Top 5 things I miss about the Philippines

I’ve lived in Aus­tralia for eight years now, and I’ve got used to the dai­ly grind. How­ev­er, there are still moments when I’m remind­ed of what I’m miss­ing for emi­grat­ing to the Land Down Under. Here are my top 5 things I miss about the Philip­pines apart, of course, from my dear fam­i­ly and friends.

miss about the PhilippinesTop 1: Cheap and relatively good quality clothes and shoes

Many peo­ple who go to the Philip­pines say that the price of brand­ed items is as high in oth­er coun­tries. Well, yeah, but who said you should buy them there? The Philip­pines has its local brands, and a good num­ber of them are good buys — not just because they’re much cheap­er, but because the qual­i­ty you get for that afford­able price is sur­pris­ing­ly good.

Top 2: Distinctly Filipino foodmiss about the Philippines

I miss our stinky, salty, sweet and fat­ty food. I also miss the street food that I remem­ber set­ting aside mon­ey for. Pic­ture these: mang­gang hilaw with ala­mang o asin (green man­go with shrimp paste or salt), fish balls and squid balls with its tasty but most like­ly dirty dip, banana cue (deep fried bananas coat­ed in caramelised brown sug­ar), chicharon (pork crack­ling), dirty ice cream (It’s not dirty, or is it?) and many more.

Top 3: Overstaffed shopping malls

When­ev­er I go to Myer and David Jones, I find myself miss­ing the swarms of staff in The Land­mark and SM Malls. Tills are not always manned in these big Aussie depart­ment stores as the staff also assist cus­tomers around. It’s not rare that I had to ask a sales assis­tant far from the cashier to help me process a purchase.

miss about the PhilippinesTop 4: Malls open during my shopping hours

Aus­tralia is quite odd as its mall hours are very sim­i­lar to the com­mon 9 to 5 employee’s work hours. This means that on those rare occa­sions I had time to do some shop­ping, I was greet­ed with the announce­ment that the store’s about to close in 15 min­utes. I don’t under­stand this! Shop­ping on week­days is an impos­si­bil­i­ty for peo­ple like me. Week­ends are bet­ter for shop­ping, but the stores still close at 5 or 6.

miss about the PhilippinesTop 5: The word ‘po

I miss hear­ing ‘po’ in con­ver­sa­tions. The word ‘po’ is used to show peo­ple old­er than you respect. The word makes me proud to be Fil­ipino. In this fast-paced and con­stant­ly chang­ing world, it’s good to know that Fil­ipinos still recog­nise respect to be an impor­tant val­ue to have.

If you’re a Fil­ipino liv­ing over­seas, I invite you to share your top 5 things you miss about the Philippines.


THIS BLOG claims no cred­it for any images post­ed on this site unless oth­er­wise not­ed. Images on this blog are copy­right to its respect­ful own­ers. If there is an image appear­ing on this blog that belongs to you and you do not wish for it to appear on this site, please e-mail me the link to said image and it will be prompt­ly removed. Pho­tos are from Pix­abay and are CC0 Pub­lic Domain.

Top 5 basic phrases to learn before travelling to a country with a language different to yours

Trav­el­ling to a coun­try whose lan­guage isn’t the same as yours can be daunt­ing. It can take a few months or even a life­time to learn a new lan­guage, but you can learn some basic phras­es in their local lan­guage to help you get by. Below are the top 5 basic phras­es to learn in every language.

Top 1: Where is...?

For peo­ple who are geo­graph­i­cal­ly chal­lenged like me, it would be wise to learn how to say ‘Where is’ in the lan­guage of the coun­try you’re explor­ing. Write the name of the places you plan to vis­it so you can just say ‘Where is’ and point to the name. This strat­e­gy can also be handy when look­ing for a par­tic­u­lar item in a shop.

Top 2: Help me, please.

Polite­ness can do so many great things for you. Know­ing how to say ‘Help me’ and append­ing it with the pow­er­ful word ‘please’ will help you solve your prob­lems while overseas.

