Month: September 2014

Still Alive!

Proof of life. Haha! Our sweaty/tired faces say hello after a long walk under the midmorning-afternoon sun last Sunday – the only day we actually got to ourselves for sight seeing. ;)
Proof of life. Haha! Our sweaty/tired faces say hello during a short water break. This was right after a long walk under the midmorning-noon sun last Sunday – the only day we actually got to ourselves for sight seeing. 😉 My husband could hardly smile after all that heat. Haha! But we’re extreme sight seers so the KK heat was something we were willing to endure! 😉

But the slow internet here in Kota Kinabalu is practically killing me – both the 3g and the wifi at the hotel we are staying in. So here’s just a quickie update on how we’ve been doing:

Days here in KK have been very busy. I thought I will get bored so I packed a ton of movies to watch plus loaded my Kobo with e-books, and even brought some material for a piece I was supposed to write ages ago. But alas, I ended up being so busy, helping out in the consular mission by assisting some of the applicants in filling up their forms and preparing travel documents for deportees. There are a couple of hundred thousands of Filipinos in Sabah who are undocumented and the Embassy has been doing its best to help them out.

The consular mission ran from Monday till Saturday (we’re still there at the venue until Oct 3rd) and we only had Sunday as our ‘break’. So we spent it walking  around the city, checking out the Sunday market, and visiting the Sabah & Islamic Museum as well as the Heritage Village before finally feasting on some Filipino food which we totally missed.

I’ll post something more useful (a.k.a a proper travel entry) soon enough. As soon as I get some decent internet – a connection that doesn’t use up a whole hour just to upload one photo. I’m practically crawling my way into posting this. But we’ll be back in KL by the end of this week so I promise to make up for lost time. Geez, I have so much stuff to review.

More later and hugs from KK!

Carol

Good to know: Consular services for Filipinos in Kota Kinabalu

Hello from Kota Kinabalu! This isn’t what you might expect here but I just wanted to use this one blog post in helping spread the word so here’s a quickie announcement:

Husband and I, along with a team from the Philippine Embassy, arrived yesterday and today was their consular mission’s first day. It was a pretty good turn out and we are expecting more Filipinos to come tomorrow and the next couple of days.

To our dear brothers and sisters in Malaysia, if you’re a Filipino in Sabah or if you’re someone who just happened to end up in this little blog of mine and you know Filipinos in the Kota Kinabalu area who are in need of consular services (passport application, renewals, passport validity extensions, etc), do let them know that the embassy team will be at the Dewan Majlis Perkhidmatan Masyarakat Sabah, Jalan Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu until October 3, 2014. Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5pm.

Click here for a map to the place.

We need all the help we can get in disseminating the information as some of the undocumented Filipinos here in Sabah do not have access to the internet. Some are plantation workers born in Sabah to undocumented parents. They never had access to education so they cannot read nor write (that’s why some of them need assistance in filling out forms). It’s really a sad situation so the embassy is doing its best to reach out to them to give them passports – and in the process, identities as well.

While there are accredited agencies that they can pay for consultation (which documents are needed) and can help them in filling out their forms, the fees might be too steep for some of them. We are willing to help applicants accomplish the forms for free and we can also tell them what they need for a passport (at least a birth certificate and other supporting documents that will prove that you are really Filipino). For questions, they can send an SMS or call the Embassy through +(6017) 347-5487.

Thank you! If this post actually helps even just one Filipino in Sabah learn about the services and save on money by going to the Embassy personnel directly, I would be extremely happy. They can use the money they save for food and other essentials!

I’m basically just tagging along as I’m not an official part of the team but I am looking forward to giving my assistance in whichever way I can – like helping some of the applicants who are having trouble in filling up their forms. I also learned how to encode passport information today so just in case anyone needs a sub, I’ll be ready! 😉

Please, please help spread the word.

Back to regular programming in the next post. 😉

Love,

Carol

Beauty: Current bath time loves + Quick updates

Well, hello there everyone. First, just a short thank you for keeping up with me and reading this blog. Seriously. I didn’t really expect much of a turn out but apparently, people have been reading some of my posts and the feedback I’m getting is just heartwarming. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 🙂

Also, I just wanted to update you that I tried a new workout yesterday called Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) at Impulse Studio in Bangsar. It’s one of the most intense workouts I’ve tried so far – it lasts for only 20 minutes and is already equal to 4 hours at a normal gym! So yeah, I’m pretty much sore today. But I’m loving the feeling and I can’t wait to go back! Too bad we’ll be out of town for two weeks (will tell you guys about this later on) so I’ll be missing some precious fitness time. But come early October, I’m gonna be back there again. Do check out their site to learn more about EMS and if you want to try it out for free, just mention my blog at the counter and they will give you a free trial. 😉

I’ll write more about the experience soon so watch out for that.

