Thursday, May 31, 2012

Accomplishment Check

At the start of the year, I wrote a blog about my determination to become a more pro-active person. You see, I am a very laid back type of person and my worst weakness is procrastinating. So I’m really trying my best to overcome this shortcoming.

Anyway, it’s almost halfway towards the end of the year again. Really, I still don’t understand why the days seem to fly with tremendous speed yet the day-to-day experience doesn’t seem rushed at all (except on super busy days, like FS days, when I usually lose track of time.) So what were the extra-curricular activities I managed to squeeze in between my work-family life?

·          Read and write reviews about the ff. books:

1.    Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (hilarious)

2.    Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (highly recommended for YAs!)

3.    Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

4.    Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (addictive)

5.    Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (less addictive)

6.    Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins (Peeta helped me read this through)

7.    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (it’s HP, need I say more?)

·         Currently in on-and-off mode with craft making.

1.    At the beginning of the year, I tried making little roses from ribbons. I was thinking about using them in hair clips and brooches but they’re unused as of now.

2.    I tried crocheting too. I was able to make one handbag using a pattern from the internet but the handle and ribbon is pending. This is how the bag looks like:
Source file

I’m planning to use silver chains for the handle and white ribbon for the design. However, I have not been to my favorite store in Quiapo (it’s called Wellmanson, they sell chains and lots and lots of beads!) for ages, so the handle and ribbon have to wait.

3.    Next, I tried a business venture on selling wrist watches with bead straps. Early in January, some friends (Candy, Bes, and Diane) and I were probing for the potentiality of a craft venture. Sad to say, 2 of my friends, Bes and Candy, who were both in the field of urban research, had become very busy so there was no way to meet up during weekends anymore.

This opportunity introduced me to Wellmanson though and I’m very thankful to my friends. Although the business did not prosper, it was a wonderful experience.

Anyway, I discovered this passion for bead watches (thanks Bes!) and at first, it became a hit with my niece’s friends and some of my colleagues at the office. I was able to sell some but had to stop because I eventually doubted the durability of my pieces plus, there was not enough time to keep up with this activity. But here are some of my designs:

This is a 3-strand watch with stretchable bands. This is my first ever DIY watch.

This is a charm bracelet using the P-loop wire style. Under the sea was inspired by my daughter who loves fishes and little mermaid. :)

The black pearls finished the night time effect of the charms, thus goodnight watch hehe.

This is trying out the interlooping technique. Rose bloom because it looks like pink roses with light green leaves at the sides. :)

                         Except for Under the Sea, all designs had been sold. ;)

·         Home management

1.  Before our house helper left, the laundry and folding of the clothes were her job. After that, it was the washing machine’s job to do the laundry, my husband’s job to hang them at the rooftop (I don’t like going there, I have fear of heights!), and my job to fold them (extra-job).

2.    More frequent trips to the mall with the kids. My little girls are so restless that taking them out is an exhausting task. But because this makes them happy, I ignored this discomfort and took them out more often.

3.    I was able to mend a few of my clothes, specifically my office skirt’s hemming and my dress' pocket which stitches was torn at one side. I have to admit. I lag behind this aspect of my extra-curricular activities. Could I rather just share what’s still pending on my list?

2 of my skirts need sewing of the buttons
3 blouses need replacement of all buttons (7 each blouse!). Actually, only one button’s missing for each blouse but the buttons are so one-of-a-kind that I doubt I’ll find a replacement. :(
1 blouse calls for a re-designing. It’s sleeveless so I don’t wear it without a blazer. So the frills at the side are useless. I’m deciding about taking them out and then making a brooch from these frills instead.

So that’s about it. It’s not so much I guess. I realized that after HP, I suddenly stopped with the reading for no reason at all. Gotta catch up on that. You see, this list is a good way to show me which areas I still need improvement with and that area… is… ALL! Haha. Anyway, I’m not really after a quota or something. I think that as long as I’m doing something worthwhile with my time, then I’m not really idle.

It’s still 7 months to go, God willing. I hope that I’d have more valuable activities up my sleeve for the rest of the days to come. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mission Accomplished! NBI Clearance

Yesterday, I took a leave from work in the afternoon to meet my husband at Robinson’s Big R at junction, to get our NBI clearances. I was clueless how the NBI operates now nor do I know the location of their office at Rob Big R (the mall is actually very small you could see the whole place in 15 minutes, but just the same, the unfamiliarity made me anxious) so I inquired with the security guard at the entrance. He was accommodating enough. He gave me a queue number which says 396. Then I saw my husband coming down from second floor. He was already there 15 minutes ahead of me, but because he used another entrance, he wasn’t given a queue number. Apparently, he had inquired at the NBI office already and was asked if he has a “number” but wasn’t given more information as to what number and where to get it.

