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IF Journey | Wandering New Track: My First Step Towards Financial Freedom

"A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life" ~Suze Orman
Life's journey is full of twist and turns. There's no such thing as straight line to happiness and/or success. At times, it seems so twisted it looks like we'll never make it. But this doesn't mean we should quit. Oh, WE MUST NOT!

credit to the owner

For around three quarters of my life, I've been working. It's been so long that nowadays, I feel like quitting. Sadly, I can't. Not yet! I still need this 8-hour day job to go on living. But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm merely stating facts. And this post isn't about work anyway, this is all about the new track I'm taking, the road to financial freedom. :)

Last year, we got a new boss in the office who introduced us to stock investing. (Oh by the way, we're an IT company; it's just that this new boss is into stock investing and told us about it.) I got so curious that since then, I started reading a lot about stocks and investments. After reading a lot and finding out that it should be the money working for me instead of me working for the money, I tried applying and opening an account with COL Financial, a registered online broker. Last February, I downloaded COL's registration forms and diligently filled-up everything. Because I have no time personally submitting the forms, I sent it via courier. Yey! I've done the first step, I'm on my way to financial freedom. Or so I thought!

Unfortunately, after waiting for more than a week, I got a reply (via email) from of one of their customer relations officer informing me that I've submitted incomplete documents. She's asking me to fill up the forms again without telling me what's missing. I got disappointed that instead of going through all their forms again, I went to BDO the following weekend and open an account with them. After getting my ATM card and registering for an online account, I applied for BDO Nomura (also an online broker affiliated with BDO) account via BDO Nomura website. No forms, no couriers, all online! After two days, I got an email telling me that my application is approved. I waited for another day or two and got another email, this time from PSE Tradex giving me my temporary trading PIN. I then logged in to my Nomura account, nominate a permanent trading PIN, fund my account and started trading and investing. That easy! No sweat, isn't it? Yes, first step done!

I'm into stocks trading and investment for a month now. I gained some, lose some. I'm still learning the ropes, the ins and outs of stock market but I know in time, I'll get the financial freedom I'm dreaming of, little by little, one step at a time. I know there will be lots of twists and turns but I also know that if I work hard for it, I'll be rewarded, if not soon, then later. When that time comes, I'll be making money work for me and not the other way around. What about you? Are you heading your way towards that financial freedom?

~ oo00oo ~

For those interested in opening an online trading account with Nomura, check out this link: 5-minute 5-step to opening BDO Nomura account. For more info and review of other online brokers, check this out: A Review of Online Stockbrokers (COL, First MetroSec, BDO Nomura, Philstocks, MakeTrade and BPI Trade) in the Philippines. If you still have more questions, I'd be happy to answer them and help you go through it, just post your queries below. I can only help you with opening and setting up a BDO Nomura account though, I ain't no stock guru. I, myself, is a noob! :) 

PS: This is a story of my personal experiences, this isn't a sponsored post.

Happy Sunday everyone, God bless!

Quezon City | 10 Things To See and Do in Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center

Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center

Sit less... move more... explore!, my mantra this 2017. This is because I realized I'm not getting any younger that getting physically fit is a must. And one way of achieving it without getting bored is to go out and explore the city (am living in Quezon City) around me. One of the first place I explored is the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center.

Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) is a 22 hectare zoological and botanical garden located in Diliman, Quezon City, very near Quezon City Memorial Circle (just across QCMC's North Avenue entrance). Aside from being a park, it serves as a temporary refuge for donated, abandoned, rescued and confiscated animals. Several government offices under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are located there, including the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), an agency in-charge of the management, protection and conservation of protected areas and wildlife including those sheltered in NAPWC.

Anyway, if you're like me who wants to move more without spending more, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center is one of the place to be. It's very near and it's cheap (only 8 Php entrance fee), a very good alternative than going to a gym. In NAPWC, you'll lose some extra pounds while exploring your very own city; you'll even learn something new that will raise your awareness of the environment.

forest in the city

Exercise: Walk/Jog around the Lagoon

As I mentioned earlier, NAPWC is a good place to do your walking and/or jogging. You can walk and jog here anytime of the day since the park is mostly shaded with trees. Walking around and exploring the park would take about three hours so imagine the calories you'll lose. I did it the first time I went there. The next time around, I did my walking/jogging just around the lagoon, circling around it at least two times.

jogging/walking around this lagoon and taking photos, too :)

Picnic/Play With Family/Friends

For QC dwellers, NAPWC is known as a picnic park. Many families go there especially those with young children. They play around, do some catching up (probably some gossiping, too... hehe), eat together and just sit and relax. Some even celebrates a family member's birthday. Cheap yet fun, right?

