Postcard Eats: GIBBS’ Hot Wings and What’s New

ewGibbs’ Hot Wings is one of Cebu’s most famous hole-in-the-wall new restaurants and their hot wings are comfort food of choice to many Cebuanos. Reputed for being the best wings in town, I adore the unique flavors of hot wings and their careful selection of craft beers. Coy sure knows his beers.

gibbs angel wings
My personal favorite–the Angel Wings!
gibbs hot wings beers
Gibbs Hot Wings Beers. They also carry a good selection of local craft beers by Cebruery!

I personally love their Angel Wings (affectionately called ‘Carbonara Wings’) because I can’t handle my spice as much as some people could. If you love your spicy, you can choose the spiciness level from 1 to 5.

They started in a small and humble manner. The owner, Coy Oliva, used to drink with friends at home and his wife’s hot wings was the crew’s pulutan of choice. The hot wings were a hit: his friends requested for them all the time, and eventually started ordering them to bring to their family and friends. One friend suggested to them that they should sell their hot wings.

Gibbs’ started as a small-hole-in-the-wall in the extra space of the owner’s house. The hot wings were such a big hit, that within months the owners opened their second shop in Streetscape, Maria Luisa Road, Banilad, Cebu City.

So, What’s New with Gibbs’?

On our media launch last week, we were the first to know the many exciting news for Gibbs’ Hot Wings. First, introducing their newest on the menu: Their Cajun Hot Wings. It had just the right amount of spicy and smoky flavor.

gibbs hot wings cajun

Second, Gibbs’ Hot Wings has partnered with Zomato for delivery orders. You can get your hot wings fix conveniently at the comforts of your home by just ordering via the Zomato app.

Lastly, Gibbs’ has announced that they will be opening their second branch at Robinsons Galleria Cebu, set to open later this year. A very interesting year ahead for Gibbs’!

GIBBS’ Weekly Events and Promos

Gibbs’ holds interesting weekly events, giving you more reasons to visit:

  • Mayday Sundays – Come in groups of at least 5 and for a minimum orders of P1000, to get 10% off.
  • Wing It Wednesdays – Bring your bff, wingman or winggirl, barkada, to get one free order of fries!
  • Acoustic Wednesdays – Listen to the cool tunes by Acoustic Duo Anton & Glynis from 8pm to 10.30pm
  • Thirsty Thursdays – Unlimited Coolers! Order any pitcher of our house blend coolers to avail of bottomless drinks.

You can check their FB page for more info on event and promo updates.

DISCLAIMER: Some photos by the owner and the Gibbs’ official FB page

GIBBS’ Hot Wings is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays at 11am to 2pm and open for dinner daily from 5:30pm to 12:00am. GIBBS’ Hot Wings is located at Streetscape Mall, Maria Luisa Rd, Banilad, Cebu City. Contact number 349-2103 / 09226424888. Check their FB Page here and their official website at http://www.gibbshotwings.com.

Uber for Traveling, Uber for Cebu!

I don’t know about you, but there’s something ‘off’ or ‘weird’ when getting a cab in another country. There’s a ton of things to worry about. Is this safe? Did I bring enough money? Should I tip? Did I give him the right directions? My anxiety levels are high when I feel vulnerable, as I am normally the one behind the wheel at home. Now I have to give my trust to a complete stranger.

I tried to avoid getting a cab abroad because it’s horrendously expensive (especially in London!). However there are times when you really need to cab it: when you’re carrying a giant backpack plus a 30 kg. luggage; and when you’re on the way to a party looking like a million dollars.

I thank the stars that the idea of Uber was conceived where you can hail a cab with a touch of a button. Moreover, there is no awkward exchange of cash (my least favorite thing, especially when you’re handling with alien currencies)–everything is tabbed to your credit card.

My First Uber Ride.

My first Uber ride was in Paris. I was living with a friend in Universitaire and transferring to another friend’s at Cite de Phalsbourg. I know getting there via Metro would be impossible–I did have my 30 kg. luggage this time, and the Paris Metro is infamous for their lack of escalators and elevators. Plus the last time I took the metro, someone stole my box of pizza.

Yes, someone took off with my pizza. That really happened. Everything happens in Paris!

I figured out it was the perfect time to try Uber for the first time. Interestingly, I later learned that the idea of Uber was conceived when the founders couldn’t get a cab in a cold winter night in Paris.

I used my friend’s referral code and got 10 EUR off my first Uber ride. The 10km ride cost me less than 20 EUR. If I had taken the traditional cab, I would’ve paid around 30-40 EUR.

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My Uber Obsession in Manila

If the Uber founders found it difficult to get a taxi in Paris, they haven’t been to Manila.

