27 October 2016

And then I save..

Let’s not go back to the years when I spent my money on expensive mocha frappe, cellphone loads and splurging on branded clothes. It was unpleasant. I don’t know the worth of money back then. Not until I graduated, started looking for a job, and had the politeness not to ask for extra allowance from my parents. I went for a job that pays me Ph150.00/day as a volunteer Nurse for around a year and a half. I paid for my own health benefits (PhilHealth) and SSS. I honestly wouldn’t have survive if not for my parents.

I decided to pass my resignation and leave even if I do not have a back up job. CJ is always supportive and he encourage me to put up a business again. I re-opened my online shop, sell selfie sticks, coin purses, artsy stuff, even some of my pre-loved clothes and dresses. What I earned was enough to aid in my application and pre-employment needs. It took me around three months before I got a decent job with a satisfying wage. On my first six months, I splurge. AGAIN! Until I saw my savings account no longer growing and my parents getting old. And then I save. I realized that every peso counts. A friend once talked to me about financial literacy and freedom. At first I was hesitant, I never knew it could turn me from being a spendthrift to thrifty person. Here are some of the  budget saving method I use.

I made sure that right after receiving my monthly wage, I take a certain amount of money from it and place it in my savings account (RIGHT AWAY!!) I emphasize the ‘right away’ part because if you are a type of person like me, a one day millionaire (before), easily spends thousands a day unknowingly. If I see money on my wallet, I eagerly spends it. So yes, to prevent this, I assure that I’d  be able to deposit it in my account the same day I received it from payroll. Aside from savings account, I also save money for my emergency fund. So my financial equation is 

As for me, I work either 8 hours or 12 hours per day. If I work on 8 hours, my budget is Php 100.00, for 12 hours, Php150.00. The amount is just enough to allocate my food and transportation. You can set your own budget depending on your monthly income and expected daily expenses. If you have a budget, you stick on it! If not, you call it cheating! If I spend more than the said budget for the day, I easily make up for it the next day by bringing foods from our house instead of buying at the cafeteria.

This really works on me! I have my main wallet, where I place my ATM cards and excess money; then I have another wallet or coin purse that contains my daily budget. I always bring WALLET #2 at work to guarantee that I won’t spend too much. WALLET #1 is for emergency purposes only.

DATE ME IN 1K or below
Earlier this year, I got engaged. Since then, CJ and I decided to lower down expenses but not compromising our date nights. So we made a pact that we are only allowed to go on date with a budget of Php1000.00. I guess it’s pretty much a good amount of money to watch a movie and eat on a restaurant and still have coffee afterwards.

Never ever! Remind yourself how much money you have in your hand and never ever spend more than that. I’m always a victim of peer pressure. Never be one! Learn to say no! Even if they’d volunteer to lend you money for going out, say no! Use your credit card wisely! It’s okay to go out sometimes but make sure you still have enough money to last until the next payday without getting some from your savings account.

I hope these help! I worry less since I started all these methods. I am proud to say that this time, I no longer ask for extra money from my parents. My personal expenses all comes from my monthly wage and now, I don’t have to go from paycheck to paycheck. 

12 June 2016

SAGADAventures Day 2

Call time is 4am.
Woke up at 3am.
Realizing that it is 15 degrees cold.
Checks out Paula, Sophie and Grace.. still sleeping..
Goes back to bed and tap the snooze alarm.
Woke up 330am.
Decided not to take a bath because it's freaking cold!
HAHAHA. Right from the very start of your morning in Sagada, you have to decide whether to wake up or just go back to bed and enjoy the cold; to take a bath or not. But I kinda like those kind of decision making. :) CJ has been on LSS in Work by Rihanna and he wanted to annoy Paula by choosing it as an alarm tone. But he failed. First of all, I didn't allow him to do that because even I don't want to wake up in that song and hello, we're on vacation so please do not say something about WORK! :) The only motivation I gave myself is the place we are headed to. Probably one of the highlight on Sagada Tour.

Anyway, our Day 2 in Sagada started as early as 4am. We waited for our jeepney, that took us to Kiltepan Viewpoint by 430am. No one dared to sit on the top load. Maybe because of the cold wind outside. If you're not a fan of the cold then better bring thick clothing. I came all prepared with our bonnet. :) So there, we're headed to Kiltepan! Are you one of those people who knew Sagada because of the movie "That Thing Called Tadhana"? Kiltepan is where Mace (Angelica Panganiban) shouted her heart out  in front of the amazing sea of clouds view after breaking up with her ex-boyfriend.
Can you spot the crown on the lower right?

Well as expected, there are already a lot of tourists waiting for the sunset and taking shots of the sea of clouds. We thought we'd never had our chance because the place is really full. I can barely see a spot where we can take good photos. But luckily, Cj went down to check and found our own place for photo ops. We stayed there until the sun rise. 


Thanks Pau! She's the one behind all these amazing shots in Kiltepan!


We went back to town for breakfast and decided to eat at Sagada Lemon Pie House. One of the famous delicacies is their Lemon Pie.

