Sunday, December 9, 2018

My Spotify 2018 Wrapped Explained

Who's ready to say goodbye to 2018? Just a couple more weeks left for this year and we'll be saying hello to 2019! How has 2018 been for you? Me? Well I have what has become a sort of tradition of looking back at the year that was just before it comes to a close and I've even blogged about them (see 2011; 2013; 2015 and 2016).

Last year, Spotify did this thing where they collated people's music streaming data and gave us, their users a peek into the kinds of music we listened to for the year which is pretty interesting! Now that 2018's about to end, Spotify is once again giving us listeners a view of how our year went based on the kind of music we streamed on their site with Spotify Wrapped. 


I listened to Spotify more this year. It comes as no surprise since it's become a morning habit to listen to music while I'm taking a bath and getting ready for work. But here's where my Spotify 2018 Wrapped becomes more interesting. 



Robyn's Dancing On My Own became my most listened to song this year. According to Spotify's data, I spent 13 hours with Robyn on repeat. What a sad sad song I listened to. Actually, last year, my top song was Too Good at Goodbyes by Sam Smith. Also a sad song but that one was more about someone who finally learned how to protect his/her heart from getting hurt by the person they love. Robyn's Dancing On My Own is a truly heartbreaking song, about losing the love of one's life to someone else. 

Somebody said you got a new friend
Does she love you better than I can?

And she knows that it's stupid that she's still holding on to him but still there she was hoping she was the girl for him. 

I'm in the corner watching you kiss her oh, oh, oh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me? Oh, oh, oh
And I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the guy you're taking home, ooh
I keep dancing on my own


But she also knew that there was really nothing else she could do so... 

But you don't see me, standing here
I just came to say goodbye


While I didn't just come from a break up, it took me back to the time earlier this year when I was heartbroken. Just as the song goes, even though I gave it my all, in the end I wasn't the girl he chose. There was longing. And there was a feeling of hopelessness. That's why I loved this song so much. 

So basically, the earlier part of 2018 for me sucked big time. But the latter part of my 2018 already told a different story with Carly Rae Jepsen's Cut to the Feeling coming in a close second on my Top 2018 songs. It is such an upbeat song about that wonderful feeling of falling in love and embracing it. No holding back and just being bold.

I wanna cut through the clouds, break the ceiling
I wanna dance on the roof, you and me alone
I wanna cut to the feeling, oh yeah
I wanna cut to the feeling, oh yeah
I wanna play where you play with the angels
I wanna wake up with you all in tangles, oh
I wanna cut to the feeling, oh yeah
I wanna cut to the feeling, oh yeah

I long to feel that way about someone and have that feeling reciprocated.


My top 1 and 2 songs for 2018 bare a resemblance to my Top 1 and 2 songs from last year (2017). Top song was Sam Smith's Too Good at Goodbyes and Gwen Stefani's Make Me Like You was my second most streamed song in 2017. The latter was because around the same time last year, I was floating on cloud nine most of the time because of C, my used to be happy at nakakakilig crush from the gym. We don't talk anymore hence the heart breaking songs of 2018. Ha! Ha!  
I was pleasantly surprised to know that my favorite musical subgenre for this year is Dance Pop. When I looked at my Top 100 songs for 2018, some of the songs included are tracks from Body Jam. Dance is honestly not my cup of tea (and my two left feet would agree to this) but this year, I've been religiously attending Body Jam class. I now have a Jam playlist on my Spotify which gets updated every so often. It's the one I play every morning these days before I go to work. It used to be a 90's to early 2000 playlist. I prefer my Jam playlist now though as the music are fun to listen to and every time I play it, a certain guy who sets the stage on fire when he dances comes to mind.   



My Top 100 2018 Songs is a mix of heartbreak (Taylor Swift's Red; Moonstar 88's Migraine and Lisa Loeb's Fools Like Me), having a crush/in love/wanting to love someone (Lady Gaga's The Cure;  DJ Snake and Lauv's A Different Way and Carly Rae Jepsen's I Really Like You) and some of the my favorite Jam tracks (Demi Lovato's Sorry Not Sorry even rounds up my Top 5 songs for 2018. I love how he dances to this song).  

You can listen to my Top 100 songs for 2018 below.   


   


I wonder how my 2019 will turn out to be. Guess I'll find out next year. But my hope is that next year, my Spotify Wrapped will be filled with more happy kinds of songs especially my top song.

What does your Spotify Wrapped 2018 say about how your year went? 


Friday, November 23, 2018

Top 5 Things I Loved About Netflix's The Christmas Chronicles

Can you believe November's almost coming to an end? Soon, we'll really feel the Christmas season with all the parties, gift shopping and bonuses being given out! Netflix started early with their Christmas specials! Did you guys see any of it yet?

Well here's one film I'm recommending - The Christmas Chronicles! It is such a cute and feel good movie that I think will be worth adding to your list of  movies to watch every Christmas season like  Home Alone. 

The plot as written on IMDB: 

Siblings Kate and Teddy Pierce hatch a scheme to capture Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. When the plan goes awry, the kids join forces with a somewhat jolly Saint Nick and his loyal elves to save the holiday before it's too late.


Here's the teaser video:

    



What I loved about The Christmas Chronicles

1. Kurt Russell as Santa Claus

When I was a kid, my image of Santa Claus was always an old, fat and white man with white hair and beard and glasses wearing a red suit, black belt and boots. He also goes around saying "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!". 

This Santa? He's very different! For instance, he's fit, not fat! 

  


He doesn't go around saying "Ho! Ho! Ho!"


And this Santa has an inner rock star!