The cab drivers from hell live in Manila. The moment you arrive the airport, taxi drivers try to rip you off as much as they can. They will pretend to be oblivious on where the hell Greenbelt is even if they’ve lived in Manila all their lives. When you show them the map, they pretend to be stupid and will go around avenues just so they can charge you more.

Fuckers.

If you’re traveling to Manila soon, my advice is to just stick to Uber. Honest taxi drivers are mythical unicorns in Manila.

My stress levels are high every time I get on a traditional taxi in Manila, so I Uber almost everywhere when walking is not an option. Uber cars have a GPS so they can never say ‘I don’t know where that is’. And the tracking makes it harder for them to go around in circles so they can charge higher. All I needed was to get in the Uber car and not worry about anything.

Why Uber is Awesome

Uber is perfect in the Philippine setting for those number of reasons, and more. Philippine taxi drivers will rip unsuspecting tourists off any opportunity they can. With Uber, you have a rating system where riders can rate drivers (and vice versa) so customer satisfaction is optimally better.

Another aspect of customer satisfaction is the quality of the ride. Uber drivers own the car they drive, hence they take care of it and better maintained than the traditional taxi counterparts. A/C will be working, seats will be more comfortable and the car will be cleaner.

UberX, which is available in the Philippines, is the low cost option, which is generally 30% cheaper than getting a regular cab ride. The GPS app they use ensure that they will know where they are going and won’t drive you in circles just to mess with you.

Who says car owners can’t use Uber too? Studies confirm that it is a lot cheaper to Uber than to own a car in Manila, with the hidden costs of maintenance and upkeep. Plus, won’t it be awesome if we could just sit in the backseat, not worry about driving and play Pokémon Go? If you want to go out without the worry of parking or who will be driving after a few beers, just Uber it!

Uber’s advocacy is to have less cars on the road. Traffic is getting worse in the Philippines, and if you could lessen the quantity of cars, we make it easier for all commuters on the road. I myself personally hate driving even if I have my own car, so the convenience Uber brings make ‘owning a car’ a less priority to millennials than before.

More butts into the backseats for fewer cars in the road. The UberHop feature allows you to split costs and carpool with fellow Uber riders going on the same direction as you. I don’t know about you, but sounds like a grand idea.

Uber Celebrates Cebu

Uber is now available in 480 cities around the world, including Manila and Cebu in the Philippines.

Cebu City will be the first city in the Philippines to have a cash payment option for Uber riders! This is good news, as in the Philippines credit card penetration is only 2%. This makes it more accessible to more Cebuanos!

In line with that, all first-time Uber riders in Cebu get 50% off their first five rides from today until July 17. Simply enter the promo code: CELEBRATECEBU upon sign up to avail of the discounted rides.

cebu bloggers society smartlife
CBS with Uber PH heads, Laurence Cua, Uber PH GM and EJ dela Vega, Uber Cebu City lead

How to Use Uber

Simply download the app and register for an account to start using Uber.

Uber How-to JPG

How to use the Cash Payment Option in Uber?

Choose the uberX option in the app. Before requesting a ride, change your payment option to cash on the confirmation page. The payment bar is located at the lower half of your screen. Enter your destination and request a ride.

You’ll see your driver’s details straight away–name, photo and the details of the car. These drivers have professional driving licenses and have undergone an extensive screening process.

At the end of your trip, the app will reflect the fare that you need to pay. Hand your payment to your driver and you’ll receive an electronic receipt via email.

Download Uber now and use my promo code to get your first free ride!

My promo code: rachela5448ue

Or just click this link! https://www.uber.com/invite/postcardpretty

Mum & Baby: My Toddler’s First Trip to the Movies

Caleb knew how to get my attention.

He wasn’t that subtle, either. After half a dozen times of sitting on my laptop and GMAT books, I gave up any hope and concluded no studying is going to happen for the rest of the week.

We need to do something. Mum and son are quickly getting cabin fever at home. I’m the kind of human who gets bored of routine and I have all the reasons to believe that my offspring is the same. The rest of the family were in USA, his nanny went home to the province–what else was there to do? I decided to take him to the cinema.

Finding Dory is already showing, and Caleb already loved Finding Nemo–that movie has been on replay since he was 12 months old. In fact, Caleb can identify more marine animals than land animals. Sharks are his favorite. Finding Dory will make the perfect first mother-and-son movie date.

finding dory

Plus, I already had some Ayala Center Cebu credits that we could use, by being featured at the A Guide (Ayala’s Shopping Style Guide). So I’d like to thank Ayala Cebu for making our first movie date possible!

As we queued up for tickets, I started getting a mini-panic attack. Caleb was already running around back and forth and pretending not to hear me. Was this really a smart idea, to take a 2-year-old to the movies? Will he cry, shout and annoy the other moviegoers?

