Monday, October 20, 2008

MINI-SURVEY - TO SPEND OR NOT TO SPEND THIS CHRISTMAS

Good day.

This is for an article I'm doing - hope you take time to answer the following:

What was your biggest holiday purchase last year? And how much was it?

Was it a planned spending? Or a splurge? Why?

For this season, are you going to spend that much as you spent last year? What will you buy and are you already saving for that?

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Please provide your full name, age, job title - your response will be included in the November-December issue of MoneySense, the Philippines's leading and only personal finance magazine.

Looking forward to hear from you all.

Thanks!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

You're blessed, I'm blessed, we're all blessed

...for starting my day late, but ended as a productive one - sign I'll have a busy, work mode week - meaning, I'm blessed to have these jobs I have now, and that opportunities continue to come my way, despite my being shell-shocked at times

...that I'm able to write, that I'm able to come up with readable and helpful stories, that I get to satisfy my clients' requirements, and that I can go an extra mile - I would not have the opportunities I have now if not for this gift that is writing (and editing on the side)

...for giving me a patient and an understanding boss - who despite the times I wasn't able to meet my deadliest deadlines, continue to believe in me and in what I can do - and I will be humble and accept my faith in case he no longer sees we can continue working together, for the times I let him down on the account of not beating my deadlines - (not being proud, but I try to do good in other areas of my work, especially if it's crunch time, so as to honor his belief in me that I'm the right person for the post). I'm summoning all my will power and strength and courage to see him this week and update him on what's happening with my eh, melodramatic life, and discuss with him what I still hope to achieve working with him. Boss, I'm very sorry though if you've grown lots of gray hair since you hired me - peace!

...that I have my family - even if at times we clash - but no matter what happens, I know I only have my family more than anything - thanks for the trying times, for the good ones, and for the challenges and changes that lie ahead - I am, and continue to improve as a person because of my mother, and my brothers, and yes, my late father.

...for blessing me with this gift that is love - I'm just blessed my soon-to-be husband took that weekend off to see me in person (when I was readying myself that he would be disappointed in actually meeting me then) - that we enjoyed that weekend as if it was not our first time to be together; that was followed by visits here, meeting my family, telling my mother our plans, having time to chat with my mother, bearing with my brothers being quite snob (well, he says my brothers got that being snob from me, duh, hahaha), for socializing and chatting until the wee hours of the morning with my friends for life; that he introduced me to his best mates, who have been with him since the trying times of his life...

...being separated geographically is not easy - there were times we had our misunderstanding, miscommunication, mainly because of this being apart. But we're persevering, we're understanding one another, we’re keeping our communication lines open – above all, despite the distance, we’re continuing to be each other’s strength and we’re giving each other the love we both deserve. Thank you, Robin, for coming into my life, and looking forward to spend the rest of your life with me. Thanks for truly loving me, and I’m blessed for loving you as well.

There are so many things I am thankful for – I sometimes feel I can’t cope with the challenges, but, really, I’m blessed to have this life. Despite all the challenges we deal with, we're all blessed to live.

Friday, July 04, 2008

"Grandma, that's not a candy..."

"...that's a condom."

Yes - that was what I told a grandma when she bought at Watsons in SM Fairview earlier the orange colored (and flavored) FRENZY condoms' pack for her grandchildren (I think those were her grandchildren, as they called her "mama," but she's quite old to be their mother, anyway).

What was going on?
As I was paying for the stuff I bought, I noticed the boy of about 7 to 8-years-old checking all those condoms displayed at those two, three-story racks facing the counter for Watsons pharmacy products. Not only condoms were displayed there, there were also lubricant tubes, pregnancy test kits - another mini-rack was also sitting at that glass counter, with various condom and lubricant brands.

I just thought at first the boy was one of those restless kids tagged along at the malls and tinker at every item they could get their hands on - but what made me disturbed was when his sister, who looks older than him, and was a bit taller too, also tinkered at those condoms' packs, and the two of them got fond of that orange Frenzy condoms' pack. The boy egged his grandma (who was behind me and was to pay for a mat of tablets [her maintenance medication I assumed] to buy it for him - then I heard the grandma asked the girl, "Ikaw, gusto mo rin `yan? (You want that also?)" And the girl, with her big eyes, nodded. Obviously, with the seemingly absent-minded look in her eyes, the grandma had no idea she was buying condom for her, as I assumed, grade school grand kids.

Then the grandma saw the senior citizens' line was vacant. They went there, and the kids gingerly waited for their "candy" to be paid and have a piece of it. I was still in the claim counter, when a pharmacist attended to the grandma, punched the item, mentioned something to the grandma, but I was quite afar to overhear what she said.

