Life Update #2: PGH, My Brother and the Hobo(nichi)

A couple of things happened since the last time:

Hospital Confinement. Two weeks ago, my body decided it would be cool to get a cold and a cough, which was not really good given how my immunity was down and it could get really, really bad very quickly. Then I woke up on the third day of my cough and colds with what felt like a migraine followed by a bit of vertigo. My doctor wanted me admitted to a hospital so I finally agreed. First, we went to San Juan de Dios but found out that there were no vacant beds. Not wanting the time spent going there to be wasted, I had some tests done to give an idea of what was going on with me. Apparently I had a mild case of pneumonia. No antibiotics were prescribed as I was going to be transferred to another hospital so I went home to wait to be admitted to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Again, the hospital was packed. We were on the waiting list for four days before I was finally admitted and what we got was the Deluxe Room which was practically a suite. I stayed there for about five days which I spent most of just hanging out, being bored and getting fat. There were also some tests and examinations done. My meds were adjusted and apparently I also had benign positional vertigo.Β  I was released with instructions to rest for another two weeks.

Noel is Off to Australia. My first week back at home was surprisingly busy because we were preparing for Noel to leave for Australia where he is to study and work with the intention of staying. The arrangements have been going on for a few months now and now that we’re just waiting for his visa, it’s only really just hitting me that he’s actually going to be leaving soon and I have no idea when I’ll get to see him again. Sure, there’s Facebook and Instagram and things but it just wouldn’t be the same. And seriously, I don’t think I’m ready to have my brother be all the way in another continent. It’s just…unfathomable to me. So we’re just waiting. And preparing. That’s just all we could really do at this point.

#theroadtohobo2017. So people who follow me on Instagram probably already know that I plan my everyday life using an actual paper-based planner and that I’m also really into making it as fun for me as possible. This year, I’ve been using the green Moleskine planner from Starbucks as my main planner. I like the weekly layout and I think it suits my needs. I also happen to have a red passport-size Traveler’s Notebook from CN Paper Crafts which I bring around because the Starbucks planner can get pretty heavy. The Macata, which is the official name of CN Paper Craft’s Traveler’s Notebook, also has a copy of my weekly agenda and I use it to plan on the go. It also houses two inserts for notes, lists, and other things I just happen to want to write down at any time. It can even serve as a wallet in times of really wanting to save space and weight in my bag. I also used to keep a journal but I have fallen out of the habit around the time when I was starting to feel really crappy. I’m also pretty into sticking things into my journal so the journal ends up being really thick and heavy and I just leave it in the house. I miss it though so I want to get back into the habit and I want to be able to do it wherever I may be when the mood strikes. And so #theroadtohobo2017. I will be trying out the Hobonichi Planner (A6) next year. The Hobonichi planners are made with Tomoe River Paper which is really lightweight so it would be more convenient to bring around anywhere and that’s what I need, I think. My friend and I already put in our orders and I am really looking forward to receiving our happy mail. ❀ I even got a really cute cover and some accessories and everything to go with the planner. That’s how excited I am! πŸ˜€ I have no chill when I really enjoy something, haha. So that’s what’s been keeping me in a good mood these past few days. I’ll probably post more about my planners and other planner-related things in the future because that’s where my interests currently lie.

So that’s it for now. Sorry for the lack of pictures and the links to Instagram. Hopefully the next entries will be better.

Until next time. πŸ™‚

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4:15am on a Sunday at McDonald’s

I woke up at 3am to find my brother not in his bed.

Last night, he said he was going out with friends. This happens often enough so I didn’t really think about it and even as I lay awake, I wasn’t really worried. Either way, I texted him (Ei, asan k n?) asking him where he was. It didn’t take him long to reply. Apparently he had gone to the nearest 7-11 to get load for his cellphone. A few minutes later, he came back and all was well.

4am came around and I was still awake. My brother was too, I knew, so I called out to him, “Alam mo anong time nagsisimula breakfast ng McDo?”Β It seemed like a good enough idea to head off to McDonald’s for a very early breakfast. He answered that it should be available by now.

“Gusto mo pumuntang McDo?” Did he want to go to McDonald’s, I asked.

He said yes.

It didn’t take us long to get ready and soon we were stepping out into the cool early morning. My brother told me to wear a jacket before we got out and it was good advice. It was cool enough for a jacket certainly. It didn’t take long before he started talking, telling me about where he actually ended up last night and what he had been up to (at a hospital with a friend who dislocated his shoulder). As I walked through mostly empty roads toward our destination with him at my side, him doing most of the talking while I listened, I remembered how it had been forever since we’ve done something like this.

McDonald’s was not the quiet, mostly empty place we thought it would be at that time of the morning on a Sunday. There were people loudly talking and hanging out and we were both surprised. Nocturnal college kids from nearby dorms, chatty all center agents from their shifts, pumped club goers coming home from their gimmik–not the type of crowd we were expecting at all. We ordered and I paid for our breakfast then we headed to an empty table.The conversation continued on, him still mostly talking about all sorts of things about what has been happening in his life while I mostly just soaked it all in, his presence, his words. It really had been a while and I missed it, just being with him, just the two of us.

