Simplicity

In the middle of this quarantine period, I decided to revisit meditation because I started to feel that life has started to feel overwhelming again. I was first introduced to meditation as the end part of yoga. The corpse pose with soothing instructions telling us to relax our muscles made me really feel calm afterwards. Around the later part of 2018, my friend referred me to download an app where I can practice guided meditation by myself. I tried it and it became my solution when I can’t sleep or when I need to relax. In one podcast, I was intrigued when the teacher asked me to think about my core values in one word. Values as per the dictionary are a person’s principles or standards of behavior and also one’s judgement of what is important in life. We all know this but seldom think about what exactly this is for us. I know I do. It is important that we practice all the good words as much as we can to be a good person right? But in this session, he was talking about that one word that would represent who you are. He also said that your values are like the flag pole to help guide you in your every day decisions.

That got me thinking about what that is for me. While I would like to be an epitome of goodness and goodwill, one word stands out that made sense — simplicity.

Even back then I prefer to keep things simple and I never really took any notice of this until now. These may be from the most mundane like how fast I choose my purchases to issues like problem solving and achieving my targets in a straightforward way.

I wear simple, utilitarian clothes. I do not have a lot of material possessions. I seldom schedule multiple activities in a day. I love to be still and get lost in my thoughts by reading and drawing. I re-use and re-purpose things so that I do not have to buy more. But when I do buy anything, I make sure that I really love them and will use for a long period of time. I even named my kids just one first name so they can have more time to answer the exam questions without wasting precious time writing a lot of first names.

My desires are also simple. I don’t really want a lot of houses or a lot of cars. I just want one. The one that we live in. I use my extra money on travelling locally with my daughter so that she can see that we are blessed in so many ways, how to survive with just what is in our bags, be aware of our surroundings, and maybe in some ways help others through our visit. I also save and invest because our future is important to me.

Knowing what we value is also subconsciously ingrained in our body and our body reacts when we compromise what we deemed important. I feel it a lot of times in different ways. I always get this feeling whenever I do online shopping and got side tracked into what I will normally buy. I have this tugging at the pit of my stomach whenever I consider something worth buying because it is interesting or cute or this maybe I will need this someday. Also when I am invited to do something on a weekend and I know that it is not what I am interested in. And if work related, when I am asked to choose how to design the particular space and I am bombarded with all these ideas that maybe is an on-going trend. This feeling of uneasiness, the want to say no, and the butterflies in my stomach is my body’s way of telling me to rethink my decisions.

The 8 mins of podcast made me realize a lot of things about myself with that one word. This awareness and acceptance makes it easier for me to make decisions and cultivate this more in my actions.

*The pictures are from our hike to Mt. Pinatubo last year June 12, 2019 Philippine Independence Day that I was not able to post. This was just a day hike and our break from city life. Many would say that being simple is boring and they are probably correct. However, excitements out of these mini excursions are anything but boring and brings balance by opening our lives to nature and to other people.

Mt. Timbak

After the grueling hike of Mt. Ulap, we were fortunate to have this easy climb on Mt. Timbak before the Lenten Season LAST YEAR 2019. (Yes, this is the start of the many posts that I failed to write about.)  

And very timely too because Holy Week for April 2020 will be next week. We also joined our favorite hiking group 360 Adventures for another fun-filled day.  Yes, you read it right, this happened within 24 hours.  We left Saturday night, came back Sunday night so I can be in the office the following day.  Our little expeditions in the North are my break from work and also a chance for my asthmatic daughter to breathe fresh air.

As I said, even if Mount Timbak in Benguet was the third highest mountain in Luzon, this was an easy climb because the jeep took us very near to the top. You have to climb a steep concrete road for a few minutes before you get to the narrow steps lined with concrete crosses leading to the top.  As you can see from the pictures, it was very foggy, so we waited for few minutes to take a peek of the whole mountain view.  I prefer to look at the expanse beyond rather than the statues but we have to take a picture at the famous spot for the last station of the cross.  Although there were only patches of clouds, there was this feeling that we are in the sea of clouds nonetheless.

After this, we went to see the beautiful flowers of Northern Blossom in Atok, Benguet.  There was a frost prior to our visit so most of the flowers outside were not in full bloom. Most of the flowering plants that I am not familiar with are in the covered areas.  Probably this is because these are such delicate flowers that they protect from rain and the extremely cold weather.  My favorites are the fields of the purple tip lettuces and flowering cabbages.

