Guest Post | One Hundred Days of Summer

I will always be grateful to The Pinay Wanderer for this opportunity as a guest blogger. I have my own blog, ofliea.com, yet, I need to collaborate with other blogger to expand my blogging experience.





In October last year, we were blessed to buy our own car. When the rest of my family are planning for a road trip to Tablas Island then to Boracay, I was excited to drive from Marilao in Bulacan to Legazpi City in Albay, where my in-laws live. Then, I started checking AirBnB. I looked for hotels and resorts in the province of Sorsogon for a night of stay or two. I started plotting the itinerary. We are bound to leave on April 8. But we stayed at home.


At the onset of the enhanced community quarantine, I had headaches. I keep on thinking about what will become of us with this situation. I decided to divert my attention and started planning to travel from Marilao, Bulacan going around the Philippines. The last destination on my itinerary is Palawan where I can no longer travel with my 1996 Honda Accord.


I had so much fun doing research. Among the facts that I looked for are where to stay, travel time from one province to another, and how many days should I stay to enjoy the place. The most challenging to look for on the internet is the schedule of ferries that cross one island to another.


When I was about to end the whole itinerary, I realized I can actually go around the Philippines in 100 days. Then I also realized that I missed most areas of Mindanao. It is because of the remoteness of each provinces. I needed to pass by Batanes Island too. I guess I won't be able to bring my car to the island.


It must have been fun to start traveling right now, as it is summertime. I would love to feel the wind while on a long drive from Pangasinan to Zambales. It would have been great to meet new friends, see new views, and sleep on different beds.


Unfortunately, we need to stay at home today to travel tomorrow.


Let's connect on Twitter. Let's share photos on Instagram. Contact me on Facebook to know more about me.  

Random | Work From Home, Life During Lock down, 6 Things to Keep Your COVID-19 Anxiety at Bay

fortunate to be able to work from home
The Philippines (and the whole world) is going through very trying times. COVID-19 outbreak that has started in one country has now spread to so many countries in the whole world. The COVID-19 positive cases is now above 2 million and still counting, death toll is rising, lots of patients in critical conditions. Every government is trying to control and curb the spread of the virus, issuing lock downs and restricting movements of its people. The Philippines is one of the countries affected by this pandemic and our government and the people are struggling to to get through it. We are a third-world country and our resources are limited so the people are panicking, getting more anxious as the days go by.

The pandemic and lock down has caused lost of jobs for many. But I'm glad I still have mine, for now. I'm one of the few fortunate members of Metro Manila workforce that can do work from home during these crazy times. And I'm very grateful for it. I was supposed to terminate my internet connection last January (see this post for the reason) but my provider gave me a 6-month discounted rate so I didn't terminate it. Glad I didn't; otherwise, it would be very hard for me to work from home since my mobile connection is very slow. I was able to control and discipline myself anyway, so I probably am not terminating my DSL connection, even after the 6-month discounted rate is over.

Anyway, going through this crisis emphasizes some of the realizations I listed in this post. I'm glad I started eating and drinking right again. Also glad that I started doing some fitness exercises once again. Even though I'm staying home, just like everyone else, I still do some indoor cardio workouts. And I'm happy to say I didn't gain weight (lost a few pounds, actually), even after more than a month of just staying home. I still do struggle financially, but I still can manage it, for now. I'm thankful and grateful always, especially to our Lord Almighty because He is always there for me, for my loved ones; thank you very much dear God!

But there are times that I can't help but get anxious. I can't help and wonder what the future holds for me, for my family, for everyone. Because I'm scared, just like everyone else.

During the first week of the lock down, I'm so anxious I cried almost everyday. On the very first day of the lock down, I felt body pains. I had stuffy nose, too. So every few minutes, I took my temperature. And one time, I got a reading of 38°C! OMG, I don't know what to do. I don't want to go to the hospital because I know that most hospitals have COVID cases. So I just read and researched a lot about the disease. The articles I've read just compounded my anxiety and I got scared even more, actually. Then I found an article comparing the symptoms of COVID-19, influenza and common cold (see photo below). This list calmed me somehow but I still slept that night anxious. The next day, my anxiety made me automatically reach out for the thermometer as soon as I woke up; glad to see a normal reading once again. My body pain is milder, too. (The pain is probably because I did a workout 2 days before the lock down.) So I'm somehow relieved, I'm okay, I said to myself. But I know I'm not 100% okay. I still cry up to now, mostly when I'm saw sick and death posts related to COVID-19. But I'm better now, compared to the first 2 weeks of the lock down.

I forgot the site where I got this, I hope it's okay to post it here.

So how did I overcome my anxiety?  What are the things that kept me sane during this lock down period? Here they are dearies, the 6 things I did (and still doing) to keep my sanity and overcome anxiety brought about by the on-going health crisis.

