Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Goodbye March, Hello April


End of the first quarter of 2020. It's been a stressful first few months. I am just thankful that my family and friends are all okay and keeping busy at home. At the end of February I wrote about how it is to live in the time of the coronavirus. I was super stressed at that time because the situation was getting really serious in Singapore. I was in a better place at the end of January and at the end of the month I aptly coined my month end post "Jarring January". I was in a better mood then and wrote about what I learned for that month. 

A huge load was lifted off my shoulder when we were given the strong recommendation to start working from home. 2020 has been a huge dark cloud that refuses to leave. I like the thoughtful slogan they made for the Philippines, "We heal as one." I think you can extend this to the whole world. The messaging across the world has been to stay home and do social distancing. And that's how my month is ending. 

I've been more busy at work the last few weeks and I know I need to be mindful to take proper breaks and eat while working at home. I've been working longer hours too. So I thought to end the month I'd make my WFH and stay at home survival guide. This is to remind me what I should do to take care of myself better -

1. Take proper breaks to eat, stretch and walk around the house. 
2. Reduce use of airconditioning during the day. Do not ruin the progress my lungs have made!
3. Exercise! Remember that exercise is like brushing your teeth for your body. 
4. Manage my meeting calendar better. Block off work time and reduce to a more manageable number of daily meetings. 
5. Delegate or get help where needed. 
6. Allot time for my hobbies! 
7. Make sure we have enough supplies for food/toiletries. 
8. Keep writing!
9. Focus on the positive. Be grateful. Be happy.
10. And most importantly, reach out to family and friends to check on them more often.
*And supporting of of these, pray. 

Monday, March 30, 2020

Wellness Tip from my Physiotherapist

I've come to love my twice a week physiotherapy sessions. I used to dread it, but after two months of regular sessions my body has adjusted and look forward to the workouts. I've also tried to swim two to three times a week, but it's been suspended until the pandemic is over.

I told my physiotherapist today that the highlight of my week has been seeing her for our sessions. We've been following the government advise to only go out for essentials so I only head out for my PT sessions, nothing else.

So soon I hope I'd have real exercise photos haha.

How I felt about my PT changed a lot when I started working from home twice a week. I requested for the accommodation because I was getting sick from juggling work stress with the physical requirements of the PT sessions. My doctor recommended the accommodation since it would not benefit my body if I just kept getting sick every other week.

It took a long time, but now I realize why my doctor had been insisting for me to do yoga since my heart surgery. I tried a few times, but it was just unnatural for me to exercise or even just do some stretching. I thought I'd be forever young (haha!) and I thought it was enough that I was making an effort to reach my daily step target.

See how we try to integrate exercise during our day.

My physiotherapist explained that we were not trained to exercise our body like how we brush our teeth. She said that if we eat candy or anything else we all automatically brush our teeth. Sitting all day at work is just like candy for your body. To "clean it" you need to exercise to get the effects of sitting all day reset. I told her that it's strange that we all had PE (physical education) growing up. We were never taught though that we have PE to require us to continuously exercise our body. I guess we really won't think that way because we only have PE once a week at school.

That was a great perspective she shared with me today and now I understand even more the value of why you need to exercise. It's just like brushing your teeth! :D


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Keeping Safe: Staying and Working from Home in Singapore



I know my family has been pretty worried about us since we're so far away from home. Last Friday I thought I'd make a record of how our day goes on a workday. It's very busy, but we still have to make time to eat and take some breaks in between meetings. This period has been very busy for both me and Sweetie and we had to make adjustments when they were also required to work from home.

We had a preview of this set-up last year when Sweetie had knee surgery. When he told me that they were going to start working from home I immediately said that we should have separate work spaces. Me at the dining table and him in Miggy's old room (which is filling out with stuff since we're preparing to move soon).



Here are some tips if you have to work from home -

(1) Separate work areas if there's more than one person working from home. This is important especially if you have video meetings.

(2) Hydrate - keep a water bottle beside you.

(3) Be prepared to make quick meals. My seatmate oftentimes ping me to remind me to eat! My lunch usually slides down to 3-4pm (which is bad!). We're lucky if we have leftovers from the night before.

(4) Exercise - my physiotherapist gave me a list of exercises I can do at home. This helps with my overall wellbeing.

(5) Be positive - the thing that would make you sick real quick is thinking negative thoughts. Being grateful helps keep your mind and heart positive. If you encounter negativity, treat it with kindness. Don't every hold on to the negative feeling because this will make your immune system weak.

Have a happy work week!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

What is Mother Nature Trying to Tell Us?

A few weeks after the Taal Volcano eruption I went back to Singapore. It was right about the time when the coronavirus situation in China blew up and the government started rolling out stricter policies to prevent the spread. I knew right away that all my 2020 plans needed to be adjusted. Stress level escalated and I had slight fever every other week. I was really concerned about getting sick because I know I'm high risk.

