Archives for November 2011

Because life is short

Randy Pausch came into my radar because of his ‘Last Lecture‘.  That was not his last lecture. In November of that year, he talked about time management.

One of his stories that really struck me was about making the most of the limited time he had. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was told he had a few months to live. While doing his grocery, the self-service machine for checking out his purchase charged his credit card twice. Instead of spending 15 minutes of his time filing the complaint,  he opted to just go home and spend time with family.

We often forget that time is a valuable entity. Banks use it a variable to make your investment grow. Science has its theories; using it as an important factor to be taken into consideration. In life, we sometimes take time for granted.

Yesterday, I went to buy a small can of paint. My aunt told me that this particular hardware store sells such paint for Php16. My experience at that store was never pleasant. Service is always slow. Still, I gave them benefit of the doubt. Maybe I always go there when there are plenty of customers.  I was hopeful when I saw that there were only two customers waiting and on the left side of the store, there were three salesladies sitting, chatting and writing something. They did not look like they were doing something urgent. Instinct told me to ask them first. I told them I want to buy paint. One lady told me to transact it on the other side of the store where two salespersons were busy entertaining the other customers.  So, I waited. I was already, for more than 5 minutes, standing and waiting to be served. From what I observed, the customers ahead of me on that area had so many orders. I remembered Randy Pausch and walked to the hardware next door. My order was entertained the minute I entered the store. The paint they sell cost Php2 more than the other store.

It was Php2 I gladly spent. In fact, I think I saved more. Minimum wage in my region is Php258 for an 8-hour work.  This means the monetary value of a minimum wage earners minute is Php258/8 hours/60 minutes = Php0.5375/minute. If I were a minimum wage earner, the 5 minutes I spent waiting in the first store cost Php2.68. Moreover, by choosing the other store, I saved myself from headaches, frustration and anger.  Money well spent.

Here are the links to read more (and buy) Randy Pausch’s books: (Just click on the images below)

What can Php 500 buy?

My parents were born in the 40’s.  My mother told be that my grandmother would give her Php 0.05 as daily school allowance.  I was a child in the 80’s and my mother would give me Php 2.00 for my daily school allowance. I do not know the regular rate of school allowance today. When I was in school, I thought my allowance was just enough but I longed for a raise. I know classmates who were given Php 5.00 a day. If I had that allowance, I could already buy a burger and a soda for snacks.  My allowance could buy maja blanca and buko juice for P1.00 and I saved the P1.00 for other things that caught my fancy.  As I look back now, having just enough taught me the value of a peso.

As a reference, Php 500 is approximately $11.47 according to Google.

I have always wanted to buy new pillows for my bed. Over the years, the fluffy pillows have flattened. Good for me because I don’t like fluffy pillows on my head. Fluffy pillow=stiff neck the next day.  However, I do feel bad for my visitors when they use my pillow. It feels like not having a pillow at all. On my part, I like pillows around me when I sleep. I hug one in my arms and my feet straddle another.

The pillow that I wanted ranged from Php 250 to  Php 300 each. A friend suggested that I should buy cotton fibers instead and make my own pillows.  A kilo of cotton fiber can be made into two medium-sized fluffy pillows.  One kilo costs Php 230.

4 packs= 1kilo

I had an old white pillow case so we filled it with fiber and sewed the ends.  Tada! My fluffy pillows are now ready!

White pillows will soon turn brown from abuse (e.g. excessive drooling, wet hair, etc). Thus, I bought a pair of zippered pillow cases (Php 48 each) to protect my homemade pillows from the “elements”.  This protective covering is easy to remove when it needs to be washed. I will have clean (read: drool-free) pillows all the time! My pillows now look store-bought. 😀

I found old pillow cases from the closet to match my current color scheme.

Underneath the floral pillowcases are my new homemade pillows.

In anticipation of my next color scheme (blue) when I change the sheets, I also bought fabric to be made into pillowcases. My aunt had my grandmother’s sewing machine fixed. In the 1960’s, my grandparents’ home burned down. My grandmother, a talented seamstress, saved this machine from the fire. My mother took custody of this machine when my grandmother no longer sews.  My mother lovingly made our pillow cases, bed covers, curtains using this machine.  When she passed away, the machine was kept in one nook in our house unattended.