This should be interesting. Knowing my little man, I was sure he wouldn’t cry or shout–but he’ll probably run around in the movies. I decided to take the 2:00pm schedule and the front row seats for my two-year-old’s viewing purposes.

After buying the tickets, we got the snacks. A lot of patronizing parents will judge me for getting him unhealthy Potato Corner french fries, but it’s his favorite snack and I wanted to indulge him once in a while. If you want a healthier alternative, I also got us Tater’s tofu chips. I tried to feed him these but he barely touched them. I also got Tater’s sugar-free lemonade for our drinks.

Of course, the success of movie-going depend largely on the parent, the child and the movie. Not all kids are the same, and some may find the loud sound and darkness overwhelming. I’m thankful Caleb is unfazed by most things (I am more scared of the dark than he is!) and he tries to help me by carrying the food and drinks. He likes having a role, it makes him feel responsible and has a purpose in life (to take care of this absent-minded adult who calls herself ‘mom’).

Upon coming inside, the cinema staff asked if we would want to have a high seat for Caleb. I didn’t know cinemas offer this because it was my first time taking a kid out to the movies, but it was great. So even if we were sat at the front I still decided to take one. I also took a snack tray because we brought a lot of food!

two year old baby first trip to the movies

The movie is around two-hours long, so I didn’t want to strain Caleb too much. We went outside during the ads and trailers part–I didn’t see the point of him watching the trailers. For toddlers, they don’t see the difference between film and ad content, so I had him run around outside the cinema to entertain himself before the movie starts.

There is a animated short skit before the start of Finding Dory about a baby bird in the beach. The visuals are so impressive now, I couldn’t believe even a single grain of sand is well-defined and high-def!

Caleb was smiling like silly from the first scene to the last. He kept on saying ‘Dory!’ ‘Nemo!’ He was pointing at the sea animals he knew–whales, turtles, octopuses and fish. He was laughing at all the appropriate scenes, and imitating the famous Dory whale talk. One thing about Caleb–he has a great sense of humor, that kid.

So yes, when Sia was already heard singing ‘Unforgettable’ and the credits rolled out, I sighed in relief. Wow, my two-year-old actually sat throughout the whole film! I didn’t even notice the 120 minutes pass by. Sure, in the middle of the film Caleb took out his high seat (it was actually very hard and uncomfortable) and he spilled the lemonade towards the end, but other than that, it was a gratifying experience for both of us!

I would recommend Finding Dory to even little kids like mine. The movie is colorful, funny and full of lovable characters–Dory, Nemo, Marlin, Hank, Destiny, Bailey… and even the hugging otters, they were all so adorable.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.23.51 PMFor doing a very good job in behaving at the movies, I treated Caleb to some post-movie treat, The Suite Room matcha ice cake.

So yes. It is possible to take a two-year-old to the movies. Did he enjoy it? Yes. Will he remember it? Probably not most of it. It was a great experience nonetheless!

As a recap, here are some tips and pointers on what to expect on your little one’s first trip to the movies:

  • If possible, choose an afternoon schedule on a weekday. Choose a not-so-busy movie schedule.
  • You can miss watching the trailers. Your child can’t tell apart movie and ad or trailer content, so why bother?
  • What’s a movie without snacks? You can get the usual popcorn and soda, but there are also healthier alternatives such as the tofu chips and sugar-free lemonade that we got from Tater’s.
  • Your child will be slightly disadvantaged by height, so choose the front row seats whenever possible, or avail of the high chair.
  • Know your child’s interests and preferences as well. Caleb loved aquatic animals and the film kept him interested all throughout. He would also probably love animated movies about cars and animals.
  • Be mindful and respectful of other moviegoers. If your child starts crying or screaming, or kicking on the front seat, don’t pretend like it’s normal. Apologize, and if you can’t control the situation go out of the cinemas to calm your child.

 

Postcard Eats: The Suite Room’s Ice Cream Cakes

I must’ve been living under a rock, because I only recently knew about this piece of heaven.

Of course I’ve heard of The Suite Room. The Suite Room is located at Ayala Center Cebu Rooftop and Ramos branch (their pioneer branch). It is part of the Casa Verde group and is often known as the more posh and upscale version of the Casa Verde. I’ve tried Suite Room’s main course and steaks, and these were quite good.

This entry however isn’t about The Suite Room’s main course menu. We take a closer look at their dessert choices, particularly their honest-to-goodness ice cream cakes.

They have six different ice cream cake flavors, While they are all so good, everyone has their own preferences as well. As I devoured every spoonful, I kept on thinking: ‘where were you all my life?!’

