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Would you believe, this trip is about 2 months in the making! I received the first email invitation while I was in Japan with my sister Cea around November last year. I felt a little sad that we were a bit too early for snow, and then suddenly I received an email from Japan Airlines inviting me to experience winter in Japan with them!! Napa-iling nalang talaga ako in awe, I will always be amazed with how God works. The timing is perfect, and all His plans and surprises are really the best. This media trip turned out to be one of the most unforgettable I ever had!

For my first blog post, I will try to explain why I prefer JAL's new MNL to Haneda flight, show the inflight meals they serve for vegetarians, and a few tips on how I survived this -10 to -20 trip without spending too much on winter clothes I won't even use back in Manila. It's going to be another loaded post, so enjoy! ❤



HEADING BACK TO HOKKAIDO 

When Cea and I went to Hokkaido last year, I had little clue on what flights to book for our supposed winter in Japan escapade. I searched local blogs but ang konti palang, I also asked friends who've already been to Hokkaido. To start the ball rolling, I booked for our round trip Narita flights when I saw a seat sale para sure na sure na ang trip namin. I thought we saved money by booking budget airlines and in advance.

At the last minute, we also booked another airfare from Narita to New Chitose International Airport in Sapporto, Hokkaido since flying is faster than the 8-hour train ride option. Cost of train and plane fares turned out to be almost the same. Yun nga lang, I also have to add extra luggage allowance at the last minute. Ang dami pa palang kelangan iconsider!

The tired travellers after spending the whole day in transit to get to Sapporo:

Now I realized why taking Japan Airlines is practical. It may look pricey at around Php 35,000 all in, but in the end the amount that Cea and I spent late last year for our transportation is almost the same as if we just flew with JAL! 

First of all, their free carry-on allowance is within 10 kilos (usually diba 7 lang), and you have an automatic check-in luggage allowance of whopping FORTY KILOS! This is great for winter trips when most of your clothes are heavy coats. Also great for Japan shoppingeras like me, hehehe.

You also get a comfortable seat with enough legroom, a full meal (they even have options for those with food restrictions like me), free drinks (no need to buy an extra cup of coffee or bottled water), pillow and blanket, and individual inflight entertainment that most budget airlines don't provide. Being on a long flight felt comfortable with all these extras. You really get value for your money.

Anyway, let's go back to that night of our flight.....




Our group met at the NAIA Terminal 1 for our flight to Haneda. They started this route (Manila to Haneda) just last February 1. In all my Japan trips, my port of entry is in Narita which is still about 1.5 hours to Tokyo city. Meanwhile, Haneda is only about 37 minutes to Tokyo!

With JAL's new Manila-Haneda daily overnight flights (11:50pm to 4:55am), the first day of your trip won't be wasted in transit. 

We stayed in Japan Airlines' Sakura Lounge right next to our boarding gate. We had our first dinner here, and some drinks! They also have wifi and outlets for those who need to work before the flight. Oh, and my friends say that the best curry in Japan is found here at the Sakura Lounge!




I only had tea and a few pastries in preparation for my plane food:

There was an announcement over PA system when our flight was already boarding. Sobrang convenient lang, we went to our plane relaxed and even ready to sleep! I changed into my eye glasses, brushed my teeth, and washed my face at the lounge even before our boarding hehehe.



And then comes our second dinner! 😂 I've requested for a lacto-ovo vegetarian meal, and here's what I got! The lasagna is so so good! What I also love about being a vegetarian during flights is that I get my meal first before everyone else! Ang special ng feeling, hehehe!


Tried to watch Bohemian Rhapsody, but 30 minutes in I decided to catch some sleep since we will have no time to rest the next day upon arrival. It's going to be jam-packed! All passengers have a small pillow and a blanket on their seats, and I brought with me a pair of hotel slippers for a comfortable overnight flight (long-haul flight hack!).


We flew from city....



... To snow.



I woke up and it's already Valentine's Day and I am in Japan! My view from the window seat are mountains covered with snow. The vibe felt so good, nothing can ruin my parade!

During our domestic flight from Haneda to Memanbetsu, we received a pack of Ghana chocolates:


Meanwhile, heading back to Manila, our port of exit is in Narita coming from Tokyo. They also have a Sakura Lounge which is even bigger! We stayed there for a few minutes to freshen up, eat a bit, before checking out the stores for last minute pasalubong shopping. Shaira and I just went to the designer perfumes section to try everything that we fancy, hehe. We also finished up our coins by getting different drinks via the vendo machine.


It is so quiet at the Sakura Lounge in Narita, they even have cubicles if you have to make a phone call.


I just stayed at the main lobby for the drinks and to charge my phone. They also have a free wifi when you stay here. The others went to the second floor to have their last fill of "the best curry in town".


 

Here's my heading home vegetarian meal from Japan Airlines. The lasagna is better, but this time I had a bottle of red wine.. and red wine makes everything good! Hehe! 