What really helped me was when my director advised me to work from home. He said he was concerned about me getting infected. I really appreciated the gesture and it helped ease the stress. It's been two weeks since I started working from home. Stress level has gone down, but it's been busier at work. I only get to go out twice a week when I have physiotherapy. My PT has given me a list of exercises I can do at home since my movement is limited (Sweetie hasn't allowed me to swim for awhile now).
We hurt Mother Nature :'( 

After Pope Francis' urbi et orbi blessing last night (yes we stayed up) I realized that I need to process the situation better. Kuya taught me that for you to move on from a situation you need to learn from it. Papa Pope said in his meditation, “Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

What lesson are we supposed to learn?
(Angelus with Pope Francis, October 2018 when we went to Rome.)


I fell asleep thinking about what Pope Francis said. I realized this morning that Mother Nature released this virus that affects the lungs because she is sending a message to us. I've been seeing reports that due to lockdowns/community quarantines the air has been cleaner. In Manila it's been reported that you could see the Sierra Madre mountains and Corregidor Island clearly. Manila Bay's water turned turquoise. In China it was reported they finally saw blue skies. Mother Nature's lungs was very sick. She couldn't breathe anymore.

When Mother Nature is happy.

And that's exactly what pneumonia makes you feel. I think that's what Papa Pope is trying to have us meditate on. History shows that mankind has experienced a number of pandemics. I think it happens when things just become too much. For the coming days I'm going to think about how I could be a better earthling, a better person and better appreciate all the blessings that's given to us.

What about you? What are your thoughts why this is happening to us? 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fishy Fridays

I always try to follow the Lenten sacrifice of not eating meat every Friday. My parents followed it strictly when I was growing up. They would do fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday, Fridays and during Holy Week. I'm technically exempted from it since I have a medical condition, but if you ask my doctor he'd rather I avoid eating meat altogether hehe.

I thought I'd make a list of some of the food I eat for abstinence Fridays. Here ya go -

Breakfast

Jaybucks Tuna Sandwich!

Banana! (This was how they displayed at the grocery Valentine's last year).

Lunch

Soba! (Made me hungery after an hour though hehe)

Salmon Carbonara

Dinner

Rellenong Bangus

Tuna Spaghetti (hope I got the right photo haha)

No meat pizza

Oftentimes I end up eating delata. I super like Ligo Sardines and tried Century Tuna bangus sisig today. It was so spicy though (my doctor is gonna kill me!). I ate a little only and just ate a banana. Sometimes if I get hungry I eat Skyflakes hehe. 

What about you? Do you fast and abstain on Fridays?







Thursday, March 26, 2020

6.5 Minutes on the Bike Today!

Thought I'd celebrate a milestone I had today! I managed to use the bike for 6.5 minutes. My physiotherapist has been trying to up the level of my exercises. She's had to adjust how we do my sessions because I kept getting sick during the first few weeks of my sessions. My body just couldn't cope well with adjusting back to work plus doing physiotherapy during work days.

That fateful day I tried the stationary bicycle last year. I super failed haha. 

I asked special accommodation to work from home twice a week to allow me to have rest in between going to work. It helped because my PT was able to slowly add in harder exercises. I was ecstatic when she had me try the stationary bike. I loved biking when I was a kid. I always went with my Dad and our neighbors every Sunday morning. We'd go around the village until we had to go home to prepare to hear mass.

My fave workout shirt! 
The other PTs in the clinic asked where they could buy the shirt!

The first time I went on the stationary bike I got sick after. I was quite sad about it because my therapist de-escalated my exercises again. She had to find the right balance to make sure I didn't get sick after. Last week we finally went back to the gym and she had me go on the bike. I managed for about three minutes and then we did other stuff. I went again on Monday and did 5 minutes and then today I managed 6.5 minutes. I think I could've done a bit more, but my PT didn't want me to push too hard.

My kind of post-PT happiness. Shopping for fabric!

This is an important milestone for me because a year ago when I tried the stationary bike at our place, I barely made it to two minutes. I had to work hard to improve my breathing and strengthen my body to get to where I am today. My PT and I talked about the situation we have today. There's a possibility that we'll all be forced to just really stay home. She's made a list of exercises I can do at home in-between our sessions and worse off it can be my list if in case we all can't go out.

We're looking forward to the day we can do an onsite session at work (well I hope they'll allow it!). I told her that I've been to our gym only once! I signed up for a beginners session, but we ended up doing burpees! I couldn't walk for a week and realized that I need someone who can really understand what my body's capacity is. I thank God I found the best PT for me! I was in so much pain for a few months last year and the sessions have really helped improve my situation. I'm insistent on attending the sessions because I know it is good for me and it's going to help me ward off any sickness.

Maybe I should do a vlog with me exercising. Might help my other patient friends who need a little inspiration to get things going.

Have a great day guys!  

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Oops I Did it Again, for Hubby!

For the last ten years Sweetie would often make coffee from me. Last week he asked me when I was going to make coffee for him. He prefers the non-instant one so I've never really tried. Honestly, I don't really know how much coffee, sugar, milk to combine to make really good coffee.

