Fitness Wanders | Walk! And Get Younger Everyday

one of the joys of going to the park for a walk - 
you get the chance to see God’s beautiful creations;
and you get to photograph them, too. 😊

There are two topics that interest me the most these past few years - savings and investments and health and fitness. I guess these topics are the most common concern of people as they get  older. And I’m no exception. We all want to be healthy and financially secured as we grow older.

But actually, these interests came to light when I realized that my parents are old and I’m getting older, too. Old age comes with health scares and income depletion, especially if you’re just relying on employment like me. And if there’s one aspect in life that makes me worried, paranoid at times, it’s my health and the health of my loved ones. My parents are on maintenance medication (my father suffered stroke in 2018) and in the past 2 years, my doctor put me on maintenance medication, too, for my elevated blood pressure. So yes, I need to aggressively work on my savings and improve my overall health condition.

It was 2021 that I started my BP medication, one year after the height of Covid-19. That year and the past two years, I’m working from home, in a small apartment where kitchen and dining table and bed are a step or two from each other. No open space to move around, hence, no exercise. I’m too lazy to go up the gym and work out, add to it the fact that I’m too stressed out with my work. In my previous job, I normally work for extended hours. The job is is so taxing that at one point in time, during a meeting, my blood pressure shoot up to 180/120. Quite scary, right? Thankfully, with rest, I was able to manage it.

That incident made me realize that I need to slow down. I  need to once again focus on my health and find a work that not only gives me better salary but a work confined to 8-5 working hours, as much as possible. That if I have to work extended hours, it’s not because I have to but because I want to. So when I got a chance at a new job, I took the opportunity. Unfortunately, the said job didn’t last long. Thankfully however, I got a new one immediately anfter. And I’m more thankful because this new one (my current job) doesn’t require extended work hours.

Now, I have the time to again focus on improving my health. Last December, I started working out again, initially 3 times a week and then 5 times a week since last February, and currently, everyday since April. My fitness goal is actually to improve my cardiovascular health. I know part of it is to be in the right weight range but I’m not looking for immediate results. What Im after for now is a sustainable workout routine, something that I can do regularly everyday. And for me, it’s walking and making sure my daily step count is at least 8k.

When I started exercising again last December, a moderate walking pace of 3 miles per hour makes my heartbeat rise to around 140-150 beats per minute, at the end of an hour’s walk. Also during that time, although I can still do some house chores, I’m pretty beat up by the end of the day. Nowadays though, I can walk an hour on the treadmill or at the park, go to the mall after walking to maximize my steps, do house chores in between and still not feel beaten up at the end of the day. I feel my energy level and endurance improved tremendously. Also, I can now walk (indoors and outdoors) on a moderate pace, on steady state in my zone 2, around 120 to less than 130 heart beats per minute.

I’m also happy to share that my VO2max (from my smart watch) and cardiovascular fitness improved a lot. When I got my smart watch last 2020 (not saying it is accurate but at least I have an idea), it says my fitness age was 60. Last January, my fitness age was 57, now my fitness age is 46, eleven years younger just after 5 months of walking everyday. I lost a few pounds too, not significant enough since I’m still working on my diet, but at least I lose some. All these just because of walking and reaching my daily step goal. So yeah, don’t be couch potatoes, let’s move more instead. Let’s walk! And let’s get younger everyday, as days go by. πŸ˜‰

~ oo00oo ~

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Blessed Sunday everyone. And happy father’s day to all fathers out there. πŸ™ 

Financial Wanders | Investing on MP2, How to Apply, Who are Qualified, Why Invest on MP2

For ordinary Filipinos like me, investment equates to being rich. That in order to invest, you have to have lots of money to spare; you have to have big savings in the bank. Now that I read a lot of articles about investment, I realized it is not. You don't need big amount of money to start investing. There are investments that start for as low as 50 pesos. Of course, these type of investments won't make us rich in the short term. You won't get as much return from them but what I want to establish here is the habit of saving and investing. Had I known this early on, had this habit of saving and investing been ingrained on me during my formative years, I would have started saving early on. I've been working since I was 11 years old but I only started saving (and by saving, I mean, religiously allotting a portion of my salary to my savings account) last 2020. Kinda late for some maybe, but there's no such thing as 'too late' for me, for something that I know will benefit me and my family. However, saving is just an initial step. The goal really, is to let your savings grow. And it won't grow if you just let it sit in the bank as deposit interest rates nowadays is too low, as low 0.25% annually.

