San ka na Dio?

This trip was inspired by I’m Drunk, I Love You starring Maja Salvador and Paulo Avelino. Unrequited love is my favorite trope (Hello Labs kita, okey ka lang?) so of course the film made me emotional. I know how Carson feels towards Dio. Is it safe to say that we’ve all been there? There’s just something romantic (or masochistic haha) about one-sided love especially if you’re not emotionally blackmailing the person into reciprocating your feelings. What I appreciate most about the film (aside from the soundtrack) is its fresh take on an old trope –more than Carson trying to win Dio over and the two of them ending up together, it focused on Carson processing her emotions and getting them out of the way.

IDILY is an ode to alcohol and friendships and silly emotions you thought you’d never grow out of. I’ve curbed down on my drinking but I wanted to go to the nearest 7eleven and buy myself a Red Horse and Butterball after watching. Personally, I don’t think being bestfriends with the opposite sex while remaining platonic works (in the words of Mr. Chow, feelings can creep up just like that. How much more if there’s regular encounter diba?) but Maja was so charming and natural in the movie that I did not even bat an eyelash. Still, boundaries are helpful. If you’re doing something for someone that you wouldn’t normally do for your other friends, it’s time to assess the situation. It’s tempting to let our emotions drown us (I’M GUILTY!) but the head is placed higher than the heart.

My favorite scene is the ending — Dio and Carson drinking beer on the balcony, Carson looking at Dio, Carson realizing something and bursting out laughing leaving Dio clueless.DDI4H_yVoAAAQgvYikes haba ng intro lels. Anyway, back to the trip! This happened in March. We rented a van and it turned out to be a UV Express. Aside from standing out and hearing strangers joke about it (“Ayan pwede na tayo umuwi ng fairview“), the air conditioning was bad and the seats union (35)In addition, our driver was not informed that we were going to La Union (labo diba?) so he just drove and drove. We woke up in a town just 30 minutes away from Vigan. Good thing my companions were already used to mishaps happening during trips. After contemplating heading straight to Ilocos, we just laughed about it and went back.

First stop was Bahay na Bato. We arrived earlier than the operating hours. Thank God the staff let us in. Also, no other visitors yet, yay!la union (30)la union (34)We stayed at The Circle Hostel. This is not advisable for families and picky travelers but since we were only spending one night, it was a good deal. The place is literally just for sleeping and taking showers and you’re really just paying for a bed that you even had to change the mattresses of. When you’re young, luxury is a foreign thing. Sans the long lines in the shower with earth hour looming in the background, it’s union (57)Really wanted to sleep on these hammocks but they were fully union (36)The common area of the hostel where you can charge your phones, take a nap, and befriend strangers. The number of your buddies on a trip is inversely related to your excitement to meet people. At that time there were eight of us, I think, so no new friends were made during that weekend hahaha!la union (37)I am amazed that their bunk beds go as high as 3rd floor!elyuula union (9)Hindi ako ang nagsulat union (10)It was so hot during midday that ice cream melts faster than I can eat it. Walking through sands was out of the question because I’m not interested in firewalking. We just found a shade and sat there, looking at the waves and wishing for the sun to union (38)la union (39)la union (41)After lunch we went to Tangadan falls. The habal habal ride en route is the most thrilling one of my life so union (47)la union (48)I tried Nga Nga and partly regretted it. Betel Nut chewing is popular in the Cordilleras and other parts of Southeast Asia. la union (53)Lime was covered in Betel leaf. It was only after I put it in my mouth that the guy realized he forgot to include the Areca Palm Nut (people forgot a lot on this trip). Anyway, I also popped that in my mouth, was instructed to chew until I feel something and spit out my excess saliva lest I want to be poisoned. After a minute though, I could no longer contain it so I spit everything out. It burned and tasted gross. I was told the effects would be similar to that of drinking 5 bottles of Red Horse or even better (or worse). Guess I’d have to try again next time, hopefully with a better union (51)No trip is complete without food and there were a lot of restaurants in La Union I wanted to try. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time. I did the math and realized I’d only be able to eat at 4 or 5 (out of a dozen on my list hahaha).

Surf Shack. Really appreciate the spiciness of their wings!la union1El Union Coffee. The dirty horchata was refreshing! The Smores can be easily recreated at home. And I really don’t have a sweet tooth so I prefer a sweet drink with salty food. Or a sweet dessert with sour union (8)Had breakfast at Flotsam Jetsam. While my friends had -silogs, I decided to be pretentious and ordered from Makai bowls. It looked appetizing but my taste buds aren’t wired to appreciate these kinds of things yet. I ended up only eating the bananas and oats. Next time I’m ordering Bangsilog which looked and tasted good with all its fats and calories!la union (7)I love watching sunsets at the beach. It doesn’t matter if there are a lot of people or none, whether it’s noisy or silent. As long as I hear the waves crashing, it is not raining, the sun is going down, and the sands are cooler, I’m good. la union (59)Who goes to the beach without swimming? Me! The only time I got went was in Tangadan Falls and the only part of my body saltwater got into contact with are my feet. I was supposed to try surfing but Emman did not wake me up. He reasoned that if I really wanted to, I should have jumped out of bed the moment I heard the alarm. Pero fam, di ko narining yung alarm and I thought we’ve been friends long enough for you to know na tulog mantika ako 😦 Ayway, I’ve berated him for that transgression many times and he’s union (27)I don’t mind looking after possessions while friends union (1)Swimming is prohibited past 6pm in Urbiztondo union (3)La Union at night! It’s somewhere between Boracay and El Nido. Establishments are popping up and a dozen decent drinking places are open till the wee hours but it’s still not too crowded. la union (4)la union (5)ADVANCED HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEH! Thank you for the dinner ❤la union (6)Shared a bucket with my high school friends afterwards over conversations about life, love, and anything in between. We’ve known each other since puberty and it’s comforting to know that the friendship is still alive and kicking.

Ma-Cho temple in San Fernando on our way back to union (13)la union (15)la union (16)Ronald chillin’ at the union (17)We stopped by a grape farm! The only pasalubong I bought was a bottle of wine for myself. It’s still sitting in the refrigerator, hopefully it tastes better the older it union (20)The entrance fee (200, if I remember correctly) was a bit steep especially when you’re only gonna take pictures of vines but since it’s a first for all of us and there aren’t Napa Valley-level vineyards in the country, we still union (24)See what I’m talking about when I said it was uncomfortable? Anyways, what’s done is done. Next time I’m taking the bus!la union (18)P.S. No bagnet was eaten during this trip. That’s one thing I don’t like about the film, it made us crave for bagnet and gave us false hope that it was abundant in elyu. We already knew bagnets were from Ilocos, not La Union. But since Carson said so, we still went around looking for one. To no avail *insert heartbreak emoji*.

