel, Jelan & Mariel (and auntie too!)- ✔✔✔ I was happiest in London because I was able to spend time with them, so love them!! ♥♥♥
  • Visit Iris, Bong & Kids – ✔✔✔ Happy to catch up with Bong and Iris, such precious time to be with friends 🙂
  • Watch a theater play – Miss Saigon – hopefully next time I’ll get to watch this
  • Eat at monocle cafe – no more time, maybe next time
  • Go to UK landmarks, Notting Hill – ✔✔ Yes! We went to Notting Hill bookstore and the apartment where the character of Hugh Grant lives 🙂 I loved the bookstore so much, if only I have the space on my luggage for those lovely hardbound books…
  • Buy twinning teas, ‘after 8’ mint chocolate, Jane Austen’s cloth-bound classic set – nope! hopefully next time!
  • Meet Peony Lim 😉 – she was in Miami when I was in London, not meant to be ;P
  • Photo op with real peonies – ✔ no photos with peonies but I got to see them in real life (I think in Milan and Rome) So beautiful!!!
  • Umbrella park at Bath – nope! next time 🙂
  • Get Jane Austen pound coins as souvenir – not available, guess only few were released
  • National Gallery via Trafalgar Square- Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Room – nope, next time, too!

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I thank and praise God for the 77++ unfathomable beauty that He showed us and made us experience in this trip. I trust He has much more wonderful things in-store for me. 🙂

Posted in Bucketlist, Europe, Good gifts, Lessons Learned, Travel

A prayer is answered, a dream is fulfilled.

Image-1Back from my dream travel for almost a week, I wouldn’t want to miss this chance to glorify God for causing it to happen.

A prayer is answered, a dream is fulfilled. 🙏🙌 My 💖 is full. 😊
Europe is my dream destination. I had it in my heart in my late teens. Can’t remember how and why, I guess it’s one of those dreams that God has planted in my 💖.
I’ve been open about it, family and friends know about this dream. I believe in the power of proclaiming your dreams, believing God to will it in His time and prepare for it as you wait for Him to make it happen.
Everything is kept in my 💖, lessons learned included.🙋 The photos and my nonexistent photography skill couldn’t make justice as to how I beautifully see it, feel it, and reminisce of every single precious moment I experienced, every single person I spent time with and those who I briefly encountered all throughout the trip. I am grateful (beyond words) to GOD who give great gifts to His children (James 1:17). 🙌He has blessed us, spoiled us, showed us marvelous, unfathomable beauty and kindness (yes, still exists) in the world (despite all the scary things happening around), and protected us.
I’m back to my normal life, but I am equally grateful and happy because this is where God wants me to be at this time. Bloom🌻 where you’re planted, right? 😍
God knows I will always want to go back to Europe, He knows what’s in my 💖 but I trust His will & want His best for my life, far more than my version of what’s best for me. ☺
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭16:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬
#oldsoul®
#GODspoils🙌🙌🙌

#LivingTHEdream💞💖

#gratefulbeyondwords💞💖

Posted in Bucketlist, Europe, Good gifts, Travel

Europe…we’ll see you soon!

FullSizeRenderIf you are a loved one or a very dear friend of mine, you sure know that Europe is a big dream of mine. I actually have 3 big dreams, only God and me know what these 3 dreams are. One of these big dreams is to live, work and retire in Europe with my family. In 35 days, I will get to see, smell, taste, feel and experience Europe in the flesh. 🙂

I think I was in my early 20s when I started dreaming of travelling to Europe, it was so far-fetched back then because promo fares were still unheard of. Thanks to the changing times, travel has become affordable to many.

In 2010, mi amiga Lianne and I promised to each other that we would go on our Europe trip, we were taking Spanish language classes during that time, the agreed year was 2015. Fast-forward to 2015, mi amiga got married and had her first baby. As for me, tax issue hit the Filipino staff in our company, we had to pay our taxes and had to push back all our travel plans with friends.