We were both working from home today and I needed a break, so thought it would be a good time to try to make him some coffee. Here's how it went --


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I Did the Dalgona Coffee Challenge!

After so many meetings throughout the day I thought I'd take a short break and do something else. I had about 20 minutes before my next meeting so thought I'd do the dalgona coffee challenge! 


Missing the baristas in the office! 

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Last Stretch of March

Oh wow and just like that March is almost over. I've been so busy at work I've lost tract of what day it is already. Our circumstances are so different today compared when this month started. Back home family and friends are experiencing the enhanced community quarantine.

My Mom's beautiful garden. Wish I could visit it soon.

Our barangay recently distributed a quarantine pass for each household. My Mom has been okay and just staying at home. The son is just also home too. I was so scared last week because there was a confirmed case just below our floor and I was so worried for my Mom when she did a surprise visit. Good thing the property management office shared that the other household members tested negative for the coronavirus, which meant the person infected was no longer in the premises when my Mom visited Miggy.

And beautiful Singapore. We're here but only going out for essential stuff. 

I've been trying to order groceries for them online so they can avoid going out. I also worry about my Mom's helper who's been going out since she might pick up something outside and bring it back to my Mom. I would have preferred if we were all together in one place during this time.

Missing Mom a lot!

I thought things were going to get better this month and I had planned this to be my maker month. I've been able to cook and bake a bit more this month and have posted videos of some of the recipes. I hope to bake more too, but everyone's working from home, so if I bake cookies I probably need to time it when Sweetie goes to the office.

Cookies anyone?

I haven't done any quilting yet since I've been working longer hours and blogging takes up a lot of time too. The next few weekends will also be busy since we're looking for a new home to transfer to. Our lease is finishing up soon and we decided to move in another area where the air quality is better during haze season.

I think a realization for all of us is how we have taken our liberty for granted. Who would have thought that we'd all be put in this situation now. I'm just reminding myself that God only gives us problems we can bear. Each day we are in this situation reveals a lesson to be learned.

How are you? Please leave a comment about your situation :)

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Easy to Cook Garlic Fried Rice

We cook fried rice every week at home. Every time we cook rice we purposely cook more so we have leftover rice we can transform to yummy fried rice. I started including mixed vegetables in the fried rice to add more fiber to Miggy's diet. It's super easy to make. Here's the video -



Ingredients:

olive oil
mixed vegetables
2 cloves garlic
cooked rice
1-2 eggs
salt
garlic salt (optional)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

What to Expect After having Pneumonia

I've started to see friends posting about family getting infected by the coronavirus. My heart goes out to them. I'm sure they are worried and having a hard time coping. I've been open about the illnesses I've been through because I think it's important to show that there is life after an illness and to share how family and friends can support you.

Me with Daddy in Lucban after the miracle at Kamay ni Hesus.


I've been reading patient stories to understand what they went through. I had one of the worst kind of pneumonia - legionnaire pneumonia. The signs and symptoms of legionnaire pneumonia is very much similar to COVID19. Because I had a pre-existing heart condition, I had complications and had heart failure as well. It was only weeks after that I found out what kind of pneumonia bacteria I got. My doctors took care of me as best as they could, but it left me with lung issues.

What to expect after having pneumonia (especially if you have pre-existing conditions). I'm sharing here what happened to me so you can prepare and make better decisions.

(1) Recovery may take longer than expected - the pneumonia I got had a 10% fatality rate and it took me a year to get well. Don't jump back into your regular routine, take it slowly.

(2) Check for asthma - I didn't realize that I started having asthma after I had pneumonia. I suffered it daily and only eased up after I saw an allergologist.

(3) Allergies - because my immune system became compromised all my allergies came in full force. I was allergic to chicken, chocolate, Coke, crab/shrimps and cockroaches (the smell!). My doctor explained that I was always mildly allergic to these things. I worked really hard to get over my allergies and refused to succumb to it. It took years of eating it little by little, but I eventually got over it.

They pricked me 40 times for the allergy test. I was so thin then.

(4) Your Body Will be Different - if you saw the proposal video I shared yesterday. I had to make several stops going up the hill because my lungs couldn't cope with the climb. Over time it's been worse, but I'm working on strengthening my body more through physiotherapy. On hindsight, I should've done physiotherapy after having pneumonia.

(5) Take Care of Your Mental Health - it's been 12 years since I had pneumonia, but I could still feel the effects until today because my lungs has a lot of scars from it. There would be bad days and you will need to have a strong mind, happy heart and solid faith to cope.

Fast-forward 12 years after. Doing physiotherapy to strengthen my body.

My advise for patients is to rest as long as you could. I made really bad decisions after I had pneumonia. I traveled to Singapore for work a few weeks after and tried to go on with my activities as if I didn't have a bad illness. My asthma was left unchecked and I suffered a lot. I think it was my cousin who suggested I see an allergologist and things got better after that. I probably should have started seeing a respiratory doctor after my bout with pneumonia. So please make sure you have a regular check-up even after you get well from pneumonia. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

11 Years Since the Proposal!

One of my friends surprisingly greeted me a "Happy proposal anniversary!" the other day. Haha! I couldn't believe it's been 11 years since that fateful day Sweetie proposed to me!


