Caleb and Rachel for Zee Lifestyle Directory

I got a call from Zee Lifestyle editor Patty Taboada to model for the Dec-Jan 2016 issue for Zee Lifestyle Directory, to feature The Outlets Pueblo Verde in the cover and their tenants–outlet stores of Adidas, Levi’s, Nike, Reef, Converse, Giordano, etc.

So for a day, I had a fake little family: a dad, Ted Paraiso, who is also a SAFAD Painting student of mine, my 23-month-old boy Caleb Williams, and another sweet five-year-old Euan Pateña.

I never realized how fun and hard it is to shoot with children! One child gets cranky and when he calms down, it’s the other kid’s turn. hahahaha. I can imagine having a small family in real life… Caleb alone already feels like an army.It’s also a little hard to direct a toddler what to do, and Caleb didn’t really know yet what was happening most of the time. The shoot took longer than expected, but it was so fun and challenging.

The photos looked amazing in the end! I didn’t know how Robo Formacion did it like magic.

The Zee Lifestyle city guide is not for sale, but distributed around hotels, restaurants and other business establishments in Cebu City.

Enjoy the photos!

The Outlets at Pueblo Verde for Zee Lifestyle Directory
December-January 2016

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Sittings Editor: Patty Taboada
Photography: Robo Formacion
Makeup: Arnauld
Hair: Kherwin Zapanta
Production Assistant: Niki Remarca
Models: Rachel A., Ted Paraiso, Caleb, Euan Pateña

 

calda pizza the outlets mactanthe outlets mactan family lapulapufamily shopping cebu mactanzee lifestyle caleb williams rachel arandillathe outlets robo formacion zee lifestyle directory

When Travel Compulsion is Bad For You

I have a compulsion for travel.

Rachel Arendelle Postcardpretty

No surprise revelation there.

My friends know it, everyone knows it. Why would I start a travel blog in the first place anyway?

I’m the one who compulsively checks at various travel web sites for flight deals. I’m the one who constantly bugs friends to come with me to travel. I’m the one who lies awake at night, staring at the ceiling,wondering where my next destination will be. Travel compulsion is a horrible, obsessive thing.

Travel is like crack cocaine, you see. The more you do it, the more you yearn for it. The sound of foreign tongues, the alien-like characters on their newspapers, the feeling of getting lost, the sight of unusual food and smells–you get hooked to it.

And yet, I am not as rich as the bank. No let me rephrase that–I’m broke. My mind and wallet’s relationship are currently strained, like alienated parents too religious to divorce.

My mantra towards money is that, ‘when you need it, it will come.’ And it always does. Somehow, I find myself chancing upon opportunities or help that provide me with enough money to get where I’m supposed to go.

Relationships can take a toll on constant travel, too. Sure, you meet a lot of friends from around the world. But what about your friends at home? Do they mind that you disappear from their lives every few months?

Your ideals on love morph–to become more fluid, idealistic, quixotic. I guess it happens when you started falling in love with places and not people. You will never look at love the same way again. There’s a bit of irony there–the more you go out and see what the world can offer, the harder it is to find your soulmate. Is there even such a thing?

My previous partners could never control me because I’ll always be outgoing and spontaneous. I don’t want you to spoil me with gifts, I want you to keep up with me. Give me freedom and I will love you forever.

That, or I’m just a selfish bitch with a passport.

Postcard Pretty is now on Snapchat!

I finally have Snapchat!

Follow me @postcardpretty to get updated with stories from my travels in real time!


I know, I know. I caught on pretty late with this Snapchat thing. It didn’t help that I didn’t have a phone, either.

I tried to avoid it like a plague, but the more you resist the more it pulls you in. I thought that Snapchat is just an app for teens, and while it took some time getting used to, I’m already hooked.

With Snapchat, you can get live feeds or ‘stories’ from your friends and people you follow.

So follow me on Snapchat to get updated on where in the part of the world I am now! If you don’t have Snap, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @postcardpretty or like my page on Facebook!

Happy Birthday to Me and My New Neurotic Disorder

There are different ways to solve a problem.

All throughout high school and college, I was always the first one to finish exams. I think fast and write fast, mostly for the fear of forgetting if I don’t jot everything down quick. Also, so I could be dismissed early.

Math exams were different however. Our maths teacher was intent on finishing the 45-minute time slot and dismissing us altogether. That did not sit well with me, pun intended. I couldn’t stand sitting in one place doing nothing. FML, I’m wasting my life sitting here.

