Wonderful November 2015

I had a steady November.  I worked, I traveled. I had fun in between. There were challenges. I am always amazed how God works. In times that I feel low, blessings came along.

November 1 and 2 were the days we remember the dead but you can trust Filipinos to make light of a somber occasion. Notice the hot pink tomb in the cemetery here.


My aunt’s friend sent us rambutan. Lots of them.


I have always egged my cousin to drive me to the Bood Promontory. It is an elevated area where the first mass in Philippines was held.  We used to cross the river in that area by hiring a boat to help us cross. Now, there is a hanging bridge and that is why I wanted my cousin to bring me there.


Standing on the middle of the bridge, I took a photo of Mt. Mayapay.


Oh, I saw this  photo contest in my  Facebook newsfeed. When I clicked on the link, I found my entry of last year’s contest being featured. No, I did not win. The Tinuy-an Falls entry won. Mine is the third one. Mine was taken in Laswitan, Cortes, Surigao del Sur. It is nice that two photos featured are both taken in the Philippines and in Surigao del Sur. I just hope they put captions to identify the locations.


The larger version of my entry is this.
This was taken last year and this year, my friend invited me again to join her on this trip.  My instagram page was filled with photos of that trip.

We made a side trip to the Britannia Group of Islands in San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. As the sun set that day, I was able to take this photo.

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Oh, since it is almost December, I got to clean the living room and decorate my tree.


 This artwork I made last November speaks a lot about my entire November. art


October 2015 Stories

Lately, I have not found time to blog that I feel the days and weeks slipping away.  Was I just uninspired to post or was I just too busy to find time? Instead of posting each of my story separately, let me compile them all in one blog post.

I have finally made pastillas that we all loved. The balls were firm this time that I do not need to wrap them individually. 


I also got chicharon bulaklak (fried pig intestines) from my cousin.


And it seemed like all the unhealthy food was not enough. I bought some interesting snacks from the grocery.  Coincidentally, these are all Oishi products. Must avoid them!  I consumed all these in a day.


I decided that by November, I will start eating healthy to loss a few inches to make way for December.  Christmas is around corner.

I did some artwork in October. I still have pending commission work. I do not want to put out work just because there is a deadline. I want to put some thought in creating them.  Some of these are exercises to try some technique. The other are commission work.


Oh, I finally tried to color Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden.  I only tried a page.  With so many inspirations from those who sent their colored pages to her website, I did not know how to make my coloring work uniquely my own. I kept thinking that if I mess this up, I can no longer re-do this.  I know. I can overthink thing.  Then, I just decided to just color and not stress over the outcome. This is supposed to be a stress reliever. Ha!


My friend introduced me to a friend who taught me how configure my DSLR manually. Yes,  I used to shoot in auto-mode. I did not understand how to control my camera the way I wanted.  I am trying to learn this time.


While on a shoot, this man came from the mountain with chopped wood oblivious to us. We were intruders in his path.


Sunset is beautiful in this part of my city. I am glad we still have areas with this clearing with some fresh air and splendid view.


These are my October stories. I am thankful for the simple things that made me enjoy life to the fullest.

A September to Remember

It was my birthday month. I would have wanted to do something special but the month started with work. My waking hours was spent working on the report for the first week that by the time it was my birthday, I was typing like crazy trying to beat my own deadline. I don’t want to spend the birthday buried with work. Thankfully, I finished at 10 AM on the day of my birthday.  We had a simple celebration at home.  Like the previous year, I picked my own cake which my aunt paid for. I had a yellow mango roll cake this year. I had a simple lunch with family.


I tried to catch some sleep in the afternoon that I missed my friend’s call. She was looking for me. Since I made no plans to celebrate with friends, she decided to treat me on my birthday. Thank you, God! I have awesome friends and family. My heart is full.

Vendors started selling Lanzones in September that I got excited. There was a time that we bought 3 kilos of Lanzones and ate them until we were satisfied.


My friend who was into farming brought us some of her produce. She had dragon fruit and passion fruit. I have not tried both fruits. The passion fruit was juicy but very sour.  The dragon fruit tasted like papaya to me.  I do not mind eating both fruits again.


Oh, she also brought a snake gourd.  She said it tastes like ampalaya (bitter gourd) without the bitterness. I was not able to taste this because I gave it to our friends. My aunts who are scared of snakes did not want this in the house. They always get frightened whenever they see the gourd in my table. So I gave it to my friends. Well, I took a photo first. Hahaha

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My friend and I snagged a trip to Bacolod on a promo fare early this year. So off we went on the second week of Septmber! I have yet to write a post about it. For now, let us marvel at The Ruins in Talisay City. Note the little watermark I created. I will start adding that little logo on my creative photos.


Since I started doing art, a month without it is a month wasted. I have started accepting commission work and this is part of a series which a friend requested. I also added a new logo as a watermark. All photos of my artwork will now have this type of watermark.


It has been a wonderful September and I am really thankful for the blessings.

