Fleeting Conversations with Strangers

I remember this two-hour train ride somewhere abroad. I was talking to this guy about Philippine cacao beans and Van Gogh’s neurosis and weighted-average cost of capital, and there was a moment when he was looking at me with this silly expression of ‘this person is really cute’. I kept thinking about it because I wouldn’t understand how someone would look at me that way, because I just spilled coffee all over this stranger’s suit a few minutes ago; and more so because he was listening with great intensity as I was talking about something so mundane as corporate finance.

I collect stories of spontaneous encounters and treat them like fairy tales; Transient souls I would probably never encounter again; fleeting moments that would probably never happen in my lifetime again. It makes me feel more human; brief reminders that I will never be in complete control of life and fate.

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Island Girl, Concrete Jungle

I Changed… Yet Again!

I’ve decided to rename my blog again–Postcardpretty.com is now IslandGirlConcreteJungle.com.

An ubiquitous source on travel with a third-world passport and surviving life in general. The reason being, I moved on to becoming more adult.

My current life goal: to be as productive as I can before my next mid-life crisis and finally decide to join the circus.

Follow!

AIM Feature: Rachel Arandilla

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“After a quarter life crisis, I decided to take MBA (because that’s why you take MBA, right?). After some eight weeks of GMAT self-study and receiving the AIM letter of admissions shortly after, I moved to Makati. It was a whirlwind for me, everything happened too fast.

At first, I felt like a bit of an oddball. The whole corporate culture was something entirely different to me. A travel writer by profession & fine arts by training, I grew up in an island with no Pt of time. My social circle made up of artists, surfers and bohemians. Imagine the amount of adjustment I endured when moving to Makati and going to business school.

My first math encounter since high school algebra was when I did my GMAT preps. So everything was completely new to me. There was a lot of times when I completely felt stumped. I would enviously look at my classmates and wonder how they breeze through LOB and Finance while every time I go through the readings, I cry on the inside. Rather than feeling bad for myself, I just tried harder. Remember, everyone starts off as a beginner. Every pro-surfer would look like an idiot when they first got on the board.

Starting off a little behind everyone else can be discouraging.Understandable-most of us grew up where success, or being the best, is celebrated. We get brownie points from our parents when we excel. Schools reward the top students in academic achievement. The problem with this mentality is it creates an illogical and immense fear in failure.

The biggest victims are the overachievers – they tend to be crippled with failure. Hence they tend to stick to their expertise and do not broaden their skill because of their anxiety on failure. “I can not dance” or “I’m bad at languages” or “I have no sense of balance”; But more of the fear of failing at it. It’s easier for them to say ‘That’s impossible,’ rather than ‘That’s hard’.

Willful advice for parents and future parents: rather than praising achievements, we should raise a kid who will not give up.

My arts background is not a crutch-everyone has to start a little bit. My learning curve may be much longer than my classmates’, but I think my learning experience was much more satisfying. When you finally ‘get’ what your classmates were talking about two sessions ago, nothing felt more rewarding.

Learn to accept that failure is part of life. Learn to laugh at yourself-the worth of wisdom from that failure is much more valuable.”

The Runaway Bride Stigma

‘If you’re so bold, jumping on cliffs without a flinch, why do you hesitate at love?’ 

That statement from a friend sounded more like a mocking dare. Like, ‘I bet you can’t do that!’ There’s nothing quite as painful as suppressing a much-needed eye roll. But I wanted to be more mature and philosophical, so I rebut:

‘Look at the household cat. By the look of his bored, pussycat face, he portrays to his human owner a life of monotony and routine; if not for the occasional betrayal of evidence in the form of mangled bodies of birds and mutilated rodents here and there that tells us of frequent, callous murders they commit in their daily lives. Your cat may lead a more interesting life than a Stepford wife.’

So that’s why you never want to get married.’

I realize that in my home base, I will always be that villain in their eyes. I’ll always have that ‘runaway bride stigma’ carried with me. A month before the wedding day with all the preparations set, I did a 360 and adamantly said I’m not walking down the aisle.

