Wednesday, October 31, 2012

There are far, far better things than any we leave behind. - CS Lewis

I guess it's now a good time as any to say that, yep, it's official. I am moving. I am leaving Training - a department I've worked in for exactly eight years and four months. I'm moving to instructional design. Don't get excited, it's not a promotion. It's a lateral transfer. It's a move in the right direction because, well, I don't really know how to explain it, but it just feels right. My new role is supposed to become official on Monday, November 5th. I am excited, to say the least.

For sure, it's a change I've waited so long for. See, training has always been my haven, my comfort zone. I loved my colleagues - who became my friends. I loved how each day is different. I loved seeing my trainees get better at something that's so useful in and out of the workplace. Most importantly, and it might sound so egotistical, but I loved how good I am at it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I wouldn't want to be paid to do something I'm not good at. I wouldn't want to call something I'm mediocre at, at best, my profession. I swear I'm not being haughty. It's the truth.

This move sounds promising. I went through two interviews and a rigorous four-hour 'test' - creating modules, actualizing facilitator guides, formulating objectives, designing assessments and integrating instructional media. When I got the post, I was over the moon. I know I'll be learning new things - tons of it.

I'm concerned about how I'll cope with my new schedule, though. I was told I'll be in the mid shift. That means, I'll start work in the afternoon at three or four. That also means, I get off work at around midnight. I'm anxious because I am used to helping my little girl with her homework, I am used to reading her a bed time story, to tucking her into bed and kissing her good night. I'm getting sad as I type but it is what it is. It has to be done. I want to look at the bright side and that's me being able to help her prepare for school early in the morning. I can also take her to her carpool's pickup point myself and send her off with a tight hug and a big kiss.

Changes are fun but they are also scary. I'll need your prayers, my dear readers (yes, all four of you). I fervently hope that this transition goes smoothly and that my family pulls through without any major hitches. I am looking forward to our future with faith and strength and positivity, that this is all part of God's perfect plan for us.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

Bring it on, November.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

I am nearing my tenth year in my current company. I've been here exactly eight years and four months. I was hired when I was 22. I'm not the type to take uhm, crap from anybody, so for me to stay this long means that I haven't been dished copious amounts of it for me to throw in the towel. I'm not saying my company is perfect. No workplace ever is, but I'm the type to always weigh the pros versus the cons. So long as the pros outweigh the cons, I stick it out.

Our company actually offers early retirement starting at five years. I could have retired three years ago during my fifth year. But I didn't. Well, I've waited this long. I might as well retire on my tenth anniversary, correct? I still do not know what I'll do once I retire from this job I've come to love so much. I still have no concrete idea of what career path I'll pursue. My options are wide open, I guess.

Do I go for a career in the academe? Do I invest in a business venture and try out being an entrepreneur? Do I take time off - go on a sabbatical, try to have another baby with The Husband? Do I switch professions, build a name for myself in a different industry altogether? Do I try to see what's in store for me and my family abroad?

So many options. That's a good thing, I know. I'll only be 32 when I retire. One thing's for sure, I've got to be prepared.

First thing's first. Where are my sunnies? The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dorm Living 101

I lived in an apartment for two years when I was in college. This was a private apartment situated on-campus. I lived with a mom - who was a guidance counselor at our university - and her awesome daughter who was only two years older than I was, and two other girls. One was from Parañaque and the other one was from Nueva Ecija. We started living in our 'dorm' when we were college freshmen and we all became good friends and treated each other like sisters. We remain good friends until today.

My family was very supportive of my decision to go away to college. My mom expressed concern over how far I was going to be from them but other than that, she was okay to let me go. I was 16 and I was going to live on my own for the first time. Colossal shopping trips took place once we got to Manila. I was excited and terrified but I knew it would be one big adventure.

Here's a helpful list to get you started on dorm living:

1. Get good and comfortable bedding

My mom bought me three sets of bedding - fitted sheets, pillow cases, comforters and blankets. The ones below from Roxy are tres cute!

photo from

photo from

2. Get storage bins and plastic containers

Storage and lack of space are often the main issues when living in a dorm. My college dorm provided us with a sizable closet but still, I needed extra bins and containers for my stuff like my shoes and bags. You can also  buy a shoe rack or a bag organizer. I also had plastic containers to store my food supplies in - my cereal, biscuits, cup noodles, some canned food.