Whenever there was something to be sewn, my mother did all the sewing for my aunts.  I recently learned that all my aunts knew how to sew.  My mom just did not mind if she did all the sewing for them.  Lucky sisters.

I do not know how to sew.  I fear I might break the needle or something. I still have to practice. However, my polka dot fabric could not wait for my sewing skills to develop. My aunt ‘volunteered’ ( Truth: I begged) to make me one bolster case and two pillowcases to match the my blue sheets. I chose the blue dotted fabric which cost Php 31 per meter. I bought 3 meters. Thus, total cost was Php 93.

Some of my existing pillow cases have discolored from storage. No amount of scrubbing and soaking could  eliminate the stains.  I bought dyes to hide the discoloration.  I bought 6 packs of green and blue dyes (Php 24).

The process of dyeing

All in all, my Php500 was able to buy me:

With my Php57, I bought siopao and coke.

Indeed, limited budget cannot limit one’s creativity.

Intramuros, Quiapo, Divisoria in a day

I have always wanted to visit Intramuros. I have this romantic idea of walking along its streets with old buildings surrounding me. I pictured it would feel like I was in Europe or something.

A year ago, I planned to do just that. I studied the map, printed it and planned my walk using my map. I was with relatives and they wanted to go to the mall. One thing led to another. My Intramuros dream shelved. I got another opportunity on a National holiday this year.  Aunt chickened out. Intramuros shelved. I vowed to go there alone next time. I had the opportunity last September but I prioritized visiting someone who just got out of the hospital.

When our October trip came, I demanded that we allot Intramuros time. My cousin wanted to go to Quiapo. My aunt wanted to go to 168 mall. I figured these destinations are all in Manila so we could visit them in one day. Challenge accepted.

It was a challenge. We were staying at my cousin’s house in Fairview. I know how to get to Intramuros using the MRT-LRT  and on foot through Luneta. However, there was a Quiapo bus from Fairview so the plan was changed to Quiapo-Intramuros-168 mall.  I have no idea how to get there from Quiapo. Taxi would be my best bet.

It was a long bus ride. No thanks to traffic. No thanks to the bus conductor; we missed our stop at Quiapo. The next stop was near the Philippine Postal Corporation building. We might as well go to Intramuros first. Since we had no idea how to get there, we had to ask for directions. All I know was that we were near the area. The old buildings were clues that we were somewhere near. We asked the guard inside the building and we were told to ride the Pier jeepney.

Once inside the jeepney, I was on alert-mode. We shouldn’t miss the stop again or we would end up in the pier. Although we already told the driver to tell us if we were already in Intramuros, I could not just rely on his memory. I didn’t want to annoy him by asking “Are we there yet?” every chance I get. I just asked him to stop once I saw old buildings with ‘Ayuntamiento’ written on it. I dug into my grade school history tucked in the recesses of my brain. Ayuntamiento means town in Spanish.

As I look at the map now,  this is where we stopped.

Remember I was with two people who had different agenda for the day. They both asked me where Intramuros was once we alighted from the jeepney. This is Intramuros! HAHA! Remember that it is a walled city. Intramuros is a vast area with all the buildings. I knew what they meant. They meant Fort Santiago.  I had no idea. I know it is near the bay because it is called a Fort! I thought I could just roam around and just discover the sites as I walked along. I did not prepare for these two variables: my aunt and cousin. So I made a decision to just visit the two churches: The Manila Cathedral and San Agustin church.  It was almost lunch time and the two hungry tourists dagger looks could kill me. HA!

Here are my Intramuros photos:

The Manila Cathedral

Plaza Roma

San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church is a UN World Heritage Site. Unfortunately, we were not able to go inside the church. It closes from 12pm to 1pm. We visited the arcade across the street and off we went to Quiapo.