I remember I snagged very cheap roundtrip tickets for Sweetie and me around Christmas of 2008. I think I got it for PhP400 for each of us (or even less). The Davao Food Appreciation Tour (DFAT) was already in the works and when I saw the tickets on sale I immediately bought it. What I didn't know was Sweetie was already planning something big for that trip. 

For several weeks Sweetie kept leaving clues. At some point my mind was so confused from the clues already I stopped guessing what it was. I remember Sweetie was acting sickly the day before the proposal. He kept complaining about being dizzy and kept sweating buckets. The weirdest thing was when he jumped off the zipline platform without looking back! 

We've just re-watched the video. I'm glad back then I was actively vlogging and because we had a huge group of blogger friends when it happened we had a lot of videos (and coverage!). Ansabi ng mga vloggers ngayon hahaha. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Online Grocery Service and Online Medicine Delivery Service



With the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon it's a huge concern to get supplies. Transportation has been suspended so if you don't have a car you basically need to walk to the nearest supermarket. Here's a list of online groceries shared by family/friends and neighbors. I have not used most of this services so please also check reliability with your family/friends.

Fresh Dealites - https://www.freshdealites.com/ [operations currently suspended]
Grab Pabili Service - see Grab App
Lazmart - http://www.lazada.com.ph
Limon Farms - http://www.facebook.com/LimonFarms
Metromart - http://www.metromart.com
Online Palengke - http://www.onlinepalengke.com [this is owned by my friend!]
Pacific Bay - http://www.pacificbay.com.ph
Ramking (Paranaque area) - 0998-2809000 / 0966-2309000
Rare Food Shop - http://www.rarefoodshop.com
Tender Bites - http://www.tenderbites.ph
The Green Grocery - http://www.thegreengrocerymanila.com
Waltermart - http://www.waltermartdelivery.com.ph / https://www.grocerydelivery.com.ph/


For those who need medicine, here's a list I've so far seen -

Aide - http://www.aide-app.com
MedExpress - http://www.medexpress.com.ph

I'll update this list as I get more information from family and friends. Before you spend your hard earned money online, please make sure you are ordering from trusted and reliable sources.

When ordering it is best to order ahead of time (like 10-14 days before you ran out of food). In our experience in Singapore it's been hard to find slots for delivery.


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Your Survival Guide to Working from Home

Gonna miss the coffee at work huhu.

The last few days have been stressful for everyone back home. I saw a lot of worried posts, but it looks like things are settling and my childhood friends were sharing what they baked today. Most of them are just at home and just naturally re-connected via our chat group. It's just like the old times. I guess without the pressure of commuting to work and being busy at work people are finding time to connect again.

I was busy all day though with work and only saw their messages in the evening. It gave me the boost I needed since I had been in meetings since 8 in the morning with no breaks! Anyway, I thought I'd share this short list of things you should prepare when you work at home.

(1) Your devices - I use a Chromebook, all day everyday (and night!). I also survive just using my phone for meetings. I also tried using a tablet, but it's easier if you have a keyboard for it.

(2) Connectivity - if your work is dependent on using internet it's really better if you have wired connection at home, but 3G/LTE is also useful. I've used it for hangout meetings, just turn off the video.

(3) Your communication/collaboration platform - my work requires me to be in meetings with people from other countries and I always need to share and collaborate resources (i.e. documents, spreadsheets). Of course I use Google! Google Hangouts/Meets for meetings and Google Drive for collaboration. I've also been asked what to use if you want to use an online whiteboard. My suggestion is for you to try the Google Jamboard app and you can share it with others to collaborate on.

(4) Keeping hydrated - I found that it's better for me to use my water bottle even at home. That way I have it beside me while working and since it has a cover I'm not worried that it would topple over my laptop. I also refill it after lunch which ensures I drink more than 2 liters of water everyday. We also bought a bunch of beverages after Chinese New Year (it's usually super cheap at that time in Singapore). I'm glad we have a stash of colored drinks I can just grab in the afternoons.

(5) Keep nourished - I tend to forget about lunch! My seatmate has been pinging me every lunch time to check if I've eaten. He started to share with me what his lunch was today since he started working from home too. I normally eat leftovers from dinner or whatever Sweetie leaves for me in the fridge. It's better if you plan your dinner the night before so that you can just grab it from the fridge and microwave for lunch. Sweetie also prepared a snack bar for me. The snacks are a collection of odd stuff we pick up from the supermarket and pasalubongs from trips. Most important item I have on it now is... Skyflakes!

Don't forget to take breaks in between! :D

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Today's Happy Thoughts: Turon and Community Recognition

Sweetie brought home a surprise today - turon! He got it from Lucky Plaza since he had to mail some stuff through a courier service. And he also got some much need supply of Del Monte spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce since I'll be cooking more in the coming weeks.