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photo from

3. Buy the essential appliances and furniture

My mom bought me a mini-iron and an electric fan. Our room didn't have airconditioning but it wasn't hot. In fact, it was very cool, especially during nighttime. I love how UP Diliman's campus is so full of trees. We watched TV in the living room and we could use the fridge, the microwave and the stove when we wanted to. We were treated like family. 

We had beds and mattresses. I didn't have a study table, so my mom bought me one which came with a small chair.

Check your dorm before you move in, talk to the administrators and dorm managers and see what you can bring and what you can't. Just buy what you need.

4. Purchase a good lamp

A good lamp helps you study without disturbing your roommate and serves as a night light. Choose something that doesn't overheat so don't just buy any lamp. Choose something that doesn't strain your eyes and will last long. The really good ones even have an adjustable low light feature which can double as your night light so your room isn't pitch black when the lights are out. 

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5. Get laundry supplies

I had my laundry done at Php 18.00 a kilo but when funds are low (because my allowance went to clothes shopping), I had to resort to doing my own. Even if I had my laundry picked up, I washed my own intimates - undergarments, some camis and stuff. My mom bought me a medium sized basin, a hamper (a laundry bag will do), laundry detergent, some hangers, clothespins and a laundry brush - in case I decided to wash my own denims. Fat chance, I just wore them for weeks straight without washing them. Hey, I was 16 and didn't know better. 

6. Buy a good laptop (or a tablet)

My uncle gifted me with one when I was a college sophomore. It was one of the earlier Compaq Presarios. It was much easier to have your own computer than to go to the library or to an internet cafe. It weighed a ton. C'mon, it was the year 2001. A lot of universities have computer services for their students. Trust me, you won't really need a printer. You can save your work in a USB flash disk and that's all you need to bring to the library to have your work printed out. I was lucky I had friends and a boyfriend who printed my papers for me. I just sent them the files through email.

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7. Assemble a first aid kit

I was a sickly child - plagued with asthma until I was nine or ten. My mom provided me with a small first aid kit with cough, cold and flu medicine. It had eye drops, a thermometer, some bandages, iodine solution, Band-Aids and some medication for pain, for upset stomach and other common illnesses. Still, I cannot count how many times I called home crying because I was sick and just wanted my mom. Haha! My mom then had to call her sister and cousins in Manila so they could rescue me. What a baby.

8. You will need towels and toiletries


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photo from

9. Shop for school supplies

My mom made sure I had a good scientific calculator, a planner, and a binder. I also had desk organizers and mini book shelves.

10. Decorate your space to personalize it and to keep homesickness at bay

I had photos of family and friends all over my room when I was in college. I also kept a journal.

There you have it. Dorm living doesn't have to be a nightmare. In fact, it's a great way to test the waters of 'real life' and see if you can survive it. It's not easy but it's loads of fun and will teach a teenager so many life skills. Yes, eating vienna sausages straight from the can IS a life skill.

When you're prepared, you'll - forgive the pun - pass living on your own with flying colors!

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Love Affair In Pictures

Can you love and miss a place so much it hurts? Can you be so connected to it that you feel intimately happy and content every time you are there? That's how I feel about the University of the Philippines-Diliman, my college alma mater and one of my ultimate happy places.

the Oblation statue which faces University Avenue
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Palma Hall or the College of Arts and Science

