Catch Your Zs With Good Night Relaxation Drink

Counting sheep is my pastime and the moon is my best friend.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had difficulty falling asleep. I will have to be dead tired before I can fall asleep because I either cannot find the right position or my brain is just still too full of seemingly endless energy. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking of the same difficulty sleeping as when I was having PTSD from an earthquake last April. I just was never a person who could fall asleep as soon as her head hits a pillow. So, when I found out that a colleague went on sick leave because of insomnia, I felt bad for him because I could understand the struggle.

yX9VdQSOR96oFRVG8igy6gI was in a 7-Eleven branch near my office, looking for something refreshing to drink when my eyes landed on this purple can. I love purple, which was probably why it caught my eye. But, when I saw what was written on the can, I knew I had to get one for my colleague and for myself to try. Priced at Php 85.00, this Good Night Relaxation Drink isn’t cheap, so I had high expectations.

On the can, it states that the drink contains herbal extracts, lemon balm, and hops. These help with stress and allow one to sleep more peacefully. The can contains 250ml, making a total calorie count of 50kcal, 12.5 grams of carbohydrates from sugar. It claims to not have artificial flavor enhancers, preservative or colorants.

XsmzmypcRhui0zhDoY+4oAThe drink is carbonated, making it like your regular sparkling water. It has a lighter color than a beer and has a taste of a very watery pear. I am not a huge fan of the taste, but I do not mind it that much. It’s not unpleasant at all but, I just never got the point of flavored water.

The website of this drink’s company says it’s made in Austria, but the idea started at the end of a couple’s vacation in Thailand. This was meant to be a substitute for drinking alcohol to aid sleep because alcohol can do more harm than good. Taken 30 to 45 minutes before your intended time to sleep, it can be taken on a daily basis. It’s not meant to knock you off because it is not a sedative, but it will help you sleep better through the lemon balm and hops in the drink.

Our work starts at 3PM and ends at 12MN. That’s why it’s very important that we manage to sleep right away before the sun rises because it will be harder to sleep then. So, I took the drink at 1AM on my first attempt with this drink. True enough, I didn’t find myself getting sleepy until it was already 3AM. I cannot remember anything else after I fell asleep.

You see, I don’t remember waking up in the middle of the night whether to pee or to drink or do anything else. I slept straight until 10AM the following day. The funny thing was, I was so bothered by my alarm clock that won’t stop buzzing despite all attempts to turn it off. It turned out that I was turning my alarm clock off in my dream and not in the real world. Thankfully, my Mom decided to wake me up properly.

How did I feel upon waking up? Groggy. I was so groggy that it took me another hour to get up. I felt like I was in cloud nine and without a worry about not making it to the gym that day to work out before going to the office. It sort of reminds me of the side effects of Lagaflex, a muscle relaxant I take for stiff neck and muscle pain, as prescribed by my doctor.

 I tried to understand why, despite not making me feel sleepy, it made me feel as if I took a sedative the night before. I came across articles saying lemon balm and hops have sedating effects. That being said, I wonder why the website states it’s non-sedative.

That being said, I strongly feel that people who have a high dependency risk should consult their doctor prior to taking this drink. I am not sure how much lemon balm and hops are in a can of this drink, but my how groggy I felt upon waking up was no joke. I seriously felt like I took a sleeping pill the night before. Whether I am just highly sensitive to the ingredients, I do not know for sure.

However, if you’re not someone who has a risk to be dependent on this drink to get a good night’s sleep, I can tell you that this works like magic! I slept peacefully through the night and was almost dreamless (damn that dream about turning my alarm clock off). I feel like it would work really well if you’ve been sleepless for a couple of days and you badly need sleep but do not take this when you have an early and important meeting or event to attend the following day.

Will I try it again? Yes! In fact, I have already taken half a can before I started writing this entry. I shall update you on the effects on taking just half a can. I hope I won’t feel as groggy tomorrow as I did on my first try.

Good Night Relaxation Drink is available in the Philippines through select convenience stores like 7-Eleven, Mini Stop, Circle K, Lawson, and San Mig Food Ave. It is also available through Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, All Day Supermarket, and BeautyMNL. Check out the drink’s Philippine Facebook page too for more info.

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Second Archery Attempt

“Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands.”— Nigerian Proverb

My hands longed for the sleek and sturdy feel of a bow and the excitement that comes from arrows. It’s been almost a year and a half since I last visited The Archery Academy in Greenhills, San Juan, for archery lessons. I remember having a grand time with my lesson. So, when I saw that they have a similar promo in MetroDeal to the one I got last year, I was so excited and I made it a point to purchase vouchers for me and two of my friends.

Unfortunately, only Zammy could make it with me to the lessons today. We hope that next time, Cherry could already come with us. I really think I should bring more people to try archery out.

As expected, Coach Gio was as thorough as I remembered. Since I could still remember most of the tips and reminders, I let Zammy have her turn first, because that will allow me to document her first time at The Archery Academy. I admit I feel more excited for her than for myself. I was very much like a stage-parent earlier. Hahaha…

U5E8N%4wT2SvV8K1NY38zwAt one point, Coach Gio taught us about scoring. However, we didn’t want any pressure and were more focused on having fun, so we did not score ourselves anymore. We just kept having a go with our bows and arrows for the entire one hour of lessons we paid for. Don’t belittle that one hour! It’s more than enough to shoot several times. Plus, if you’re not very active and it’s your first time to try archery, one hour is enough or you’ll risk getting very sore muscles the following day.

I must say that Zammy, despite her claim to not have slept enough the day before, was way better than I was during my first attempt! Look at her pop that blue balloon!

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Pop! Nice one Zammy! #archery #thearcheryacademy

A post shared by Sunshine and Robins (@sunshinenrobins) on

I also managed to pop my red balloon at my first attempt. This was a huge improvement from my attempt last year because it took a while for me to pop my white balloon. Hearing the loud burst of a balloon popping was so satisfying!

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First target face during my first attempt at archery.

I really feel like I should make archery a more regular hobby because I enjoy it a lot. I should make an effort to have the budget and time for this because going to Greenhills isn’t cheap when you don’t know how to commute and rely highly on Grab services.

Overall, I think we did a pretty good job considering we aren’t really archers. We managed to keep our target face and so I was able to compare it to my performance last year. I was still hitting beyond my target face from time to time, but at least I was hitting the yellow and red areas more frequently than I did last year. I noticed hitting the blue areas a lot, so I still need to practice my aim. Mind you, traditional archery does not depend on the sight and sight window (parts of the archery bow). Rather, it relies on your instinct to hit your mark. Most of my shots were still blind shots. I wasn’t sure where my arrows will land at all.