‘di na babalik

Just a friendly reminder that not everything is as good in real life as it is in social media.

Travel is such a hip thing nowadays it’s impossible to scroll through my newsfeed without coming across someone on a holiday. And since one of the ways we are tempted is through our eyes, I’ve been a victim of these too-good-in-pictures-just-meh-in-real-life posts. This experience, however, is one of the worst.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Philippine Hot Air Balloon Festival. With thousands of carefully curated and filtered pictures online, it has crossed your mind to go and visit. I’m warning you, unless you’re going to ride the balloon or go skydiving, spare yourself the disappointment.

Looking back, maybe the circumstances surrounding our visit — no sleep, had to stand in the bus during the 2-hour trip to Pampanga, etc — aggravated the situation but still, it’s not worth anyone’s effort unless you like being trapped in an open field with thousands of people under the heat of the sun.

Good thing I was with Fae, who doesn’t let minor (and sometimes major) things get in the way of our quality time together. So thankful that we were in the company of each other because we’ve been through worse. Imagine if I went with people I’m still building relationships with, I’m sure there’s nothing left to build afterwards hahaha.

Being fond of DIY trips, we decided to walk-in and not avail of those travel deals abundant online. As with everything, there’s a downside. We overlooked the fact that the festival is attended by hordes of people and all trips would be fully booked. Hence, we took our chance and went to the Victory Bus Liner terminal in Pasay at 2AM. The lines were already long and you can actually tell that majority were headed to Clark for the same purpose. Anyway, that was one hell of a bus ride. I was sleepy AND standing. At some point I didn’t care anymore and just lay down the floor.

When we arrived it was still dark and cool. Pero ang dami ng tao kaloka! We had siomai and noodles for breakfast because it was one of the very few stalls already open.IMG_3335IMG_3336IMG_3481Nakangiti pa kami rito, kung alam lang namin…IMG_3489Based on the schedule of events we were given, the hot air balloon flights will only be held twice. One in the early morning and another before dusk since temperature plays a vital role. If you want to know how these thingamajigs work, just remember something you learned in 4th or 5th grade: warm air rises, cold air sinks 🙂

And I rarely get to see sunrise so every single one is appreciated ❤IMG_3568Before the hot air balloons, there were sky exhibitions of some sort which I really couldn’t appreciate save for this one with the Philippine flag. The others were a mixture of “ano na ginagawa nila?” and “nasaan sila hindi ko makita” hehe.IMG_3585Our excitement grew while the balloons were filled with hot air. And Jollibee stopped by to make things better. Gets ko yung ngiti ni kuyang naka shades.IMG_3379One by one they started rising in the air. It was still cool at this time and for 10 minutes or so, I appreciated the view and clicked away at my phone.

Was it a pretty sight? Of course.

Will I travel for 4 hours round trip and pay 350 pesos for it? Hell, no.

Okay, once. But not again unless it’s free and I get to ride the balloon. The #goal is Cappadocia in Turkey!IMG_3388IMG_3437Everyone was asking everyone else to take their pictures, pang IG.IMG_3634“Fly or fly not, there is no try.”IMG_3637And before I knew it, it was over. The balloons didn’t even rose at the same time. Some were already far while others were still flat on the ground. If there’s one thing I liked most about that festival, it’s the sight of everyone looking up to the skies.

After the short-lived spectacle, the crowds were at a loss on what to do next. By this time, it was starting to get warmer despite it being February. Cza and I roamed around and had our picture taken in an overpriced photobooth with bad editing skills. Anuna bes?IMG_3550There were a lot of food stalls, mostly the same things we see in shopping malls so we really didn’t feel like eating there. Yup, I was wearing pajamas dahil wala lang, fresh off the bed ang peg ko that day. This picture was taken before the balloon flight. Now, look at the ground and imagine a thousand pair of feet walking through it. I thought the smog in Manila has toughened me up pero iba ‘to. Literal na “Dust in the Wind”. I may be over reacting but everything was brown I was reminded of the sandstorm scene in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol!IMG_3531It became too crowded especially towards the exit. You know it’s bad when people are itching to leave even though it’s not even 9AM. This ice cone got me through that ordeal.IMG_3467After walking for close to an hour because vehicles were in a standstill and paying 50 pesos for a tricycle ride that didn’t even last 5 minutes and 2 kilometers, we arrived at SM Clark only to be told that we had to wait till 10 AM before the mall opens. HAHAHA could this day get any worse?

Fae and I sat at the parking lot, agreed this trip was a fail, laughed at ourselves, and thought of things to be thankful for. We came up with three. First, that it’s a good thing we didn’t join tour groups because there’s no way we’re staying there till afternoon. Second, that we were a little closer to home and our beds. And third — what I’ve been telling since the third paragraph — that we’re thankful we experienced it once but we aren’t coming back.IMG_3475After eating Chinese food from a mediocre restaurant inside the mall and catching the earliest bus leaving Dau Terminal for Manila, we went home and put this all behind. Another story to tell. We’re giving it some time, hoping it’d be funny in the future. But right now, four months on, it’s not quite there yet.

Food photodump 11

It’s 1:15 AM. I have to be in Mendiola at 5:45. I haven’t done my AccRev2 assignment. I slept at seven pm hoping to wake up at 1 am so I can survive the day that is to come. Alas, I woke up past 9PM to my father loudly speaking on the phone and I couldn’t go back to sleep so I spent the past hours playing Everwing, my new addiction. I’ve only been playing for a week but I’m already past level 40 and my 3-star dragons are on the way. Eto na naman tayo, wasting time on things that are of no eternal value. It was a long weekend thanks to the 119th Philippine Independence celebration but my father arrived from the province which means all my plans of studying in advance (or catching up, really) went down the drain. Also, I said goodbye to my 1 week old diet and just today, went on a Binondo foodtrip. Last week I averaged 4-5 hours of sleep per day thanks to my practicum in the morning and classes in the afternoon — well into the night during MW. I may have to get by on less this week. With everything that’s been said, you’d think I’d be more wise in prioritizing things (like sleep, or my assignment), yet here I am posting my eleventh food photodump just because I wrote it in my BuJo (will talk about this discovery some other time) and I would really really love to highlight it as done.