The taxi driver dropped us at an area across the church. We had to use the walkway under the heat of the sun and grumbling stomachs.  We had lunch at Chowking which was a welcome treat since Chowking has closed down in my city. My cousin and aunt were already seated while I took a bathroom break. When I went back to our table, another person was eating beside them. Across him was a pleasant-looking man in decent clothes. I thought he was his companion. As soon as the man handed some change and my cousin did the same, he hopped to another table. He was discrete and he looked decent so anyone can be caught unaware of his modus operandi. I do not know if Chowking is aware of this scam. The man was just begging for money but it felt like being held up because he would not leave your table until you gave him money. I think my cousin gave him ten pesos. If I were in my city, I would have reported him to the police. I was in the city of Manila and in Quiapo. I just wanted to live. I just pressed my ignore button. I will fight this battle some other time.

Because of that experience, I did not take photos of the Quiapo church nor its busy side streets. It would have been a nice photo opportunity to display some unique elements in Philippine culture.

My cousin went to Quiapo for this:

She is a freelance make-up artist and she needed this make-up organizer for her gigs.  This organizer costs Php 3000 in Trinoma. A stall in Quiapo sells it for only Php1500.

The next stop is 168 mall. We rode a Divisoria jeep from Quiapo and after some walking, we finally arrived at 168 mall. My aunt just wanted to see what the fuss about this mall. It is supposed to sell cheap items which otherwise cost a lot more in the mall. She ended up buying only an umbrella. It was kind of confusing for her. They sell so many things that a buyer who is not firm in decision-making, like my aunt, ends up with nothing. HA!

Good thing my cousin bought us ice cream. All izzz well.

The last challenge for us was how to get home.  Home was Fairview. As long as I can get into an LRT or MRT, I know my way. Luck was on our side. No matter how confusing 168 mall was and how big Metro Manila was, we met someone from Butuan! My Tita knew her. The lady was buying stuff from 168 mall and she was sitting in the steps outside the mall. With her was her nephew/ tour guide. We asked how we can reach the nearest LRT/MRT station. He pointed us where we can ride the jeep. He told us to ride any jeep that goes to Morayta.

We found a Morayta jeep with LRT-MRT on its windshield. We asked the driver to confirm.  While we were inside the jeep, my cousin took notice of the woman beside me. When she paid for her fare, she told the driver, “MRT”.  We were cruising along a long stretch of highway when I spotted large pillars I thought to be an LRT track. I know LRT is old so I was confused because it looked new. MRT plies along EDSA. We were nowhere near EDSA.  Suddenly, the woman beside me alighted the jeepney. Instinctively, my cousin followed suit.  Once we were in the sidewalk, I took a good look at the area. We are indeed in a train station!  We were in the Recto station of the LRT Purple Line!  This was my first time to ride this train so I am not familiar with the routes. Good thing that there is a Araneta/Cubao stop. From Cubao we can ride the MRT to Trinoma.  We took a taxi to Fairview.

My soundtrack for the day while on the road was this:

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.  ~Ray Bradbury

A case of Coca-cola

Everyone in my family drinks Coke. Most often, the one who buys the liter of Coke is shortchanged. That person would have drink same amount of softdrink as the rest of us freeloaders.  Factor in the fact that we buy one liter from the nearest sari-sari store. It costs Php28 plus Php2 for the ice. One liter of coke would set the buyer Php30, which is shared with the rest of the family-the coke, not the amount paid.

There is also an option to buy just the 200ml bottle; but who would be able to drink the bottle and be labeled selfish for not sharing? Besides, one 200ml bottle of coke costs P8 in the sari-sari store. My frugal aunt  won’t be able to sleep over that kind of highway robbery.  A case of 200 ml bottle from a supplier two blocks away costs P130. One case contains 24 bottles. Did the math =>  Php130 divided by 24 = Php 5.42 per bottle.  Imagine how much we save  if we just buy the case.

Thus, we have this in the house.

To be fair with everyone and to save the usual coke financier from burden, we now pay for our own coke. There is cold Coca-cola in the fridge and if you live in our house and want one, you just pay 6 pesos. We rounded the amount. The “profit” will be used to pay for delivery charge.  Neat huh? We save money and we get to drink our coke.