2. Kate and Teddy Pierce's relationship

When I was a kid, I was like Kate Pierce. A true believer of Santa Claus. I remember how my parents would make me go to bed on Christmas eve and wake me up at the stroke of midnight, saying Santa Claus has arrived and I would go to the living room to find all the socks of my Dad which I hanged at the bar would be filled with lots of goodies and the Christmas tree would have my presents! It was such a magical time of the year for me. I think at one point, my Dad might have attempted to dress up as Santa Claus but it failed because I refused to wake up and get up from the bed. Ha! Ha! I would never know because they really never told me if they actually tried that bit. 

But I did meet Santa Claus once. Well, a department store Santa Claus. It was back in the 90s when Gift Gate store was still thriving. If you weren't born yet, that was the go-to store of the kids for all their Sanrio staples like Hello Kitty, My Melody and Little Twin Stars. Anyway, I think I may have been around 8 or 9 years old by then and my parents had me line up with all the other kids to sit on Santa's lap for a photo opp. I remember that picture! I wasn't smiling in that photo! My eyes were rolling as though I was trying to say "Oh please! You're not fooling me!"  I think that was the time my parents had finally told me that Santa Claus doesn't really exist. Boo! 

Now I don't have a sibling. But I do have an older male cousin who used to stay with us during summer and/or Christmas breaks. Like Teddy, my Kuya Neil was a non believer of Santa Claus. He was the one who told me Santa isn't real and how I remember insisting to him that he is! When I told my parents about it, that's when they told me that it's true, Santa's not real. 

But you know what? It's fun to believe that there's a magical being somewhere out there like Santa Claus on Christmas time that's really making a list and checking it twice to find out who's naughty or nice. And if you fall on the nice list, he's gonna grant you your wish or give you a present on Christmas day. Sometimes, I still make a Christmas wish to Santa. He hasn't really granted any of my recent wishes yet though! Hmph! 

3. Santa's little helpers 

Those elves are soooo cute and cuddly to look at. Also very different from the elves I had imagined when I was younger. 



Don't make 'em mad though. They can be scary! LOL!



4. It is such a heart warming story about family! 

I cried watching this film, mainly because I remembered my own Dad and how I wish he was still around to celebrate Christmas with us. Missing a loved one especially on special occasions - that never gets easy. 

5. The plot to save Christmas

I highly enjoyed watching the kids joining Santa Claus on a mission to save Christmas and all the shenanigans they had to go through just to do so! Anyone want to ride a flying reindeer?




Even if you're already way past your childhood age, you'll still love The Christmas Chronicles! It's really for the whole family - the kids and the kids at heart. Once you do watch this, tell me what you thought of it at the comments section too! 


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Travel Diary: Revisiting Hongkong and Macau

Before the year ends, Ryan, Mai and I have this annual tradition of planning the next year particularly things we want to do like events in the city we want to go to and travels. Last year, we decided on Iloilo (my idea. Read here why) and Cambodia. Unfortunately, we're still unsuccessful with making the latter travel a reality. Hongkong and Macau were not in our radars mostly because we've been there before. It's the first international travel we had us as friends.

This travel was originally just a couple's trip (Dom and Ryan's for their 1 year anniversary) but the invite was extended to us friends. Traveloka had a promotional seat sale tie up with Cebu Pacific with round trip tickets that cost around Php4,000 only. Cheap enough right? But that's not what made me say yes. What it was, was a spur of the moment decision. Driven by a desire to go looking for some sort of adventure. That's how I unexpectedly found myself coming back to Hongkong and Macau. 

Meet my travel companions 



The guy in grey is Rej. He's a friend from the gym. At the back of him is Ryan, Dom and me, the only girl in the group. This is the four of us on a ferry ride to Macau. This was supposed to be a bigger group actually. There were supposed to be six of us but the other two dropped out a couple of months before our expected travel dates due to different reasons. 

Where we stayed 

Our Hongkong-Macau trip was set for 4 days and 3 nights. Since we settled our accommodations early on, we decided on booking through Airbnb because we were a big group. We stayed here - a 3 bedroom apartment near Prince Edward MTR station in Kowloon. I forgot to take actual photos of the place (partly because I guess I was too tired) so just view the photos from the link. 

At Php4,000+ per person for four days, it wasn't a bad deal already. Bonnie, our host, was nice enough and so was her place. While the location reminded me of Carriedo in Manila, only a bit cleaner, overall I thought it was a good enough place as it was near convenience stores, food stalls and restaurants. 

The places we went to

Most of the places we went to, I've been to the first time I was in Hongkong and Macau but this was Dom's first ever travel abroad and Rej's last visit to Hongkong was way back when he was still a kid. It meant showing them the usual tourist sights to visit especially Disneyland because well, it's the happiest place on earth! I would skip them if it were just me but I'm glad to revisit most of them again because my first visit went by in a blur, I don't remember a lot of them if it weren't for the photos.

Ngong Ping Village

This was our first stop and everyone's first time to see the place. This place located in Lantau Island is where you will see Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha. To get there, you will have to ride a cable car. We picked the crystal cabin which is a wee bit more expensive than the standard one but if you are after the view and photo opp, then this is the way to go.

I had a peg shot for the crystal cabin cable car but I couldn't bring myself to get up and transfer to the other side. I got scared of the height. LOL!


Photo taken by Dom

Check out the view from our cable car ride:





At the entrance to the monastery, you'll find this large triple arch white stone, called the "Mountain Gate" and it is adorned with three pagoda statues that lead to a wide pathway. 


Photo taken by Rej

Po Lin Monastery. Taken by Dom

The famous Tian Tan Buddha. I climbed up those steps, you betcha! I climbed up the 272 steps up to the Batu Caves in Malaysia so the 268 steps up was a challenge I certainly will take. 




Disneyland (of course!) 



We're on the train that will take us to the happiest place on Earth!


The guys excitedly showing off their Disney cards 


These cards make a cute souvenir 

I wish I met Mickey Mouse while we were there. Or any of the Disney characters. Maybe a Disney princess. There was a Woody meet and greet at Toy Story Land but we got there too late. But what we did do is ride, ride, ride.