This one was from Buffet 101 last January. During Christmas season, buffet restaurants are filled with families, usually with a couple of balikbayans who are, most of the time, the ones who foot the bill. We were no exception (thanks tita maro!). The selection was decent though based on experience, you never really feel good after a buffet, you feel so full your stomach might burst. Or maybe that’s just me. What I’d really love to see in spreads is a yogurt station ala llao llao. I’d pay for a place like that.IMG_0846Desserts. Sometimes you get more than what you can eat. Or bite more than what you can chew. Or whatever.IMG_0854What stood out for me was their shake. I forgot if this was green mango or guava or star apple or what. All I remember was that it was sour, the perfect pampatanggal umay!IMG_0870Another eat-all-you can is Tajimaya, still at SM Mall of Asia. I ate here with my father and sister. Since the latter isn’t a heavy eater, she opted for the ala carte menu. We were warned that she couuldn’t have even a bite of the food from the buffet or else, she’ll pay the 600+ pesos. We were so annoyed and offended because more than two waiters were obviously lurking around waiting to catch her. Schwes even told me she overheard the manager berating the staff to be on the lookout for guests violating the rules. K fine.IMG_1671The meat was tender though I don’t think I’ll be back because I don’t like eating at buffets with time limits (in Tajimaya’s case it was an hour). The one hour isn’t even for ordering, eating is included. Ang hina po kaya ng apoy niyo. They expect us to wolf down the food without even taking the time to enjoy it.IMG_1058Roast Chicken and Mushroom Fusilli from Coffee Bean. Ekkkk, I’d take their Spicy Tuna Linguine or Spinach and Cheese Ravioli over this anytime. Good thing it was bought with my reward points or else I would have sulked over money wasted.IMG_0950Some days I just crave for Angel’s Burger’s hotdog. Cheap and satisfying. It doesn’t get better than this.IMG_3159In unloving memory of all the salt, fat and MSG in these. Anunarani?!?!IMG_1261So I delude myself into thinking I can eat healthy once in a while and it will set off all the junk I feed my body haha. Gardenia wheat bread, some ham, lettuce, and cream cheese. Ooops, still not healthy after all.IMG_3249THIS IS A DISGRACE TO SALT AND VINEGAR CHIPS. IT’S JUST SO MILD.IMG_3246One of the junks I eat. I read somewhere that pop corns are actually healthy. I bet they are but not if they’re packaged, microwaved and flavored with butter.IMG_3251For days after my El Nido trip, I was craving for crepe so I frequented CrePes and Cream. I tried to recreate the Nutella banana we always ordered and this one even had vanilla ice cream but it’s just not the same. Baka nag iinarte lang tastebuds ko because I was in a mall hahaha. Still delicious though.IMG_3222Even though I try hard not to because it’s hella expensive for my budget, I still went back to CoCo Ichibanya. This time I had their Mushroom Omelette curry and it was so good T.T The tomato soup I can live without. I now have a thing for mushrooms even though I didn’t touch the fungi for most of my life!IMG_3239Thank God I am no longer frequenting RobMan as much as I used to (primarily because my bebe is gone lels). A lot of new restaurants and stalls are opening and most of them, though delicious, aren’t exactly budget friendly. Paper Moon is an example. Dear Japan, y u make good food perfect?IMG_3294Every bite was a delight! My first taste of crepe cake was from a food market in Makati years ago (thanks Pagsy!). I thought it couldn’t get any better than that. I was, of course, wrong. Another thing that feels wrong is the fact that a slice (which was just right bordering on small) of this heaven costs 225 pesos 😦IMG_3295Pag wala na talaga, softdrink plus overpriced manga and bagoong na lang sa foodcourt. Then I’ll slightly regret the decision when it’s time to go to the bathroom.IMG_3297Valentines was spent taking my finals and then spontaneously going to Tagaytay with classmates. I remember the February weather with fondness because I love it so much! It was cold enough to wear a hoodie. It was even colder in Tagaytay! First stop was this famous ice cream, Buffy’s. It was pricey but you can taste the freshness, I’m not kidding. We had my two favorites: Ube and Vanilla.IMG_3921Tapos medyo napasubo sa dinner hahaha. I forgot where we ate but the bulalo in Mahogany Market is better and cheaper. I think people visit this place because of the view of Taal but we went at night so no view for us, only the chilling air ❤IMG_4001While we were in Binondo a while ago, Pangs mentioned that this restaurant we visited already closed its doors. I remember the food was decent but I wasn’t surprised because the place was too big and I remember it was void of customers.IMG_2996I think Wong Kee was the name and we only went there because their dimsums are 50% off during lean hours hehehe.IMG_3002Saks lang.”IMG_2998All the food we ate and it wasn’t even the first restaurant we went to!IMG_3001Dong Bei stuffed pancake! I still like Dong Bei even though I believe it’s overpriced haha. I think first timers are sometimes surprised with the hospitality (or lack thereof) of waiters in Binondo. Some are even rude but I’m used to it and even totally understand them at times. Try working in the service industry at minimum (or less than minimum) wage and let’s see what you’ve got.IMG_4566I’ve been frequenting Binondo for a long time I no longer need to read the lists sprouting here and there of foods to try in the area. I already have my favorites. Once in a while though, out of curiosity, I still drag Pangs to look for new places to eat at. This was an example. I forgot the name because the buttered chicken was also forgettable. Charet.IMG_4577David’s Tea House — the place we go to when we don’t know where else to go.IMG_1222Of course a stopover at Salazar’s only for the Tikoy with monggo filling!IMG_1213Another visit to Binondo, not with Pangs this time! Happy to see AC after close to 5 years! Happy to meet Camille! Most of all, happy to celebrate with Trishia on her special day 🙂IMG_4331Since it’s only Pangs and I most of the time, we don’t usually order viands meant for more than two people. This is one perk reserved for dining with friends. Can’t believe I’m saying this but I. LOVE. THE. BROCCOLI. Whoa my mother will be proud. IMG_4370Quick Snack afterwards. The place was renovated!IMG_4300Yet another eat-all-you can. This time it’s at Urameshiya in Little Tokyo and the specialty is Wagyu beef cubes!IMG_3104Trust me, I was so excited to try this because I’ve heard so much about Wagyu. Then, during our meal, I realized something. No matter how much people rave about melt-in-your-mouth beef, I still like my protein to require me to put effort in chewing it. I really enjoyed the first few bites but on my sixth piece, maybe, I started craving for good old liempo!IMG_3129For some reason this fish reminds me of characters cooking their own food and eating in Murakami’s novels.IMG_3861Ichiba at Newport Mall! The place is very IG friendly. This makes me want to go back to Japan. Everything makes me want to go to Japan, actually.IMG_4101I still have to learn how to like cold soba noodles. Also, it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be (something I wish I could say about more restaurants!). Or I am just inclined to order the cheap items out of habit hehehe.IMG_4093The takoyaki was what stood out for me 🙂IMG_4089And the dessert! Side note: I tried the matcha soft serve from Tsuijiri in S Maison a few days ago and I’ll never look at matcha soft serves the same way again.IMG_4094Arla recommended a KBBQ place in Malate for Tan’s birthday and it has easily become my favorite. The name is Tong Keun So and it is located along Remedios circle, on the second floor of a building with “Big Bang” lights!IMG_4968They have set meals for meat and I always order the cheapest at 990 pesos good for three persons. Sulit na bes!IMG_4974The side dishes are on point. I actually only look for four things: the spicy soup, kimchi, egg, and lettuce. It was one of the best korean bbq meals I’ve had, definitely better than Chosun and Maru and MakChang and KPub! The merit of the restaurant is evident in the abundance of customers. I’ve visited at different times, sometimes as late as 2 AM (because they’re open 24 hours) but the place is never deserted!IMG_5006Red Table at SM Manila. Obviously, the ramyun was instant.IMG_4840Forgot the name of the one on the left but it was a new offering and everyone’s favorite.IMG_4842Uncle Moe’s Shawarma! Hindi lang shawarma ang masarap, pati shawarma rice. Malamang!IMG_4454Uso pero di namin maubos. Masyadong matamis at wala kasing gatas.IMG_1192Back at Tap Station with denden! Broccoli is slowly rising in my “veggies I like” list.IMG_3310Hizon’s! This is more like my kind of meat. Also, I remember the conversation I had that day with Chabs and Tordy which made the already pleasant meal better. Definitely one for the books 🙂IMG_3879Except for the way the egg was cooked (I’m a scrambled egg person), Sisig Hooray is perfect. It reminds me of the sisig place near St. Paul when I was in college where I used to buy my lunch during weekends, only better! If only it wasn’t unhealthy.IMG_4085Munchkins X Ice Scramble ❤page3I paid less than 50 pesos for everything on the left! It was a lugawan near where I live. Meanwhile, the Flaming Wings in Katipunan sucks. Sa Taft pa rin ako!page2What I usually eat during lunch break at school. Unhealthy, but fast and cheap. Is it obvious that I love Liempo? I really do.page5The picture on the left costs 99 pesos! It was a promo in the food court of Harrison Plaza. Pictured on the right are the superior foods from Coffee Bean.page22Can’t remember the last time I ate at Yellow Cab! Buti na lang andyan ang nanay ko to pay for it wahaha.IMG_6874My 3 little pigs charot. Labyu!IMG_6876I salute whoever came up with the idea of MY STUFF in respect to solo diners!IMG_4611Thanks to a Facebook post about Pancit Batil Patung, I saw my beloved high school friends one Sunday. We missed home and since Pancit Cabagan isn’t as popular as its neighboring pancit, we settled for this Tuguegarao pride to mitigate our homesickness.IMG_4654IMG_4735It was subpar but familiar.IMG_4736Pwede na pero ‘di na babalikan. Parang pag nagising ka sa katotohanan. LUH!IMG_4738Lastly, this, my friends, is Mang Inasal’s version of a Super Meal. You know the ways to my heart, JFC!IMG_1308The clock says 2:43 AM. I’ll contemplate if I can still do my assignment (with Everwing in between) then hopefully dose off for an hour or two so I can function later. I’m not getting any younger so I’m sorry body, I’ll try harder next time.