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Left: Feb. 2018. Right: Jul. 2019

What a fun day this was! I was so glad Zammy was able to join me. However, I feel bad for her because I am feeling my shoulder and arm muscles getting sore as I type. Surely her muscles are feeling the same thing by now. Oh gosh, good luck to us tomorrow. I hope I will still have enough strength to carry my laptop to work.

New Favorite: Partners for Justice Season 2

“A criminal remains a criminal whether he uses a convict’s suit or a monarch’s crown.” ― Victor Hugo

I waited for around a year to watch the second season of my favorite crime drama, Partners for Justice. I wrote about it last year when I accidentally discovered it and immediately got hooked.

Season 2 picks up a year after cliffhanger ending of Season 1 when prime suspect Oh Man-Sang was believed to have died in a burning car while attempting to escape. The crimes featured are not all related to Oh Man-Sang, but it appears that lead character Baek Beom is not fully convinced whether Oh-Man-Sang is dead.

Jung Jae Young returns as Baek Beom, a medical examiner of the National Forensic Service who believes that dead bodies have stories to tell. He is still as grumpy as he was in Season 1 and is still as passionate about solving the mysteries surrounding people’s deaths. He still keeps to himself and is still stubborn, always forcing to get his way when he knows he can do the job better than his sort of archnemesis, Ma Do-Nam, played by Song Young-Kyu.

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Photo obtained from http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/forensic2/

Jung Yoo Mi returns as Eun Sol, now as 1st Grader Prosecutor. She is still as good-hearted as she was in the first season, but I am a little disappointed that she has not gained confidence in herself in her work. She still jumps to conclusions and is still highly emotional in the cases, making her highly dependent on her superiors. I have not yet seen her show that she has a backbone in the first 20 episodes of Season 2. In fact, I am sure that even without her, the story would have gone pretty well. My golly, the supporting characters have way more interesting character development compared to her. I feel bad for the actress because of what disservice was done to her character. I was only able to see them showcase her superb memory and memorization skill once! And her driving? Not as thrilling and exciting as in Season 1.

Despite now feeling a sense of “partnership” in the story, I am still very much hooked to how each crime featured so far is written. The show is still superb in making the craziest plot twists that will have you mind blown.

Despite most characters returning for season 2, we bid goodbye to Dr. Stella Wang (played by Stephanie Lee) and Cha Soo-Ho (played by Lee Yi-Kyung). While there was no replacement for the character of Cha Soo-Ho, we welcome Dr. Sally Kim as the new NFS researcher under the Toxic and Chemical Substances Department. Whereas Stella was smart, pretty and cool, Sally is aggressive, messy and hardcore. That’s okay given that Sally cannot be a shadow of Stella in Season 2. While some similarities are required for the type of job they do, they have very different personalities. I love both characters equally.

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Photo obtained from http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/forensic2/

We also welcome the character of Dr. Jang Cheol, played by No Min-Woo. This is No Min-Woo’s return to TV drama after four years. His character, Dr. Cheol, is as mysterious as it can get. He is one smart, good-looking, and passionate doctor who has an eerie aura so you will have to watch the drama to see how his character development plays out.

Because of how busy June was at work, I didn’t realize they already started airing Season 2 last June 3. Airing every Monday and Tuesday, I’ve binge watched 20 episodes so far, with 12 more to go when it ends on July 23. For some reason, I feel that there are fewer cases being solved in this season, but the level of intricacy has gone way higher, requiring a case almost two and a half episodes to solve. I am so excited how the rest of the 12 episodes will turn out and I am looking forward to what types of crimes will get featured. I can only hope for a cliffhanger for a third season.

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Photo obtained from http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/forensic2/

I Went Crazy Over Pearl Milk Tea

“Where there’s tea there’s hope.” -Arthur Wing Pinero

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Starbuck’s Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit and Honey.

I cannot remember when I learned to love drinking tea. Maybe it was during the time I developed a love for watching period drama movies and TV shows by BBC because I saw a lot of the characters having afternoon tea. Maybe it was the time I discovered how much I loved the taste of Dilmah Peppermint and English Toffee tea that I was able to try in a dessert shop that my favorite uncle always treated us to. I honestly cannot remember the exact time I learned to love tea, but I do remember being introduced to pearl milk tea or bubble tea back when I was in college.

I remember having a Zentea branch in front of my school, but I am not sure if they sold pearl milk tea. What I vividly recall is that bright red shop called SimpleLine, that sold pearl milk tea in a large size at a prize that a student can afford. My classmates and I loved celebrating small victories in school by treating ourselves to a large cup of pearl milk tea. Eventually, more milk tea shops opened near the school that I had about five to ten options should I crave for it.

Unfortunately, news about death from drinking milk tea laced with oxalic acid from a specific milk tea shop (not SimpleLine) somehow affected the industry for some time. I think people became wary of drinking milk tea despite the cause of the deaths appearing to be a foul play. Anyway, the story had a tragic ending and I don’t think the suspect has been identified to this day.

To my surprise, almost ten years later, the milk tea industry suddenly boomed to unexpected heights, with more and more milk tea shops popping up at every corner. Major milk tea brands from Taiwan also started entering the Philippine market. People were willing to wait and stand in long queues just to get their hands on this heaven of a drink that Taiwan came up with. Those who could not wait themselves relied on the convenience of food delivery services like GrabFood, LalaFood, Food Panda, and many more. The craze over drinking milk tea isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

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My colleagues and I were not immune to the lure of pearl milk tea. We have tried several brands over the first half of the year and I’d like to share some of those I’ve tried recently.

Snow Panda

 

This place is more known for its Korean food and the bingsu dessert. They also sell milk tea and I was able to try their Cream Cheese Tiger Milk Tea.

I loved the black tapioca pearls! I think they were at the perfect chewiness based on my preference. However, I could not taste much of the cream cheese and the sugar syrup just made the drink very sweet. Plus, I disliked the SpongeBob design on the plastic lid. It was too unsophisticated for my liking.

I’ll probably try their Korean snacks and desserts next time. After all, most of their high rating and reviews on Zomato were because of their Korean food.

Bobaism

fullsizeoutput_c46This shop, I think I just came across in LalaFood. I have no clue at all where this shop is in Greenbelt because I am sure I have not seen it the last time I was there. However, I was so attracted to the name and to the design on the cups.

The drinks are really pricey though, but seeing leche flan as a topper/sinker/floater (however you’d like to call those things) that I can add to my drink, I decided to push through with the purchase. I ordered their frosted milk with honey and added tapioca pearls and leche flan to the drink.

I was not expecting the drink to come in such a big size! It was so refreshing and I love their leche flan so much!!! However, at more than Php 200 when ordering via LalaFood, it’s so expensive if I am only after the leche flan for the most part.