I'm not really into rides especially those that have fast turns, will take you really high up or have a lot of sharp turns because I'm honestly a scaredy cat. Even when I was a kid and my parents and my ninongs would take me and my kinakapatid to Star City every Christmas, I would only ride the safe and tame attractions like the Carousel. Do you guys know that even the ferris wheel scare me? Ha! Ha! 

But I embraced my sense of adventure even more and mustered courage to go on those fast roller coaster rides with both Dom and Rej while we were in Disneyland. Ryan was left holding our stuff while waiting for us.


My I'm-trying-to-enjoy-this-ride-but-I'm-scared face captured on camera during the Hyperspace Mountain ride. Ha! Ha! 

Don't tell me it's just a roller coaster. I am well aware that if kids are allowed to ride such attractions then I could ride the darn thing. But well, they must be brave kids! Good job to them. LOL! And if you think I got scared during this ride, you should've seen and heard me when we rode the Grizzly Gulch attraction. 

I had no chill the whole time I was in those rides! I screamed my lungs out and I gripped the handles so tight. Rej, who was beside me during the scary rides, remarked that my reaction came as a surprise because I'm really a quiet person by nature. Confession: I cried a bit because I got so scared at the Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars. And yes, they all found it amusing that I was that scared! Rej and Dom were nothing but chill during the rides. They had a blast with every fast turn. With every sharp turn and most especially with every drop of the ride.  I begged out when Rej asked us to ride the RC Racer in Toy Story Land. I know I would have cried a whole lot more if I joined them. I might even faint from fear. 

Macau

Because Macau is just a ferry away from Hongkong, we went to visit it as well. It was both Dom and Rej's first time. You don't have to have your money exchanged even if Macau has their own currency called Macanese pataca. Most vendors there accept Hongkong dollars. 

We went around checking out the casinos (naturally!) because Macau is the Las Vegas of Asia.  

At the Venetian. Taken by Dom




Here's me posing by the Grand Lisboa casino because Rej offered to take my photo here as well when he saw Dom ask Ryan to take his. I wasn't about to say no to such an offer! 

Photo taken by Rej


Victoria Harbour



Taken by Rej

Rej said he knew I wanted my photo taken even without asking him and so he took it. Honestly I was just looking at the distance but I was definitely thrilled at the result! 

Hongkong Cultural Center 

Taken by Rej

Choi Hung Estate 
Taken by Rej


This is one of my favorite shots. I was just sitting there in one of the benches when Rej asked me to take a photo of him. He taught me the kind of shot he wanted. I'm not the best photographer of the bunch but Ryan and Dom were busy taking photos of each other so I guess he was stuck with me!😜 And then he offered to take my photo too and look at that! Another photo worth sharing on Instagram. 

I love him for being so nice as to take my photos even when I wasn't asking. He's got the skill! You should see his photos on his Instagram page. Definitely appreciated him for using his photography skills to take not only amazing shots of the sights to see in Hongkong and Macau but also me. I hope he goes on more travels with us and if he does, I hope he takes more Instagram worthy photos of me! Ha! Ha! He's now part of the roster of my favorite people to take pictures of me.😆

Struggles and learnings in Hongkong

Ngong Ping was such a popular tourist place! Even with Klook, we had to fall in line for a really long time. We ended up being hungry and quite thirsty since we came there straight from our flight. While Rej bought siomai to snack on and since he was generous enough to share his food with me while we waited for Ryan and Dom, I shared with him the drink I bought. Unfortunately it's not the kind of drink either of us became happy about. 


I thought was a lemon flavored drink because of its yellow packaging. LOL! It turned out to be Chrysanthemum tea and the taste just made me want to barf. But beggars couldn't be choosers. I finished this drink because there was no mineral water sold at Ngong Ping. So there's a little tip for you - bring your own snack and water! 

The girl who doesn't use chopsticks had to use them all the time in Hongkong and Macau! I struggled of course. 



I know I'm probably holding the chopsticks in an awkward manner but trust me, I managed! But maybe next time, I'm going to bring my own cutlery! For my own good as well.  

And there's not a place in Hongkong and Macau that offer service water. Our host, Bonnie, did tell us that their tap water was not advisable to drink so we always had to buy mineral water. I tried not to think too much about Mother Nature and how I'm harming it with my single use plastic. 

As for food, we tried to eat at different spots everyday. My favorite was at Temple Street Night Market. They were hole in the wall restos that offered affordably delicious food. Although Coral Cafe is also a good place to eat! But for breakfast, we were always at the same place. 

   

That's right! McDonald's even in Hongkong. It was close to where we were staying. 

We didn't get to go to Victoria Peak even though it was part of our first day itinerary. We didn't expect that we'd be held up in Ngong Ping for so long. Since it was booked via Klook, we couldn't just reschedule it to another time. Too bad. Lesson learned: don't book all activities at once! 

Well I did Klook my way around Malaysia but I was with my mom and her friends! My companions in Hongkong were younger. More exploratory. So I guess it's best to have some flexibility in the schedule. Klook can be a really useful app. But just how much maybe depends on certain factors like the kinds of companions you're with; the activities you'll be getting and the schedules.    

The things I learned about my travel companions

I read that if you really want to get to know people, you should travel together. It makes sense. You'll be spending a whole lot of time together away from your usual routines and comfort zones. So what can I say about the people I traveled with? 

Well I've been traveling with Ryan for years now so I have a pretty good knowledge of how he is. For one thing, I know that he's a very organized person. Case in point: these travel documents all labeled accordingly.

 


He likes things scheduled and planned in detail. You don't leave things with Ryan with a simple answer as "I don't know." or "Will figure it out later." when he asks you a question about your trip.  That's why in our group, he's always the planner. We let him do the itinerary because it's just easier for all of us. We know we'll be in good hands with Ryan on top of everything. 