This Bird Has Flown

I just finished the book I bought on our first date. It was June. I was nervous. You were running late.

From shelf to shelf I looked for something I hope you’d enjoy, something I can lend to you after I’m done. I guess I liked you enough to think about afters. That was quite new and scary for me.

I put off reading it figuring there’s plenty of time. A second date followed. There wasn’t a third. We stopped.

Now it’s May and you’re nothing more than the guy I was waiting for the day I bought Norwegian Wood.

I left my heart in El Nido

I should really try harder to write about trips within two weeks from the time that they happen if I’m still going to use “relive old memories” as an excuse to blog. As days and weeks and months go by, the number of words I could type and details I remember become less and less. Jotting down notes helps but there are times when I no longer understand the stories behind random words written in haste.

Take for example my El Nido trip with Dai and Ariel a few months ago. I remember planning the post in my head — the conversations between me and the boatmen, how our group in one of the tours was composed of six couples and myself, why I craved for crepes for a month after leaving, why it’s best to visit during summer, how unforgiving the waves are during January, and so on. Now I barely remember anything except the fact that El Nido — its vibe, sidewalk restaurants, gear rentals, foreigners, beaches, limestone cliffs, and friendly locals — charmed me. More than anything, I now understand why people hail Palawan as one of the best islands in the world.

Dai has been inviting me to come with them since last year but I wasn’t sure about my schedule and also wasn’t too keen on visiting El Nido because Batanes and Coron were on top of my list. Honestly speaking, I only said yes because Dai, knowing her parents wouldn’t allow her to travel with her boyfriend without a chaperone, said she’d pay for my one way fare hahaha. Also, the dates coincided with my school’s foundation anniversary so no classes! Armed with a backpack and what’s left of my Christmas money, we explored for five days (or was it four? See, I can’t even recall -_-). img_1352We flew via Puerto Prinsesa Airport which was still a six hour van ride through zigzag roads to El Nido. I thought years of passing by Dalton Pass increased my threshold but I still felt nauseated during our land trip.img_1355Arriving past midnight, we had a hard time looking for our homestay amidst closed shops. Good thing a group of Brgy. Tanods helped us find the way. I like arriving at night because you have no idea how close you are to the water until you hear the sound of the waves. It reminds me of a scene in Y Tu Mama Tambien where the characters, after fighting the night before, wake up to a beach that fits the description of what they were looking for.img_1359Unlike Boracay where you can swim on the mainland, in El Nido, you have to go to the smaller islands for a dip because there are a lot of boats docked and the shoreline isn’t that long. It gets really crowded in the morning thanks to tourists waiting for their rides. There are 4 main island hopping tours available namely A, B, C, D which usually start at 8AM till 5PM. The rates are standardized with a discrepancy of a hundred or so pesos depending on your haggling skills.img_1375We availed of all four tours but weren’t able to visit Hidden and Secret beaches because it wasn’t safe. I thought my boat ride in Guimaras was scary but it was nothing compared to Palawan. The waves were big I was expecting to see some tunneling. At one point, everyone was silent and holding on for dear life.img_1399All tours are inclusive of lunch cooked by the crew en route to your destinations. They’re all pretty much the same — grilled liempo or chicken, shrimp sauteed in Sprite, squid, fish, eggplant ensalada, rice, fruits, and soda — even after four days of eating the same thing, I’m still not sick of the menu. In fact, I’m craving for it. Definitely one of the things we looked forward to hahaha.img_1385Tapos gawin mong sabaw yung sawsawang toyo, tapos magkamay ka, tapos nasa tabing dagat huhu.img_1593Matinloc Shrine.img_1464img_14601img_1538This was the entrance to the hidden beach. I know I always try to put on a brave front and say things like “minsan lang tayo andito, try na natin” but I was scared to even leave the boat haha. We were all Filipinos in our group that day with a kid or two and as much as we deny it, we’re not the most adventurous race so we just watched these brave souls swim to the tiny hole amidst crashing waves with awe and respect and thoughts of wanting to learn how to swim.img_1599To top it off, the boatmen had a hard time removing our anchor and after close to an hour of futile effort going round and round and pushing and pulling (which only worsened the situation) and the boat falling apart, they just cut it off to the dismay of the boat captain.img_1614If there’s one thing you need in your El Nido trip aside from sunblock, it’s aquashoes! It’ll make your life more comfortable. The sand is fine but once you get in the water, it’s another story. The going rate for rentals is 100 per day but I got mine at a discounted rate of 70 pesos since I paid for four days.img_1655I also learned how hassle it is to have a drone camera. Yes, the shots are amazing but it’s too much effort. One of our tour mates (not pictured below) even dropped his because the earlier versions don’t have the automatic avoidance feature so it collided with the cliff and fell into the water. Ouch.img_1668Payat tayo sa anggulong ito.img_1681Pizza and pasta from Artcafe. The pizza was good. The pasta, not so much. A bit overpriced.img_2694Entrance to Cudugnon cave.img_1985Another small entrance with the guide showing us how to roll.img_19993img_2094img_2096Lover’s in Snake Island. We arrived late so it was already high tide. Hence, the sandbar is not very prominent.img_2105An ingenious use of shells.img_2111THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.img_2129Tours A and C are the most popular and recommended if you have a limited time in El Nido but my personal favorite is Tour D especially Cadlao Lagoon. A crew explained to me why the water isn’t clear, something about the proportion of saltwater to seawater — another thing I forgot 😦img_2187img_2178img_2251In one of the islands, we climbed a cliff. For others, it might be a relatively easy hike. Heck, it’s not even Taraw Cliff, just a lesser version of it. But months of sedentary lifestyle plus X kilograms gained made it a lot harder for me I wanted to give up halfway but I didn’t have a choice. I am amazed by how strong limestones are! Even the thinnest didn’t crumble under my full weight plus the increased pressure of my trembling knees.4img_23207The view on top made up for all the scratches and bruises I had.img_2414img_2388Our days in El Nido typically went like this: Wake up early, breakfast care of our homestay, island hopping tour till 5PM, wash up, walk around while looking for food to eat and things to buy, go back to our homestay, play pusoy dos, sleep, repeat. I wasn’t complaining.