Maybe in my existential life this happened once. Or twice. Not my proudest moment. But my friends bring it up occasionally, just to make fun of me . I’ll always be that ‘girl who’s afraid of commitment’, ‘guarding her freedom like her life depended on it’. And then there’s this urban legend about me bringing ‘bad wedding luck’ to couples.

Hmm. maybe that’s why despite all the wedding photos posted on Facebook, I never get an invite.

I remember being 18, and being that manic pixie dream girl with the bangs and curls, and unavoidable paint splatters in her clothes. The type who sits in cafes and enjoys film photography. The type who would never hurt anyone. Used to poop fireworks and rainbows as well. Once upon a time I was that girl who was always in a relationship. Jumping from one long-term relationship to another; the kind that lasts for years and years that people start thinking we’re going to eventually end up together. And then I jump the gun and surprise everyone. At the last minute, I realize that it wasn’t really something I wanted. For some reason, when my relationships get close to marriage, I bail out. Queue in intense disappointment from family, friends and loved ones.

That’s the major caveat with labels and stigmas. Oh, she’s the straight-A’s stellar girl; that one’s the problem child and this one’s the alpha female. The problem with assigning people (or your own children) labels is that they will tend to live up to that label, until they fall short of your expectations and you assign them a new one.

And probably that’s also my issue with boyfriends and girlfriends: they assign you to their version of a ‘perfect mate’. But in the end, people don’t truly get to know their loved ones’ souls. They dream of ‘perfect’, but perfect is shallow. They have no interest in knowing your complexities, and they pay the price with heartache.

Look at Tom and Summer.

‘You overshadow me and don’t give me a chance at the spotlight‘, an ex said. What a big amount of bull. It’s been a recurring theme in my relationships, men make it out like it’s a sprint marathon; and their expectations are as lofty as their egos.

I remember being in a big argument with a guy because I won in an event and he congratulated me backstage with a big bouquet of flowers and surprises. He later on expressed his disappointment that I didn’t ‘thank him hard enough’. I think he wanted me to swoon and keel and maybe cry a little. Somehow, it still had to be about him. He assigned me his concept of what I should be–and frankly, I’m too selfish to be the supporting cast.

Maybe there will come a time when we meet that person who doesn’t make it like a competition. A being that is ‘strange and familiar all at once; with enough change to quicken my mind, and enough steadiness to give sanctuary to my heart’ (Iyer). A soul who feels like home and adventure all at once. Someone who gets your impulsiveness and fosters your curious spirit; a partner-in-crime with the same brand of crazy.

Until then, the world has enough curiosities to keep me fascinated and I’m perfectly fine responding to ‘When are you getting married?’ tita questions with ‘When are you planning to lose weight?’ questions.

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And Humanity’s Worst Invention Is…

My feet are getting finicky.

I’ve been having dreams of getting away again, somewhere far from pavement and pollution. Maybe somewhere with saline waters.

I wish I could go on a trip–however, business school is taking up 6 days a week, clocking at 30 hours of work a day. (Not exaggerating. I didn’t know this was possible, until AIM).

And… my passport is currently held on bond by the parents. #trustissues

I don’t have much of a choice, but to take my studies seriously.

So I peruse some requisite brain food on my bedside—Scharmer, Picketty, among other economists—not exactly easy, bedtime readings… unless your end-goal is to fall fast asleep.

One common thread of thought today put a brunt of the blame of today’s current problems and negative externalities on the Industrial Revolution and Modern Capitalism… which I agree to a certain extent; but with reservation.

Instead I have anti-progressivist views and leans towards this proposition: that mankind’s worst ‘mistake’ was agriculture.

Man: Slave to Wheat

This synthesis sounds somehow anti-progressivist. The Agricultural Revolution is touted as the ‘greatest leap forward’ for humanity. Now we have less time thinking about our survival and can finally produce sustenance at our will. Now we have more time to devote to other things—art, culture, commerce, and coitus (explaining the massive human population explosion).

Diamond and Harari pointed otherwise. Agriculture left farmers with life more miserable and less satisfying than hunter-gatherers, in fact. Agriculture led to greed; and lust for the greener grass on the other side.