a family celebrating a member's birthday
playing around with friends
pink-themed picnic :P
more picnics
picnics pa more


Walking around the park, I noticed several photo sessions here and there. I've also seen some groups shooting and directing some plays. Majority involves children dressed like a princess and/or using their (probably) favorite character's costume. I've also witnessed an on-going photography session with aspiring (I suppose, hehe) models. If you're a photography enthusiast, drop by NAPWC and be inspired by those photographers. You may even ask to join them, I just don't know if it's free.

kid's in a photo session...
dressed like a little princess...
briefing before the photo session...
photographers in action...
heard the theme's about the sang'gres, you be the judge!
photographing the photographers ;)

Wedding Prenups

If you're on a budget but still would like to have that dreamed prenup photos and video to showcase on your wedding day, consider NAPWC as your photo shoot location. You and/or your photographer will surely find a nice spot to do it; you may even bring some props and kits to help with your theme. I've seen several couple doing it, just be creative.

Wildlife Rescue Center

As mentioned above, NAPWC is a refuge for donated, abandoned, rescued and confiscated animals. There is this particular section of the park dedicated for them, the Wildlife Rescue Center. It's a bit of a cramped area with cages all around that housed various animals - birds, snakes, wild cats, crocodiles and many others. Check them out and make your children be aware of those protected animals.

Wildlife Rescue Center
caged chattering lory... aptly named,
she (beautiful color so I assume a she's a 'she' hehe) never stopped chirping and chattering
not within the rescue center area but still caged
caught him (I assume he's a 'he') munching on his food
Philippine Eagle: he (again, I assume he's a 'he') seems sad
probably he wants to be free
looking for a way to escape?!
Haring Ibon: pambansang ibong ng Pilipinas

Fishing Village

I wasn't able to enter the fishing village premise but I suppose you can rent the place for a special occasion. I saw it fully decorated with caterers/waiters waiting around to serve its guests. You may ask the park's administration, for a more accurate information about this one.

The Fishing Village

Gazebo and the Amphitheater

Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center is a photographer's haven. And the Gazebo is it's most photographed section, I suppose. A lot of people gathered there to do their selfies, some others (young and young once) in photo session with their photographers.

where people do their selfies :P
the amphitheater: just don't know if it's for free
saw teenagers practicing their dance steps here, though
where selfies and photo sessions abound...
you can do some bamboo rafting in here, too

The Aquatic House and the Serpentarium

In case you don't know, NAPWC also has this section for sharks and other marine life. It doesn't look well-maintained and with only a few fishes but if you want to introduce your children to marine life, then you may check out their aquatic house. It is located just beside the serpentarium.

hammer head sharks and me ;)
the aquatic house...
The Serpentariun
several snakes can be seen in here

Food Trip

If you and/or your family didn't bring some food, there are several food stalls and vendors inside NAPWC. Rice meals, noodles, dim sums, ice cream, chips and other junk foods - you'll find them there. For a rice meal, price ranges from 50 Php to 60 Php; noodles and other snacks are of course, cheaper. For a minimal amount, you'll never get hungry in this place.

the food station, where I took my brunch :)
because me and my wallet's on a diet ;)
food vendors...

Relaxing, Dating, Training, Meetings and a lot more

relax with your daughter, on a hammock
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center is a popular field trip destination
even on a weekend, many buses arrived here transporting children for their field trip
don't know who they are but it seems like they're here for a training
sleep under the canopy of trees
date with your special someone...
fresh air, peaceful environment and most of all, free (almost!)

~ oo00oo ~

Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center
Diliman, Quezon City (near QC Circle)
Entrance Fee: 8 Php - adults; 5 Php - student/children
Parking Fee: 25 Php - bus; 15 Php - cars; 8 Php - tricycle/motorcycle
Operating Hours: Tuesday - Sunday; 7:00AM - 5:00PM

Pampanga | Ligligan Parul 2016: Winners, Schedule of Exhibits, Etc.

giant lantern of barangay San Nicolas - Ligligan Parul 2016 participant

Pampanga's Giant Lantern Festival, also known as Ligligan Parul, is an annual event held in December in the City of San Fernando. Dubbed as the "Christmas Capital of the Philippines", the festival traced it's roots in Bacolor (former capital of Pampanga) and as far back as 1908 when the first festival began. This festival is an offshoot of a religious activity called "lubenas", a parade of lights wherein the people of the community bring lanterns before going to church for misa de gallo. The first lantern competition, however, was held in the 1930's in honor of the first lady of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, First Lady Aurora Aragon. 