STOP reading COVID-19-related articles

I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person that doesn't get affected by the negativities around me. So I read a lot! I read about the disease, I watched videos that discusses corona virus. I even read and watched stories of people who have gone through with the disease. I listened intently on the symptoms they felt. And then unconsciously, I will make an inventory of the symptoms myself, checking if I do have one or more of their symptoms. Crazy, isn't it? And then I remembered my doctors' reaction during one of my check-ups before this lock down started. One of them said "you are not sick, do you want me to say you are?". The other one said "I think you have fibromyalgia", sort of saying the pain I'm relating to them is just in my head. Prior to my check ups, I read a lot of articles related to the symptoms I felt, those are what prompted me to make consultations with them. And then it hit me! When it comes to health-related issues, I am affected by what I'm reading (or watching), without realizing I'm actually affected by them. So I stopped! I stopped reading all and every posts I saw on Facebook that are related to corona virus and COVID-19. I still do read some COVID-related articles but the ones I read were just those DOH updates, just so I am aware of what is happening around me.

Boost immune system by eating and drinking right

Eating and drinking right, these are the two things that I tried to do everyday but especially now that we are in a health crisis. I don't have anything against those who are engaging on a very focused diet but for my self, I believe on a balanced one. I eat and drink mostly everything, as long as I do it in moderation. Of course, I do stay away with junk foods and sodas, as much as possible . They aren't good for the health, anyway. This habit keeps me sane, too, because I know I'm doing my part to keep myself, my body, strong and healthy.

Exercise

Before the lock down, I always make sure to do 10K steps a day. There are some days I wasn't able to do it but on the average, it's 10K steps per day. Also, every weekend (since January), I do around 30-40 minutes of walking-jogging-walking at the park; a total of around 1 hour of cardio exercise including the walk to and fro my place (my place is just around 1.4 kilometers away from the park). But now that we are in a lock down, I cannot do it anymore. So every other day, I try to do a 15-20 minute indoor cardio workout and then a 30-minute workout on weekends. These workouts keep me sane, too, as the workouts assure me that I don't have breathing issues (I am that praning hehe).

Watch inspiring and/or funny videos

When it comes to watching, I used to enjoy only spy/military/police-related movies and series. But nowadays, I enjoyed watching short and funny FB and/or YT videos, too. I like watching Smile Squad by Markian and his friends (search them on FB, if you're interested). I also like watching videos of The Hungry Syrian Wanderer on YT; they are inspiring videos. Basel (the vlogger) is a funny guy, too; I don't get bored watching his videos. I don't even click 'skip ads' on his videos so I could somehow help him do his good deeds. Surprisingly, I enjoyed Camille Co's YT videos, too. I'm not into fashion and make-up stuff but I still watch her videos. I like her personality and the way she presented her content; she's kinda funny, too. I also like watching her videos where her hubs is present; such a lovely couple.

Reach out to Family and Friends

I'm used to living alone since my younger years. But with this on-going health crisis, I suddenly felt the need to be with my family. Of course, I can't as my work is here in the Metro. Although I can do work from home in the province, telco signal and internet availability there is not that reliable. Besides, I was traveling to and from work using mass transportation (MRT) so I'm afraid I might have caught the disease unknowingly and I don't want to infect them so I stayed here, alone. Thankfully, we now have cellphones to communicate with our loved ones so I just called them from time to time, making sure that they are all okay and reminding them to stay at home and to always practice good hygiene habits. 

PRAY

I do like to think I am a strong person. But this COVID-19 pandemic made me realize I am not. There are times I suddenly cried and I don't even know why I'm crying. When these crying bouts happen, I pray. I pray to the Lord for my family's safety, for my BFF's safety, for my relatives' and friends' safety, for my self and for everyone else's safety. I surrender to Him all my worries, all my fears, and pray that He gives us all the strength we need to go through with this crisis and come out alive, strong and healthy. This is the most important thing that's keeping me sane these days, even when I'm just alone here in the Metro.

~ oo00oo ~

Oh wow, I made a lengthy post today. šŸ˜€ I hope you read it through, learn something from it and get inspired with it. Let's all pray that this COVID-19 pandemic ends soon so we can all go back to our normal lives; though this "normal" might be different from the "normal" we have, before the crisis and the lock down. Stay healthy,  stay safe, stay home everyone! Blessed Sunday to all! šŸ™

Random | Ala Eh! Interesting and/or Funny BatangueƱo Words and Expressions

Batangas: Lalawigan ng Magigiting
photo source: Google street view

As I have mentioned in my About page, I am a BatangueƱa, though I was born in Pangasinan (my mother is a Pangasinense). My father is a full-blooded BatangueƱo and I was raised there. When I first started my work here in Manila, my officemates usually kid me with "ala eh, batangueƱa ka pala" (translated as "oh, you're from Batangas") imitating how BatangueƱos say "ala eh". Batangan or Batangas Tagalog is a dialect of the Tagalog language and is used mainly in the province of Batangas, though neighboring provinces like Cavite, Laguna and Quezon sometimes used it, too. It has strong accent placed normally on the last syllable of the word. The sentences usually end with the word "eh", too. Batangan also has this characteristic of separating and changing the vowel of the last syllable of the word, making the vowel the last syllable. For example, in Batangas, gabi (night) is pronounced as "gab-e" rather than "ga-bi".

