Category Archives: My Life

Step 2: Learn a little more

I’m on the module 2 of my Japanese language classes at UP Diliman. I’m a little slow on the memorization of words and characters, and I still have a tough time translating whole sentences.

We had a quiz the for each meeting the last two weeks. I got a pretty decent score on one part of the first exam, but I failed the second part, where we had to write about the location of the buildings in the questionnaire. Last week’s quiz was worse. Our teacher asked questions in Japanese and while I understood some words, I could barely make sense of the question. Therefore, I couldn’t answer the questions. 🙁

My weakness here is first of all vocabulary. I need to amp up my game and learn more words, and not just the ones in the textbook. My second weakness is memorizing the proper sentence pattern, as well as the proper particles to be used. My third weakness is that I’ve barely memorized the kanji and kana (although personally I think I’ve improved since the last module).

I know I failed horribly in the last quiz. I have to study more and not fail in the next one.

Off to study now. 🙂

Outbreak Manila: Birthday Run

I haven’t really celebrated my birthday in a long time. Aside from treating my friends to dinner, it was mostly spent at home with the family — or keeping quiet at work so people won’t realize that it’s not an ordinary day for me.

This year was a little different. I did something for the first time: Run a marathon. And it’s not just any marathon. I had to chose Outbreak Manila for my debut run. I figured it would be fun to go be chased after zombies. What was I thinking, right?


On my birthday, I woke up early and headed to my cousin’s house so we could head out to Nuvali together. The closer we got to Sta. Rosa, the more apprehensive I got. Confession: I wasn’t prepared. In the month leeway I had between registration and the actual run I didn’t even try to train myself. Running? Did it only once and I got breathless in less than five minutes. I’ve got an athletic build, but my stamina isn’t the best.

We were in Wave 7 but we arrived an hour early on race day. The air was cold and I was shivering. Maybe it was from excitement, maybe it was from fear. I looked around to check for other unprepared newbies like myself. I felt like I was the only idiot there. Thankfully, I finished the race (even though I was towards the last because I was running with the first few folks of the next wave) with one life. Much thanks to my cousin Miel who gamely stayed by my side even though I knew she could’ve easily ran the entire thing and left me in the dust.

Zombie in the fields
A quick search on the Internet will give you an idea what kind of run Outbreak Manila is. Although it’s the first one held in the country, similar events have been held in other countries. Basically, you run through a 5k course and you come across zombies along the way. The zombies will try to get the three tags around your waist (which signals your life). Lose them, you’re dead (but not a zombie). You can get extra lives along the way by doing certain tasks, but there are a lot of zombies around in that area which puts you at the risk of losing a life as you gain one.


At the start of the race, everyone was huddled in one big mass. The logic there is the middle part is the safest, as the zombies will most likely attack from the sidelines. However, the first zombies will run right down in the middle of the crowd, breaking it up. Then just as you think you’re safe, they come running after you. At this point, no one has made any strategy yet. We all ran around like chickens avoiding the zombies and keeping our flags intact.

Fellow runners

It was hard to remember that you weren’t supposed to touch/hurt/maim the zombies, who were mostly kids in costume. Many of them were really in character, and coming across them in random places would make you stop and think. Screams of terror — along with loud laughter — would break the Nuvali’s silence.

Some of the zombies were nice. One let us pass just because we asked. Another group bartered our lives for some water (hey, they get thirsty too). Some of the zombies just stood there, and only a handful actually would run after you. It was like playing a patingtero, with a freaky factor.

One strategy that my fellow runners and did was to run through the zombies together. Sort of our version of the hoarde. Mind you, we didn’t know each other but it was fun to work together to outwit the zombies and come out with at least one flag. This strategy worked against a group of zombies on a wide space, but at the small, tight paths, good luck.

I thought that I lost all my lives, including the bonus one I got, so I sailed past the zombies declaring “I’m dead! I have no life!” (yes, I know it sounds pathetic haha). Some of the other runners used me as a shield so they could get past and keep their lives. Towards the end, I realized that I still had one life and it was tucked in my shirt. Yay for luck.