They bought it
Then the pharmacist bought the tray of Grandma's items to the main counter, that pharmacist chatted with the other pharmacists (I was thinking it was about the condoms' pack the grandma bought for her grandchildren). I got my stuff but I still hanged around, just behind the grandma and kids who were about to get their bag of items. I saw the pharmacist put the mat of tablets and the FRENZY condoms' pack inside the bag, and off they were leaving Watsons, with the boy, asking for the "candy." I followed them and the kids tore open the FRENZY pack, split the individual packs among them, and seemingly counting how many each of them should be getting.

This was where I couldn't take it anymore - the grandma was walking ahead while her grand kids were busy with the "candy," when I said to the grandma, "Excuse me po, excuse me po." (She faced me, still with the absent-minded look in her eyes, and the kids who were trailing behind us stopped). "Ah, binilhan po ninyo sila ng condom? (Did you buy condom for them?)" I was wearing a very embarrassed smile here I think, and she replied, "ano? (What?)" "Ah, hindi po kasi candy `yang nakuha ninyo, condom po `yan. I mean, hindi pa po para sa kanila `yan ("Ah, it wasn't candy you bought, it was a condom, I mean, it's not for them yet.")

The grandma fumbling, said, "akala ko candy, sabi kasi niya candy (I thought it was a candy, he said it was a candy)." (And she hit the boy's forehead, but it wasn't that hard as what I saw.) The girl, still wearing the big eyed expression, was just looking at me. The grandma gathered the condoms, and said, "Ano gagawin ko rito ngayon?" "Puwede ko ba ibalik ito?" (What would I do with these? Could I return this?) I suggested here she try, I told her, just tell the pharmacist you didn't know it was a condom, and smiled (embarrassingly and apologetically I think) to the grandma. Then I turned around, still wearing the embarrassed smile on my face.

Who's responsible?
I don't know anymore what happened to the grandma and the kids - if they were able to return the opened pack of condoms mistaken as a candy. I was still thinking about them when I went inside the department store. Less 10 minutes, I stepped out and went back to Watsons to check if they were there - I didn't find them there.

I would not have been bothered that much if say, if those were high school kids getting or buying that pack of condoms - I mean, they're a bunch of curious kids and supposedly, during their age is when sex education is being taught to them already (but it was earlier this year that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called for scrapping sex education in the high school curriculum? I don't know the update on this, anyway).

But what I found disturbing at the mall earlier, that the grandma didn't know she was getting condoms for her grand kids, and obviously, didn't bother to look what it was about....I'm also disappointed with the pharmacist, and Watsons for that matter, for sealing that sale to a grandma and grand kids - if that pharmacist chatted with her co-workers about that, and wondered why the grandma was buying that, and the kids seemed to be waiting for that, still she did not tell them what it was about....

Who's responsible? Or should any be responsible for such kind of incident? What kind of measure should stores be applying in selling such items like condoms? I mean, they're sure for sale, and be accessible as part of safe sex teaching, but at least stores like Watsons should also take time to inform and towhom to sell a product like that. Not being moralist here or what, but if you were in my shoes, will you also tell the grandma, "that's not a candy for your grand kids - that's a condom."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You are what you eat

Took this test from Tickle, and here's the results for me:


Take this test!
Erratic eaters tend to have erratic schedules on the whole, and tend to ingest their biggest meals, and heartiest snacks during the evening and nighttime hours. While the evening meal is what they focus most on — and sometimes it can occupy much of their night — how much they eat and when they eat their meals varies day to day. Eating three square meals a day is not their style. Instead, they're the type to skip breakfast or grab something small. They also eat lunch at erratic times as well. One day they may eat a good meal at noon, while the next they might grab a handful of crackers at 4pm with dinner at 6pm.



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So true of me.

I always intend to eat healthy - but there are foods that don't really appeal to me - right, those who are named nutritious foods at that.

Breakfast for me is really fast - and small. Coffee and two pieces of bread and I'm fine. I only get to eat fried rice and bacon and longganisa and whatever is served on the breakfast buffet whenever I'm out on a junket and staying in a resort or a hotel.

But to some credit for me, I like ampalaya or bitter gourd cooked with egg and pork. I learned to like it when I was in Grade 3 and my mother was so happy I was starting to eat healthy, since I was the typical "fried chicken" kid - Max's was near our place then, so every time my father would come home, he had a bag of Max's fried chicken for us. I still like fried chicken, I think most of us do.