I continued watching Bohemian Rhapsody, finished the film, and rewatched a lot of its scenes till the final fasten seatbelts sign turned off. I was listening to the Live Aid We Are The Champions while our plane was descending, watching the beautiful city lights of my warm home.



Finally, I am ending this post with some tips on how I survived winter in Hokkaido without spending a fortune. We all know that coats and winter boots cost about Php 3000 to Php 7000. I decided to make do with what I have, and just bought a few "winter musts".


When going to a below zero trip, I always make sure I have the following:

1) A bonnet to cover my ears (they have heat tech ones in Uniqlo, but normal thick bonnets will do too)

2) Ear muffs for added warmth (effective to and hindi lang pa-cute! I got mine on sale in H&M and also used this last winter 2018)

3) Cloth face mask to cover my nose and mouth when it gets really cold (I was able to use this on my DIY trips since we commute a lot, not so much for this trip since we're always on a tour bus)

4) Gloves because hands really get easily cold (I saw affordable fleece pairs in Decathlon below Php 200 lang)

5) Ultra Warm Heattech top and leggings from Uniqlo. I bought my pair from last year, and still use them for this trip. Dito ka lang mapapa invest since they cost about Php 1300, but sobrang sulit. Again, get the ULTRA Warm, it makes a big difference! They also have a turtleneck variant for the heattech top, which is great if you don't want to wear scarf na (minsan nakakapagod yung madaming sabit sabit hehehe).

6) Heat Packs are the best invention ever for winter trips. I bought a pack in Decathlon (located in Festival Mall Alabang) for only Php 150ish for 10 pieces. You activate the warmth from the pack that looks like a teabag by removing it from its plastic, shaking it, and keeping it on your pocket. Reach for the heat pack every time your hands feel cold!


Maiwan na lahat wag lang ang bonnet, ear muffs, and gloves!
 



Moreover, you can also:

7) Bring a black fleece infinity scarf that can cover your neck and mouth, extremely helpful for me on that night I left my face mask and earmuffs in our bus and we went straight to the winter ice festival!

8) Coats are expensive, and although super okay talaga yung Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Puffer Jackets, my alternative for this trip is to buy thrifted coats through my friend's Instagram shop @coatsmnl (nakalaba na sya). If you have time, you can go ukay shopping yourself prior your trip! Laking tipid talaga, and you get to wear different coats everyday (haha, sorry kaartehan!).

9) If not thrifted coats, you can shift through H&M and Terranova winter clothes sale! They usually sell these pieces in lower price since wala na bibili masyado satin nito! I got my black teddy bear hoodie from H&M men's section for only Php 800.

10) Pieces you should bring: fleece lined, turtlenecks or jackets that zip up to your neck, hoodies (they add extra warmth to your head!), corduroy, jackets with pockets (to slide your cold hands in), and knits. Again, best first layer is still your pair of heattech top and leggings.

11) Make sure your travel bag is water resistant. Snow can get your stuff wet, and kawawa talaga dito ang leather or cloth bags. I brought a Fjall Raven backpack and a transparent fanny pack with me for this trip.

12) And lastly, my new discovery is another Decathlon find. This store has some of the most affordable winter trip pieces -- mostly dedicated to snowy hikes so you know they'll work well for normal snowy travels.

I bought a shoe spike for only Php 500. It is made of rubber with metal spikes underneath, comes in different sizes (Small to XL) that you can slide snuggly on the soles of your sneakers. Sobrang practical, and really effective coz hindi ako nadudulas while wearing them! The only hassle is that I have to remove them every time I enter an establishment kung hindi magagasgas ko flooring nila, hehe!







That's it! I am excited to tell you more of my winter stories on my next posts! 


Visit Japan Airlines for your next trip to Japan! Read more about the new Manila to Tokyo Haneda JAL flights HERE.

Thank you so much Japan Airlines and Havas Manila for having me in this media trip! Truly unforgettable as I get to experience MORE of Japan, one of my top favorite countries in the world. Special thanks to Mr. Ogawa, Mika San, Cid and Jookie for taking care of us, and to my new Hokkaido Winter friends for the great company!!!

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Recently, Althea Korea released their own beauty line including skincare sets and even makeup! True to their promise of providing affordable Kbeauty products, Althea Exclusives are affordable and effective. Check out these new ones in their growing list of beauty essentials!



Althea Stay Fresh Body Sparkling Mist - Php 450

The Stay Fresh Body Sparkling Mist is a collaboration of Althea Korea and Indonesian actress and singer Titi Kamal. I like its fresh scent, a mix of floral and fruity, very feminine that's perfect for pre-summer trips. It is also very lightweight, packaging is sturdy making it a go-to scent whenever I travel.


Althea Pore Purifying Serum Cleanser - Php 430

A 2-in-1 product, this Althea Exclusive is both cleanser and serum in one bottle! It cleanses and moisturizes the face, and helps balance its pH level. To use, just massage on damp face, and then rinse with water. Very gentle, and recommended even for sensitive skin.


Althea Petal Velvet Sunaway - Php 480

I never leave the house without applying on my sunscreen. One of the most lightweight and non-sticky facial sun protection I've tried is Althea's Petal Velvet Sunaway. It doesn't give white cast, finish is almost matte, and I like its smell too!