Batangan or Batangas Tagalog usually elicit laughter and/or shock from other Tagalog speakers. Listed below are some of the interesting Batangan words you may have heard from BatangueƱos out there.

  • Ala eh - the most common Batangan expression stereotyped with BatangueƱos. This phrase normally signifies hesitation or disagreement to something and is usually present at the beginning of the sentence. For example, BatangueƱos would say "Ala eh, ikaw na la-ang mag-isa." which means "Go, just do it by yourself."
  • Are - pronounced as "a-re", which means "in this place" or "here". This word is normally used when pointing out misplaced thing that is usually nearby. For example, BatangueƱos would say "Are ga o, di mo ga makita? Ikaw ga'y bulag?!" which means, "Here it is, can't you see it? Are you blind?".
  • Bahite - meaning broke or with no money. During this quarantine time (because of COVID-19) here in the Philippines, I would normally see BatangueƱos post saying "Bahite na ako eh" which means "I have no money" or "I'm already broke".
  • Banas - meaning "hot" or "humid" though ManileƱos associate this word with trouble or displeasure. For example, BatangueƱos say "Kabanas naman ngay-on ah" which means "It's so hot today".
  • Barek - which means "to drink alcoholic beverages".  A common expression in Batangas: "sinsay muna dine at tayo'y makabarek" which means "come here, let's drink (liquor)".
  • Basaysay - which means "bahay" in Tagalog or "house or home" in English. I didn't know this term actually, I just got the meaning based on the context of the sentence it was used. I saw this on a BatangueƱo post in FB about the government's call on COVID-19 that says "Tumimo sa basaysay" which means "Stay at home".
  • Gulamot - another term I usually see on BatangueƱo posts nowadays (again, because of the quarantine) which means "kamay" in Tagalog or "hands" in English. So the famous COVID-19 pandemic expression "always wash your hands" when spoken in Batangan is "ika'y pirmeng maghugas ng iyong gulamot"
  • Hikap - which means "gala" in Tagalog or "to wander or go around" in English. See Tumimo below for the sample usage.
  • Laywan - which means "bubuyog" in Tagalog or "bee" in English. I recently saw my cousin's post about getting honey from a beehive near his house and this is what triggers its inclusion here. An example usage of this word: "Ika'y mag-iingat sa laywan" which means "Be careful with the bees". 
  • Liban - which means "tawid" in Tagalog or "to cross (the street)" in English. BatangueƱo students who are studying in Manila: "Liban na tayo" or "Tayo ng lumiban"; ManileƱo friends: (staring); BatangueƱo: interpreting his own words then say "Tawid na tayo" or "Tayo ng tumawid" which means "let's cross the street". ManileƱos or other Tagalog speakers stares because they thought "liban" means "to skip classes".
  • Mamay - a Batangan word for "lolo" or "grandfather", it's also used to refer to elderly male BatangueƱos. This is one of the famous Batangan words too because normally, BatangueƱos use mamay when they want to prove or confirm something. For example, BatangueƱos say "Ay totoo yu-on, itanong mo pa sa mamay" which means "It's true, you can ask grandpa about it".
  • Papagayo - which means "saranggola" in Tagalog or "kite" in English. I normally see this word nowadays too because in Batangas, summer season is associated with kite flying, especially with male teenagers. And adults too, actually. An example use of this word: "Tatayog ga naman ya-ang papagayo mo?" which means "Will that kite fly high?".
  • Pirme - which means "lagi" in Tagalog or "always" in English. See example usage of pirme in the gulamot entry above.
  • Pumirme - another Batangan word for "tumimo". See definition and example of tumimo below.
  • Sakol - which means "to eat with bare hands".  An example use of this word: "Kasarap namang kumain nang nakasakol eh" which means "It's good to eat with our bare hands".
  • Tumimo - which means "tumigil" in Tagalog or "to stay (in one place)" in English. This is normally used to tell the children to stay in one place or inside the house. For example, BatangueƱo parents say "Hikap ka ng hikap, ika'y tumimo/pumirme sa bahay" which means, "You're always moving (or going) around, stay at home". 
  • Ulaga/Usbaw - a Batangan derogatory word which means "stupid" or "foolish". Though a derogatory term, this word is usually used as an expression between friends joking around so is usually taken lightly. For example, BatangueƱos say "ika'y ulaga" to a friend which means "you are foolish".
  • Utay-utay - which means "dahan-dahan" in Tagalog or "take it slow or little by little" in English. For example, BatangueƱos say "Utay-utay la-ang, pasasaan baga't matatapos din ya-an" which means "Just take it slow, in time, it will be finished".
  • Yayao - which means "aalis" in Tagalog or "leaving" in English. This word usually elicit a shocked expression from non-BatangueƱos because they thought the person is bidding farewell because he is dying. BatangueƱos normally use this word as follows: "Ako'y yayao na" which means "I'm leaving".
I hope you've learn something about Batangas and BatangueƱos from this random post of mine. If you have BatangueƱo friends, ask them to read the samples to you in a true BatangueƱo way. Enjoy and have fun!