Top 3: Can I please have a…?

While over­seas you may be tempt­ed to go shop­ping for clothes, gad­gets, food and sou­venirs or eat out. Polite­ly ask­ing for things in the land’s local lan­guage will, with­out a doubt, help you get what you need or want.basic phrases to learn in every language

Top 4: Thank you.

A ‘thank you’ in the land’s local lan­guage after receiv­ing some assis­tance is min­i­mum require­ment. Your grate­ful­ness will not only make you look polite, but it will also paint a fab­u­lous pic­ture of your countrymen.

Top 5: I’m sorry.

Because most coun­tries are usu­al­ly cul­tur­al­ly dif­fer­ent from yours, you may do or say things that the locals may find offen­sive. Be sen­si­tive to this and rec­ti­fy the sit­u­a­tion with a quick and heart­felt ‘I’m sor­ry’ spo­ken in their language.

basic phrases to learn in every languageThere are oth­er basic phras­es I encour­age you to learn before you go on hol­i­day in a coun­try that has a dif­fer­ent lan­guage to yours. How­ev­er, if you don’t have time, the patience nor the apti­tude to learn more, mas­ter these five basic phras­es to learn in every lan­guage and be pre­pared to smile a lot. Don’t wor­ry — you should be alright.

This blog claims no cred­it for any images post­ed on this site unless oth­er­wise not­ed. Images on this blog are copy­right to its respect­ful own­ers. If there is an image appear­ing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please e-mail with a link to said image and it will be prompt­ly removed.

Top 5 annoying things tourists do

In their excite­ment, some tourists do some annoy­ing things. Below is a list of my top 5 list of annoy­ing things tourists do that I hope you’d be mind­ful of the next time you trav­el. I must keep these in mind, too.

Man, Woman, Hat, Holding, Hands, Smile, Tourist, Couple

It makes me hap­py to see friends and fam­i­lies explor­ing Aus­tralia. It makes me extra proud and appre­cia­tive of where I live and the choic­es I’ve made in life. As much as it makes me hap­py to see the delight on their faces, I some­times stay away from them espe­cial­ly when I’m in a rush or wish to concentrate.

Here’s my list of top 5 annoy­ing things tourists do:

Top 1 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists talk too loudly.

Some vis­i­tors seem to up their deci­bel lev­el when they’re trav­el­ling. They talk to peo­ple near them in a way that makes me think they’re all deaf. To be hon­est, it’s dou­bly grat­ing when they shout in their lan­guage. Mel­low the bel­low, guys.

Top 2 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists take photos non-stop.
File:Selfie Stick in Rom (23950053839).jpg

Pho­to cred­its: Self­ie Stick in Rome by Mar­co Verch from Wiki­me­dia Commons

I under­stand that pho­tos are vital as these will be the rem­nants of your unfor­get­table hol­i­day. How­ev­er, you can make it even more mem­o­rable if you take the time to expe­ri­ence the place, to take in the glo­ri­ous view using your very own eyes. Pause and pull your eyes from behind your dig­i­tal cam­era or take a breather from tak­ing self­ies and look around you.

I will nev­er for­get the tourists we trav­elled with when we were cruis­ing on Mil­ford Sound in New Zealand. They were like bounc­ing bun­nies, eager to have their pho­to tak­en non-stop. They may have hun­dreds of pho­tos to look at now, but what I have is more spe­cial: vivid mem­o­ries of the water­falls, seals, whales and nature at its very best.

Top 3 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists stop walking on a busy footpath without moving to one side or walk in one long horizontal line.

If you are in a bustling city like New York, Lon­don, Rome, Syd­ney or Mel­bourne, I under­stand that you can’t help but take pho­tos. Why wouldn’t you? When you would like to check the map you have, that’s alright. Please just make sure that you’re not in the way of peo­ple. Look behind you. Park your­self properly.

Top 4 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists walk in groups at a turtle’s pace.