In early 2015, I got promoted and transferred back to my first department in ADB, OGC. I met new set of friends. My default travel buddies had different travel plans so I had no one to go with me to Europe. In my new set of friends in OGC, Caye and Kim were keen on going to Europe, my prayers were answered, thank you, Lord! Each of us has different reasons for wanting this Europe trip but God has caused us to be each other’s travel buddy. Thank you so much, Lord. 😊

Last year, a few days before my birthday, Caye, Kim, and I booked our ticket via Qatar Airways! We started out counting from 200 plus days and now we’re down to 35 days!

As of this writing, we already have our Schengen visa. We are hoping to get our UK visa in early May. I have practiced packing my clothes, I will edit it some more but I think I’m 90% good. We’ll be meeting a couple of friends and we’ll visit my cousin Jel and her adorable family in London.

So far, here’s my personal list of the things I want to do/experience subject to Caye & Kim’s approval 😊:

France

  • Eiffel Tower
  • Eat macarons at Laduree
  • Coffee at pavement cafes
  • Buy Little Prince hardbound book

Italy

  • Pasta, pizza & gelato!
  • Leaning tower of Piza
  • Colosseum
  • Buy leather bag in Florence

UK

  • Bond with Jel, Jelan & Mariel
  • Visit Iris, Bong & Kids
  • Watch a theater play – Miss Saigon
  • Eat at monocle cafe
  • Go to UK landmarks, Notting Hill – Friday morning
  • Buy twinning teas, ‘after 8’ mint chocolate, Jane Austen’s cloth-bound classic set
  • Meet Peony Lim 😉
  • Photo op with real peonies
  • Umbrella park at Bath
  • Get Jane Austen pound coins as souvenir
  • National Gallery via Trafalgar Square- Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Room 43

My hashtags for this trip are ready too:

#GODspoils®️

#LivingTHEd®eam

#®️yahINeu®️ope2017

Before we reached to this point, we had gone through a lot of challenges and loss along the way, but in all of these, God remained faithful. He caused us to endure everything and believe that this Europe dream is not only our dream but most importantly, HIS dream for Caye, Kim and me. 😊

And we are too grateful and blessed to experience the fulfillment of God’s dream for us.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: – Ecclesiastes 3:1

IMG_5630 (Edited)
with the answer to my prayers, my lovelies, Kim & Caye

♥♥♥

Posted in Uncategorized

My kind of volunteer work

In January 2016, ADB has added a leave day to our benefits, we call it “volunteer day” where a staff can do outreach work on a weekday and file it as an official leave. We can do it individually or as a group with friends or as a department.

In October 2016, the Staff Community Fund (SCF) has tapped the heads of departments to partner with them to do outreach activities as part of the SCF Funds 50 Program. This program will provide P50,000 to the department’s chosen organization to be used in their outreach activities. My boss, Chris, the General Counsel, is one of the recipients of the email from SCF regarding the program. Chris, from my point of view is someone who has such a good and big heart, has grabbed the opportunity to help. He shared the email to me and 2 more staff and asked how can we partake in the program. I learned that OGC has 3 SCF volunteers, Ms. Kori, Ms. Mavic and Val. I rejoined as an SCF volunteer and started meeting with them to plan out our activities. In one of our meetings, we were thinking of what to call our outreach, after some deep but quick thought, we came up with OGC goes O.G.C. (Outreach and Games with Children).

We sent out a few emails to OGC staff and finalized the date and activities of the volunteer day. We informed them that we needed some contribution from them to supplement the funds provided by SCF. We went door to door, knocked on the generous hearts of our friends/colleagues, within a couple of weeks we were able to gather nearly P100,000 worth of cash donations. With this budget, we were able to give loot bags full of school supplies, grocery items to 50 children, we shared snacks and lunch meals with them and we even set up a photobooth to leave them with printed memories of the event.

On 17 March, our group went to Bistekville 4, a socialized housing project of 150 units of affordable housing undertaken in joint venture with Habitat for Humanity in Quezon City. Habitat for Humanity gathered the children for the event. The program commenced with a welcome remarks by Mr. Jess Maglente, the Home Owners Association President, followed by a message from Chris.