Our dinner in one of the paluto along the beach.img_2399A lebanese food I got curious with while walking.img_2408Summer (even in January) isn’t complete without fresh fruit shake.img_2401During our trip to small lagoon, we saw a boat on fire while the crew were cooking their guests’ lunch. For a minute there I was scared because the boats were docked very near each other it’s not far from reality for them to catch fire too.img_2492DCIM101GOPROG0412612.My favorite destination next to Cadlao Lagoon is Small Lagoon where you can rent a kayak and explore the place. While paddling, I couldn’t help but thank God for letting me witness the beauty of His creation.img_2528img_2538DCIM101GOPROG0422759.Big Lagoon.img_2571DCIM101GOPROGOPR2836.Fearless.img_2578Third wheelin’DCIM101GOPROGOPR2854.Thanks Dai for always holding my hand whenever we snorkel because I couldn’t swim even with a life vest on. Labyu!DCIM101GOPROG0482999.Usually, we don’t talk with our fellow tourists in a tour group. We just mind our own businesses. But on our last day, everyone was cooperative and in the mood to socialize. We had lots of fun.DCIM102GOPROGOPR3270.Water fight!DCIM102GOPROGOPR3278.We even went reverse train train on our way back to our boat 🙂DCIM102GOPROG0553290.A recurring theme during our trip is me asking our boatmen for their real names because they were giving me things that are obviously fake. Then one of them slapped me with the truth: “e kahit naman sabihin namin, ‘kuya’ pa rin ang itatawag niyo kaya wag na lang“. Now I feel guilty for not remembering a single name of the fun and competent crew we had.img_2608I miss walking these streets. Not much is happening. It’s developed but not too developed. There are stores where you can buy necessities but there’s no loud party on every corner. I hope it stays this way. I hope it doesn’t lose its charm when I come visit again.img_2653Best burger in El Nido from a corner store near the beach. img_2657And I craved for crepes because there’s an abundance of stalls selling one. Even the butter and sugar variant is so good after a day of swimming but our favorite is the Nutella banana. After arriving in Manila, I visited Crepes and Cream to satisfy my craving but it’s just not the same. Luh!2This was our view every single day for breakfast at the rooftop of our homestay. The food was basic — tapsilog, tocilog, hotsilog and another log I forgot — but Kuya was always a welcome presence. I don’t remember his name as well but I do recall that he was originally from Manila (he worked in one of the restaurants in Binondo) until he decided to settle on this island.img_2942We bypassed PPS to explore El Nido so the underground river would have to wait. But we had lunch at Ka Inato restaurant where their inclusion of PWDs in the staff gets a plus point for me.img_29653Ms of a good meal: Masarap. Marami ang serving. Mura.img_2970Pusoy dos while waiting for our flight which was, of course, delayed. We had separate flights going back. Dai and Ariel still with AirAsia while I flew with Cebu Pacific.img_2984The famous Ube Hopia from Baker’s Hill. I think we finished one box while waiting for our flight hehe.img_2985Thank you El Nido! I promised myself I’ll attend this year’s school festivities because I’m (hopefully) graduating but I don’t regret anything.DCIM100GOPROGOPR1074.

Food Photodump 10

Since I have this habit of procrastinating during critical moments (i.e. finals week aka now), let me make myself feel a little better by posting another food photodump to make it seem like I did something worthwhile today. I promise to finish the laundry later. And read a page or two so I can reach today’s quota of productiveness. Pardon if this post is unusually incoherent, mema, and sabaw.

Two classic favorites: Kenny Rogers Solo B with Mac n’ Cheese and Sour Chives Potato as sides. And every Filipino’s favorite, Chicken Joy and friends! Over the past months it has surfaced that you can actually ask for extra sauce for Jolly Spaghetti free of charge. I tried doing so in one branch but I was asked to pay 14 pesos to which, of course, I declined. On another occasion, I tried again at a different branch (because I like my spaghetti masabaw) and the crew gladly obliged. Now I don’t know what’s true anymore.food4I’ve been frequenting the food court at Harrison Plaza because the stalls there offer decent, affordable choices. If you’re not too snob about authenticity, there’s Korean, Japanse, Filipino, Filipinized shawarma and siomai, and my current favorite: Vietnamese. I always order beef pho and spring roll. Sulit because they’re under 150 bucks and that includes softdrinks!img_4912Last year, the Aristocrat along Roxas Blvd offered buffet breakfast for less than 200 pesos! I thought it was too good to be true but of course there was a catch — it was only available every Friday from 1:00 AM to 6:00 AM. While reviewing for finals (naks), Nicole and I dropped by after CBTL Adriatico closed for the day. The spread consists of Lugaw, fried rice, adobo, scrambled and sunny side up eggs, tocino, bangus, and tinola. As far as I can remember, there was no free coffee but there was unlimited soda, just the kind of drink you’d want in the morning haha. It’s not the best breakfast buffet but for the price, I really have no right to complain.food1Buddy’s at Fishermall. I appreciate that the pizza had a lot of toppings, Lucban longganisa is always welcome, and the pork viand called Hardenera was a pleasant discovery. It’s like pork and other innards plus egg in a llanera.img_4633Event though there are already a lot of decent Korean places in Malate, one night with TLW, we still decided to go all the way to Makati (not exactly far but still…) to try Dong Won because it is allegedly one of the best in the area. It looks like a house converted into a restaurant and Korean products like frozen beef and packaged seasonings are also sold.