We call it AS, so those steps are the AS Steps and that's where my friends and I hang out late in the afternoon after our classes. It's a place to meet up, to take class photos at and it's a place where we wait for our boyfriends to pick us up. Ha!
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apartment buildings on-campus at Hardin ng Rosas, 
where I lived during my freshman and sophomore years
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This is SC - the Shopping Center. We went there to eat sisig at Rodic's, photocopy stuff, buy school supplies, and do some grocery shopping.
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the Sunken Garden where soccer games, concerts, and other events are held
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Gonzalez Hall is the university's main library. There are smaller libraries in the different colleges in their respective buildings but this here holds the mother load.
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the College of Arts and Letters old building - where we rehearsed our plays and performances
This building also houses the offices of the faculty so it's sometimes called the FC for Faculty Center. It's also called Bulwagang Rizal. Our college's graduation was held on its grounds.
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the gym or officially, the College of Human Kinetics
I remember asking an upperclassman how to get to the gym during my first week in college and his reply was "Sumakay ka ng Ikot at pag may nakita kang building na parang kulungan na manok, yun na yun." (Take the Ikot jeepney and once you spot a building that looks like something that houses chickens, then that's it) Haha!
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the Beach House canteen - home of the best barbecue in all of Manila
I would like to take the Husband there sometime. The lines are always long but always worth it.
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the beautiful tree-line Acad Oval
I heard there's a bike lane now and it's closed to motor vehicles during weekends so people can jog and bike and walk. One of my closest college friends, Mimi, who was a mountaineer, jogged the entire oval several times a day when we were in college. It was part of their daily training. I couldn't even jog half of it.
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the UP Film Institute
This place is memorable because we sponsored film screenings here to raise funds for our organization. It was also called the Film Center and they showed movies here for a fraction of how much you would pay at a cinema. The catch? You'd have to wait for several weeks or even months to catch the film you want.
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the faraway math building
I hated this place because I hated the subject with a passion. I didn't really mind that it was far. There was always the Toki
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the Bahay ng Alumni - it's an event space for job fairs, concerts, art exhibits and even weddings
It's home to quaint shops, art galleries, and the famous Chocolate Kiss Cafe where we celebrated one of my best friends, Kmae's, 17th birthday. I will never forget that day.
I was already able to take the Husband to the famed cafe and he loved it!
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the Palma Hall lobby
We sat on the floors too, yes. This is where student activists converge when they're staging a rally.
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Let's go back to my questions. Can you love and miss a place so much it hurts? Can you be so connected to it that you feel intimately happy and content every time you are there?

with two of my best friends in college, Maize and Kmae during our graduation


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

That's Just My Schtick

I like certain things that some people deem overrated, but I believe that life is too short to be so practical all the time.

- Havaianas

I bought my first pair eight years ago when the only store that carried them in Cebu was this stall in Ayala Center's Maze. It was a bright blue pair. I just fell in love. I then started to collect these Brazilian slippers - albeit not as aggressively as my other friends did, although at one point, I did have eight pairs. Eight. I know, I know. That's still a measly number compared to how many pairs my girl friends have - and compared to the collections of true Havaianaticos.

But when people found out I liked Havaianas, some of them were quick to scoff, "At their price, aren't they just rubber flip flops?" Well, whatever.

Anyway, my favorite pair to this day remains to be the Chitao.

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I've given/sold/abused (to the point of disrepair) most of my Havaianas over the years. Now all that's left is my plain gold Slims - classy, classic, and with just a little bit of shine. I may not go gaga over Havaianas anymore, but if I see a pair I really love, I wouldn't mind plunking down Php 800-1500 for them.

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I am Pinoy through and through, but I like to get my carb fix from bread than from rice. Ask The Husband. Now, bread from Breadtalk doesn't come cheap. But who cares? My friend, Arvy, and I are obsessed about their breads. When they first opened, we brought Breadtalk Flossses to work to eat during lunch and for breaks. I'm sure our consumption of massive quantities of Breadtalk has greatly contributed to the appalling size of our waistlines. 

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Ah, my love for gelato knows no bounds. It's Php 90 for a scoop and Php 150 for two scoops. I don't care. When my seven-year-old asks for it, I take her there. No questions asked.

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My favorite flavors are macadamia and chocomint. My friend, Nicole, liked chili chocolate, and The Husband likes Rum and Raisin.

Here's the little girl with her Gelatissimo treat!

- Boracay

It's not the world's best beach for nothing. I hate it when people say, "What's so special about Boracay? I'm sure it's just like Bantayan/Camotes/Bohol/Sumilon/Malapascua/insert name of pretty enough Philippine beach here." The people who say that haven't been to Boracay. I've been there countless times. I'm from Iloilo, after all. I've been going there since I was a child and to this day, the place is just... heaven. You can say that it has become too commercialized/too crowded/too loud. Whatever. Nothing compares. Nothing.

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I will never miss an opportunity to go back. Who wants to pass up on paradise? Not me.

Look! We even went to Boracay during monsoon season. 
That explains the rough waves crashing into shore behind us.

serene photo of our little girl walking on Boracay's beautiful, talcum powder-like white sand

a dreamy photo taken by my cousin, Erik, of our little princess watching 
the waves with the setting sun on the horizon

- gourmet cupcakes

No doubt, the best ones are from The Cupcake Theory. A lot of people think a cupcake is a cupcake is a cupcake. No sireeee. If you think that, then you are missing out on a lot. Their best seller is the red velvet variety but my favorite is the chocolate ones with the mint frosting.

photo grabbed from The Cupcake Theory's Facebook page

There you have it. These are the things/experiences I wouldn't think twice about paying for. That's just me, y'know. I don't mean to sound haughty or snobby or elitist.

