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Macau--Not Just a Gambler's Haven

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bridge to Taipa

Casinos in Macau
Macau has indeed charmed me by its picturesque views and old-meets-new atmosphere. As a former Portuguese colony, it blends East and West culture into an enchanting and exciting diverse architecture and multi-cultural flavors.
L'arc Hotel in Macau

Senado Square at night
First-time visitors might get the perception that Macau is just a gambler’s haven, but history buffs like me also get to enjoy the place. Macau is simply magical. Some might wonder where is Macau exactly located--Macau is across from Hong Kong to the East. It is one of the two special administrative region of China since 1999.

St. Paul ruins
Macau is rich in history itself. Having traced way back to the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BC) to becoming a Portuguese colony in the 16th century. Portuguese settled mainly in Macau to engage in trade. The Dutch repeatedly failed to conquer Macau in the 17th century. African slaves were the majority of the defenders since about 5,000 of them used to live in Macau. They triumphantly repulsed the attack that results to the Dutch soldier's retreat.

Tourists heading to St. Paul
Monte Forte (Fortaleza do Monte)
There are many places that non-gamblers can explore in Macau. If you are traveling from Hong Kong to Macau, it is better to leave early so you can explore the place longer. Enjoy Macau's delicious fusion of Cantonese and Portuguese cuisine. Head over to Senado Square to get a glimpse of old Macau. From there you can walk all the way to St. Paul ruins and Monte Forte.
Old catholic church in Senado Square
Staff holding a restaurant sign
The city's ancestral houses, colonial squares, and well-preserved ruins undeniably complements Macau's colorful past. Discover the stories behind those ruin walls and get enchanted with it. Macau is indeed not just a gambler's haven after all.


Macau Food and Sights

Monday, May 1, 2017


Macau is a culture bonanza open to all. Thanks to the Portuguese, Macau represents an exotic blend of Oriental and Western influences. Having been a Portuguese territory for almost 500 years, it developed a rather unique culture. 
You will never run out of hotel choices--from cheap to expensive accommodations, Macau has it all and most of them are renowned for exceptional services and luxurious comfort. We stayed at Hotel Lisboa in Macau. Their superior room is about $170/night during low season.
Hotel Lisboa
Their superior room has a rich and regal interior and offers free in-house movies, free local calls, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary use of mini bar. But be warned: you can only consume the items in the mini bar inside the room. If you decide to take the food outside while you stroll, they will charge you for it.

The bathroom features a massage shower and Jacuzzi bathtub. I love it!

The hotel is only a few minutes away from Senado Square and other attractions. In fact, you can walk all the way from your hotel to several Macau attractions. Ladies, wear light and comfortable walking shoes! It is a bit hard to get a cab at night from Senado Square, so if your hotel is nearby, prepare to just walk! I ended up with blisters on my feet one night coz I wore high heels and there were no cabs available (been waiting for about 30 mins or more) so we proceeded to walk back to the hotel. 

Senado Square at night
For foodies out there, you will never run out of restaurant choices in Macau. But prepare to spend more than you usually do if you want real good food. The high-end restaurants in hotels are less likely to be crowded. McDonald's and other western fast food restaurants in Macau are crowded all the time. We always have breakfast at Starbucks's in Senado Square since they have a second level which isn't too crowded. One time we tried this restaurant called Macau Recipes but never again!! I find the restaurant unsanitary and the food is not so appealing. And you need to pay for your own paper towel! Yeah you heard it right--you will have to pay for paper napkins! Never did I encounter a restaurant that doesn't offer free paper napkins until I went to Macau Recipes. But anyway it wasn't the main issue here--the staff were grumpy, the kitchen was dirty (wish I can tell you exact details of what I've seen in their kitchen!), and the food was not good (That's what I get for being a cheapskate!). Their meals are priced around USD $10 and above which is considered somewhat cheap there. We ended up leaving after having one bite. The utensils smell fishy too as if they were never washed properly.

Macau Recipes menu
The sweet and sour pork I ordered was 90% bones with bell pepper, onion and some lousy sauce served with rice.

Since other restaurants were full, we crossed the road adjacent to Senado Square and found Pizza Hut! Pizza Hut saved our night! Though it is not the usual Pizza Hut that I'm used to, it's at least decent and somewhat familiar and clean! I ordered their Lasagne which is a bit different but still yummy. It is smothered in a tangy minced meat sauce and comes with melted cheese and creamy mashed potato. Prepare about USD $20 for a full meal in Pizza Hut Macau.