Anyhoo, off to today’s beauty post: I obsess over beauty and skin care as much as my husband obsesses over tech stuff and appliances. The way he reads reviews and researches about his future buys is practically the same method I apply for my beauty-related purchases. We’re not the type to splurge on stuff we really don’t think is worth it after all. To me, beauty is not just about putting on the right makeup or having a gorgeous haircut. You always have to start with clean skin and hair so everything starts from the bath – everyday.

While I don’t have the luxury of using the bath tub every single day, I make sure I have ample time to enjoy my showers. Getting to scrub every nook and cranny of my skin is actually invigorating, relaxing, and very satisfying – or am I just weird. I dunno. Tell me you’re with me on this. While I often get compliments for having clear skin and bouncy hair, I know for a fact that they won’t last unless I take good care of them. And before you use any other product on your skin and hair, it’s best to make sure that you’re really clean. I can’t imagine how a moisturiser or a hair serum (no matter how good they are) to work properly when there’s dust and dirt on you.

They just won’t be able to penetrate. So for this one, I just wanted to share my current favourite bath time buddies which I get from Sephora here in Malaysia. I’m a huge Sephora fan and I would always stop by at at least one store every time I visited family in Europe just to stock up on essentials that I don’t get in Manila. I love how almost everything I need can be bought under one roof – especially my bath time essentials like this little baby:

Sephora Fizzing Bath Cube – Peony (RM5, Php68.83, US1.55, EUR1.20)

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Events / Happenings: ALC Coffee Morning at the Thai Embassy

One of the things I look forward to here in KL are the ASEAN Ladies’ Circle (ALC) coffee mornings. I’ve attended two so far: the one hosted by Vietnam last August and the one hosted by the Thai Embassy this September. I intended to write about the Vietnam coffee morning but I only had a few photos (I was such an excited newbie) from that one so I decided to proceed with the latest event ALC had.

Madame Korbhiat Kraichitti, the wife of the Thai Ambassador, was such a gracious host and the Thai ladies (both from the Embassy and the community in KL) obviously worked hard to put the event together which was a great success. We all went home knowing more about Thai culture than we did upon entering the Thai Embassy – all that while thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, shall I?

Love this veggie arrangement at the entrance. So inviting and reminiscent of one of Thailand’s best imports: Their cuisine!

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Remembering 9/11

I guess the biggest injustice we and the future generation can do against those who perished in this tragedy is to forget about and pay very little attention to it as years pass by.

I am not American. I have never set foot in the United States and don’t really have any major connection the country aside from knowing that the Americans were our former colonial masters. Filipinos are also quite Americanised and very much in tune to their society because of TV and Hollywood. But other than having a couple of American friends and wanting to see New York someday, I don’t really have a major emotional investment in the country.

However, I do remember where I was on September 11, 2001 when news broke out that a plane hit one of the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York. Followed by another plane. Then news broke out that there’s yet another one that crashed into the Pentagon followed by the last plane that crashed in field in Pennsylvania.

It took a while for everyone to connect the dots. Everyone was blinded. Later on, we all found out that the 4 commercial planes were hijacked and intentionally crashed as a terror attack on the US and the last one was actually intended for the Capitol or the White House but it crashed into a field after the passengers fought the hijackers.

I remember hearing the news late at around 10 in the evening, Manila time. I was 12 years old and about to go to bed. We were watching the news and scenes from New York, one of my dream cities to visit, showed chaos and burning towers. Journalists were reporting from the streets and talking to people covered in soot and blood, running away from the devastation.

Photo from State of the Nation. An image that will forever haunt the people who were watching the news on September 11, 2001.

I was crying because I was scared and I felt so much pity for the people who were running, not knowing where to go and because I had some sort of inkling that there were thousand of people who might die – those were offices after all. I was right. Later on, it was reported that over 3000 people perished in the tragedy. The people who initiated the attack felt that they won. But at that time, I believed otherwise.