When I was in late grade to high school, I was able to help at home and cook occasionally - I even cooked ampalaya and beef adobo (this was an experiment, hehe). But I never continued that cooking habit so now I'm cramming to learn to really cook since it would be unfair to my husband-to-be (who's a great cook!) that it would only be him who will be cooking for us, considering he would be coming from work at that.

I also sometimes eat much when I'm with my friends - who all love to eat. My fiance also eats well, and is always on the lookout for something really satisfying whenever we're out for lunch or dinner. I guess those are the only times I eat, as in really eat. At home, I can eat up to two plates of rice, especially when mommy cooks a dish that's really nice. Or if she makes spaghetti, there's no stopping for me at that, haha, or her vermicelli special, wow. Now, I'm craving for carbonara, the one cooked by my mahal. Sigh.

But having too much sweets (I love doughnuts and cakes) and relying on fast food since most of the time I'm always on the go (I'm a Jollibee kid also!) are not really healthy. But I find comfort in eating them, and I can last a day having only doughhuts or cakes or Jollibee (surprisingly, I'm not getting fat in eating them, well, not yet, so my fiance envies how can I enjoy so much doughnuts without worrying of getting fat).

I seek healthy foods only when I'm sick or I have my period like right now - earlier I took a trip to SM Makati supermarket to get bananas, vegetables for chop suey, chicken breasts, and cranberry juice (yes, trying it since I was told way before to try it for my period and possible bladder infection - read it also has antioxidant benefits - will try later, not sure though if I'll like it). I like apples also, and I sometimes crave for apple shake.

Realizing I'm an erratic eater (only Tickle test results truly confirmed it), I'm now vowing to be more health-conscious of what I eat.

Don't tell me though to give up doughnuts and cakes and Jollibee and other fast foods - I know I can't live without those.

But I'll try to have a balance diet, couple that with a more relaxed, everyday life. Maybe, that way, I'll be a good eater at that.

So, do you eat healthy?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

...And 'world peace!'

Freedom fighters and justice seekers were the women I most witnessed and was with for a couple of hours in yesterday morning's International Women's Day celebrations.

At night, I was one of those who got glued and watched on TV the annual Bb. Pilipinas, where they showcased a crop of beautiful, statuesque, young women who are also, in their own ways, are wanting for "world peace."

It just struck me as contrasting how we Filipinas - and Filipinos - celebrated Women's Day.

For one, I didn't have a clear idea that we would be joining an anti-administration gathering and march - which pretty much characterized most of daily happenings here. But as a student of women and development work course from the state university, plus we're all women in the class, it was an occasion that we shouldn't miss. (Photo from AP)

But when it became clear to me yesterday morning that we're joining a rally - an anti-administration gathering at that - I felt I would be sticking out like a sore thumb.

Why? I don't have a clear stand on what's going on in this country - I watch, I read, I listen, but I hardly react, or even blog about the happenings here - and not that I'm expected to have a stand.

My world now is confined in juggling my brain, energy, effort, and time to the endeavors I'm into now - full-time work, sidelines, and studies. I always believe that if I'm responsible in fulfilling my duties, I'm already contributing to the society, no matter little, or impersonal at that it may seem. I'm working, I'm writing, somehow my writings are able to help or even inspire some, I'm also trying to be a responsible daughter and sister, and yes, I'm paying my taxes - taxes that I don't exactly know where they are going - considering all the spiderweb of corruption issues exposed now.

The last time I was pro-active in joining such demonstrations was in 2001, when that EDSA II culminated, toppled what was branded as a brief, corrupt administration, and installed to power one who was thought to be who would change the country for the better - the very person that's now being hurled by clamors to step down.

Yesterday, I tried to listen for the causes the women's groups representatives were airing on that makeshift stage in Mabuhay Rotonda - one of the favorite sites of socio-political gatherings. But more than the long messages, and the strong statements, I wondered if the occasion was held in a more fitting way, minus the political tone, it would have been better, and more celebratory, I supposed.

But the gathering was also one way to show that up to this day, women, of varying roles and status in society, are still actively seeking for equality, fighting for their rights, and rising up to the challenges. I believe though those can be done even without marching out to the streets and imbibing the murky political color that keeps this country to this low. For me, tt's just too tiring to hear and to watch both sides throwing angry statements in an attempt to win the sympathy of the millions of unsuspecting Filipinos who are all struggling to earn a living, eat a decent meal, and sleep the night away, and wake up to struggle to live again.

Above all this ranting, I wasn't able to march to Plaza Miranda in Quiapo since I got dizzy - I'm not really use to staying under the sun for too long, plus I didn't have much for breakfast yesterday - I asked my professor's permission if I could go ahead since my classmates were noticing I was getting pale already.