Anyway, there are several investment vehicles out there in the market. There is mutual funds and UITF investment; there is VUL (though  won't suggest this one for investment purposes); there is stock trading and investing and there is MP2, the modified Pag-ibig II savings, among others. In this post, I'll be focusing on MP2.

What is MP2?

MP2 stands for modified Pag-ibig II savings. It is a voluntary savings facility offered by HDMF (Home Development Mutual Fund), more commonly known as Pag-ibig, to its members.

Who are qualified to apply/invest on MP2?

  • Active members - those who are currently working and making their mandatory monthly contributions via salary deduction
  • Retirees - those who already retired but is a previous member of Pag-ibig; also includes those who stopped working but made at least 24 monthly contributions
  • Pensioners - those previous employees who are now getting their pensions

What are the requirements and how to apply for MP2?

MP2 application is quite easy to accomplish. You can go to the nearest Pag-ibig branch in your area, accomplish the application form and submit it for processing. Once everything’s okay, you will get your account number which you can then use to pay for your MP2 premiums.

Submitting an application for MP2 doesn’t always have to be traditional, as stated above. If you’re comfortable working with your computer, you can also apply for MP2 online. Instead of filling up printed forms, you just have to type/input the required information via online forms. A note for online application, have your MID and other personal information ready to avoid getting timed out and redo everything.

Where to pay for the contribution/premium?

Payments for your premium can be done online and offline, similar to online and offline application process. For convenience, you may use your bank’s online payment facility. You may also use e-wallets like Gcash. A note though, there’s a 5-peso service charge when you use Gcash. But considering today’s jeepney fare, paying via GCash is still cheaper and saves more time. Convenient too, since you can do it anywhere you are, as long as you have internet connection.

But if you prefer traditional way of paying obligations like MP2 premiums, you may still do so. Just go to your preferred bank and pay from there. You may also use payment centers like SM payment center to pay for your premiums.

Why invest on MP2?

There are three main reasons why you should invest on MP2. First, it’s easy and convenient. You can apply for MP2 account online and pay your premiums in the comfort of your own homes, via online facilities and e-wallets.

Second, it’s affordable and flexible. It’s affordable because you can invest as low as 500 pesos monthly. And it’s flexible because you can pay any amount you like even if you initially declared a 500 monthly premium. You may actually skip a month or two if you’re low on money, as long as you make sure the total premium on or before the end of maturity totals to 30,000 pesos. Just take note that if you opt to pay online, some payment facilities charge convenience fee (GCash charged 5 pesos every transaction, regardless of the amount).

Lastly, it offers higher returns (dividends) compared with other investment facilities. And you can get even more via compounding interests if you opt to get the dividends on maturity date rather than getting it annually. Last year’s dividend is 6 percent but it went as high as 8.11 percent in 2017. The dividend rate is not guaranteed but the government guarantees the principal, meaning you’ll get your money whatever happens (unless it’s the government that failed πŸ™„). One more thing, dividend is tax free; unlike in savings wherein your interest will be deducted 20 percent for the tax. Pretty good reasons to invest right? So what are you waiting for, start your 2023 right; visit I already did! (I’m an MP2 subscriber since 2021) 😊

PS: I made a video out of the short presentation I made from our soft skills training last year, you may want to check it out also. It's a shorter version of this blog post. Watch it here: 


It's not how much money you make, but how much you keep,
how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for. ~Robert Kiyosaki

Looking Back at 2022, Looking Forward To A Much Better 2023

I will have to say 2022 was such a challenging year for me. I resigned from a somewhat stable job to pursue a more financially rewarding option in another company. I joined the new one last May but unfortunately, after just 5 months of stay, just a few days after I was informed of my supposed regularization, I was told I would be laid off. Such loss of job is a big blow to me, financially as well as mentally and emotionally. I’m not on my 100% health-wise and I also have lots of personal obligations to attend to as well family to support with so yeah, I would say 2022 is really tough.