Okay, that was a bit of overkill. Still, I love ice cream and I love cake. I thank Babe for Food for bringing me here and introducing me to what will be a new cheat favorite. These are their ice cakes’ six different offerings: Matcha Green Tea, Apple Cinnamon Raisin PIe, Caramel Macchiato, Mixed Berry, Double Strawberry and Peach Mango Ice Cake. The serving is huge! One order costs Php 238.

ice cake offerings at the suite room ayala cebu

  • Matcha Green Tea Ice Cake

My favorite. It’s not too sweet, and the slightly bitter taste of matcha perfectly cleanses the palate making it the perfect dish to cap off a full course meal. Matcha green tea paired with cream cheese is genius. I would have this all the time.

matcha green tea ice cream cake the suite room cebu.jpg
Matcha Ice Cake
  • Apple Cinnamon Raisin Pie Ice Cake

This is the frozen version of the All-American favorite dessert, the apple pie. I always have my apple pie warm, but this one I don’t mind served cold at all. The cinnamon smells tempting!

apple raisin walnut ice cake
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Pie
  • Caramel Macchiato Ice Cake

Caramel Macchiato is the frozen cake version of the beloved coffee drink. This is my friend Justinne’s favorite. Caramel Macchiato is rich, flavorful and sinful.

caramel macchiato ice cake.jpg
Caramel Macchiato Ice Cake
  • Mixed Berry Ice Cake

A surprising favorite to most of us! It’s something I would order to share with girlfriends who want to eat something sweet, but not be too guilty about it (Hey, it’s berries! High in antioxidants!)

mixed berry ice cream cake
Mixed Berry Ice Cake
  • Double Strawberry Ice Cake

Double Strawberry was another satisfying one. Probably children’s favorite, and my son could probably eat all this on his own. He hates sharing his desserts!

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Double Strawberry Ice Cake
  • Peach Mango Pie Ice Cake

Another frozen version of the famous Jollibee Peach Mango Pie. Peaches and mangoes are always a great combination.

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Peach Mango Ice Cake

I’m no food blogger, so I’ve easily run out of things to say to describe food! Let us know what you think of The Suite Room’s ice cakes. Which flavor is your favorite?

The Suite Room – Ayala Branch is located at 4th Level, Ayala Center Cebu, Archbishop Reyes Ave Cebu Business Park, Cebu City, Philippines.
Their Ramos Branch is located at 69 Lim Tian Teng Street (right beside Casa Verde), Ramos, Cebu City, Philippines.
For more information you can check out their Facebook page and official website.
Contact number: Ayala – (032) 266 3860 Ramos – (032) 254 0508
Opening Hours: Everyday from 10AM to 10PM

Around Cebu: Starbucks PH New Offers and my First Coffee Tasting Experience

As a traveler, I collect stuff. Souvenirs provide great memories to trips and unforgettable experiences. I started my Starbucks mug collection last 2014 and it’s the first store I look for in every city I’ve been.

starbucks travel mug collection

As an advertising graduate and later, an educator, I appreciate the brand marketing and PR efforts. They appropriately reach out to its customers and create meaningful relationships with them. As part of Cebu Bloggers Society, I was invited to their coffee tasting event so we could sample their latest food and drink offers.

It was my first coffee tasting experience and a very educational one for a coffee novice like me. We were asked to smell the coffee, and to sample it hot, iced and blended. We were asked to share stories, and to remember experiences as we sampled the taste and aroma of the particular coffee bean.

I didn’t know there were a million ways to define coffee. I thought ‘coffee’ was only meant to be bitter… and never would i have described it as ‘citrusy’, ‘berry-like’, ‘nutty’ or ‘alkaline’!

As a writer, I consume a lot of coffee and tea. Coffee keeps me awake, and tea keeps me relaxed. Without the two I will be either slightly neurotic or completely useless with the pen.

Their new offers are interesting, because they are a bit of blend of both my elixirs: The Chocolate Black Tea Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly and the Double Chocolate Green Frappuccino. A perfect combination of energizing and refreshing anyone on a hot day this summer. (Wait, what am I talking about. This is the Philippines–it’s always summer!)

 

As a foodie, I am pretty psyched about their new items too. Pair these reinvigorating drinks with their new food items such as the Purple Yam Cheesecake (with red bean and macapuno..yum!), Chicken Milk Bun and Parmagiana Wrap.

Finally, as an environmentalist, I appreciate Starbucks efforts to be more green and to encourage their customers to be green. The new Starbucks BPA-free cup is means it’s reusable, recyclable and re-enjoyable. Every time you bring these cups in, you get a discount off your order. These are all responsible efforts to the company’s waste reduction objective.

reusable cups in starbucks ph

  • All new food and drink offers will be available at all Starbucks Philippine Branches from June 7 – July 25, 2016. For more information, visit them in their stores or online at their website, www.starbucks.ph.