On my way home on a FX taxi, I just thought I'm not really meant to fight for my rights as a woman, the way those women are voicing their minds on major gatherings like that of yesterday - I know I'm doing my best to uplift myself, as an individual and as a woman, and that I know I'm working in my own little ways to achieve "world peace."

Putting intelligence first
More than a country that has a rich, political history, ours also is a country that's obsessed with beauty pageants, and last night was a witness to that.

Twenty-four candidates vied for the coveted Bb. Pilipinas Ms. World, Ms. Universe, and Ms. International crowns. The ladies exude confidence as they strutted their way to the ramp wearing the skimpy swimsuits and dazzling long gowns.

Then came the question and answer portion - which, as viewed last night, was a disappointment. Well, when former Ms. International 2005 Precious Lara Quigaman outlined the criteria of choosing a Bb. Pilipinas titlist - intelligence came last in the list. So I guess it shouldn't be a big letdown for the audiences if their bets didn't do well in the Q&A portion of the pageant.

But still, these titlists will be representing the country in those international competitions. And more than the beauty and confidence and poise, they should at least be able to speak in simple, straight English (OK, maybe the newly-crowned Bb. Pilipinas-World just got too nervous, but still her reply "this was my family..." made my brother stepped out of the room while I flipped through another channel to avoid risk of nose bleeding - exaggerating about nose bleeding, hahaha). (Photo from Bb. Pilipinas Web site)

Thanks though that Bb. Pilipinas Charities are spending for the personality development training of these ladies, surely they'll improve in time for the competitions they'll be representing the country. But it's just worthy to note, that a beauty pageant like Bb. Pilipinas, regarded as a venue where the most beauteous and brightest of Filipinas, is seemingly now reduced to just a "beauty pageant." Bb. Pilipinas 2007 winners were deemed to be the all beauty and brains, and this year's winners were, well, again there's the training they'll undergo so....

Whenever occasions like these to talk about, like politics and beauty pageants, I smilingly remember the Q&A portion in the movie Miss Congeniality - that all beauty contestants answered "world peace" to "what's the most important thing our society needs?" Sandra's character answered differently: "That would be... harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan. (Crowd got silent.) And world peace! (Crowd cheered). More than being funny, and as how the movie ended by Sandra's character saying she really do want world peace, yes, we do all want world peace - men and women alike - so, let's just all work for world peace, in our own means, be it joining a protest march, or joining a beauty contest.

(I'm babbling I think, but that's what my thoughts are now.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buying the ring of love



(Note: An overdue post - just reminded about it since this is also my upcoming article for MoneySense's next issue.)


“Will you be part of my life?” I resoundingly replied, “Yes, I will spend the rest of my life with you.” There goes my marriage proposal, but while it was a breeze to say yes to a life-changing decision, what I found jittery was, when my fiancé, Robin, asked me to look for the engagement ring that I wanted.

I’m not a big fan of jewelry, even accessories, but still, I did my homework, scouted for a ring, but nothing caught my attention. So when he was here for us to buy the ring, it wasn’t an easy search - he had his ideas what to get for me: I had none as to what would I wear. After trips to numerous jewelry stores spread across Metro Manila malls, we found it. Here’s what I learned in finding my engagement ring, and how such lessons will help when it’s time for us to buy our wedding rings:

1. Spend within your budget. My main contention about getting an engagement ring was, I didn’t see the point of wearing an expensive ring to prove a man’s love to his lady (Is love not enough?) To convince me, Robin said from centuries back, a ring (usually diamond ring) traditionally serves as a betrothal gift of a man to his prospective bride while or directly after she accepted his proposal, signifying a formal agreement to marriage.

To paraphrase him, he added it has been society’s way to think that his amount of love is tied to how much he could spend for a ring. So he was able to appease me, but I ended turning down most prospective rings because of their prices – too pricey even if discounted. The diamond industry is said to create the rule that an ideal budget for a ring is worth two months’ salary. Set that aside for it is your fiancé who will eventually determine how much he is willing to shell out – both for engagement and wedding rings.

2. Weight the stones. Robin observes I’m not keen on jewelry, so he was on the lookout for simple yet classy ring for me. He was first considering round cut diamond. When I later became pro-active in our search, I leaned more on a princess cut – which what we got since we both discerned it’s quality made (though I’m not exactly keen on having diamonds for wedding rings).