Turon is one of my favorite snacks! I love banana snacks including banana cue and even boiled banana saba makes me happy. Saba is hard to find in our area so I'm always happy when we find some in other places.

I was also so happy that the GEGs got a shoutout from Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, in the latest company announcement.




As early as February the GEGs in Taiwan and Hong Kong have been hosting webinars and creating demo videos for teachers to learn how to use the tools for distance learning. You may now find videos in more languages here. I thought of bringing the value of bayanihan to the communities in other countries to empower everyone who could help. I've been feeling under the weather since yesterday so this was a great antidote! Thank you so much dear teachers for helping :D


Monday, March 16, 2020

We Will Bear this Cross Together

The COVID19 issue has been very stressful the last few days. And stress manifests in my body immediately. I had slight fever yesterday which means I need to rest before going to my PT sessions.

My Kuya called up Saturday night to check on us. He's stuck in Jakarta for now and he had to postpone all his scheduled workshops. He asked me to just work from home for now and pointed out that the WHO said things are going to get worse.

The last few days I've been thinking about why this is happening to all of us. I looked back at the things I've been through growing up - EDSA, coup d'etats, crazy typhoons, volcano eruptions etc. We all took a deep breath and faced things bravely.

The first few weeks when Singapore started to respond to the issue it was stressful. I had to keep calm to make sure I wouldn't get sick from the stress. I realized though that there's only one place where we can find refuge in - Papa God. I survived three illnesses with 10% fatality rate and 2 open heart surgeries. I'm still here, doing what I can to help. My Dad used to tell me that you have to trust in the Lord to navigate your life.

We have had several pandemics all throughout history and some of it killed millions of people. The coronavirus is easily transmitted, but compared to other viruses it is not as lethal according to the WHO. God will not give us anything we cannot bear. There is a lesson coming for all of us here. Maybe it's God's way of having us assess our values, what's important to us, for us to realize what our responsibility to each other is and how we should take care of all the gifts he has given to us.

Kuya shared this to me before we bid goodbye the other night -

Has anyone ever thought that there is a hidden message from God about the COVID-19 outbreak? Reverse COVID-19 ... ( 91 - DIVOC) 91 - Psalm 91 D - Destroy I - Influenza V - Virus O - Outbreak C - Completely Recite Psalm 91 with all your might and spiritual strength 

 
Psalm 91 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge-- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Easy to Cook Chicken Adobo



One of the first dishes I learned to cook after I married is chicken adobo. I had several friends who showed them their technique. Gerry Alanguilan, the Komikero, Roni (a friend's ex hehe) and I watched a couple of videos. I've cooked it a lot of times I can make it now while asleep haha.

Here's the recipe:

1 kg. chicken
1 tsp black peppercorn
2-3 bay leaves 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup vinegar
2 cups water (add when you start cooking)

Mix everything except water. Marinate for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Transfer to a pot and add 2 cups of water. Cook for 30 minutes.
Do not mix until it boils!
Lower heat and cook for another 10-15 minutes.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Let's Go to the Beach! Dreaming of my Fave Beach Places in the Philippines

It really feels odd to be grounded. Good thing when I took a break I was still able to visit Baguio and Bohol last December. Then the Taal Volcano erupted and I've been hiding at home eversince.

In true beach form many years ago. 
Photo by my friend Sasha Manuel.

2020 has been really difficult for all of us, but keeping positive and thinking happy thoughts keep me going. I've been thinking about the beautiful beaches I've been to the last couple of years. I finally found the photos from our place in Pasacao. The very first beach I visited in my life. I may have gone to many beaches, but my heart and my mermaid self belongs to Camangui.


Carbin Reef follows closely Camangui. It is part of the Sagay Marine Reserve. You can only visit it during the day and you need to bring your own food/drinks since there are no amenities in the reef. What I love best is the clear water and the many tiny fishes you end up swimming with. Between the reef and Sagay City the boat will also stop in an area of the marine sanctuary. You can get off the boat and experience having the fish clean you. It was ticklish!


I haven't been to many beaches in Mindanao, but Samal Island is one of my favorite beach places. We'd usually spend a day with friends there and enjoy the clear water. We normally end up ordering a lot of food from the resort restaurant. I remember spending a full day with my girl friends there before I married. I wish we could do that again.



Not far from home in Manila is Puerto Galera. The boat ride to Galera though is tough but negligible for me since I love going to Puerto. I went there a lot when I was in my 20s. My best friend and I would usually just on a whim and one of my most popular posts before was my guide on how to go to Puerto Galera. We never wake up early in Galera because we usually stay up late partying haha. The beach is amazing, but always be careful of riptides. I miss going to Puerto Galera.

Oh my I forgot to mention one more favorite beach place - Bohol! I super love the character of Panglao beaches. It has shells, starfish, beautiful stones very much like what we have in Camangui. I was just there again after Christmas and now wish we spent a few more days there.