I’m happy that I survived with no injuries. No medal either, but hey, I got the shirt. Next year, maybe I’ll join but I’m definitely going to build up my stamina first.

My cousins

Going back to Binondo

No matter how many times you come back to Binondo, there is always something different. Everyone can go on a food tour, but with the sheer number of places to eat along Ongpin and its side streets, each visit is always new.

Last Sunday, I joined my new friends Nalani, Jonats and Marjorie for a food exploration in Binondo. Costs were divided among the four of us and we added P5 each for tips.

Stop 1: Dong Bei
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Dong Bei’s one of my favorite places to go to when I’m in Binondo. It’s a small dumpling place off Ongpin. Here you can see the attendants make the dumplings and cook them in a pot of boiling water. You can be sure that what you are eating is freshly made. We shared a plate of the mixed dumplings, popped open a can of Wai Long Kat and got to know each other better.

Cost: PHP 65

Side trip: A bakery along Carvajal
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We were going to Quick Snack along Carvajal but it was closed (along with most of the establishment along the esquinita). We passed by this bakery where I bought some tikoy bread from during the Chinese New Year. I didn’t buy anything, but everyone else did. Everything was freshly baked, which added to its appeal.

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One more time

Yesterday was the first day of my beginners Japanese class in UP. This is the second time I enrolled in such a class, but I have a feeling I’d get more out of this than I did in that Languages Internationale class I took six years ago.

Nothing much to report. Our class is small with only fourteen students. Surprisingly, we only have two undergrads. Everyone else is in their twenties and above and already working. Our teacher is Ria Rafael, who is also a senior lecturer at the Linguistics department.

I always feel at home inside a classroom, even though I quite dislike the first day tradition of introducing yourself to the rest of the class. At least I wasn’t the first one to do it.

First day went well. We studied the basic greetings, introducing oneself and started on learning Katakana. It’s funny how much you can pick up when you watch a lot of anime and J-dramas, so it was easy to remember the lesson. What I liked was the explanation of what the words mean, their root meaning and the pattern of how to create sentences. But much like when I was learning Spanish, having a wide vocabulary will help.

I can’t wait for next Saturday.

Exploring my options

It’s now a week in to 2012, and I have yet to take time to really think about what I want to do in the immediate future. I now have the most free time I’ve ever had in years since I left school, and I have enough finances to keep me afloat for a month or two. I don’t really have any responsibilities: no work to get up for, not much bills to pay (aside from the electric and DSL bill, I’m practically debt free) and no pressure to take care of anyone but myself. It’s quite refreshing, actually — even though for the first few days I was really bored.

I have decided to truly take a break and enjoy this time that I have. I’ve signed up for Japanese classes in UP, and I am also contemplating on applying for an internship with a photography group (need a bit more confidence on that one hehe).

Still, I’ve thought about a few things I could do to earn some money while enjoying “bumhood”. Here are a few ideas that I’ve been playing around with:

  • Barista – There’s something about working in a coffee shop that piques my interest (even though said coffee shop will mostly likely be a brand chain one). While I’m not a coffee drinker connoisseur, I am fascinated by the process that coffee goes through for us to enjoy a cup.
  • Creative writer – Maybe this time I could finally finish a story and sell it. Then again, I have a feeling I’ll be enduring more pain with this than trying to be a barista.
  • Sell my artwork – Not that I have much now, but probably do something commission based?
  • Make stuff. A few days back I broached the idea of making clay stuff for Geevie’s accessory business. Another idea was to make miniature rooms and furniture for dolls.
  • Continue on my freelance work as an article writer (most feasible).

As for activities, I’ve got two trips already lined up (Coron and Tacloban), with two out-of-the-country trips being planned. Two concerts here (Hanson and Jason Mraz, though the latter has no set date yet) — and whatever other stuff I want to do.