 These things may not be cheap but they're not exorbitant, either, so please don't say I'm being hoity-toity. After all, I'm one of the few who think that a Php 150 for a cup of Starbucks coffee is just plain crazy. 

To each his own, correct?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baby's Day Out

I ran into a frazzled mom in Watsons yesterday. This poor mom had her baby girl strapped in a sling close to her chest and was running around the store like a headless chicken, looking for wet wipes. Her baby had just pooped in her diaper and she couldn't clean her up and get her changed because she didn't have wet wipes. I felt sorry for her.

When my daughter was a baby, I never went anywhere with her without wet wipes. Even up to now, wet wipes are essential components in the mommy arsenal. I've put together a list of things one should bring when they're going on a day trip with baby.

1. a diaper bag

Invest in a good one. I was lucky someone gifted me with a good, sturdy one in a neutral design and color. I didn't want anything super cutesy or babyish. After all, it may be for the baby but the parent carries it. It has to look uhm, dignified. In our case, it was my husband who toted it around. I never even let him carry my own bag so why did I want to subject him to lugging around something that looked too childish? The one below is a good example and is from Baby Couture.

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2. diapers

My mom advised me to bring a diaper for every hour we're out, plus two. When my daughter was an infant, we used Pampers and when she was a toddler, we used Huggies Pull-ups. At home, we used cloth diapers from Chino Pino. My daughter was potty-trained at exactly two and a half years old. There have been a lot of improvements and innovations when it comes to diapers over the past few years so do your research on what's good for your baby, your sanity and the environment. 

3. extra clothes

We liked onesies, pajamas and dresses with bloomers. Our daughter's clothes when she was a baby were from Baby Guess, Baby Gap, Children's Place, and Carters. We chose cotton clothes. We wanted light and very breathable clothes for her so she doesn't get fussy.

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our little girl in a Guess shirt, Guess khakis and Pitter Pat sandals

wearing a white Guess long sleeved shirt with matching Guess ruffled skirt on her second birthday dinner

wearing a pink Guess shirt and a Zara headband

wearing a blue Gingersnaps mermaid print top, khaki Baby Gap shorts and a Zara headband

wearing a pambahay sando, blue board shorts and her first Havaianas

wearing a Carters shirt and a headband from Rustan's

4. burp cloths and bibs

These come in handy for spills and spit-ups. Well, we all know what bibs are for, and I used burp cloths - the big ones - for nursing in public. They can be used as a blankie, too.

5. baby carrier/sling/wrap

We used this for quite some time but we resorted to carrying her in our arms sans any contraption some time after. Then, we used a stroller. Do what you think is best for you and your little one.

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6. a stroller/buggy

Choose something that's easy to transport and one that meets the safety requirements. The one below is from Bugaboo.

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7. wet wipes and tissues

We love Johnson's Messy Times Wipes for Hand and Face. They're alcohol-free and they smell good. They're very handy too.

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8. diaper mat/changing pad

You'll need this to place baby on when you change her diapers. You don't want to place your child directly onto a changing table without anything underneath.

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photo from

9. hand sanitizer

Never disinfect baby's hands with alcohol. Use a gentle hand sanitizing gel, instead. 

10. formula and bottles with clean water

Breast milk is BEST for babies but if your child is on formula milk, then clearly, you have to pack some together with her bottles. My little girl used Avent bottles until she was four. Then we switched to Pigeon for a year before she was weaned. We also used Wilkins and Viva water. We also used a milk dispenser from Pigeon to store her formula in when we went out.

11. Entertainment

We always bring a few playthings - some teething toys, a plush book or a stuffed animal. We just make sure they have no small parts that can come off. They put everything in their mouths, y'know! Our daughter never used a pacifier. She spat them out, for some weird reason. She preferred toys that made sounds over pacifiers.

I hope that that panic-stricken mom in Watsons gets to read this blog. Excursions with your little ones become such a joy when you're prepared.

Play date soon?

What's In A Name

Last Friday, I received an SMS from someone working at the local Gaisano. I had gone grocery shopping there recently when the cashier urged me to get the savers card they had for frequent shoppers. I usually do my grocery shopping at the Savemore in Parkmall so technically, I'm not a Gaisano frequent shopper. The only reason we went there was because we didn't want to get stuck in traffic after work. We chose to do our groceries somewhere just a mere five minutes away from where we live. The cashier was very convincing, though, and she said that the points are convertible to cash. She added that, with the amount of grocery items I was buying, I shouldn't let the opportunity to earn points go to waste. I succumbed and the next thing I know I was filling out forms and signing stuff.