Dom? He wanted to be at the airport as early as 3am! Our flight was at 7am. Super aga!  He said he's really very conscious of time when it comes to travels. Well we were at the airport one hour later. He's also an early riser. I'd wake up and find he's finished taking a shower and already prepping to go.

He was also the supportive partner to Ryan who's left with the task of getting us to the places we want to go to. Still as nice as he is when we're just in the city. He doesn't get cranky even if we're walking a lot. He looked like a kid just having a blast exploring a new foreign city. 

Dom also knows how to take good photos. Here's him taking a photo of Ryan. In this day and age of Instagram, you know what they say? Find someone who likes taking photos of you! Ayan #jowagoals. Now where can I find someone who'll like taking my photos? LOL!


When it comes to getting his photos taken, he sure knows how to strike a pose. He'll give you cute and he'll give you quirky.


He looks young though doesn't he? Like he's still in his teens? The casino guards in Macau seemed to think so because he got carded twice! But he's actually already in his late twenties. He's also very game when it comes to theme park rides - he was Rej's riding buddy when we went to Disneyland. Overall, just an easy going person to be with. 

And as for Rej... well he's a laid back kind of traveler. I got this impression from his simple requirement that we go to Disneyland during our trip and his request to go shopping because he wanted to buy rubber shoes. I guess it comes as no surprise as well because he prefers beach travels where he can just lay down; eat; sleep and drink beer more than city travels. But I realized that more during our travel since he was my usual companion, naturally.

He's an early riser. He was always the first one up among the four of us even when he was the last one to turn in. Mobile Legends kept him up all night. Still, when I wake up, I would find him all ready to go. He even managed to prepare hot water for us in case we wanted to drink coffee during our second morning in Hongkong. Amazing. I have a hard time dragging myself out of bed every morning. Really not a morning person. 

He's got quite a sense of humor. I've seen that humor when he sometimes cracks jokes and does silly things at the gym. I just saw a whole lot more of it while we were in Hongkong. 

Case in points:

Guess who's bright idea it was to hang that water bottle in the MTR so we wouldn't have to hold it for awhile? That's right, Rej's. 

  
That amazing sense of humor even seeps in on the kinds of poses he would do when it comes to getting his photo taken. There's no need to ask him for a wacky pose 'cos that what's what you'll often get! 




He sure likes his beer. He told me on our first night in Hongkong that he planned on getting wasted. This was taken at Temple Street Night Market where we had our first dinner. He didn't get drunk. He just had this one mucho beer all for him. I think that's a good thing that plan fell through. I just couldn't imagine how he would manage to have the energy for all the walking, sight seeing and rides that we would do if he got hung over. 



Overall Experience

I would say that my four days and three nights in Hongkong was very tiring. We were always sleeping late and waking up very early. We were also walking a lot. But I don't regret it at all. I liked the experience of traveling with Dom and Rej because they were just so easy going and they gave us no trouble whatsoever. And of course, do I even have to say it? I loved traveling with Ryan! I like that he's in charge and all I gotta do is follow. I guess it helps that we're now better at traveling. By that I mean, we have our itineraries. We knew the sights we wanted to see and how to get there. We also knew how to budget for it.

I only wish our travel was longer because the anticipation of the trip was long and then travel time came and it seemed to have just gone by just like that. I supposed time flies when you're having fun.  I hope there would be more travels in the future. And I hope I get to do that with them. Because I would do it again. And again. And again. 




     







Monday, November 19, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol 16



Where has the month gone? Just last week around this same time, I was exploring a foreign city in another land with friends with not a care in the world. Time flies so fast. Now I'm back in Manila and officially back to work.

So what's on my happy list for today's blog post?

1. Hongkong adventure with friends

This takes the top spot easily. I had three wonderful days of exploring Hongkong with friends. It was tiring but I would do it again and again with all three of them.

2. The unexpected late night coffee and dinner get together with a new friend 

I made a new friend recently. I met her at an art exhibit. She's the sister of a friend at the gym. I'm drawn to her because her energy is just so light and easy. The conversation just flows naturally and my introvert self doesn't have to struggle to come up with anything to say.

3. Joining my best friend and his family on their Sunday family day 

I like that I have a friend who's known me for a super long time. Growing up together means his family has known me for a while as well and I feel comfortable enough to be joining them and not just my friend during their Sunday family time. Makes me feel like I'm somewhat part of the family too - extended family.
 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Skipping Lines, Paying Bills, Getting Cashback and More

Part of adulting is paying bills and paying them on or before their due date. Electricity. Cable. Water. Credit Card. Mobile Phone Plans. Internet. As I racked up years working, I also racked up bills to pay and every payday, I would find myself in line at the SM Centers so I could pay those bills on time. It's what I disliked the most about paying bills - the long lines I had to endure because I'm really not the most patient person.

That part of my life's in the past though after embracing the power of technology and going digital. I started with enrolling in online banking after my cousin talked me into it. Just input a few details with the amount and voila! Bill paid! Amazing! Ever since then, that's how I paid for my bills. No more lines.

Recently though, I've discovered another digitally cool way to pay those bills without having the need to fall in line for so long. The secret lies with Coins.ph!





What is Coins.ph

It's a digital wallet that you can use to pay for stuff like bills or load and buy digital currency such as Bitcoins. I've never tried to use it for the latter but it is already an amazing app that has helped me a lot!

What I use it for

Bill payments

Coins.ph will help you pay over 80+ different types of bills. Personally, I use it to pay for cable, Internet + landline, my mobile plans, electricity and water all just by logging in on the app through my smartphone!



Buy prepaid load

I've long said goodbye to the prepaid life but I discovered there were still a number of people in our neighborhood, including my mom, who still needs load. With Coins.ph, I now have a way to supply them with load when they need it.