But it was wheat that domesticated humans, and not the other way around. During our hunter-gatherer times, humans had a more well-balanced diet. Wheat was only a marginal part of the nomad’s diet, they relied on a hundred variety of foods. The farmer’s diet is poor in minerals and vitamins (and bad for your oral health).

The heavy calorie reliance on wheat comes at a price. We have grazed forests to make way for wheat crops. Wheat demanded a lot of our time—and humans had to permanently settle next to the wheat fields. As human bodies were built to climb trees and run after deer, farming led to arthritis, hernia, and other problems to our spine, neck and knees.

It’s difficult to materialize the concept especially as we now enjoy the affluence built on the foundations of the Agricultural Revolution.

Were We Really Happier than Before?

 Another era of humankind arose: emergence of social classes, wealth inequality, obsession to gold, violent wars, cities and eventual empires that led to another problem: overpopulation and disease-ridden settlements.

This relationship between man and wheat is classic Faust: hardship in pursuit for an easier life, when we gave up that easy life in the first place.

During our nomadic lifestyle days, we lived on the road in constant search for food and security from predators and natural calamities. The prehistoric caveman is typically stereotyped as a grunting imbecile, but they were actually smarter than we think—from navigating through the stars to creating weapons from flint. They have a deeper knowledge and connection with the surroundings. Most modern men may know calculus, analytics and IT infrastructures, but leave them stranded in nature and they would not know batshit on how to survive.

We have Google. The cavemen didn’t.

The hunter-gatherers had an ideal, nutritious diet—archaeological evidence show that they were less likely to suffer from malnutrition, starvation. A lot of infectious diseases came from the Agricultural Revolution, due to crowded settlements and unhygienic situations.

In fact, skeletons show that the prehistoric nomads were taller and healthier than their farming descendants. The average height of ancient hunter-gatherers was at 6-ft.—but dramatically decreased to 5’2 ft. when farming began. It is only in the last century that the average height has returned similar to that of the ancient foragers’ time.

On average, a typical Filipino employee works 48-60 hours a week to survive, but we find that hunter-gatherer tribes living in the same prehistoric fashion work as little as 35 hours a week, hunt 3 days a week. They have no chores, errands or bills to pay. The rest of the time they are free to spend socializing with the tribe in dance, music and storytelling.

Homo sapiens would never have championed if it weren’t for the Agricultural Revolution. Were humans designed to be confined in a four-corner room to sit and work in a desk? E.g., to manage shareholders’ equities in crisp Armani business suits? To work long hours in your cubicle, and see your children grow up not knowing you anymore?

Cases of wanderlust not unfounded—they are screams calling out for our hunter-gatherer spirit. The claustrophobic urban jungle can do funny things to the human psyche—the plethora of mental conditions and psychosis weren’t present 12,000 years ago. Cavemen certainly didn’t have to go to a shrink back then.

I grew up in a beautiful island, left for the big city to pursue my dreams, to work my ass off for several years, save enough money so I can retire and move to some recluse island and spend the rest of my life in paradise.

Oh. How ironic.

Typing this frantically from a corner cubicle, maybe we all still dream of open fields and stalking around with a spear on hand.

I’m Friends with Benefit.

Something about me: I’m very lazy with makeup and I’m always on the go. I guess that’s why I’m not a makeup blogger. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to spend less time in the makeup chair for more productive things–hence why I do things like microblading (because I can’t draw a decent brow). I woke up like this, y’all. #lazygirlbeautyhacks

But I’m still a woman, and makeup is our birthright. Fine, it might have taken me 20 years to realize that makeup does not have to be high-maintenance… it can be fun too.

Laughter is the best cosmetic.

Whenever I find myself in a cosmetics area department store abroad, I tend to gravitate to Benefit because their area always looks more fresh, warm and friendly–with a quirky sense of humor. Just like your trusted BFF.

In a sea of sophisticated black-and-white brands, the flirty and fun Benefit brand stood out in department store floors. Benefit products come in really unique retro-chic packaging with cheeky names.

