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Anthroonfoot Goes to India

I’ve always dreamt of visiting India which to me is a rather magical place. My fascination with Sanskrit literature, the Indus Valley civilization, India’s cultural and linguistic influence throughout Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Indian cuisine, clothing, music, and, of course, one of the country’s most famous exports to the world, Gautama Buddha, came to the fore as R and I decided to visit this country two years ago.

India evokes adjectives and feelings like no other. It’s such a huge country and with only three weeks here, we decided to only spend time in Jaipur, the largest city in the state of Rajasthan. It was an incredible experience to visit this city although I wouldn’t recommend traveling here with an infant with reasons you’ll see below. Please keep in mind that I’m only covering Jaipur, so know that these tips are not reflective of the entire country.

Some Tips on Visiting India (with a focus on Jaipur):

> Philippine citizens need to apply for a visa which can be done entirely online. It’s a straightforward process but you need to apply at least five days before your travel date. When I did mine two years ago, it cost me 80 USD for a three-week stay. Here is the official website on where you can lodge your application: eVisa India.

> Accommodation here is pretty affordable and there’s a good range of hostels, hotels, and guesthouses that you can choose from. We stayed at Haveli Kalwara situated right at the heart of Indira bazaar.

Good to know: For more than two centuries, Jaipur served as the focal point for doing business for traveling merchants. Imagine merchants coming from different parts of India gathering here to rest, eat, meet, buy, and sell. It would have been a busy square as it is today.

As it is today, the entire city center is lined up with different bazaars, with each area offering a different product. Most sellers have their stores passed down from three generations up. It was a unique experience to be staying in the middle of the market. We woke up so early to the sound of beeping cars and motorcycles, and only got to sleep when the city started to sleep. The outside walls seemed so chaotic, and the guesthouse provided an oasis for us!

> A trip to India will never be complete without sampling its amazing cuisine. We ate out every day for lunch, and since portions were huge, we almost always took out our leftovers for dinner.

Although we ate a lot, we also lost a lot of weight on our three-week stay here. I lost 10 pounds! I’m guessing it’s because of the hot weather, the need to walk so much, plus the vegetarian Rajasthani cuisine. In fact, Jaipur has the most number of vegetarian restaurants in India, and its McDonald’s is no exception. We sampled a different restaurant every day and we also revisited our favorites.

We highly recommend the following: Copper Chimney, Handi Restaurant, Laxmi Misthan Bhandar, Natraj Restaurant, Niros Restaurant, and Surya Mahal (for North Indian cuisine); Dasaprakash (for South Indian cuisine and the best ice cream in town); Baradari Restaurant and Bar (a bit pricey but a nice splurge, with great food and a nice ambiance. We went here for our anniversary.) and, Midtown Restaurant and Peacock Rooftop Restaurant (for your multi-cuisine cravings).

Rajasthani Thali

The Rajasthani Thali… Yep, that’s good for one.

> We thoroughly enjoyed touring Jaipur City with Yo! Tours, a youth-led startup offering free walking tours around India. We spent around two hours doing the tour and it was so worth it. The company depends on tips to keep the services going, so don’t hesitate to give a big tip if you’ve enjoyed the tour.

> Apart from the city, we also visited Amber Fort, around 30-45 minutes by rickshaw from Jaipur. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known to be around for almost 500 years now. I suggest spending an entire day here because there’s just so much to see. Instead of getting a tour guide, we instead downloaded the CaptivaTour app which offers free and paid walking heritage tours in Agra, New Delhi, and Jaipur. It’s available on Apple Store and Google Play.

> We are not big fans of souvenirs, but if there are two items that you should definitely bring home from Jaipur, it would be a custom-fit Indian dress and block-printed sheets. We went to Raju Om Sai Textiles where we had our full silk dress customized at a quarter of the price compared to the Philippines. We actually used these dresses for our civil wedding. We also bought two block-printed mandala sheets. Here is Raj (the owner)’s WhatsApp contact number should you be interested: +91-99280-86129.

> It can appear daunting, but walking around the city, to me, is the best way to see the city IF you are fit and not traveling with kids. A runner-up would be to hire a manual or motor-run rickshaw.