You see, we had an ugly experience in the past with a supposed to be Customer Service Counter (Express Service, their station says) wherein the staffs kept saying we have to get the “number” first. I was like, what number? There are so many kinds of number you know, reference number (which we know we’d be getting after paying), mobile number, queue number, code number. I wish they could be more particular. But they were too busy chatting to even entertain customers. Anyway, I’m getting out of the topic. I just can’t help getting carried away every time I remember that ugly incident. Back to BigR though, it was lucky that my husband didn’t have to figure out too long what the “number” was because he had seen the guard giving me a slip of paper. His queue number was 397.

It was lunch time and since the staffs were out eating lunch, we decided to eat first as well. We were informed that NBI accommodates only 400 applicants in a day. It turned out we were practically at the end so there’s really no point waiting in line. Besides, they were serving like the 300th or so person that time. At that rate, the guard said we’d be through by around 6pm. Great, now what do we do with the 6 hours in between?

After lunch, I took my time filling out the NBI forms and checking and re-checking if the information were correct to pass time. It was just 1:30pm and I’m getting bored sitting down so we decided to try other tricks. To kill time we did groceries, stroll a little, then purchased school supplies for my brother, stroll again. We left our packages at the deposit counter while I took the chance to look for a bag for my brother but the mall was so small there weren’t many options. Soon afterwards, walking around got tiring until I felt cramps starting in my toes. We had no choice but to sit at the food court and eat again even though the last food we’ve eaten was still undigested.

In a way, the incident became an unplanned date hehe. Killing time wasn’t so bad after all. By around 4:30pm, we finally fell in line to wait for our turn.

The new NBI clearance system for Robinsons BigR (I’m not sure if it’s uniform for all NBI kiosks) was down to 3 steps (so you fall in line thrice also).

Step 1: Payment

You may or may have not have filled out the forms before paying. I think you may also pay and request for the form at the same time. Just show the NBI forms to the counter and ready the payment. The charges for different purposes are as follows:

Local employment or travel abroad: Php115
POEA, SEC, Business requirement or change of name: Php165
Naturalization or repatriation: Php415

* For a complete list of the fees, visit the NBI website for clearance application.

Don’t forget to secure the official receipt (OR). It will be required from you during the next step.

Step 2: Encoding

Present the filled out forms together with the OR and a valid ID. The staff at the counter will encode the necessary information in the system. At Robinsons BigR, the monitors were facing the applicants so they could check the spelling and details simultaneously. You may want to check out the form first to set the information at hand. This is how the form looks like:

The form is downloaded from the NBI website (the pdf file is located at the left bottom corner or you may click here)

At present, all applications for clearance are new and could be really time-consuming. The renewal is temporarily removed because the NBI shifted to a new clearance system after its contract with the previous service provider expired last year in June. The new system, which is now owned by the NBI, is called the Biometric Clearance System. The good news is, everything had been digitized so say goodbye to the paper transactions AND the ink-stained fingers. :)

Step 3: Biometrics

The fingerprinting and picture taking are both computerized. You just give your form to the staff in charge and he will assist you with the finger markings and “photo shoot” (sounds glamorous? hehe). I have to commend the biometrics in Big R yesterday. It was really quick!

Finally, you wait for your clearance to be released. This is immediately after the biometrics has been done. The person in step 3 just transferred the form to the releasing area (who was right beside him in Big R’s case) and then the clearance was printed.

I was expecting mine to be hit again (hit means you have someone with the same first and last name as yours). I was always hit ever since I started applying for NBI clearances in which cases I had to wait for a week until my clearance got released. But last night, it was released right away, no hassles, no hits! I was so happy. Even the person printing our NBI clearances sounded happy for us when she said “Ang swerte nyo naman hindi kayo na-hit” (You’re both so lucky your clearances are released right away.) Maybe it’s the feeling of relief after all those cranky waiting. I was really surprised and then I realized it must be because of the zero database. The other Jennifer Tapao must not have applied yet hehehe. Oh I almost forgot. You have to pay Php5 at the releasing area for the small brown envelope they issue with the clearance itself.

By 6pm, before leaving the place, we bought cheese rolls for the kids, picked up the packages then headed home tired but happy and contented. This NBI clearance is the last requirement asked of us from the latest update on our dream. And though I had to wait again after this requirement, for now I just have to say, thank God, mission accomplished!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lady Gaga’s Songs: Satanic?