Okay, back to the SMS I got. It read: Good evening, ma'am. This is Eva from Gaisano Savers Mart and I would like to confirm the spelling of your name. Is it KRSTLL ANNE or KRISTELL ANNE? This is for your savers card.

I typed in my reply which read: Actually, it's KRST'LL ANNE. No vowels and with an apostrophe.

I didn't get a response. I hope Eva got that.

It's not the first time people got into a tizzy over my unusual name. Professors have a hard time saying and spelling it. My friends love it, my trainees want to steal it, and me? I'm just proud of it.

I'm proud that no one has the same name as I do. I love that it's unique - so unique that I don't get any hits when I get a clearance from the NBI. Despite having to spell it out to people constantly, having it is pretty hassle-free. The only time I had issues with it was when I took the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET). Names had to be written in little boxes - one letter per box. I had to sheepishly ask the proctor if the apostrophe required a separate box. Apparently, it did.

My siblings also have names without vowels. My brother is Jhzryl and my sister is Lynnth - pronounced Lineth. She was supposed to get an apostrophe, too, as in Lynn'th, but our mom forgot. Our youngest brother is the only one with vowels in his first name: Francis. He was named after our dad.

I married someone with a beautiful name, too. Obviously, we needed to give our little one an equally exquisite name - something fraught with meaning and something she could be proud of, as well. I've never mentioned the Husband's and our daughter's names on this blog before. Well, here they are: The Husband is Cyrus William and our little girl is Kaelana Yasmine. Such breathtakingly wonderful names.

me with massive eye bags and my then-two-year-old

What are your favorite names?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nanny Diaries... Not

My mom was a stay-at-home mom. She graduated from a reputable university and is a licensed chemical engineer. She then became my dad's wife at twenty-four. Because she married an OFW seafarer, she had to stay at home with us and take care of us herself. She  had someone to help her, though, for I was practically raised by my Nanay - an elderly nanny who took care of me as if I was her own since I was a week old. She finally retired when I was in my mid-twenties.

Nanay cooked for us, cleaned the house, got me ready for school. My mom helped with school assignments, read to us, supervised everyone and oversaw everything and never missed a school event. Basically, we grew up with two mother figures in our home. My siblings and I never referred to Nanay as the help. She was family and we treated her like so. This is also how I treat the nannies and housekeepers I've had to hire myself now that I'm a grown-up and with a a little family of my own. Alas, nannies nowadays don't stay for years anymore. You'd be lucky if they'd stay with you for a couple of months. When they stay for years, well, count yourself blessed because that's extremely rare.

The Husband and I both have thriving corporate careers. We like the perks that come with working in an office - the health insurance, the benefits, the incentives, the environment. Our little girl comes first, yes, but because we work, we need help. Nannies have to enter our picture, whether we want to or not.

If I can honestly do everything myself, I will, but our schedules do not permit us to NOT have hired help. I'm glad and grateful that, after seven years of having nannies that come and go (one nanny stayed for almost three years and a lot would only stay for several months), I can say that I don't feel debilitated when I find myself without one.

I don't feel attached and I don't get nervous breakdowns when they decide not to be my employee anymore.  I've come to accept the fact that, no matter how well you treat them, they can always find a reason to leave if they want to. My little one has had amazing nannies and I've employed truly efficient house help. On the other hand, did we also have our share of horrific nannies? Yup. I've had ones who liked to complain, who secretly smoked and would then carry my then-baby girl, smelling awful - and to think my girl has asthma!, ones who watched Tagalog soap operas and forget the housework completely... I know that there are worse nannies out there. Yes, I've heard the horror stories, but is it too much to ask for a loyal, competent and honest nanny-slash-housekeeper?

Don't answer that.

At the end of the day, yes, working moms, we need to be do what needs to be done. With or without these nannies.

Monday, October 15, 2012

34 Degrees Celsius

The weekend that was was so hot I wanted to hit the beach. We couldn't because it's our little princess' exam week starting tomorrow and we had to review and study with her. I just miss summer, that's all.

Saturday felt unbearably humid, I thought my head was going to explode. And then, it rained...

Well, it just goes to show that everything changes. Nothing really stays the same.