This year, the competition was held two Saturdays ago, December 17. I was lucky to have witnessed it this year; thanks to my dearest BFF for joining me and accompanying me to this event. I wasn't able to take much photos because I didn't bring a tripod but I'm still thankful, at least I was able to actually watch it and not concentrate on taking photos. I hope to be back next time to take more photos and to finally buy a Fernandino-made parol. Hopefully... :)

Giant Lantern Festival 2016 Winners

winning lantern (champion) - Ligligan Parul 2016

1st runner-up: barangay Calulut - no photo, unfortunately but watch the video of the grand showdown below, barangay Calulut is the rightmost lantern in the video. :)

winning lantern (2nd runner-up) - Ligligan Parul 2016

Schedule of Exhibits

For those who weren't able to witness the competition proper last December 17, you may witness the display of the giant lanterns in the following dates and venues:

December 18 - 21, 7:00PM - Robinson's Starmills
December 22, 7:00PM - Essel Park, Brgy. Telebastagan
December 23, 7:00PM - Greenfields, Brgy. Sindalan
December 24, 11:00PM - Brgy. Poblacion
December 25 - 30, 7:00PM - Robinson's Starmills
December 29 - 30, 6:00PM - Marquee Mall
January 1, 7:00PM - Robinson's Starmills

barangay Del Pilar lantern - Ligligan Parul 2016 participant

Giant Lantern Festival 2016 Showdown

Watch the showdown between barangay Sta. Lucia, the acknowledged pioneer in lantern making and where the inventor of the rotors (the steel barrels that manipulates the play of lights and patterns on the lantern) came from and this year's winner, barangay Dolores in the video below. Pretend for a while you didn't know yet the winner, which would you choose between these two?

Ligligan Parul 2016: group showdown!

Watch the video below for the grand showdown among all the participating barangays in this year's giant lantern festival competition. The showdown was accompanied by a live music by Betty's (not sure of the name) Band 48, the tune of which is unknown to the participants until the showdown starts.

Ligligan Parul 2016: The Grand Showdown!

~ oo00oo ~

Pampanga's Giant Lantern Festival is indeed "the biggest, brightest and most colorful Christmas event in our country". It showcases the artistry and craftsmanship of Filipinos, Fernandinos particularly, through painstakingly building and creating intricate designs and patterns that become the giant (20 feet in diameter) lanterns. Truly, it's a delight to watch and get mesmerized by the myriad (around 14 thousand bulbs) of colorful lights and kaleidoscopic patterns as they dance to the tune of lively Christmas songs (and other pop music).

Note: Participating giant lanterns in this year's Ligligan Parul are still on display at the exhibit. If you want to witness the spectacular display of giant lanterns, please check above-posted schedule and venue.

Have a happy and blessed holidays everyone, Merry Christmas! ^_^

~ oo00oo ~

Ligligan Parul 2016
San Fernando City, Pampanga
Date of Visit: December 17, 2016

Tagaytay | Puzzle Mansion: A Showcase of Amazing Passion and Dedication

Puzzle Mansion - Tagaytay

I've seen the owner of Puzzle Mansion being interviewed on TV a few years back but it's only this year that I was able to visit the Puzzle Mansion. Puzzle Mansion is owned by the late Georgina Gil-Lacuna (she died of heart attack in 2014), holder of Guinness World Record's largest collection of jigsaw puzzles. To date, Puzzle Mansion has more than 1,500 collections of jigsaw puzzles of various sizes and shapes and themes from religion, classic arts, landscapes, architecture, places and many others.

Gina Gil-Lacuna's Guinness World Records certificate

In the photo above is the certificate from Guinness World Records certifying that Georgina Gil-Lacuna has the largest collections of jigsaw puzzles consisting of 1,028 different puzzle sets. It was awarded in 29 November 2012 and this record has not been broken up to this time. Though not certified, Puzzle Mansion also holds the biggest puzzle in the world consisting of 33,600 puzzle pieces though it's not clear to me who worked on/finished the puzzle.  But according to one of the staff manning the mansion, Lacuna intends to break her own record in Guinness. Unfortunately, her demise prevented her from doing so.

Wildlife: world's biggest puzzle consisting of 33,600 puzzle pieces

How to Get to Puzzle Mansion

Google maps is our usual company during our road trips. I will search the place at the start of our trip, start traveling and follow the route provided. That's how we were able to reach the Puzzle Mansion, though we almost missed the road leading to it because it's kinda narrow. Anyway, if you're traveling by car from Manila, here's how it goes:
  • Drive through the South Luzon Expressway
  • Turn right and exit at Sta. Rosa exit
  • Continue driving straight ahead passing through Silang-Tagaytay road until you reach Tagaytay Rotonda.
  • At Tagaytay Rotonda, exit/follow the Tagaytay-Nasugbo road; after around 6-7 kilometers (you'll pass by Sky Ranch halfway through) and after Bag of Beans, drive slow and look out for a narrow road with Puzzle Mansion signage; turn right on that street and drive through until you reach the Puzzle Mansion.

