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“World Bank sets ‘expiration date’ on poverty”

Two children beg on an pedestrian overpass in Manila

When I was little, I always wondered about the beggars in the streets, how they ate, how they slept, and how they felt about life in general.  I felt sorry for them and felt guilty that I ate three meals a day, had a  house to sleep in, and had a chance to go to school.  I used to give the street kids/adults some coins when I had the chance but I was told that they would just buy rugby or some cheap drug so I shifted to giving them simple foods like biscuits instead.

As I got older, I envied my classmates who were rich.  They didn’t seem to have a care in the world and during recess, they could buy whatever they wanted without counting their money first, unlike me.  I knew exactly how much I had and I had to budget my money wisely.

A little later on, before my financial awakening, I realized that I was actually lucky to be in the middle because I had a choice.  It was up to me to choose if I wanted to have a better life.  I had all the tools that I needed, including a little money, to get where I wanted to go.

Yes, even those living below poverty have this choice but they don’t have the tools to better themselves, maybe they have resigned themselves to their situation and lost hope, or maybe they just need a little inspiration from us to change their mindset.

In my own little way, I have started to share what I’ve learned about managing finances and investing to my workmates and friends.

I really wish to see a Philippines that is free of poverty in 2030.  May God bless the leaders of the World Bank in this endeavor.


Photo courtesy of http://www.philaid.org

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The Summer of White Beach and Windmills

Happy Sunday everyone!  I woke up today with Mr. Sun on my face.  I usually sleep in during Sundays but Mr. Sun just wouldn’t let me!  My first thought for the day…”I wish I was at the beach.”  Since I couldn’t just get up and go, I decide to reminisce a bit.

One summer a few years ago, a couple of friends, JY and I planned a northern adventure.  Our friends decided to brave the 10- to 12-hour land trip from Manila to Laoag while JY and I preferred to take a 45-minute flight via Cebu Pacific.  When JY and I landed in the small, charming airport, we went for a 2-hour drive to reach our resort.  It was a bumpy ride since the roads leading to the resort were yet to be developed but it was survivable.  We were greeted by the picturesque mountains on the left and inviting white-sand beach on the right.  I couldn’t wait to dip in the clear, blue waters!


We stayed at Kapuluan Vista Resort (http://kapuluanvistaresortandrestaurant.com/).  It had a nice facade, with a lookout balcony, and several bungalow-type “huts”.  It was nestled at the foot of the mountain and faced the South China Sea.  Its centerpiece was an above-ground pool surrounded by palm trees, which swayed with the wind, and wooden beach chairs.  We got the dorm-type room which did not have A/C but was quite cool and airy.  Wind came in through the door and was supported by a giant ceiling fan.  Although there were also air-conditioned rooms, we decided on experiencing the fresh air of Ilocos (plus it was less pricey!).  There was also a complimentary breakfast everyday with several choices, including the famous longanisa (Philippine version of chorizo/sausage).  We could have actually spent our whole vacation just at the resort!





But of course, we didn’t!  We saw the sunrise in our front yard and walked a few meters to the beach.  The waves were quite big and intimidating but we dove in anyway.  I heard that this beach was the perfect location for surfing… too bad nobody in our group knew how to surf!  I learned that you had to jump with the waves after several episodes of being washed ashore against my will, with sand and little rocks inside my swimsuit.  We were fortunate enough to swim on the first day as on the second day, there were a lot of jellyfish on the shore and in the water.  That’s why we drove to nearby Saud Beach and spent the day there until sunset.




On our last day, we went to see the Bangui Windmills. I didn’t know we had windmills in the Philippines and I was in awe of the gigantic turbines.  Mr. Sun was scorching that day so we decided to take some regular and some wacky pictures quickly.




It was definitely a trip worth repeating.  Just a few tips to enjoy your trip to Pagudpud: Bring extra cash as there are no ATMs in Pagudpud, put on sunscreen, wear sunglasses, light clothing, a hat, and comfortable shoes/flip flops, bring at least a decent point-and-shoot camera, and wear a one-piece bathing suit if you want to brave the South China Sea waves!!!

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The Culprit

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I have a confession to make and it’s something that I’m ashamed to admit.

I’m allergic to my cat.

Clogged/runny nose, teary eyes, itchy throat, raw skin under the nose, and boxes of tissue…yep, I’m allergic.

But who can resist those big “puss-in-boots” eyes, that tender “mew”, or that sweet curling on the lap/chest? I really can’t. I’ve passed all the stages of coping…denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, I’m there, acceptance.

Well, I would just have to take an antihistamine forever if I have to.

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Halo Halo!

“The heat is on, the heat is uh-on! It’s on the streets, woohoo! The heat is on!”  These lyrics couldn’t be more apt.  You can literally feel the heat rising from the pavement and baking your skin.  The highest temperature in the metro so far has been 35.4 degrees C.  So last Saturday, my significant other (JY) and I drove to Icebergs to soothe our parched throats and “hot heads”.