~ oo00oo ~

Because of this COVID-19 pandemic and the Luzon lock down, I now have more time browsing through FB posts of my BatangueƱo relatives and friends. Reading through their posts make me smile somehow, despite the fears and worries brought about by this COVID-19 disease. I imagine hearing them say these words and phrases with true and legit BatangueƱo accent to non-BatangueƱos and how non-BatangueƱos would react to them. Anyway, this is what happens when boredom strikes, you write random post haha.


~ oo00oo ~

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad! Jesus died for us because He loves us and He has risen to fulfill His promises to us. He will always be there for us, moreso during these trying times. Let us all rejoice and be grateful to Him for the gift of life and for saving us all from our sins. Let us also pray for His guidance and protection to us all and let's pray that this COVID-19 pandemic ends soon. God bless and Happy Easter everyone. #StayHealthy #StaySafe #StayHome please.

Zambales | Mt. Pinatubo Day Hike in Photos: The Crater

the beautiful Mt. Pinatubo crater
It was almost 29 years ago when one of the world's largest and most explosive volcanic eruption happened. I was then a part-time sewer in a small garment sub-contractor in my hometown. I, together with my co-workers, were stay-in sewers; that is, we live in the same building where we work. The night before June 15, we slept leaving our windows open, just as we normally do. In the morning of June 15, we woke up having sands (ashes) in our mouth. I looked out the window and saw thick ashes in our window sill and on the streets below.

There's no cellphones (smartphones) back then so we don't know what's happening. We went down and check out newspapers. Then we found out that Mt. Pinatubo, a stratovolcano located in the mountains of Zambales erupted. This hometown of mine is in Bauan, Batangas; around 172 kilometers from Mt. Pinatubo. Imagine that! Actually, it reached as far as the Indian Ocean (source), that's how explosive Mt. Pinatubo eruption was.  This wrath from Mt. Pinatubo and the Baguio earthquake (earthquake was felt in Batangas, too) are the two most unforgettable disasters I've experienced in my teenage life.

Mt. Pinatubo crater, at another angle
Fast forward 2015, I was with friends who are into mountain climbing, when I finally saw with my own eyes Mt. Pinatubo, a magnificent beauty created by a catastrophic disaster. It's such a beauty that it lures many tourists, both local and international alike. With the onset of dry season here in the Philippines, I'm quite sure Mt. Pinatubo will again be one of the top tourist destination in Northern Luzon. Most likely, blogs and IG posts will again be flooded with Mt. Pinatubo photos.

For those who are into nature tripping and photography, Mt. Pinatubo is a place to be. Going here is kinda pricey but it's all worth it. It's also quite an adventure riding a 4x4 along lahar-laden field surrounded by ash/sand walls and then concluded with a 2-hour trek to the crater. Come and see this beauty that is Mt. Pinatubo. 

By the way, in this post are various Mt. Pinatubo crater shots I took during our 2015 adventure. I hope these photos inspire you to go visit and see Mt. Pinatubo, too.

Welcome to Mt. Pinatubo
Mt. Pinatubo crater and my hiking buddy
foreign tourists, enticed by Mt. Pinatubo beauty
Mt. Pinatubo crater and TPW,
emotera sa pinatubo :P

Photo Wanders | Chasing Sunset in San Jose, Tarlac

Sunset at San Jose, Tarlac

“Because the sunset, like survival, exists only on the verge of its own disappearing. To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.” ~Ocean Vuong



These photos where also taken during our Monasterio de Tarlac roadtrip last 2015. These were taken, if I'm not mistaken, along Lubigan Road in San Jose, Tarlac. We were passing by a road with empty open field everywhere when I saw the beautiful sunset. It's kinda late so we're literally chasing sunsets here. Shortly after we stopped, a truck came by with men aboard that somehow made me a bit nervous. We're in the middle of nowhere with no houses nor people nearby so I can't help but feel a bit scared. Thankfully, nothing happened and we reached home safe.

If you're going to Monasterio de Tarlac, make time for sunset photography in Lubigan Road, it's really beautiful (not my photos, though :P). It's worth the stop, just be careful and be mindful of the environment around you. If you're alone, be in a hurry if you still wanna stop and take photos; or better yet, don't stop at all. Don't take unnecessary risks. :)


Photo Wanders | Monasterio de Tarlac: Statue of the Risen Christ

Photo Wanders will be a new section of this blog. It will consist of photos I took during my travels that I haven't posted in this blog yet. It may contain a short description of the photo and the place where I took it. I'll try to do this weekly, whenever I don't have a full-blown article to post. I hope you'll still enjoy it.


