There are options

July 23, 2014 – 9:16 am -

I grew up believing that I need to finish school (with flying colors) to be employed by a company that could offer me a lucrative job. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that ONLY if it was presented to me together with other options. The scary part of my growing up years (I realized) is that it NEVER occurred to me that I can come up with my own business and be an employer years (even decades) before retirement age. I had a lot of misconceptions with regards to owning a business. I used to think that all you need is money to be able to start one. So you picture yourself getting your retirement fund and finally making your dream of being your own employer come true. Surprisingly, money is actually the least of your worries. Are you with me?

Let’s go back to the picture. So you consulted friends, relatives and successful business owners on what kind of business to invest on (missing the idea of even asking how did they actually became successful). You are eyeing the product/service, not the business system itself. If you’re lucky and the business is a hit (for now), you reached ROI in no time. Unfortunately, lack of entrepreneurial experience slowly dragged your business down. You then found yourself closing the business and saying goodbye to the last money you have.

What to do?

1. Know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you a visionary who loves to exploit new possibilities and has the passion for creating better future or an implementer who efficiently completes current work, solves immediate problem and into details? This is important so that you will know who to partner with or what type of people to hire eventually.

2. Have an investment fund where you can put money on a regular basis. If there is a need to make a loan, go for it. Just as long as financial feasibility has been established addressing cash flow and ROI.

3. Educate yourself through school, seminars, training and/or books.

4. Experience it. Don’t wait for retirement age, please! Don’t be scared to fail. And fail as many times as you can. Failing is worth all the money you lost. When you are losing during your salad days, you have all the time and energy to recuperate and try again (this time as a better business owner). My suggestion just to make the ball rolling? Join those networking businesses. Why? Because they offer FREE seminars and training on how to market and sell, you meet seasoned entrepreneurs and of course the hands-on training of trying to do it yourself.

5. Be humble enough to admit that you need more than yourself to succeed.

Now that I have 3 growing children, I try to educate them financially as much as I can. I tell them that life is not all about winning, what’s important is being a better person after every failure.

More so, I am opening their eyes to a lot of BETTER options.


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Barre3 chika

June 18, 2014 – 10:32 am -

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I finally had the time (and courage) to do what I’ve been wanting to for years, i.e. to do yoga on a regular basis. What actually pushed me to do it sooner than expected was first my bulging stomach. Hindi sya yung tipong, “Ang laki ng tyan ko” pero pag tinignan mo wala ka nman makita or di naman obvious. I am speaking of “salbabida levelz” na kahit anong inhale ko eh ayaw na nya sumunod, may sariling mundo. Second, my husband found a hobby he liked, which is golf. He’s been convincing me to join him pero hindi ko talaga type. He bought second hand golf sets for both of us, yung akin si Marcus ang gumamit. Then one day, I learned that he bought NEW golf set from the USA. Sira na daw kasi yung luma at mas mura daw kasi dun. Tama nga naman, pero kahit mas mura dun mahal pa din ang golf set! I told myself why not enroll at Barre3 which we see every time we went to The Spa. Yung ipang-enrol ko annual dun, yun na ang equivalent ng golf set. (Hindi maka-get over lol).

Fast forward to last week, I learned that Barre3 is not just yoga but a combination of yoga, pilates and ballet. At dahil tinatamad na ako maghanap pa ng ibang yoga studio plus the fact that I don’t need to buy yoga mat, I thought I might as well try. I bought 3-day trial package for P1,500. Kamusta naman, ang sakit ng katawan ko. As in yung muscles na hindi mo inakalang meron ka sasakit hehe. But well, I liked it. Kahit gusto ko mamatay every after session, the challenge is making me go back. The last 3 sessions I had, walang routine na naulit. So everytime I went there, I was wondering what will they be asking us to do. It was both a challenging and humbling experience. Humbling because even those bigger and heavier than I am can do the 60-minute session non-stop (or minimal), eh ako di pa tapos ang 8-counts ngalay/ngarag na.