You will encounter a lot of sights along the way: ornate buildings, magnificent fortresses, beautiful fabrics sold on the street, stray monkeys, dogs, cats, cows, overflowing trash bins, the practice of over-beeping and not giving way to pedestrians, and people defecating behind trees (which may appear “weird” when done in the city, but is actually common practice in rural India). These may be a lot to take in for a first-time visitor. In fact, this is the very first time that I can 100% say I went through culture shock. As the weeks went by, I got used to all the sights and sounds though, and I even got to sleep through the night despite all the street noise.

So back to traveling with kids. If I were to travel with my child here, I will definitely hire a taxi. 

  • Why I want to go back: We only got to visit Rajasthan on our three-week stay. 29 more states to see and each uniquely its own. I would love to go back if given the chance!
  • As with any country in the world: Do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂
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My Pregnancy Journey

Just before 7 AM every single day I wake up to the baby’s kicks. Throughout the day, I could feel him/her rolling around, switching between feeling happy, sad, peaceful, and tired as me. I never thought that these little movements can mean so much: how these can make me feel so thankful for this gift of life, and how these can make me feel so humbled to be chosen as the carrier of this soul. It is such an amazing experience and I never thought that I could love this half-of-me so much– and I haven’t even held him/her just yet!

I am now on my 26th week and fatigue is, for the first time, taking over my day. I have been quite robust since the start of my pregnancy, without the usual horror story of extreme morning sickness, mood swings, and cravings.

(Warning: if you’re eating or fussy about toilet stories, please skip the next paragraph.)

Tuesday last week was the very first time that I had extreme morning sickness and felt so sick that I threw up in our garden as I was preparing to leave home. To my surprise, my oldest dog, Kitty, hurriedly shuffled her way beside me and gazed at me all the while that I was throwing up. She was just staring at me all that time. At that moment I felt her kindness and compassion, so pure and true, piercing through me– and all that, uttered without a single word.

At that point, I felt all the more in love with Kitty. I had her when I was 18 as a birthday present from my Tito J. and Tita S. as I’ve just lost my dog just then. She’s been a witness to my ups and downs, and 11 years on, she is still here with me, supporting and loving me without question. I am really happy that she will also be a witness to seeing my mini me!

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Photo credit: tuanawebtasarim.com

I choose to keep the baby’s gender a surprise until my delivery, which I think is a nice way to welcome my first born! It’s difficult to contain the excitement given that the radiologist herself finds it hard to keep it a secret. I mean, I already have the ultrasound result with the gender printed on it. It’s hard to fight the temptation when all that separates from me knowing the gender is one piece of scotch tape sealing the envelope!

I have a long way to go in this pregnancy and motherhood journey, but one thing I’ve learned so far is the importance of disciplined action and a disciplined mind. Knowing that another soul is dependent on me makes me want to focus on what’s important, address my thoughts as just thoughts, address my opinions as just opinions, understand my feelings as just feelings, and recognize chaos as just a play on my wisdom. I know that this baby is growing calmer because of these learnings as I am, too. And to remain calm is so important in this dopamine-fueled world we are living in.

Pregnancy is such a humbling experience, and I thank all the mothers, especially my own mother, for all the love and teachings that I can now take with me. I’ve read somewhere that worldwide, four babies are born every second. While every mother’s experience is different, I wish that every mother’s journey in every part of the world becomes a unifying force to lift every woman, not tear each other down.

Good night from me and my little Anthroonfoot 🙂

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Out for One Year!

I kept this blog on private since April 2018 since I knew I wouldn’t have the chance to update it as often as I want to, given that 2018 presented itself with a whole new set of challenges for the almost-30 me. Also, the past few months gave me time to reflect as to why I should keep this blog since there are times when I tend to question its existence and why I would want to devote time and energy into publishing publicly.

Years 2017-2018 are crucial points for me and R, given that it was during these years that we started to get serious with where we want to be in our relationship. We didn’t get to travel much and go out as much because we needed to save for our condo repayments, furniture, appliances, and future children (already one on the way now!!!). These years proved to be a transition period for us to go from boyfriend-girlfriend to building a family together. Work is part of the reason why I put this blog on hold for 2018. At the same time, I wanted to focus my energy on things that needed more of my attention. 

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A milestone for 2018: completing all furnishings of our first home for Baby R.

But after almost one year, I missed Anthroonfoot. I realized that apart from my day job which squeezes out my creative energy (this also being related to writing), what also made things less exciting about keeping this site was the fact that after seven years of blogging, I started to want to monetize from it. Instead of just focusing on journaling, I started to consider other factors like using SEO-friendly keywords and formatand networking so people would start to take notice of my blog.