~ oo00oo ~

The Risen Christ at Monasterio de Tarlac
The Risen Christ at Monasterio de Tarlac
Monasterio de Tarlac, Church of the Risen Christ
The Risen Christ at the Monasterio de Tarlac
tourists admiring the view at Monasterio de Tarlac

These photos were taken during our road trip to Monasterio de Tarlac in San Jose, Tarlac last 2015. I just started my new job then so I wasn't able to create a post about it. Anyways, in the photos is a 30-foot statue of The Risen Christ, the most-photographed part of the Monasterio de Tarlac and the view around the Monastery. Aside from the famed colossal statue, Monasterio de Tarlac houses the Relic of the True Cross, a remnant of the physical cross where Jesus was crucified. Monasterio de Tarlac, located on a hill overlooking Tarlac, surrounded by greens and hills, is a beautiful and peaceful place to be. I hope to be back here again, someday.

What about you dear readers, have you been to Monasterio de Tarlac? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. I'll be waiting... ^_^

Financial Wanders | Easy Investing For As Low 50 Pesos with GCASH Invest

GCASH Invest
from GCASH Invest

My GCASH journey started as a game with office friends last year (2019). Although I'm a GCASH subscriber years ago, I didn't actually use it. Last March 2019, we chanced upon this GCASH promo wherein you just have to send 1 peso to 2 of your GCASH friends and you could win a cash prize (currently on-going Ang Pao promo has 202,000 Php as major prize). Actually, every subscriber who joined this promo is already a winner because GCASH gives you 3 pesos as the minimum prize for every successful Ang Pao transaction. Anyway, my GCASH investment journey started that way. 

Since then, I continued using GCASH and availed most of its services, mostly those that would give me savings and/or investment. One of the services I availed of is the GCASH Invest facility. GCASH Invest is a GCASH feature that allows its subscribers to make an investment with its partner provider for as low as 50 Php. By the way, GCASH and ATRAM (investment product provider) are both authorized/supervised by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to offer financial investments. In case you're interested to start your investment journey, too, download the GCASH app, available on IOS App and Android Play stores.

In order to avail the GCASH Invest facility, GCASH subscribers MUST BE a fully verified subscriber. In case your account isn't fully verified yet, follow this instruction from GCASH on how to make your account fully verified. Once your account is fully verified, you may now start using GCASH Invest. To start GCASH Invest, look for the Invest Money icon/button on your GCASH app and register.

How to Register to GCASH Invest

1. Click the Invest Money icon/button to register. You will then be prompted to confirm your personal details (extracted from GCASH profile). Confirm and submit your details.

2. After confirming your personal details, you will then be asked to answer a survey/questions regarding your risk profile. This step is a must. Your answers to this questionnaire will determine what type of investor you are - conservative, moderate or aggressive. Conservative investors are those who prioritize security and liquidity of their investments. Conservative types of investment are low risks but poses lower returns. Moderate and aggressive investments poses higher risks (possibility of losing money) but also has the greater chance of earning more from the investments. Currently though, GCASH Invest only offers conservative type of investment which is ATRAM Peso Money Market Fund.

Once done with step 2 above, please wait for the approval of your GCASH Invest registration. You will be notified via SMS and email when registration is approved. Once approved, you may now start funding your GCASH Invest.

How to Fund GCASH Invest

1. Click the 'Invest Money' icon.
2. Click 'View Investment Products' button (currently, it only has one product available which is the ATRAM Peso Money Market Fund).
3. Click 'View Details' of your chosen product.
4. Click 'Subscribe' button.
5. Enter amount (50 Php minimum) to be invested then click 'Next'.
6. You will then be prompted to confirm your agreement on the product's Terms and Conditions. Click the checkbox beside 'I agree' then click 'Confirm'. You will then receive a text message confirming your subscription transaction.

I haven't yet done withdrawal or redemption of my investments but in case you want to redeem or withdraw your money, choose and click 'Redeem' instead of 'Subscribe' and then follow the app instructions. 

As of this date, my GCASH Invest money earning is around 1.4% of my investment, better than bank savings which is usually around 0.25%. Considering that I only made small investments every payday, 1.4% is already a good return for me. ATRAM's rate of return on Peso Money Market Fund is 3.2%, year on year.


~ oo00oo ~

This post was triggered by a gift I received from GCASH last Wednesday. Earlier that day, I got a text message from Entrego (a logistics company) informing me that my package will be delivered that same day. I've never purchased or ordered anything so I'm not expecting any package to be delivered to me. I then called Entrego and inquired them about the text message. The CSR told me I got the correct message and that I do have a package for delivery. I asked who the sender was but the CSR couldn't provide me an answer. I went out that same day and when I got back, the guard handed me the package, no sender information outside. When I opened it, I was surprised it came from GCASH. A simple gift; but it encourages me more to continue saving/investing and work my way towards my dream of financial freedom. Thank you GCASH! 

2020 GCASH Invest gift
2020 GCASH Invest gift,
yes, I'm a certified GCASH investor! :)

Gadgets | Garmin Venu: Thoughts/Opinions/Review

Garmin Venu
Garmin Venu, black/slate

I'm not an athlete or a sports-minded person. In fact, I'm a couch potato. But recent developments in my health prompted me to go out and move more. This 2020, I renewed my #sitlessmovemore mantra once again. And my companion in this endeavor is my new Garmin Venu smartwatch. Thanks to my very dear BFF who sponsored it. Otherwise, I would have to be contented with my phone's fitness app. BFF knows that I like smartwatch with fitness tracker so instead of buying some other gift last Christmas, he gave me the money to buy the wearable that I want.