I’d be honest, I really want to lose weight (or fats) while doing this. I don’t want to reach the point where I can no longer see my feet when I look down. And diet isn’t working for me anymore, mahina talaga EQ ko pag pagkain na ang usapan. But I am taking this one step at a time. I want this to be part of my routine forever and not just a one-time-big-time project.

Btw, next time na ang pictures, kapag kaya ko na mag-selfie with my abs chos! Bka pag nag-picture ako ngayun with Barre3 as hashtag bka masira ang marketing strategy nila. hehe

I’ve enrolled myself for one quarter which costs P14k (inclusive of The Spa membership). Wish me luck!

 


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El Nido as a surprise

May 27, 2014 – 1:57 pm -

One of the many surprises that God gave me this year was the El Nido trip. I didn’t plan for any local trip this year as I was too focused making our Japan trip happen. Actually I was too focused on ticking off one country after another that I didn’t give room for any islands in the Philippines. What I and Gary have in mind though is to look for a place where we can hold our Company Outing.

Everything happened so fast. Even before we left for Japan last April, I was able to book all 17 of us for just Php1,200 each round trip (all inclusive) from Air Asia! Thanks to one of our employees who was at that time looking for promo fares to Puerto Princesa (PPS). He, and another staff who grew up in PPS, were the ones who helped me with the accommodation, food and transfers.

We arrived at PPS lunch time. We ate at a known restaurant called Ka Inato, in preparation for a 5-hour land travel from PPS to El Nido via rented van. We reached El Nido around 8pm. Our accommodation was a dormitory-like Inn fronting the beach. And since we were too tired traveling the whole day, we had a relaxing dinner of assorted seafoods by the bay. Island hopping, snorkeling, kayaking and of course swimming was scheduled on the next day.

 

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We went back to PPS on the third day where we had dinner at Ka Lui and company meeting/planning session.

All in all, I think we were able to maximize our trip. We were convinced of El Nido’s stunning views and we were able to tick off known restaurants at PPS. Definitely there’s so much more to explore in PPS (Underground river for one), but that just gives us a reason to go back. One shade darker and one size bigger, I can say that Palawan should definitely be on your bucket list.

 

elnido


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How to make that fantasy trip a reality

May 26, 2014 – 8:53 am -

I haven’t met any person who told me he never wanted to travel. Each of us, I believe, has this dream destination in mind. Be it local or international, via land, air or sea, there is at least one location we wanted to see in our lifetime. In my case, I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been before. I have my list, yes, but I am open to any opportunity that comes along. You might ask, how do I make it happen (tagging my husband and three kids along)? Is money not an object to me, hell NO! Quoting Michael Jordan, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” In my case, I ask God to help me make it happen. How do I do it? Here’s a list on how to tick off items from your bucket list one by one.

Be specific

Assuming that you really wanted these trips for yourself (being half-hearted won’t bring you anywhere), you have to be specific. Don’t just say I wanted to travel, because it almost always end there. “I want to ride a gondola in Venice,” is way better. Make a bucket list of locations you really want to see or things you want to do. You may extend a little further and make an explanation why you wanted them so badly. Don’t limit that list based on what you can afford now or you foresee in the near future. It’s like limiting yourself on what God can provide for you. This list will help you decide where to go first when the opportunity comes. Here’s mine: See the World.

list

 (picture taken from the internet)

Plan for it

By this time you should have the list ready;

1. Make a timeline. Like in the next two-five years, which of those on the list are the most realistic place to reach or you wanted to see as soon as possible. Reminder though, having this list is just a guide. God has surprised me so many times by providing trips I’ve not included on my bucket list but ended up loving.