If I wanted my blog to become more popular, I was told that I should focus on writing based on what the audience would want to read; not on what I want to convey. It makes sense, given that “hot” topics are that– hot– until the steam goes off, so it is crucial to keep a topic calendar where I will write based on topics that are hot while they are hot. I was told that I should start steering away from my long narratives with details that will bore any reader. That I should start making listicles and keeping my sentences short so people will keep on coming back.

But is that what I want to happen with my blog?

When I started blogging back in university, I kept my online journal on Multiply. That was 2011, and I only published four entries for that year. But looking back, do I feel bad about it? An absolute no, because I knew that those four times meant a lot to me, even if that meant only sharing four stories for that year. 

I lost my way because I shifted my goal, from pursuing my passion to working towards short-term rewards. Through the years, this blog has been a great outlet for an introvert like me to share bits and pieces of my life. It has also helped me get past my insecurities with my writing skills. Well I am still insecure about it, but at least I get past every roadblock one post at a time. 

Although I don’t get to monetize from this blog as much as I want to, this blog led me to getting discounts on hotel stays, becoming a property scout on Booking.com, and becoming a travel ambassador for Visit.orgMore than any of these perks, I get to share my passion for travel and uncomplicated living through this blog!

I’m glad to be back, and now with a little one in tow. It’s amazing to think that I started blogging when I was still in university, and now, I’m still doing it with a little me to join the journey. I wonder what it will be like five, 10, 15 years from now, with this little me reading this blog? 

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A Walk Through History With the Ilocos Empanada

The following is an excerpt from a regional reporting project in partnership with UNESCO- New Delhi.

When visiting the Ilocos region, 500 kilometers north of Manila, the Philippines’ capital, you cannot help but notice these large hand-held orange pastries being sold along the streets of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte. This “pastry” is called Ilocos empanada, one of the region’s most popular snacks, and one of the many icons from which the region has long been known.

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Empanadas from Ilocos Norte with their signature orange rice flour base

You will also quickly notice that there is a slight difference between the empanadas sold in Ilocos Sur (south) and Ilocos Norte (north). The reason for this difference is in the availability of resources. Ilocos Norte has a sizeable source of achuete (atsuete/ annatto) extracted from the seed of the achiote tree (scientific name: Bixa orellana), giving its empanadas a bright orange color. Ilocos Sur, on the other, does not have much access to this resource and so settles with empanadas that are paler in color.  

Reflecting the colonial past

The Ilocos empanada reflects history itself since it is inspired by the Spanish empanada. Empanada is a typical snack that originated from Spain and its former Latin American colonies. An empanada is typically made with wheat flour and stuffed with meat, carrots, corn, cheese, and peppers. There’s a lot of variation with the stuffings depending on the ingredients available in the area.

Taking the empanada as Ilocos’ own

As is often the case with any cultural exchange, the Spanish empanada has been modified to fit the local area’s culture and traditions. Since rice, longanisa (ground pork molded into sausage links), papaya, mung beans, and eggs are abundant in Ilocos, these ingredients are used for the local empanada. And since baking is not a traditional way of cooking in Ilocos, the empanadas are deep-fried rather than baked.

Making the Ilocos empanada is both an art and science, with many attesting to how difficult it is to make. It is such a sight to behold to see the Ilocos empanada artisans creating each empanada by hand, and producing every piece into precision.

The Ilocos empanada is indeed a jewel of the region. The making of an empanada is a craft on its own that must be passed from generation to generation to stay alive. When visiting Ilocos, be sure to give the empanada a try. And don’t forget to say, “Dios ti agngina” (“Thank you” in the Ilokano language) to the manang (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing an old lady), manong (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing an old man), or ading (a respectful Ilokano way of addressing someone of the same age bracket) who made the empanada for you.

Where to try the Ilocos empanada 

The best places to try the Ilocos empanada are in Dap-ayan* in Laoag, Ilocos Norte; Food Hall along Batac River, Ilocos Norte; and the Heritage District in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Dap-ayan is open 24 hours, 7 days a week; while for Batac and Vigan, it’s open every day up to 10 PM, depending on the stall.

*As of July 2020, Dap-ayan is still closed and under renovation. For now, empanada stalls are sporadically located in the city, usually at bus and jeepney stations.