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I love their branding and positioning, and more so for their wacky ideas! A friend told me they saw Benefit have these Cosmetics Vending Machines in US airports. I Googled it up and found these! What an ingenious idea!

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Image source: Makeup and Beauty Blog

Benebabe / Friend with Benefit

So now I’m officially a Friend with Benefit. And a clingy one, too.

Slowly, I’ve grown to enjoy putting on makeup and feeling pretty, but still want to make it as quick and effortless as possible.  So if you like it no-fuss and no-stress like me, you will love the brand. Benefit Cosmetics has real girls (and women!) in mind–girls who are busy, always on the go. The brand knows that every woman is unique, with varying face types and different facial care needs.

My favorite thing about their products? Their handiness–they are so compact, user-friendly and small enough to fit in your purse or makeup kit.

The company said it well: ‘makeup doesn’t have to be serious to be good.’

Benefit: Your Fairy Brow Mother

Benefit has gained quite a reputation in the brow department. A lot of celebrities and influencers live by . They’ve perfected the Art of Brow, even before eyebrows on fleek were a thing!

Benefit has eyebrow solutions for all kind of brow problems: patchy brows, uneven brows, shapeless brows or even absent brows.

The Benefit Brow Bar offers brow waxing services to help shape and groom your brows. Groomed brows make a big difference in your face–it will give an instant facelift and take a few years off your face.

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Benefit Opens Now in Cebu!

Imagine my excitement when I heard that Benefit is finally opening in Cebu! I got invited to their media launch and was fortunate enough to be one of the first to sneak a peek into their first boutique in Cebu at SM Seaside City.

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Now’s the perfect time to indulge and stock up on my Benefit must-haves! Some favorites are the Battina, Cheekathon, the Brow collection and the Be Porefessional.

The Cebu shop looks pretty and playful in pink! Everyone was just as excited as I to dig into some loot.

Here are some photos with fellow bloggers, influencers and press:

In an upcoming post, I’ll show you my travel makeup kit–a lot of the contents are from Benefit! Watch out for it soon.

Nightlife Guide: How to Party in Cebu

For a lot of travelers, nightlife is ineluctably part of their itinerary. Sure, sightseeing and tours are a great way to see the city–but how do you truly know a city unless you’ve seen the night lights… unless you’ve mingled with the locals?

I myself love to socialize. Hence I’ve decided to make a series of nightlife guides to different cities around the globe I’ve been to–and why not start with my home base, Cebu City?

To upcoming tourists and travelers to Cebu, this is a comprehensive-as-possible guide on nightlife in Cebu, and on how, where and when to party when in the Queen City of the South.

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Mind you, this guide features bars and clubs that I personally frequent–bars great for socializing, drinking and just having clean, good fun. So, this isn’t exactly the guide on bars that can help you ‘score’ some girls… sorry, not an expert in that department.

How to Drink and Party in Cebu?

There’s this widely known credence that Asians ‘can’t drink’… but this does not apply to Filipinos! A lot of guys have beer as drink accompaniment with their meals–breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whether you are in the city or the province, you can walk around and will see groups of men huddled in a table, drinking together. They will often invite you to drink with them.

Filipinos love their beer and alcohol. Beer is the poison of choice for most Filipinos. In more formal occasions such as family gatherings where the titas and titos are sure to make an appearance, then they will take out their wine glasses. Otherwise, gin, rum and beer are a safe bet. Filipinos drink to get drunk. Period.

It’s amazing to see how many activities Filipinos can do intoxicated–they can drive, cook, go to work, and do their errands while under the influence of alcohol. It’s not something we’d recommend though.

Tagayan‘ is popular especially among Vis-Min area, a manner of drinking wherein instead of separate glasses for every drinker, only one cup is used and passed around. I know, it sounds very unsafe and unsanitary, but this is how Filipinos bond and show camaraderie.

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Filipinos like to drink with some food, known as ‘pulutan‘. These are often fatty deep-fried foods like chicken skin, sisig or nuts.

Karaoke is another popular nightlife activity, as majority of the Filipino population aspire to become famous singer-celebrities someday.