I didn't mention Boracay because who doesn't love Boracay? I always make sure to visit Boracay every few years. I still have a lot of beaches in the Philippines I haven't visited, like Camiguin, Tiwi in Albay, Siargao, the pink sand beach in Zamboanga and I need to spend more time in the beaches in Ilocos, La Union, Batangas, Quezon etc. Oh my! So many places I want to explore. I'm sure in good time when the issues we are having today globally is over we can all travel and explore the world again.

What about you? What's your favorite beach place in the Philippines?


Friday, March 13, 2020

The Situation in Our Homes: Manila and Singapore

They say home is where the heart is. My heart is split between two countries - Philippines and Singapore. Last night the heads of both countries made announcements about COVID19 efforts. If you haven't seen it you can watch PM Lee's announcement here and President Duterte's announcement here.

I arrived back in Singapore on January 22 just when the coronavirus just started spreading in Singapore. The government immediately imposed travel restrictions and proactively responded to the growing issue. On February 8 PM Lee addressed the nation and gave an update about the response government was doing. This effectively abated the fears and immediately stopped the panic buying that started to happen. We've all followed the directives and only went out when really needed.

My son went back home to Manila a few weeks ago and I've been on my toes monitoring news about the Philippines. Miggy rarely goes out but was planning to go to the grocery since last week. When news broke late last week that cases were starting to add up I told Miggy that we'll just order what he needs online. True enough by Monday people were panic buying. My Mom's helper messaged me to say that the supermarket ran out of meat and other necessities. Luckily my friend's online grocery still had some stocks and I ordered immediately what they need at home.

I was sad after the announcements last night. I am really grateful for all the efforts of the Singapore government to fight against COVID19. My heart though is crushed with the way it's been handled in my home country. My hometown is on community quarantine and I cannot help but worry for my family.

I re-watched PM Lee's February 8 video and the best thing about it aside from the reassurance is the call he made for everyone to act responsibly as part of the community. This immediately stopped the panic buying that happened and I could tell that everyone is being mindful and keeping proper hygiene. I mentioned on my FB the other night that I hope the value of why we have the barangay as our smallest administrative division is because it represents your community. If each barangay manages to come together and work as a community then we should be able to address the issue much better.

I am hopeful that things will get better soon. Take care friends and be safe. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

How to be a Homebody

A lot of people know I'm an introvert and I absolutely love just staying home. I've been stuck at home since before new year and only ventured out when I went back to Singapore last January. I only go out to go to work, attend my PT sessions, attend check-ups and occasionally go to the grocery. With more cases being confirmed Sweetie has become stricter with my outdoor activities. It's for my own good since I'm in the high risk tier.

One of our Miggy check-in photos.

Anyway, I can stay home and never get bored. I do get cabin fever, but PT sessions and swimming help release pent up energy. Declaring March as maker month for myself has also helped me cope. Here's what I've been doing to keep myself busy at home:

(1) Blog - this is actually the first time that I've blogged continuously for more than two months. If you look at the list on the right side of this blog, I've blogged everyday since January first. I don't really plan what to write, the ideas come when I open Blogger. Besides, I have 10 years worth of travel blog backlog I can always go back to and I have a lot of content from my hobbies I can write about too.

(2) Vlog - I resurrected my video blog originally to vlog about travels, but since that's not happening I shifted it to teaching my son how to cook/bake. I also have a lot of video clips from way back. This is why I backed up all my data from 10+ years worth of CDs hehe.

(3) Quilt - I haven't done much, but I have a number of projects I need to finish. I also need to make a new sleeve for my Chromebook.

(4) De-clutter - we're moving soon so we've started to reduce stuff. Still a long way to go in this department.

(5) Cook and bake - I try to cook 2 to 3 times a week so we could avoid buying from outside. It's kinda challenging though to prepare a menu in advance since ordering groceries online hasn't been very reliable. Have you seen my milk and cheese cupcake vlog?

(6) Read - I have a gazillion books waiting to be read.

(7) Swim - as required by my doctor. I swim at least twice a week.

(8) Happiness project - creating photo albums for printing. I just need to finish the cover of my happiness project and I'll get it printed soon.

(9) Watch Netflix/YouTube - it's so easy to not do anything else and just watch TV haha.

(10) Sleep - conking out on the couch is not a rare occurrence.

Between work and doing chores there's not much time left to do anything else, but staying home has helped reduce stress and give my body the rest it needs. This is what old happy me needed. :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How to Enable Distance Learning for Your School

The other day I shared some resources on what you can use if you have to work remotely (work at home) and how you can host online classes for your students if you are a teacher. The Google for Education team hosted a session the other day on how to enable distance learning in your school. Here's the video hosted by Jennie Magiera -



To learn more how to use the tools you can go through the first day resources on the Google Teacher Center and there are loads of videos on the Google for Education channel. The GEG communities have also been preparing demo videos in other languages (see here). If you're school is not using GSuite for Education yet, it's easy to set-up (domain best practices here). When in doubt visit the help center.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

The GenX Milk and Cheese Cupcake!

Hear ye! Hear ye! This is a post for all my contemporaries!