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Anthroonfoot Goes to Pamulaklakin Forest Trail

R and I decided to go for a nature trip on our fourth anniversary, and with some help from our friend Google, we ended up giving the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail a try.

What is the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail?

Named after the Pamulaklakin vine that grows in abundance in the area, the Pamulaklakin Forest Trail is one of the many routes that have been used for training by the US Army during the American Colonial Period. With the aetas as the US soldiers’ teachers, the aetas taught them valuable lessons on how to survive in the jungle, including how to identify and utilize flora in the area. Up until today, the aetas take the lead in protecting the site and are sharing their expertise through tours organized in partnership with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Gugo.jpg

This is what you call organic shampoo!

We had a GREAT time doing the two-hour ecology tour. With our guide, Menmen, he showed us a glimpse of the richness of the forest.

Here are some tips to help you organize your trip:

Official name: Pamulaklakin Forest Trail

Address: Pamulaklakin Trail, Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales 2222

How to get there: via private vehicle, navigate towards Pamulaklakin Forest. There’s a large sign at the entrance with the name of the place, so it’s difficult to miss.

Before starting with your trail tour: You need to register at the jump-off point with the guide on duty. There is no mark that says “registration,” but it is easy to find since there is just one table in front of the stores, manned by a lady with a record book.

Fees are as follows (as of March 2018):

  • PHP 100/person (entrance fee for sightseeing or picnic)
  • PHP 100/person (mini-jungle tour: goes for 30 minutes, inclusive of a local guide)
  • PHP 250/person (ecology tour: goes for 2-3 hours, inclusive of a local guide)

Important reminders:

  1. The trail is family and beginner-friendly, so do not worry about boulders and slippery slopes along the trail.
  2. Although there is a rich water source along the trail, it is still best to bring water that you know you are comfortable to drink.
  3. There is a small local store at the jump-off point where you can purchase food and drinks.
  4. Toilets are not available along the trail (obviously lol). They are only available at the jump-off point.
  5. Please bring a plastic bag for your trash. It’s unfortunate that many visitors leave their trash along the trails. As any responsible hiker would know, what you bring to the trail, you must also bring with you when you get back.
  6. Please don’t haggle with the local guides’ prices. Many guides have this as their sole source of income. If you’re doing budget travel, save on other areas of your trip, not on the guides’ fees.

Why you must consider a trip to Pamulaklakin Forest: The forest offers the best of all worlds: trails and the fresh stream that offer a sense of comfort, young and old trees that protect you from the heat, and humbling insights on how the aetas make protecting their home an everyday endeavor.

P.S. The keys to sustainable hikes are universal (lifted from The Leave No Trace Behind program): plan ahead and prepare | travel and camp on durable surfaces | dispose of waste properly | leave what you find | minimize campfire impacts | respect wildlife | be considerate of other visitors | listen to your gut ❤

If you have other questions about this trip, do not hesitate to contact me🙂

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Anthroonfoot Hikes at Mt. Arayat

A little reflection…

I had the opportunity to hike Mt. Arayat for the first time last January 20, 2018. Since then, I’ve hiked it three more times (January 26, 31, and February 16). My brothers always ask me, “Why do you keep on going back?”

The answer to this question is simple: Because there is always something new to see, feel, taste, hear, and smell every time I visit.

Mt Arayat.jpg

Wish I had this view for lunch every time.

I haven’t climbed many mountains (landform, not on a personal level, because if we talk about the latter I’ve come across so many of that haha!) in my 28 years of existence. Before Mt. Arayat, I got to hike for a fair bit but not with so much excitement as I do now.

I find it more difficult to climb mountains these days compared to when I first started doing it in 2012. I still run regularly, but I guess it is poor nutrition catching up on me. I only really notice the effects of my sugar-heavy diet whenever I hike and run. It’s hard to stop my addiction, though, and I hope these sports will inspire me to change up my habits.

Okay, enough of me.

Let’s get to how you can plan your trip!

Official name of mountain: Mt. Arayat

Address: Barangay Baño, Arayat, Pampanga

How to get there: via private vehicle, navigate towards Mt. Arayat National Park, then go past the park’s entrance towards “Treetop.”

Before starting with your hike: You need to register at the jump-off point with the guides on duty.