Althea Skin Relief Spot Film Gel - Php 240

Finally, Althea Korea comes up with their own acne conceal and relief product. You can use it to treat acne, and at the same time cover them up before you apply your makeup over! The Skin Relief Spot Film Gel contains effective anti-pimple ingredients like tea tree and Centella. Make sure to keep a tube in your drawer in case of emergency breakout.. This product is genius!


You can also check out Althea Korea's new makeup products.

Althea Exclusives are available via their app or website.

Make sure to check and avail products from the Althea Exclusives section, avail the Petal Velvet Powder freebie, and answer their survey for a chance to win up to $50 Althea Shopping Credits!
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I've been shopping for Korean skincare and makeup straight from Korea for about 3 years now, thanks to Althea Korea's very convenient app and website. Aside from getting legit products from Korean brands at lower cost, it's nice that Althea is now producing their own affordable and effective skincare and makeup line. What I love about the Althea Exclusives is that I remembered how they started with a survey, listening to what we their consumers really want.

I recently received a box of their newest products as part of the Althea Angels. Not a surprise, I was using some of them in no time. ❤ Sharing a list + my first impressions below.





Of course, let's start with my bare face / no makeup photo! I am not much of a makeup girl, but I do apply a little bit every single time I go out: To protect my skin, to look a little bit made up, and of course, to feel more confident especially with straight brows on, hehe.


PRODUCT #1: Althea Flawless Creamy Concealer

I usually think that Korean base products lack shades that will fit South East Asian skin tones like Filipinos' morena skin, but I was surprised that Althea's Flawless Creamy Concealer (Php 200) comes in four different shades (Vanilla, Ginger, Honey, Mocha). I use the Honey shade to lessen the redness of the corners of my nose and mouth, and to conceal a bit of my veins and dark spots.

I like that it is smooth to apply and blendable, plus the price is also very easy on the pocket!



PRODUCT #2: Althea Eye Palette Sunrise & Moonrise BCL

I am always on the look out for easy-to-wear eye shadow palette and I think I've found one! The Althea Eye Palette Sunrise & Moonrise (Php 1780) is in collaboration with Bunga Citra Lestari, a popular Indonesian singer and actress. The palette contains 8 shades, a mix of mattes, shimmers, and glitters that you can play around with depending on your mood, outfit, or occasion.

What I like about this palette:
1) The variety of finish and wearable shades
2) Highly pigmented that I can easily apply and blend them on my lids
3) Very beginner-friendly




What I do is I apply the matte shade on my whole lid, and then followed by the maroon shade mixed with a bit of the shimmery brown on the outer corners of my eyes. That's it!

(Sorry for my dry lids, I think it's chapping because of my recent exposure to below zero temperature)

PRODUCT #3: Althea Spotlight Eye Glitter

I really wanted to try this late 2018 makeup trend but I can't seem to find one in our local stores! That's why I was ecstatic to see Althea's Spotlight Eye Glitter which comes in two shades (Gold Light and Pink Light) and affordable price (Php 300). It comes with a nice thin wand for easy application, both colors are very pretty, and formula is buttery and hydrating. It gives an extra sparkle to my simple makeup look!






PRODUCT #4: Althea Watercolor Cream Tint

I am more of a lip balm girl, but with the Althea Water Color Cream Tint (Php 260) formulation and four wearable shades--I am now a convert! I love that they are very comfortable on the lips, hindi ko ramdam that I am wearing a lipstick! It gives a nice, natural stain made for someone like me who just wants a bit of lip color--nothing too loud or agaw pansin hehe. It also works if you want to achieve the Korean gradient lips look. I'll make sure to bring one every time I go out.







I think quota nako sa selfies after completing my Althea simple makeup look! Haha!

Also featuring on this post are my new pretty pearl hair clips from @jukaykayatbp. ❤



Any recent Althea purchase? Share to me your discoveries by tagging me @anagon on Twitter or Instagram so I can try them next! 😊
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Over the weekend, I went to Subic with Ava. It was an unexpected trip not listed on the "goals wall" of my room--a corner filled with colorful sticky notes so I can see my 2019 travel plans. Less than a week till my Japan trip and I have already set my mind na wala munang aalis ng bahay (lol) just so I can hibernate and finish my piling online work. But since I haven't really been to Subic for a real vacation, and Ava's going to be with me, of course nag go nako!



Hello Again, Subic!

I have a few memories with this city around 3 hours away northwest of Manila, but mostly day-trips and I think a wedding in Fontana. I remembered staying in Subic for a night to experience the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Pampanga early the next day. I also stayed in a small Korean hostel so I can attend the 2-day 7107 music festival last 2014 in Clark Freeport Zone. Both epic experiences, both times we ate in different samgyupsal places that Subic is known for.