As a result I would provide at least three different solutions all leading to the same answer. One item would still only be worth one point, though. It would drive the teacher crazy that I would use all the white space available in the paper, but I can only blame her too. If she had dismissed me earlier this would never had happened.

————

I wonder what my neurosis is, I mused. The family line seems to have some sort of neurosis, one way or another, so I feel left out not having one. My mother is a neat and organized freak, while my sister is obsessed with sanitizing her hands with alcohol every five minutes (she likes alcohol in general) and my father is neurotic about his lecture slides. My younger brother is the most normal person I know, but I’m sure I’m neurotic about something. Society finds a need to name everything into a disorder, after all. There’s bound to be one for me.

Then it hit me.

While the people I know have one right way of doing things, I have none. I refuse to have one. It’s that fear of routine, fear of doing the same thing, the same way all over again.

I’m no ‘creature of habit’ who gravitates towards the same shops or restaurants. I like wandering myself into secret finds at obscure spots. I’m the one who says: ‘yeah the sushi place was nice, but maybe we can try the ramen place beside it this time?’

It’s the kind of neurosis where even if you know the best route to a destination, you choose a different route ‘just because’.

It’s even if you excelled at maths in high school and was recommended into Chemical Engineering or Accountancy, you decided to take up Fine Arts instead.

It’s having five different ways to getting home. Ten different ways to wear a scarf. Four different ways to fold your clothes. Six different ways to calculate a basic derivative of a function.

It’s having curly hair, straight hair, wavy hair, short hair, long hair, mid-length hair, brown hair, black hair, blonde hair, hair with streaks and messed-up hair. If the school allowed it, I would’ve had blue hair by now. It’s not caring about your hair because they grow out anyway.

It’s that even if you know you hate fish and chips, you’ll still have it because you might like it this time around. (you still won’t, but maybe next time?)

It’s relishing the fact that you’re celebrating your 25th alone in Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport because it probably won’t happen again.

It’s preferring to remain unstable but take control of your time and freedom rather than having a routine 9-to-5 job.

For this kind of neurosis, it’s never say never.

It’s knowing there are many different means to an end. We know the number of Pi, but there are four different ways of calculating it.

It’s hating to be ‘left out’ or ‘missing out’. If you didn’t try it another way, or seeing it from another angle, you might be missing half your life. Who would’ve known there are a dozen different ways to cook an egg, if they didn’t try, right?

I blame maths for a lot of things, such as my bad handwriting. And my new neurotic disorder.

This self-diagnosis is not to be taken seriously. If, however, there is still no name for this neurosis I would like to name said disorder in behalf of myself because it’s my birthday today. 🙂

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. 

Cebu Pacific Travel Hacks

I’m a Cebu Pacific frequent flyer, but I’m not gonna lie: I had my own share of Cebu Pacific horror stories. I’ve waited six hours on the airport because of delays. I’ve been left by the plane (even if I was on time). A rude Korean passenger had constantly kicked my airline seat because he didn’t appreciate the plane’s legroom, so I decided to recline my seat to annoy him further. Because I can be nice like that sometimes.

Despite all my bad experiences, I still fly Cebu Pacific, because, why the hell not? No one can beat the CebPac rates. I’m a Cebu Pacific trooper since 2006 and I have seen great improvement on service and support throughout the years.

If you can’t beat Cebu Pacific, what can you do? Do damage control and mitigate (a word I just learned and so badly want to use!). Read through this blog to have future pleasurable flights through some important travel hacks and tips I’ve learned from my constant flights.

  • How to Avoid Delayed Flights

Per my experiences, domestic flights across all local airlines are almost always delayed from 15 to 90 minutes. That’s perfectly normal and something expected in the Philippines due to air traffic congestion, late arrival of aircraft from origin, among others.

The simplest solution is to take the first flight. The first flight is an originator flight, meaning it begins at your specific airport, meaning you won’t be waiting for your aircraft coming from another destination to arrive. A few minutes delay in the first wave of flights will mean delay in subsequent flights throughout the day.

Flying earlier in the day provide a lot of benefits. Sure, waking up before sunrise is hard, but that’s the only most difficult thing. I normally fly between 4am to 6am, or the first wave of flights for a number of reasons: to bypass traffic on the road, less people on the flight, flight crew still on a better mood (not yet sapoton), on-time flights, and these first flights often offer the cheapest rates.

  • How to Book Promo Flights

I’ve heard a lot of people whine that Cebu Pacific piso fares as scams or deceptive marketing strategies. Here’s what I got to say to the skeptics: the piso fare deal is real. I’ve booked piso fare flights countless times. Piso fare flights seem elusive to more people than others–you need to be smart and quick to get these flights!