Noite e Dia Café in Hotel Lisboa is awesome! They offer a wide selection of Japanese, Cantonese dim sum, Chinese barbecue, and Western dishes. They are open 24/7 and is located at the lobby level of Hotel Lisboa. A meal per person will cost about USD $30-40 or more. But I'm telling you, it is so worth it!
Noite e Dia Café
For those seeking adventure, head over to Macau Tower and try their bungy jumping at 233m (764ft). It is the second highest commercial skyjump in the world. Are you an adrenaline junkie? This can be the perfect Macau adventure for you!
Macau Tower
Here's a video I took (the quality isn't great since I just used my phone). Anyway it will give you an idea how it was like bungee jumping there.

People on a budget will also enjoy Macau, take a stroll at night and soak in the amazing view of the casinos and hotels. Walk around St. Paul Ruins and learn more about Macau's history.
Grand Lisboa at night
You can also ride a bus to Taipa and visit Venetian Macao Resort Hotel and ride a gondola for USD $16.

If you have more time, drop by A-ma temple to get a glimpse of Buddhist tradition in Macau.


Macau is truly an interesting place. You can even make the most out of your trip here in just one day. It is only about 250 hectares so don't you dare blink and miss something! :D

Is Philippines Safer Now Under Duterte?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Manila Yacht Club

I kept getting emails from my foreign readers about safety tips when traveling around the Philippines. Their questions revolve around our new President Duterte who is known for his war against drugs. They are afraid they would get in a crossfire while visiting our tourist spots in the Metro. Since this is a touchy subject, I don't really want to voice out my personal opinion about this whole thing. The local news has been too toxic and I don't even feel like discussing politics. 

Is it Safer Now for Tourists?

It all depends on what you do here or where you go. If I were you, I'd stay in hotels around Makati City or Taguig while staying in Metro Manila. These areas are considered safer than other cities in the Metro. Here are some tips:
  • Do not ever associate yourself or even be seen in public with shady characters (known drug users or someone who looks like a druggie). 
  • Do not go to the red light district if you can help it. Too many shady characters there who will try to scam tourists.
  • Stick to places like malls, museums, etc. Avoid the slum areas.
  • Do not walk out in the street alone at night, or if you have to, don't let your guard down.
  • Do not get in a fight with a local (they might hold a grudge and try to frame you up as a druggie)
Some people say that only druggies get killed. That is not true. There are also innocent people who got mistaken for someone else. Or people who got in the wrong place at the wrong time. So be extra careful.

We have lots of nice tourist spots to choose from outside the Metro. Touristy areas are generally safer since they have added security.

Check out Boracay beaches, Palawan, Bohol, Cebu, and etc.

Boracay 
Philippines is such a beautiful place. We have lots to offer to tourists when it comes to beaches and fun activities. Have fun and stay safe! 

Irregular Period at Iba pa

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I have been suffering from irregular periods for some time now. I was being so paranoid and was imagining all kinds of scenarios. What if I have cancer? My mom died from cervical cancer so my paranoia wasn't so far fetched.
I decided to end this emotional torture so I went to the clinic near me.
Waiting area; The Medical City @ Makati

The Medical City is actually nice and very organized. Dra. Elsa Dionisio was only available from 1pm to 2 pm and it's on a first come first served basis. She only accepts a maximum of 6 patients that day so you better be there early.

I was there around 11:30am, got a number and waited till they called my name. I filled up some paperwork and was told to wait until the doctor comes in. Luckily Dra. Dionisio came in early and my waiting time was cut short.
I have prepared a list of my symptoms and she ordered a transvaginal ultrasound immediately. 

Photo from rawstory.com

Dra. Dionisio was very nice and friendly. She explained to me some possible causes of my irregular period and told me that an ultrasound is needed to determine the root cause.

It turns out I have a cyst on my right ovary but she assured me that it's nothing serious. With proper medication, it should be gone in a few weeks. I'm sooo glad I wasn't diagnosed with PCOS or worse ~ a malignant tumor! 

I should have gotten my checkup months before! Procastination has real consequences when it comes to going to the doctor. Do not prolong your suffering..just go to the doctor and get your much needed checkup!

In case you are wondering about the cost of transvaginal ultrasound, it is Php 2,025 and the consultation fee is Php 500. With my medication included, the total is around Php3,875. It's actually cheap! 😄

Are you having irregular periods? Don't wait any longer! Go to your nearest OB Gyne now!

How to Set an Appointment at DFA

Monday, July 18, 2016

Photo source: blog.citizenservices.com.ph/


Are you itching to travel outside the country? If you don't have a passport, don't plan your trip just yet! When I renewed my passport a few years ago, it was quite easy. I just paid a travel agency and I got an appointment in a week. Then I paid for the expedited service and I got my passport within 7 working days after my DFA appointment.