But looking back now, now that I already have a new job (I started last November) and hearing some not very good news about the company I thought would be my last until that dreaded retrenchment, I would say what happened is a blessing in disguise. My new employer, though far from being perfect, is a good one. I may have experienced some issues with co-workers when I was just starting but now that everything’s settled, I can say we’re all good. So thank you Lord for this job. Thank you because even though I lost a job, a job that I thought was a dream job, I found another one; maybe not as financially-rewarding as the old one but definitely more relaxing and stress-free. And I get to work from home full time; no more going though rush hour traffic, no more queuing along EDSA for the MRT line, no more worrying about what dress (or shirt rather 🀣) to wear. A blessing in disguise indeed! Thank you Lord. πŸ™

But 2022 was not all challenges and tough times. I get to fulfill and check 2 items from my wishlist last year. I get to double my UITF fund and build up my emergency fund, thanks to my previous employer 😊. I still have some balances from my credit card but with God’s blessing, I intend to finish it in the next few months. Although I broke the resolutions I made last year  - still sleeping late, after 12MN from time to time and wasn’t able to create a monthly blog post - but at least I tried, and I get to do 6 posts 😜. But the good news in terms of my resolutions is that I’m back to my health routine! I do cardio exercises (at least 20 minutes) at home every other day and walking in the park during weekends. Good job to me! πŸ’ͺ

A week had already passed for 2023 and I’m feeling hopeful, I believe 2023 will be a much better year, not just for me but for all of us. This year, I’ll continue working on my savings and build it up. I will continue to try to live a healthy lifestyle and I will do my best to create more blog posts this year. I also am sleeping earlier than usual these days, especially during weekdays as my work schedule is pretty early (AU time) so yeah, I have a good feeling that 2023 will be good to me. And hopefully to you all out there also. Happy new year everyone! πŸ’₯ Cheers! πŸ₯‚

Food Trips | Pho Hoa Noodle Soup, A Healthy-ish Cravings

sticky rice w/ ice cream

Healthy lifestyle is a big thing nowadays, especially since the pandemic. Almost everyone became aware of their lifestyle, particularly, the eating habits. Everyone tries to live and eat healthy, myself included.

However, I’m not fond of those strict/focused diets out there. I believe in eating a balanced meal. But as much as possible, I avoid or minimize intake of deep fried foods and junk foods. Since I'm mostly work-from-home (before the dreaded retrenchment happened), I normally eat home-cooked meals, veggies and fish mostly; lean meats for meat products. I also usually cook sinigang or nilaga for meats, bulanglang for veggies so it’s less fatty/oily.

But of course, we do eat out too, usually during weekends. And one of our weekend go-to restaurants is Pho Hoa. BFF and I usually go to Pho Hoa for healthy-ish dinner. I like their noodle dish as it’s light and is healthier, compared with other noodle dish like ramen which so heavy and creamy and usually greasy. BFF loves their "grilled pork with shrimp" because he likes their fried rice, and it has meat and seafood (grilled shrimp) to.

Following are our usual orders at Pho Hoa. Please note that these orders were made in several visits, not just in one. 😜 I added captions on every photos for my short take on the dishes. For the "mango sticky rice with ice cream" (photo above), it was okay because of the sweet mango and creamy ice cream but wont order again. The sticky rice is kinda bland although the quality of the rice is good but I like our own "suman" (sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf, sometimes coconut leaves) better. Ours has a hint of salt (makes desserts (or sweet dishes) taste sweeter) and when taken w/ sweet mango, just yum! πŸ˜‹

chicken pho

light but tasty, with lots of pulled chicken,
a very good companion on a gloomy weather

Goi Cuon
fresh rice paper rolls

this one I usually order for take home,
and eat the next day, for my breakfast πŸ˜‹

