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! 😋

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 😋

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.

Food Trips | A Taste of Mary Grace

Mary Grace's dory and saffron cream
dory and saffron cream - Php 430

I see Cafe Mary Grace as one of those restaurants that’s  frequented only by  the ‘can-afford’ middle-age (or older) adults. I seldom see young adults whenever I pass by this restaurant. For me, it has this “sosy” vibe which makes me somewhat uncomfortable. That’s why I’ve never tried it, not until last week.

What changed then? Nothing actually, it still has that ‘sosy’ vibe for me. But BFF and I are tired of Gerry’s and Mann Hann (our weekend go-to restaurants) so I decided to become ‘adventurous’ somehow and tried Mary Grace for the first time. And so we went to Mary Grace’s.

When we got hold of their menu, BFF’s first reaction was ‘ang mahal naman!’ 😂 He’s better off than me actually but he’s the type who always check the price. Anyway, we ordered toasted Vigan longganisa meal (with rosemary fried rice and scrambled egg) for him, dory and saffron cream (pasta) for me. We also had mango bene for dessert.

Vigan longganisa was cooked the way we like (we shared our meal so we can both have a taste of each other’s orders) our longganisa, well-done, that is. It’s good and garlicky but kinda salty for our taste (probably because we’re used to LSLF diet) but the rosemary rice was superb, I’d probably try it at home some other time. For the price: it’s 502 PhP, pricey indeed for a 4-piece longganisa meal but the menu says it's homemade, fresh and without preservatives so...🤷‍♀️

Dory and saffron cream pasta on the other hand is worth the price for me (costs 430 PhP). The pasta is al-dente, white sauce is creamy and tasty (though still salty for our taste), cream dory tasted fresh. I’m not familiar with how saffron tastes like (but I read it’s the most expensive spice) so I can’t comment on its taste but at least, somehow I tried a dish with saffron in it. 😜

mango bene - Php 278

Having a sweet tooth, mango bene is yummiest of course. I’m actually tempted to buy a whole cake for take out but we’re also on low sugar diet so a slice is enough. Mary Grace is known for its cakes and pastries so no wonder mango bene tasted very good (better than the popular mango bravo of Conti’s, in my opinion). A slice of mango bene is priced at 278 Php, by the way.

Overall, Mary Grace experience is worth a try, food tasted great, customer service was good. Are we coming back again? Probably yes, but most likely, not as frequent as the other restaurants we go to.

That’s it for our taste of Mary Grace, Happy and blessed Sunday everyone. 🙏

Food Trips | Batangas Lomi


batangas lomi

Being a Batangueña, a visit to my home province would not be complete without visiting a lomi house and having a taste of pancit lomi, or simply lomi to most Batangueños. Lomi is an egg noodle dish in thickened soup stock with meatballs (sometimes squid balls) and slices of kikiam, pork and liver as toppings; sometimes, with chicharon and hard-boiled eggs, too. But definitely, no vegetables! That's what sets Batangas lomi apart from other lomi variety.

Lomi was made known in 1968 by To Kim Eng, a Chinese immigrant in Lipa City who served this dish to his mah-jong friends. Because of its good taste, he then started getting orders of lomi. Soon after, he, together with his wife Natalia, started their own Lipa City Panciteria, the first lomi house in the city. From then on and due to the dish' sudden popularity, more lomi houses sprung up around the city and the neighboring towns as well. (history source) Nowadays, most (if not all) local eateries or restaurants has lomi in their menu. It is a recommended dish for travelers and food-trippers alike. And, it has now become Batangas' icon, aside from Batangas bulalo, and of course, the famous kapeng barako.

Lomi is usually served with soy sauce, calamansi and chili pepper. It is the customer who then prepares his own seasoning mixture, depending on his preference. It is typically served in a medium-sized bowl filled almost to the brim. Non-Batangueños and first-time eaters of Batangas lomi were usually astounded by its serving size and often wondered how they would finish it. But for some Batangueños, the serving size is just enough because it serves as a substitute to their regular meal, what with its carbo- and protein-rich ingredients. It's a heavy snack-cum-meal at a price that's not heavy on the pocket. An order of lomi usually costs around 50PhP to 100PhP, depending on the toppings (regular or special) and the location of the eatery or restaurant.
Curious about this hearty and delicious noodle dish? Go food-tripping in Batangas. Try a steaming hot lomi with a super spicy calamansi-soy-sauce-chili-pepper seasoning and you'll have that sweat-and-mucus-dripping but definitely tummy-filling experience. Enjoy! ^_^

Financial Wanders | UITF Investment and Investment Risk Profile

If you read my blogs, you already know that I mentioned my UITF journey in several of my posts. A note to the reading public though, I am not a financial advisor and certainly not an expert in financial management. What I write is normally just based on my understanding of what I read/researched and my experiences about UITF and investment in general.

So what really is UITF? 

UITF or unit investment trust fund is an investment vehicle offered by banks to the investing public. It is a pooled funds (can be peso-denominated or dollar or other currencies) collected from investors and is managed by professional fund managers. In UITF, funds collected from the public are pooled together and invested in different financial instruments like bonds and equities.