If you’re explor­ing a city in big groups, it’ll be chal­leng­ing to walk in one hor­i­zon­tal line. Walk in pairs or threes to avoid caus­ing traf­fic build-up. Remem­ber that your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion is anoth­er person’s place of work.

Top 5 annoying thing tourists do: Some tourists ignore rules and aren’t courteous.

Some trav­ellers apply the rules (or the lack there­of) in their coun­try when in their hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions. Some don’t let peo­ple out of trains in their desire to secure their spot, turn into crazy dri­vers, spit in pub­lic, jump queues or obstruct traf­fic. If you have no time to read up on some eti­quette and traf­fic rules in the coun­try you’re trav­el­ling to, be obser­vant and read the signs around you.

If you don’t speak the lan­guage of locals or speak it but don’t pos­sess the same accent, you may have com­mu­ni­ca­tion issues. Please be cour­te­ous at all times and repeat your­self as many times as you have to. In addi­tion, learn basic words such as ‘thank you’, ‘please’, ‘sor­ry’ and ‘hel­lo’.

When you’re on hol­i­day over­seas, bear in mind that you are your country’s ambas­sador. Have heaps of fun, make as many spec­tac­u­lar mem­o­ries as you can, but be mind­ful of your actions. Please don’t do any of the top 5 annoy­ing things tourists do. You may be the only per­son the locals will meet from your coun­try. You wouldn’t want them to cre­ate a hor­ri­ble stereo­type of your coun­try­men, would you?

Caricature from Pixabay by GraphicMama-team, covered by the CC0 license.

Top 5 British brands we must have in Australia

I’m not a big shop­per or food enthu­si­ast, but I’d like to have good options. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this is one thing that Aus­tralia lacks. Since it is a first world coun­try that con­tin­ues to have strong ties with the Unit­ed King­dom of Great Britain and North­ern Islands (phew!), I expect to have more British brands in Australia.

I’m not British but my short but sweet trav­el to the UK has left me long­ing for the fol­low­ing brands:

Top 1 brand: Waitrose

Whilst Aus­tralia has Coles and Wool­worths bat­tling head-to-head in the super­mar­ket chain are­na with cameo roles played by Aldi and IGA, the British are Image result for waitrose logolucky to have Wait­rose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Mor­risons. In my opin­ion, Wait­rose takes the cake (in a great way) for their deli­cious desserts, such as frozen sweets, tarts, pies and cheese­cakes. Walk­ing up and down the aisle was a delight­ful expe­ri­ence that I would like to have at my dis­pos­al in Australia.

Top 2 brand: Marks and Spencer

Image result for M&S logoThere were rumours of plans to open a Marks and Spencer store in Aus­tralia in 2016. The Tele­graph, unfor­tu­nate­ly, con­firmed in the same year that there’s no truth in the rumour. I won­der if it was just spread by those des­per­ate to get the retail giant in Oi! Oi! Land. Marks and Spencer in the UK, known for its super­mar­kets and depart­ment stores, sells rea­son­ably priced mid-mar­ket goods. I enjoyed shop­ping for food, espe­cial­ly meals and desserts, and clothes at M&S or as the British say ‘Marks and Sparks’. There is, how­ev­er, some sil­ver lin­ing as there is now a ded­i­cat­ed M&S web­site for the Aus­tralian mar­ket that guar­an­tees ease of deliv­ery and returns.

Top 3 brand: Zizzi Co.

Image result for zizzi co logoI’ve seen peo­ple in the UK queu­ing up despite the driz­zling rain in the win­ter just to have a Zizzi Co. Although it seemed like the Ital­ian piz­za chain was every­where, the qual­i­ty of the food is con­sis­tent­ly good. I espe­cial­ly love the cal­zone, piz­za with egg and spinach in the mid­dle and tiramisu. I’ve just had a look at their web­site and their spring spe­cial, melt­ed moz­zarel­la and pep­per pesto cro­quettes, is beck­on­ing me. I hope that one day I don’t need to endure a 24-hour flight, jet lag and sun-deprived days just to sat­is­fy my crav­ing for a Zizzi Co. meal.