2. Save. Having no budget to travel is not an excuse for you to stop dreaming. Believe me, it took a lot of patience from me to wait for the right time for me and my family to have the chance to travel. Going back, have a ‘travel account’ where you can put any amount each payday. This will definitely fill the gap between where you are now and where you wanted to be. Another thing, when you have the budget specifically for travel, you wouldn’t have to think twice if you’re going to get that discounted airfare or not. Planning has saved me a couple of bucks already from purchasing plane tickets to booking accommodations months before the actual trip.

3. Be informed. On your leisure time, educate yourself about travel (destination, budget, safety, security, visa, language, means of transportation, culture, tourist spots, food, do’s and don’ts etc). There are so many things to consider when you travel (especially as a family). Read articles/books, subscribe to airlines that offer discounted fares, check sites that offer lower accommodation rates.

4. Ask for it. Pray for it and keep the faith. You’ll be amazed how God can transform those dreams into reality, usually far better than you can imagine.

 

Go

Ask yourself, “When was the last time I did something (or went somewhere) for the first time?” Whatever’s stopping you from going now won’t matter in the future. Just as long as you have sufficient resources to make it happen, then do it.

travel

 (picture taken from the internet)


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Universal Studios Japan

May 21, 2014 – 9:09 am -

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Second day, we woke up an hour earlier than the previous day, in short late pa rin! I was not in a hurry though because I am not fond of rides (sorry kids!). I thought we’ll reach Universal Studios before lunch but Gary decided to book our trip to Tokyo via Shinkansen (bullet train) first. Good thing that Universal Studios is just two quick train rides away. What I like about most first world countries, they made sure that train stations would stop exactly where tourist spots are. So literally, pag baba namin, Universal Studios na. We don’t have a family picture though because I find it time consuming to wait for the set-up of tripod.

 

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We were not able to maximize the trip because waiting time was sooooo long. The roller coaster (Hollywood Dream – The Ride) alone made Marcus wait for 3 hours! Lia rode the carousel and Elmo’s little drive while Zach rode the Sesame’s big drive plus watched 4D Spiderman with Gary. As for me, I was forced to ride Snoopy’s Great race (roller coaster) because Marcus convinced Lia to try it. It was Lia’s first time to ride a roller coaster.

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Highlight of the day was when Lia saw Hello Kitty. Star struck ang lola. She didn’t want to leave Hello Kitty while the boys were tagging me to move on. Wala sila magawa kasi all out support ang stage father.

hellokitty

 

Before we left, we watched the Magical Starlight parade. Verdict, the experience would have been better if the waiting time was cut short. Even if you go there early, you’ll get tired of long queues eventually. Or better yet, we would have bought express tickets.

Weather was hot in the afternoon but come 6pm it started to get really cold with light rain fall.


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Osaka Day 1

May 2, 2014 – 7:16 am -

We arrived past 9pm at Kansai airport, went through immigration, exchanged some of our dollars to yen, rode an airport limousine bus for an hour from Kainsai Airport to Osaka and reached our hotel past 11pm. We decided not to go to Universal Studios yet the next day so that we don’t have to wake-up early, instead have a relaxing first day tour.

First Destination: Osaka Castle.

Before we even reached the train station (by walking), we decided to have our first meal of the day at a Ramen house. The night before, we ate at Yoshinoya and bought Mcdonalds’ meals for kids. We were so tired we didn’t want to explore their food just yet.

Sa train pa lang, nakakakita na ako ng cherry blossoms. I almost slapped my face just to convince myself that I am really experiencing the Cherry blossom season in Japan. When we finally reached the park near the Osaka Castle, I was so excited to go under one of the cherry blossom trees and take pictures.

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Then we saw foods stalls. We tried their Yakitori (grilled chicken meat and vegetables speared on sticks), sausages, egg cakes and kara-age (chicken thighs). Imagine this; eating japanese street food and drinking japanese beer on a cold weather under the cherry blossoms! winner!

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First day pa lang I already had enough of cherry blossoms, magsasawa ka talaga sa dami. But yes, they were SO beautiful.