I went to bed after my mom pulled the plug on the telly but I wasn’t able to sleep right. I turned the TV on again as soon as the sun started peeking through my window and with my glasses on, I watched what happened next. Smoke, rubble, and people trying to dig out survivors from the fallen towers. Footage from the night before of firemen carrying injured people out of the burning Pentagon.

I remember seeing this photo everywhere in 2001. Taken during then-US President George W. Bush’s reading of a story book to school children and one of his people comes up to him to tell him the news that a plane hit one of the towers. Photo from Life Magazine.

I went to school upset and those scenes never left my mind. They scared me and made me care about what was happening in another part of the world that’s physically far from me but at that moment, I felt so close to it. I remember running to the grade school library during lunch and recess to ask my grade school librarian, Mrs Guevarra, to let me use her television. And together, we watched more cable news. She asked me: “So you still want to become a journalist after seeing that? It’s so dangerous what they’re doing!” and I told her that that’s precisely why I want to become one I want to be the one telling people what was happening and why. I want to know first.

While there were photos showing blood and gore, I think what got to me most were the simpler photos that said so much without being too loud. Photo from the New York Times.

For days, I found myself crying in front of the television. No, I didn’t know those people but I knew they did not deserve to die like that. I was hearing excerpts of last phone calls, seeing videos of people falling from the buildings, there were photos of dead people with loved ones crying over them splashed on broadsheets.

Their deaths were not in vain, however. In the next days and months the world saw a people united more than ever, telling their government that they want justice. I don’t know what Osama Bin Laden was thinking at that time but if it were me, I would have felt that I’ve woken an angry dragon up.

What’s more touching are the firemen, the police, and the volunteers that didn’t leave ground zero until all survivors were pulled out of the rubble. Photo from NBC News.

Movies were made, documentaries were filmed, features on news broadcasts and tributes were aired. We don’t hear about 9/11 as much nowadays. It’s been over a decade after all. But to me, that was one of the biggest turning points in modern history and one of the events in my late childhood that I will always remember. (Further Reading: Time Magazine’s If You Want to Humble an Empire)

Later on, in Journ school, I was discussing 9/11 to my Sociology professor. We were having a healthy debate on what drives people to commit such atrocities. The discussion went back to ideals, to a bit of history. From the US’ involvement in the wars in the Middle East, to lifestyle, to oil, conflicting ideals. Which made me realise that it’s not something you can just learn in a day. It’s a very complex matter which a lot of people tried to simplify in the past couple of years but still, it remains to be a tangled, complicated issue that only saddens me more as the issue is directly related to conflict in different parts of the world where men, women, and children are dying. I am strongly against the death of innocents and I believe we no longer live in a world where it’s always ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. (Further reading: Osama Bin Laden’s Letter to the American People)

The biggest injustice will be to forget the lessons we learned. Photo from CBS New York.

My husband and I also discuss the matters of the Middle East over dinner (and sometimes goes all the way to before going to sleep) every now and then and though we’ve been at it for ages, I somehow feel that there is still so much more to learn and understand. Sometimes we end up with opposing personal views on certain matters (Why is it like this? What should be done for it to be okay? How will peace be achieved?) but still, there are facts to guide us. ‘The conflict brought about by differences, the changing worlds, and inevitable coexistence’ as I like to call it in my head.

While conspiracy reports remain, Osama Bin Laden was reported to have been killed in a US special operation in 2011. America rejoiced but I guess they’ve already learned from the past. They knew it wasn’t over and they knew that it’s not just Bin Laden who disagrees with their policies. There are more groups, more leaders.

When will it end? Photo from NBC News.

Today, some countries in the Middle East are still locked internal conflict. There’s Syria, there’s Israel and Palestine, and then there’s the ISIS in Iraq. News reports say that difference in ideals, clashing beliefs, and political interests are playing a major role in the matter. Two American journalists were beheaded by ISIS, a group that has been reported to be doing ethnic and religious cleansing in the region, as a message to the US ‘to stop meddling’ in the Middle East. And just a couple of hours ago, US President Barack Obama addressed his people and announced a major expansion in their military campaign against the group, saying: “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

Sometimes, you start to wonder: Will it ever end? Thirteen years from now, will we remember the people that were reportedly killed by ISIS and the historical monuments as well as places of worship of other religions that were reportedly destroyed by the group? There won’t be anniversary for the deaths of the Shiite Muslims, the Yazidis, and other ethnic groups who chose not to convert even at gunpoint.

