Glenda aftermath

It’s been a week since Typhoon Glenda hit the Philippines, and we’re still trying to recover from the devastation it brought upon us in the CALABARZON region.  Several places are still without power (including our house), and the roads are still littered with all sorts of debris.  The Philippines is known to be visited by several typhoons every year, so I’ve experienced my fair share of them, but this was the first time that I was legitimately scared during one.

The typhoon reached our area around midnight, and by then it wasn’t that strong yet.  I figured it would be another one of our garden variety typhoons.  Two hours later I woke up because our neighbor’s fence had collapsed and the wind was making it trash around and hit the window above my head.  By this time the power had gone out and the storm had gotten much worse.  I tried to block out the sound by wearing headphones and blasting music on my iPod, but I still couldn’t sleep because I could literally feel our entire house shaking due to the wind.  I closed my curtains because the sight of our palm tree convulsing on our front lawn freaked me out.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep that night so I just laid in bed and braced myself for the long and scary night ahead.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this plan.  My sister walked in my room a few minutes later and told me that she couldn’t sleep because she was worried about our house.  We went to our parents’ room to check to see how they were doing and found them lying in bed, wide awake.  My dad’s sisters were visiting us from California and they couldn’t sleep either.  They were so scared and asked us if this was normal. We spent the night making sure all the windows were closed and checking up on different parts of the house.  At around 4am, my room started leaking so I had to move my stuff out, including my mattress.  The wind subsided around 6am, but it started up again around 7am.  It was a lot less terrifying since the sun had risen and the whole house was awake by this time, but it was still awful.  Glenda finally left us alone around 10am, and we went outside to check the damage.

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The palm tree in front of our house collapsed.  It’s been there ever since I can remember and it has survived dozens of typhoons, but it wasn’t strong enough to withstand Glenda

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Poor palm tree

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The rest of our plants didn’t fare too well either:

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Book Review : More Than This

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I rarely do book reviews these days, but I finished this the other day and I still haven’t moved on so I figured I should write a quick entry about it to get it out of my system.

This is a story about how a young girl’s entire world shattered in one evening, and how she managed to piece it back together with the help of some amazing people.  It’s a story about fate, destiny, love, friendship and family. It’s about accepting our weaknesses and finding our strengths and moving on.

From the very beginning, I was immediately intrigued because the main character is part Filipino.  It doesn’t really play a huge role in the story but I rarely come across books with Filipino characters.  I think the last one I read with a character who was part Filipino was from the Georgina Kincaid series, and she was just a minor character.  Then I learned that Mikayla’s favorite book is The Sea of Tranquility, which was my favorite book of 2013.  (You can read my review HERE).  I actually had to put the book down when she mentioned this and tell all the people around me that Mikayla Jones loves The Sea of Tranquility and Josh Bennet as much as I do.  Instant connection, right there.  Throw in a hot guy with a sexy accent to the mix and I didn’t stand a chance.  I really enjoyed the writing too.  It was very enchanting and I felt like I was putting together a puzzle in my mind.  Within the first few chapters, I experienced a whirlwind of feelings and emotions.  Anger, happiness, joy, and pain … so much pain.

I loved the characters in this book.  I admire Mikayla for being so strong.  She lost so much in one evening, and at such a young age, but she managed to keep her head up and find a way to move on.  And I love Jake because, seriously, what’s not to love?  Hot guy, sexy accent, athletic discipline, kind, supportive, caring and a family guy.  I respect the fact that he never pushed Mikayla to do something she wasn’t ready for. He always let her know know that he will be there to support her no matter what path she chooses.  It’s kind of unbelievable that a guy she only knew for 24 hours would take her under his wing and help her get through something so horrible.  But then again, there are genuinely nice people out there.  Jay McLean undoubtedly created Jake Andrews to give female readers someone to drool over.

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Week 23/52 : Amethyst

 

I’m cheating again. This was taken on the same day as my 17th self portrait this year.  Although to be fair, this was shot first, but we had fun with the James Bond exhibit at Madame Tussauds and I ended up liking the other photo more. Since I’m still 5 weeks behind on my project, I decided to upload this anyway.

I look a bit awkward in this shot because I was very self conscious when we were taking this. There were lots of people at the museum and some of them were waiting to take pictures with the wall too.  I’ve been doing this for 4 years but I’m still not used to posing when there are people watching me.

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Week 22/52 : LACMA!


This was taken at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) last May. Kurt took us there one weekend because we wanted to get some footage with these awesome pillars. I want to slap myself because we spent about half an hour at this place and I wasn’t able to get a decent shot for my 52-week project. I took a few photos, but they were mainly snapshots meant for social media and not really self portrait material. However, I am 5 weeks behind on my 52-week project, so I figured I might as well choose the one I liked most and use that anyway. So here it is, another dippy. I seem to be doing a lot of these lately.

(This place supposedly looks so much more magical at night, unfortunately we left early and didn’t get to see it.)

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INSTABITS : June 2014

Hello hello!  I can’t believe that the first half of 2014 is officially over!  One more month before classes start again.

Anyway, July has arrived, which means it’s time for my Instagram dump for June.