Now that I need to renew it, I was shocked to find out that all the DFA satellite offices near me are booked up till second week of September! So if you need to travel in the next month or so and you still haven't gotten an appointment, well..good luck!

Here's how to get an appointment at DFA:

1. Go to www.passport.gov.ph and click schedule an appointment


2. If you are booking an appointment for yourself, click start an individual appointment. If you are booking an appointment for you and others, click start a group appointment.

3. Specify the site where you want to set an appointment then click next. 

4. Select an available date. 
July and August is booked up on all Metro Manila satellite offices. I just checked the DFA Manila (Aseana) and the only available date in September is from Sept. 22 onwards.


5. Select a timeslot. Please be advised that your chosen time slot is reserved for 10 minutes. So don't screw it up! Get there at least 30 minutes early.

6. Type in all your information. Make sure everything is correct before you click next.

7. After that you will get an email from DFA and you will have to click on the link provided to confirm your appointment. 

8. Print the application form and don't forget to bring it with you on the date of your appointment.

NOTE: If you do not confirm within a few hours, your provisional appointment will be automatically cancelled to give way to other applications.

That's it! Good luck :)






How Should We Live Our Lives?

Sunday, July 3, 2016


A friend from highschool just died and it left me wondering, how should we live our lives?

If you do not have any lasting significance, then the life you've lived is meaningless. What makes life meaningful anyway? Is it the goals you achieved? The places you've been?

When my friend died, dozens of people came to bid her goodbye. They were not just people she knew, they were people who loved her and cared about her. It suddenly hit me..it's really the people you've touched that makes life meaningful. You know you did something right when people not related to you by blood sheds a tear on your funeral.

The thought of dying sends me into panic mode. Not because I'm afraid to die. It's the fear of "oblivion" that gives me shivers down my spine. I've been a hermit for so long. My only friends are my cat and dog.

My dog will surely cry but my cat will just move on to another household who can feed him tuna and kibbles.

Maybe it's not too late. Maybe I should start reaching out more to people, make new friends, help out a stranger, and do one good deed a day.

Maybe death won't be so bad when you know you've lived your life to the fullest and that you will be missed by people whose lives you've touched.


What's Keeping Pinoys From Chasing Their Dreams?

Sunday, June 19, 2016


No one is coming to save you. Only "you" can save you. Take full responsibility for your life. Plan on how you intend to achieve success. Some Filipinos "play victim" all the time. Most of the time blaming the government for their situation in life.

Having kids you can't afford

Guess what? The government is not responsible for your choices in life. Is it the government's fault that you got 5 or more kids to feed? If you were thinking clearly, you won't even consider having kids when you have no stable job or no job at all. If you can't feed yourself, how can you feed your kids?

It's hard to focus on your dreams when you have kids to feed. That's the reality. How about take time for yourself before having kids? Work hard and dream big.

Bahala Na Attitude

Bahala na or whatever will be will be. This phrase is commonly heard among Filipinos. It is more than just a phrase. It is a way of life for some and is deeply ingrained in their attitude. How about change that way of thinking and start planning ahead? 

Taking a Shortcut

Dreams cannot be achieved that easy. Many of you have probably been a victim of "pyramiding scam" because you were lured into the thought of "easy money". Well guess what? If it's too good to be true, then it probably isn't.

Afraid to Grow Up 

You can only become an "authentic" adult if you start taking responsibility for your own life. Get out of your comfort zone and start planning your future. So many pinoys operate as children emotionally and refuse to grow up. How many of you still lives with your parents even after graduating college? I understand it may be more convenient for you to stay home, but are you saving up for your future home? 

We can all achieve our dreams if we practice the right attitude. Find what motivates you and get rid of people around you that are constantly dragging you down. Surround yourself with successful people so that you can emulate their habits and way of life. 

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Ginataang Kalabasa with Hipon (Veggies and Shrimp in Coco Cream)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

It's now 3:00 in the morning and I couldn't sleep. I was watching some cooking show and suddenly had this craving for anything with "gata" or coconut cream. The problem is I only have veggies in the fridge. I need some freshly grated coconut for the gata but it's quite early to go to the wet market.
So I headed down to the 24/7 Mart and looked for canned coconut cream and some garlic. Lucky I found these!


Kalabasa, sitaw, talong, coconut cream, and peeled shrimp make a yummy combination. Add in some grated ginger too. Season with salt and pepper. You can also add some chili if you want this dish spicy. Yum! 