I hoped we can do that again sometime.

My brother is 22 with dreams of going abroad to find a life for himself and he’ll need around two years of working for it before he leaves. I know he can do it because I know how determined he is and it makes me proud that he’s doing his best to get there, planning and working all the time. It just still surprises me sometimes how much he’s grown up. It’s weird and great and also kind of sad all at the same time.

Finally! I Write About Our Singapore Trip!

Finally! I can’t believe I’ll actually get this done! I’m usually bad about blogging about my trips and there is no better example of that than my last trip to Hong Kong earlier this year. It’s almost the end of the year and I’ve yet to write a blog entry on it, so this is awesome progress!

Last week, from October 26 to 30, we were at Singapore. It was a special trip for a couple of reasons: 1) Noel was finally with us for an overseas trip. 2) It was also my first time in Singapore. 3) We were going to Universal Studios. And 4) We’ve got family showing us around! Look at some of our pictures from the trip at the very top of this entry. We had a lot fun, really. Singapore’s a great place to go on vacation. Here are just some of my thoughts concerning the trip and Singapore itself:

  1. Tiger Airways. They can probably give you the best budget rates for Singapore but also at a price. We discovered this just a few days before our trip. They emailed us that they were rescheduling our return trip to Manila as the flight we scheduled was canceled. Because of the rescheduling, we lost a whole day in Singapore which could have been spent going to more places or resting. Plus, our new flight schedule back to Manila was at sometime past 1am! Crazy! You could say that this is typical for budget fares but come on! Our original return trip schedule was a cushy 5pm! We tried to get a hold of their to call center service to see if it’s possible to make other arrangements, but it’s practically impossible to get a hold of them! It was awful. And on top of that the plane was cramped and the food was so expensive and wasn’t even that good. It was really unfortunate.
  2. Our Tour Guides. Β We had relatives in Singapore and we couldn’t be luckier. Kuya Josh, one of our older cousins, currently lives and works there so he showed us around. He was so accommodating the whole time we were there and the trip wouldn’t be the same without him. The first day, he toured us around exhaustively all around Singapore and guided us through the sometimes confusing paths and systems of the MRT and buses which we grew to enjoy. The next three days he wasn’t as present, but he was still just a text or call away if we needed anything. We also met more of our cousins who were younger there and their parents, Tito Alan and Tita Eeme. They also showed us around and even brought us to Malaysia for a bit to go shopping at Johor Premium Outlets. They were also very warm and accommodating, even having us rest and have dinner at their home. And our younger cousins were just fun and adorable. Kuya Josh, Tito Alan and Tita Eeme also shared some useful insights about living and working in Singapore which I think are quite valuable to Noel and I who may or may not find ourselves with an opportunity to find work there in the future.
  3. The Hot Weather. It’s incredibly hot in Singapore! I don’t think I was very prepared for the heat, but thank goodness I decided to bring two pairs of shorts with me. I don’t think I would have survived if I had nothing to wear but pants the whole time I was there. So for people planning to go, sun block, water and an umbrella are must-haves.
  4. Public Transportation and Getting Around. I love the public transportation systems in Singapore. Everything is just so clean and efficient. You can practically take the MRT everywhere you want to go and buses are easy enough to keep track of if you know how. I guess it’s a good way of compensating since owning cars in Singapore is pretty pricey. Having an EZ LINK card is a good idea if you’re going to be staying for a while or if you plan on going around a lot as it would help pay for your fares easily. Just give it a tap on the gates to trains or the designated place on buses and you’re good to go. I certainly found it very convenient as we went around using the MRT. Definitely better than buying tickets or whatever at each station or dropping notes for buses. And can I just say how I love how easy it is to get around using the online navigation systems? No wonder everyone has smart phones.
  5. Customer Service. Singaporeans are quite nice. They greet you with a smile and politely assist you when you ask for help. It’s great. I was kind of wary about customer service in Singapore since in Hong Kong people aren’t as warm. So it was a nice surprise to be greeted with a warm smile and a cheerful greeting when you approach shops and stalls to buy or inquire about things. Plus they speak English so even better.
  6. Filipinos! As expected, there were Filipinos most everywhere! A Filipina helped us buy coffee, another one served us our pizza and drinks in the hotel restaurant and two others assisted us with buying souvenirs! A Chinese sales lady even spoke to me in Tagalog when I was buying an umbrella! Filipinos are really everywhere and it’s kind of amusing. You’re sitting in the MRT and suddenly someone’s chatting away on their cellphone in Tagalog across from you. It’s kind of jarring but in a good way. Home is not that far away, it seems.
  7. Malls. Singaporeans also seem to be fond of malling and shopping if the sheer number of malls and outlets are any indication. I read somewhere that shopping is the second favorite pastime to eating so I guess the numbers make sense. They probably also love malls because of the air conditioning, haha. But then there are also the genuine merchandise from famous brands there. I actually found two designer bags from Kate Spade and Burberry and they were on sale but they both separately cost my salary for one month anyways. It’s nice to dream. πŸ˜€
  8. FOOD! You knew this was coming. πŸ˜€ Singaporean food is delicious and I love how the food scene in Singapore is also quite cosmopolitan. I love the local favorites, though, like chicken rice, cereal crabs, roti prata and kaya toast. S$1 ice cream eaten while walking down Orchard Road was one foodie experience I would always remember fondly. I would do a lot to get myself another cup or glass of kopi, cold or hot. Β I also love how it’s so easy to have access to Singaporean, Indian, Thai, Korean, Chinese and Malaysian food all at once if you go to food courts or hawker centers. A big bowl of noodles with dumplings, raw egg, greens and anchovies was my favorite breakfast there. Cold wintermelon lime juice was kind of weird but was kind of delicious after a while. And please, if you can, drop by Din Tai Fung for their signature (LEGENDARY) xiao long bao. You won’t regret it.
  9. Universal Studios. I think I may be disappointing you by saying that the best time I had in Singapore, after eating most everything I could get my hands on, was being in Universal Studios. Sure, I wasn’t really into riding the rides and I was definitely not into wandering around under the heat of the Singaporean sun but ANCIENT EGYPT. I love The Mummy movies and so I really enjoyed being in the Ancient Egypt zone of Universal Studios. I took pictures with Rick O’ Connell and the structures they had there. I even saw the Scorpion King and other Egyptians walking around. I didn’t ride the Revenge of the Mummy because I wasn’t really keen on roller coasters, haha. And I bought a souvenir, The Mummy notebook! I also enjoyed Far, Far Away. Too bad I didn’t get to take a picture with Puss. That would have been cute. We got pictures with Oscar, Bert and Cookie Monster from Sesame Street, though. I also got to watch the Streetboys perform which was a treat. πŸ˜€
  10. Changi Airport. It was huge. And unfortunately our check in was so early in the morning, we weren’t allowed an early check in so we can see most everything inside. The fun stuff are beyond the Immigration lines and that just sucked. Maybe next time.