In Cebu, EDM or electro dance music is the preference of most partygoers, although the hiphop/r&b scene is slowly gaining momentum lately. A lot of visitors complain that Filipino bars and clubs tend to be ‘too loud’, where you can barely hear or speak to each other.

Cebu parties start late and end late. The clubs start getting packed by midnight. The party usually starts to subside by 3AM, although on high peak season party could last until 5-6Am.

It’s customary for partygoers to eat after-party, to regenerate some lost energy. Cebuano’s favorite post-party food of choice is bulalo. Other favorites include siomai and puso, ramen or noodles, silog (breakfast) food at Gian’s or fast food like Jollibee or McDonald’s. Cebuanos don’t care much about eating healthy…

When to Party in Cebu?

There seems to be an annual trend in the party scene in Cebu, with a high peak and low peak season–plan your trip accordingly. The night scene is pretty dead during the summer school break, around on April time, before it starts to pick up again during July when school season starts and tourists coming in. It gets even busier during ‘-ber’ months, peaking on December and January, before winding down again on February.

The best time to come to Cebu to party is during December to January, which is holiday season leading up to Sinulog season. Cebuanos are on ‘party mood’ during this time, as many balikbayans and overseas relatives come home during the holiday season. This means an endless string of christmas parties, reunions, homecomings, family parties, and more. Lechon, lechon, lechon. And plenty of Jose Mari Chan.

Sinulog is a different experience on its own that i would like to immortalize in a separate future blog post. But it’s definitely something one needs to experience, to get to know what Cebu party life and hospitality is all about. I met the best people and had the best experience every Sinulog!

 

Off-peak season is a bit trickier. Unlike major Asian cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong or Manila where something’s always happening every day of the week, Cebu City still has some sleepy days. Nightlife is pretty good on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Saturdays being the busiest time of the week.

On Wednesdays, the most popular activity is Salsa Nights at MAYA, a Mexican restaurant of the Abaca Group in Crossroads, Banilad. Salsa night is every Wednesdays from 9PM to 12PM every Wednesdays. The crowd is hip and international, sharing the same love for latin music.

Where to Party?

Cebu nightlife is colorful, lively and loud. Filipinos  always have energy to go out and mingle.

  • LIV Superclub

LIV is the biggest nightclub in Cebu offers a club experience set at international standard. Famous local and international EDM DJs have played here, including Otto Knows, Dirty South, EVO-K and more. Even the Maria Ozawa has graced her presence here!

LIV Superclub is located at The Times Square, Mandaue City, Cebu. There is usually an entrance fee of Php300.

(photos grabbed from the LIV Superclub FB page)

  • Distillery

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Distillery is the default drinking place of choice for the people within my crowd. Distillery is located in the Crossroads, Banilad Cebu City. I could easily go there any day of the week alone, not make plans with anyone, and still find a friend or acquaintance lurking by (I’m looking at you, Jedd and Alvin…).

The problem with Distillery is it can get a bit… clique-ish, because everyone knows everyone in here. It’s still a nice place to have drinks and listen to good music though.

 

  • The Sentral

The Sentral is Cebu’s first all-hiphop bar and lounge, providing the best of hiphop and R&B music in Cebu.The Sentral is located at Norkis Cyberpark, AS Fortuna, Mandaue.

  • Maya

Maya Mexican Restaurant is part of the Abaca group of restaurants and located in The Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City.

Come to Maya at Wednesdays, when the second floor transforms into a salsa dance floor! Wednesday salsa nights attract a lively and international crowd. Maya Restaurant the best mojitos in town–which is 2-for-1 on salsa night! Starting mid-2016, Maya also has Salsa Sundays with 2-for-1 margaritas!

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  • The Social

The Social is a restaurant and cafe by day, and a bar lounge by night. A lot of expats and foreign tourists prefer The Social because of its location and convenience, located in the 4F Ayala Center Cebu. They have Havana Nights on Tuesdays and one can also easily make friends by just chilling on the bar and watch football.