We ordered two meat variants and dolsot bibimbap. First off, the banchans were disappointing and they weren’t even refillable. We didn’t get to cook our meat and they were kind of dry. I think we could have had better with the amount we spent on other restaurants.img_5907The bibimbap is another story. We don’t always order this because we usually settle with meats, tteokbokki, and ramyun. At first we were grossed out — the ground meat and egg yolk were raw and the stone bowl didn’t seem hot enough. We mixed everything but it still looked unappetizing. However, after one spoonful, we were converted. It was unexpectedly delicious! We ended up strictly following the order of whose turn it is to have a bite, para walang lamangan.food7Wingstop! I personally think it’s too expensive for wings because it wasn’t exactly the best I’ve had (Flaming Wings Taft pa rin mga ulol). The only reason I’m going back here is to avail of my buy one take one coupons from the Coffee Bean planner 🙂img_5311Teresita’s at SM Manila. Still better than Razon’s in terms of food. In terms of halo-halo, well, I have a soft spot for the latter.

Pictured right is Bangus in Mall of Asia where we had dinner during schwester’s first Manila layover. Ironically, one of their specialties is Crispy Pata and it was really good. The only bangus we had was bangus lumpia and it was my least favorite among everything we had haha.food5Irish Potatoes. You know how when some fries get soggy you no longer want to eat them? This one is the thick variant. Maybe it was because of the cheese sauce, bacon and mushroom, but for some reason, even though it became soggy after a while, we still enjoyed eating it ala mashed potato. If you got curious about the name and assumed that these particular potatoes are Irish, they’re not. Read about it here.img_6143Sometimes you think most restaurants serving Filipino dishes are not very different from each other. Then you come across Manam. This place brings comfort to comfort Filipino food. It’s recommended for both the adventurous and the careful because the menu is divided into into “Classics” and “Twists”. Plus, I love that their servings come in three sizes — Small, Medium, Large good for 1, 3, and 6 persons respectively — because customers can be alone or in big groups.

Had the opportunity to dine in their Greenbelt branch with Trishia last year (yeah everything here happened last year, told you I’ve been slacking).

We had House Crispy Sisig, Pancit Molo,  and Turon of Mango and Kesong Puti with Ice Cream from the Classics while we chose Ensaladang Namnam from Twists.img_5345Everything was delectable but my favorite is easily their dessert. It was salty and sweet, hot and cold, crunchy and soft. I think it’s one of my favorite desserts ever and I’m not  a desserts person.

I haven’t been back since because their branches aren’t exactly places I frequent and I’m no longer the type of person who goes to a faraway locations with no other agenda except to eat at a particular establishment. But I’m already excited for my second time and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be adventurous enough to try their famous Watermelon Sinigang.food2Ate Meg told me that the best Takoyaki she ever tasted was from Osaka in Japan where the snack was first popularized. I didn’t know that 10 years ago when I was in Osaka and I’m not returning anytime soon (no budget huhu) so I’ll settle for Hokkaido Takoyaki in SM Makati. They’re so good and filling you can order six pieces and make them a rice meal substitute.img_5364BLK 513 is a yogurt place famous for their charcoal yogurt (I think). It’s really good plus there are a lot of toppings and syrups to choose from. And there’s the novelty of eating black yogurt.

It has long been known that the Japanese can appropriate food and make it better. I’ve seen from watching animes that the characters are fond of eating Japanese curry and I remember all the ready-to-eat curries in supermarkets but my first actual taste of it was only late last year. In true Japanse fashion, I went alone, sat on one of those high stools facing the kitchen, and ate using only a spoon. Thank you Coco Ichibanya for opening a branch at Robinsons Manila! I hate that you’re expensive (need to shell out 300-500 for a complete meal) but I love that I can still taste the curry when burping even after hours. Whenever I eat here I promise myself never again because I get too full and it’s too pricey for a single meal but then when the craving kicks in, I succumb to it anyway huhu. Pictured below is pork cutlet with egg but the one with mushrooms is also good because also, I like shrooms now.food3Last December was one of the few instances when I traveled outside Manila for the sole purpose of eating out. But then again, I met with college friends who I haven’t seen in a while so it was forgivable. Besides, I’ve been curious with The Frazzled Cook in Tomas Morato — it was consistently in the Top 100 of Booky, the app I use for checking out restaurants (works offline too!). Since it was Christmas season and none of us thought of reserving seats, we had to wait more than an hour for a table, the restaurant was full even on a weeknight. Good sign, bad for patience.img_6786We were only 8 but we ordered the set meal for 10 hahaha and there was an unfortunate incident involving the health of one of us so we weren’t able to finish everything which was unfortunate because the food was flavorful — from the mushroom soup, herbed chicken salad, pizza caprese, tenderloin nuggets, grilled salmon with mango salsa, and spicy shrimp pasta. That dinner was costly only because we shared for what’s supposed to be divided by 10 but I think the overall price of the menu is acceptable, a steal, even. I wish someone invites me to eat at Frazzled Cook again so I’ll have an excuse to commute for more than an hour.

Thankfully, we were given a private room because nothing has changed, we’re still boisterous and I’m sure other customers would have been irritated by our crassness.img_6795Since some ramen places are too expensive, I am thankful for Ramen Kuroda! I’ve tried all three of their broth variants and my favorite is Aka, the spicy one. Least favorite is Kuro because of the garlic oil. It’s savory and the noodles are thin and firm. Plus the eggs are cooked just the way I like it. I have no complaints. Stick with the noodles though because their curry sucks 🙂food6A restaurant opened in my hometown and of course it generated a buzz because the place was sosyal, it was right smack in the middle of rice fields accessible through Maharlika highway, and the food was allegedly delicious which justifies its Manila-level price point.

The place is called The Simple Table and I visited last Christmas vacation with high school friends. It occupies the whole 3-storey building and I must say, it was aesthetically pleasing. The air conditioning is also strong which was very welcome (and almost unheard off apart from Jollibee) where I came from.