What I did learn, eventually, was that their cups and lids are made of a material sourced from starchy plants. I am not a chemist so I will not pretend to understand how it is a better alternative to the usual plastic material used in cups, but it’s probably part of the reason their drinks are a little bit more pricey, aside from their claim to use the freshest ingredients (I think every shop claims this anyway).

This brand got in trouble with the Buddhists in Thailand because of an event with a Buddha mascot and the logo on their cups, I think. The outrage came with the circulation of photos in social media. I believe it has been sorted out already, but I strongly feel they should do something with the logo.

CoCo Fresh Milk Tea

I love anything panda-related. So when my officemates were ordering Panda Milk Tea from CoCo Fresh, I made sure to join in.

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Placed in a laminated paper cup, this drink isn’t very Instragrammable. However, it becomes a tad bit more environmentally friendly than most brands.

The drink was refreshing and not as sweet compared to most milk tea brands. I also liked the combination of big black tapioca pearls and the small clear ones. It does live up to the “fresh” in its brand name.

However, I wasn’t completely mindblown by the drink. I’ll probably try it again when there’s a chance to, but it’s not the first on my list when I crave for milk tea.

TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie / The Dessert Kitchen

TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie and The Dessert Kitchen were brought to the Philippines by the same group that brought Lugang Cafe to the country. TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie serves Hong Kong style food with The Dessert Kitchen serves Asian desserts. Recently, they also started selling pearl milk tea.

rWj3p6f0RIKCnGwRN6yJDwI happened to pass by a branch of The Dessert Kitchen in SM Mall of Asia and I could not resist the pull of that huge pearl milk tea advertising tarp. I just knew I had to try it no matter what.

They have a variety of tea served in various styles as well. I cannot remember exactly what style of bubble tea I ordered, but it was Iron Goddess with Cheese Milk Cap or something of that sort. I am not sure what’s causing the gray part on top of the drink because I was sure I did not order the one that had charcoal sea salt or whatever. After shaking, the drink pretty much turned into a pastel gray color.

The tapioca pearls were nicely done and at the perfect chewiness that I liked. The drink itself though was very puzzling. I cannot put a finger on what’s making this drink so different from the other I’ve tried. Was it the iron goddess tea? I do not know for sure, but I know I would love to try more pearl milk tea drinks from TuanTuan Chinese Brasserie or The Dessert Kitchen.

It turns out that iron goddess tea (or tieguanyin) is a type of oolong tea. You can read more about it in Wikipedia. The legends of where this tea came from are interesting.

Roycetea

IMG_0936Affiliated with the Royaltea Malaysia brand, this shop was the first to introduce cheese tea to the Philippines and uses tea from the Sun Moon Lake tea plantation in Taiwan. Knowing my love for milk tea with cream cheese or cheese brûlée, my officemate, Sarrah, encouraged me to try this. We specifically scheduled buying from the shop as soon as we got our salary.

Roycetea is also pricier than most brands, but not as expensive as Bobaism. However, the serving size is large and the cup they use is sturdy and I think it can be reused.

I ordered the Oolong Royce Cheese Milk Tea. It came with super delicious cheese foam that was topped with coconut flakes. I really loved this drink!

Chachago

Another brand from Taiwan, I discovered Chachago in GrabFood. I knew I had to try it!

I was able to try their Roasted Brown Sugar Tea with Salted Cheese Cream. This came only in medium size and had no tapioca pearls. It was truly refreshing and light, with the cheese cream so delightfully yummy!

Another flavor I have tried was the Brown Sugar Pearl with Milk Tea. This also only came in medium size. Like the previous drink, this was also really refreshing and the sweetness was just right to suit my preference.

 

I don’t remember putting the sugar level when I ordered, but I was glad they just put 75%. I will find time to try their other drinks as well.

Tiger Sugar

I was able to try this because I was treated by a colleague for helping out during our teambuilding activity. I was so excited because, at that time, the only branch they had was a city away from work.

I am not sure if this started the brown sugar milk tea trend, but I remember it being famous for the tiger stripes of brown sugar that one must be quick to take a picture of if they don’t want theirs to end up looking like mine.

This brand turns out to have originated in Taichung, Taiwan, around November of 2017. For a relatively new company, it’s making a name for itself really fast! Its branch in Bonifacio Global City was always busy and always had a long queue of customers waiting for their turn. Recently, they opened a branch in Glorietta 4, making it more accessible to customers in Makati and those ordering via GrabFood.

I like it, but I find it a little too sweet. I cannot remember if the sugar level could be adjusted though.

Dakasi

They used to be available in GrabFood, but I think it’s only available over LalaFood these days. Their shops are always filled with customers because they have a lot of options. By “a lot,” I do mean “A LOT!” Seriously, I always had trouble deciding what to order in their GrabFood app menu, so I always ended up ordering any milk tea with Oreos and requesting additional Oreos. One simply cannot have too many Oreos.

Whenever I crave for drinks with Oreos, Dakasi is my go-to place. Their Creme Okinawa with Oreos is my favorite!

When I used to work in BGC back in 2014, there was a Dakasi branch in the terminal of BGC buses. I used to ignore it, not knowing it’s a well-established brand that started in Taiwan way back the 90s.

Sharetea

GaLHCGHrRtirjvCldp+guwMy first time to try Sharetea was in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. I ordered the most basic kind that they had and I liked it so much, drinking it while I ate fishballs from the adjacent food stall.

Imagine my surprise when I saw Sharetea was already in the Philippines and accessible thru GrabFood! I simply had to place an order right away.

I placed an order for Rock Salt and Cheese Cream with Oolong Tea and Oreo. Because I saw that they also had snacks, I bought egg waffle and potato tots as well.

Needless to say that even if I was home alone at that time, I was so happy with my snack that afternoon. The milk tea paired incredibly well with the potato tots dusted with mildly spicy barbecue flavoring. I was also taken back to my time in Hong Kong when I shared a drink from Sharetea with my sister.

Macau Imperial Tea

IMG_1285Another brand present in many countries, Macau Imperial Tea is my go-to place for cheesecake pearl milk tea. There’s no other place I’ve tried that served milk tea with the amount of sweet cream cheese goodness that I liked, which is A LOT of it! Seriously, I love cream cheese that much!

I bet their other variants are also just as good because there is always a long queue of people waiting for their turn to order. That’s why I always make sure to give the GrabFood driver a tip when I order from Macau Imperial Tea because I know how long it took them to line up and deliver the drink to me.

Aside from their cheesecake pearl milk tea, another thing that I love about Macau Imperial Tea is that some of their drinks come in glass bottles like the For Me (strawberry milk) and For You (iced coffee) drinks that come with bear ears hard plastic cover. It was sad that a quarter of my coffee spilled the first time I ordered For You, but I have since reused the bottle for other cold drinks. In the picture below, that’s my For You bottle containing peppermint mocha drink.