Aside from that, my goal is to start living a healthier life: eat better, move more and make wiser choices when it comes to what I put/use on my body. Lofty goals? I think not. Expressing myself creatively more this year is also one of the things that I will fulfill this year. I feel like I’m starting all over again with art/drawing, but it feels like a good thing.

So, 2012. Let’s do this!

The Great Singapore Adventure Day 2: Malaysia

Continued from The Great Singapore Adventure Day 1.

The slight smell of curry wafted up my nose, making me think our room was near the kitchen. Being very tired the night before, I didn’t notice it, but now it somewhat bothered me. I got up, grabbed my camera and journal, and climbed back to my bunk bed.

I peered outside the cabin’s window. The sun was just rising, lighting up the sky. I estimated it to be around 6 AM or so. My bunkmates were still asleep, which gave me enough time to jot down my thoughts in my journal.

Cabin view

Soon, everyone was stirring. Someone was knocking on our door. It was Caryl, telling us that we should head down to the Mediterranean deck for breakfast. Right. We got ready, and I was surprised to see that it was already around 8. I had forgotten the difference of the sunrise and sunset.

Breakfast was buffet, and while I was admiring the pastries, one of the cooks greeted me “Magandang umaga.” I kid you not about the number of Pinoy crew on board Virgo. I think they outnumber the other nationalities combined. It’s easy to identify them though, not just by their looks, but also by their name tags. Aside from names that you can easily recognize, the word “Philippines” is written underneath it. In fact, the entire staff had their home countries written underneath their names. The staff is generally friendly and accommodating.

Breakfast: Round 1

Members of our group slowly trickled in to have breakfast. We were discussing last night’s adventure, where one cousin was missing for a few hours (he fell asleep inside the movie house), and our plans for the day. Someone wanted to go around Malacca which was one of the ship’s stops, but it turns out that because we woke up late, we actually missed it. So plans for a quick stop at Kuala Lumpur was made.

But first, we make use of the ship’s ammenities. We went exploring first, checking out the various places, restaurants and services the ship had. There was a library (which I ironically wasn’t able to visit!), a spa and beauty wellness center, a gym and a dance hall/bar. Of course, there’s an onboard casino which Resort’s World is known for.

Everyone wanted to try the pool and the slide. As I didn’t really like swimming with a lot of people around, I said I’ll just go for the slide. It shouldn’t be scarier than the one in Fontana, but there was a part that was hanging over the boat. Not only that, you’d be sliding through clear glass. If you were going slow you’d be able to enjoy the view of the sea twelve stories below, but generally, you’d be going too fast to appreciate it.

I went for two rounds on the slide before I decided I was good.

Hello, Malaysia
We decided to skip the tour the ship was offering. At SGD 77 per person, we would rather explore on our own and use the money to buy souvenirs. We docked at Port Klang and from there, took a cab to Kuala Lumpur. The trip took one hour, sort of like from San Pedro to Manila.
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The Great Singapore Adventure

Mga Kasabwat: 16 people, ages ranging from 14 to 90.
The Challenge: To survive in a six day trip to Singapore, including a three day cruise on board the Star Virgo and a jaunt in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Challenge accepted
Early this year, I was toying with the idea of going somewhere abroad. I figured it was about time I step out of the country, even for a bit. Someone offered me free tickets to any Asian destination, and, I told my best friend Carmenez. She invited me to join her family on their planned trip to Singapore.

I never got the free airplane ticket, but I got something else. I spent the rest of the months between February and June saving up all that I can for the trip. Then Nez said we’re changing our departure to earlier dates because we were going on a cruise.

How’s that for someone who has never stepped out of the country? My first trip abroad comes with a sea cruise. It was hard not to be excited, but with a tinge of apprehension. Just days before I was to leave, friends told me stories of how some people were denied at immigration. Then there’s the recent incident of two Pinays who went through bad treatment in Bali, Indonesia. I was assured that I shouldn’t worry, but I couldn’t help it.