When it came to the food, uhm, trust me, I tried to really like it because I’d love to have a place to recommend to visitors or celebrate special occasions in. But it was a miss or meh for me. Especially considering the price. We had two pastas and a pizza. They were average at best. I guess I’ll be back to order their bestsellers which were unavailable during our visit or too expensive for students/young professionals. I’ll bring my mother with me next time. Not my father because he abhors overpriced food haha.img_2117Their saving grace is the Matcha cheesecake. It was so good it can rival any other cheesecakes from the big city!img_2121The young pro with three students.img_2157Wala lang, singit ko lang ‘to dahil namamalengke kami minsan sa Lipa at bigla ko itong naamoy. SINUUBAN!!! SOBRANG BANGO, SOBRANG SARAP IULAM SA MAINIT NA KANIN!img_2317And I only found out last year na iba pala ang buko sa macapuno. Yung macapuno ganito ang itsura pag hinati sa gitna. Mindblown!img_2328Much as I hate it, I need to end this post on a sad note. I was walking along Adriatico last year when I saw this. I did not believe it at first. I checked whether I was on the right street and asked a security guard how long has it been closed, if it was only closed for renovation or for good. It was for good. And I was heartbroken. Still a bit heartbroken.

Good thing I haven’t been frequenting that area. Goodbye ChickenCharlie, thanks for the memories, the good food, and the friendliest store crew ever. I don’t even know her name but I hope to meet her again somewhere. Her smile is like sunshine.img_4971

Rani’s Adventures in Skincareland

Discovering skincare is like falling into a rabbit hole and being transported into another realm where hyaluronic acid, no matter how sinister it sounds, is a good thing. And if you’re not careful, it can become your idol like how it became mine.

I believe the genes controlling my skin are pretty good (thanks parents!) because all my life, it was the least of my concerns. Never crossed my mind that my blog would have a beauty section. I eat a lot of unhealthy foods that will make Gwyneth Paltrow faint, I use the same soap on my face and body, I don’t put anything apart from Pond’s rosy white day cream, I’ve never had a facial. Heck, I don’t even wash my face before bed yet I can count on one hand the number of times I had a breakout. And even I am surprised when I get a pimple which would eventually leave without any trace. Safe to say, my face is pretty low maintenance (and neglected). All I did was wipe it with my first menstruation and I’m set for life hahaha.

Or so I thought. I forgot one of the biggest enemies of mankind, one we’ve been obsessed with since i-don’t-know-when, and one which causes women to part with their moolah faster than light: aging!

I think it was last year when a friend pointed out that I had wrinkles around my eyes. Due to the fact that I was trying too hard to blend in with teenagers, the comment deeply unsettled me. I began searching for ways to minimize the lines I already had and prevent the ones I’ll eventually have. It lead me to the use of sunscreen. Since I’m a newbie with no experience whatsoever, I sought the help of strangers through online reviews and after a few clicks, I found myself in beautymnl‘s website. Just like what a song in High School Musical says, it’s the start of something new.

My first ever purchase included Biore UV Aqua rich watery essence, allegedly Japan’s #1 sunscreen, and KissProof lipstick just because it’s cheap.

I fell in love with Biore. It had a powdery finish, citrus-y smell, and is super light I don’t have to wait for it to be absorbed by my skin. In yet another proof that humans are beings of habit, I can no longer go out in the sun (never liked it in the first place) without putting sunscreen on — it feels like I’m committing a heinous crime. Yes, even when I am only going to buy something from the nearby 7eleven, I have to put on sunscreen!IMG_5549As for the KissProof, it’s super matte and also super dry. Even though it doesn’t smudge, I won’t buy it again.122312You know how, when you first discover something, you are so eager to try and know everything? I was amazed with the new door that was opened. There were things like toners and essences and ampoules etcetera. There was a product and recommended ingredients for flaws that I never even knew were flaws. Most of all, I was mindblown when I found out there’s a 10-step korean skincare regimen! And people are actually diligently doing it! I spent hours reading through Google results and a reddit thread specifically for Asian Beauty! I couldn’t wait to try everything and see the results.

Thank God for the limited funds because it taught me to prioritize. Hence, my second BeautyMNL haul included safe choices.

There’s no way in hell I’m doing the 10-step we’ll never know so I settled with three — water cleanse, tone, and moisturize. The Tony Moly cleanser lasted close to one year which was super worth it because if I remember correctly, I bought it for less than 200 pesos. Meanwhile, Celeteque is a good brand that I still go back to time and time again. Plus, it’s cheaper than its Korean brand counterparts.IMG_6015The nose pore strips and eye zone mask I did not buy again.IMG_6021As I dug deeper, I got curious about about face sheet masks and how they work (something about forcing your skin to absorb the essence faster because of the wall the mask is creating). The first flavor (?) I tried was this one from SkinFood. It was relaxing, all right. Perfect after a long day. You just put it on and pamper yourself.img_8819Then I tried another brand, The Face Shop. I was enticed by the word “firming” given that I started this all out of a wrinkle comment. I also got curious with face mists so I tried the green tea variant. I may be exaggerating but it was like discovering a stream in the middle of a desert. I love spraying it on my face especially in this unbearable heat. Before, whenever I see people spritzing this, I roll my eyes and think it’s just water. I TAKE MY WORD BACK IT IS NOT JUST WATER BECAUSE HOW CAN IT BE SO REFRESHING?!?img_9397It was during that time that The Face Shop had a buy 5 get 5 promo on their face masks so of course I hoarded. There are a lot of different ingredients I get dizzy reading about them but I don’t remember feeling anything special from using this bunch, just your regular face mask sheet. I use them twice a week. Once if I get lazy because of course I still get lazy I’m not a robot.img_1142There was a point when I decided I’d crossover to make-up, another world different from skincare. I tried the tinted sunscreen of Belo Essentials because I read it doubles as make-up primer, whatever that is. Ekkkk I wasn’t even able to finish this tube. I’m not ready for that world because I hate the stain on my uniform’s collar. So I still stick with my first love in skincare, Belo SunExpert SPF 40 sunscreen, and use it alternately with Biore. img_9156The thing about skincare is, the more you know about it, the more flaws you see in yourself. Take for example blackheads. I didn’t think much about them before. Duh, they’re nothing more than clogged hair follicles? I’ve tried nose strips sporadically and honestly speaking, I only do them because seeing the blackheads on the strip afterwards is oddly gratifying. But some Korean brands aren’t satisfied with one strip alone, their version has three steps: for opening the pores, removing the blackheads, and minimizing the pores. If there’s so much fuss about such a tiny detail then it must be important. So I became conscious. A good one-step strip if three is too much is this Jeju Volcanic Lava Nose Strips from The Face Shop.img_1796My three-step routine expanded to include serum and eye cream. And I was too impatient for the BeautyMNL delivery that I tried buying at physical stores.