 

They also have soda drinks that come in glass bottles, but the bottles aren’t as cute as the For Me and For You ones.

Alishan @ The Alley

IMG_3490I was initially under the impression that this is the same as “The Alley” in Hong Kong, the one that had a deer for a logo. Apparently, a lot of other people thought the same thing.

Alishan @ The Alley can be found beside Dean & Deluca branches. So far, I’ve seen one in Makati and one in BGC. My golly, the queue at the Makati branch is always long! That is a testament on how good their milk tea drinks are.

iTCLiPfmR0elPzvulone2gMy favorites so far are the Brown Sugar Milk with Cheese Brûlée, Sea Salt Caramel Milk Tea Latte with Pearl, and the Alishan High Mountain Tea Latte with Pearl.

For the brown sugar series, I love the bits of brown sugar that have not fully melted and incorporated with the drink because it adds an extra layer of texture to the drink. I also like requesting for cheese brûlée to add to my other drinks.

IMG_0909My friends and colleagues would normally request their drinks to be made less sweet, and I will admit to their drinks being sweet. However, it’s not the sickly sweet kind for me.  I also find the taste to have more depth than the brown sugar milk tea of Tiger Sugar.

For now, Alishan @ The Alley is not available on food delivery services, so one must endure the waiting time to order. On the positive side though, they already started accepting GCash payments. Additionally, last Friday, they started a stamp card promo wherein you get a stamp for every Php 200 purchase. Since their drinks are around Php 160 max, you’ll have to get someone to buy with you to get a stamp. Complete the stamps to get one free drink!

Update (07-Jul-19): Alishan @ The Alley is now on LalaFood! Plus, they already started accepting GCash payments. Lastly, they already started a loyalty program for customers. Purchases over Php 200 is equivalent to one stamp. Get ten stamps to get a free drink!

My dilemma

I’ve started feeling guilty about how much single-use plastic is used up by milk tea shops. While some already have reusable cups and bottles, most do not. Also, one can only request to use their own cups and tumblers when they are the ones lining up. If you happen to order via food delivery services, you’d get the plastic cups and straws.

I came across a post about FLOAT, a non-straw, glass cup that will make drinking pearl milk tea/bubble tea more environmentally friendly. It’s already under production and will hit the markets in winter of 2019 in Taiwan. I am not sure how soon it will be available worldwide, but since I am going to Taiwan in next year’s spring, I will try to get my hands on one of these.

Realizing how much pearl milk tea I’ve drunk in the last few months, I’ve decided to limit my purchases when I can be the one to line up and buy (or when I can ask my friends to buy for me when they do and just hand them my tumbler), and when I can use my reusable cup or tumbler. That will not only help me take care of the environment but also help me take care of my blood sugar levels as well. This love for milk tea is in no way near healthy!

Also, ever since I tried the Black Tea with Ruby Grapefruit and Honey from Starbucks, I kind of feel like trying out fruit teas instead of pearl milk tea. I’ve already bought a reusable cup from Starbucks to use when buying their black tea or their hibiscus tea. I heard Alishan @ The Alley has delicious and refreshing fruit teas as well. I feel they won’t have as much sugar as the pearl milk tea drinks and I hope I am right.

Trying Mostly Korean Skin Care

“Look after yourself from within, and your beauty will shine through on your skin.” -Shanina Shaik

I have always believed that one’s personality makes him or her more beautiful. I have met people who just became so much more beautiful in my eyes the more I got to know how good they were. While I advocate for inner beauty more than appearances, I also have to admit that taking care of our skin is one way of being kind to ourselves.

I’ve had acne since I was eleven or twelve. To be fair, my acne wasn’t that terrible. I did not have a lot of them and usually broke out only when I was on my period. However, my skin is so sensitive that I scar very easily. When I scar, they take years to get rid of.

I started wearing powder foundations early, in attempts to hide the imperfections on my skin, not realizing that they were making my acne worse. The worse they became though, the more dependent I became on makeup and the less confident I was to get out of the house barefaced. The makeup felt like a security blanket of a sort that I couldn’t go without.

fullsizeoutput_a4e-e1560190863853.jpegThese days, I still get acne, most of them the hormonal ones around my chin and jaw. They aren’t as plenty unlike when I was in my teenage years, but they still do scar. I have learned to accept them as a normal part of life and putting on makeup because something I enjoyed as a means of expression rather than a means to hide imperfections.    Most recently, I decided to try Korean skin care as opposed to just my usual face wash, toner, and moisturizer routine.

My ever loving sister who spoils me all the time recently went to South Korea and got me lots of Korean skin care products, most of which were from Innisfree’s bija line. I just loved the pretty blue color of the packaging! Aside from these products, she also gave me a Foreo Espada, Blue Light Acne Treatment, a Petitfee Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray, COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, and COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad. Whew! So many products!

For myself, I bought bentonite healing clay from Luxe Organix, which is an alternative to the Aztec Healing Clay that went viral in 2018. I also got the Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion from The Face Shop. Lastly, I got myself some lip care products such as the Bubblegum Lip Scrub from Lush and a sampler of Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask.

Currently, here’s my skin care routine:

1. Micellar makeup remover wipes (Night)

IMG_0864I use waterproof mascara and eyeliner pen every day, so it takes me a while to get rid of them. I use makeup remover wipes that I soak further with micellar water to get rid of my makeup.

When using wipes soaked with micellar water, I first wipe off the makeup on my face and neck before focusing on my eye area. That would help make sure I do not squeeze some of the micellar water and get some in my eyes because it stings.

I also like the micellar water from Garnier and from Nivea so you can try those as well.

2. Bija Trouble Facial Foam (Day and Night)

IMG_0851I only use a tiny bit because it suds up really well. I still wash my face to get off any last bit of makeup remaining on my face. I also read somewhere that micellar water shouldn’t really be left on the face, hence I make it a point to still wash my face.

This facial wash does not give me that squeaky clean feel, but I do feel like my skin has been cleansed thoroughly without being stripped dry. It smells more medicinal than the rest of the products in the Bija Trouble line. That is probably the soap content of the facial wash that makes it smell the way it does. Thankfully, I am not bothered by it when I wash my face.

3. Luxe Organix Bentonite Clay Mask (Once every two weeks)

img_0826.jpgThis dupe gets the job done, but I still prefer the original Aztec Healing Clay one. The dupe does not bubble and dissolve in apple cider vinegar, but dissolves well in water. It’s also a sickly kind of green that reminds me of Shrek and Fiona. After rinsing off, I still use a wet wipe on my face because I still get some green stuff that rinsing alone couldn’t get off completely.