Nighthawks and the Death of a Hipster

nighthawks by edward hopper

This is ‘Nighthawks‘ by Edward Hopper, a 1942 American realist painting, oil in canvas. ‘Nighthawks’ is constantly referenced in pop culture, from The Simpsons to Blade Runner. It is also one of my favorite paintings of all time.

The painting shows four figures in a downtown diner at the dead of the night. Neither of the figures seem to be talking to another. The scene looks straight out of a classic film noir scene.

What drew me into the painting is the unsettling stillness. The nonchalance of the figures, together with the eery atmosphere–it portrays exactly the overtones following a wild night of partying, a few moments before the break of dawn. Most of Hopper’s paintings convey a sense of urban isolation and detachment.

Isn’t it ironic, how urban cities feel so crowded and lonely at the same time? We all sit cramped elbow-to-elbow in jeepneys, but no one is talking to anyone. Contrary to the province, everyone knows who’s sleeping with whom.

Poor, unfortunate souls lingering after dark. They spend the night in pubs or clubs; to forget, to numb the heart a little, to drown in EDM. As the night progresses, people get friendlier; and ‘one drink’ became five. A classic film noir hero: flawed and tragic.

At 4 in the morning, the lost ones are ready to retire their day; while others are just waking up to start theirs. You conclude the night starving and smelling of smoke.

For this particular night, the recovery food of choice was pochero.

The pocherohan’s background music undid me. It was the XX’s Coexist album. Orgy for your ears.

I had tried to forget, but before all this I used to be an artist and hipster.

But damn this pocherohan and their awesome playlist. Now I remember the things I used to love: watercolors, oxford shoes, film, florals, polaroids, vinyl, vintage tattoos and indie music. I fiddled in the dark room with chemicals (and no, it’s not to make meth). Holga and Diana were not just names of girls. Hiromi Uehara and Portishead were the coolest, ever.

I ate whatever I wanted; bless my prepartum metabolism. I am reminded of the time when I didn’t own a hairbrush or I couldn’t care less about makeup. What a time to be alive!

film cameras

My current wardrobe is mostly blacks and whites–like I’ve been mourning for the death of my right brain— she just couldn’t fit in the real world.

My friends had finished their beef stew, and are now bantering at each other loudly. I look at my friend across me. She’s a lovely transgender, more beautiful than me or of my female friends combined.

I wonder if she’s willing to pose nude for a portrait. Maybe it’s time to pick up my brushes again.

 

Postcard Travels on Sunstar Weekend

The greatest sense of fulfillment for every aspiring writer is to be read. It’s a bad habit of mine to look at my stats every now and then. Every digit up my viewership stats makes me want to do a little victory dance. It’s a nice feeling that someone is actually reading (or viewing) my blog.

So imagine my excitement when Sunstar Weekend magazine editor Noel Villaflor contacted me and asked if I would want a bi-monthly column for the publication. I tried to maintain cool while messaging with Noel he could even sense it and said ‘Excited kaayo ai’. It felt like my writing aspirations have been somewhat validated; that people actually read and care for my musings.

Starting this weekend on May 17, you’ll see my column Postcard Travels at Sunstar Weekend twice a month where I’ll be talking about travel, history and culture from my experiences around the world.

10 Things That Changed Since I’ve Become a New Mom

Three weeks ago, I received a message from the awesome Fiona of Sunstar Weekend, asking if they could feature me and Caleb for their Mother’s Day Issue. It never really dawned on me until that point: Oh right. I am a mom! I can’t believe I forgot.

Mom. That still sounds weird to me, to call myself a ‘mom’. When you become a ‘mom’ you become totally responsible for another human being. Sounds so noble, almost saintly.

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My friends often joke that I’m the last person they imagined to be a ‘mom’. I’m not the kind to swoon at babies and puppies and butterflies. I’m selfish, over-involved, flippant, and did I say selfish?

For the first three months of his, errm, ‘inception’, I thought it was a serious case of jet lag. Bouncing on and off six different countries over that short time period, and apart from fatigue, nothing was out of place. I continued to live the daily lifestyle of a selfish 20-something-year-old youth, blissfully clueless.

But after a dreadful time on roller coaster rides at Ocean Park, I thought to myself: ‘This is weird. I don’t do ‘queasy’ on daredevil rides. Where’s my mojo?!’ Apparently, Caleb was already two months in. He took my mojo.

When my son came on Christmas Day, I can’t exactly say I changed that moment on. Tbh, I think learned more from him than him from me. My son has disproved many things I used to believe in. Or, to put it better, he proved many things I didn’t believe in before.  I’m surprised a lot of things have changed so much–and at the same time, not really.