  • Ibiza

Ibiza Beach Club is a chic bar and lounge located in Movenpick Resort, Mactan. Modeled after the actual Ibiza in Spain, it offers a unique drinking and dining experience with a breathtaking ocean view. They have happy hour everyday from 3-5pm where drinks are 2-in-1, and have a lovely view of the sunset too.

Ibiza is one of my favorite spots in Cebu and would be here more frequently if it wasn’t so far away from the city central.

  • Morals and Malice

Morals and Malice is a posh and stylish lounge bar located about the Tinder Box, and right beside The Crossroads, Banilad. The interiors are a work of art, masterfully crafted by the famed Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue himself.

The bar’s interesting namesake is based on the two-part, yin-and-yang concept nature of the establishment. Half of the place will be serving coffee and brunch (Morals), whereas the Malice part serves drinks and cocktails.

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Image from The Inquirer
  • Mango Ave

I am not an expert when it comes to the party scene in Mango, but I’ve stumbled here on rare occasions when I already had that much to drink to make it ‘okay’ for me to venture out here. Something’s always going on in Mango–popular bars are J-Ave and Alchology. Things always seem to get weird here, one way or another… It’s definitely not boring though.

  • Other Chill Drink Areas

For wine nights, La Vie Parisienne and Ampersand are personal favorites. La Vie is affordable, while Ampersand is the more high-end choice with great food choices. Marriott Hotel offers unlimited wine on the evenings for only Php699/head, and is conveniently located beside Ayala Mall. Gusto Urban Deli + Cafe, District 53rd and Planet Grapes are also good choices.

Cebu has a growing number of pubs around the city to accommodate the growing population of expats and foreign visitors coming in. Aside from The Social, Marshall’s Irish Pub and Emerald Isle are recommended pubs to watch football or rugby (or your sport of choice).

For cocktails, I think Bellini is beautiful and underrated-this champagne lounge is located beside Anzani Restaurant in Nivel Hills, Lahug and offers a nice view. I’d recommend this place if you want some privacy or a quiet date night.

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Bellini (image source: Zee Lifestyle)

Other Nighttime Activities

Not really a party animal? There’s still tons of activities to do in Cebu when the sun goes down. If you enjoy singing as much as most Filipinos do, karaoke is a good nighttime activity. There aren’t many hookah bars in Cebu–although I’ve seen some in IT Park (Figola) and in Times Square, Mandaue City.

If you’re a self-proclaimed geek, you will enjoy trivia nights, slogos nights and board game nights which happen on various days of the week. Cebu Trivia Night is every Wednesdays at Alejandro’s and every Thursdays at Politics. Slogos Night is every Wednesdays at Monkey’s Belly and every Friday’s at Handuraw Kasambagan. Tabletop Nights allow you to play board games with fellow enthusiasts, held every Mondays at Bubble Bee Tea House Escario Central.

 

Love and Dating in the Tinder Era

I caught up with a previous guy I dated before. Amazingly, this guy still chose to be friends with me– I’m not friends with majority of my exes.

I met this guy in Paris, and dated briefly until I realize that you’re different when you’re on holiday and when you’re home; and that means you would not date some people otherwise if you were on real-life mode. A few months later and 10,000km apart, I’m now giving this guy dating and relationship advice.

Sure, he would still give his usual spiel that I should come and live in Paris instead (he has 200 different ways and reasons, none of which were thoroughly convincing), and then he would confide how it’s difficult to find a real relationship nowadays–despite his numerous matches and options at hand nowadays. This is coming from someone who’s a 6 ft tall doctor with washboard abs and a jawline that can cut things. and French.

But after coming from two half-decade relationships with no breathing time in between, and then being suddenly single; I don’t know how to navigate the ‘modern dating scene’ anymore (hence, I’m really not the best person to ask for love and relationship advice).

It seems that love in the modern era is trickier, muddier. Online dating has made the dating game a numbers game. Tinder is supposed to make things easier, but harder at the same time. Everyone’s suddenly commitment-phobic, hooking up is normal, and everything is all about instant gratification. There are now several relationship statuses created by millennial dating; a spectrum of greys that were once just black-and-white: Casual dating, ‘just hanging out’, laissez-faire, FWBs, Cuddle Buddies, Hotline Blings, one-sided relationships, on-again, off-again couples… a lot of these definitely didn’t exist the last time I was last single.