Still, it still feels like the Aztec Healing Clay once it’s on my face. There is the familiar pulsing feeling on my skin and the warmth after rinsing it off. It helps dry my zits more quickly too.

4. Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Treatment (When I have acne breakout)

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This pretty, pink baby uses blue light technology to get deep into the skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. It has a laser-precision targeting mechanism that allows you to target the imperfections you want to expose to the blue light. And because it has T-Sonic pulsations functionality, this little baby vibrates as you bathe your blemishes with light.

The wand does not react to anything but skin.

My sister swears by this device, but I have not tried it enough to know if it works as it should. Maybe that is something I can discuss in a separate post.

5. COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (Day and Night)

I love the packaging, but I love the contents even more! Inside the pretty tub are 70 very thin cotton pads soaked in a toner that smells wonderfully of lemons! My day brightens when I smell the toner they used on this product and I feel instantly energized!

The toner does not sting my face, but it does contain a type of alcohol called Ethyl Hexanediol. I used the product on my face, neck, and chest too, because I also suffer from chest acne. I actually get acne on my back too, occasionally. The alcohol content makes it refreshing to wipe all over your face and neck.

IMG_08616. Any brand and type of sheet mask (Once every two weeks when I use the clay mask)

I go crazy when these go on sale and I then buy a lot of them. Yet, when I use them every now and then, I find the process a little too messy and wet for my liking. I am not exactly sure how sheet masks make skin care better and how it is better than just smoothing serum all over my face.

Anyway, after putting on the sheet mask, I leave it on for ten minutes, then take it off. I rub the crumpled mask all over my neck and on some parts of my body like my knees and elbows because there’s still so much product left of the sheet after ten minutes. Plus, there’s also so much serum left in the pack so I make sure to use that up as well.

7. Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray (Day and Night)

IMG_0865I normally spray this on my chest and back after I shower, but at night, I spray it on my chest after using COSRX Original Clear Pad.

This product does not have a terrible smell, unlike other back acne sprays I have tried. It does not sting my skin either, so I like it a lot! I have actually noticed the acne on my chest (cystic ones most of the time) starting to become smaller and flatten out. If only it helped with scarring too…

8. Bija Cica Skin (Day and Night)

IMG_0852It’s another toner that moisturizes the skin while protecting it. I use this to bring back the moisture on my face that might have been dried by the COSRX toner pads with their alcohol content.

I like the texture of this toner; not too runny and not too thick. Because of the texture, I do not use a cotton pad anymore to apply the product on my face. Instead, I pour some on my hands and then I pat it all over my face.

The product does not smell like anything at all. I mean, I tried sniffing a little of the product that I poured on my hand and could say that it is fragrance-free.

9. Bija Trouble Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0853The lotion is lightweight and gets easily absorbed by the skin. It has a very faint scent that there’s almost none. It smells around 80% lighter than the facial wash from the same line.

I use only half of what I would normally use to moisturize my face because I am using another lotion as well. I use it all over my neck as well.

10. Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0854This product, I like so much! It smells lovely because of the citrus fruit peel oils in the ingredients such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit. The scent isn’t as strong as the COSRX toner pads, but the lotion smells fresh and fun.

This lotion is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion, but I like that it has volcanic ash that aims to absorb excess oil on the skin. I use this on my face and neck.

I am not a huge fan of sheet mask despite my habit of buying them, haha. I find it a little messy to work with and am not exactly sure how different it is from just putting

11. Whitening Pore Cream EX (Night)

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My skin scars very easily, but the scars take very long to fade. I need to use whitening products to help speed up the fading.

It smells faintly of citrus and it is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion. It’s expected anyway because this is cream.

I use this product all over my face and neck with more concentration on areas with acne scars. I use it on areas of my chest with acne scarring too.

12. Bija Trouble Spot Essence (Day and Night)

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The product has a light beige color. It’s also thicker in consistency than the Bija Trouble Lotion. I use a tiny amount over trouble spots.

13. Capsule Recipe Sleeping Pack (Night)IMG_0856

To seal everything in, I use a sleeping pack which I believe is made with Jeju bija and tea tree. It smells stronger than the Bija Trouble Lotion, and I actually love the scent of this clear gel sleeping mask.

It’s so tiny, but I was able to stretch the contents to 10 uses because the product is easily spreadable all over my face and neck.

14. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (At night on cystic acne)

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I love these hydrocolloid patches! With these, I noticed that my cystic acne clear faster than they would.

The patches come in three sizes and there are twenty-four patches in one pack. I love the big ones for my cystic acne, but I kind of which there were more of the tiny ones too. Maybe they can increase the number of patches in a pack because quite frankly, twenty-four pieces only per pack is a huge waste of packaging materials.

So far, I still get hormonal acne breakouts, but they heal quicker than they normally would. I also noticed that my skin has become way more moisturized and soft unlike when I did not use all these products. Even after putting on mineral powder foundation, my skin has a dewy glow, which I am not used to because I’ve always loved the matte look. I still oil up a lot, as if I were still a teenager, but it’s not the sticky, grimy, yucky kind of oily. I just blot throughout the day with a paper towel.

I will keep using these products and see if my skin will improve over time. Since these products are not cheap, I guess I will have to use them up until I empty the containers. That’s going to take three to six months, I think.

Finding Meaning While Jobless

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

There was a lot of training sessions that I attended in the last few weeks, whether it was helping organize it, participating in it, or helping facilitate it. The last month was filled with a lot of realizations, learnings, and appreciation for everything I have now.

In one session I attended, we were made to watch a TED Talk video of Emily Esfahani Smith discussing the four pillars to a meaningful life. Her talk about the four pillars is a must watch, especially if you’re in that phase of your life when you’re finding meaning to your existence.

Smith’s discussion about having a meaningful life really resonated with me because a few years ago, I hit rock bottom and could not find meaning in my life at all.

Going jobless

My sister, Kristine, has a condition called patella alta or high riding kneecaps. This condition became apparent when she was ten years old when she had her first knee dislocation. Over the years, she would get two to three dislocations a year. We never knew when a dislocation would happen and some of them did even when she was only changing sleeping positions! By the time she was 26, her Medial Patellofemoral Ligaments (MPFL) were so overstretched from her knees’ constant going out of where they should be. I think it’s called partial dislocation because they always popped back on their own. Anyway, she needed to undergo surgery; on both knees.

In December of 2014, she had her MPFL reconstruction surgery on her knee. Everything seemed fine. She was recovering well at home after she was discharged. At least she was until she started having cramps. She had to be rushed back to the hospital. A slight error on the TENS machine during her PT sessions later, our lives took a sharp turn and everything went downhill.