I always talk about how remembering the past makes sure that you learn from your mistakes. And once this is all over, I can only hope that events will be remembered so that the future generations, despite differences in race, religion, and lifestyle, won’t have to resort to killing each other.

And while the New York skyline was forever changed by the tragedy of 2001 and there are no more plans of building new towers in ground zero as it has been turned into a memorial. I like how the Americans made sure that their future generations and everyone else in the world will never forget. Photo by Ryan D. Budhu, Happeningmag.

Nowadays, the New York skyline looks so different and I guess people have gotten used to not seeing the towers anymore. However, it is impossible for New Yorkers to ever forget September 11, 2001. The ‘Tribute in Light’ shines all night every September 11 since 2002. In 2008, the US announced that they will stop the tribute as an end to their nation’s mourning but it went on after and they said that it should continue well up to the tragedy’s tenth anniversary – 2011. However, it’s already 2014 and the Tribute in Light is still repeated yearly to commemorate what happened. I don’t think the US is still mourning the 3,000 people that died that day. I personally don’t agree with people who say that the tribute should be stopped so that they can move on. I think it’s nice to remember. To pause for a while and think about what happened. To examine ourselves how far we’ve come from that day when we heard the news that shook the entire world. And to reflect on how the conflict the brought about the death of thousands of lives in the West and the Middle East can finally be solved.

You wouldn’t want to lose your home or your livelihood, would you? And you wouldn’t want to leave your children orphaned. Right? Photo from Galleryhip.

But I’m no expert on the matter and maybe people who know better will want to shoot me for this. After all, I’m just a regular girl from Asia who’s dabbled in journalism and loves to watch the news. And while I don’t have a personal stake on the matter, I do care.  I am not Muslim nor American. I admit that sometimes, it’s hard not to pick a side. Especially when you see children dying and people losing their homes and livelihood due to conflict. Everyone deserves a place to call their home where they can practice their own religion and I do care about people even though they are different from me. I have learned to respect their own beliefs and the way they live even if I know if I were in their position, it would not work for me. I know that I am anti violence and I always will be. I know conflict and wars might be seen as an effective tool for certain people to get what they want. But at the end of the day, we all lose when the blood of our brothers and sisters (no matter what their race or religion is) is spilled, when children are orphaned, and when people are stripped of their homes and livelihood. We win with peace that’s achieved through peace. It might be slow, yes. But at least we’ll all sleep a little better at night, don’t you think?

More yapping later.

Peace and love,

Carol

PS. The views and comments in this post do not represent the views of the Philippine government or that of my husband’s. This is purely personal.

Foodie Adventures: Gelatomio

I’m a huge fan of gelato. I always say that when it comes to gastronomic pleasures, we shouldn’t really mind shelling out money (as long as it’s within our means) and gelato, which admittedly is more expensive than regular ice cream, is counted as one of those pleasures in my book. After all, one of the main things we need to survive is food so might as well indulge every now and then, right? Just wanted to share my current favourite gelato place here in KL: Gelatomio. They serve Italian milk-based ice cream that’s 95% fat free while water-based flavours are at 99%. All their flavours come from natural ingredients with no preservatives. Knowing these makes me feel less guilty over indulging on dessert. 😉

Ok, photo’s a bit lopsided. Didn’t notice before the upload but you get the picture. Geddit? Haha. It’s kind of a huge kiosk in front of cotton on with it’s own seating area.

Over the last couple of weekends, my husband and I decided to sit around and eat some gelato after a loooong day of walking. We were out all day looking for more home decor and after dinner, we just had to get something sweet before finally heading home. So we went to the Gelatomio branch in Pavilion Mall.

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Events + Photos: KL Vintage Festival 2014

Last Sunday, Malaysia celebrated Hari Merdeka (Independence/Freedom day) which commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule. The holiday was extended to Monday, September first, and since my husband had to make a quick nip (ok, not that quick – he was there from 8:30am until almost 4pm) to the embassy because the whole team as well as our Ambassador needed to rush a few things for our President, I was able to get most of my chores out of the way before he got home and we decided to check out the Kuala Lumpur Vintage Festival.

We left the condo at around 4pm and took the Monorail to the Maharajalela station which was basically connected to Stadium Merdeka – the festival’s choice of venue.

Upon entry to the stadium are walls filled with photographs of the Malaysians’ heroes and revered leaders.

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