If you want to read about my views on juggling between motherhood, Sprockets Cafe, teaching university, and a new blog, get Sunstar Weekend’s Mother’s Day Issue today.

So since today’s Mother’s Day, I dedicate this post to all the moms who’ve worked so hard for their little ones. Here’s 10 things that actually change when you become a mom, coming from a new ‘mom’ to a bouncing retroactive toddler.
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Mothers come in all shapes and sizes, but equally celebrated and loved. Because life doesn’t come eith a manual. It comes with a mother. Happy Mother’s Day!

1. Everything you knew about motherhood gets thrown out of the window.Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.52.30 AM

I’m going to be honest, I was prejudiced. When someone said ‘mom’, I saw flashes of women with messy hair doing household chores, screaming baby in the background, sunken eyes with deep eye bags, screaming ‘help me….’. (shudders)

TV is mostly to blame for such an unflattering image. Media portrays motherhood as a funeral of a woman’s professional career and a life term sentence to household chores inside white picket fences.

I used to think motherhood is a death sentence (I hope Caleb won’t be able to read this when he’s older). But I’ll tell you a secret: being a mom is actually quite fun. For real. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. HAHA #really #notreally #butreally

2. Motherhood: Multitasking Lvl. 2000

So because of motherhood I’ve discovered there are so many tasks you can perform with just one hand. You think of ways to get the job done that is most cost-efficient and time-saving. Mothers need to be good strategists as well!

Women have always been good multitaskers, but mothers take it to the next level. Supermoms are excellent management consultants who always think of ways to save time and money, spend time with their kids, and still achieve it all with perfect hair and manicured nails.

3. Your fashion sense changes.

No, you don’t suddenly develop a taste for lola’s dusters. But you start prioritizing practical over fashionable. You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, and not get potentially disrobed every time your kin pulls and/or yanks at you. And you tend to tone down on the accessories especially when you start thinking of them as choking hazards.

4. Your profile’s news feed changes, as well.

I’m one of those annoying Facebook Friends who would constantly post random stuff about their children. I hope I’m not hurting anyone with all the cuteness. At least I don’t use annoying hashtags like OOTD or FamBam or SepAnx.

5. You see things in his eyes.

You want to share everything and anything for Caleb. You see things in your own child’s eyes. You constantly think: ‘Oh, he would’ve loved it here!’, ‘He would have enjoyed this!’, ‘I wonder what he would think of this?’ You want to share your goals, ideals, hobbies and interests with him. And if you experienced something awesome and fun without him, you get pangs of guilt. It’s the OMG-I’m-having-too-much-fun-without-my-son kind of guilt that won’t go away so easily.

My dream is to have him homeschooled so he can travel around the world with me and learn about history and culture firsthand, but his father is too traditional for the Thornberrys way-of-life, preferring Caleb’s education in a traditional UK boarding school. I hope he gets into Hogwarts. Or Cambridge, at the least.

6. You’ll never take for granted me-time ever again.

Sure it’s great being with your kid… but you’ll also learn to value alone time like never before. I don’t get it a lot nowadays, free time is rare. I’m a workaholic who wants to kill herself when I think I’m not being productive with my time. Shove all your work away and treat yourself sometimes–read a good book over tea or get a Swedish massage. It takes a lot of self-will not to use time for productive work or school or family, but sometimes I have to convince myself that I deserve this.

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7. You get really toned arms.

It’s no surprise you get improved upper strength and toned arms from all that workout lugging around a 14-kilo youngster. Next time, I’ll challenge his dad to a round of push-ups.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.52.21 AM8. The hardest part? Getting him to sit down on a meal.

I’m lucky Caleb is easygoing and so agreeable. He is easy to take with everywhere–17-hour flight to UK? No problem. My biggest challenge is getting him to sit in a meal. Even for just five minutes.

I’ve had numerous fights with Caleb about strapping him in the baby seat but he always has other plans, e.g., walking around the restaurant, annoying dinners in every table, and running around the place. It’s hell to take him in a restaurant. I could never properly eat until he’s dozed off.

I don’t know if it’s the same for other mothers with one-year-olds, but I never imagine sitting him down on a meal can be so. damn. difficult.

9. You start being the most boring person in the party.

I try to stop myself. But I can’t help try to insert how Caleb’s just learned to sort his colors in parties. Or you start whipping out your phone to show them that funny burping video of your baby from three weeks ago. Your kin is suddenly your favorite topic. And oh, the poop stories. Mothers can never have too many poop stories.

10. You will mess up. And that’s okay.

5Sadly there is no foolproof manual on how to figure out momhood, nor numerous Google searches on ‘how to become a good mom’ can make you become one. A trial-and-error method ensued, what works and what doesn’t work for my little one. Because of the love and support poured by everyone, he is happy, bright, confident with a wicked sense of humor.

