Happy New Year!

So, obviously, I fell off the wagon. Not only did I just fall off, I tumbled out and continued downhill afterwards. I ate unhealthy meals, slept at the wrong hours, completely disregarded self-care, and basically went on autopilot mode for the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, December 2015 was without a doubt a month to remember. I had a surprise party with almost perfect attendance from all of my good friends, and I got to celebrate my birthday again and again after that with Jan, my family, and other friends too.

Then the christmas parties were rolling in (while my stomach fat was rolling out of my jeans) and everyone was merry and glee! To top it all off, I got to spend quality time with my family in Pampanga and an awesome monthsary date trekking Taal. ❤

Now, having moved on to a new year, I’ve got shorts that won’t fit and a twisted ankle as remainders and proof of last year’s shenanigans. LOL

This year is pretty big for me and I’m anticipating a looot of stress so I’ve planned ways to help me handle the stress better. One week has gone by and I’m proud of myself because I followed a routine successfully and I’m feeling healthier already. ( I started the first few d ays of this week with a really bad cold.)

I’m looking forward to self-growth this year. Self-improvement is key. I like the sound of the word “improvement” because it allows me room to grow and a safe space to make mistakes. I have a chance to improve. I’m not (yet) vying for perfection. I’m just taking day by day by the hand and I’m taking baby steps into a healthy, “mature” lifestyle.





Growing Pains

Last month ended with news that would change my life forever! haha Drama aside, I really do think this will be my greatest challenge so far. I finally got an offer letter from the University I applied to in Australia. (yipeee!!!) But before I could jump for joy, there’s a list of things I have to organize and fix- including my mental preparedness. This will be the first time I’ll be away from my loved ones for longer than a month. Bring on the tears! :)) huhu!

Anyway, all this planning and all the steps to independence and adulthood got me thinking. I have been craving for independence for so long now but part of me still clings to the comfort of being a kid. (I know I haven’t been a kid for quite some time now but I sleep in a room that hasn’t changed since I was 8 so at the end of the day I still feel like a kid staring up at my ballerina wallpaper.)

(Having trouble putting my thoughts into writing because of some noisy kids at the table next to mine. Sign of aging? grrr)

Anyway, what was I saying? I was thinking of why I’m having such a difficult time crossing over to adulthood. Here’s a short list I came up with of my own growing pains based on some recent experiences:

  • Wanting to have my own space, a bed I paid for, and sheets I actually bought for myself; but I still want that my safety blanket, and my favorite toys [(a) Shiloh- my black stuffed pup that I’ve dragged along with me for years and years that it’s “fur” has hardened in some areas and it’s “nose” has been rubbed out of it’s leather-y appearance (super bakbak), and (b) my stuffed elephant, sutisa, that Jan gave me after my Bangkok trip too
  • Going to a children’s party and wanting the kiddie meal (Spaghetti + McFlurry) instead of the boring adult meal (Chicken + rice (pero masarap pa din siempre HAHA!).
  • Learning that some of the people you’ve known all your life have dark sides, parts of their personality that can be called assholes and bitches- but you love them anyway because there are some people you can’t choose to move away from and also because the other awesome parts outweigh the dark ones.

So here’s to being an adult without forgetting the child in me. haha!

peter pan


Cuz and I booked the trip within the first quarter of 2015. It’s the second time we went on our annual “cuz” trip- a new tradition we formed since our first trip last year to Cambodia. Cuzmiguin came to life last week, from October 15 to 18, and it didn’t go as we expected but it’s exactly because of the unexpected that I am sure this trip will stay in our memories for years to come. Don’t worry, I won’t be going through everything we did minute by minute.

BUT I am going to start with our trip to the airport. haha! Our flight was at 7:40am. We left the house almost 6am because we were both naive and assumed that all Manileños wake up later than the sun rises. Holy macaroni! Waze computed it would take us almost an hour to get to the airport!! I felt like we were on the amazing race and Mon was silently computing how much we would have wasted if ever we missed our flight (Php 707.8- for the flight and if we get a refund for the lodging deposit). We reached the departure gate at 7:15am after running/ brisk walking in NAIA 3 as the rest of the passengers were lining up for boarding. PHEEWW!!!!!! Sweet relief!!