For those commuting from Manila, here's how you'll get to Puzzle Mansion:
  • Take Nasugbu-bound (via Tagaytay) buses from Cubao, Buendia Taft or Pasay. Tell the conductor or driver that you're going to the Puzzle Mansion and to drop you off at Maglabe Drive. The road is on your right, after passing through Sky Ranch and Bag  of Beans.
  • From that corner, take a tricycle and tell the driver to bring you to the Puzzle Mansion.

Entrance/Parking Fee:

Puzzle Mansion charged 100 Php per visitor, young and old. Parking fee is free, however. Puzzle Mansion's parking area can accommodate a number of vehicles but if your car is kinda loaded, you might as well leave it on the road before you turn right at the Puzzle Mansion as the slope of the road leading to it is kinda steep. 

Puzzle Mansion Bed and Breakfast

Reception Area, at the back is the Mansion's Cafeteria
the bed and breakfast facility

Puzzle Mansion is also a bed and breakfast place. It has 11 rooms that can accommodate up to 4 persons comfortably, this according to the mansion's staff. The Mansion's accommodation rate ranges from 4,000 Php to 6,000 Php per room. It has its own pool (not in photo, forgot to take one) where guests can take a swim. For more info on their bed and breakfast offering, please check their FB page.

Puzzle Mansion's garden - flowering plants are sold here, too.
Puzzle Mansion Museum, view from the garden
a wishing well, also in the garden

Puzzle Mansion Museum in Photos

I admire people who are into puzzles. I find them gifted and visually talented (which I'm not); super duper patient, too (solving several thousands-piece puzzle needs tons of patience, I'm sure). Seeing more than 1,500 finished jigsaw puzzles is really amazing but kind of puzzling, for me. Thinking of solving and finishing a thousand-piece puzzle is in itself a puzzle for me, much more if several thousand pieces. I wonder how they were able to acquire so much patience to solve complex jigsaw puzzles. (I'm no patient person; I easily get bored, sometimes even with my work hehe.)

By the way, according to the staffs, before her demise and whenever she's in the Mansion, Gina Gil-Lacuna herself welcomes and tours her guests around, some of which are dignitaries from other countries. It's sad to know that the owner of these great collections already passed away. She could have toured us around and she could have given me some tips on how to be patient, a virtue I guess, each and everyone of us should have.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took while exploring the Puzzle Mansion. Enjoy the (virtual) tour. :)

hundreds and hundreds of framed jigsaw puzzles, majority of which done by Gina Gil-Lacuna herself.
more framed puzzles of different sizes...
and many more ones, amazing!
The Pope and some religious stuff, in jigsaw puzzle format
The White House - 1,000-piece puzzle completed in 12 hours, whoa!
if I'm the one to do this, I'm not sure if I can finish this at all hehe 

beautiful piece, looks like a painting...
another one that looks like a painting from afar
3D puzzle collections
up-close: Florence Cathedral in 3D puzzle
up-close: St. Basil's Cathedral in 3D puzzle
real vases? nah, they're puzzle sets too

The second floor of the museum houses the three largest puzzle sets in the world. Gina Gil-Lacuna herself finished the second largest called DOUBLE RETROSPECT, a jigsaw puzzle based on a work by 80's American pop artist Keith Haring. The largest one (third photo from above) is called WILDLIFE and was designed by digital artist Adrian Chesterman for Educa.

The second floor also houses its souvenir shop where guests can buy puzzle sets of different sizes, some of which are the same puzzle sets on display at the museum. It's also where you can have your souvenir digital photo be converted into a puzzle for a minimum price of 500 Php.

world's third biggest puzzle
didn't get the name of this one :(
Double Retrospect: world's second biggest puzzle
souvenir shop: puzzles to take home to and get addicted, too :P
more puzzles for sale at the souvenir shop
coconut cream pie, variation of buco pie common in Tagaytay; a must-try!
rich and creamy but with no 'umay' factor; not too sweet, too.

~ oo00oo ~

The Puzzle Mansion
Barangay Asisan, Tagaytay City
Visiting Hours: 8:00AM - 7:00PM
Entrance Fee: 100/person, young and old
Parking Fee: Free
Date of Visit: November 30, 2016