Kristine was having cramps on her operated leg and the only way to alleviate the pain was to keep her on medicines and to massage her leg 24/7. Yup. Non-stop. A minute or two of pause would cause her leg to have intense cramps, so we had to hire nurses and caregivers on a shifting schedule just to massage her leg. When there were no nurses, we had to do it ourselves. We basically stayed in the hospital for almost a month, celebrating Christmas and New Year 2015 there.

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Our cousin Cristina, Kristine, and me.

At that time, I was working in an audit firm and I loved my job as difficult and tiring as it was. I would work in the hospitals at night and during the weekends because we were wrapping up the audit of a huge client.

I was earning very little compared to Kristine, but I was happy anyway. So, when it became apparent that it was getting more expensive to hire a nurse while I continued working and when our house help went back to her province and did not come back, I had to stop working to help take care of my sister.

I love Kristine, don’t get me wrong. At that time though, work meant everything to me. We were dealing with so many issues at that time other than her knee surgery and work became my escape. I was a workaholic at that time that my senior would even plead for me to go home because I would insist on staying and working. To lose my job felt like I was losing a limb. I was suddenly forced to face everything I used to run away from.

My job description changed after my last day in the audit firm. I became in charge of cooking breakfast and became a pusher. By that, I meant a wheelchair pusher. We had to bring Kristine to work in the morning and fetch her in the afternoon to bring her to her PT sessions at night. That was my job for five months.

In between caring for Kristine, eating and hygiene activities, I slept. I slept a lot because I could not handle feeling useless. I could not handle the envy from seeing my former colleagues move up in their career or start going abroad. I could not handle feeling so lonely because my friends from work were so busy at that time (which was not their fault at all) because of the nature of their work. I could not accept that I had to quit my job because we were basically penniless and dependent solely on Kristine’s salary to have a roof above our heads and food on the table. I felt that if only I were more successful in my career, we could have afforded to hire a nurse instead of needing me to stay at home. Sleeping afforded me peace from all the sadness I was feeling.

One day, Kristine talked about wanting to have her left knee operated on as soon as possible. Mom was very much against the idea and so was I. For one, we could not afford another complication. Mom wanted to save up first before the next surgery. I badly wanted to have a job. A fight ensued and my sister accidentally blurted something about being the only one earning. It felt like a bucket of ice water was poured on me. I cried for hours out of hatred for her. Looking back, I knew it was myself I hated more that day. I never felt as useless and worthless as I did on that day. I wasn’t the one who went through the surgery, but why was I the useless one? I asked myself that a lot.

Transcendence

The surgery was not easy on my sister. She has always been a go-getter, independent girl. To suddenly be so dependent on people to lift her leg for her when she got out of the bed, or a chair, or the car, was also taking a toll on her. As painful as moving around was, she had to show up at work because she was supporting our family. She must have had to swallow her pride and she might have felt like she was a burden too. I could not see that right away after the big fight. It took some time to understand her and what she was also going through. As difficult as the ordeal was for me, it was hella tough for my sister too. After all, she was the one who went through the surgery!

I don’t think we were both being selfish and self-centered at that time. It was more of a lack of communication between us that caused all the negative feelings. Maybe, if she were more vocal of her appreciation (which she later on expressed), and if I were more open about my guilt of not being able to help financially, we could have consoled each other. When we finally understood what each one was going through, we started being able to figure out what to do next.

I don’t remember having prayed as much as I prayed during this period. I complained a lot to the Lord, but even if my prayers were more about whining, just knowing I could talk to Him helped a lot.

Belonging

Kristine and Mom are my biggest supporters. Even if I was feeling useless, they knew I was going to be able to go back to work and they let me know they believed in me. We were a trio of strong women who always bounce back after a difficult situation and we always had each other’s backs.

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She used to help me stand. Years later, I was able to return the favor.

Purpose

I realized that being jobless did not mean I didn’t have a purpose in life. While it was not my life purpose, at that time, my purpose was to help take care of Kristine. I was not useless, I just had a different idea of what being useful was. At that time, I had a narrow-minded view on what being useful was that I could not see how much Mom needed my help in tasks like pushing Kristine’s wheelchair or lifting her leg.

Storytelling

Eventually, my sister could already walk with a crutch. That was somehow the go-signal for me to start looking for a new job.

The tougher part of job interviews for me was explaining the months I was without work. I wanted to be as honest as possible without making myself appear as a victim of circumstances. I had to convince interviewers that even if I was jobless for some time, that period that I did not have work was not a waste because the situation helped me grow. That growth may be useful to them because it spoke of my character, something that they could consider in hiring me.

 Throughout the interviews that I had over the last few years, the story I share about why I was jobless evolved. In my last job interview (for the job I am currently in) the story went something close to lines of:

My sister had a knee surgery that had a complication. I stopped working to help take care of her as it was the more financially smart thing to do at that time. I do not see it as a sacrifice. Instead, I see it as an investment because her knees are fully well now. Two years later, she started working in Hong Kong as a regional IT auditor for a multinational company. Her knees are now strong enough to handle all the traveling for her work. 

Before I arrived at those lines, I admit that I still felt bad about the situation from time to time. Yet, the more I said my story in a positive light, the better I felt about it and myself. The better I felt about it, the clearer the purpose of having to go through it became. There were so many things that I learned during that period that I was jobless, and most of them were things I doubt I would have learned has I kept on going to the office. I realized that you should never underestimate the power of the words you tell yourself. You might be amazed at how much they can influence the outcome of your ongoing story.

My story may not be that grand. I did not suddenly become a millionaire after a period of being jobless. I did not become an influencer afterward. Still, I hope that you learned something from my story.

No matter how difficult things are, hold on to the hope and the trust in yourself that you can make it through.

Just Tried: Fat Fook Kitchen

“I know what I bring to the table so trust me when I say I’m not afraid to eat alone.” -Anonymous

Last Friday, my workmate and friend, Karen, went all the way to the newly opened Ayala North Exchange to visit the Watsons branch there. While we were there, I suddenly had a craving for milk tea. Seeing how the line at Macau Imperial was so long, we turned to Fat Fook Kitchen instead.

img_0455Serving Taiwanese food, there was bound to be milk tea in their menu. Only, I was not prepared for how big their milk tea serving was.

They serve their milk tea in what looks like a disposable soup container instead of a tall disposable cup like we’re normally used to. I do not know if it’s optical illusion, but I do believe the serving size is so much more than from your average milk tea store.

Karen, on the other hand, ordered gindara tofu from their take-out counter. We had to wait for a few minutes for them to fry the gindara tofu.  You know what? The wait was so worth it because that gindara tofu was really good stuff! It’s nothing like any street food I have tried in my life! It was flavorful without being too much and all over the place! The texture was soft, yet firm enough to enjoy biting into it. It was not like tofu made from soy. It was then that I sort of had an idea why people lined up to eat at Fat Fook Kitchen’s Glorietta branch. I guess they serve really good food, that’s why they are always packed.

