Singlish Ho Say Bo

I moved to Singapore in November 2010 for work.  When I first landed, I had a hard time understanding everybody.  From the taxi driver uncles to the store clerks, I had no idea what they were saying and I would just nod my head and agree.  Half the time, I didn’t know what was being discussed.  I got away with smiling and nodding.

Singapore is an multicultural island city-state with many official languages.  These are English, Malay, Putonghua Mandarin and Tamil.  Its only natural that their English would not be the typical American English many are accustomed to.  I was born in the Philippines but grew up in North America.  Filipinos speak good English but we still have our own Filipino twang when we talk.  I can do both Filipino English and American English since I am accustomed to both.  I wasn’t prepared for Singlish at all. It was a bit sing-songy and the pronunciation is totally different.  Lucky for me,  as  a Chinese speaker, I also understood the Singlish Hokkien terms.  Out of the 4 official langues, I can speak two.

It took a few months before I got the hang of it.  Once you’ve grasped the intonation, everything else is easier.  I roll my eyes whenever I hear people add “lah” to every sentence just to say that they’re speaking Singlish.  Its not just “lah”.  There’s a lot more to Singlish than just that one word.  I remember asking my colleagues for the meaning every time I encountered a word or phrase.  You build up your vocabulary and use strategically use them in conversations to show your mastery of the language.

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I even downloaded this app from the App Store called Hosay! and it even shows you how to use the word/phrase in sentences.  Words such as “aiyoh”, “atas”, “ah beng”, “shiok”, “alamak”, “blur” or even “vomit blood” or terms you won’t hear anywhere else.  I admit that I do miss hearing Singlish occasionally since I left Singapore in 2014.  Every time I land at Changi Airport, I get this tingly, good feeling hearing Singlish again for the next few days. 

After almost four years in Singapore, I can do Singlish well enough.  Not like a local, but I can do a spot on Singaporean accent. I can add that to my repertoire of English languages such as Taglish (Filipino English), normal English, and Singlish.

By the way, ho say bo means “all good?”

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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.

 

Fitbit Challenge Accepted!

I first got my Fitbit Charge HR in February 2015 from Amazon but it was a lemon so I decided to get a refund instead.  While on a trip to Singapore the same year, I got a Fitbit Charge HR (orange this time) and started to use it since I figured it will help me with my fitness goals.  I wore it on and off for the rest of the year becasue I didn’t feel like I was maximizing it.  All-day desk job and being lazy to work out contributed to really low step count so I just left it on my desk.  What’s the point of wearing it everyday if I’m only going to get around 3,000 steps?

It was only around mid-2016 that I started using it more.  We would have Fitbit challenges with my colleagues and we would actually go up and down 20 flights of stairs during our lunch break.  (Hint:  Stairs are useless to add steps.  It’s good workout but you get sooo tired with each step compared to just walking.)  We also learned that it’s not good to go down 20 flights of stairs and go back up the same number.  Our muscles were like totally wonky from flexing for so long and then stretching for so long.  But we did get our workout, which was the important thing.

After a year, my Charge HR died on me.  The rubber part opened up and it wouldn’t turn on anymore so I upgraded to the Charge 2 which I like so much better and has more functionality.  More of my friends started using Fitbit and we would have weekly challenges and weekend challenges.  Since we all had desk jobs, we didn’t have a lot of steps and the one who won didn’t really have that huge number of steps.  But if we were traveling, our step count went up astronomically and we’d win for that week. Whoever was traveling, always won the challenge. It became a habit and we started having our own Fitbit chat group and we’d meet up on the weekends to hang out.  Not to workout, but to eat. Lol!

Recently though, I’ve started to use more of the Fitbit app aside from just counting steps. I launched into my health and wellness campaign about a month and a half ago.  I’ve been logging in my workouts, monitoring my calories expended, and my heart rate.  Aside from that, I’ve also concluded that I need to eat 1,000 less calories per day to lose weight.  The only thing I haven’t really used is the is the daily food log.  I just feel it’s such a hassle to log down every little thing I eat.  Maybe I’ll get there. Maybe not.

So far, it’s been working out. I feel healthier, stronger and fitter.  I’ve lost weight and continue to do so. I can see the change in my resting heart rate and my working out heart rate.  I try to do more than 10,000 steps a day and I get super happy when I get new badges, especially lifetime badges.  I’ve already peeked ahead into the next few badges and computed how long it will take me to get the next one.  Who else is excited about the Fitbit badges? The next one I’m aiming for is the Great Barrier Reef.  Can’t wait to get it by August this year.

 

Happy vs. Joy

Happy vs. Joy

We live in a society wherein the primary objective is to be happy.  Whenever something happens, you ask yourself whether you are happy about it or not.  Before going to bed, you ask yourself whether it was a happy day or not.  It is this state of being that everyone constantly tries to achieve but it seems like the more we try to be happy, the more miserable we end up being.  Why is that so?

Let me quote my second favorite musical of all time, Wicked, and one of the more unappreciated songs sung by Glinda called, Thank Goodness.