Fees are as follows (as of March 2018):

  • PHP 30/person (environmental fee)
  • PHP 700 for up to 5 people for South Peak (local guide fee)
  • PHP 1,500 for up to 5 people for Pinnacle (local guide fee)
  • PHP 1,750 for up to 5 people for North Peak (local guide fee)

Important reminders:

  1. There is no water source at Mt. Arayat. You have to bring enough water to sustain your entire hike.
  2. It is going to be hot on the first hour of the hike because of Mt. Arayat’s open areas, so wearing a cap or hat, and light long sleeves or arm sleeves are a must.
  3. Toilets are not available along the trail (obviously lol). They are only available at the jump-off point.
  4. There is a small local store at the jump-off point where you can purchase water, Gatorade, chips, and candies.
  5. Please bring a plastic bag for your trash. It’s unfortunate that many hikers leave their trash along the trails. As any responsible hiker would know, what you bring to the summit, you must also bring with you when you get back.
  6. Please don’t haggle with the local guides’ prices. Many guides have this as their sole source of income. If you’re doing budget travel, save on other areas of your trip, not on the guides’ fees.

Why you must consider a trip to Mt. Arayat: Mt. Arayat, a protected virgin forest, is home to thousands of flora and fauna species. If you are lucky, you will come across a troop of monkeys or, if you’re even luckier, the elusive Philippine Eagle!

P.S.The keys to sustainable hikes are universal (lifted from The Leave No Trace Behind program): plan ahead and prepare | travel and camp on durable surfaces | dispose of waste properly | leave what you find | minimize campfire impacts | respect wildlife | be considerate of other visitors | listen to your gut ❤

If you have other questions about this trip, do not hesitate to contact me 🙂

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Why I’m Never Hiking Again Without My Phone

Early this year, my friends and I went to Tingloy Island, Batangas for a two-day-one-night trip. We had the chance to do a sleepover reunion after many years of only catching up over online chats or a cup of coffee. Tingloy Island fits our group well as we wanted to stay somewhere serene and away from anything too commercial.

It was quite a long trip, with a one-hour bus ride to Batangas Grand Terminal, a one-hour drive to Mabini Port, and a one-hour boat ride to Tingloy Island. We then settled at a guesthouse and we were the first guests to arrive that day. We had the guesthouse all to ourselves for the entire morning. Good thing we traveled early.

The unexpected hike

My friend J and I decided to walk around the area after lunch, while our friend M stayed by the beach to read a book.

From the beach where we enjoyed the afternoon view of a calm and waveless sea, we were greeted with rows of lush rice fields, bamboo huts still under construction, and Eurasian tree sparrows ready to dive in the fields. It felt almost mythical to be caught in between the sea and these beautiful rice fields without the dilemma of choosing which path to take. We were there, in the middle of it all, allowing ourselves to enjoy the best of both worlds.

As we walked around the area, we decided to explore further afield and set our eyes on this gentle peak, Mt. Mag-asawang Bato (The Couple Rock Mountain). My friend J was wearing a dress and flip-flops, and I was wearing my swimwear and flip-flops, too.

I was a bit wary at first since we didn’t have a guide, we didn’t have any money on us, and we even left our mobile phones. I have never hiked without bringing my phone. But then I thought, I was with my friend anyway…

Hiking without a working camera in tow

So, we hiked without anything else other than our clothes and flip-flops, water bottles, and my friend’s defective camera. It would have been nice to document our little adventure. I kept thinking, how I wish I could take pictures of these views.

Hiking without a camera or a mobile phone, I was forced to, simply, view the views. And you know what? It turned out to be more difficult than it is. I realized it was far easier to let a camera capture things as I view them passively, rather than take an active role in making sense of the moment.

Savoring the view

As we reached the first peak, I tried to remember everything I’m seeing. Aside from my phone, I didn’t have a pen and paper for jotting down notes. I only had my senses to help me remember.

Weeks after that camera and mobile phone-less hike, I could still picture in my head many things about our little adventure: from when we first entered the rice fields and I looked back to the shore, the locals we met along the way offering directions, the moment we reached the first peak, up until the time we met our friend M back to the shore. What initially felt like “nothing” since I didn’t have any form of documentation of that hike, now turned into “everything” since everything that I did were still so vivid.

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A picture of Mt. Mag-asawang Bato, one of Tingloy Island’s many iconic peaks, taken when I came back to the shore.