5 Questions I Ask Myself When I am Overwhelmed and Stressed

The Unstressed was my chosen domain when I started blogging in 2011. It is more of an aspiration than my state of mind. When I started this blog, I just wanted to keep track of my thoughts and activities. Sometimes I find myself pondering how my month went and I felt I wasted some of my time not accomplishing anything. Through writing, I was able to compose my thoughts, relive memories and express my ideas. Writing helped me become a little introspective and perceptive of what is going on in my life. At times, it relaxes me. When I write, I can clearly see what is important in my life.

In many challenging situations, I try to look unfazed but deep inside, I am panicking. In a conversation with a cousin on how we were supposed to do our tasks in one project we were doing, I told her that we should not look like we are out of control. Yes, we can fake it until we make it. Eventually (oftentimes it is the case), the universe will conspire to make it happen. For us who believe in God, it is about faith. God got us through it and will continue to do so in the future. But along the way, butterflies fluttered in my stomach, food became my comfort and midnight oils were burned. When the situation is over, I would thank high heavens and breathe a sigh of relief.

I have been into many stressful situations before. I have worked as an Information Technology specialist and I always raged against machines, deadlines, people and situations within and beyond my control. Servers stopped working. Data was inaccessible. Drive corrupted. I waited reports handling millions of transactions on a Pentium II machine. (Yes, I am that old, children.)

I was in stressful family situations. My mother got into an accident. My mother had a heart attack. My father had cancer. He was bedridden for 5 months. I am an only child, single and childless. In a span of five years, I lost both my parents and I also quit my job. It could have been a miserable life but it was not. I get to appreciate life better. The experience was a reminder how finite our time on earth is.

Losing both parents may be the worst thing that happened to me. I could say that I have been through the worst so nothing could ever frighten me anymore but I could not. I still get overwhelmed with deadlines to meet, cry over a friend’s death, lament over situations under and/or beyond my control and I still panic over projects I get myself into. I worry over the simple things but, in many cases, I do not let the worries show. For some reason, that works for me.

It is difficult to mask my worries but I do this by processing them in my head. I know when I am overwhelmed with tasks when I no longer have the motivation to act on the tasks. When I become a pessimist and no longer think that my effort would accomplish anything, I am overwhelmed. I often sleep on it. I would not let worry allow me to lose sleep. If there is one thing that I must gain from the experience, it is rest. They say that during quiet times, you can hear yourself. In these moments, I ask a few questions.

1. What is the worst thing that can happen if I will not do this?
As a freelancer, I manage my own time. I am supposed to be in control of my schedule and activities. As much as I would like to just do the things that make me happy, I have bills to pay. Most of the things that make me happy do not pay the bills. I am still working towards earning from the things I like doing. For the moment, I earn from things I know how to do but not exactly what I want to do. I accept projects because I see them as opportunities that might lead to what I want in life. Who knows? What I will learn, who I will meet and what I can contribute if I accept a project will lead to something I might actually like doing. However, there are just times that these projects come in succession and I can see the work I need the put in to accomplish them. Then I get overwhelmed.

When I am overwhelmed, I ask myself: What is the worst thing that can happen if I will not do this? What happens when I do this tomorrow instead of today? Can I negotiate to extend the deadline?

I get overwhelmed because I want things done the soonest. I get overwhelmed when I accept tasks that challenge my own personality. I am an introvert. When I accept tasks that require me to meet people for the first time, I get nervous. But I accept the task anyway. I believe in showing up and trying something I am afraid to do. When I see that the worst thing that can happen does not involve death or going in to prison, I should not worry. I can sleep on it and take things one step at a time.

2. What do I really want in life?
I have realized early on in life that money and social status do not make me happy. Spending time with people I love makes me happy. So I make time to be with family, travel with friends and family, plan activities that enable me to be with family or just simply being there when they need me even when all I can offer is my presence. Pursuing some creative activities make me happy. I make time to do some art, shoot photos, travel, write and organize my home. Of course, there are times that work gets in the way. I compromise. I make up for lost time. I know what it is like to lose loved ones. I realized how short our life on earth is. I may take steps in prolonging my life by looking after my health but nothing is certain. The only thing I am certain is the present moment so I make the most out of short time I have on earth.

It may sound selfish and narcissistic to focus on my own happiness. But that is me. Other people may have different goals. Others want to lead a life of service. Some want fame and fortune. I want happiness and if my task at hand would lead me to happiness, I would go for it. I easily dropped tasks in the past that did not make me happy. I will not do things when my heart is not committed to the task. I seldom cross that gray line. I do my best in many things that I do. I always invest my best work into the process. If I lack the motivation to do my best, there must be something wrong with that task.

3. Will this task lead me to where I want to be in the future?
Right now, happiness for me is spending time with people I love and pursuing activities that I enjoy. If the thing that worries me does not lead to happiness, then I let it go. Sometimes in pursuit of these activities, I need budget for them. I do not have a fat bank account. I need to work in order to be able to have the resources to do the things I want to do. When I feel that work has become stressful, I pause. Maybe I can pursue the activity some other time. I make adjustments. I weigh things. If the pursuit of what I wanted takes a toll at my health, I need to stop somewhere. When health is affected, everything else takes a back seat.