And yet, people still yearn for that real connection. You can tell by the hugot lines shared on your news feed and the number of ThoughtCatalog articles complaining about the same thing. We all want the same, real thing. Everyone just pretends to not give a damn.

Modern dating is just like Game of Thrones. There’s just too many characters to keep track of, and you seriously can’t get attached to any of them, because you know nothing so good would last too long. Love in the time of tinder is a lot like love in the time of cholera.

I’m not saying finding love on Tinder or online dating websites is not possible. Some people swear by it. It was an easy choice to disconnect for me. I needed that spur-of-the-moment, unpremeditated element. That real and rare connection. I need to see the madness in your eyes. I just need to know if we’re the same brand of crazy.

 

What To Do If You Lose Your Philippine Passport

Losing a passport is one of the most stressful things that could happen to a traveler, especially when abroad. In fact, it is also one of my biggest fears (gasp!)–I can imagine the headache and the hassle you have to go through, as well as the change of plans and expenses you will incur. Losing a passport is not very fun.

Even if you haven’t lost your passport, some preparedness and knowledge will come in handy in case the event arises (we hope it won’t!). This will help diminish stress levels. Read on if you want to know what to do in the case that you, or a loved one, lose a Philippine passport.

First, How NOT to Lose Your Passport

First of all, let’s talk about deterrents–how NOT to lose your passport.

Your passport should be the first and last thing you check when leaving or arriving at all times.

Most hotels have safe boxes–use them. Leave your valuables and passport when not needed. You’re less likely to lose your passport if you kept it safely locked in your hotel room than bring it with you everywhere. I don’t carry my passport unless I have reason to.

Granted, there are countries that do require mandatory identification checks. If you do choose to carry it around when touring, just make sure your wary of your valuables and keep your handbag close to you at all times.

Also, carrying a passport when clubbing is a bad idea.

Finally, always bring a photocopy of your passport when traveling. Leave a copy to trusted family and friends too, or even keep a digital version of your passport so you can easily print it when the need arises.

Losing Your Philippine Passport at Home

If you already lost all hope and resign to the fact that you have indeed lost your passport, you need to file an Affidavit of Loss and a Police Report. Get the Affidavit of Loss from a lawyer, where you will have to state all the details on how you lost your passport: when, where, how, etc. This document must be notarized.

For the Police Report, go to the nearest police station that covers the area where you lost your passport. Even if you lost your passport by sheer carelessness and not through criminal activity like theft or arson (hey, it can happen), you still need to file a police report.

Apart from these two requisites, you need the usual documents to passport application: your NSO birth certificate, valid Government-issued ID, etc.

Just go through the same process of applying for a passport, just pay an additional Lost Passport fee of Php200. To learn more about the new passport application process in Cebu, read my blog post here!

Losing Your Passport Abroad

If you lose your passport while traveling abroad, you need to act fast. The first thing you need to do is to file a Police Report. You’ll also need the police report for travel insurance claims and declaration of lost passport. Immediate action will also prevent anyone from using your passport illegally.

The next step is to locate and contact the nearest embassy or consulate (For a list of Philippine Embassies and Consulates around the world, refer to this link). You need to make a personal appearance, so book an appointment (as walk-ins are generally not allowed). The Philippine embassy or consulate or normally available for appointment on weekday mornings, so let’s hope you didn’t lose your passport over the weekend!

philippine_embassy

Bring your police report, passport photos, itinerary, flight details and proof of citizenship.You will need to pay some fees in cash and should be able to get your temporary passport within 24 hours. The embassy or consulate can either give you a replacement passport that will allow you to finish your trip or an emergency travel document that will get you back home ASAP.

 

 

Jiufen & Shifen: Taiwan’s Old Streets

Did you know that Taiwan was actually Japan’s first colony? You can still feel it, once you step on the shores of Taiwan–you can feel a little bit of China, and a little bit of Japan… but don’t tell the Taiwanese that.