The biggest lesson from motherhood? You’ll probably never experience a bond and love as strong as with your kiddo. Your little one will bring out the better version of you.

Photography by JSD Photography. Thank you for the wonderful photos, Sprite. Hair, Makeup and Magic by Jerwin and Karlo and Feature written by the awesome Fiona Escandor for Sunstar Weekend. 

10 Moments of Culture Shock in Europe as a Filipino Traveler

Traveling to an unfamiliar place is always full of surprises. Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone and urges you to leap unto the unknown. That’s why traveling can be so liberating and beautiful. Seeing the world gives you a whole change of perspective. The customs and beliefs you’ve learned since you were young suddenly get challenged when in a strange and new place. venice-italy-gondola-europe-ride Europe has always been a place of wonder and romance for me–a place from dreams of a little child. I thought I’ve read enough books seen enough Downton Abbey to prepare myself on what Europe is like. But, just like marriage, you can never be fully prepared for what’s to come. Here are 10 moments of culture shock you’ll likely experience as a Filipino traveler!

1.  Sparkling Water

The first culture shock I experienced was in Venice after a long-haul flight & three stopovers from the Philippines. Thirsty and famished, my family and I found the first restaurant we could find in Venice. I ordered one bottle of water, and when it arrived I drank it up immediately, only to spit it out in shock because it tasted like gas.

People, why do you drink this.

In Europe, they serve two types of water but Filipinos are only used to drinking the still water kind.In some other areas, they serve two types of iced tea too–the still and carbonated kind. So be specific if you want your drinks without the bubbles.

2. You have to do a lot of walking.

You’ll get to do a lot of walking. A lot. One time, Ejay told me we were going to visit a friend’s place and not to worry because ‘it’s just a five-minute walk away’. To me, a ‘five-minute walk’ meant walking to the next block. To Europeans, it means a 1-km walk. I didn’t wear enough layers during that walk and was not happy freezing to death–so you’d understand the numerous revenge plots on Ejay in my head at the time.

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 2.08.16 PM
Lovely view, but it’s been a long day!

The Philippines does not have the ideal setting to nurture the walking or commuting culture. Don’t ask me why, but it’s probably due to a combination of climate, politics, urban planning and discipline (or lack thereof). We grew up in a car-priority society. To get from point A to point B, we mostly ride the jeepney or taxi, we drive our cars (and get our licenses without taking any driver’s test). The option to walk is very limited in the Philippines, mainly because our cities are built to discourage walking. There are no safe place for pedestrians on the road, and walkers have to run for their lives even when walking on pedestrian lanes. Doctors say that walking is good for the heart, but how can we eliminate the risk of dying every time– either by getting run over or developing a pollution-causing terminal illness?

3. Sorry, we’re closing.

While in Europe, I’ve been refused by shops a number of times because they were going to close in a few minutes. I was appalled at first (the businessman in me wanted to scream: but don’t you want my money?!?!). 

We are so used to the 24-hour convenience of Asia that the idea early closing times is distressing. What if I crave for 7-Eleven ice cream or Korean instant noodles in the middle of the night? What if I suddenly want to work out at Citigym Waterfront because I feel fat at 3am? In Cebu, many shops, restaurants and even gyms are open 24/7. In Europe, shops close early at around 5pm-7pm.

Many shops close on Sundays and holidays (museums close on Mondays, by the way). On some occasions, you will find your favorite store suddenly closed for the whole summer because the storekeeper is on vacation. Or closed for winter because no one really wants to work on winter. Did I mention that they don’t have 24 hour drive-thru? Nor a pizza delivery service? Tsk.

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Well, that’s a shame.

4. Don’t they feel just a little bit claustrophobic?

For such tall people, the Europeans seem to like everything tiny and cramped. All over Europe everything feels like it’s specifically Asian-tailored–their hotel rooms, wardrobes, toilets, cars… While I don’t mind, being Asian and all. But I wonder, If I’m a six-foot-tall European, I would probably feel just a little claustrophobic.

Tiny alleys in Mykonos, Greece
Tiny alleys in Mykonos, Greece

I wish Europeans would better take care of their cars though. Drivers would bump on to other people’s cars just to squeeze in a tiny parking space. But just as one Italian friend put it: ‘what’s the use of the bumper but to bump on it?’