We always had milk and cheese cupcakes at home when I was growing up. It was always one of the snacks in my lunchbox. My Mom would buy them from the supermarket and it was one of the unforgettable childhood snacks.



It was my friend Chrissie who unearthed this recipe. I've been making this for many years now and since my son loves it I thought I'd make a vlog on how to make it. Here's the video and please find the recipe below. Happy baking!



Recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 cans condensed milk
 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated cheese
2.5 cups flour

Let me know if you try baking it!

Monday, March 9, 2020

Online Learning and Working Remotely

There is a lot of concern now across the globe because of the coronavirus. In my home country I saw some areas don't have work and school for a few days this week. A few weeks ago we had a work from home drill to practice for a worst case scenario.

Working from home is not new to me. I worked remotely for five years for my current company. I even used dial-up connection for the first few months. I would go to an internet cafe if I needed to send larger documents. The conditions to work from home nowadays is much better and it also works even if you're just using mobile connection.

Multi-livestreams hosted by Google Educator Groups across Asia Pacific.

Some countries have also opted to close schools for the meantime. Learning continues for students even with schools closed. I see my Japanese teacher friends share how they have been managing. Aside from continuing their lessons, they are also required to check on all their students every day.

Here's what I use when I work remotely (and I'll put some notes at the end on what you can use if you're a teacher/student):

Hardware - I use a Chromebook. For work I use whatever is issued to me. For personal use I still use my Samsung Chromebook (circa 2014). I do everything anyway on the cloud and don't use fancy expensive apps. (more about Chromebooks here)

Communication -  Your Gmail account is all you need. It has everything I need to communicate. I use Gmail for sending emails/emailing documents with attachments. Google Hangout for video conferencing and calling (I use it to call my Mom on her landline). If you have a company then you should use GSuite for Business to make it easy for you to keep your data within your company.

Collaboration - Google Drive is your best friend when creating documents (Google Docs/Spreadsheets), presentations (Google Slides) and it makes it so easy to edit a document at the same time as your colleagues.

Productivity - My meetings are most of the time done with colleagues from other countries. I go around the globe everyday. Usually start in the US/Australia early in the morning, then I progress to North Asia countries, then Southeast Asia and then Europe by late afternoon. Sometimes Latin America too. Managing timezones and setting meetings has been easy with Google Calendar. When you set-up a meeting, add who you want to invite and add a link for a Google Hangout. When it's time for your meeting just join the Hangout link from the Calendar invite. Then to keep tabs with things you need to do, you can opt to take notes using Google Keep (which you can also easily share with someone else).

For Schools - I know a lot of schools have just been using personal Gmail accounts, but it's much better if you use GSuite for Education so you can control better the platform your teachers and students use. It's a free tool that Google provides for schools (just sign up here). If you need help to set up your account you can contact any of the Google for Education partners.



For Teachers - My teacher friends absolutely love Google Classroom. This makes it very easy for them to manage their class. You can easily set-up homework/assignment for your students and even run quizzes. And the best thing about it is you can easily record grades and share updates for parents. To run activities for your students, you can use Google Jamboard and watch them contribute live during the session. If it's too much for you, you can also just use Google Docs. [Google Classroom Tutorials, Forms tutorials] *And yes you can also use Google Classroom if you just have a consumer Gmail account.

If you want to run live lessons, you can opt to do a class using Google Meets. If your school is using GSuite for Education, you can host up to 100 students in your Google Meets session (and up to 250 until July 1, 2020). If you're just using a consumer Gmail account then you can host only up to 25 participants. It is best to put your students in a Google Group so you can just use the group email address when adding a Calendar invite.



When hosting your hangout you can also easily share your screen. Depending on your connectivity you can also show videos to your students. If you feel that connectivity is an issue you can ask everyone to just turn off their video and keep it as a voice call. I oftentimes join meetings on my phone even when I'm traveling. If you're hosting a larger class, you can also use Youtube Live.

You may be worried that there may be a lot of things to learn. Using the tools I mentioned above are tools you are likely already using during your personal time. Just try and explore, it's easy to learn :)

More resources you can check out -

Google initiative for school closures
Google for Education YouTube channel (demo videos available here!)
GEG Program YouTube channel (teacher made demo videos, Mandarin/Cantonese/Japanese videos now available)
What's the difference between Google Meets and Google Hangouts





Sunday, March 8, 2020

Banaue a Long Time Ago

I spent more than half the day yesterday scanning documents and putting stuff on the cloud. I also uploaded photos from 2004 and 2005. I have this crazy archive of photos I backed up last January. It's been a pleasure to see what I had been up to fifteen years ago.

My best friend and I had a start-up and we had the vision to help Filipino businesses get their wares online. Armed with lakas ng loob we visited two of our clients in Banaue. We were so naive back then we thought we could go to Banaue, do our business and then head to Baguio to spend the night. They explained to us the only way to get to Baguio was to go down the mountain and pass the other way to Baguio. Our customer generously took us in for a night. Back then Google Maps didn't exist!