With this short, overnight trip I realized that Subic has a lot more to offer for quick travels with your family or friends. Tipong you just have a long weekend, or you want to take a leave from work and can only avail an easy getaway... This city is for you! They have a beautiful beach that reminds me of my Sheridan Puerto Princesa beachfront hotel experience from a few years back--but minus the hefty travel price tags you spend on airfares and fancy accommodation!

And with that, sharing here some of the tidbits from last weekend in Subic, and I hope you get something out of it for your next quick vacation away from Manila.

Where To Stay?


Although this vacation is sponsored by ACEA Subic Bay, I am not paid to say these things, and everything you will read here are my thoughts from my personal experience with their hotel / resort.

Why stay in ACEA Subic Bay?

First of all, they offer a nice beachfront for all their guests. You can either enjoy the infinity pool, or go to the beach with the nice view of mountains! Sa totoo lang, if I go here again soon I don't think I will plan anything else aside from lulubusin ko na talaga the amenities and relaxing vibe of ACEA.

Welcome drinks when we arrived:


Second reason why I will recommend ACEA is because they are not yet overcrowded. It's a nice, quiet place to heal and chill. In fact, I think for a hotel that has been here since I think 2016, medyo under the radar sya. People still go to La Union, Batangas, or Zambales (Crystal Beach!) if they want to drive to the nearest beach. By writing this piece, I am revealing a secret and risking the chance of having a peaceful Subic beach getaway, haha! But anyway, I think ACEA deserves more attention.

Here's a room tour:





By the right of the door entrance is the toilet and bath. It has nice hot-cold shower, the usual toilet amenities (soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion), lots of towels and robes, hair dryer, and--of course--a bidet. 😄 Oh, and they have a ledge on the shower area so you can take your sweet time during your bath, haha! Again, kung babalik ako dito sa ACEA I might as well just stay in and enjoy this hotel!




Inside the room: They have a TV, I didn't see a mini fridge, they have two complimentary bottled water, a pot to heat the water, some coffee and tea. They have a lot of sockets for charging the gadgets so yehey. They also have a facial tissue by the desk in front of a vanity mirror (aside from the full length mirror next to the entrance).




Ahhh and the beds! They are soft and huge! Sayang one night lang kami, gumagaling talaga insomnia ko whenever I travel--lalo na when beds are these comfy! I think 2 persons will fit on each bed, sobrang perfect for family or friends.

The third reason is that ACEA has fantastic customer service and family-oriented activities, as Hospitality Innovators, Inc. (HII), one of the country’s premier hospitality management firms, has gone on board as the resort’s new managing partner. HII manages a lot of fantastic properties and resorts in Manila so they have an excellent brand of service and hospitality.


The best welcome chocolate truffle ever, I have to take a pic hehehe!

And finally we reach my final reason why ACEA is recommended: Their room rates starts at around Php 5000+ only according to the Google Maps feature. When I checked the site though, add all the usual taxes and additional fees and total will go to about Php 7,200ish. Not bad for the nice room, great service, amenities, and beachfront. I think asa roughly PHP 7k-10k sila per room. You can check the dates and rates on their webpage.

Things To Do In Subic (2D, 1N)

Again, I haven't had the chance to explore Subic before but this short trip made me want to go back and create like a 5-day itinerary when you're in the area! There's still so much to see and do (including maybe another Korean resto night + a trip to their duty-free!), but if you only have 2 days in Subic, here are the stuff that we were able to fit that made this trip really worthwhile!

1) Zoobic Safari

I've heard about this zoo so many times before, but had no chance to visit till this trip! So thank you!

People who commented on my Instagram said that they've been to Zoobic Safari for field trips when they were still students (ang swerte naman!) so yep a Manila-Zoobic Safari day-trip is possible. But it can also be more practical when you just include this on your itinerary for an overnight in Subic.

Sa entrance palang you'll see boars and doggos just freely walking around the compound!


Since the compound is big, we had to take this tiger themed shuttle for some stations:


What I like about Zoobic Safari:

1) First time to have a close encounter with tigers--several times--in the whole tour! May photo op pa with a white tiger at the entrance. Katacute!!




2) Witty signages, very informative staff. Expect to read zoo pun signs all over the compound such as "PaZOOlubong" or "ZOOvenir" Hahaha! It doesn't end! I also like the guide who went with us for the who tour, ang daming patrivia!

3) Feeding ganaps. You can buy bird or crocodile feeds (not required but fun din) for the ultimate zoo experience. Also for photo or video purposes, haha!





4) Variety of animals you will see! They have deers, ostriches, albino caribou, snakes, eagles, mules, and of course lions and tigers! My favorite part most prob was inside the Tiger Safari where we road a caged truck, and the staff started feeding the tiger in between the railings--just a few inches away from us! Akk!












5) Lastly, I like that they ended the long tour (I think it lasted for about 2-3 hours) with meeting with Subic's earliest settlers: The Aetas. They performed two short tribal dances, and had photo sessions with our group. I like that the Zoobic management did not drove them away, and respected the first inhabitants of Subic.



My favorite parts of the whole Zoobic tour: Tiger Safari and Croco Loco!


