Best served with steamed rice and of course fried bangus belly marinated in vinegar and garlic!


Kain na tayo!😀

P.S. On a side note; nothing beats the coconut cream from freshly grated coconut.

Why Some Filipinos End Up With No Savings

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Photo source: Graphicstock.com
Retired and no savings? We're all too familiar with this scenario, it could be a relative, a neighbor, or a family friend. Why does it happen all the time? Here are some of my observations:

Ginawang Palabigasan ng Pamilya (Family Cash Cow)


Some Filipino parents are good at investing. They use their child/children as an investment! The more the merrier! How so? They use their kids to support them. Just look at the kids begging out there in the streets of the Metro. You think they are orphans? Nope. Their parents are busy gambling or drinking at home (or worse making more babies!) 
Here's a typical story you'll hear from an average Filipino:

Sabrina (Call Center Agent)

Sabrina is the eldest in the family of 6 kids. She worked two jobs to go to college. She was also helping her 5 siblings with some expenses. As soon as she graduated, she got a job at a call center. Her starting salary is 14,000 (around 12,000 after taxes). 

Her mother asked her to contribute around 6,000 pesos for their household expenses (50% of her salary). Since Sabrina's job is far from home, she really didn't have to contribute because she is living at a dorm near her workplace. But what can she do? Her mother will get really mad if she doesn't do it. Not wanting to ruin her relationship with her mom, she gave in to her demands. Sabrina is left with 6,000 a month to budget for her own expenses. With 2,000 pesos for the rent, there's only 4,000 pesos left for food, transportation, and other extra expenses. This amount made it quite impossible to save some money. 

10 years later, her siblings are all married with kids. Sabrina is now a team leader and with a higher income bracket, but this cycle of giving is still going on. It even extended to her nieces and nephews. It even became impossible for Sabrina to get married and start her own family. 


Supporting the Whole Clan

Arthur (OFW in Saudi Arabia)

Arthur is an only child. He worked as an engineer for 30 years. All throughout his stint in Saudi, he was helping his parents and his cousin's family. Arthur never married and has no kids. 

Aside from the monetary help he gives them, he also spoils them with the latest gadgets and clothes. Ever since he got a Facebook account, he got bombarded with sob stories from distant relatives asking him for handouts. 

"Kesyo may sakit ang anak ko, magka-college na si ano, etc."

Arthur being generous and kind, never think twice about sending money to members of his clan. Now that he is nearing 65, he is worried about retiring. With no savings in hand, no properties back home, he is seriously concerned about his future. With his help, his relatives got a very comfortable life. Some even managed to have a decent house of their own. Will these same relatives help him in case he needs it? Arthur doubts it. They don't even greet him on his birthday.

Advice to Filipino Parents


Let us stop this vicious cycle. Parents are supposed to help guide their kids towards a better future and not use them as cash cows. Here are some things you should remember:

1. Gumawa ka ng bata dahil gusto mo at hindi para gamitin mo sa sariling kapakanan.

2. I-base mo ang bilang ng anak mo sa kakayanan mong buhayin sila. Tanungin mo ang sarili mo; kaya ko ba silang pag-aralin hanggang kolehiyo? Ilang anak ba ang kaya kong bigyan ng magandang kinabukasan?

3. Bago ka mag-anak, siguraduhin mo na may ipon ka para sa mga emergency para naman di ka na umutang sa kamag-anak mo. 

4. Mag-ipon ka para sa retirement mo para naman di ka umasa sa tulong ng anak mo. Tandaan mo, ang anak mo ay magkakaroon din ng sariling pamilya. Para mapaghandaan nya ang kinabukasan ng pamilya nya, kelangan nya mag-ipon. Kung aasa ka sa sweldo nya, wala na sya maiipon para sa kinabukasan nya.

5. Life is supposed to be fun. Make sound decisions in life and you and the people around you will never suffer. At the end of the day, use common sense.

This is a timeline that I teach my Nephew (Only 6 yrs old). Better start them young.

Photo source: www.graphicstock.com


Age 16 -21 ~ Get a part time job (summer job whatever). Save 50% of your earnings (If your parents are helping you with college). The rest you can spend on whatever you want. Kids, you should never be ashamed of working part time. Don't copy your pa-cool friends who ask their parents for money. Working part time will also teach you things that will prepare you for your life ahead.

If you don't want to work at a fast food company, you can always start a small business. You can also look out for certain niches that you can do (blogging, vlogging, creating Youtube content, etc.) 