We were working, but we had so much fun discovering Banaue. To get to our customer we had to cross this long bridge. My best friend hated it and I loved it. Our customer encouraged us to walk around and we ended up gate-crashing a wedding. It was interesting to witness a wedding where the bride was the one waiting at the altar. They explained to us that it was the culture there. We did a lot of walking that day and took in the simple life they had in Banaue.



The 12-hour bus ride was nothing compared to our trip back to Manila. We had to rush back because I had to be at Miggy's school the next day. We ended up squeezing in a jeepney to get down from the mountain. It was like a roller coaster ride and we thought we wouldn't make it back alive. The next challenge was finding a bus back to Manila. I don't even remember where we got off from the jeepney. The other passengers just told us to get off there so we can transfer to a bus.



That's the long bridge we crossed.

Those were the days me and my best friend would just go wherever spontaneously. We just grabbed the opportunity to meet a customer and help them put their products online. We were lucky that our clients took care of us when they realized we didn't have a place to stay. Nowadays it's much easier to plan a trip since you can get information online easily. I miss those days though when I could just go wherever without planning everything.  

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Acceptance

When my doctor discovered I had pulmonary embolism I joined a patient group on FB to understand what I was going through. Knowing what others with the same condition helps. I had ten years to prepare myself for my heart surgery and I prepared by reading a book written by a patient. It also helped prepare my family.

You always have the choice to make your life colorful.


The clot in my lungs was discovered after suffering from "severe asthma" for over a year. It was left undetected because I would feel okay after taking asthma meds. I didn't feel better after having "mild pneumonia" and it was then I realized something was terribly wrong. I insisted on getting a second opinion. It was my second opinion respiratory doctor who finally found what was wrong.

My seatmate who got sick last week told me that he wondered how I pull through whenever I get sick. He told me he got a bit depressed when he was sick. I admitted to him that I get sucked in the black hole too, but I always fight to get out of it. My secret? Acceptance.

Two weeks after I was diagnosed with PE I went to Rome (for work!).
I really wanted to go and commanded my body to cooperate!
Doctor grounded me from traveling after haha. 

My allergologist was the one who taught me that the first step is acceptance. I took that lesson to heart and whatever comes my way I accept it, learn from it and move on. By accepting what you have it is easier to learn how to take care of yourself. There's no use blaming yourself or questioning why you got sick. Sometimes there are no answers to that especially if you were born with it.

Majority of my medical conditions are largely due to mechanical issues in my body. It's been really hard to manage, but as I told my friend yesterday, "I cannot live in fear." I have to trust Him that I am where he wants me to be until I complete all my missions.

So if you have medical conditions, fear not. You were saved for a reason. Don't question it. Live your life happily and you can still do many things. Understand what your limitations are and accept that as an excuse to discover other new things about yourself. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Working Under a Tree in My Alma Mater

Last year when I was visiting my alma mater I ended up joining a meeting via Google Hangout. My colleagues noticed that I was in a different location and asked where I was. I told them I was in my alma mater, seated under a tree.



After I finished my call I just sat there for awhile reminiscing. The campus looks so different now. The simple entrance (South Gate) we had when I was a student now has a huge lobby and a statue of St. La Salle. We used to flash our IDs back then to the guard, the student IDs now they just scan. They also have a body scanner now.

I usually enter through South Gate and walk through the La Salle building. I usually peer inside the "cafeteria" which we used to call "Aristo". I told hubby it used to be full of yummy, oil-filled, unhealthy food. They cleaned up the place and they offer healthier food now (whyyyy???). The first floor of the La Salle building hallway still looks the same. The walls are lined up with photos of graduates from the many decades ago. I remember finding my brother and sister's photo before, but I don't remember now which building it's on.

La Salle building hallway, 2019.


I had a lot of my classes in the main building throughout my undergraduate and grad school years. They have upgraded the classrooms and I know they completely changed one of the cases rooms (it now has Google technology in it hehe). The amphitheater area is still the same, what's different is that huge building beside it and the SPS building. That huge building now used to be the gym. The bookstore which used to be inside of the SPS building has been relocated to the big building. I still saw the cashier back in 2018, but she wasn't around anymore last year.

My thesismate, Jingo.

The chess plaza... I'm not sure if they still call it the chess plaza. The SJ walk which was known as the tambayan of the sushals is still there, but it feels so much different now. The field is gone and on it is a huge building where they host a lot of events. There's also a large open area for activities.

This is how it looks now. Miguel building seems so far away now from South Gate. I used to speed through the campus to get to my class. Now it takes 30 minutes for me to get there haha.

The biggest change for me is the College Canteen. It's gone! Well not technically. The canteen is still there, but in a very different format. My favorite spaketsup is gone forever. Gone are the many, many tables that lined up the canteen. That place was special to me because my Ate and Kuya used to bring me to La Salle when they had activities during weekends when they were a student. I always knew I would end up studying there when I grew up.

Last photo in 2011 at the College Canteen before it was demolished.

I was so happy that day under the tree. Hopefully this year I get to visit again.