Japan wanted to show off to the world that they can also do the imperial colonizing thing like the Westerners can, and wanted to set Taiwan as a model example. You can still see the remnants of Japan especially in Taiwan’s old towns, particularly Jiufen and Shifen. If you want to experience more history and culture, these old mining towns give a feel of what Taiwan was like during the late 20th-century Japanese occupation.

In the late 20th century, gold was discovered in the area which ushered the gold rush and brought in a lot of people in that area. Mining was a lucrative industry in the hey-day: naturally rich in sulfur, gold, clay and gold. Nowadays, however, Taiwan now relies on imports to meet their mineral demands.

Jiufen and Shifen are good to visit in a day’s trip, as they are quite nearby and accessible. (Personally, I think it would be better if you allocate one day for each town!)

How to Get There?

Jiufen and Shifen is 40km and 30km away from the capital, respectively.

To get to Jiufen and Shifen, you need to get to Ruifang Train Station. You can also take the bus (approx $15-22 NTD/trip). . The commute is fairly inexpensive and easy to navigate, and takes approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour to get to your destination. The travel offers scenic views of the Taiwanese countryside.

shihfen flying lanterns

I should warn you that the commute back is a lot less pleasant. Queues at the bus station get pretty long after sunset. Day visitors often have to compete for a seat to the bus ride home.

So if you’re not the hustling kind, it would be better if you take the train (buying a roundtrip ticket in advance gets you a guaranteed seat) or simply hire a cab for the day. It will be more comfortable that way.

Jiufen

Jiufen is a charming little mining town in Northern Taiwan where time literally froze. It used to be a bustling gold mining town, until the gold depleted and it became a deserted, forgotten gem. There was a revived interest in the town when it appeared in the acclaimed movie City of Sadness, and it became a famous tourist attraction.

Although there is some dispute regarding this, Jiufen is said to be the real-life inspiration behind Hayao Miyazaki’s film, Spirited Away. If you haven’t seen the animated film, it’s about a little girl whose parents transformed into pigs and enters into a spirit world. Jiufen offers the magical backdrop of the film, from the winding, cobblestone streets  down to the  pork dumplings the Chihiro’s parents devoured greedily in the film.

Jiufen is filled with shops selling unique food and quirky things you will never find elsewhere. Shops sell trinkets, calligraphy art, peanut ice cream, shaved ice desserts… all sorts of things!

One particular shop had a handmade mask exhibit that reminded me again of another scene from the Miyazaki film.

The bathhouse is inspired by the A-mei Teahouse nestled in the highest part of the mountain. The teahouse is said to be a century old, where you could have traditional tea served with a good view of the town

Shifen

Located in Pingxi Disctrict is another charming town famous for another thing: their magnificent flying lanterns. Annually, they hold the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival every February wherein thousands of sky lanterns are flown. I bet that is a sight to behold.

Once a bustling town with a railway that was a major player in Taiwan’s coal mining industry, the city is now best known for two things: the Shifen Waterfalls, lovingly dubbed as ‘Taiwan’s Niagara Falls’, and the flying lanterns, where visitors could send their wishes to the sky.

Wishes are color-coded and prices could vary from NT100-NT150, depending on the lantern you wish to send to the sky.

Just like most people, we wished for good health, love and more travels. Oriental characters on the flying lanterns seem more awesome than the English alphabet though… Watch our lantern go up in the sky!

It was magical to see your lantern fly up the sky and see your wishes reach the heavens… Unfortunately, I was told that the lanterns fly up for 10 minutes before it comes down to the ground. The lantern shops have workers whose job is to retrieve the fallen lanterns. Boo. Not as magical as I thought.

photobombing pixie sticks shifen taiwan

In the evening, we bought some fairy sticks and acted like kids. Who knew it was so much fun to light these things? Thanks fairy light photobombers for making this photo of me awesome! 🙂

So here you go! Do yourself a little favor and have a side trip to Jiufen and Shifen when you’re in Taiwan.