To get to Pabua’s- our home for the three nights, we took a car, a plane, a multicab, a bus, a ferry, and a motorcycle. That’s almost 9 hours in transit, with a butt-cramping finale! :))

  • Having spent our days in the island going around by habal-habal, here’s a few things I learned from riding motorcycles:
    • There is no poise way to get on and off a motorcycle. Hurrah to everyone we accidentally flashed!
    • Speed is loud. I swear there were times when I became partially deaf after a long ride.
    • Rain is the enemy! (especially when it’s accompanied by the cold wind we were piercing through + the rain felt like needles falling on us)
    • I have never felt so close to a stranger. I wanted to sleep on our driver’s back but that would have been weird..
    • Three is a crowd…but it can also be a party!! :p

This video sums up how we felt when we finally stepped foot on Camiguin and took our first motorcycle ride :)) (I’m Michelle and cuz is Romy)

Un-#$!!-fortunately, weather was not on our side. On all of our three mornings on the island, we set the alarm for 4:55 am (Cuz’s phone) and 5:00 am (My phone) to get ready for our trip to the White Island (the place we wanted to see the most!!!). and on all of those three mornings, the wind howled and banged, heavy rain poured, and the sun refused to come out. Basically, we weren’t able to go to White Island :((((((((((


  • Ig screenshot
    Screencap of my instagram post, just wanted to share my caption from there :))

    The island still had sooo much to offer!

Katibawasan Falls (Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset)
Katibawasan Falls (Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset)
Church Ruins (Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset)
Church Ruins (Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset)
Sunken Cemetery (Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset)
Sunken Cemetery (Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset)

We also found an addition to our favorite Filipino desserts: KIPING! It’s dried cassava with coco jam sprinkled on it and it tastes like heaven! :p~~~


We had so much time in our hands but it still felt bitin. I remember receiving a text before that said: “May mga bagay-bagay sa buhay na sadyang bitin.”

Romy and Michelle, 2015 (Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset)
Romy and Michelle, 2015 (Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset)

Week One

I started my “self-discipline” challenge last week and I’ve narrowed it down to two major challenges:

  1. Waking up at the same hour daily (at least for weekdays)
  2. Eating within my calorie count goal

These sound so trivial and easy but they’re what I’ve been struggling with. My sleeping habits are terrible and they were formed way way back so it really is a struggle to change. I don’t even remember my alarm going off this morning. 😐 I read a few tips on how to wake up earlier online and here are some that I remember:

  • don’t use the snooze button (so you actually sleep better longer and the sleep cycle doesn’t reset)
  • put your alarm far from where you’re sleeping so you have to get up to make it stop. (not sure if i want to do this haha!)
  • change the time of your alarm gradually. For example, if today my alarm is at 9am, in a week I can change it to 8:45, then the week after that 8:30 and so on until I meet the right hour.

My eating habits actually start off well when the day starts but it sort of fades away as day turns into night. I’m like a vampire pig that finds all kinds of unhealthy food in the night. haha! Right now I’m trying not to think of the bag of chips that’s just a feet away from me. It’s seaweed-flavored and I loooooooove it. (help!) Coincidentally, I was able to learn about “Mindful eating” last week and although some of the tips sound ridiculous, they do seem to work. :)) Here are 5 tips that help:

  • use a red plate (This contradicts what I’ve read before about red being a color that increases appetite but if it came from a mindful eating expert, I’ll take it.)(problem is we don’t have any red plates!)
  • make a fist (signals your body to stop)
  • eat with your non-dominant hand (it forces you to eat slower, and needs more thought processing)
  • eat your favorite food last (what if all of it is my favorite???)
  • don’t fight it (forgot what this means, actually.)

Other tips I’ve read from all over the internet are:

  • out of sight, out of mind (put those junk food in places that are not easily accessible)
  • eat small portions
  • eat slow (not a problem! LOL)
  • drink lots and lots of water (sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger)
  • remember delayed gratification (the longer you wait, the better it will taste 😉 )

The week wasn’t all fails though! I was able to exercise 3x last week, AND with my first ever 4km run! It’s not a lot but that’s a really big achievement for me. :)) I used to live a terribly sedentary lifestyle and I have only started trying to be active late last year. I’m really proud of myself. haha! A big part of my motivation comes from my beautiful cousin who is such an inspiration! She lost more than 40 lbs this year and she’s continually working on becoming the healthiest, freshest self she’s ever been. Of course, Jan has also been ever supportive and keeps pushing me to exceed the limits I set for myself (even if it makes me upset while he’s doing it). Sometimes I think he believes in me more than I believe in myself. :))

I also started following The Mindfulness Summit, a month-long free seminar on Mindfulness. I am hoping that I can practice mindfulness to make my life better and more meaningful. One of the speakers shared a quote from the Buddha that is perfect for what I’m trying to do. I’ll end my entry with this.

Think not lightly of good, saying, ‘it will not come to me.’
Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise one,
gathering little by little, fills one’s self with good.” 


A couple of months ago, I decided to try out meditation. I have a soft-copy of the Mindulness Workbook that has links of audio meditations and meditation activities to do everyday for 8 weeks. I was so ready on my first day. I woke up earlier than usual for me, (which isn’t so early for the average person), I set up my laptop to listen to the link, and I had a notebook to write down my thoughts and my experience. The first audio meditation was a guide to doing a body scan- i fell asleep in the last 10 minutes. haha! but the book said that was okay and normal and to keep trying it for everyday for a week.

I haven’t opened the ebook since.