Although it was scary to get face-to-face with nature given my lack of forest survival skills, I know that spur-of-the-moment off-the-grid experience came with a purpose. How I wish I could feel comfortable not having my phone with me when I’m that far from everyone. But I’ll never hike without my mobile phone again. I know I’ll enjoy the hike more if I know I’m clutching to this one piece that connects me back home.

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Why I Left My Online English Teaching Gig

I started working at Rarejob, an online English teaching school catering to Japanese students, in 2014 since my research contract was about to end at that time. I was still job-hunting when I got accepted as an online teacher. I didn’t want to have a career gap so I went for it.

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Teaching English while cross-legged on the bed

Surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed the flexibility of this online English teaching gig. I can open my schedule depending on my availability, and teaching materials were already available so I didn’t need to make a syllabus. I had the chance to meet students across different backgrounds, from teenagers who wanted to study abroad, the elderly who were working as volunteer tour guides, to professionals who were working in multi-cultural environments. I am always thankful for the opportunity to meet these people, albeit virtually.

Low pay, but…

The pay was low, but since it was an additional source of income, I found no reason to complain. I also had so much flexibility in terms of schedule which was the best part. On weekends, instead of oversleeping or watching TV, I would choose to teach instead. It was a nice way to spend some hours of my weekend, and it felt like I was traveling to Japan every time I logged in to the Rarejob portal.  

Why I left

I left this online teaching gig not because of the pay, but because of a lack of trust in my English skills. I kept on thinking, I am not a native English teacher, and I commit so many writing and speaking errors, so why am I here, teaching English?

I realized this when I was looking for a French teacher online. I found it weird to find non-native French, Canadian, and African teachers who were offering their services, too. I even saw a Filipino who marketed herself as an “award-winning” Filipino, English, and French teacher. I don’t know about her French skills, but her English wasn’t even that good (mine is not good, too, but hers had serious grammatical errors).

As someone with zero knowledge of French, I would never want to be taught my target language by a non-native speaker! There were rate differences, but the native speakers’ rates were not too far off from the non-natives’. 

Although many non-native speakers can speak, write, and understand their second language on an advanced level, I still find inconsistencies, mainly with the flow and rhythm of words. Just like me, I commit so many errors still no matter how much I practice.

The reality in the age of political correctness

My stance may be deemed racist.

Everyone should have equal opportunities! If others can do it, we can do it, too! Why should our citizenship dictate what we can do?

But I’m just sharing my truth which will always be different from yours. Why would I choose a non-native speaker when I can get a native teacher? And the bigger question is, can I wholeheartedly trust his/her skills? This is hard-earned money, so I will not think twice about learning French with someone who grew up making sense of his/her world through French.

This one, though, is absurd: Students don’t trust lecturers who aren’t native speakers. I can only speak for language classes, and not for anything else.

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Finding a Job in My 20s

Imagine a world without work.

Can you see yourself living in one?

What do you do (for a living)?

When I meet someone new, a common follow-up question after asking my name is, “What do you do?” It is not a question of “What do you do?” but is a less intrusive way of asking, “What do you do for a living?” So, imagine people’s surprise when I told them I was unemployed a month after graduating from university. This was back in 2011.

Instead of asking me the question of “why,” though, people would go to my parents. These inquisitive souls would then bugger my parents, who then had the role of answering in my defense. Kudos to them, though, they made my job-hunting adventure sound so exciting.

“I’m unemployed” was always my blatant answer because I didn’t want to explain myself. What was there to explain? I just got out of university, and unfortunately, no one hired me amongst the 20+ jobs that I applied for before graduation. 

Thankfully, after that one month of unemployment, I got a job– as a freelance writer. So, here we go again, people asking me the same question of, “What do you do?” When I told them I am a “freelance writer,” the reaction I got was even worse than when I told them “I am unemployed.” I say worse because not only did most people misunderstand what freelance was, they also took it negatively. As in, freelance = free work = free time = free as a bird. “Free as a bird” is quite true, though, because it makes a world of psychological difference not to get constrained by a 9-to-5 job.

Anyway, after five months of doing writing gigs on Elance (now Upwork), from writing theses (My ethics down the drain. Sorry, just another desperate fresh grad!), online articles, and e-books, I got my first legit office-based job at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). I readily updated my work info on Facebook. All of a sudden, people stopped probing me and bugging my parents. I guess, getting a good job isn’t interesting to talk about anymore? 