Finally, the day arrived. I packed my bags as best as I could (I seriously had no idea what to pack) and rushed to my best friend’s house. The scene was quite like that of Home Alone I, where the entire family was scrambling to get ready for a trip and not leave anyone behind. It took us about thirty minutes to get checked in at the airport, and immigration couldn’t seem to believe that all of us were going. Think of it as Amazing Race, only instead of competing in teams of two, we were all working together as one big team. Chaos, I tell you.

Our passports

Worst Seat Ever
It’s a common knowledge that the worst seat you can get is near the wing, if you wanted a good view. I still think that our row had the worst seats in the history of modern aviation: last row, with no window at all. Therefore, no admiring of the Manila and Singapore skyline for me.

Touchdown, Singapore
My excitement of my first trip abroad was dimmed by exhaustion. We arrived at 1:55 AM, and had until 6 AM til we can check in our bags at the cruise center. Most of us had been awake since 6 AM Tuesday. We made the best of our situation by finding the best positions for sleep. It wasn’t an easy thing since the airport seats were hard and not really meant for lying down. I don’t know how I did it, but I got an hour or so’s sleep.

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Thursday Downpour

The rain came upon us suddenly today. Even though it was already drizzling the night before, I don’t think anyone expected it to be like this, despite news reports. With the events of Ondoy still strong in our minds, people couldn’t help but worry at the possible not-so-good scenarios that could arise.

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The way to work wasn’t so bad. It was raining steadily, but the wind was light. I donned my rain boots to get to work and was thankful I did. The roads weren’t flooded but there were a lot of puddles. Some of the people who were also commuting had the hem and even the legs of their pants wet. I can only imagine the germs that they’re dragging to wherever they were going.

The rain didn’t let up the rest of the day. It had gotten even stronger towards the afternoon and evening. When I was ready to go home, it was pouring in torrents. Once again, my boots came to the rescue. I also borrowed my teammate Gio’s jacket, which was effective in helping keep me dry. I tucked my bag inside and made my way to the tricycle stop.

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I made it home safely, and only about 90% damp. It was still raining when I got home, and none of my siblings were home yet. Thankfully, the rain let up about an hour ago, and all my siblings are accounted for (even if one isn’t home yet). Hopefully, no one got caught in the rain. I did hear that my tita’s basement got flooded, but otherwise they’re doing fine. I’m glad.

Friday tomorrow. I think we could all use a break.

10th ToyCon: Day 1 Report

I wasn’t planning to attend the ToyCon this year, even after my friend Jason mentioned he wanted to go. Then Yue, Rochelle and their friends posted ads for their booths… and they were selling Pinky:St! That cinched it. I called up the usual suspects and made plans to go on the 18th.

From experience, I expected ToyCon to be jampacked. More so this year because one of their sponsors was 99.5 RT and they were advertising the event like crazy. Since I was going to buy stuff, I decided to go early. Also, I decided to submit an entry for the Toy Clicks photo contest, just for the fun of it.

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After submitting my entry, I went to Yue’s booth. There were already a lot of people and I could barely move without being pushed or stepping on someone’s toes. A lot of the people were concentrated at the front area, making the most of the booths selling their wares. Finally, I got to where I needed to be.

Pinky:St. Lots of it. And many rare ones. I wanted to cry because I knew I couldn’t buy all that I wanted. I ended up with three, plus a couple of loose parts and Asuka Langley. My budget was really shot so I had to brave the crowd and find an ATM.

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Fritz was submitting his entry when I went back, and after I paid for my purchases, we went around as best as we could, shooting toys and exhibits. I didn’t get much cosplayers, even though I saw my favorite cosplay team, Tuxedo Team. The sad part of it is that because of the crowd, I couldn’t get near them and got two lousy shots.

The rest of my cohorts arrived. We had lunch, then went back into the madness. I barely had time to talk to them because we kept walking and it was hard to stay together. I didn’t feel like I actually spent time with them, except Joiz who was with me until I had to go.

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