Age 21-23 ~ By this time, you are already done with college (depends on the course you took). My advice is, start looking for a full time job the minute you graduated. This is the fun age, so while allotting some money for savings, you should also spare some money for fun and travel. You're young, have fun! (But do not overspend and go beyond your budget. Borrowing money should never ever be an option)

Age 23-25 ~ Start taking life a bit more serious. Do not get contented with your current life situation. Start grinding and climb that corporate ladder or dream higher! It is also about time to look for a house/condo to buy. Since you've been saving since you are 16, you can probably already afford the downpayment.


Age 25-30 ~ Save for your future family (If ever you want one). How awesome would it be if you won't have to worry about hospital bills (for your firstborn). Let's say you've saved like 250,000 pesos, and you/your wife are also covered by your insurance for maternity expenses, then your savings would be more than enough to buy baby clothes, vaccines, baby formulas, crib, and other baby accessories.

Age 30-31 ~ Settle down. Who says you have to get married early? It's plain idiotic to get married at an early age. You have to be mentally and financially prepared for family life. At this age, you've already traveled, had fun, saved money, experienced a lot, and the only thing missing is a family of your own!

Some advice: You don't have to spend a ton of money on your wedding. Why waste over a hundred thousand pesos just to show people you got married? Fancy wedding is just a scam to get people to spend their money for one freaking day. Go to the city hall and get married. If you want you can have a simple reception at a local restaurant with people that matters most to you (Ex. your siblings, parents, grandparents, and close friends).

Age 31 and beyond ~ Save and invest. Never ever stop saving. Get an advice from financial experts on how to invest your money wisely. Do not fall for a scam. Avoid pyramiding or if the ROI is too good to be true, then it's a scam. 

Disclaimer: My advice may or may not work for you. I'm just sharing what I teach my nephew. Let's change our bad habits for a better Philippines. Change should start within us.Teach our youth how to be responsible and prepare them for adulthood. We can have "Superman" as president but even his superpowers won't be enough to make a better Philippines.













Why Filipinos Eat With a Spoon and Fork

Monday, June 13, 2016



Before the Spaniards came to conquer the Philippines, the natives used their hands to eat. The natives scoop up food using the fingers of their right hand. When Spaniards came, they brought their culinary traditions and our dishes evolved. Using hands to eat were then frowned upon since they introduced the use of utensils. The spoon and fork became the primary choice. 

(Nah, who are we kidding? We still love to use our hands from time to time!)

How to Use It

The spoon is held with the right hand and the fork in the left. Use the fork to spear and hold down a piece of food while the spoon is used to cut or tear off small pieces. The spoon also comes handy when eating rice and soup. 
As a typical Pinay, I love to eat sinigang together with the rice. Can you imagine eating this with fork and knife? Spoon and chopsticks? Or just the spoon? It would be weird wouldn't it? Filipinos love to combine pieces of meat, veggie, rice, and the "sabaw" together in one subo (spoonful). Using spoon and fork together makes perfect sense.

Photo source: http://www.goonswithspoons.com/

It's All About the Rice

Filipino food (just like any Asian country) is never complete without the rice. Can you imagine eating plain Adobo? Afritada? Sisig? Que horror! Spoon and fork compliments our way of eating. It's very practical. It's just weird to use knife and fork when eating our rice meals. 

#1. It's hard to scoop up rice with just fork. It just keeps falling (unless it's a very sticky rice). 
#2. Imagine using knife and fork when eating Afritada and rice:
     You cut the meat with the knife then you spear it with the fork sabay subo, then you scoop up rice using the fork, rice kept falling, so you do it again. Not fun for me! I love eating a spoonful of rice, meat, Afritada sauce, and some potato cubes. 

When Eating Western Food 


Not all foods can be eaten with spoon and fork. When I'm eating steak and mashed potatoes, I use steak knife and fork, it makes more sense this way. Using spoon to cut the steak isn't practical. And using the fork to scoop up mashed potatoes are totally fine. 

Photo source: recipeshubs.com

Living Abroad

When you are outside the Philippines, it is advisable to practice the customs of your host country. You don't wanna stick out like a sore thumb. Would you eat with spoon and fork when dining at a fine dining restaurant? Eat lobster thermidor with spoon and fork? I know you'll say "kanya kanyang trip lang yan", but it wouldn't hurt to practice dining etiquette of the place you are currently in. Learning to use the proper utensils of your host country can be beneficial for your social life.



"When in Rome, live as the Romans do; when elsewhere, live as they live elsewhere."
~Saint Ambrose


 

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Certified foodie. Crazy cat lady in training.

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