If you are fond of flowers and instagrammable pictures, this is the place you have to see.  There are a lot of amazing photos in google where they got the lighting and the angle just right and it is really a sight to see.  You have to wear rubber shoes because it can be a little muddy especially during the rainy season.

Another bonus is the presence of so many butterflies! Julia was so busy running around and playing with them that I have to keep up and try to take pictures.  Here are Julia’s attempt to capture butterflies in the frame. And of course — green tea!

Ramit’s Advice on the Work from Home Situation

This is a short exercise after work today.  I browsed through my social media page and saw Ramit Sethi’s live broadcast about his schedule today. This is very timely since we are in a state of health emergency and community quarantine.  This is difficult for all of us and even if I would wish that this be over, we all know that this might take a while. So here are the key points and my thoughts:

Schedule. I have been working an 8-5 job my whole life.  This is the first time that I experienced a work from home situation.  Although today is not a good basis because I was still lost, I would like to note that in a state of panic, you have to address the immediate need first before having the right mindset to work.  Today, I woke up early to do some grocery shopping for my family and I was in zombie mode for the duration of the morning.  It was very clear from this morning that there is a “panic buying” problem in our city and we need to act fast and determine what we need.  When the food requirement was answered, I finally had the chance to think and organize my thoughts as to how I can check the output of the office.

For tomorrow I plan to program my day to maximize the work, self-care, and family care that I need to keep me sane.  I plan to go to wake up at 7am and go to work at 9am.  I will have to keep my work up to 430pm to attend to other parts of my life.

Focus on what you can do.  What I can do is mostly basic communication through email, chat, messaging, and calls.  After providing the groundwork for the office to establish our reports and bring order to the chaos that this crisis has brought, I can now ask my staff to upload data for monitoring.  I can start looking at documents and drawings for approval based on their submissions by tomorrow.  For other things like exercising and entertainment, I can clean the house, watch shows, read a book, and learn a new routine.

My children are in vacation mode as well and very busy with their legos and television that I think I need to step in and schedule their day.  I also need to let them eat healthy because the food that is readily available is not that nutritious.  Starting tomorrow, I need to prepare healthy snacks for them to eat.

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Busy with Legos

Learn a routine. What I really miss is doing watercolor.  I would really enjoy it if I can at least develop my skill and be creative by producing even a small artwork a day.  Although I need to assign a time where I can insert this routine into my life, maybe I can carve an hour as a break.

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Julia’s watercolor creations. 

Serve someone else. This is where I got stumped.  Some people do live streaming to teach something but I don’t know how I can serve someone else that way.  I guess I just have to tutor my daughter in her schoolwork every day, help clean the house and move around for a start.

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I miss the outdoors.  Maybe I can now share my past adventures with Julia in my next post.

HK Formula

I am sitting here in front of my slow computer trying to find pictures of Julia as part of her assignment for Health.  I know that I was active in documenting her life for the most part and I was again reminded of that fact as opposed to my second child Jansen. My enthusiasm for posting stories and pictures translates to ready material for school required submissions. I now dread the time when Jansen will be asked the same because honestly, I’m so lazy to take pictures now. So to catch up, I have to post even small bits of information for documentation purposes.

When Julia turned 3 years old, we celebrated by going to Hong Kong Disneyland.  Last 2018 (yes I know I am one and a half years late!), it was Jansen’s turn and we were all excited for him and our travel as a family.

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We are now a family of 4 with a 3 and a 10-year-old in tow back then (it rhymes) and we can’t do the amazing race type of traveling nor the budget type. We anticipated that there will be a lot of crying and complaining if I jam-packed the itinerary. It was also a challenge to go to places especially since we will be taking public transport. I know we share the same dilemma with other parents or groups with children so here are my tips in algebraic equations just because:

(Henry + Me) – Laptop Computer = Vacation

Simple. Yet we know that the simplest ones are often the hardest thing to do.  If you know my husband Henry, it is close to impossible to extricate a computer from him yet on this vacation, he did! Such a milestone for us.  No computer = Focus; so yes we did get to focus on our kids and made sure that they do not get lost in the HK crowd.  If only we can do away with our phones right?

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Simple Joys

How simple it is to be a kid.

I finally had the time to sort our mail and shred the unnecessary bills, statements, and other documents that we have amassed in six months. I hate this chore. That’s why it took me so long to do it. I then piled all the shredded papers in our room for entertainment purposes.