Zoobic Safari is about 30 minutes away from ACEA Subic Bay. You can purchase discounted Zoobic Safari tickets online HERE.

2) Inflatable Island


I've been to the Inflatable Island before, but it was only for a short day-trip so I was open to going back. Ava and I decided to just chill at their Bali lounge, and have mango shake. We spent about 3 hours just chilling, taking photos, and watching the others tackling the giant inflatables. I just learned that the whole maze is the size of EIGHT basketball courts nakakaloka! 😂

Anyway, I like that even after a year I saw that they were able to maintain their facilities, and that aside from being an Instagram site, they promoted Inflatable Island to us as a place where you can hold team buildings. They emphasize (during the short orientation) not the photo spots, but that by going through the challenges, you will learn important life values like not giving up, or taking things slowly but surely, or the importance of helping one another to finish the course. I like that!








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I have attended a few festivals in my country, The Philippines. After researching about them for this blog post, I really think I should add more to my list!



One of my first free travels as a blogger is for the Panagbenga Festival, Baguio's beautiful flower fiesta. PLDT brought us to the summer capital so we can "live Tweet" during the parade and make their hashtag trend--Uso pa ang trending noon, hehehe! I learned that this festival was created to inspire the city to rise up after the huge earthquake of 1990.

My second festival was the popular Sinulog of Cebu. I went there with Paxie for my birthday week so nag ikot din kami talaga ng Cebu noon. I can't think of another festival that is as most attended in our country as Sinulog! I heard that they are stricter now in holding branded parties for this festival, which I think is for the best since the true meaning of Sinulog became blurry the past years.

I also had a brief Masskara moment in Bacolod for a 2Go event, but it was just a quick stopover since we were on a cruise and had to go back to the boat.


We also have Pintados, Moriones, Pahiyas, Ati-Atihan, Kadayawan, at madami pang iba! The Philippines hold so much festivals that it's hard to keep track how many we have in total. I think it's a cool thing, and again, I hope to experience more of them now that I realized that these events are very meaningful as a Filipino.

A few weeks ago, I went to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival, it was my first time. They say that the Dinagyang is the most popular festival that we have, it was even awarded as the Philippines' best tourism event 3x!! I already enjoyed our first three days in Iloilo, but the Dinagyang Festival 2019 Dagyang Dance Tribe Competition is the definitely the meat of this trip!



Borrowed the headdress from Injap Tower Hotel for photo ops, hehehe. Sobrang bigat niya that I had to stand next to the tree para may patungan sha!


Sadly, Seph and Trice got sick that morning so it was just me, Marcelo, Brian, and Bennix who went to the dance tribe competition. I was supposed to wear a dress but changed into a more rugged outfits when I thought of the long walks and crowds like what I experienced from Baguio and Cebu's main festival day, but surprisingly everything went smoothly.

We walked from the end of the road block to our assigned station for the show. On our way, I passed by street vendors selling all sorts of festival props like colorful headgears, necklaces, Dinagyang shirts, and ear cuffs ala Miss Universe Catriona--but with feathers and beads instead of stars.


Since we were early for the show, we walked along the street where the performers were preparing, waiting, or just sleeping. It was an early Sunday morning nga naman! You'll be surprised kung gaano sila kahataw when they were performing though! It's nice when you think about it, that they are giving their all for their group, for the country, and for the Lord!






  


Why do Filipinos celebrate festivals? They say that these events were ingrained in our country's rich culture and traditions way back even before the Spaniards' arrival. Most of the Philippine festivals are religious celebrations honoring the city's patron saint--usually to express their gratitude for good harvest through parades, novenas, dances, and other shows. These traditions have been passed on from generation to generation. They say that the bigger and more all out you go during these fiestas, the more blessings will overflow back to the community. 

Festivals reflect the Filipinos' strong faith and relationship with our family and community.

Sharing photos I snapped during the 3-5 performances we were able to catch. We had our favorite teams, but we all agreed that the non-competing ethnic tribe that performed that morning was very touching and memorable! Other than that, you'll love all the colors and textures from every performer. The huge crowd cheering, the wild costumes and props, the drum beats intense, ang sarap sarap nila panoorin!  

  

    






Senyor Santo Niño, the root of Dinagyang Festival's thanksgiving celebration:

  

Sadly, it was also that day when we left for the airport, but not after having our lunch at the very first Mang Inasal! I have to say that I learned so much from this trip. There are tiny tidbits like festival facts and Iloilo's best. But there are also these life upgrades I learned through the people I was with, and a renewed sense of Filipino pride through Dinagyang's colorful festival. 

Again, going to Iloilo clueless about the city worked in my favor. I arrived with no expectations, and left with so much memories and stories to tell.






Thank you again and again Injap Tower Hotel for having me! I am glad to have started my 2019 travels in the City of Love and with you guys na sobrang good vibes lang palagi! Bihira na a travel FB messenger group is still active even weeks after the trip--so aside from the experiences, I am most grateful for new friendships because of this. To #365DaysOfHappiness!