Com Ga Nuong Cha Gio
grilled chicken with fried rice paper rolls

this is one of BFF's favorite,
anything with fried rice, actually

grilled pork with shrimp

another of BFF's favorite,
it's the vinegar dip that makes him like grilled dishes from Pho Hoa

Pho Chin, Nam, Gan, Bo Vien
brisket, flank, tendon meatballs pho

fresh and aromatic, flavorful (yet not greasy) soup,
with lots of beef brisket (not fond of tendons, though)

Chien Ga Ot Sung, Dau Phung
kung pao chicken

this I just ordered last week,
it's okay but I'm not gonna order this again,
actually, it's just the peanuts that makes this dish okay for me

mango crepe

love the crepe but not the mango, asim!


"for every minute you are angry,
you lose sixty seconds of happiness." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Random | I Was Blindsided by ‘I/We got your back’

water lily

Last October 4, I got another blow on my professional life. I was once again laid off. The first one (check here) was in 2020 when the company I was then connected with was affected by pandemic; although if I would have to look back, it’s no surprise since our commercial team is not getting new clients anymore.

And it’s not so different this time around. I just joined the company last May but in June or July, the company announced that they’ll stop hiring to mitigate the possible effect of economic recession. In August, the leadership then announced refocusing of the efforts for some reasons. Sounds familiar eh?!

And then came the announcement of refocusing/restructuring in the organization. I was surprised but the announcement was not really unexpected considering the timeline of events I mentioned. I wasn’t in the office then (decided to WFH that day) but I can imagine the somberness, the sadness, the heavy feelings that everyone felt, even those that weren’t affected by the announcement.

The manager talked to each and every one of us who were affected. When it’s my turn, the manager didn't say much, only reiterated the message announced in the “all hands” meeting. It's more like I was the one handling the conversation. I faked strength that time, but inside me, I'm crying. I actually cried but I don’t know if they sensed it. After the meeting, I cried a bucket. Losing a job is really really hard. It’s hard because I have a family to support and obligations to fulfill. It’s hard because just a week before the announcement, I was told of my regularization only to be told a week after that I’m fired. What makes it more difficult is knowing that it wasn’t LIFO, that the manager chose who’s gonna stay and who’s gonna be fired, considering that the same manager recruited me personally. It felt like I was stabbed in the back. It felt like I was a worthless employee, that I wasn’t deserving of the position I have. That time I was thinking, where’s the “I/We got your back” mantra that they (all the leaderships) want to instill in the minds of their employees? How about radical transparency? Before the announcement, they always say the company is okay, nothing to worry about. Where’s radical transparency there? Are they all just lip service?

But I'm okay now, all that thoughts are slowly going away as days go by. And if I would have to look at what happened objectively and be honest with myself, I know that what the manager did was to do his job, to look after the company that pays him to do so. Whatever criteria he used to come up with the list of who are going and who are staying, I understand. They are probably better fit than we are who were let go, better fit to the company that I thought I would retire from. The company that despite what happened, I still want to see succeed and prosper, not because of the owners and remaining employees (don't get me wrong, all my teammates are nice, the camaraderie and friendship formed in those 5 months is awesome; and for that, I’d say ‘no regrets’. all things considered, it was an amazing 5 months) but for the company’s mission to come into reality. Because I believe in their mission and I know that their mission will have a great impact to humanity. So yeah, I hope the company overcomes whatever challenges they're facing.

Looking back now, two weeks after that dreaded day, I’m more calm, more at peace with what has happened. I've already moved on. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m unemployed, that I’m once again part of the  statistics, the 2.68M unemployed Filipinos.

My journey with those 19 awesome guys and gals (my teammates) has ended, that chapter of my life is over. It’s time for a new one, hopefully a chapter where there will be more  amazing people and wonderful journeys. I know it will still be hard so I have to be stronger. And I will be. Because I have an amazing God who will always be beside me. He always was, always is and always will be, beside me, whatever state or chapter I'm in. 


water lily


Be joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.