5. Thinking about Clothes.

Dressing in the Philippines is relatively easy. You put on a shirt, shorts or jeans, snickers (slippers if you’re feeling more casual), and you’re good to go. Some people choose to suffer for fashion and put on boots and suits in this sweltering 30-degree weather. Dressing up in a place with four seasons is fun at first. Later on, it gets tedious. Dressing up takes at least 30 minutes for me on winter. I hate the fact that I have to wear five layers of clothing–and make sure all the clothes match together. I hate the fact that it adds 5kg to my weight. I hate that I couldn’t look cute if I wanted to. Nor the fact that clothes and shoes I got for UK would be impossible for me to use when I’m back in the Philippines.

Four Layers and we still try to look cute.
Four Layers and we still try to look cute.

5.1 And the lack thereof.

I’ve seen a lot foreigners in Philippine beaches and it’s easy to tell which one’s American and which one’s European–their swimwear. Americans settle for the long swim shorts that Filipinos wear too. Again, Europeans seem to like everything teeny-weeny. (If I were male, I’d probably feel claustrophobic inside those Speedos too)

To illustrate my point…

Nude beaches are all the range in Europe. They are laissez-faire when it comes to public display of personal goods. However,  if you’re a little squeamish about nudity, do research on which beaches are ‘family-friendly’. All other beaches that aren’t family-friendly will most probably give you some degrees of a good boob show. I’ve been to a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea and have seen women go topless by the pool or on beaches in Greece. I have no problem with that but… based on my experience, most women who don’t go topless, should. Most women who go topless–really shouldn’t. I’m talking about you, Grandma.

6. Feels like you’re back in the past

It still amazes me how people in Europe still prefer to read a book in the subway, or sketch outdoors in the park, or actually talk to people and make actual eye contact. In cafes you’re forced to talk to your acquaintances because wi-fi is mostly not available (or horrible).

Sketching new ideas
Sketching new ideas

I remember coming back to Hong Kong from London and the moment I stepped out of the airport– each face is glued to their respective screens–and I’m suddenly reminded that I’m back in Asia. Technology hasn’t escaped Europe though, and you’ll find some people in their mobile phones. They aren’t as selfie-crazed. The kids still prefer to play in parks rather than stare down at tablets all the time.

I'm trying to take a selfie as subtle as possible or I might embarrass myself
I’m trying to take a selfie as subtle as possible because I don’t want to embarrass myself

7. Nothing costs like peanuts.

I remember exchanging my months’ worth of savings to euros–a thick wad of peso bills changed into five notes in the euro currency. Five notes–all my months’ salary worth and my confidence down the drain. Coming from a third world country, I can’t help but convert everything to local currency. Shopping in Europe means I would mentally convert it in peso and think really hard if I really need it. Who wouldn’t feel bad if a cup of nuts in the UK would be able to be feed you lunch and dinner in the Philippines?

Smile and pretend you didn’t regret buying this, Rachel…

8. PDA

Everywhere in Europe, especially Paris, I am forced to watch soft core porn–whether it’s on the romantic lock bridge by the river Seine or while queuing up for a crepe.

Even during the Je Suis Charlie rally.
Even during the Je Suis Charlie rally.

Yes, even during the Je Suis Charlie rally.

9. European smiles take a bit of effort.

Filipinos are generally cheerful– we love to laugh and smile. We give it openly and freely. We laugh when we’re happy, excited, embarrassed or even when we’re a little annoyed. In fact, even when I’m chatting with friends, if I don’t put a ‘hahaha’ at the end of every sentence they would think something’s wrong with me. That’s how we take our jovial attitude seriously.

Hence, the famous Mona Lisa smile.
Hence, the famous Mona Lisa smile.

Europeans look more stern and very serious. They keep a straight face when telling a joke. I thought at first that it probably hurts for them to move their zygomaticus major muscle. Or,maybe they have poor dental care. hehe. Kidding aside, Europeans aren’t really aloof or miserable, as is the common misconception– but they just don’t like to smile without reason. They are generally more reserved and somber compared to Americans or Filipinos.

10. The churches are empty.

I come from a country where it’s dominantly Catholic, people are very religious, and the church is still relatively powerful when it came to people’s and government’s decisions. Most Filipinos from middle to upper class studied in a Catholic institution where we were taught to memorize our prayers and observe religious practices strictly. Going to church every Sunday is part of every Filipino’s lives. So to get to Europe and to see all these beautiful churches and cathedrals–and to find their Sunday service almost empty–feels a bit weird. Most of Europe’s churches now work as museums for tourists to gawk at. While some churches still hold Sunday mass, attendees are sparse and few. Even the shoddiest chapel in a Philippine barangay get more attendees–and observers are willing to pack in like sardines just to observe mass.

Beautiful Florence Cathedral
Beautiful Florence Cathedral
Sunday Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris
Sunday Mass in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

What are your personal moments of culture shock while you’re in Europe, or Asia, or other parts of the world? Share your own experiences in the comment box and let me know!