New ZeaLand Down Under – Queenstown

New ZeaLand Down Under – Queenstown

Last week, we went on a short trip to New Zealand.  We bought the tickets back in November since they were selling them really cheap.  We chose to go in May since we wanted cooler weather. It’s been so hot here in Manila that it feels like it’s 40 degrees Celsius.   It was a welcome change from the hot and humid.

New Zealand is a really pretty with a lot of scenic places to go to.  We weren’t able to to go to all the places since we were only in Auckland and Queenstown.  We did go to Milford Sound and Hobbiton which were the highlights of the trip.  As cities go, Auckland is so so. It’s pretty compact but its not really comparable to other more cosmopolitan cities. I say just go straight to the more scenic spots in New Zealand.

Queenstown is a resort town in the South Island and is surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.  It’s one of the top tourist destinations in the country.  My friend told me that I could miss everything else but I shouldn’t miss going to Queenstown.  He was right. It’s a very picturesque and beautiful town all year round.  It’s for adrenaline junkies but we didn’t do anything remotely adventurous during our short stay.

We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside which had an amazing view of Lake Wakatipu.  You are literally a few steps from the lakeside.  I ended up taking pictures of the every morning.  The view was simply majestic.  You can walk around the whole town and finish in less than half a day.  I got acquainted with the town streets really fast.  The cool weather helped and it was easy to walk around town and enjoy the scenery.

This is the view of the Remarkables from the airport.

view of remarkables from airport

Here are some views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. When we arrived, it was dark and cloudy.


It snowed the next day so it became snow-capped mountains.



One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure

I buy in bulk but I am not a hoarder. Nonetheless, I’ve accumulated things over the last 15 years that I’m not proud of.  These are things that I bought spur of the moment and regretted immediately after paying.  Too bad we don’t have return policy here in the Philippines.  Some are old clothes that don’t fit anymore or just excess things.  I discovered that I had five sunglasses and realized I didn’t need that money.  So I kept two, and sold three.

With the advent of Ebay, OLX, Carousell and FB groups, I started selling my old items last year.  It felt good to be able to purge the unwanted and unused items in my place instead of being reminded of my past weaknesses.  I looked through my drawers, cabinets and desks.  I evaluated which items I would use or keep and went on from there.  It was a mighty task to undertake and I knew I had to take it slow or else I may just give up entirely.

I looked at areas of my room by sections and evaluated what I wanted to declutter and whether I would give it away or sell it.  I did that everyday, a section at a time, and a few items at a time. Every day, I take picture of a few items and post them online during my downtime.  I’ve sold clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, old electronics and even extra hair curlers.   I’ve even sold my old and used makeup products. You name it, I’ve sold it.   So far, I’ve sold about USD4,000 worth of crap in my room.  It felt really really good!

I feel like it’s such an achievement to dispose of my old unwanted things and make money to boot.  But that just means that I need to be more circumspect with what I buy in the future.  It will be less work for me if I don’t have to sell it because I didn’t buy it in the first place.  I’m not yet done and I still have things that I want to sell.   But one day at a time.  And if something doesn’t sell right away, I just re-post the item until someone takes the bait.

This is also one way of recycling and repurposing items.  I feel that it is such a consumerist society and I didn’t want to add on to the wastage being produced especially with products that are made super fast and super cheap.  Everything is disposable.  We don’t need to dispose.  We can pass it on.  For a small fee.  It’s like I bought the item, paid rental for using it, and selling it for residual value.  Everyone wins.  Who am I kidding? I just want to sell it.  If I don’t sell my old crap, I don’t have space to buy my new crap.

I’m super grateful to the internet and how it was helped facilitate all this.  Who would’ve thought I’d be able to sell all my unwanted clutter.  Back then, the only recourse was to have a garage sale.  Now, I can do both.  I recently signed up for a group neighborhood garage sale.  I get a table to put all the stuff I want to sell for the day.  Seems like a good idea to work both strategies.

Adios Retail Therapy

Adios Retail Therapy

I have come a long way to be able to say this.  Adios shopping! Who I am now is a complete turnaround from how I was ten years ago. Back then, I was in my banker job.  I was paid well with no financial responsibilities.  All the money went to my own expenses.  I shopped, I dined, I partied.  Whenever I was stressed or unhappy, I would go shopping to make myself feel better.  The relief lasted only for a short while, and the misery set in again.