Each volunteer randomly picked the name of his/her kid buddy with whom he/she would bond and also mingle with the rest of the group all throughout the event. The whole group was divided into 5 teams: blue, green, orange, white and yellow. We played games under the sun with the children and also did some arts and crafts. Without a doubt, the children had so much fun. But to my surprise, the volunteers, 45 of us, of which more than half were lawyers, have equally enjoyed the activities, if not, I think we had probably enjoyed more than the children. 😉

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. ― Kahlil Gibran

An opportunity like this seldom comes especially in a workplace, thanks to ADB, now we can do it regularly with our friends/colleagues. We went there with the intention of generously giving our time, attention and resources, but we all went home with a deep sense of gratitude, feeling that we received more from those children, our hearts were full seeing their bright eyes with happy smiles, and hearing their contagious laughter was music to our ears, every bit of preparation and time spent with them was all well worth it.

Along the way, let’s never forget that once we were children and that we were all playing together without distinction of skin color, society level, or where people come from. Adults need to remember to play and to be more childlike in our behavior. We’ve forgotten what that childlike experience was like. – Guy Laliberte

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Blue Team
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Green Team
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Orange Team
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White Team
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Yellow Team
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The Committee, the emcees with some of the kids

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Posted in Baking, Bucketlist

My ♥ is full..

..and so is  my tummy 🙂

Today, one of my greatest dreams got fulfilled, one of the things in my bucket list got ticked – that is to learn how to bake. 🙂

I grew up in a very simple family. My mom cooks but she never bakes, so I had nil idea how to bake pastries. I think, if my memory serves me right, I was in my high school or probably in my college years when I first wanted to learn how to bake. Mi amiga Rocel, one of my bestfriends in highschool, wanted to bake strawberry shortcake, she gave me a recipe of it with a promise that we should both learn to bake. Fast forward to many years, Rocel learned how to bake, she’s now in the US with her husband and son, but I remained clueless when it comes to baking. The dream lives on in my heart, though I didn’t get to do it because I don’t have an oven and the basic equipment, there are more important things to purchase so buying an oven and other utensils is always pushed back.

I have this friend/carpoolmate/colleague who recently retired. We all know that she bakes and cooks real well. When she retired I told her that I’ll visit her one of these days and will request her to teach me how to bake. Little did I know that my other carpoolmates want to learn how to bake, too! So we decided to visit Ms. Millen and do the baking session one Saturday morning. 🙂 We called our baking session, Millen101. 😉

Ms. Millen shared a list of pastries that she knows how to bake. From the list of six, we decided to bake: 1. Moist Chocolate Cake and 2. Lemon/Calamansi Squares. Here are the recipes shared by Ms. Millen:

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We’re all really happy to learn how to bake. Much more than having a full tummy because of the uber yummy chocolate cake and calamansi squares, my heart is full, I am exceedingly happy because I finally get to bake, and the experience is made more special because I did it with friends, with one of my treasures in life. I am wonderfully blessed with wonderful people around me. 😀 Thank you so much, Lord, I know this is another answered prayer. 🙂 Indeed, your timing is perfect, always! 🙂

The Moist Chocolate Cake 🙂

The Calamansi Squares

Ms. Millen did all the teaching and sharing, prepared breakfast, provided all the ingredients, the utensils, equipment, her time, lovely kitchen, lots of love, ALL for FREE, so as a simple thank you gift, we gave her what she loves. 🙂

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She loves to drink Coke, she collects Coke cans and other “Coke items”

After our baking session, I had lunch with momsy and daddy, it’s daddy’s 62nd birthday today. We had lunch in our of our fave restos, Simply Thai, because we simply love Thai cuisine. 😀

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I’m happy that my parents are healthy. Lord, please bless them with many more healthy, happy and lovely years with us.

Lord, thank you for such a blessed, wonderful day! You are good, all the time! 😀