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In the evening we went to Shinsaibashi. It is a long covered street full of shops. It’s also where you can see the famous Glico running man neon signboard.

Day 1. Japan check. Japanese street food check. Cherry blossom check. First day pa lang sulit na. lol


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Where do I begin?

April 23, 2014 – 3:26 pm -

This is my dilemma after our 15-day trip to Japan. I don’t know where to start. To start the ball rolling though, I decided to make a summary instead. I plan to write anything that comes to my mind. So please bear with me.

I was expecting that the weather would be around 14 deg C, unfortunately it went down to as low as 6. Eh ginawin ang lola nyo, patay! Thanks to Uniqlo, we were able to shop for clothes. Uniqlo is not an expensive brand, plus cheaper in Japan, so gorabels sa shopping. We layered our clothes so that we can still wear them here in the Philippines. When I found an Isetan in Osaka, I was excited to go inside thinking that they have cheap but nice clothes, unfortunately, their Isetan is comparable to Rustans. Kaya yung bilis ng pasok ko sa mall, ganun din ako kabilis lumabas lol!

There’s so much to see (and eat) in Japan. So if you have few days to spend there, say a week, I suggest you go straight to Tokyo. There are temples, palace, city life, parks, disneyland, shopping district and a lot more tourist spots to explore in Tokyo. Plus, other cities in Japan are accessible from Tokyo station. In our case, after Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto, we were already tired when we reached Tokyo. Don’t get me wrong though, it was worth seeing Osaka and Kyoto, but if it means spending a day or two in each city, it’s not worth it. Nakakapagod! Not to mention that train fare is very expensive. So either you have two weeks (or more) vacation, or visit each city at a time. Kobe and Kyoto are near from Osaka (an hour or so away using train). But Osaka is 3 hours away from Tokyo (bullet train), 10 hours (by bus). Bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo costs around 6k pesos one-way.

Electronics, watch and bags are cheaper there. They have lots of stores which offer second hand as well.

They have lots of sweets in a box. I admire how they lovingly wrap each of those like gifts in every purchase. As much as I’ve wanted to bring home more of those Japanese food, Gary already bought 11 bottles of liquor (add those to the perfumes and chocolates that we bought). Ang OA na ng hand-carry namin!

Japanese people don’t understand much English, but they are really nice! I tried memorizing some Japanese words (excuse me, sorry, how much, etc) but they didn’t stick to my mind, all I remembered were Arigato (Thank you) and Do Itashimashite (You’re welcome). So whenever I ask something, I removed all the linking verbs and they understood better, like “Where Toilet?” lol

I admire Japanese people, parang ang OC lang nila. It’s clean everywhere and organized. They don’t have much trash cans around, sometimes nothing at all, for them to bring their own garbage.

We ate Ramen most of the time, especially in Osaka. Their Ramen is basically soup with noodles, seaweed and pork. Wala nang iba pang arte. They usually eat Ramen with gyoza and fried rice. Parang ang takaw nila diba? But they are all fit. Maybe because they walk a lot. Also, most Japanese restaurants seldom serve soft drinks and juices, they give free cold tea or water, that’s it.

My whole Japan experience was like living between a dream and reality. I have to remind myself a lot of times that I am already in Japan. It was definitely worth the wait. :)

 


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Daily Itinerary

March 8, 2014 – 6:08 pm -

One of the requirements for Japan Visa application is the daily itinerary. Of course it doesn’t really have to be the exact plan, like for us who don’t want to be tied with schedules and group tours. But the places you plan to visit within the day should at least be realistically close enough. In short, I have to do a little research just to come up with this document.

So here’s the list (minus the exact date, contact number, flight and accommodation details – just PM me if you’re interested), it might come handy in the future.

Day 1. Arrive Osaka

Day 2. Universal Studios Japan

Day 3.  (Tour around Osaka) Osaka Castle + Aqua LinerRiver Cruise

Day 4. (Tour around Osaka) Shopping Districts; Shinsaibashi-Suji, Umeda Shopping Arcade, Den Den Town

Day 5. Travel from Osaka to Kyoto.