Check balance and buy Beep card load

There was a time when I was a frequent user of Beep card because I took the MRT to work and then the bus to McKinley which both required the use of Beep card. While I no longer have the need to use Beep as often, I still find myself from time to time using it like the time I had to go to a friend's house in Mandaluyong. Despite the long lines and the crowd, MRT was still my best bet in getting to her place the faster way compared to EDSA traffic.

Because it had been awhile since I last used Beep, I wasn't sure how much balance I had in it and if I needed to buy load for me to be able to use it. With Coins.ph, I was able to do both! I simply had to open my NFC, tap my Beep card at the back of my phone and I was able to see my balance. Turned out, I needed to load it up so I could use it so I selected load card, bought Php50 worth of load and I was ready to ride the MRT! Again, skipped the long lines!


What I love about it

There are three things I love about using Coins.ph.

1. So convenient to use

No more long lines. Check! Access it anytime, anywhere (you just need a strong Internet connection). Check! Even cashing in is so easy to do because there are plenty of ways you can do so like Touchpay, 7-11 and GCash are just some of them. Some of them have convenience fees though. If you're cashing in a high amount like Php1000 and above and want to avoid add on fees, cash in at Unionbank or UnionBank Online Banking as they offer 100% fee rebate. Luckily, there's a branch near our office.

2. So many uses

I love that there are a lot of things I can do with Coins.ph such as pay bills, load beep card and buy load. You can even pay Traveloka and Philippine Airlines through the app. For the gamers, you can also buy game credits through it like Steam Wallet, Garena Shells and Level Up!

3. Cashbacks

This is the number one reason I love using Coins.ph. I get cashbacks for my transactions. For every bill I successfully pay, I get Php5.00 back and if I pay 4 unique (meaning I've not paid for it yet for that month) bills in a week, I get Php100 rebate. I also get Php10% back whenever I buy load - be it Smart or Globe. It's not a promo by the way! It's all year long that you can get these cash backs from Coins.ph.

It's seriously an awesome mobile app and I'm glad I discovered it. Want to try it out for yourself? Download Coins.ph through Google Play Store or Apple Play Store. Use my referral code: if2vrm so you and I can both get Php50 after you complete your account verification.

If you want to know more about it, you can visit their website.



Photo courtesy of Nicole Muriel 









Thursday, November 15, 2018

Netflix Must Watch: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Two years ago, it was announced that my favorite Archie Comics was going to be turned into a series. While it wasn't the first ever attempt to turn it into a series or a movie, it was the first time to turn the funny comics into something a bit edgier, serious and well, dark and it was to be called Riverdale, named after the town where Archie and the gang are from. I was surprised and appalled at first because I grew up loving the amusing comic story lines. I watched it anyway and ended up liking Riverdale (the first season at least! Now I have mixed feelings about the show). Anyway, with Riverdale being a hit, it didn't come as a surprise that Netflix would want to follow that up by creating another show, now based on Sabrina, the teenage witch character that's also from Archie Comics.

It's also not the first time Sabrina had been adapted on screen. If you grew up in the 90s, then you know that there was a Sabrina the Teenage Witch show starring Melissa Joan Hart. It was in fact a hit show that it made her even more of a household name after her successful stint in Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It all. I also remember reading some of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch book series with her on the cover at our school library. Sabrina the Teenage Witch of the 90s was cute, silly and funny.

This time around, Netflix's newest original series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina took a different approach by going down the dark side. I went to watch it of course to see if it would be good. And you know what? It didn't disappoint me at all!



Just like Riverdale, the characters and the dark take on Sabrina is based from the Archie Comic book of the same title. After a serious weekend of binge watching, I personally think this is gonna be better than Riverdale. Let me tell you what I liked about the show:


Sabrina 

I love Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman. She's got that look to her - innocent but can be a bad girl too. Watch the subtle change of Sabrina's looks from Episode 1 to Episode 10. Kiernan's best known for her role as Sally Draper from Mad Men.


Harvey

Oh Harvey aka Ross Lynch in real life. He's such an ideal boyfriend - kind and so loving and not afraid to tell Sabrina how he feels. He's also very supportive and cute to boot! Even after finding out her secret, he still loves her. *heart melts*

Cousin Ambrose

In the comics, at least the funny Archie comics (not the The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina graphic novel), Cousin Ambrose is portrayed as a fat older guy who lives with Sabrina and her aunts. He's not given much role in the comics but in this new series, Ambrose is the warlock cousin who's very supportive of Sabrina. He's not only given a whole lot of on screen time, he's also really easy on the eyes. I went and Googled him of course and found out that he's a new actor, Chance Perdomo.

Cousin Ambrose from the Archie Comics
Cousin Ambrose from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 

Nick Scratch

If Harvey is the ultimate good guy, Nick is the exact opposite. He's a warlock who studies at the academy and he's very passionate about magic. He is portrayed by Gavin Leatherwood, another cutie to look out for.



I Smell A Love Triangle

I have a strong suspicion Nick Scratch's got feelings for Sabrina Spellman! And you know what? Even though I adore Harvey and think that he's the best boyfriend in the world, I still would like to see Sabrina getting together with Nick! Perhaps it might happen in Season 2? The second season's already underway! *freaks out*

I read that Sabrina's life's taking a very different turn in Season 2. I would not be surprised if she did get together with Nick then! Just how they left it at Season 1 gives me that hope that they just might! Who's team would you be on? Team Harvey or Team Nick?

Sabrina's Christmas Special Episode

I can't wait for the new season to air! But while there's no announcement yet from Netflix as to when, the good news for fans like me is that there's going to be a special episode called A Midwinter's Tale that will be available by December 14. Definitely going to watch that.

If you haven't seen Chilling Adventures of Sabrina yet, then I urge that you do! It's really good!
 