I initially wanted to have Samsung Galaxy Fit but reading through lots of reviews made me end up with considering a full-blown smartwatch rather than just fitness tracker. Last December, I checked out and read and viewed lots of reviews about the 4 smartwatches (Samsung Active 2, Fitbit Versa 2, Apple Watch 3 and Garmin Vivoactive 3 element) I'm considering. I'm an iPhone user so Apple Watch is really recommended but they're really not my type, not because of anything but more so because of its shape. I'm not a fan of square/rectangular shape watches. Fitbit Versa 2 was also eliminated from consideration because of its shape. Also, Fitbit Versa doesn't have a GPS so it does not fit with my requirements. So there, it's Samsung Active 2 vs Garmin Vivoactive 3.

Samsung Active 2 is not available in most stores I checked until early January this year. Same with Garmin Vivoactive 3, it's out-of-stock and sales clerk don't know if and when they will have it. Besides, she said Vivoactive 3 is an old version and will not be released anymore, though they have the updated version Vivoactive 3 Element and Music. I went to several stores of both Samsung and Garmin several times to try the models that I'm considering just to decide which one I should buy. In the end, I bought Garmin Venu, one of Garmin's newest smart/sports watch. Following are my opinions/thoughts/review on my new Garmin Venu.

Garmin Venu Sleep Tracker

Of the many features of Garmin Venu, its sleep tracking is the most inaccurate in my experience. I set my usual sleep and wake-up time at 12MN-6AM but I usually am in bed before 12MN browsing and reading  online. The next morning, when I wake up and sync my watch with my phone, Garmin Venu registered my sleep time way too early than my actual sleep time. Since I'm just lying in bed reading and not actively moving, Venu misinterpreted my activity and included my reading time as sleep time. Even when I woke up in the middle of my sleep and couldn't get back to sleep at once, tossing and turning in bed for minutes, sometimes hours, Venu still registers it as sleep time. Another thing, Venu shows very little deep sleep time, normally less than an hour, which I think is not correct since I usually wake up well-rested and energized. Garmin, in their forum site, mentioned to correct and set the correct sleep time through the phone app and it will eventually learn from it. So far, my Venu hasn't learned from it, yet.

Garmin Venu Heart Rate and Respiration

In terms of heart rate and respiration, I couldn't compare Venu with other wearables out there but I have a BP monitor which I usually use every morning to check my BP and the readings are not that diverted, just a few points difference so I guess it's somehow accurate.

Respiration on the other hand, registers a pretty normal range except when I was doing exercises and while I'm sleeping. By the way, although my Venu doesn't report my actual sleep time accurately, I find my respiration data quite right. (I wouldn't say "accurate" since I've no other basis but the normal range I read online.) During sleep time, my respiration goes below normal range, which I guess is correct, since I normally snore loudly during sleep causing my breathing to go slow or stop maybe. During the day, the respiration readings are within normal range again except on times that I'm active and doing my exercises when respiration shoots up.

Garmin Venu Smart Notification

Venu's smart notification feature is a handy feature specially during busy times when I couldn't always check my phone or when I accidentally left my phone's sound alert turned off or when it's in my bag or pocket. With this feature, I could immediately get on to my phone when there is emergency. But actually, the best thing for me is that I could read the messages and ignore or delay responding to them without letting the sender know I've read his/her message. Sorry peeps, I'm just quite busy sometimes. But I eventually turned off this feature after a few days as it eats up on Venu's battery life. My Venu lasts only for about 2 days when smart notification is turned on. Please note that my notifications get pretty crazy during work days as my work (and work mates) uses online communication pretty much.

Garmin Venu Fitness Tracking/Steps Tracking

For health reasons, I'd like to track my movements/steps on a daily basis. My goal is to at least do 8K steps a day and eventually get it to at least 10K a day. And this is one of the reason why I bought a smartwatch or sports watch. Although I can use my phone to track my steps, I couldn't always bring my phone wherever I am so a wearable is my best option to keep track of my movements. Based on my phone's data (using a different app), I could say it's pretty correct. I also like that this watch alerted me to "move" every time it detects that I'm not moving in quite a while.

Garmin Venu VO2 Max Estimates

Last September, I had a check-up in a clinic because of chest pains. I'm quite a worrier when it comes to my health so the doctor ordered a full cardiovascular check-up which include ECG, 2D-Echo and treadmill stress test. Thankfully, the results are all okay except for my stress test which pretty much shows how poor my fitness level is. I actually was able to reach maximum heart rate for my age and gender without a hitch. The thing is, I reached it just after 3 minutes of treadmill workout, just a few seconds after the warm-up stage. I felt like a weakling that time haha.