Read more of my Iloilo 2019 trip HERE.
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I can still remember my first attempt on becoming a vegetarian.


The Failed Attempts, But Worth The Try

I was a high school fresh grad, and as a part of a small team of seniors who volunteered to finish our batch year book, I went to our empty school daily for several weeks to work with the group. We finished our assigned tasks every morning, and then go out of the campus by 12 noon. Having the first feel of spending money outside of school, I will have my lunch in the "fancy fast food" that I know of at that time: Kenny Rogers. They have this side sampler on their menu where I can pick three side dishes and get a free corn muffin on the side for only 70 Pesos. I will always get their mashed potatoes, corn and carrots, and then one random vegetable side dish available for the day. I ordered the same meal everyday during the whole duration of our yearbook project.

When I started college, I went back to eating sisig (a dish from chopped parts of a pig's snout and ears) and my favorite Friday's chicken fingers. I indulged in KFC's unlimited gravy, and split the bucket of chicken with my friends during our lunch breaks! I thought it's the end of my vegetarian phase. In my senior year, I felt a bit lost so I decided to join several school organizations to, as friends will always say, find myself again. One of the orgs I dedicated my time in was our university's yoga club.

I was so active in our club at that time, and even attended outside school events. Naalala ko yung food in this particular event, buffet pero lahat makakain ko coz vegetarian. :)



We had once a week hatha yoga sessions, and huge inter-school activities like World Yoga Day celebrations. Being surrounded by vegetarians who passionately talk about their lifestyle encouraged me to try it again. And so I decided to research more about going meatless while using our school's free internet at the library's computer room. With volume down, I watched PETA's extreme videos on how they slaughter pigs, treat huge cows like sardines in small pens, and inhumanely remove chicken beaks. It was the next level of morbid, so it became even more difficult for me to eat meat again.

As With Anything, You Have To Have Your Why

I am a vegetarian for more than a decade already. I have several reasons why I prefer a meatless diet, and every time I meet a new person who learns about this, I pick a different reason from my pool of answers just for kicks. Haha! Reason one is my university yoga club story, the easiest to spill is having food allergies.

Another story is how my dad, who was a vegetarian during my formative years, influenced me. I was around 10 years old when dad will pick me up from basketball practice to bring me to food places like Sanitarium and Varona, which are hole-in-the-wall vegetarian canteens he discovered while working as a roving salesman around old Manila (I wonder kung bukas padin tong mga to!). We will order barbecue made from soy, aroz ala cubana that's made of tofu. Even then, I knew I will eventually become a vegetarian because it's the right thing to do, and I had these thoughts at such a young age! But more than influences from people I look up to, I've always been a big animal lover.

Even post college, I find myself enrolling in a yoga class from time to time. Aside from physical wellness, it also helps me find my inner balance. I super miss it! 


I was reminded of the perks of attending yoga classes when I was invited by Honestbee, an online concierge and delivery service, in the launch of the Organic, Fresh and Healthy category in their app. One of the activities during the event is a 30-minute yoga class in YogaHive.











It's Easier NOW!

If you want to try vegetarianism or just eat healthy, the best time to start is NOW. Imagine ordering your groceries or healthy eats online after your yoga class! Thank you Honestbee for making healthy living even more accessible and convenient. No excuses na talaga!



They even offer different meal delivery services, depending on your preference! I was hesitant to try these services because they are usually not available in Alabang, or hindi nila mahanap bahay ko haha! But I've been using Honestbee for a while now and sobrang okay talaga their delivery service, on time and very courteous riders.





Not An Instant Thing

I never ate fish and other seafoods ever since I can remember, I never got used to its stench. I guess this is one reason why it's easier for me to transition since I only have pork, beef, and chicken to let go of. I still eat eggs and dairies like butter and cheese, so I read up more about this and learned that vegetarianism has several categories. I fall under Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian, or people who don't eat meat and fish but still consume dairies and other animal by-products.

The process is not instant, but I eventually let go of meat one-by-one, day-by-day, week-by-week. As I always say to people asking for advice on vegetarianism, just do it one step at a time. I started with doing away with huge chunks of meat like steak, pork chop, or the beef my mom adds in our nilaga, which I can't chew on anymore. Then I became aware that some pasta dishes contain tiny ground meat, and even condiments like patis (fish sauce) have animal content. So I had to say good bye to those as well. It sounds difficult at first, but I was never too hard on myself. I allowed myself to go through the process of letting go and saying no to these animal products one by one, not all at once, and just be more selective and aware of what I take in. Slowly but surely, as long as I consistently do it every meal.

They served vegetarian options during the event. The caterer was one of my favorite restos with veg options: Green Pastures!



We also listened to healthy living talks with TimNutrition and my weightloss idol Marga Banaga during the event, nakaka inspire!