Your controversies are making me famous! :)
I had always been indifferent about Lady Gaga. True, I know the lyrics by heart to a couple of her songs but that’s because of personal reasons. As an artist, she’s too sexually aggressive and she promotes too much obscenity in clothing and language. But I admit it. Her songs have a striking quality that when you hear it, you become easily familiarized. In this sense, I find her somewhat likeable.

If I was indifferent, what is the reason for this analytical piece then? Well, just recently, Lady Gaga held a 2-day concert in the Philippines against and despite protests and even a prayer vigil from conservative people (or personally declaimed Christians) apparently because Lady Gaga’s songs are satanic. Basically, that is how my attention was caught. For one thing, I regard her as eccentric and weird to the point of freakiness, but I believe that’s just for the show. Personally, I think Gaga might actually be a better person than most people in her industry and she believes in God, how can she be satanic? One time, I even admired her for defending a young artist (Rebecca Black) from the harsh public criticisms. That’s a plus factor I guess, because it shows that Gaga is a person who rejoices at one’s potential.

It turned out that 2 of her songs specifically “Born This Way” and “Judas” had been stirring controversy for some time now. According to local news, “Born This Way” is recognized as a “gay anthem” and that it purportly encouraged gay people to come out and fight for their rights. I checked out the lyrics to verify this and was surprised to learn that there were but 2 lines which referred to the word “gay:”

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
lesbian, transgendered life,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.

Actually the song was mostly about acceptance of one’s self despite the prejudice of society. To be honest, I have to commend her for this message:

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way

I applaud her for pointing out that the recognition is to God that every person, no matter what state he is in when he was born, is beautiful. How could this be a “gay anthem???” Moreso, how could they say that this is satanic? I think that some gays just thought this would be a best defense backed up by Lady Gaga herself, yet I’m not sure if she declared this as the song’s motive personally.  Some homosexuals would jump at anything to support the things that they think would make them happy (as in the case with Obama’s support to same-sex marriage). Gays are acceptable. But there is a limit of course, with regards to the actions and lifestyle. As for being satanic, perhaps most people just joined the bandwagon of the anti-Gaga without checking out themselves what it was about.

Onto the next song though. The lyrics of “Judas” was a bit more difficult to interpret because Lady Gaga used too much figure of speech in her message. I’m not even sure if this is to be taken literally or figuratively so I had to read a few more information about Gaga regarding this one. It turned out that this might have been a comparison to Lady Gaga’s past relationship with a guy who betrayed her, thus comparing the guy to the icon of betrayal, Judas. Or it could be an individual’s battle between the good and evil intent inside as expressed in this particular verse:

I wanna love you,
But something's pulling me away from you
Jesus is my virtue,
Judas is the demon I cling to
I cling to

I think all people have their own battle of good and evil inside them. That’s a reality that has been evident in the world long before Gaga was even born. Maybe it’s too much to accuse her of being the devil’s advocate. In fact, most of the people submitting themselves to evil may not even know Gaga exists. I mean, would murderers really give a care about Gaga’s poker face, or her extra organ? She’s just an artist who likes to thrive at controversies. And she’s successful. All this chaos are making her famous. Nevertheless, I think she could be chargeable of violating one rule in the Bible and that is:

Though shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This morning while I was walking the short distance from MESCO to the office, thoughts of food were occupying my mind. I realized that I was craving for favorite foods from my childhood and Filipino heritage:
Soft tofu sweetend by brown sugar syrup with pearl sago.
When we were kids, we'd always wait for manong magtataho to pass by our house to buy taho. A magtataho generally carries 2 large buckets hanging from a yoke which he carries over his shoulder. One bucket contains the tofu while the other, the sugar syrup or arnibal and the sago. I don't remember how much a small plastic cup was then, but nowadays, the small sized cup is Php5 while the bigger one is Php10. Some malls also sell taho in stalls but of course, at a higher cost and in my opinion, not as tasty as the traditional ones.
Corn kernells sprinkled with grated coconut and sugar
A binatog vendor rides in a bicycle with a bucket tied at the back of his bike containing the corn kernels and coconut and sugar mixture and he sounds his bell while driving around. I don't know if they have a uniform kind of bell but they all sound alike and you'd know once you hear the tinkle that it's manong binatog. They're a little less common nowadays, unlike the magtataho. Sometimes, I believe they're becoming extinct.
Banana, gabi (a tropical tuber), sago and rice flour shaped into balls cooked in coconut milk and sugar.
Unlike the binatog and taho, it's not usually sold around by a vendor. Well, I preferred it cooked at home anyway, and I'm proud to say that we have plenty of relatives who could make this delectable dish really well from my lola Maring (sad she's gone 4 years ago) down to my titas (aunts) and even my brother or cousins. When I was a lot younger, I willingly took part in the preparation of the "bilo-bilo" or the rice flour balls. Indeed, this recipe requires great amount of preparation.
Cooked cassava garnished with grated coconut
Mom used to bring this home from the market when we were kids so I guess that's where you could buy it then. This snack has just enough sweetness and the texture is really light but ironically quite heavy in the stomach. I remember getting stuffed after eating this and though my mouth yearns for more, the stomach threatens to throw up. Nowadays, there are high-class restaurants including this in their desserts menu.
Steamed brown rice cake sprinkled with grated coconut.
This is another variety of kakanin along with the pichi-pichi that mom used to bring home from the market when we were kids. Some vendors sold this from house to house though, carried in buckets much like the taho. The tricky part is, not all kutsinta tastes alike. I think (and observed) that the more translucent the texture is, the better. This is Demi's favourite by the way. :)