Top 4 brand: White Stuff

Don’t be mis­led by the name. White Stuff doesn’t only sell white casu­al cloth­ing, shoes and acces­sories. In fact, there is no short­age of colour in their shops. Touch their tops, scarves, knitwear, and dress­es and straight away you’ll know that a lot of care has been put into the cre­ation of each item. While they sell men’s acces­sories and shoes, the bulk of their prod­ucts is tar­get­ed for women. Ladies can dress from head to toe with their wide White Stuffarray of out­door and indoor gar­ments. To this day, after over a year of pur­chase and many wash­es, I still trea­sure my knit­ted cardi­gan and dog­gy socks.

Top 5 brand: Schuh

Guess what they sell. Shoes! The shop boasts a won­der­ful col­lec­tion of shoes for every occa­sion and style pref­er­ence. Aside from pop­u­lar brands, Schuh also stocks up on its own label, my favourite Red or Dead, and oth­er less known but high-qual­i­ty shoes. Step into a Schuh shop and you’re schuh logoguar­an­teed to walk out with hap­py feet.

I can only dream that one day Aus­tralian investors would wake up to the real­i­ty that there is a mar­ket for pop­u­lar British brands. They can add me to the list of over a mil­lion Brits liv­ing in Aus­tralia who would be over the moon to have their favourites right at their doorstep.

If you there are oth­er British brands that you think the peo­ple in Aus­tralia deserve to have, let us know. Leave a com­ment, and hope­ful­ly our voic­es will be heard. 🙂

Top 5 mobile phone etiquette rules for commuters

Some peo­ple think that mobile phone eti­quette is over­rat­ed and out­dat­ed. I can’t think of any­thing else that’s so far from the truth. The population’s use of their mobile phones in pub­lic affects all of us.

One gad­get that’s overused and mis­used is the smart­phone. We sim­ply can’t live with­out it and it’s under­stand­able. Liv­ing up to its coined name, the smart­phone is unde­ni­ably smart. You can keep in touch with oth­ers, surf, read, shop, lis­ten to music and pod­casts, play games, take and check out pho­tos and videos, and so much more. It’s not sur­pris­ing that the smart­phone has made pub­lic trans­port trips more fun or at least more bearable.

Let’s blame the not-so-smart use of smart­phones. Since there are many things we can do on mobile phones, some think that they can use our theirs wher­ev­er and when­ev­er. They must’ve for­got­ten that cour­tesy and respect are equal­ly if not more impor­tant than technology.Man in Brown Hoodie Standing in Front of Train Railway

When on pub­lic trans­port and you see peo­ple glar­ing at you or shak­ing their head in dis­be­lief, chances are you’re dis­obey­ing at least one unspo­ken mobile phone eti­quette rule.


Top 1 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t talk too loudly on the phone.

If you have to talk to some­one on the phone while you’re on a bus, tram, fer­ry or train, use your qui­et voice. Peo­ple aren’t inter­est­ed in what you did last night, your issues with your house­mate or what you’re cook­ing for din­ner. Show con­sid­er­a­tion to peo­ple who would like to catch some Zs, rest, study, work, read, write, think, imag­ine, or lis­ten to music or podcasts.

Top 2 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t play music for everyone on board.

Our music pref­er­ences are dif­fer­ent so please don’t play disc jock­ey on any pub­lic trans­port. Put your head­phones or ear­phones on if you want to lis­ten to music or pod­casts, and let the rest of the pas­sen­gers enjoy theirs and more impor­tant­ly their peace and quiet.

Top 3 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Look up to check if there’s someone in need.

Some­times, we get too engrossed in our smart­phones that we escape real­i­ty. Look up from time to time to make sure no one needs your seat or needs you to scoot over in order to make some room.

Top 4 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Don’t play your game with too much zest.