Here are just some of the healthy brands now available via Honestbee!
(May differ by location, just check the Organic, Fresh, & Healthy category in the app)

Oh So Healthy Chips
Basilur Tea
Hearty Bread
Raw Bites
Islands Juice
Green Giant Salad
Nutrifarm
Oscar's Deli
Sugar Free Bakery
Kabilon Farms/Paradise Blends






If you ask me what changed since I started this lifestyle, well! I still get pimples, even though they say that eating less meat will clear the skin. I still get fat because I love my carbs! But what I do know is that I am a human attempting to live a cruelty-free life. It has this sense of personal fulfillment that I don't need to brag about but I am proud of about myself every single day. It's a small difference to the environment, but a huge impact on my everyday life as someone who wants to live a more compassionate being not only to fellow humans but to all living creatures.

It's not all fine and dandy, though. I also had several negative incidents living as a vegetarian in a country that loves their lechon (roasted pig). I am used to weird stares from fast food servers who will raise their brows whenever I ask them not to put chicharon or to kindly just take out the bacon from my sandwich. They'll warn me with "Same price padin po yan ha?!" ("It's still going to be charged the same price okay?") or "Hindi na po yan kasing sarap!" ("It won't taste as good!"), but I've learned to just nod, pay for my food, and laugh it off. I'm too hungry to explain, hehe!

I also heard the lines "Kawawa ka naman!" ("I pity you!") and "Ano pang kinakain mo?" ("What do you eat?") too many times, but I also don't feel bad about them anymore! One line that I've already memorized how to answer is "Edi nagagalit ka pag kumakain kami ng meat sa harap mo?" ("So you get mad whenever we eat meat in front of you?"). I will just say that I am the only vegetarian in our household, but it doesn't make me love my family less.


Ate trying the must-eat Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Berlin, while I had the vegetarian version:


"Don't worry about me!" I hate making people I'm with feel hassled just because I am a vegetarian, but one of the ways I felt real love was when friends check out the menu first if I have anything to eat before we enter a resto. Maswerte ako sa friends ko huhuhu I love you guys!




Some people think that I eat like a goat, but reality check! I actually eat A LOT and not just grass and greens! Haha! So what do I eat? I always say that the taste of the food is in its sauce, so I never felt deprived. I just scout for meatless alternatives and make sure they have the sauce. Like for siomai (dumplings), I go to Rustan's East Cafe in Makati for their vegetarian siomai with soy sauce, kalamansi, and chili!


Favorite Places When I Eat Out
(To be updated)

Tag Tipid

1) Chowking Tofu (Plain) + Rice + Kang Kong (Request for no bagoong) + Chili Sauce
2) Karinderiya Meal: SiLog (Sinangag + Fried Egg), Tortang Talong (Double check if no meat), or Pansit Canton (hehe)
3) Plain Lugaw + Add tofu, chili sauce, soy sauce
4) Fresh lumpia in food court (around Php 50 only!) then order rice somewhere else

Sakto Lang

1) Taco Bell's Bean Burrito and Cheesy Fiesta Potato
2) Mongolian places - since you can choose what you put in your bowl
3) Lots of QC indie restos - favorite is Vegetarian Kitchen!

Splurge

1) Mexicali (Vegetarian Burrito, Cheese Enchilada, Cheese Quesadillas)
2) Halal Brothers (Falafel over rice + side order of hummus, extra veggies)
3) Green Pasture's Vegetarian Burger (still the best for me)
4) Ganso Shabuway's all veggies shabu shabu (includes unli rice)
5) North Park's broccoli flower and fried beancurd skin
6) Cafe Med

Since I always eat out with friends, I also discovered so many dishes that I can eat even in non-vegetarian restaurants. Yabu has a refillable plate that you can't find in their menu (rice, soup, cabbage salad, fruits), so I order that sans the katsu and just pick a random side dish as my ulam.

Being a vegetarian can also be quite expensive, since most of my orders are side dishes and not set meals. Although don't worry, I think it's a bit easier now to become a vegetarian compared to when I started more than a decade ago since more organic and health conscious restaurants are now opening here in Manila. Again, must-have apps for me are Happy Cow and Honestbee!


I love traveling and discovering that there are more vegetarian friendly places all over the world. My favorites are Myanmar and Berlin. The most difficult most prob are Korea and Japan -- but they are also countries with convenience stores and coffee shops in every corner so I am good, mabubuhay ako hehe.

Meatless burger in a veg resto in Myanmar:

My Ate's vs My Plate in a resto in Berlin. Sobrang dami nila mag lagay gulay, and the meat alternative tastes so good!

I love buying fresh fruits in convenience stores abroad, and eating them back in the guest house!

I also found a good influence group aka my Iloilo travel buddies! Sobrang humaling sila ngayon sa juicing, and they share their recipes sa groups namin kaya nakaka hawa talaga! I bought my ingredients like frozen strawberries, boxes of almond milk, and other fruits and veggies at S&R and Shopwise via Honestbee!




 Now that it's 2019, going cruelty-free goes beyond what we eat. It's another transition for me as I become more and more aware that even beauty products like skincare and makeup that I use everyday at home may have animal content or caused harm in production through animal testings. It's another ball game for me that I need to study, decide on, and eventually practice. The intent is there, so I will--like a decade ago--just take things one step at a time.


