Hello, world! Long time no post! 新年快樂! 恭喜發財! Happy Year of the Rooster!!! I was away for a short while for Chinese New Year break. I spent 12 days in Cagayan last December so this time around  I stayed a full week in Manila. It would have been a perfect timing to go on an out of town trip (still wishing for a Palawan getaway) but because I volunteered to shoulder the expenses for some home renovation and improvements (huhuhu bakit ang mahal ng tiles), I had to curb my spending and opted to just stay at home, meet friends and do all the usual balikbayan stuff. Still truly grateful I got to visit home twice for the past 2 months.

Can you believe it was my first time to check out SM Aura? I asked my brother several times to take me there but no luck. Finally this time, after dinner somewhere in Serendra, it was still early to head home so we dropped by SM Aura. I've heard about the beautiful chapel on the 5th floor and went there to have some quiet time and thank Him for the many blessings - my life, family, friends.

My friends know of my balikbayan routine upon arrival: hair cut, mani, pedi, the works. So when I set up lunch dates or dinners with them, they'd ask me if I'm done with everything. And by everything they meant the whole beautifying package haha! I have to be defensive and explain to you that in my 7 years in Taipei, I have never been to a salon here. Hair cut for women costs around NTD 1300 (x 1.5 for PHP), with an extra charge for shampoo and blow dry (grabe no?). The cheapest is NTD 350 using the quick-cut style (done in 15-30 mins with timer pa). I get by without manicure and pedicure. Mani and pedi cost NTD 500 each, basic cleaning only! They will charge extra for polish- depending on what kind of polish or nail art you want. That is 2-3 meals already (or even more if you buy from 自助餐) ! So anyway, I rest my case.

We'll be complete in December! Miss you Kayms!

I missed you Erica, more than I missed Max's fried chicken hehe!

No, I didnt tell Rach I'm wearing stripes! #matchymatchy

I tried to meet as much people as I can even if it was a little exhausting. It was sooooo nice to catch up with my high school and college friends. I'm amazed at how some friendships can withstand the test of time and distance. Thank you, my dearest friends for always being so supportive of your balikbayan friend even if I fail to make paramdam sometimes.

Things are now back to normal after my Manila trip. I'm filling up this planner I ordered from Paper & Co. I love how classy it looks and it is not too bulky. I had it monogrammed because I'm a sucker for all things personalized. The inside pages are also pretty and provide an ample space for writing or doodling.

Speaking of writing, a friend lent me a copy of Abbey Sy's The ABC's of Journaling. I found this list part on Journaling Challenge quite helpful so I'm posting it here for when we run out of things to write :)

1. A day in the life
2. Something interesting you saw today
3. Goals for the week
4. 5 things you're grateful for today
5. What's in your bag?
6. 5 facts about yourself
7. Favorite pastimes
8. Highlights this week
9. Snippets from your recent trip
10. What kept you busy today?
11. 5 entries on your bucket list
12. Random ideas in the shower
13. A skill you want to learn
14. Your hometown and why you love it
15. Me time de-stressing ritual
16. Lines from your favorite book or film
17. A memorable past experience
18. What you ate today
19. Notes from a recent article you've read
20. Beautiful scenery you saw today
21. Lyrics to a song that's been stuck in your head

Have a nice weekend everyone! It's 9 degrees here today!!! Brrrrrrrrr.

Family ♥

Hello! I just want to share these photos taken last Christmas. I'm starting to miss everyone. We have all gone back to work, some to school and heaven knows when we'd see each other again and celebrate Christmas together. I'm glad I was able to cook for all of them- simple meals but we enjoyed each other's company.

Celebrating our aunt's 74th birthday with a small reunion party.

Our noche buena at home with my cousins and pamangkins.  

Everyone's achie. Thank you achie for taking the same flights with me! And for everything!!!

Always spoiled-rotten by my beautiful aunt (mom making chismis at the back). 

 My chocolate cake turned out nice even without proper piping/frosting tips.

The flowers and the grotto are from my aunt's garden. Thank you, Mama Mary for keeping our family close. Please always look after us and whisper our prayer intentions to your son, Our Lord. 

Now that the holidays are over and I'm all alone again, I've been thinking quite a lot of many things, mostly about the future- my long term and short term goals and other stuff in between. My brain cells are working nonstop but I'm glad Chinese New Year is just around the corner and a little break will help me through.

Have a happy weekend!

New Beginnings

Happy New Year! How was your first week of the year 2017? I spent mine going back to work after a 12-day holiday back home, unpacking, and cleaning my apartment. I don't  know if it's because of the mild winter here in Taipei, or the happiness brought by my long vacation, but I feel more refreshed and energized to accomplish some tasks I have jotted down.

I didn't do much in 2016. I started my 2016 by writing down goals- some of which I was able to achieve, some I still have to work on. In February, I went to the US to visit my aunt and celebrated Chinese New Year with my cousins in LA. Kaymee's family visited in March and I flew home to be with my brothers in April. I went to Hanoi and Sri Lanka for business trips in May and spent the rest of the summer months from June to August in Taipei. I was home again for my cousin's wedding in September, then my friend Billie was in Taipei in October- the same month I received my permanent residency. November was probably the craziest of all months as it was our conference month. December was the best ending as I got to see my cousins, nephews and nieces I have not seen for a while. Because really, nothing beats family time.

So that was my 2016 in one paragraph. With Duterte and Trump winning the presidency aside, I'd like to think that my 2016 was a rather 'steady' one. I'm excited on what 2017 will bring- laughter, tears, highs, lows, fresh beginnings, new memories. I re-posted a tweet from Francis Kong which quite sums up what I want for the New Year. He said, "And next year is a better year when we first become a better person." That should always be the goal- to strive to be better. Here's to a better us in 2017!