Top New Books I Read in 2015



I've read a great deal interesting books this 2015. Some were old (which I did not include in this list because Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery would win. Every Time.) and some were new. Some I liked a great deal and some I didn't. Here are my favorites for the year (in no particular order):

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay will probably always hold a special place in my heart and in my favorites list. Think Jane Austen's Emma meets Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs. Cue in the warm feels and reading this in one day over a cup of tea. I know I read it in one day because I couldn't put it down. Every letter I read from Samantha to Mr. Knightley made me curious to know more about her. Of course, since I've read both Daddy-Long-Legs, I knew who the mysterious "Mr. Knightley" was right away, but that did not make the book any less pleasant or interesting to read.

Read my complete review here.

Some Thoughts on Friendship



Photo by Unsplash
I'm taking a trip down Memory Lane to the time when I'm sitting in one of the swivel chairs in the office of the dean as she helps me edit my speech for the graduation ceremony after four years in college, four years of paperwork and homework, presentations, and in- and out-of-classroom drama. I had originally typed down that our batch (we call ourselves the B.I.N.G.O. Batch—don't ask; it's a long story) would be having monthly reunions and regular meetings. She advises me not to, not because she wants to break up our happy bunch, but because we do not know what the future holds. The president agrees with her, "After college, our batch promised to see each other regularly. Now, I only see them after every x number of years. It's my high school batch that I get to see quite often."

Don't Miss This #EpicRide



Photo from The Horse and His Boy by Trumpets

Once upon a time, there was a young boy with a fair face who lived with his father by the sea. His name was Shasta and his story is something you don't want to miss.

I got to watch Trumpets' The Horse and His Boy last Saturday at Meralco Theater. For Narnia fans, literature fans, theater fans, I repeat: You. Do. Not. Want. To. Miss. This.

Why The Hobbit (and Its Lessons) Make My Life Wonderful



Photo from here.
It all starts with a wee little man embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Bilbo Baggins, certified Hobbit (a race of little people from the wonderful fantasy land called Middle Earth) and Peaceful Person gets the surprise of his life when a wizard storms into his door and declares him to be the fourteenth member of Thorin and Company, a band of dwarves with the mission of taking back Erebor, the once-majestic dwarven kingdom that has fallen into the hands, er, claws, of a dragon. Imagine Bilbo's bewilderment and protests as he declares himself unfit—and disinterseted—in such a venture. But curiosity and something else—perhaps a desire to see the world, to step out of the ordinary confines of a day-to-day life?—has him running off to join the dwarves.

The Job I Didn't Want



Some three years ago, I started my first job. It was great. I loved the community, loved the goal we strove towards, loved the advocacy that kept our hearts pumping, our adrenaline on a high. Then came The First Event which was basically my "baptism by fire". It wasn't solely my own project, but it sure was a big one that we were all involved in.

I thought it would be easy. We had event organizers in place, we had a marketing team in place. Promotions were garnering attendees that increased as the day grew closer. It was exciting and I was glad to be in the middle of it.

Until the actual day when everything fell apart.

Adventures in Palawan Day 2: Dolphins and Unexpected Trips



I think a more appropriate title for this is "The Importance of Being More Flexible," especially as so many unplanned, unexpected things happened on this day.

Our schedule for the morning was a dolphin swimming tour, which is an item on my Dream List. (Actually, I wanted to swim with them, but after researching on the internet, I learned that they don't really allow you to do that in the open sea. It's more of in the special resorts that have trained, pet dolphins.) We booked with Hopping Buddies Travel & Tours, which is the cheapest I've seen so far. It was actually a tie between going on a dolphin-watching or firefly-watching tour. I would have loved to do both, but because of time and budget constraints, We could only do one, and we decided that we were more interested in seeing dolphins.

Rapunzel for a Cause



After two years of growing my hair from shoulder-length until past my waist, of struggling with applying shampoo and conditioner, and buying sachets and sachets of those things, bearing pains in my arms as I tried to get all of it in one thick braid that would rival Rapunzel's, tying it up in a sock bun fashion (but without the sock), being unable to take off all the snarls and tangles, it is off!

Foodventure: Sandwicheese by Banapple



Location: SM North The Block Skygarden
Cuisine: American (burgers, fries, pasta)
Prices: Ranging between P80-120 for sides; P120-200 for sandwiches/burgers
Food Rating: 4/5
Service Rating: 4/5

There's this restaurant that opened recently at SM North The Block, Sandwicheese by Banapple, which is out in the Skygarden, just beside its sister restaurant, Banapple. The location of Sandwicheese is a rather difficult location to attract customers, in the sense that the previous restaurants that have been there never really stayed that long. The last one before Sandwicheese was Zabo Chicken, which our family really liked, but I guess the Filipino palates are not really fans of the Mediterranean cuisine (too bad!).

Adventures in Palawan Day 1: The Importance of Being Flexible



I had it all planned out: fly out to Puerto Princesa in the morning, check in at the hotel, grab a quick lunch, proceed to tour museums and other nearby areas until dinner time, before heading back to the hotel for an early bedtime because the next couple of days were bound to be jam-packed with activities.

Of course, not everything always goes as planned, starting with our flight being delayed for about three hours, till I was living in fear and cold-sweat that it would be canceled completely. (Thankfully, it wasn't.)

When we (FINALLY!) landed in Puerto Princesa, we were picked up by the van from where we stayed, Casitas de Az Pension. (Shoutout to them—everyone was so nice and friendly and accommodating. I peppered them with a thousand questions before booking with them.)

Racism from the Eyes of a Fil-Chi



I'm Fil-Chi, Tsinoy, half-Filipino, half-Chinese, and I love and respect my heritage and my ancestors. Sure, I may not fluently speak either language, but that does not mean I love my heritage any less. Sure, I might have been raised in a more Chinese background, but that does not mean I appreciate the Philippine culture less. Sure, I might not know what to call the aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins on the Chinese side, but that doen't mean I love them any less. Sure, I might get confused when distinguishing pochero from afritada from menudo, but that does not mean I like the food any less.

The problem with countries is that their fierce loyalty to themselves makes them possessive. I mean, I get that, but it does sometimes seem like an overkill. I remember when, as a child, I was told that when I turned 18, I would have to choose between the Philippines or China as my country of citizenship. Thankfully, that didn't have to happen because they changed the laws a few years later. To be honest, I would not have known what to choose. I love the the blood that flows in my veins—blood that is the stream that made two very different cultures meet. Try asking a person who has two heritages in their blood to explain it. We can't. We love both equally; there is simply no such thing as making us choose.

First Experiences: "On My Way Home" Tour Manila (Pentatonix)



First experiences are quite the thing, really.
First time to attend a "non-sectarian" (as my friend put it), non-choir concert.
First time to watch Pentatonix (whom I have great admiration for).

In Which I Become an Official Adventuress



I've always wanted to travel around the world, to any corner of the globe. (I still do and I sure do plan to make it happen!) I have been able to go on trips, both domestic and overseas, but not really on my own. I had always been with someone older, someone in charge, someone I could go to if I needed help, if I got lost, if things went wrong.

All that changed last week, May 21. I embarked on my first trip where I was the one who was in charge. I cannot begin to say how terrifying and exhilarating that was! To be the one to have to make the decisions where to go, what to do, how much to spend, how long to stay at a place.

Well, they say that the first time is the hardest, and that there is no other better way than to learn that to do it, and no other better time to start than right now.