 We tried it out in the oldest restaurant that serves it and where it all started. The Sagada Lemon Pie House. We ordered the classic silogs and the lemon pie for dessert. I'm not a fan of citrus and sour flavor so this review might be a little biased. it's just 3/5. You can taste the lemon right at your first bite but I think it's too sour. 

Right after breakfast, we took a walk back our place. There are no tricycle or permanent jeepneys on the area. our driver said that tricycles are banned for the noise that it creates, while the jeepneys pass by very rarely. Make use of your thigh and leg muscles to explore the whole town.

We did some small packing and attire changing as we are headed to Banaue. It is not the original itinerary but our driver suggest we went there on Day 2 instead so we can go to Baguio on our way back home to Manila. We left Sagada by 830 am. We passed by Bontoc Town and the great scenery is welcoming us on our way to Banaue. Grace initially wanted to visit Batad and be really close to the Rice Terraces but Kuya Dennis said it will no longer be possible and we will also pay Php 1500.00/person for the trekking. 

The drive to Banaue is just the same as the one in Sagada but from left to right you can see the amazing beauty of nature. I never really sleep during land road trips because I don't want to miss out such views. Good thing I had a good night sleep. Of course, my travel buddy Cj is sleeping beside me while I enjoy the view.
We arrived at Banaue Rice Terraces view point by 11am. As usual, take some photos, There is an Igorot Man waiting for photo ops in front of the view point. Our group were the only one in the viewpoint at the moment so we really did enjoyed and took advantage in taking some perfect, instagram worthy photographs.

This is where I found the weaved bag that I really wanted. in Sagada, it costs for around Php500. In Banaue, I was able to bought it for Php350.00. 

Picture taken at Vigan

I bought the red one while Grace bought the green one. The owner of the store was not there at the moment, so we thought we will never be able to buy the bag. but luckily, after waiting patiently, he arrived and we immediately bought the bag. I was actually wearing/using it already even before I paid for it. :)

We went back to Sagada and arrived by 130pm. We were supposed to eat late lunch in the Misty's Lodge (my personal choice just because it was named after my best friend) yet it was closed so Kuya Dennis brought us to the Rusty Nail Cafe. Weren't able to took some pictures of our food 'cause we're too hungry already. Anyway, the food didn't disappoint, though we have to wait longer than 30 minutes again. We loved their Special Yogurt with apples and mangoes. We were so full and wanted to just take some siesta but it won't be possible because Kuya Zandy is already waiting for us in our next destination.

After lunch, we are now on again for trekking. We hiked going to the Echo Valley passing through a cemetery. 

They call it Echo Valley because...when you shout, you can hear your voice echoes after. 

From the view point in Echo Valley you can see the Hanging Coffins, from there it is still another 20-30 minutes hike. You can chose to just stay at the Echo Valley or see the Hanging Coffins closely. We chose the latter. 

This is the most tiring part for me, even more tiring than what we had on the cave. I don't know if its the steepness or because my muscles are still in sore out of spelunking. We head back up the mountains and found ourselves in this old Aglipay Church. They call it St. Mary's Church. 

We went straight to our van and ask Kuya Dennis to what we are going to do next. It was past 4pm and I asked Paula that we should reserve a table in Gaia Cafe for dinner. So I called Gaia Cafe and they told me that they do not accept reservations but they are accepting customers until 6pm. We are a bit undecided if we still would like to join the other groups on the next stop or just drop by in Gaia but we decided to finish the tour and asked Kuya Dennis if he can drop us in Gaia Cafe.

Sagada Pottery Barn is our next stop. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I took because I wasn't able to save all my snaps. But I'll try to upload the video of Ate Tessie who was really good at making pot. There will be a small discussion and demonstration inside and you have to pay for it. For a group of 12, we pay Php200.00. If you'd like to try making pot, it costs another Php 100.00.

Our last stop of the day is the Lake Danum. Kuya Dennis is a bit negative on this. He said we can skip it because the water will not be clear since it rained and we will not be able to see the sunset because it's foggy. But then again, our group still persuaded in going. So we head to Lake Danum, walked about 1.5 kms from the main road and enjoyed the scenery since our group were the only one there for 30 minutes.

I'll try to upload the Running Man Video our group made at Lake Danum, We went crazy! 

We tried to catch the last call at Gaia Cafe. We arrived there at 5pm. Yehey! 

Cute little boy. The Cashier's son.

The menu are all organic,We tried their organic Pesto Pasta which CJ really loved as well as the tablea hot chocolate that reminded him of his grandmother. Their Creamy Potato with Lemon Grass soup is the bomb. Perfect for the cold weather. We ordered 3 for our group. :)

We had no idea how we can go back from Gaia to our inn as it is about 3-5 kms apart and we couldn't walk that long anymore. Since we are really tired from all the walking tour. So we waited for jeepney and hitch. We do not know how much the fare is but we paid Php10.00 each and the driver didn't say anything about it. So it must be enough for the short trip.

We arrived at our rooms and was really curious why the people at the road are looking up. So we look at the sky and saw this...

Lord blessed us with a great trip and this maybe His way of saying, "Be home safe children".