Right now, I just have to satisfy myself with the cheese sandwich I prepared for breakfast and other snacks are almost always instantly prepared. Not that I'm complaining, it's just that I still believe that some things, like making food, still get better results when enough time is put into it. Or maybe I'm just missing my childhood days and getting appreciative of my cultural heritage. For whatever reasons, hmmm... I don't know yet. Let's blame it on the food thoughts that invaded my mind this morning. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Forfeited Vouchers and Broken Hearts

*Sigh* I’m so sad. I purchased Valentines cake vouchers from Blueberry and Company last February for 50% off but never got to claiming it because I failed to see the teeny-weeny information that you could only claim it on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Il Mercanti. Otherwise, if you want to get it in the morning, you have to go to Ayala Town Center which is way beyond reasonable distance from our location. Night times are extremely hectic for an occupied mom like me, plus, the way to Metro Walk from 6pm onwards has usually heavy traffic so scheduling the pick-up was quite tricky. I had it at the back of my mind though, that the voucher is valid until May only.

But when I checked my account with Ensogo just a while ago, the voucher says claiming is until May 18 only!!! I wanted to scream and to cry like a baby. That was just last Friday! I did try to ask for consideration though but as expected, to no avail. To add insult to the injury, the woman I was talking to on the phone seemed careless and heartless as if it doesn’t really matter. Okay fine, I didn’t get consideration, I was late for just 3 days. But her nonchalant (I think she was even happy, grrrrrr…) tone was like a slap on my face… *deep sigh*

Well, people say when you lose, don’t lose the lesson. My lessons are to check and double check details before jumping into something and have contingency plans at hand when it’s needed and to write down deadlines in BOLD letters, UNDERSCORED and POSTED on places where I’m sure to see it EVERYDAY! Haay, I am so depressed. I wanted that heart cake so much back then. I didn’t expect to get a broken heart instead.

Anyway, it only costed me Php158, plus the cakes are probably just tiny and taste awful. Just sour-graping if it could help me get over my forfeited vouchers. *deep sigh*

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday Freebies!

Two Fridays ago, my husband asked me to buy a larger size diaper for Daisy after office. Now this is not a much welcomed task mostly because Friday afternoons officially start the weekend and I can't wait to get home and rest. Rest from the cold airconditioning system that is. Other than that, well... can't really say rest but at least I get to be with my kids and husband. Anyway, lucky for me, I got a free ride with kuya Dick up to Ever Ortigas. Initially, I planned to buy at Robinson's Big R at Junction where they still pack your groceries with plastic. But I was at Ever and besides, it's just diaper so I bought there instead.

Another luck for me, Drypers was holding a promotion that day. The pack I bought, which was 32 pieces XXL (yes, that's Daisy's size and she's just 2 and a half years old) diapers plus free 3 pieces, had an equivalent of 3 freebies of my choice: a certain brand of sanitary napkin I forgot, because I wasn't interested hehe, a tote bag, toddler T-shirts and collared shirts for adults. Since I forgot to bring my Ever grocery bag, I chose one tote bag, and then the other two, I chose a matching shirt for Demi and Daisy. The promo girl, who was so excited for me because I told her that Drypers was the sole thing I was buying, gave me 2 more diaper pads for free. I went home very happy myself. :)

Yesterday again, before officially enjoying the Friday afternoon, my husband asked me to buy, this time, a 900-gms can of milk each for Demi and Daisy at Rob Big R. Since they use plastics for groceries, I decided to buy a few more items that we need at home. On the way out, a rep girl from World Vision came up to me and offered a tote bag for just P10 and P1,000 worth of receipt. She says it was for charity causes and my purchases were above the amount anyway. So I got another tote bag for only P10!