Special thanks to Honestbee for having me and reinforcing my 2019 goal of a healthier lifestyle even as a practicing vegetarian! You can download honestbee app via Google Play or Apple App Store, and have your groceries and meals delivered straight to your doorstep!
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Alam nyo naisip ko lang, if I live in the north siguro things would have been so different. I have no regrets living the slow paced "chill" life of a south girl with my family, but sobrang saya din to once in a while stay around EDSA where most, if not all of my friends reside. Siguro parati akong asa labas! Haha!

For my day 1 in the north, my friends and I visited the newly opened Fisher Mall branch in Malabon. It was a festive celebration, almost coinciding with the Chinese New Year. We were there for the opening ceremonies, mass, and then a little tour, but we also had the chance to hangout and eat in their food court The Galley, shop a little in the Fisher Supermart, and of course take lots of awra photos! Hehehe! More ganaps below!



Attended the ribbon cutting, mass, and lunch at the mall's activity center:



They have my favorite fried noodles at their food hall The Galley! Sobrang cheap thrill ko ito before nung hardcore commuter pa ako, an order is only about Php 50!



Parang mga high school students na naka recess haha! We talked about Love Languages (one of my favorite topics haha), and kinilig naman sila sa aking "What made your heart flutter" moments hehehe.


 
photo from @ruthilicious

List of Fast Food, Cafes, and Restaurants in Fisher Mall Malabon:

Jollibee
Greenwich
Mang Inasal
Chowking
Macao Imperial Tea
Shakeys
Yellow Cab
Master Siomai
Fiorgelato
Farron
Turks
Adobo Connection
Sisig Society
Pepper Lunch
Khaleb
The Cold Brew
Baliwag
Steak Station
Morita Express
Couch Potato
Takoya
Foss
HK Fried Noodle
Master Tempura
Maming Gala
John Lemon
Buko ni Fruitas
Lil Orbits
Waffle Time
Ginataang Bilobilo at Mais
Pinay Decenas



Right next to The Galley is a mini entertainment arcade where you can play basketball or sing inside videoke booths:




We also stopped over Fisher Department Store and Fisher Supermarket for bargain hunting!  









List of Fisher Mall Malabon's Stores: 

Penshoppe Accessories
Bench
Watch Worth
Fisher Toy Store
Bizaare
RRJ
DIY Hardware 
Japan Home
Fisher Department Store
Polyeast Records
Aficionado
Broadway Gems
Olympic Village
Clickstore
Samsung
Fonstyle
Sante Tabuna
Cherry Mobile
Oppo
PC Express
Queen Mother




Coming soon:

Fisher Mall Malabon List of Service Establishments:

Lay Bare
360 Barbers and Beauty
Nails Glow
Randy Ortiz Dental Clinic
Mercury Drug
BPI
BDO



Other Things To Do In Fisher Mall Malabon:

Playland
Fisher Box Office (cinema)





A cutie that we met while strolling around the mall! Good news: All Fisher Malls are pet friendly establishments, so you can bring your fur baby while relaxing or doing errands.

After parting ways with the group, Ava and I checked in our accommodation for one night (since we have more north commitments the next day). We decided to book a room with ZEN Rooms since they usually offer the most affordable and practical accommodations in and outside the Metro.

The nearest room from Fisher Mall Malabon and Quezon City is at Vinia Residences, just across MRT North Edsa Station! What I like about this room:

1) Room is spacious enough for two persons and our things.
2) It is also complete with everything I need for a night: a comfortable bed, clean towels, toiletries (although bring nadin if you need more), wifi, and hot shower.
3) It is very affordable, for only Php 1400+ for the room per night!
4) For your other needs, there's a nearby convenience store (Mini Stop), and the mall is just across (walking distance passing through the MRT walkway).
5) Security is tight, so I felt safe even when we're located on the main road aka EDSA. We ordered Mcdo Delivery for breakfast, and was called by the lobby when Kuya arrived. We had to go down to pickup our orders. Ok nadin, it just means hindi sila basta nagpapa akyat sa rooms.

Here are more pictures of our Zen Rooms in Vinia Residences, Quezon City:





You can see the MRT and the mall from the room's window. It can get a bit noisy at night, but was too tired to even bother (bring ear plugs if you are sensitive to noise).

Essentials: No need to pack for towels and basic toiletries as these are all provided already.

Toilet and bath area:


Our bed and a small closet with hangers. They also have a landline phone when you want to call any local number (like food delivery services).

A TV, a small dining area where I did my makeup and skincare, and a mini couch:


Kitchenette with an electric stove, mugs, sink, microwave, and ref:


Inside the closet are plates, utensils, glasses, pans, rice cooker, etc.

Use my promo code ZENVIPANAGON for 20% discount on your booking at https://www.zenrooms.com!

Read more of our next day happenings with Fisher Mall, this time in their QC branch! It was a fun and crazy 2-day events with the girlies. Worth it ang pag dayo ng isang homebody hehe! Thank you Fisher Mall and ZEN Rooms for having me!


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