I recommend the Avalon Organics Facial Serum because it did brighten up my face. However, I am not a fan of the eye cream. I didn’t see any difference after using it for weeks, it just stung the eyes. I remember getting teary-eyed the first few times I used it. I read somewhere that skincare products especially organic ones like these two last longer and are more effective when refrigerated.

I’m a sucker for sale so when Nature Republic, another Korean brand, had a 10+10 promo on face mask sheets, I impulsively bought two boxes huhu. I prefer the royal jelly over blueberry. I also refrigerate them only for the sole reason that they’re more soothing when cold.

The SkinFood Strawberry Black Sugar Mask Wash Off is something I use once a week to exfoliate. Just like everything from this particular brand, it smells so good! img_1706Even though I buy new products while the ones I’m currently using are only half-empty, I still make it a point to squeeze out every last drop before I start with another. An exception is the Avalon eye cream because I think it got bad as evidenced by the strong citrus-y smell after I defrosted our refrigerator.

Anyway, I was looking forward to the day I finally ran out of the Avalon facial serum because I was excited to try the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream. Snail secretions are a thing in Asian Skincare I think almost every brand has a different variation of this ingredient. You might be grossed out by the thought of putting mollusc slime on your face but sometimes, the wilder something is, the more you’re convinced that it works because it has to, right?

Speaking of outrageous, the weirdest ingredients I’ve read about are Placenta and Snake Venom face mask sheets. Yes, Placenta. Uhm, I’ll stick with my menarche, thank you very much.

But I digress. I recommend the recovery gel cream because I don’t know, it might be psychological, but I really end up with a more refreshed face in the morning no matter how little sleep I have (eye bags are another story). Plus, it comes in a cute pink tube and lasts long I’ve been using mine for months.

Judge me all you want but another product I succumbed to is the eyelash/brow growth serum. The first brand I tried was from Leiania House of Beauty and in my defense, I only tried it because it was on sale. Out of all the skincare (can’t really categorize this one as “care”, “enhancement” is a better term) I tried, I was most amazed by this because after only two weeks, I noticed my eyebrows did become fuller and my eyelashes, longer.

I also discovered the best chap stick ever which was Carmex! Walang sinabi ang ibang brand as in.Untitled

I only used the Hair Mask portion of the Intensive Hair Treatment and though it makes my hair manageable for a few days after use, it has no lasting effect.

Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack is hands down the best face mask sheet I’ve tried so far. It made me realize that not all are created equal. The sheet alone fits my face snugly unlike other brands *cough* Nature Republic *cough* where it’s too wide and doesn’t stay in place. If only it was cheaper I’d gladly use it at least once a week.

Skin Genie is a local brand known for the Lip and Cheek Stain Alive! It’s only 80 pesos a pop so I bought four and I like them all but have a soft spot for Tan Brown.

I’ve always wanted wavy hair so I was enticed by the Beachborn Sea Salt Spray. It works best when sprayed on wet hair which I then tie in a bun so it becomes curly when dry.

Since I was disappointed with Avalon’s eye cream, I’m having high hopes for Mizon’s Snail Repair Eye Cream because the reviews are promising. Can’t really tell if it’s effective because I always forget to use it.img_6326My last BeautyMNL haul was in December because they have 20% off on all items for birthday celebrants. Now you know where my Christmas money went.

Skin Genie’s Apple Cider Vinegar Toner has a strong smell but my face feels really clean afterwards. However, I think I’m going back to Celeteque or trying other toners after this because I think it’s too harsh. There are a couple from Body Shop and Burt’s Bees I’m curious about but they’re too expensive!

The Beauty Bakery Witch Hazel Facial Mist is a decent product that is also refreshing. I think I’m just biased towards The Face Shop because I tried it first.

I have a love-hate relationship with Skin Genie’s Healthy Sunscreen with insect repellant and moisturizer. Some days I love to use it because it absorbs easily, other days I don’t because it feels like I’m spreading margarine on my skin.

Cosrx’ Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is dubbed as the cheap SK-II (my dream product! I know I’ve made it in life when I go home with this haha). I tried it once or twice (because I’m still finishing my tube of Mizon Snail Repair) and one thing I can say is that it’s no doubt snail slime, it’s so gooey! I’m excited to use it in the next few months 🙂

Innisfree is known for their mask sheet. It’s better than Nature Republic but Benton is still my holy grail.

Bought Lip and Cheek Stain from Skin Genie again. I’m in love with Burgundy Wine! Thanks to Regina Belmonte, I learned that the best combination is Burgundy Wine plus a swipe of Christmas Red ❤

And another product from Skin Genie because I ran out of the Leiania serum. I prefer the latter.img_7650My Lip and Cheek Stains. I’ve since given away the others to friends and only have the Christmas Red, Tan Brown, and Burgundy Wine left with me. Another thing I learned about this whole thingamajig is to experiment on things, figure out what works for you, adjust accordingly, and build your personalized skincare regimen from there. Even in our kaartehan, we’re all unique hehehe.img_7656My face whenever BeautyMNL delivers my orders.img_7649This all happened in 2016. Since the year started, I haven’t been diligently doing my 5-6 step skincare routine. Most days I settle with three or four. The masks are still in the fridge. The tubes are still half full.

Writing this post, I was reminded of my realization sometime ago that there’s a difference between wanting to take care of yourself and being consumed by your obsession of looking young. I realized I was leaning towards the latter when I found myself staring at a mirror multiple times a day meticulously searching for flaws to kill. When I started preferring compliments that I look young for my age over anything else. It also sucked out my already dying productivity and has cost me to go beyond my budget many times. It took me a wake-up call from my leader. As much as I’m cultivating my outward appearance, I must not neglect what’s within for it is written, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against and no right to judge others who live by skincare. There’s no way I’m giving up sunscreen and the thought of face masks are still welcome (needed) some days. Personally, I just know that there was something wrong with my heart and my heart is my responsibility. Man looks at the outside but God looks at the heart and I live to please an audience of One. The goal is to glorify God by making sure I’m presentable and I take good care of the temple I was entrusted with, not to glorify myself by appearing to be effortlessly flawless.

So I’ve toned down to the essentials. My eyes still widen at the sight of products I want to try but by grace, I no longer go around impulsively buying goods I can live without (and can’t actually afford in the first place hahaha). Besides, those ads are Photoshopped and no matter how much elixir we put on our faces, we can’t stop the lines from coming. So I learned to embrace them. And realized I’m just really overreacting, I’m only 25 for crying out loud!

Lastly, I believe that for those who wait on Jesus Christ, there will come a time when “our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. (1Cor 15:54)“. And though I doubt that it will fit the beauty standards of this world (36-24-36, full lips, long lashes, spotless white, etc), I know that our glorified bodies will be well-suited to heaven, where we’ll spend eternity in perfect harmony with the One who loves us most.