Good thing that this Garmin Venu has this VO2 max estimates which shows the fitness level of its users. For me, this is the best feature that Garmin Venu has. Venu's VO2 max is just estimates, but it helps me in my fitness journey and it somehow encourages me to continue improving my fitness level. So what does Venu tells me about my fitness? Venu told me my fitness age is 58 and that I'm at the bottom 25% of people of the same age and gender. Gosh, it's so shocking! I really need to move, and keep on moving. Anyway, I'm doing this sort of VO2 max training (my version) so hopefully, my fitness level will eventually improve.

Garmin Venu VO2 Max estimates

Garmin Venu Battery Life

Garmin website says that Venu battery could go as long as 5 days on smartwatch mode. And this is one of the reasons why I bought this watch, the longer battery life compared with Samsung Active 2's 2 days. I intend to use it 24/7, at least during the first few weeks or months of use to establish data accuracy. However, in my experience, the battery only lasts for about 2 days with 24/7 heart rate monitoring on and smart notification turned on (as I said above, I get lots of notifications during work days). I also noticed that the Venu battery drains pretty quickly after using on GPS-tracked activity even though I'm actually done with it. I searched online and found a recommendation to turn it off and reset the watch. So now, every time I'm done with my GPS-based activities, I turned it off for a while to reset (I don't know how to reset it without turning off, didn't do some googling yet) and then continue to use it, as usual. 

Connectivity, Watch Face, Etc.

I'm glad that Garmin watches, Venu in particular, can be used with either iPhone or android phone so it's a plus feature for me. It can also be connected to other third-party apps like MyFitnessPal and Strava. I'm not using Strava but I track my calorie intake using MFP so this is another plus feature. I also like that there are so many third-party developers supporting Garmin that you have an array of watch faces to choose from. Just download Connect IQ and look for the watch face that matches your style and personality. Another thing, if you like to share your stats on social media like instagram and facebook, you can use any of your photos as background of your statistics. Overall, though there some features that need improvements, I would say I'm quite happy and satisfied with my Garmin Venu; and this is now my everyday watch.

Garmin Venue Watch Face
my everyday watch face
Garmin Venue Watch Face
Valentine Watch Face
Garmin Photo Stats, for social media sharing


There you go, my personal thoughts and opinions on Garmin Venu after using it for more than 2 weeks. Take note, I'm no expert in smartwatch and I don't have other smartwatch to compare it with, I just want to share my thoughts and opinion on Garmin Venu as an ordinary user, that's it. 'Til next time... (hopefully, I can post more articles this year).

Random | 6 Things I Realized About Life In My 40s

It's been a while since I wrote a story here. I posted a short one last August about a quick tour in Intramuros and another one in January and that's it, nothing more. Two posts for 2019, 3 if only I was able to finish this one (I started this post last December). But I didn't! I've always wanted to update this blog and write a new article but I also always find a way not to do it. Does procrastination comes with age? 'Cause it seems that way for me, nowadays.

Anyways, I'm writing this one as my way of releasing my worries and sharing the things I realized now that I'm halfway through my fifth decade in this world.

Eat and Drink Right

I used to think I eat and drink right. But that was before! Most of the time, I skip breakfast. If I do have one, that would be late, around 10AM and mostly consist of just coffee or hot chocolate. I don't drink water that much (usually less than a liter a day). 

And since I can afford it, I usually eat out, too. By eating out, I don't mean eating in fancy restaurants. It's more like having lunch or dinner in fastfood chains. And this includes weekend meals, too. So yeah, I don't eat and drink right. But 2019 has been an eye opener for me. I visited the clinic almost every quarter last year when before that, I only went to clinic for mandatory annual check-up. My blood pressure is elevated, cholesterol and uric acid above normal range; conditions that if not treated immediately, could lead to more severe illnesses. So starting third quarter of 2019, I eat and drink right again. Less red meat! Less sodium. Less fatty foods. Definitely just occasional visit to fastfood chains. More veggies and fruits. And I drink lots of water now, too. I make sure I get at least 1.5 liters (my initial goal is 2 liters) of water everyday.

my kind of healthy food: bulanglang tagalog, recipe on my food blog

For my few readers out there, eat and drink right. Don't wait for your blood pressure to shoot up. Don't let cholesterol and uric acid level go beyond normal range. Unless you want to take maintenance medicines for the rest of your life, eat and drink right, now!

Get More Sleep

For the past 10 years or so, I only get an average of around 5 hours of sleep. There are times I go to work with just 1 or 2 hours of sleep. During my younger years, I'm more than fine with 5 hours. Nowadays, I feel so sleepy even in the early hours of the morning. It affects my job because I'm always late. Lack of enough sleep also contributes to my elevated blood pressure which leads to absences. I'm now not at my one hundred percent.

This 2020, I promised myself I will sleep early. So far, I'm still good with my promises. My internet connection will be cut down this January 26 so I hope I can keep this promise. I need to anyway, or else, I'll be forced to take maintenance medicine (for elevated BP), which I hate. For the past few days, my BP is back to normal level, so yeah, sleep pa more! ^_^

Sit Less! Move More!

This one I'm really struggling but I know I need to do it.  I need to lose weight. Everything I'm experiencing right now (elevated BP, above normal cholesterol and uric acid level, back and shoulder pain, GERD) was worsen by my being overweight. Okay, I'm still in denial stage, let's change it. I'm obese! There, I said it.