There are countless choices now but know the basics if toying to get a diamond ring: cut (according to Tiffany and Co., the diamond’s cut will determine it’s defining characteristic – so check for angle and size and the shape; round remains classy, but for variety, you may opt for emerald, heart, oval, marquise, pear, or princess cut); color (the most valuable is white or colorless, and graded “D” by jewelers); clarity (examine the ring through a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass, and when the stone is graded SI1 [Slightly Included 1] or better (best and most expensive is IF, or Internally Flawless; worst is I3 or Imperfect 3], then your pick is fine), and carat (ask for stones than the next carat [example: 0.9 instead of 1], since this almost indiscernible difference can lead to significant savings).

3. Pick the band. While we had different idea regarding the stone, Robin and I settled for 18K white gold band. According to Suarez Wedding Rings site, white gold is becoming more of an option since it is trendier than the traditional yellow gold and not as rare looking as rose gold, not to mention it is more affordable than platinum, an extremely white metal that is harder and more expensive than gold or any other metal at that.

Note also that white gold is recommended for stone settings than yellow – you may also opt for 24 karat gold, but if you want value for your fiancé’s money, let him save more by opting for gold of lesser karat, since gold by nature is a soft and malleable that generally loses its shape over time (so cleaning and maintaining your engagement and wedding ring might eventually become a real expense).

4. Tap for quality. We searched in mom and pop jewelry stores and even those jewelry chains – but the latter of course, command higher price because mainly of their name and years in the industry. But we found our ring in a less popular store, which has the accreditations required and follows global guidelines (for example, the country follows the International Gemological Institute guide on diamond clarity). Most stores we checked also offer discounts, but the more eager stores will give in to the customer’s (reasonable) demands.

In our case, when Robin said he already had his pick, price wise, and how he thinks the ring looks good on me, we want back to the store, tried the ring once again, and after exchanging agreeing looks, my fiancé made the purchase. The sales lady did the tests on the diamond, detailed the ring’s specifications (which suited Robin satisfactorily), and computed for the price. When we got the discounted amount, I asked if they could just waive the excess P2,500 since it’s the only ring of its kind left and we truly came back for it after all the choices we have had. So they waived it and my fiancé gave me an approving smile for sealing the sale at a more reasonable amount. We also tried a couple of wedding rings, and which the store ladies said, if we purchase those, we’ll get another discount since we got the engagement ring from them (which I’m remembering well in case we buy there again).

5. Don’t buy alone. It is advisable to have someone when buying jewelry – whether your fiancée’s mother or best friend who knows your lady love’s preferences. When a college friend saw my engagement ring in my blog, he inquired via SMS about its particulars, especially how Robin got it for me. When I told him, I went with my fiancé in searching and buying the ring, he followed up if the process lost the surprise element and the romanticism (since he was considering then to propose to his girlfriend, and wanted to get a lady’s perspective on the matter). Without a doubt, I said it was worth all worth it.

Though it took almost an exhaustive week for us, I told my friend it was a real bonding time for us, and I see our ring shopping as an exercise in mutual decision-making –and it involved money at that, and I’m just glad we agreed about it. It was bliss and for a job well done in finding my ring, my fiancé just asked for a kiss on the cheek, which I gladly gave: Not only we’re happy with the purchase, but also buying the engagement ring gave us an idea how are we going to fix on more “couple” matters in the near future.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I was tempted...

...to take this test. And wow - I'm a "saint." Meaning I can go to heaven because of this test result? :-)






Take this test!


Yes, it's true, you are a living Saint. Where you come from and how you do it, we're not sure. But, we can confidently tell you that you're highly evolved when it comes to resisting earthly temptations!


Unlike most of us, you probably eat only when you're hungry, buy only what you need, and "lying" is certainly not part of your repertoire. And if you ever come face-to-face with a fleeting temptation, you're one of those people who can dismiss it quite easily and get on with the rest of your disciplined, good-hearted, well-intentioned day. The more people like you in the world, the better it will be — (and the more cookies for the rest of us!).





I like to think though the result speak mostly of what I value, especially for the most part of my adult life: That is, to be honest, as much as possible, in all my doings, to myself, and to those who trust me.

Temptations are there, yes, but somehow, they never saw and don't see me at all, haha. Most of the time, I didn't or don't bother to take any of them - only when I'm being nosy though.

There are good, there are bad temptations (depends on how you view them). Overall, I think - though not generally easy to do - if you know what you what and satisfied, even blessed, with what you have, then you can resist most, if not, all the temptations that will come your way.

I speak vaguely, but I hope I get the message across. :-)

Oh! This test is one temptation that I wasn't able to resist though :-) Going back to my readings now.