I've been noticing that Fridays give freebies for me haha. Of course that's just coincidental, but somehow, it makes me wanna look forward to next Friday and be more willing to do some grocery errands after work. :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


17th of May 2012

I just discovered that Blogger offers more options for blog designs and is much more user-friendly with making posts. I’ve been considering this a long time ago but the minute I’ve played with a few cute fonts and colours, I’ve finally decided to shift blogging with Blogger. Not only were there more choices for editing, I have also discovered that inserting images is more convenient here. I haven’t tried the other features yet, but I’m guessing the rest would be better here.

I’m not deleting my blog with you though, I can not do that. Our 1 year and 2 months amity had been a great fulfillment for me and you did keep my memoirs and welcomed me to the blog world the best that you could. For that and I am very grateful and so I thought I might link my previous posts to the new Archives page. That shall keep our bond intact.

My blog is not really new. I just need to migrate and I hope you understand. Actually, it has the same title, same description, same author. I hope to find the same readers and viewers and more though! :)

       Most affectionately yours,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Late Bloomer Harry Potter Fan

After the addiction with the Hunger Games trilogy, I was shaking uncontrollably and there were inevitable moments of hallucination. I guess that’s the withdrawal syndrome. My best friend was at my aid, so she sent me more addictive stuff. Just kidding, hehe. Bes gave me more e-books to read which include the complete Harry Potter series, works of Nicholas Sparks, Paolo Coelho, and the famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People among others. With all these wonderful writings, choosing was a bit difficult but I thought I’ll save the romance for later, the human understanding next, and being highly effective last (haha).
Reading the HP series was actually a long overdue goal. Just like with THG, I was the listener while the rest of the world conversed about this new book. At first, I even regarded the book as atrocious because people kept commenting about the bad influence it impressed over the young ones. Then I guessed the book must be really good to attract this much criticism. When the first movie was released, I almost laughed at my expectations. It’s a fantasy alright, and not at all wicked. Kids would tend to imagine things like this anyway, HP or no HP, so it didn’t deserve this grave criticism at all.
Well, onto my experience with reading the book. First, I’ve watched several HP movies but never got straight which is which from the sequence. I don’t enjoy watching as much as reading so the only occasions I viewed HP was when my brothers would watch them too. Sometimes I’d watch the latter part, other times the first. Either way, it’s usually just midway so you’d probably understand my confusion. I recognized scenes from the movie though, while reading, and it was like fitting pieces of a puzzle while the story unfolds. It’s not a very thrilling experience because I’ve been spared of the imagination factor. Everything, from characters to setting to plot, had been provided already. Nevertheless, HP movies deserve praise based from these aspects because they depicted the books very well.
Now that I’ve finished reading the 1st book, I realized I’ve become a HP fan myself. JK Rowling is a tremendously great story – teller. I secretly envy her for inventing Bettie Bott’s Every Flavoured Bean. It’s such an innocent creation with just a hint of naughtiness in it, the kind I trusted my mind to come up with. And I really find Dumbledore’s vomit-and-earwax-flavoured-bean-experience the best, haha! She’s such a natural humorist, throwing witty and sarcastic dialogues all throughout the pages. And without question, she has a very imaginative mind, down from the wizard terms, the train station, disappearing stores, moving stairs and photos, the sorting cap, every foreign thing seemed real and it’s no wonder kids probably hoped to receive a letter from Hogwarts right after reading the book. Even the broomstick, which isn’t a new thing with witches and wizards, was given a different light that made the idea interesting rather than creepy.
My favourite part was Harry’s conversation with Dumbledore, after he had defeated Quirell and Voldemort. I was particularly impressed with how Harry found the Sorcerer’s Stone: only one who wanted to find the Stone – find it, but not use it – would be able to get it. Brilliant, isn’t it? And she did have several perceptive ideas expressed through Dumbledore in the last parts and let me quote:
“…humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
“The truth… It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
And just like any other fairy tale, the HP book 1 had a happy ending with Gryffindors beating the nasty Slytherins for the first time after 6 years. Meanwhile, while the rest of the HP fans are silently mournful for HP’s coming to an end, I think I’ll savor the other 6 remaining books. I guess this is one of the benefits of being a late bloomer. 🙂