Day 6. (Tour around Kyoto) Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Kiyomizu Temple

Day 7. (Tour around Kyoto) Maruyama Park and Okazaki Canal

Day 8. (Tour around Kyoto) Kyoto International Manga Museum, Shijo-dori shopping, Gion

Day 9. Travel from Kyoto to Tokyo

Day 10. Tokyo Disneyland

Day 11. Tokyo DisneySea

Day 12. Sanrio Puroland

Day 13. Mt. Fuji day trip

Day 14. Travel from Tokyo back to Osaka

Day 15. Return home from Osaka to Manila

It was a tough decision between spending more days at Disneyland and touring around Tokyo especially when @qtbelle started sharing links to Tokyo Disneyland. Knowing Gary though, he can just tolerate a day each in Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Sanrio Puroland, that’s it. I know because he didn’t even agreed to go to Disneyland Paris even if we stayed there for 10 days. I didn’t complain though because there’s so much to see in France. So I don’t think Tokyo DisneySea would be feasible anymore.

The parks I chose are known for best viewing of cherry blossoms. I also would want to see castles and temples. With regards to the Mt. Fuji day trip, I would let our tour guide (Gary) to decide on it. I am not sure if it would be adviseable to bring kids near Mt. Fuji. Not that it would be erupting anytime soon, but if it would mean a lot of walking/hiking, I’ll let it pass.

During my research, I learned that Gion (Kyoto) is a geisha district, not to mention a place where collection of streets defined by its old wooden buildings, teahouses and exclusive Japanese restaurants are still present. So this is definitely a must for me.

We also plan to experience riding the bullet train on our way back from Tokyo to Osaka.

Don’t expect though that the actual Japan experience would be similar to what I planned it to be. It would depend on our tour guide’s mood, own research and the realities around Japan. I’ll keep you posted.


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Japan Visa Application

March 4, 2014 – 5:47 pm -

I find Japan visa application easiest compared to all the other visas we applied for. Maybe because I got used to the whole visa application process, or maybe because for the first time we let an agency process our application. We don’t have a choice not to do the latter because Japan embassy does not accept direct visa application (except for special cases), but only through accredited agencies. My father who’s been to Japan recommended Universal Holidays Inc. They charge Php2,500 per application. Good thing there was Travel Expo held last Feb so they offered their visa processing services at a discounted price of Php 900. Can you imagine how much money we saved for the 5 of us?

Now for the documents that we submitted:

Gary:

1. Duly filled-out application form

2. Old and new passports

3. 2×2 picture with white background

4. original birth certificate (NSO issued within one year)

5. original Marriage certificate (NSO issued within one year)

6. personal bank certificates

7. (proof of business) Business permit, SEC registration, ITR  and company bank certificate

8. Daily Itinerary (activity plus contact number and address in Japan)

9. Plane booking and accommodation (I prefer booking at booking.com because they have rooms with free cancellation)

 

Me:

1. Duly filled-out application form

2. Old and new passports

3. 2×2 picture with white background

4. original birth certificate (NSO issued within one year)

5. personal bank certificate

 

Children:

1. Duly filled-out application form

2. Old and new passports

3. 2×2 picture with white background

4. original birth certificate (NSO issued within one year)

5. School certificate

6. Photocopy of school ID

7. Letter of Guarantee (We as parents guaranteeing that we will support all our kids’ expenses during the travel)

 

I am glad that I don’t have to photocopy all the supporting documents (including the passport and previous visas granted) and attach them to each of our application. (I really find it waste of resources)

We submitted the documents to UHI. 2 days after, we received an email informing us that our passports are ready for pick-up the next day. I went to Dusit Thani Hotel where the UHI office was located and thankful to see Japan visa stamped on our passports. Btw, we were given single entry for maximum of 15 days stay.

Lord, Domo Arigato!


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