Quick snapshot with our airport send off committee at LAX.  Every time we visit California, they’re the ones who take the time to pick us up and drop us off at the airport :D Thanks guys! Hope to see everyone again soon.

Raffy and Tio Ben spent a week with us this month and they visited me at my office one day (along with Ezra).

Ezra and I took them to see the Torii

Since it can get extremely hot and humid at our house during the day, Ezra would sometimes come with me to the office to enjoy our airconditioning.  There are usually 3 empty desks in my office and yet she insists on sharing my table. Tsk tsk…

I asked Ezra to take some pictures of me with the Space Needle when we were there last month, and this is what happened.

My BH cosmetics haul. I was only planning on getting the itsjudytime pallete (I love her!) but there was a sale and I ended up with a bunch of other great deals :)

Look who I found waiting to greet me at Taipei airport.  Kim Soo Hyun! <3

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Week 21/52 : Life is short – so smile while you still have teeth

This is my second SP with these yellow walls. The first one was taken back in 2012 when we visited my aunt for Christmas. We visited her again this summer, so I was able to take pictures here once more. I love how bright these walls are :D It’s such a big change from the blue walls in my room.

I found the quote I used in my title on Pinterest. I thought it was hilarious (and so true) so I knew I had to use it somewhere.

 

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My Golden Princess Cruise Experience

I’ve still got several entries lined up before I even get to my US 2014 vacation, but I had such an amazing time on this cruise that I can’t put off writing about it any longer.  I want to write this entry while the experience is still fresh in my mind.  I’ll most likely be making more in depth blog entries about each day of our cruise sometime in the future, so this is just a summary of our whole experience.

My aunt and uncle have been on this cruise before and they loved it.  In fact, they loved it so much that they’ve actually gone three times.  They strongly recommended it to us, which is why we decided to go this year for our parents 30th wedding anniversary.

We started off in LA so we had to catch a flight to Seattle because that’s where the cruise starts.

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Our shuttle picked us up from the airport and took us to the Port of Seattle, where the ship was waiting

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My mom and I, with the Golden Princess behind us.  We got there about an hour before they started allowing passengers to board the ship, so we just hung around outside and took pictures

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Princess logo.  The Golden Princess has been sailing since May 2001.  The ship is 950 feet long and has 17 decks.  It’s HUGE!

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When you check in, they give you a map of the ship (the card on top), as well as your cruise card.  Your cruise card has your name and dining information on it.  (Ezra’s and my card both say “Maria Garcia”, lol).  It acts as your room key, credit card and “passport” during your stay at the Golden Princess.  The staff will scan it every time you disembark or board the ship.  And any time you want to buy cocktails, special sundaes, shakes, or things from the ship’s gift shop, they will scan your card and all your purchases will appear in your final bill at the end of the cruise.  Most of the food, drinks and facilities on the ship are free, so the only time we charged something on our card was when we bought some souvenirs on the ship.

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According to the Princess website, the ship has 1,318 state rooms where guests can stay.  Ezra and I were in room C728 on Deck 10 (Caribe).  My parents had the room next to us.  The passenger’s names are written on the white card just outside the door.  Once again, they shortened our names so this is what our card looked like:

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The cleaning staff were very curious and asked us why our parents gave us the same name, lol.

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This is what our state room looked like inside.  You can choose to get a suite or cabin with a balcony or a window, but we decided that if we wanted to see the ocean we’d just go out on the top deck.

And here are some pictures of the rest of the ship:

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The elevator and stairs area

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Inside “The Sanctuary”

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The Neptune Pool and the outdoor theater where they show movies at night

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They called it “Movies Under the Stars”.  I wanted to try watching a movie here but it was always so cold in the evening!  They give out blankets to keep the passengers warm, but I doubt that’s enough.  Most of the people we saw watching were bundled up in thick winter clothes.

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In the morning it looks just like a regular pool area with lounge chairs
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The Lap pool outside The Sanctuary

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The Calypso Pool, which is just outside the Horizon Court (AKA the “buffet room”)

The ship has several pools and a few hot tubs, but we weren’t brave enough to face the cold and try them

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The Piazza, where they hold several shows and activities every day

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Here’s a picture of people gathering to participate in an egg drop competition

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The ship offered loads of activities – from swimming and other sports, to shopping.  We even found a puzzle station there.  There are art galleries, lounges, theaters, etc.  There’s also a gym on board for those who want to stay fit.

There was always something going on during our stay there.  Every morning we woke up with the cruise newsletter at our door, which gives the schedule of activities for that day

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It’s called the “Princess Patter”
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Aside from the schedule, it contains notes from various members of the staff and friendly reminders.  We used it to plan our day on the ship.

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The had all sorts of things on there, like this Advanced Digital Photography seminar which we attended

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My parents also went to this other seminar which talked about diamonds

On Mother’s Day there was a “Mother’s Day Card Making” event in at the Sabatini restaurant, which Ezra and I attended

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The ship provided us with lots of cute craft materials

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We joined in on a few of their trivia game shows.  We weren’t very good, but we enjoyed learning new and interesting facts.

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We also participated in this Musical Murder Mystery game held by the staff and a few audience volunteers

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