Monday, November 5, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 15



And just like that people, it's back to work after a long weekend of remembering our dearly departed loved ones. How did you spend the break? Mom and I went to visit my Dad to pray for him. Luckily for us we don't have to go very far and we don't have to worry about braving the cemetery crowds since his resting place is in a columbarium in a church just two jeepney rides away. Of course I also spent the long weekend watching Netflix (will tell you all about Chilling Adventures of Sabrina soon!) and shopping for stuff I would need for my upcoming Hongkong trip (it's this week guys! So excited about it!).

Anyway here's another list of happy things:

1. Bonding over milk teas with friends 

I was done with my workout at the gym by early afternoon but I stuck around and waited for my friends, Jordan and Jen to finish theirs. Jordan's been a friend since highschool and I met Jen at the gym since we usually attend the same Sunday classes.

We bonded over milk teas, chatting about anything and everything under the sun. 

2. Shopping and dinner with my two dearest friends

Since Mai moved from Pasay to Paranaque, we hardly get to hang out with her so it's always nice when the three of us get a chance to get together. Had asked both her and Ryan's help in finding outfits I would wear to my Hongkong trip and then we ended the night with dinner at one of our favorite spots, Cafe Mary Grace.

3. Got the Herschel bag I've been eyeing on for months!

4. Seeing the cutie at the gym. 


5. And of course, just having a five day weekend. 

Work can be so draining at times so it's nice to get a breather. Five glorious days of not having to think of work. Okay, so I partly had to think of work because we have an upcoming pitch but it got settled after a day.






 

Monday, October 29, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol. 14



Been dealing with a personal stressful situation that's been going on for weeks now (here's looking at you, PLDT) and so I haven't gone on to list down the happy things in my life lately. But here's to getting back on track so I don't let the negativity of the stressful situations of life get to me too much.

1. Finally got my Leo Mazzotti bracelets

I ordered them online a couple of months back and since it's from abroad, it's taken quite awhile to get here. I've just about given up on it actually. They're just so cute so I had to buy. If you like 'em, use my Instagram name (@piecesofliz) on the checkout cart to get 10% off.

2. Got a new credit card

Yay! Just in time for HK too! Well it's just gonna be for emergency back up. Not gonna be careless with swiping plastic this time around.

3.  Found out that this week is a two-day work week! 

I'm ready for a long weekend of rest and relaxation. So, so ready.

4. Got to attend an art exhibit opening over the weekend. 

I'm no art connoisseur but I can appreciate a good work of art. Also that was a first for me. I feel so cultured! 😆

5. Finally getting to taste Starbucks famous autumn season drink, Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's sooooo delicious! Try it out! You won't regret it. 



 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House

The month of October means Halloween! So it's not a surprise that scary shows are aplenty! In fact, I just found out SM Cinema is holding a scary movie flick fest called #SineSindakatSMCinema. Eight (8) movies from all over the world will be shown and you can watch them all for only Php199 all day pass for all eight films. Scary movie marathon anyone?😊 

But if you prefer to watch scary shows at home (in the dark with nothing but the light from your computer screen or TV illuminating the room), well why not? Streaming sites such as Netflix has a number of best for Halloween shows that may or may not scare the crap out of you. One of these shows - which I've been seeing all over my Facebook newsfeed - is The Haunting of Hill House. 'Tis the season for scary flicks after all so I checked it out for myself and here's what I can tell you about it. 

Image result for the haunting of hill house netflix

What it's about

It's the story of a family, the Crains, who temporarily moves into the old Hill House mansion together with their five children: Steven, Shirley, Theodora (Theo) and the twins Eleanor (Nell) and Luke on the summer of 1992. When they start to experience paranormal events happening in the house and suffer from a tragic loss, they are forced to move out of the house. The story shifts from telling the family's stay in Hill House Mansion to decades later, after they've moved out and far from the haunted mansion.  

What I liked

It's a 10 episode series and not just a two hour scary film because it's more than just a Netflix show meant to scare the wits out of you. To be honest, at first I was starting to get bored with all the bickering among the characters but as the layers of the story unfolded, I found myself becoming hooked until I finished the entire series. I retired to bed at 3 in the morning last Friday to finish this. 

The Haunting of Hill House is not just about a family dealing with paranormal events in a very old and very isolated mansion but it's also full of family drama from children dealing with their estranged parent; money issues among siblings and drugs to name a few. You're not just going to scared. You're going to be intrigued to know more. But it has it scary moments. Wait for Episode 5: The Bent-Neck Lady and Episode 6: Two Storms.      

1) Hotness Alert 

I would like to just say the Crain family had good looking hotties among them. Case in point, my girl crush, bad ass lesbian, middle child, Theodora or Theo for short played by Kate Siegel. She's very pretty, isn't she? But she's also the tough and brave one among the five Crain children. She's the one who's not afraid (or maybe she is) to go down the depths of a secret cellar, a basement and the workroom of Harris Funeral Home - her older sister, Shirley and her husband's business side of the residence. She defends the helpless like her brother, Luke, whose parents didn't want to believe him when he said he saw a scary creature in the bootleg cellar. 

 
And then there's Luke Crain played by Oliver Jackson Cohen. Sure he's all messed up and he's a junkie - you'd probably be too if you kept seeing ghosts when you were a kid. BUT! Everytime he comes on screen, with those eyes, I just want to reach out and take him in my arms and say, "Hey it's okay baby. Let me protect you. Let me love you." LOL! Too damn hot. 
     

 
Steven - So Darn Relatable to Me

Steve is the oldest among the five Crain siblings. He's made his living from writing about paranormal experiences of other people. His most popular novel of course is one based off from his own family's experience: The Haunting of Hill House. But while he writes about them, truth of the matter is, he's a non-believer. For him, all the things that his siblings, Nell and Luke, his mom and even his Dad, all their paranormal claims about Hill House are really just a result of a sickness. Mental illness. 

I don't believe in ghosts either. When my friends or work colleagues (they say our office building is haunted!) claim they've seen a ghost or felt the presence of a ghost, I always have a logical explanation for it.