Piso fares do get sold out quick. I constantly check Cebu Pacific’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts just to be ahead of everyone. The Cebu Pacific website is on my browser’s main web pages. What disorder do you call ardent stalking and an obsessive need to find promo flights? Because, I probably have that.

BTW, piso fare is only the base rate, and does not include other additional fees such as tax, VAT, web admin fee, baggage allowance, etc. It is still cheap however. To give you a good overview, here’s an estimate of roundtrip flights I’ve bought or seen during Cebu Pacific promos:

  • Cebu to Manila: Php 1,500
  • Cebu to Hong Kong: Php 3,000
  • Cebu to Singapore: Php 3,500
  • Manila to Sydney: Php 6,000
  • Manila to Dubai: Php 9,000
  • Manila to Siem Reap: Php 4,000

As of 2015, Cebu Pacific has also removed the fuel surcharge on all promo flights, in line with decreasing fuel prices worldwide.

No one knows when a promo fare comes out, but based on observation I often expect them to come out on Philippine holidays, and they usually make the promo announcements on ungodly hours like 12am-3am.

Sometimes, I could get the promo on a flight to a destination, but have a hard time getting the same promo offer on the return flight. If I can’t find a good return rate, I just buy a one-way ticket and worry about buying the return flight on the next seat sale.

Another tip: when I travel to Europe, I normally book a promo flight from Cebu to Hong Kong and then find another budget airline that can take me from HK to European cities for cheap (as low as 25,000php round trip!)

  • Check in Luggage or Hand Carry?

Prepaid baggage is a wise option to get as excess baggage rates are steep (especially for international flights). I’m a light traveler, so I can normally just backpack and skip check-in luggage. Most airlines allow a carry-on maximum of 7kg. To be safe, I sometimes purchase luggage on the return flight because my carry-on weight increases– dirty laundry is always heavier, plus additional shopping and pasalubong items add to the pile.

Trust me, I’ve begged another Filipino to place my excess items to his check-in luggage. I was refused and the nerve of him because he did not even look anything like JM de Guzman. Won’t work, it only happens in the movies.

(Additional note: Although to be fair, if someone asks you to place items in your luggage, it is wise to refuse, else you could be the next trafficking victim)

  • How to Avoid Missing a Flight 

You’re not a true traveler if you’ve never missed a flight. So far, I’ve missed one domestic flight (Cebu-Cagayan) and one international flight (Dubai-London) for different reasons, both which I traveled with family. I never missed a flight when traveling solo, probably because I’m more aware and accountable for myself when I’m alone haha.

Missing a flight is inconvenient, expensive and annoying. Missing a flight can get you stranded at the airport for several hours to a day. It’s something I never want anyone to experience, so here are tips on how to avoid missing a CebPac flight:

  • The most obvious tip: don’t stay too far from your gate. After going through check-in, immigration and security checks and once you’re inside the terminal, don’t get distracted about getting food or looking at duty-free shops. The first thing you need to do is to locate your gate number. Once you’ve found it, you can probably do your own thing if you still have extra time. But don’t stay too far away from your gate and be wary of any intercom announcements.
  • For connecting flights, allow at least 4 hour time allowance in between flights. Domestic flights are notorious for delays, and you need at least two hours to check in for international flights, go through immigration and security checks.
  • 5J vs TG. Know your Terminal number–especially when in NAIA. Most Cebu Pacific flights are in T3, but since the TigerAir and Cebu Pacific merger, you will now have to check if your flight is a 5J (Cebu Pacific) or a TG (TigerAir). TG flights are in NAIA 4.
  • Should I Get a GetGo Card?

GetGo is CEB’s newest rewards program for frequent fliers where you can earn GetGo points when flying Cebu Pacific. Through the points you can also earn free flights.

Those who were already signed up for CEB Club become automatic GetGo Members. Non-CEB Club members can become GetGo members by paying the initial membership fee of P150.

I am now a GetGo member but still waiting for my card to arrive via mail. I haven’t converted points for free flights yet, so I’ll reserve judgement as of now (but I will update you soon). It’s worth a try to get a GetGo card, there’s nothing to lose. Currently, they are still on beta mode and improving the system and partnering with more merchants to create a more pleasant lifestyle program for their members.

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So there you go–some CebPac Travel Hacks that can improve the quality of our flight experience. Let’s make every flight count!

(DISCLAIMER: These insights are based on my personal experiences and may not reflect the experience of other travelers.)