Obviously, I would love to come back to Singapore someday, whether it be for work or vacation. I love how progressive it is and really has so much to offer, if only you get started well in terms of looking for work. Also, I was really happy that Noel was able to come along to an overseas trip with us because I really wanted him to see how different it is in other countries. We hoped that he would gain more insight about a lot of things from the trip and I think he did which was good. Here’s to hoping we have more international trips together in the future. πŸ˜€

An Unlikely Visit to Tatay

I was out for almost the whole day today and I spent most of the time (surprise, surprise) eating. I even have the pictures on Facebook as proof. However, I have another blog for such things so my foodie adventures from today will be posted there. Hopefully by tomorrow. As you can probably tell, I’m not really all that regular a blogger. This writing-everyday thing is going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I just know it.

But anyway. On to other things beyond how gluttonous I can be!

Today, we went to the cemetery to visit Tatay. For those who don’t know, All Saints (November 1) and All Souls (November 2) Days are pretty important holidays here in the Philippines. These are the days in particular when we go visit and pay respects to our beloved dead. It’s also a time when families get together for reunions, which doesn’t happen very often given how people are so busy nowadays. Unfortunately for me, I had work on those two days (See? Busy!) so I wasn’t able to go and visit our dead and meet up with our relatives. Because of that, we decided that we will visit Tatay this weekend.

Mama and I met up with one of my Titas, Tita Bong, for lunch and we ended up enjoying each other’s company so much, we ended up taking more time than we planned. Which was okay since Tita Bong had been out of the country for so long so we never saw her until then. Still, it was already past 3pm when we parted and we still had to go visit Tatay. We picked up Noel, my brother, then headed off. We had to take some time to visit our house in Binan too because there was a buyer and then we were off again when all business was done. It was already around 5pm then and it was starting to get dark.

By the time we arrived in the cemetery, there was almost no light out. The sun had set and the sky only had a few patches of light blue. The cemetery was already kind of deserted, especially since the cemetery staff didn’t bother to light the lamps even if it was the time when a lot of people were expected to come by and visit their dead. I guess they were trying to conserve spending for electricity but whatever. I still think that was kind of dumb of them, at least for this occasion. We’ve never visited Tatay’s grave that late before but somehow it wasn’t eerie at all. I guess it helped that the place wasn’t filled with graves as a lot of other cemeteries were and it was very well maintained.

Just as we got out of the car, it started to rain. It was just a gentle shower and it cooled the surroundings down. Midday heat has been ridiculous nowadays so this bit of rain was a blessing. It’s kind of superstitious, but I liked to think that it was Tatay being welcoming and happy as we stayed with him for a while and prayed. It really felt like he was right there with us and it was a warm, familiar comfort. The rain went on until we finished then headed back to the car to go back home.

Tatay, I hope you’re doing okay where you are.Β We miss you.Β We love you.