I used retail therapy to comfort myself.  I was stressed at work and it felt like I was mad at the money I was getting paid with so I spent a lot of it.  I still saved a substantial amount, mind you.  But I bought a lot of crap.  Clothes, shoes, accessories, electronics, bags and jewelry.  You name it, I bought it.  Looking back now, the thrill of the hunt of what to buy was what made me happy.  After I bought the item, the elated feeling goes away. And you’re left with that empty feeling of what to buy next.

At work, we dressed up well and bought designer shoes and bags. I graduated to expensive watches.  It felt like we were trying to keep up with the Joneses, the clients.  Who were kidding?  They were the clients, they had millions of dollars in their savings account.  We were the bankers, it will never be the same.

I kept on buying until I stopped myself around five years ago.   I was on a trip and bought five designer handbags.  My tax refund alone was enough to buy another handbag.  I realized that this wasn’t me.  What was I doing?  I was ashamed of how I had become.  In the last five years I made a conscious effort to curb my inner consumer and buy only what I needed to.  I became more discriminating with where I spent my money on.   There was a time when I felt ashamed to be seen wearing designer items.  I tried to be as low-key as possible.  It was a far cry from how I was before.  But that was an extreme reaction too.

Would my life be better if I used a Chanel bag compared to a no-name bag?  Would I walk better and look better wearing a Christian Louboutin heels compared to heels I bought at Payless Shoe Source.  I have to admit, I do have both which I don’t use as much now.  They’re reminders for me of how I was in the past.  It also helps that I don’t buy as much now since I am dropping sizes in clothes so I didn’t want to buy something that will be too big for me in a month’s time.

I still shop but only for essentials and gifts.  I’m more discerning now of what I buy.  Do I want it or do I need it?  And I don’t do impulse purchases as much.   Maybe it’s age.  I find that I’d rather keep my money rather then buy something that I know I will lose interest in a few days later.

Adios retail therapy! You’ve helped me through my twenties and thirties.  It’s been good knowing you.  We’ve had some fun times together but it’s time to move on.  I am a mature, responsible adult now and I choose to make myself happy in other ways.

Support Groups

Support Groups

Last month, I signed up to this forum called 3 Fat Chicks.  I came across this website when I was massively researching about weight loss tips and tricks.  I’ve started, succeeded and failed at many diets or weight loss regimens my whole life. At many points in my life, I have put fitness and weight loss at varied degrees of importance.  The last time was 12 years ago when I wanted to prove to myself I could.  Back then I was only overweight 20 pounds.  Now, I still have 25 pounds to go before reaching normal weight.

The group has many separate subgroups where you can read what others wrote or you can post yourself.  I’ve introduced myself in the Introductions page, I’ve posted on the Weight Loss Support  page as well as other pages.  Being a part of this group helped me realized that I was not alone in need help with losing weight.  Yes, I know that there is a problem with obesity now. That doesn’t mean that everyone is trying to cut down and drop weight.  Reading about other people’s experiences made me realize that it is hard, and everyone is having a hard time trying to get to their goal weight.  You read about what other people are doing that are helping them on their journey and those that aren’t helpful.  You get to see how long it takes to lose X amount of weight.

Oftentimes, I get easily discouraged when it feels like the number on the scale isn’t dropping.  That’s most likely the time, I give up and start going back to bad eating habits.  What’s the point?  I put in all this work, but the weight isn’t coming off.  On this forum, you read about other people experiencing the same thing.  Other members encourage and give support and you end up doing the same because you can relate to how they feel and what they are going through.

Sometimes, the hardest is being honest with those closest to us.  I couldn’t tell my weight to my friends for the longest time since I was deathly embarrassed that I had allowed myself to go completely.  In the forum, I wasn’t afraid of being judged about my highest weight.  I could freely write how I felt about the whole weight loss process, how I felt, and how I just hate to work out but I just have to push myself.  The group is there for us to share our good days and bad days.

I end up checking the forum every few days to read about new joiners and new topics.  I update other members my weight loss progress and encourage others to power through.   I join challenges, set goals and mini goals, try new recipes to help make the whole journey more interesting. In the same way we seek support from our family and friends for many things,  a weight loss support group will make it easier to achieve our goal of a healthy lifestyle.


Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up

It’s summertime and that means it’s time to go to the beach! Last time I was at the beach was a  year ago.  We decided to go to Balesin Island which is a 25-minute plane ride from the city.  It took us the same amount of time to fly to the island as well as going from the house to the airport. Our flight was at 5AM so the traffic situation was non-existent.  But enough about the traffic because we are here to chill and relax.

Balesin is a private members-only island paradise. The island is 500 hectares and you literally have the whole island to yourselves, aside from the other guests.  When we were there over the weekend, there was a total of 400 guests.  I was suprised because I honestly didn’t see much people.  It was that big and private.  We stayed at the Balesin Village which is the Filipino-themed village.  There are other themed villages such as Bali, Phuket, Toscana, Mykonos, St. Tropez and Costa del Sol.  Our villa was the closest to the main clubhouse and had the best beach in the island (in my humble opinion).   My villa looked like this.  We even had our own private jacuzzi.

We were not able to get beachfront villas as those have been booked ahead but our view was still fantastic.


This was the beach by our village.


I’ve included below more pictures of the other villages in this amazing island.

Lastly, some more pictures with magnificent views.

I’m having  #sepanx moment right now wishing I was still at the beach.  Anyway, it was a good weekend trip and this will make me look forward to my next island/beach trip.  When? I don’t know.  Hopefully soon.  Really soon.

Pinto Art Museum Saturday

Pinto Art Museum Saturday

Last weekend, we decided to go to Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo to get away from the city.  I’ve been there last year with a different group of friends.  We met for lunch and proceeded to sightsee afterwards.

There is an entrance fee of PHP200 to enter and and PHP20 road fee if you want to park your car inside the village.  Everything in this museum is owned by a private collector and this is a residential property converted to a museum.

Some of the modern art pieces are shown below.

It was a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with friends and we got to sit in the al fresco cafe for some much needed catch up stories.


Religious Hodge Podge

I was baptized at a young age (I think 1 year old.) and was raised a Catholic all my life. I went to a Catholic school until I reached university. That’s how it is here. Schools are mostly run by Catholic priests and nuns unless you attended the non-denominational international schools.  Even when we moved to Canada, I still studied at a Catholic all-girls school. That pretty much showed you my religious upbringing.

Both my parents are baptized Catholics, the non-practicing kind.  Both are second-generation so they’re still pretty much traditional in many ways. My dad goes to the temple on required occasions. My mom goes to the Buddhist temples with my grandma. We then went with parents to the  Buddhist temples during Chinese New Year, festivals, on ancestral birth/death anniversaries, and pretty much when she wanted us to.  We had a Buddhist altar in our house. I didn’t find anything off with this practice and figured it was better praying to two Gods instead of one. Good to have all bases covered.

As a child, you accept whatever is taught to you. Back then, children aren’t as precocious as they are now. You just listen, remember and repeat. Easy peasy.  Even though we would go to Buddhist temples with my parents, my mom would still push us to attend Mass every Sunday. Sometimes, you feel like it’s such an effort to go to Church every Sunday. We would look for a Catholic Church while out on trips to make sure we don’t miss Sunday Mass. When traveling to Asian countries, we would also look for temples to drop by and pray.

I was like that till I started working. By then, we weren’t “required” to go to Church every Sunday anymore. I ended up going at most three times a year: Christmas, New Year and Easter.  It turned out that I accompanied my mom more frequently to temples than going to church. I would joke that I was a non-practicing Catholic and a practicing non-Buddhist.

It was only till I reached my late twenties that I started to think for myself more regarding my faith and process how faith and religion affected my daily life. Some may consider what I’ve concluded for myself blasphemous but to each his own. I have reconciled these two religions as a definitive part of my life. In my mind, there is only one God and each culture has interpreted and unified these beliefs and practices to unite their own cohesive community. My definition comes across quite sociological by nature.  The main purpose of religion in my  life is to guide me to live my life accordingly. Religion serves as moral motivation so that people are moved to goodness.  Following this rationale, I’m able to accept that there are other religions out there and that my God is the same as everyone else’s’.

It was only in the last year or so that I have picked up on where I left off when I was younger and became a “more” practicing Catholic. I still go to Buddhist temples whenever mother tells me to.  I’m actually thankful to my mom for “forcing” us to go to Mass every Sunday when we were younger.  I didn’t appreciate it as much then but now I know she tried to instill faith/religion/belief (whatever you want to call it) as a habit or basis for us.  Like a moral compass.  She did so in order for faith and religion to be a foundation of our lives.