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Trash turned instant confetti party!

Yes to Mt. Ulap

We always look forward to our movie night Friday where we get to watch senseless movies and stay up late at night. One of the movies we watched last year that was simplistic yet it somehow influenced me on how I make decisions. Drum roll please…

Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man”.

Don’t laugh! Ok you can laugh… but here’s the deal about the movie. This is a story about a guy who keeps saying “no” until he attended a self help seminar and was forced to say “yes” to everything. He thought he was cursed and if he doesn’t follow, he will seriously get hurt. Writing this sounds really corny but stay with me.

By simply saying “yes”, opportunities opened up and helped him move on from what was a bad experience and then eventually become a better person in the end.

“Yes to life”.

With my hiking buddy

Such a simple instruction. I have been sort of following this mantra since last year and it has changed my life, work, and relationships. I sort of identify with the character in such a way that I am usually reclusive and hesitant to say yes to things that is beyond my comfort zone. And by comfort zone, this is just my house and work.

Of course this is not encompassing to the point that I would do anything illegal but rather it’s a chance to say yes to activities that seem daunting. It also opened up my otherwise non-existent social life by meeting with friends if I get invited to meet up. These little decisions made me enjoy life a little bit more.

Just last month, I said yes to Mt. Ulap. I tried not to worry but I know this is difficult for me because I was lethargic since the start of 2019. Although this mountain has the same difficulty level as Mt. Pulag 3/9, I have this sinking feeling that this one is harder. I felt it would be better to also experience camping so that we will have a break in between the hike.

I was right because the trail was steeper, some areas are narrower, and usually traversing at the edge of a cliff. I tried to concentrate more on Julia and my steps but the height made me dizzy. There were a lot of “buwis buhay” moments for people who are very adventurous. I on the other hand, was satisfied with the basics.


Gungal Rock and the famous view. This one is so scary that we were the last one to try this.

But all I can say is that the views were absolutely breathtaking. I was in awe how glorious everything is. There were times when I just have to stand still to take it all in and say thank you.

I also had to remind myself that this is real. I distinctly remember the year when this was just a conversation between my sister-in-law and I. But now we are living it!

I don’t have to stress how one word has given me such an experience. I’ve said “yes” repeatedly that it is so hard to miss it or forget. Give it a try.

Princesses for a Day

The only K-drama that I watched and enjoyed was the popular “Jewel in the Palace” which was based on a true story about a girl suffering all types of discrimination and hardships but remained steadfast in her values to emerge as the king’s doctor against the rules of the kingdom. It was truly empowering. How patience, having an inquisitive mind, and choosing what is right compared to what is easy can lead to a greater life of service.

Julia and I got to relive a little bit of the physical part of that life when we went to the Gyeongbokgung palace wearing a Hanbok (the Korean national costume). It was amazingly comfortable and cozy given the weather. It forced us to be demure in our actions lest we ruin our pretty dresses!

Julia, Green tea and I.

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We Survived Mt. Pulag!

After our climb in Mt. Daguldol, we braved the trail of Mt. Pulag together with my veteran climber sister-in-law Ate Lani. This was around September when there was a typhoon expected to hit the upper part of Luzon. Aside from the weather, I was more apprehensive of the arduous 5 hour trek going up which starts around 1 in the morning. We need to leave early so that we may be able to reach the peak for sunrise. After all, Mt. Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines and the highest in Luzon and the view is expected to be amazing. We left by Friday and attended the pre-climb seminar Saturday morning and forced ourselves to sleep in the afternoon. We really need to rest so that we can wake up at 12 midnight.

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GSP Camping Part 1

When I was in elementary, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines was one of the few extra-curricular choices that we have in school. But sadly as the years progress, I became less interested and focused on other more exciting activities, like math (ok, I admit that was geeky).  In Julia’s case, the school only allows the students to choose one club and she picked the science club last year (a little cooler than math).  Luckily, I have two fellow moms who are scouting advocates and they formed our own girl scouts troop.  I excitedly asked if Julia could join knowing that she will pick up valuable life skills and lasting friendships with her fellow scouters.

Last vacation, we had a family camp experience in Alta Rios, Indang Cavite. We joined the training sessions of the UP Camping class such as first aid, bolo handling, tent pitching, and fire handling but had a separate area for our program.  Here are the things we did on our first day.


Lounging around, picking fruits and mulberries.

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