We got an IOU system going on in the house  and I handle the collection. All I do is jot down how much each family member owes and collect the amount when we need to buy another case again.

More on the 200ml bottle

The 200ml bottle, for some, is not enough.  For us avid coke-drinkers, it looked too small a bottle size. At first, I was not sold on the idea because of the size. But I got a trick going on and it works well for me.  The trick is to drink the coke after the food. I consume all the food and drink coke afterwards. I get satisfied that way. If I do the eat-drink-eat-drink routine, the 200ml bottle does not suffice.  It is a pretty neat trick for me. I drink less coke without feeling deprived.

Disclaimer: Cola-cola did not pay me to write about their product but if they wish to repay my loyalty, I welcome any form of good tidings! HAHA! 😀

Ten things I love about Bantayan

I was supposed to write a chronological post about my experience there but I always end up looking at photos instead. I get sidetracked every time. Bantayan is such a beauty. I get mesmerized by looking at photos which consequently brings me to dream land and I start reminiscing the 3 days I spent there without writing them down. My thoughts run faster than my typing speed.

So I come up with the list of things I love about Bantayan Island.

1. The BEACH!

Of course! What else could it be? We stayed in the town of Santa Fe and the beach there is gorgeous. Do you see the sand bar? In the morning, when the tide is low,  that large area with water is all sand like this one below. 2. Bantayan Sunrise

We woke up early to catch the sunrise.  The cool morning breeze jolts us up. No need for coffee to perk me up. It is worth waking up early.

3.  The Bantayan Sunset

The sunset was also beautiful. We were fortunate we were near this area when the sun set. 4. Empty beach

I am quite selfish when it comes to personal space. This may be the reason why I was not a beach lover before because the beach near my city was always crowded. I like the comfort  wide open spaces bring. It is like owning a beach.  What I like most is that we can just leave our things on the sand and swim to our heart’s content without worrying about our belongings being stolen.  Well, there was one little scary moment when a dog sniffed on our bags on the sand while we were in the water. The dog went on his merry way afterwards. No harm done.  Mental note: Do not bring food on the beach.

5. Affordable food on the street

I like it when I can spend less that P100 for a meal. I had chicken barbecue, puso (rice in basket of coconut leaves) and softdrink. I think it only cost me around P60 for that meal.  Another meal I had is grilled chorizo on a stick.  One stick only costs P15. Not bad. I had fresh pineapple for dessert. Sweet deal!

Chicken barbecue and puso

Chorizo and pineapple

6. Clean streets

I like walking especially in streets that are not familiar to me. It is an opportunity to explore. Walks are lovelier on a clean street. 7. The small town charm

Bantayan town proper is small yet charming.  Key establishments surround the town plaza. The church, municipal building , market and port are all accessible by foot from the town plaza. 8. Danggit!

Danggit is a fish.  When one mentions danggit and Bantayan, the term danggit often refers to dried danggit. It is a boneless dried fish. It is cooked by frying. It is best eaten when it dipped in vinegar and paired with rice.  Our hotel served danggit for breakfast.

But that was not enough for me, I had to bring danggit home. Thus, we trooped to the market to buy a kilo. A kilo costs P400.

Other dried products were also available. I also bought dried squid.

9. Getting the tan

I am Filipino. I have brown skin.  I love it that way. After my trip to Bantayan, friends and family have noticed that I got darker than my usual brown color.  The thing is, I don’t fret over dark skin unlike some Filipinos.  My only concern is sunburn. I did not get it so I am fine. It has been 3 weeks since the trip, my cousin still teases me that I am dark. I do not mind. I love my color.  My father often told me before that I was red when I was born. Now, I declare I have the tan of Victoria’s Secret model.  I do not need to post a whole body shot to prove it.  My tanned legs (uhm, logs!) are enough proof. HA!

10. Zero-talent photography

I do not need photography skills to capture perfect photos.  Bantayan is just perfect that way.

 

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