I used to work on my laptop with me lying in bed. I also play games and watch movies lying down. Now, I'm writing this post with me sitting on a chair, posture in check (bad posture also contributes to my pains). It's a start right? Mall-ing is better than lying in bed and playing games isn't it? After this, I'm going to the mall and window-shop and walk around. I'd love to enroll in a gym but I can't afford it right now so maybe, I'll get back on going to parks and walk around again. They're just stone's throw away from my place, anyway.

forest in the city @ Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center
this park is stone's throw away from my place

Limit Use of Gadgets


I got my first laptop (got a PC before that) in 2008, I think. That was the same time I got exposed to online games, too. I used to play Dekaron with officemates until the wee hours of the night so yeah, it worsen my bad sleeping habits. Around that same time, I got my first smart phone, too. By then, I learned to read ebooks instead of actual books. I started surfing the world wide web a lot, too.

For the past 2 years, my gadgets have become my life. I stayed on my bed the whole day; watching movies, playing games and just browsing the internet. And what has these gadgets brought me? Pains! Lots of pains! I now have chronic back and shoulder pains that extends to my neck and head, too. My shoulder and back hurt so bad that I have to transfer my bag (with just 2 phones, some coins and keys) from one shoulder to another several times during mall-ing. The connection? My excessive use of gadgets leads to bad posture, bad eyesight, bad eating and drinking habits, bad everything actually.

Now I'm planning to cut my internet connection at home. Steady and stable internet connection has contributed so much to my gadget and games addiction. And since I couldn't cut my fingers to stop this addiction, then I'll just cut my internet connection. I still have my cellular data connection but signal here at home is not good and and is unstable so it would definitely limit my time on games and online stuff.
 
Stay Debt-Free

I got my first credit card way back 1999, if I remembered correctly. I got several credit cards from different banks since then. During that time, I buy things I can't afford buying in cash and use my family obligations (I help support my brother's studies, buy things my family don't have) as a justification.  Back then, I always maxed out my credit card limit. Imagine having 2 or 3 cards at the same time and maxing out all of them. I also have loans from other people and institutions. So yeah, I'm in deep shit!

In 2013, I was able to pay all my credit cards and personal loans. Except for my housing loan, I'm almost debt-free. I still use my credit card after that but I always pay in full, no roll-over balances. Then came 2015 when I lost my job. I couldn't pay my purchases in full so my outstanding balance started accumulating again. Of course, I found a job also in 2015. But I transferred to a more convenient apartment which led to bigger expenses so I wasn't able to pay my outstanding balance. In 2018, my father was hospitalized and I have no emergency fund to use so I rely on my credit card, too. My outstanding balance has accumulated once again. I used up almost 50% of my credit limit.

My not so good health last year made me realize that I shouldn't just live the moment, that I have to be debt-free so I would be worry-free, too. Since last quarter of 2019, I never made any big purchases, even if I'm tempted to. All new purchases (groceries, personal necessities) through credit cards, I make sure to pay in full. I also availed of installment plan for my outstanding balance to ease off on interest. I'm struggling but I know I'll be debt-free again. Soon!

Save and Invest

Before I left my stable job (in government) last 2013, I'd always say to myself that money is not everything, that money can't buy me happiness. Now I realized, money may still not be able to buy me happiness but it can certainly buy me (and my family) a comfortable and less worrisome life. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my job in the private sector. I learned a lot, and I mean A LOT, in my field of work. I also get good exposures, things that I'm sure I would never experience had I stayed in the government sector. So yes, I don't regret leaving my stable job as I really am bored with it. But I regret not having saved money back then. I used to be that kind of person that live in the moment, without regards to the future. I buy things that I want when I want it, things that I would just give away after some time. I never think of saving up. My thinking was that I am skilled and I can always find a job that can support my living. It's wrong, very wrong thinking!

Last 2017, I started my stock investment journey. I used my small savings to open up an account in BDO Nomura. I thought investing in stock market will easily pave the way for my financial freedom. But I'm wrong, once again. In my more than 2 years stay in the stock market, I realized it's not easy.  On my first year, I gained around 10% of my capital so I thought, 'yes, I can do this'. In 2018, I was proven wrong. I lost my gain from my first year plus around 10% of my capital. At the end of 2019, I'm down 27%. But I'm not giving up. Miss Market is telling me to study more so I will study more so I could make wise trading choices this time.

credit to the owner, click the image for my post on starting stocks investing

Also, I will make sure that I save a portion of my salary, even if small, to build up my emergency fund and add-up on my investments. With God's blessings and provisions, I know I can do this.


~ oo00oo ~

What about you dear readers? How was your 2019? Was it good? I hope it was. But whatever your circumstances are, let us make this 2020 a better year for us all.  Let's improve and make ourselves worthy of all the blessings that God has given us, through the years. And let us all be grateful always, blessings and trials, for our Lord Almighty will never leave us and will always be there for us. Happy and prosperous new year my dear readers. God bless us all!

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