The trans­port you’re on is not an Inter­net café, and the per­son sit­ting next to you isn’t a fel­low gamer. Avoid get­ting over­ly excit­ed as you might end up mak­ing nois­es in reac­tion to your game performance.

Top 5 Mobile Phone Etiquette Rule: Eyes on your phone only.

A fel­low pas­sen­ger may be look­ing at some­thing inter­est­ing on his or her phone, but that doesn’t give you the green light to check it out for your­self or worse give unso­licit­ed com­ments. If you find your­self peek­ing, avert your eyes. Think of how you’d feel if there were some stranger check­ing out your screen.

A recent inci­dent on the train has made me believe that there is still hope for our smart­phone-addict­ed gen­er­a­tion. A man whis­pered to the per­son he was talk­ing to on the oth­er line to call him back because he was on the train. I watched that scene unfold with a huge smile on my face.

Mobile phone eti­quette rules aren’t imprac­ti­cal and cer­tain­ly not dif­fi­cult to fol­low. In fact, they’re so sim­ple, so I can’t help but hope that with suf­fi­cient aware­ness more peo­ple will become more respon­si­ble and smarter smart­phone users.


Top 5 ways to deal with an odd character on a tram

It’s 1:41 AM. I’ve just got back from watch­ing the Best of the Edin­burgh Fest com­e­dy show, a drink at a Mel­bourne CBD pub and two din­ners. Yes, that wasn’t a typo — I had 2 din­ners, thanks to my hun­gry hip­po friends.

On my way home, I encoun­tered a strange man on the tram. He had his ear­phones on and ran­dom­ly sang parts of a num­ber of songs loud­ly. He also quite open­ly com­plained about the con­stant beep­ing of the tram dri­ver. At 1 AM, shar­ing a tram with a few row­dy peo­ple is quite com­mon. These peo­ple, how­ev­er, strike at any time of the day, so the ‘Cin­derel­la Strat­e­gy’ or ‘the home before mid­night’ tac­tic does not guar­an­tee that you won’t come across these inter­est­ing indi­vid­u­als. The best way is to know what to do if you’re in that situation.

Tip#1: Do noth­ing. Some­times, it’s best to ignore the odd one. Dows­ing cold water on a fire might aggra­vate the sit­u­a­tion, so it’s best not to look or watch and just con­tin­ue doing your thing.

Tip#2: Pre­tend you’re on your phone. If you’re pre­oc­cu­pied, you have an excuse not to react while the whole encounter takes place. Sim­ply put your phone to your ear and start talk­ing. Remem­ber to pause as real con­ver­sa­tions are two-way. If you can actu­al­ly phone some­one and have a con­ver­sa­tion with them, go for it. Try not to men­tion any­thing about the per­son who’s mak­ing you uncom­fort­able as this might make mat­ters worse.

Tip#3: Move next to a kind and prefer­ably burly man. If it gets unbear­able, change seats or just stand if there isn’t an avail­able one. It’s cru­cial to stand next to a kind-look­ing and mus­cu­lar man just in case the odd per­son goes a bit more mental.

Tip#4: Move clos­er to the dri­ver. On an emp­ty tram, bus or train, relo­cate your­self near the dri­ver. Dri­vers have a mag­i­cal emer­gency but­ton at their dis­pos­al if the going gets tough. In sit­u­a­tions like this, a con­cerned and mus­cu­lar dri­ver is heaven-sent.

Tip#5: Pre­tend you can’t speak or under­stand Eng­lish. Obvi­ous­ly, this depends on where you are in the world. Some strange peo­ple prey on those they can get a reac­tion from. Say­ing “No Eng­lish, no Eng­lish” if they start engag­ing you in con­ver­sa­tion might just do the trick.

If fol­low­ing one tip isn’t enough to solve the prob­lem, con­sid­er work­ing through the list. If all else fails, do not get off the mov­ing vehi­cle because you might end up hav­ing to deal with this stranger on your own. If you’re in Aus­tralia, call 000.