I remember this one particular incident in College when we were sent out of town for an immersion, - and the place we stayed in was also seemingly isolated - my friend, Jackie and I stayed up real late just chatting. Up to the wee hours of the morning, we were wide awake and we thought we weren't the only ones up because we could hear a couple more voices seemingly also chit chatting. Then Jackie calls out to them and when we got no response, we looked over on the bedroom floor and saw that surprise! We were the only ones awake. No one else was sitting by the window sill. Because Jackie became freaked by that, we decided to go to bed but not to sleep! We still wanted to keep on talking. Then we heard some low growling (?) from above our heads. We didn't dare look. We closed our eyes real tight, held hands until we fell asleep and it was morning again. I was initially scared. But by day light, when Jackie was starting to tell the story to our classmates, I already had some logical explanations for it. 

These Kids Are Just So Cute!

Young Nell

  

Young Luke


Is it worth a second season? 

I read that this Netflix original series has become super popular among viewers, critics and horror fans. It's only been released last week but I read that it's risen to the popularity of longer running shows like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. Even Stephen King has nothing but praises for this. There's no announcement of a second season for this series yet but you know how Netflix likes to give in to the clamor of a popular show. Case in point: 13 Reasons Why. 

I actually don't want Netflix to take the route of '13 Reasons Why' on this wherein they made another season of the series because it was very much talked about. It was weird because the story was about Hannah Baker's suicide and Hannah died at the end of season 1. The Haunting of Hill House, like 13 Reasons Why, is also based on a novel written by Shirley Jackson and like I said, the story is about the Crain family who moved into Hill House. With how they ended this series, I feel like there was such a finale to it. Unless of course, the writers of the show decide to tell the stories of the other residents of Hill House, the ghosts that haunt the place.        

Should you watch it?

If you're looking for something good to watch this Halloween season, I recommend The Haunting of Hill House. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Book Review: Dan Brown's Origin

I pledged to read 12 books this 2018 for my GoodReads Reading Challenge. One of the books I recently finished is Dan Brown's Origin. It's the fifth novel from his Robert Langdon series which I am such a fan of! Yep, I've read all of them - Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and Inferno. Pretty sure some of you are familiar with the titles I mentioned too since The Da Vince Code was such a controversial book for the Catholic Church plus three out of the four books I've mentioned have been adapted into a movie starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon (love him for the role!).  

Anyway, so back to Origin. In the story, Robert Langdon finds himself in Spain, at the Guggenheim Museum attending an event hosted by his former student and friend, billionaire and futurist Edmond Kirsch. The latter's event was to reveal his discovery, a breakthrough that will answer two fundamental questions of human existence and will change the face of science forever. But then the evening turns into chaos and forces Langdon to escape Bilbao together with the gorgeous museum director, Ambra Vidal. 

The two fundamental questions: Where do we come from? and Where are we going? 

As you know, when it comes to the first question, science and religion have different answers. Religion says an omnipotent being is responsible for our existence here on earth. Everything from the night and day, water and plants, the creatures that walk the earth and of course, us, mankind were created by the one we call God. Science explains it with the most famous creation theory, Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection.

As the story goes, both questions will be answered. Personally though, I was not blown away by the answer to the first question. It was more like "well, okay. That's interesting..." The second question is more intriguing for me. In this day and age of technological advancement, we find ourselves asking "Will machines replace human beings?" 





Because as the story goes, Robert Langdon finds himself depending on Winston, whom one would think was a British guy speaking at the other end of the phone line but turns out to be a super computer built by Edmond Kirsch as his assistant. After his friend is murdered, Langdon, together with the gorgeous museum director, Ambra Vidal, set out on a mission to discover what Kirsch was not able to reveal to the world so they can finish what he intended to do.

Artificially intelligent computers are not new anymore but they keep leveling up thanks to this day and age of technological advancement. Doesn't it amaze you, the things computers can now do? Here are ten powerful examples I found.

But at the same time, it can be scary to think of because a true artificial intelligent system can learn on its own like Winston did from the book. If it can learn, it can get smarter. It can adapt. It can get better. Who knows what it can do with knowledge it can acquire, right? Although I know right now AI is still young and far from what the Hollywood movies and TV shows depict.

Origin is a highly entertaining and intriguing read. There's still the conspiracy theory to it aside from the technological aspect of the book - did the religious, represented by Bishop Valdespino, in this book, give the order to kill Edmond Kirsch? Were the religious leaders so fearful that the faithful will question their faith and perhaps lose that faith in God once they find out the groundbreaking discovery of Edmond Kirsch? Was it someone from the royal family of Spain that wanted Kirsch dead in order to protect religion? As for me, I had my suspicion though from the first few chapters as to who is responsible for the murder of Kirsch. And it's a disturbing idea.

I would love to see this turned into another movie. I think it'd be another exciting watch on the big screen with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon. Meanwhile, do read the book! It's everything you'd hope for a Robert Langdon novel - beautiful locations (Guggenheim Museum, Sagrada Familia, Madrid, Barcelona...), an intriguing mystery to solve, a touch of history, and of course the mad dash to the reveal of the secret. 









   


Monday, October 8, 2018

What Happy Looks Like Vol 13



Here are my five happy things from last week:

1. Reading a book and drinking coffee at a quiet coffee shop. It's my kind of chill Sunday. 

2. Seeing someone I like a day earlier than expected. I've been feeling like my week was going by in a humdrum. And then that happened. I love moments of surprises like that. It's like the universe sending some love and happiness my way. 

3. Trumpets by Sean Paul being played at Body Jam class. It's my ultimate favorite dance track ever since I first heard it played during Rej's Body Jam Superstar competition. 