(sung) That’s why I couldn’t be happier
No, I couldn’t be happier
Though it is, I admit
The tiniest bit
Unlike I anticipated
But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
(spoken) Well – not “simply”:
(sung) ‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated
There’s a kind of a sort of : cost
There’s a couple of things get: lost
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed…

And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still –
With this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo
Who
Wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

Without consulting dictionary or Google, happiness comes across to me as a feeling that arises based on external situations. According to the song, happiness happens when all your dreams come true.  Then what?  What happens next?  We become so focused on reaching that goal in order to be happy.  We tell ourselves that we will only be happy once we’ve done this, achieved that, gotten this and surpassed that. And when you do get it, you know you will be happy.  You should be.  But have you ever felt a bit let down even when your dream did come true? And that it wasn’t how you anticipated it to be?

I had to grapple with this concept the last few months. In the past, I always thought that being happy was the most important thing in the world.  It was only recently that I realized that I wasn’t really searching for happiness.  I mean yes, who wouldn’t want all their dreams to come true?  I still do.  But I based so much of my self-worth and well-being on external situations and events.  These would be whether I get promoted, get a good bonus, get married and/or have children.  If I achieve it, I’m happy. If not, then I’m not happy.  It’s all very external-based and conditional.  I needed to change my mindset into being happy all the time, whether or not my dreams come true.

I realized there was something that was more important to me than being happy.  And that is joy. Somewhere along the way of trying to achieve my dreams, I seemed to have lost my joie de vivre. I’ve become an automaton. In my search for happiness, I realized that what I was actually looking for was joy. It was what I didn’t know I needed and wanted.  It is that cheerful enjoyment of life that I was looking for.  Whether or not my dreams come true, I will still have that same zest and exuberance for life.  I just want to feel excited to be alive even if it meant doing something new or doing the same thing over and over.  I want to find that sense of joy and wonder again when I was a child.  I want to be amazed at and be in awe of everything. Joy to me is an inner happiness and is unrelated to any external event.  In my mind, that is just how I differentiated between happy and joy.  Joy comes from within whereas happy is derived from the outside.

I still have dreams that I want to achieve.  Whether or not I achieve them, should not affect the unqualified joy I have for living. Sure there will be happiness, sadness, disappointment, contentment and many other emotional states.  What I want to maintain constant is that unwavering vibrancy to life.  Can’t believe it took me a while to realize that.  But I’m still glad I did.

Maundy Thursday In The City

Maundy Thursday In The City

Having about 86% of the country’s population as Roman Catholics, the Philippines was on virtual shutdown as the country went on holiday for both Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  A lot have gone back to their hometown provinces while others took the opportunity to go on a long holiday.  The rest just stay home, chill and relax till the stores open again on Saturday.

Aside from the closed stores, local television networks are off air on Thursday and they go back to regular programming on Friday.  I remember when I was younger, there was nothing on TV except for religious programs for both Thursday and Friday.  With the advent of cable TV and internet, those staying in have more viewing choices. Yay!

I consider myself a semi-practicing Catholic with only having revived my status as a practicing Catholic to a larger extent recently.  It has been ingrained in me since childhood to give up something for Lent.  It must be something that truly feels like a sacrifice in order help me grow deeper in my faith and relationship with Jesus.  In the years past, I’ve given up sweets, cakes, desserts, alcohol, coffee or any combination of those.  These are things that I really love.  I mean not really alcohol, but if you go out, there’s always going to be a glass of wine.  That means I will be nursing a glass of water the whole night.  It’s doubly hard to give up sweets and alcohol for Lent especially since my birthday falls during Lent every year.  No fail.  Many times, I’ve had my birthday on Good Friday, Black Saturday or Easter Sunday.  How to give up birthday cake and birthday drinks right?  This year, I settled on coffee which was still a challenge. Next year, I am thinking of giving up social media for Lent. That’s an idea. A very painful idea. 

Today, I went with friends to do Visita Iglesia.  This was the first time I’ve ever done it.  My other friend wanted to go visit the churches in Old Manila, not the newer, more sanitized churches in the suburbs.  We had breakfast at 10AM, finished at 5PM and visited 8 churches in sweltering heat.  Let the visitation begin.

  1. Santo Domingo Church, otherwise known as the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of La Naval de Manila.  This is the largest church in Metro Manila and one of the biggest churches in Asia.
  2. Quiapo Church or Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene statue was first brought to Manila by a group of Augustinian Recollect friars. I didn’t get to see the statue this visit. FullSizeRender 20
  3. San Sebastian Church  is a Philippine Historical Landmark and a National Cultural Treasure.
  4. Abbey Church of Our Lady of Montserrat – I went to Montserrat a few years back when I went to Spain but this was my first time to go to this church. FullSizeRender 16
  5. National Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus Manila holds a special place in my heart.  I went to the Catholic School beside the church until I finished elementary.
  6. San Agustin Church – I haven’t been back to this Church in ages and I think is the oldest church in Manila.
  7. Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral) is the most popular church in the city and serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Manila.
  8. National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church) – We go to this church every New Year to give thanks for the past year.FullSizeRender 28

I’m happy I joined my friends and was able to do this Catholic tradition.  Better late than never right?