IMG_0564Last Sunday, I had to go to Glorietta to have my eyeglasses fixed. Again. Last time, I accidentally sat on my glasses. This time, I accidentally kneeled on them. I should really stop putting my glasses on the bed when I take them off for any reason. I would feel so bad if the people working at OWNDAYS remembered me for my broken glasses instead of my purchases.

Anyway, I decided to try and eat at the Fat Fook Kitchen branch there. As usual, the place was packed. Luckily, I was first in the waiting list and a family soon left, allowing me to have a seat right away.

I ordered five pieces of pork xiao long bao and a pork chop set meal. I also ordered gindara tofu to take home. My order took around 15 to 20 minutes to arrive and while I was waiting, I realized how badly the a/c worked at cooling the place. The temperature was not high enough to cause one to sweat, but not cool enough for my liking. That’s why I was so glad I did not have to wait too long for my order.

A male server came with my food and he asked, “Ma’am, are you alone again?” I was surprised at the question. Did he think I ordered too much for one person? Did he feel bad for me because I was alone? It was my first time to eat in that place, what was up with “again?” Was he a server in the past in a different restaurant where I went to eat alone as well? So, I just replied, “Yeah.”

I enjoy eating out alone as much as I enjoy eating out with friends and family. When I eat alone, I find that I get to enjoy the food and revel in the different flavors of the dishes I ordered so much more because I get to focus on eating. You see, if I were with someone, I would probably pay more attention to the person and the conversation rather than the food.

Going back to my order, the food looked and smelled wonderfully yummy! The serving was bigger than I expected and the set meal came with more food items than I thought would be included. For one, I had some lightly flavored soup to warm my tummy, half a boiled egg, and some veggies too. The pork chop slice was larger than I was expecting and it smelled so inviting! I also loved the meaty bits on top of the rice! Those tiny pieces were packed with flavor!

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I liked the soup despite being lightly flavored. The joy that I discovered though was it came with a crab roe bun. Gindara tofu, you have some competition! I will make sure to visit a Fat Fook Kitchen branch soon to order crab roe buns to take out.

The xiao long bao looked incredibly cute that I did not want to eat them at all. Having paid for them though, I had to try one. That was when I realized a problem. They only had a silver, regular spoon while I needed a duck spoon. You know, those spoons commonly found in Chinese restaurants that look like a mini ladle. So, I placed a piece on the silver spoon and when I poked a hole into it, the soup practically dripped from my spoon and went to my rice.

I did have some soup left on my spoon and when I tried it, I was thinking if it was the same as the soup served with my pork chop set because they tasted the same to me. The filling, though, was what I liked because it was meaty! While I admit that the xiao long bao was a little doughy than I was used to, they did not skimp on the filling at all. It was as if there was only space for meat and for soup; space for air or emptiness.

I ended up eating only two pieces of the xiao long bao. I had the restaurant pack the remaining pieces, along with a quarter of my pork chop that I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat when I saw how big the serving was. I was so full!

Our house companion loved the gindara tofu I brought home for her to snack on. In fact, she liked the first piece she ate that she decided she was going to eat it and the three pieces of xiao long bao with rice for dinner. I guess I am not the only one who loves Fat Fook Kitchen now. I bet she will also enjoy the crab roe buns and the milk tea as much as I did.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading about my Fat Fook Kitchen experience. Also, always remember that eating alone is not always lonely.

Just Tried: John and Yoko Cosmopolitan Japanese, Greenbelt 5

I can always count on gyoza to make my day.

My sister is home over the weekend! The two hours I spent waiting for her at the airport was worth it because I missed her so much! The last time I saw her was back in March, when I went to Hong Kong with my friend, Jana. That is why I was so excited to be seeing my sister again.

She arrived a couple of minutes past midnight last Saturday. After getting some sleep, she wanted to have her nails done at Nail Tropics. She estimated that I would have to wait an hour and a half for her to be done. Having very short nails (damn nailbiting habit!), I felt it too expensive to have my nails done there so I just opted to have my eyebrows threaded at Browhaus.

Unfortunately, my eyebrow threading lasted only 15 minutes and I had nowhere to go in Greenbelt while waiting for her. I opted to have coffee or any cold drink somewhere while waiting. My feet led me to John and Yoko, remembering the big poster they had of their milk tea selection (which had like three options only). Learning that it served Japanese food, I decided to order gyoza with my brown sugar milk tea because I was a little bit hungry from not eating enough at breakfast.

I just loved the interior of the restaurant! It was cute and cozy, appealing to my girly side that loved pink and mint green color combo. The place wasn’t packed unlike the restaurants on the same floor, making it an ideal place for me to wait because I dislike very noisy restaurants. Not that I don’t want people talking inside the restaurant, I just get headaches when exposed to too many sounds all at once.

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My milk tea order came first. I did notice that there were huge chunks of ice in my drink to chill it. I was kind of disappointed because I felt like the presence of ice was going to water down my drink when melted. When I took a sip though, the caramel-like taste of the brown sugar tasted so yummy, though a tad bit too sweet for my liking. I then appreciated the ice knowing it will water down my drink a bit if I leave it alone for a couple of minutes, just enough to lessen the sweetness of the milk tea. Still, that drink was yummy and the boba pearls were cooked just right! John and Yoko’s milk tea is now part of my favorite milk teas list.

It took a while to have my gyoza served. It makes me wonder if they did not have pre-made pot stickers just waiting to be steamed because I doubt gyozas took that long to cook. Anyway, I was excited about it when it was finally served to me.

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I am normally not used to being served gyoza with the fried bottom facing up. There was some good browning, with a spot or too a little darker than the rest. Oh well, the gyoza was still gyoza no matter which side was facing up.

I was not prepared at all to love their gyoza so much! I mean, I am no connoisseur and is yet to learn how to describe food other than delicious, yummy, and tasty. I also have not been to a lot of Japanese restaurants to be able to say I have sampled so many gyozas to know what’s good and what’s not. Still, I loved how John and Yoko’s gyoza tasted! The filling was cooked well and the wrapper was not too thick or too chewy. While I did poke some holes due to my struggling with the chopsticks (lack of sleep makes my hands shaky), the wrapper did not tear that easily once you bite into the gyoza. You see, I already experienced having gyoza wrappers fall apart after a small bite, leaving the remainder of the filling between my chopsticks.

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After almost more than two hours, my sister was finally done with her mani-pedi session. I told her to just meet me in John and Yoko. I ordered her another gyoza set and brown sugar milk tea. We also ordered Samurai All-Meat Pizza. My sister ate five pieces of gyoza, one after the other. I knew she was hungry by that time, but hearing no complaints from her meant the gyoza really was good.