SAGADAventures Day 1

Out of all the trips in my list for this year, I really looked forward to this one because it would be the first time that we'll get to join other groups in a tour. Most of the time, our travels are exclusive for me and CJ or our friends. I look forward to meeting acquaintances and be able to adjust with their travel pace.

We barely had a month to plan this trip and I am so thankful that Paula, took charge in planning everything. Yes! That’s actually a great help for me since every time Cj and I travel, it’s usually me who makes the itinerary. We get a tour packages that costs Php 3200, for the accommodation and transport from Manila - Banaue - Sagada. The side trips activity such as spelunking are in our own account as well as our food. But I can say it was a good deal already. Our driver, Kuya Dennis, has been in the business for almost 10 years and he already have mastered the curve road going up to the mountains. Before leaving Manila, I have t  ask some of my friends who has been there on what to expect about the trip and most of them have a lot to say about the road and the travel time.
The Girls. Me, Grace, Paula and Sophie

The assembly time in Trinoma was 9-10pm but we went ahead of time so we can have the best and most comfy seat inside the van.(Tip #1 for people who travels by tour packages or as joiners!) We were supposed to leave by 10pm but two of the passengers were stuck in traffic thus we have to wait for them. (Tip #2 Never be late! Nakakahiya sa kasama ibang mga kasama mo. And it would affect the tour itinerary)

We left manila by 11pm. Kuya Dennis have heard news from other drivers that there were traffic somewhere in Santa Fe (road going up to Banaue) and some arrived in Sagada 3pm the next day. So He decided to drive us up to Baguio then Sagada. The only thing he compromises to us is that we will not be able to go in Strawberry Farm. But we all agreed to it. We are 12 inside the van, supposed to be 13, but our friend Aica, didn't make it. 

GeoTag from Snapchat

At around 3am we are already in Baguio, by 430am, we've already reached the highest point in the Philippines railroad system. We took some photo ops and bought some hot noodles to wake us up because it was really cold at 16C.

The road from the highest point going to Sagada is so curvy. As in blind curve! and guess what is just beside the road? on your left will be the mountain and on your right is a steep view of the province.

We took another stop over to pee and had some photo ops in the middle of the road.
I was lucky to took a shot of their local transportation.

We arrived in Sagada at around 8 in the morning. From the town, we can see a lot of tourists already roaming around the area. It is quite crowded already. Kuya Dennis dropped us at Indigenous Inn, our accommodation for the next 3 days. We took our brunch inside the Inn's Cafeteria. The only available in menu are longsilog (longganisa, fried rice and egg) and bangsilog (bangus, fried rice and egg). The girls opted for the longganisa while Cj wants the Bangus. We patiently waited for around 20-30minutes for our order. You really have a lot of waiting to do in Sagada especially in their restaurants. Unfortunately for our health, we slept and took some siesta right after eating. This one is a bad habit I shouldn't be blogging. Hahaha. But please 'wag tularan'.

Our activity for the day is the Spelunking inside the cave of Lumiang and Sumaguing. Tourists can choose which one to take. As per our tour guide, Kuya Zandy, the easier one is the Sumaguing. This are for beginners. We are also beginners but heck the adventurous side of me decided to take the extreme one which is the Cave connection where in we get to go inside both caves. The two couples in our group took the Sumaguing. I haven't had the time to ask then how was their experience. I can only share ours.

We went inside Lumiang Cave at around 1pm. The cave welcomed us with hanging coffins right in front of it. We're not scared yet. The only light we had was the lampara brought by Kuya Zaldy and his side kick Kuya Oniel. 

Good thing I bought my mini flashlight so it helped me go around. The experience inside the cave was really something I would treasure for the rest of my life. I cannot describe what its like inside. But I'm sharing few pictures I took with my iPhone. We didn't brought high quality camera because we expected to be wet inside.

I am in awe its beauty. 

It was really something that you have to try on yourself. And I guess this is really what Sagada is all about. I've never thought I can do such thing. Climb to a slippery floor, swim on a freezing cold water almost chest high, hold on to a rope with your life at stake. I've conquered such extreme and I'm so proud of myself as well as to my friends. We did it and the feeling of fulfillment is immeasurable. The most scary part of this spelunking was when we are about to go out of the cave. It suddenly rained so hard outside so there were mud and water and rocks gushing through the lane going up. When I saw that and other people who are panicking, I guess it was adrenaline rush that made me climb that steep and rocky road going up.

It was 5pm when we safely went out of the cave. I couldn't believe we are inside the cave for  a good 5 hours.

WE CONQUERED SAGADA CAVE!! (Cj, Grace, Me, Sophie and Paula)

We head back to our rooms to wash out all the mud and bat poops in our body. By 7pm, we are all ready for dinner. We decided to try Sagada Brew for dinner.

You can order a meal that consists of a cup of rice + 1 viand + salad + dessert + unlimited lemon water for Php200.00. The coffee shop is famous for their Lava Cake so we had to try it and behold, it didn't disappoint. Their lava cake is perfect! We even had to take out one for us to munch in our room.

That's all for Day 1! Day 2 and 3 deserve another post! Soon!