4. How bad do I want it?
A friend often said, “People change.” I change. Otherwise, we do not grow. The things that bring me happiness before may not bring me the same happiness in the future. One day, when my body can no longer sustain long travels (which I hope will not happen. ha!), I may change my definition of happiness. It always helps me if I reflect on my motivation to do the task. Why do I need to do this task? Sometimes, I ask myself if I need money that bad. Can I live with less? Can I live with fewer worries and with fewer amounts in my pocket? If I can, then I know that I should not say yes to the same project next time. As much as possible I avoid money as a motivator because it does not give me what I need. I try to accept projects that give value to what I do. I like doing projects that enhance my skills and utilize my talent. If I feel I will learn something from it, I accept the project. When the process and outcome of the project do not meet my expectations or if I do not feel right doing it again, I make a mental note not to accept such a project next time. No amount of money can push me to do things I know I am not comfortable doing. I try things once and if I do not like doing them again, I don’t. I love the idea of working hard to reach my dreams but I know can also work smart. If I can skip the things that I think would be a waste of time, I skip them. This brings me to the last question.

5. Are there any other ways in getting what I want in life?
Around five years ago, I enrolled in an alternative learning class on bakery. Every week for 6 months, the class would learn how to bake different cake recipes. For 4 hours each Satuday, I went to school. I would bring all the materials and ingredients and follow the recipe which we copied the week before. The fee was only Php 500 but we buy our own ingredients and materials. We baked in school. I finished the course but I did not enroll in another course. I realized I can learn the same thing online. I can watch online videos and read instructions on how to bake cakes. I do not have to carry those materials every week only to clean them up and carry back to my house. I could save time and effort in doing that by learning how to bake in comforts of my own kitchen, YouTube videos and online instructions. There are infinitely many ways in going from point A to point B. Similarly, there are many ways in achieving my dreams. I just hope I can find a way to take the smartest route.

I have simple dreams and simple responsibilities. I know that there people with greater responsibilities. The amount of stress they carry can be enormous and my way of coping may not be applicable to them. I am only sharing how I cope. It may only be applicable to me. If you have reached this far, I thank you for reading this.

Art has become my creative outlet in coping with stress. With the popularity of adult coloring books, I am happy three pages of Johanna Basford’s Enchanted Garden are made available in her website. The copies have been sold out and to cater to those who cannot wait for the new stocks to be printed, she shared three pages which you can print on your own. I printed mine on a 300 GSM paper so I can use my watercolor pencils.


The Memories I Treasure (July 2015)

July has brought me joy and pains. Life is a journey and it is not always a smooth ride. I am thankful for friends who were there to ease the pain and made life a little brighter and for my  family who always had my back.

I welcomed July full of hope. My nephew celebrated his 4th birthday. We brought him to a pool. It was a simple celebration but seeing the smile on his face brought joy in our hearts.


On the second Saturday of July, I received a devastating news. My college roommate, Odessa, lost her battle against ovarian cancer. She was 40 and full of life. I was able to visit her during her second session of chemotherapy last March and she was doing great. Her positive spirit radiated.  My other roommates, common friends and I were all heartbroken with the news. We consoled each other virtually because we lived far apart.  We were comforted with all the Facebook messages on Odessa’s wall- it is amazing how she touched a lot of people in her short time in this world.  This experience brought me to a realization that life is unpredictable. Even if we look after our health, there are several factors that affects its longevity.  There are just things beyond our control. The best thing we can do is live life to fullest and let our loved one know how much we love them.

So as much as possible, I make time for family and friends.

I met Grace and her family.


I had a meetup with my cousin.


I had dinner with friends after watching a movie with them.


My aunt also celebrated her 60th birthday. We had a simple celebration. Her colorful cake only cost us Php200 (around USD 5).


We also went to meet relatives. They were staying in a hotel in the city.   I took these photos in the hotel grounds.


I also watched a movie with my cousin, Ghia.

In July, I had the chance to explore remote places in the region.

This is in my father’s hometown in Santiago, Agusan del Norte.  I have to been to Santiago several times but not in Barangay Pangaylan. It was only in the past year that  four-wheeled vehicles can pass this area.  I  am thankful that we still have thick forest cover in this area.


I also went to Brgy Casiklan in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte. I remember that our vehicle was moving uphill then we reached this clearing. I did not see any mountain. Does this meaning we are already on top?

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Oh, I now have a mini- herb garden. I was able to buy the plants when I went to Dahilayan with Grace.


I cannot survive the month without doing some art.  I tried drawing with ink, sent some mails and painted a realistic leaf based on an actual leaf.


 I also made some art at the request of friends.  I am thankful for their trust in my skills.


This is how I lived my life the fullest.  I embrace the ups and downs. Say my prayers and just live like I mean it.

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