UITF, though managed by professional fund managers, is not risk-free. It is subject to risk factors like changes in interest rates and stock market fluctuations. That’s why it is important that an individual find out his risk profile first before diving into UITF investments to minimize loses.

What is investment risk profile?

Investment risk profile is an individual’s evaluation of his ability to take risks on the money he’s going to invest. The areas subjected to evaluation include an individual’s financial capability in terms of his earnings, savings and investment time horizon. This means understanding the current financial state of an individual and the length of time one is able to let his money out for investment. Knowing an individual's risk profile is important to help find out the right portfolio appropriate to an individual's profile and to minimize the risks accompanied by this investment vehicle.

Investment risk profile is generally categorized into three; conservative, moderately aggressive and aggressive. Conservative investment profile means an individual can only accept minimal risk with minimum returns, one that's normally focused on preserving capital. Funds for conservative profile usually includes money market funds, a fund that seeks to invest on short-term fixed-income instruments and assets with high liquidity (ease of getting in and getting out of an investment) like treasury bills. 

Moderately aggressive investment profile means an individual is willing to accept some risks and invests on medium-term instruments that offer higher returns. In moderately conservative profile, an individual is usually offered funds that both invest on liquid investment that offers fixed return on a slightly longer term like bonds. When I first enter into investment, I was classified as moderately aggressive and was asked how much of my fund will be put on to low risk instruments and how much to put on medium risk instruments. Back in 2013, I didn't quite understand this concept yet and just opted for a 50/50 ratio. 

Aggressive investment profile on the other hand means you are willing to accept high risks for a possibility of much higher returns. In this profile, one seeks to maximize the growth of his funds on a long term horizon. Nowadays that I quite understand the risks that come with my investment, I purposely make sure that I get the aggressive profile so that I can invest on highly risky funds. These funds usually invest on equities and stock markets. This carries a lot of risks and there's a high probability of losing money. In order to counter the risks, I make sure to invest money that I won't be needing in the short term; money that I'm willing to let go for years, if need be. I also try my best to study market movement so that I would know somehow when to subscribe and unsubscribe to aggressive funds like what I'm doing with my BPI Invest Philippine Equity Index Fund. Of course, I can't exactly predict market movement so whenever the market goes against me, I do top-ups and accumulate shares. So far, with these strategies, I was able to ride the market fluctuations without losing money. I didn't earn that much but I definitely earn much higher return compared to just saving money on the bank, higher even compared to money market funds or time deposit.

BPI Invest Philippine Equity Index Fund

Please note though that each and everyone of us is unique, our risk profiles are different, our financial situations are unique to us. What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa so please know yourself and your situation and do your own research before investing, be it small or considerable amount of money.

Where to invest in UITF?

As mentioned above, UITF is usually offered by banks. Many of the commercial banks in the Philippines offer UITF using Peso or other currencies, usually US dollar. Some of these banks include BPI, BDO, Security Bank, Metrobank, etc. Although majority of those that offered UITF are banks, there are investment companies that also offer UITF. One of these companies is ATRAM.

banks/institutions offering UITF

Of these companies and banks offering UITF, BPI, BDO and ATRAM (thru GCash) are the ones I’ve tried. Of the companies I tried, BPI and ATRAM are the ones I can recommend. I like BPI and I’d say it’s the most appropriate UITF bank for me. BPI’s certain funds (like BPI Invest Philippine Equity Index Fund, a fund that tracks the PSEI, the Philippines stock exchange index) has no holding period which means you can unsubscribe anytime you want to (Other banks require 30 days holding period which means you will be charged a fee if you unsubscribe before the 30-day period ends). In this BPI fund, peso averaging is also allowed, which means, if the unit value of this fund goes down, I can buy at lower prices and accumulate shares.

I also like ATRAM because even though I don’t have a dollar account, I can still subscribe to global funds. Other banks like BPI only offer global funds if you have a dollar account. The minimum initial investment is also usually high in global funds, from USD500 to USD1000. The minimum top-up amount, in case you want to accumulate shares is also high, at least USD200. In ATRAM, the minimum initial investment is PhP1000 and top-up amount is PhP500 making it quite accessible to all Filipinos, especially those like me who only has minimal amount to spare for investment.

ATRAM Global Technology Feeder Fund


If with BPI, I normally subscribe and unsubscribe in fairly short period of time, sometimes a week or two, I can't quite do this with ATRAM. ATRAM has longer settlement period and unlike BPI Invest Equity Index Fund where I can easily monitor it by checking PSEI movement, ATRAM's global technology feeder fund is quite diverse that  it's quite hard monitoring the securities they invest in. So for my ATRAM Technology Feeder Fund, I just accumulate shares on a pretty regular basis, every payday as much as possible. Will this work for me in the long term? Shall I get higher return from this fund in the future? As of now, I don't know.  I'm giving this fund five (5) to ten (10) years to work. In this same period, let's also see the rate of return of my BPI Invest Equity Index Fund and compare these two (2) funds. Hopefully, both goes well. Wish me luck my dear readers, if there's any. 😉

~ oo00oo~

Blessed Sunday everyone.🙏 Stay safe and healthy!😊

Random | 2022 Wishlist and Resolutions

Time flies really fast! It’s already two weeks past the start of 2022, before we know it and given this continuous rise of Covid cases, December will be here once again without notice, just like last year.