Halo halo   Iceberg2

With great anticipation, I ordered the specialty of the house…(drum roll) halo halo!!!  Halo halo is a well-known dessert/snack in the Philippines.  It is primarily crushed ice, milk and sugar with sweetened banana, red beans, nata de coco, kaong, young coconut strips, jack fruit and sweet corn topped with leche flan, ube (purple yam), and pinipig (pounded rice flakes).  Sometimes, it is also topped with vanilla, ube or mango ice cream.  It’s called “halo halo” because you “mix, mix” all the ingredients together.  The result is a yummy, refreshing, and filling concoction.

My order finally arrived and I must say, my halo halo did not disappoint!  I felt better and better with every bite.  Good bye crankiness and hello calmness.  I could feel the endorphins flowing through my body.  Aaaah.  I looked up to check on JY.  He looked happy and content with his Mais Con Yelo (sweet corn with crushed ice, milk, vanilla ice cream, and mango ice cream) as well.  Looks like we’ll be coming back next Saturday!


Indonesian Breakfast

Indonesian Breakfast

Fruit loops and Mocha Cappuccino, not your typical Indonesian breakfast but what my sister lovingly prepared for me everyday during my stay.  Thanks sissy!

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Terima kasih Indonesia!

On the Wednesday before Easter, I hopped on a plane, positioned myself to sleep, and woke up in another country.

Touchdown Jakarta, Indonesia!  Although it only took 15 minutes through immigration and baggage claim, it felt like forever.  “Excited” was an understatement!  I was full of anticipation for the next four days of pure bonding and fun with my sister and her family.

Since my nieces, ages 9 and 5, were already asleep when I arrived at their home, Sissy and I did a little catching up while munching on M&Ms and strawberry jam sandwiches.  We got carried away and ended up turning in at almost 4am!  When I woke up the next day, it was already 12nn! Talk about a waste of time, but well, I was on vacation, and I did love to sleep.  I didn’t even wake up on my own.  My nieces were already knocking on my door.  After a quick lunch, Cassie (the 9-year-old) and Carissa (the 5-year-old) immediately took each of my hand and promptly pulled me to their room.  We built towers with pillows and placed their stuffed animals in the “windows”.  They had a particularly red round bird.  And yes, you guessed it… we played Angry Birds.  A few hours into this, they got bored, went to a corner of the room, and discussed in hushed tones their next itinerary for me.  “I know! Let’s go swimming!”  Cassie said.  “That’s what I’m talking about,” I thought.


We got into our bathing suits and made our way to the Shangri-La Hotel pool (they lived in the Shangri-La Residences).  The pool area was dotted with towering palm trees, beach chairs, and giant umbrellas.  There were several guests sleeping in the chairs.  Some guests were just lazily swimming around the pool.  The overall atmosphere spoke “peace and quiet”.  In my mind, I was already floating on my back, zoned out or lounging on a chair staring into space half asleep.  Apparently, the girls had a different agenda.  “Ninang (godmother), let’s play mermaids!” Gulp.  That’s not what I had in mind but…okay.

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The next day, I got to try some local dishes like Nasi goreng (fried rice), beef and chicken sate, bakmi (noodles), gulai (curry), wonton (fried dumpling), lumpia (spring rolls), and fried catfish and tilapia.  The dishes were almost similar to Filipino dishes except that most of them were sweet and spicy.  After our very hearty lunch, I felt a bit woozy but it was a nice feeling.  I learned several words like pak (mister), bu (ma’am), terima kasih (thank you), and gratis (free).  I was quite impressed how my sister and my brother-in-law conversed in Bahasa  so well.  Of course, my vacation would not be complete without shopping!!! We went to the outskirts of town to a well-known factory outlet.  It was the sisters’ bonding time, much to the dismay of the little girls.

On my third day, we went around the different malls in the city for some “pasalubong” (presents) shopping for my friends.  Sissy and I decided to buy snacks like spicy cassava and jackfruit chips, tom yang oat chips, and spicy lumpia since my baggage limit was only 20 kilos.  I had a feeling the little girls were not happy with my two-day shopping stint so I took them night-swimming.  We were happily swimming when Carissa screamed, “Lizard!” and we ended up in the Jacuzzi in the women’s dressing room.  They found two “treasures” in the Jacuzzi (which were actually tiles!) and gave one to me as a souvenir.


On my last day, Cassie and Carissa were excited about something… Yes, The Easter Egg Hunt.  They invited some friends over with their parents.  We put assorted candies inside plastic eggs and the grownups hid them in the outdoor playground.  The kids had a blast hunting for the eggs while the grownups enjoyed the pizza, french fries, mozzarella sticks, chips, soda, and ice cream.

When we got back to the apartment, it was almost time for me to go.  Sissy got the girls ready for bed while I packed my suitcases.  I went into their room to say goodbye.  Each little girl clung to my side.  I hugged them tight.  I fought back the tears and bid them good bye.


I really wasn’t able to go around much but then again, this trip was all about bonding.  Nevertheless, terima kasih, Indonesia! ‘Til next time!

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