4.  Timezone with my favorite couple, Ryan and Dom. We're still at it with our monthly photo booth tradition.

5. Seeing my best friend feel the kilig. His crush not only smiled but also said hello to him. I live vicariously through him so kinilig narin ako. We're so high school! LOL! 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Travel Diary: Batu Caves and Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia

What else did we do during our trip to Malaysia? We had another country side tour and of course not to be missed, we went to visit the famous landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers!

Kuala Lumpur Suburbs and Batu Caves 

During our Malacca tour, we learned so much history. In this tour, we still got a glimpse of history but we also learned about their culture. 

Our first stop was a visit at Royal Selangor, a world famous company known for its quality pewter, which is a gray alloy of tin with copper and antimony. It's here that we witnessed first hand the art of pewter crafting and saw the many possible designs and uses of pewter such as children's gift, kitchen utensils and even as fashion accessories. 

My mom bought me a pair of earrings from Royal Selangor - the most expensive souvenir I have ever gotten in my life so far! But who am I to complain? They are gorgeous! I even wanted to get the necklace and/or the ring of the same design but that's just too much. Also I had to be honest to myself - I wasn't much of a necklace or ring person.   

  


If you want to know more about Royal Selangor, you can visit this site.

We also had a stop at a batik shop. Here we were shown how batik designing is done. It's basically dyeing a fabric using wax so the fabric doesn't absorb the dye. I saw something like this done during my travel in Bali, Indonesia which I think is where batik originated from. 





The highlight of this tour of course was Batu Caves, a limestone hill composed of a series of caves and cave temples. It's a frequented tourist attraction in Malaysia. Batu Caves is actually a religious site for Hindu. It's dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu God of War. You'll see his statue at the entrance of Batu Caves. 

 

Since it's still a sacred place, if you're visiting Batu Caves, make sure to wear comfortable clothes that also don't show a lot of skin like shorts or spaghetti tops. Don't worry though, the locals pass around a fabric that you can use as cover up since there are a lot of tourists that either are probably not aware that there's a dress requirement when you visit. 



My mom and I just before climbing up the colorful but steep flight of 272 steps to get to the top of the main cave. Am so proud of my mother - the woman's got strong legs! While her friends struggled to get to the top, she made it look easy. 



My mom and her friends getting in the way of this shot! LOL! 
   


For our Batu Caves tour, I chose to wear my white sleeveless cotton top from Bayo paired with my Dorothy Perkins pastel skirt since we were going to a place of worship. I topped the whole look with my Tally blue Teelle sandals which I first saw Kelly Misa wear.    

This is one of my supposedly OOTD shots. I consider this a lucky shot considering there were so many people climbing up and down the stairs of Batu Caves! The struggle to get a good IG-worthy photo was real. That was the reality I faced when I went to Batu Caves though on Instagram, I saw people who had really good shots on these stairs aka very few tourists to none, leaving me to wonder "how the heck did you guys do that?! Photoshop ba yan?" 😜


Look at that! People from all sides, each posing for photos just like me. 
 
Anyway I think there was a sort of Hindu occasion during our visit because there were different Hindu related rituals and celebrations ongoing which I guess added to the number of people at Batu Caves.

When you reach the top of the cave, you'll see more statues of what I suppose are more Hindu Gods. 


  


Just watch out for the monkeys while you climb up. They might rummage your bags thinking you've got food on you so don't best not to bring food and keep your belongings close to you. Oh and if you've got more time, there are more caves to explore at Batu Caves like the Dark Cave though that's got a separate fee. Also I don't think it's recommended for older people because I read that it involves more climbing, crawling and even sliding. 


Petronas Twin Towers

During our whole stay in Kuala Lumpur, my mom and her friends' asked me one question repeatedly. "Ngayon ba tayo pupunta sa Petronas?" (Are we going to see Petronas Twin Towers today?) Finally, on our fourth day in the country, I took them there. 

I booked our tickets via Klook again since I read that lines going up the towers can get long (who wants to wait in line?) and you might not even end up getting the schedule you wanted! At least with Klook, I was not only able to secure our tickets to go up Petronas Twin Towers but we also had a ride going there.

  

Seeing Petronas Twin Towers up close at last! If you want an amazing view of Kuala Lumpur, go inside the towers although I read that some tourists prefer to see the skyline view of the city from Kuala Lumpur Tower since it's got a better view. Lucky me I saw a breathtaking view of the city from both towers because we also visited KL Tower. Don't ask me which will give you the better view. I liked the view from above on both. I guess partly because I saw the city view from the top at different time frames. Also I'm not hard to please. 

The tour inside Petronas Twin Towers will take you to Skybridge at the 41st and 42nd floors and the  Observation deck at level 86 which gave us these panoramic views of the city.  





 



And finally, here's my favorite shot from my visit to The Petronas Twin Towers. 



I had to use fish lens on my mobile phone to capture this shot because no matter what angle Mai Ann did (kneel, lie down on the ground, sit, etc.) the photos just couldn't capture up to the twin towers spires considering the Petronas Twin Towers are so tall! So we bought the fish lens being sold by the Filipino vendors in the area which to be honest at the start we ignored but one of 'em with persistence managed to convince me to let him show me the wonder brought by using fish lens. The vendors are nice actually. They even showed my friend and I how to use the fish lens. My mom even managed to get one of them to take their (hers and her friends) photos using my phone with the new lens! LOL! 

We really waited for night fall when the towers are all lit up just to get this shot and it quite a wait because even at seven in the evening, Kuala Lumpur's still looks as though it's only afternoon! My mom was becoming impatient with me already especially when we took so many shots just to achieve this! But you know, when I was going to be back in Malaysia? I just had to take the chance! 

Finally, I have a photo of me seeing the Petronas Twin Towers that I could show to everyone. And finally, after six years, I can actually say I went to Malaysia! There's still a lot more to see in this country and I definitely would like to come back to explore but for now, I'm just happy to have seen what I've seen together with my mom who deserved this rest and relaxation from her ever so busy life in Manila.