But before that, let’s start our 2022 right. I know it’s a cliche to always come up with our wishlist and resolutions every start of the year but, whatever, I’d like to do it once again. Normally, my wishes revolves around material things but this year, my wishlist is totally different. It’s more about saving money and investing while my resolutions are focused on good health habits. Here are my 4 wishes and 2 resolutions this 2022.

Double My UITF Fund

First on my list is to double my Unit Investment Trust Fund (UITF). I’ve started my investment journey last 2017 but I only bought my first UITF fund last 2019 using GCash's GInvest by Atram. It started as just a sort of game for me and my friends so we can join GCash promos that time but I took it seriously since then. Initially, I only subscribed to Atram's Money Market Fund but I withdrew the small amount I saved there and transferred to Atram's Global Technology Feeder Fund. This feeder fund is more risky but I'm looking for long term investment here so I just accumulate shares every payday, consistently.

Now, aside from my GInvest, I also have BPI UITF. I’m trying to do “trading” in my BPI UITF by subscribing and redeeming my shares in a short period of time but I only do it when I have gains. If I lost (paper loss) or the unit value of my shares is lower than when I bought it, I do cost averaging and buy additional shares when the price dips and then sell it only when I have gains. In BPI UITF, I only subscribe to BPI Invest Philippine Equity Index Fund because I can easily track it by monitoring the PSE Index. My goal is to double by BPI UITF fund and consistently add shares for my GInvest.

Note: The funds mentioned here are not a recommendation, they are highly risky. Please do your own research and subscribe only to funds you have researched thoroughly. And please only invest money that you won't be needing at least in the next 5 to 10 years so you can weather market fluctuations. If you just need to park your money for a short term, go for low risk funds like Money Market Fund. I'll create a separate  post about the different UITF funds available next time.

Double My Emergency Fund

For my emergency fund, I’m using GCash’s GSave as my savings account. My GSave account was initially created in 2020 also for GCash promo purposes but now am using it to build up my emergency fund. I make a deposit to it every payday, immediately after my salary was credited to my payroll account. 

For those building their emergency fund too, use GSave. It has higher interest rate compared with the traditional bank. It’s also risk-free since it’s covered by PDIC.

Pay-Off My Credit Card Debt

I know some of you may find my financial approach kinda wrong, that I should pay my credit card debts first before saving but this is what works for me.

I tend to spend and charge my spending on my credit cards only to realize at the end of the month that I overspent. I used to think it’s okay, I’ll pay my CCs first and then I’ll start saving, again only to find out in the end that I don’t have any savings also. To be able to do both, I started to allocate certain amount on my savings (emergency fund) and bought UITF shares every payroll religiously. These are the first things I do whenever I received my salary every 15th and 30th of the month. Whatever’s left, I will allocate for my CCs (I have 2; one I used for my essentials which I pay fully every month and the other one for big ticket or unplanned spending). Because of this approach, I was able to limit my unplanned spending. I still have unpaid balance because of my previous spending habit but I plan to pay all of it this year.

Create a Blog Post At Least Once A Month

I promised myself to spend time on things or activities that are worthwhile and limit my screen time from useless activities like playing games and scrolling through social media posts. But since I’m used to always checking my phone, I decided to just go back to blogging. At least in blogging, I’ll be able to practice writing again and still use my phone. 

But instead of me posting more travel stories (I don’t have any because of the pandemic btw) it will be more about savings and investments now. Of course, I will still write about travels and food adventures and I will still posts photos of anything and everything (because why not, I love taking pictures 😉).

Phone Down/Ready for Sleep by 12MN

This I struggle a lot but I’m trying my very best to really put down my phone and be ready for sleep by 12MN. So far, I was able to control myself and put down my phone on or before 12MN. Hopefully, I can do this whole year round especially that soon, we’ll be going back to office for work. Staying healthy is also a must nowadays so I better sleep and rest right.

Get Back to My Daily Exercise Routine 

Back in 2020, exercising became part of my routine. I exercise at home for 30 minutes every other day and if quarantine rules allow, jog/walk in the park for an hour or two every weekend. 

But when I started my current work (lost my previous job and became part of jobless Filipinos last 2020 also), I forgot all about exercise and healthy habits. In 2020, I lost 15 pounds. I ate healthy, too.

Last year however, I gained back  the 15 pounds (and some more) I lost in 2020. I also was prescribed amlodipine for my hypertension last year and until now, I’m still taking it. I’m still hoping I could reverse this by eating right again, by sleeping right and by living right through healthy habits.

Join me in quest for a healthier and happier life this 2022. Let’s get back to shape; physically, mentally  and financially. Happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 everyone. 😊