The pizza took the longest to be served. I was surprised how small the size was (the picture made me think of larger serving size), yet equally amazed at the amount of meat on that pizza with a super thin crust. They did not skimp on the meat at all! Just take a look at those big pieces of bacon! Doesn’t the pizza look so yummy!

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There were no uncooked chunks of meat and they were not overly salty. I do not know what cheese they used, but it wasn’t the stretchy, stringy kind. However, it was so creamy and it complimented the Pomodoro sauce and the meat toppings really well. The crust was crispy, but not too hard. The only downside though was that the inner slices were a little tricky to eat because of the weight of the cheese and the meat toppings. The outer slices still had some crust to hold on to while eating, but the middle part was not.

We were stuffed at the end of the meal! I really enjoyed what we ate and I am excited to try their other dishes. Overall, I was more than pleased with John and Yoko’s food and service quality. I will surely be back.

Another Reason to Love OWNDAYS

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” ― Helen Keller

I have shared with you my awesome experience buying spectacles at OWNDAYS. Today, I had another reason to love this optical shop.

This is my current eye prescription:

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Without glasses, I can still make out shapes and colors, but I cannot distinguish small features. For example, my laptop is currently an arm’s length away from me. Without glasses, I can just make out the edges of the picture above, the black lines, and some black, blurred stuff that are the letters of what I am typing. I know there’s a pink section in the paragraph above (hyperlink) but I cannot read anything at all. That’s how badly I need eyeglasses.

This morning, my eyeglasses met an accident. I forgot that I put it on the bed so I could put on my makeup while standing up. After doing my makeup, I sat on my bed, a little forcefully that I should have. I sat on my glasses because I wasn’t able to see it. The frame got a little deformed and the lens of the left eye popped out. Thankfully, I had contact lenses at home as a backup.

I called up OWNDAYS at The Landmark Makati to inquire how much they charge for fixing my glasses after what I had done to it. Turns out, I didn’t have to pay anything anymore and I could get my glasses after 20 minutes, just like their service time when you get new specs. It was convenient that I was going to Greenbelt to have lunch with my high school friends and that Landmark was only five minutes away.

After giving them my specs, I immediately saw three, beautifully designed cases for eyeglasses. I was drawn to the one with the panda design. Then, I turned my eyes to the sign that gave information on what these cases were about. Turns out, Owndays Philippines is currently helping raise funds for three organizations in the country: World Vision, PAWS, and WWF. For more information on this collaboration, please check out the video below from OWNDAYS Philippine’s FB page.

When I returned for my glasses, they looked like they were brand new. I guess they also performed cleaning on the lenses and the frame.

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Very much pleased, I decided to buy a new case because I was always conscious of the white case. It was the one that I got for free when I bought my glasses and I always feared that it would eventually be looking dirty and yucky from stains or whatever. I got the Panda design for Php 500 and the purchase helped support WWF. They also gave me a free wiping cloth.

OWNDAYS has not disappointed me yet. I hope the company continues being awesome!

Phantom Quakes and PTSD

“While the building was swaying and the ground was shaking, God remained the steady figure I could hold on to.”

It’s been twelve days since the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Luzon. I shared the story in my previous post, Shaken. This time, I will be sharing what I have been experiencing the past couple of days.

I have always had a fear of shaky rides and shaky ground. That is why I am not overly fond of theme parks and their rides. During field trips when I was young, I hated it so much when we had to walk on hanging bridges. Turbulent flights scare the hell out of me and the slightest shake of the plane would cause me to hold on to the armrest of my seat while I try to calm myself. From time to time, I would do something unusual like hopping on a zip line or riding the cable cars like I did in Ngong Ping and in Ocean Park. I thought of them as attempts to get rid of my fear of anything unstable. I never realized how bad the phobia actually was until last month’s earthquake happened.

After having gone home the night of the earthquake, I was in my bed and I was watching videos on my phone when I suddenly felt something push my bed. I almost dropped my phone in the process. It turned out that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake happened in Bataan, a place around 50 km to 60km away from Manila. I didn’t sleep well that night.

I came to work the following day, seemingly okay. In my head though, I was already making plans on what our emergency bag should contain and what else will I need to get in case another earthquake happened. I was working just fine, completing tasks one after the other. Deep inside though, I was still scared. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake had its epicenter at around 67km away from Manila. I told myself it was not at all that bad compared to places near the epicenter. I felt guilty for being too scared and judged myself as overreacting. I could not understand why I was feeling that way.

Was it because for around five years now, we have been warned about the possibility of a major earthquake from the West Valley Fault that can damage the whole capital region and the recent earthquake gave us a tiny taste of a strong earthquake? We’ve felt earthquakes in the past here in Manila, but I don’t think there was anything as bad as the recent one.

In the past few days, it would take six to seven hours for me to finally fall asleep. I had migraine-like headaches and would feel as if the room is shaking every now and then. When I felt any sort of shaking, I would immediately check my phone for alerts sent by Phivolcs, trying to confirm if there was indeed an earthquake that just happened. I would suddenly feel dizzy and a little disoriented for a couple of minutes.

Phantom quake. I was experiencing a feeling like there was an earthquake even if there was not any. From what I have read on the internet, I am not the only one experiencing it. It would come when I am at work, it would come at night when I am in bed. I would feel as if the world was shaking, but it was only me. My mind was playing tricks on me.

I don’t think my productivity at work has been greatly affected, but I haven’t been able to go to my yoga classes anymore. My blood pressure is a little bit elevated, which probably explains the dizzy spells. Thankfully, except for the intermittent feeling of the room shaking, I can say I am fine.

Gradually, my sleep pattern is returning to normal. I still have difficulty falling asleep, but at least when I manage to, I don’t feel half-awake anymore. I still feel tremors from time to time, but knowing that it’s all in my head, I do not reach out anymore for my phone to check for earthquake alerts and posts over Twitter. I manage to calm myself more quickly now. Unless another earthquake happens so soon, I am pretty sure I’m on my way to getting over the whole thing already.

I also just want to say to those experiencing phantom quakes or PTSD that it’s okay to feel that way. We react to situations differently and even if the people around you do not appear as scared or shaken as you, it’s okay to feel that way. What is important is we acknowledge our feelings and we try to go back to feeling normal again at the phase we’re comfortable with. It’s okay to express our fear to our friends and family so they can help us feel that we’re in a safe environment.

Most importantly, pray. While the building was swaying to the shake of the ground, God remained the steady figure that I could hold on to. At the time of the earthquake, I managed to send Mom a message, asking her to pray for us (by that I meant everyone affected by the earthquake, including her). I told my sister the same thing, but she was unfortunately on a plane to Hong Kong from Korea at that time. It’s true that when all else fails, it’s only God that remains. That’s how powerful the Lord is.