Impostors galore

I used to be so agitated whenever I have free days, shortened, and work-from-home workdays. I felt bad about walking around, shopping, or going to a coffee shop when I know I should be working. At times I would even choose to stay indoors until 5 PM, afraid that people will think of me as “unemployed.” I wanted to avoid the probing as to why I’m out during office work hours. I’d rather wait for everyone at 5 PM so I can join the pack, and it doesn’t matter even if I’d been available all day. I used to care that much about others’ opinions. And yes, I was THAT ridiculous.

I’m “Busy”

So I realized if I wanted to live my life to the fullest, I had to be real with what I really want. I’ve already known for a long time that a 9-to-5 job isn’t for me. It sucks my energy, and it’s harmful to my creativity. Yet I held on to it for longer than I could take because I thought I was wrong in feeling the way I did. My feelings were valid all along, and certainly, there wasn’t anything wrong with not fitting in the 9-to-5 demographic. Turning my back on it doesn’t mean I’m lazy. Holding on to it when I know it isn’t for me, in my early 20s, is just ridiculous.

So after my work contract, I decided that I’d look for work that’s 1) home-based, and, 2) deliverables-based. Recently, January 22 to be exact, I got that kind of job. At first, my mind was all over the place because although I hated set work schedules, I wasn’t used to this flexible set-up, too. For the first time in my working life, I could live my every day based on my terms. Having that much control was scary, but at the same time, it also made me work harder for I didn’t want an opportunity like this to just slip off my fingers.

And what has this flexi-time brought me? Weekday hikes and running sessions, more time to clean the house, more time to learn new skills, and more time to read books that I like. I haven’t felt this time-strapped than I’ve ever been, but now it’s the sort of “busy” that I choose to be in.

Superblood moon-min

Enjoying the sight of the super blue blood moon with a glass of wine. Thanks to R for the photo.

… And yes, I didn’t have to rush enjoying that view!

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Why I Deleted My LinkedIn Profile

I used to check my LinkedIn profile at least once a week. I used to check for updates on pages that I follow, and probe for possible partnerships with other non-profits as I was running a small project back then. LinkedIn is like Facebook but for “grown-ups.” Bye-bye sipping-margaritas-while-at-the-beach photos except if you’re a social media influencer or in the travel industry.  

What headline?

My profile was all good until I realized I failed to put my headline. A headline is much like an abstract, a snapshot, of who I am. Filling in my education, work experiences, and skills were easy. But choosing a headline proved to be difficult. Writing my current position was the easiest way to fill it up, but I wouldn’t be speaking for myself well enough by doing so. 

I thought long and hard. Am I an anthropologist? I don’t have a Ph.D. in Anthropology and I haven’t published anything in scholarly journals. So, no. Am I a researcher? Everything that I do is hinged on research and that includes online research, so does that mean everyone is a researcher in their own way? So, no. Am I a writer? The term is far too broad, but I’m more like a diary writer. So, no. Am I an editor? Sometimes, but I don’t have advanced degrees and I’m not a native English speaker. So, no.   

Where am I good at, anyway? 

It’s hard to put labels on people and I’m not a fan of it. I was finding it difficult to complete my headline because I haven’t reached the point where I can proudly say I am an authority in my field. I don’t find my skills as fit to be called an anthropologistwritereditorresearcher, or entrepreneur. I see myself as forever a learner, constantly striving to hone my skills. So to put a headline on who I am or what I think I am is somewhat absurd to me.  

My solution

So what did I end up writing? Simple: Human Being. I know it sounds funny and unprofessional of me to be writing this on LinkedIn, a career-oriented website. But to me, I see this as the most appropriate title that describes me. If I wanted to be even more specific, then I could have placed Homo sapiens, but the thing is I don’t exactly agree with its translation, “wise man.”

But why did I delete my profile?

Some years later I took down my LinkedIn profile simply because I found no use for it any longer. I already found a job that I liked, I was receiving invitations from people I didn’t know, and I didn’t want to network virtually, anyway.

So, yes, I am a “Human Being.” I settle and take care of my surroundings. And I move when it’s time to move. 

Plant growing

What a relief to now watch this grow instead of my LinkedIn contacts. (Thanks to my friend G. for the photo)

Update: On July 2020, I decided to set up a new LinkedIn profile. Marriage + parenthood. This calls for a new post 🙂