Just like I didn’t finish that 30-day fitness challenge that I almost (almost!!) completed.

And that ballet class I joined when I was 8 that I just stopped showing up for.

So, I decided that I needed an intervention, from me to me. LOL

As I was figuring out what I lack and what I have been doing wrong, I realized that it all boils down to SELF-DISCIPLINE. I have none. :)) Or I might be too lenient with myself. If I were on a diet, I would allow myself to binge because I keep thinking, “be kind to yourself.” But am I really being kind to myself when I let myself get off track? Nope! I’ve been spoiling myself and no one likes a spoiled adult.

Now.. where to start? I have a few things at the top of my head that I want to work on.

  1. Be healthy (jogging at least 3x a week, eating less junk food and more greens)
  2. Be productive (wake up early, work on thesis, make art, write weekly here, sleep early)

Let’s see how it goes! Hoping to turn this month into my most disciplined month of the year.


Back to basics

A few days ago, my best friend asked me if I still blog and I wasn’t sure how to answer her. I started my first blog in high school when everyone else had them. I remember it was in xanga.com. (HAHA!) Now, I blog occasionally when inspiration strikes or when there’s something I think other people would enjoy reading about in my life (HAHA! again.) And it struck me, why the hell do I have to write about what other people find interesting? First of all, I don’t intend to be a travel blogger or a fashion/lifestyle blogger (only because I’m currently too broke to travel and I don’t have the energy to take photographs of every cute outfit or whatever I have on). Second, I read my own blog more than anyone else in the world so…. I decided I’m going to start writing entries that I’d like to look back at and be entertained by. And since we’re living in a digital world, might as well document my life here as well (although I still keep a planner/diary and actual photographs in case the internet fails in the end).

So here’s to a new beginning for my blog– one that’s more honest, less people-pleasing, and as a whole personal, which is also why I’m changing the site name into jilliivanilli (as soon as I figure out how to do that)

and to everyone else who hesitates to write about what’s on their mind because there might not be enough views or likes or shares or whatever, here’s a song for you:


Jilliivanilli xo

Three years :)

I wrote this for my boyfriend for our third anniversary. It wasn’t all cartwheels and carousels for us but we pushed through. Simply put, I’m as happy and maybe even happier than I ever knew I could be. 🙂

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset
Processed with VSCOcam with x1 preset

[1] In the last three years
I’ve had not only butterflies in my stomach,
But also lumps in my throat,
Goosebumps on my skin,
And currents running up and down my spine

[2] In the last three years,
Never have my eyes been so eager
To see things– things that are beautiful all at once
&& things that become beautiful because of how he talks about them

[3] In the last three years,
I have never been more human.
I have never felt more human.
And I have never known a better human
Than the one I have loved these last three years

I remember sitting in my AP/History class in my high school sophomore year and hearing about Cambodia for the first time. I was never really into History but this particularly strange-sounding country tickled my senses. How can a civilization so rich just fall into pieces??? Since then, Cambodia has been on my list of places I have to go to before I die. I finally got to go last April 6-10 with my cousin, who is also not coincidentally my favorite “lady” in the world. 🙂

Mon (Cuz) and I on our first tuktuk ride, still looking fresh!
Mon (Cuz) and I on our first tuktuk ride, still looking fresh!

This is our first international adventure together, which marks another milestone in our cousinship. To sum it all up in one horribly constructed sentence, we explored 10 temples, ate several exotic snacks, perspired buckets of sweat, met, witnessed, and sometimes smelled foreigners and locals alike, had our feet massaged by fish, and cherished every moment of the trip. I loved Cambodia so much!! I don’t know where to begin!

I guess the temples are a good enough start-off point. We went to Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, Bantaey Samre, Bantaey Srei, Pre Rup, Angkot Wat (!!!), Bayon, Baphuon, and Ta Prohm– all in two days! 🙂 Each temple was magical and even if they may seem alike, each temple always felt like it had its own personality. It wasn’t difficult to be amazed every time we entered a new temple. With the different pathways and the similar inscriptions, the experience was something close to being in a time warp- somewhere in between the present and when a civilization actually thrived in the temples before they turned into ruins.



If you spent this much time and effort on a temple’s walls, wouldn’t you love it like it was your own home?


Resting our tired feet while cuz’s sandals bask under the sun





Sunset at Pre Rup



Their pathways were always so welcoming :’)


Sunrise at Angkor Wat

I have never seen so much people wait for the sun to come up. After seeing the sun rise, we understood why. :”)

Monkey in Angkor Wat!
Monkey in Angkor Wat!
One of Vanity’s finest!
monkeying around


My camera and my photography skills are horrible excuses for these. It was frustrating how the beauty of the temples never translated into my camera’s screen. Nonetheless, these are good enough to look at for reminiscent moments.

Aside from the adventure the temples offered, the street food was another experience I wouldn’t trade anything for. Lucky for me, cuz is just as fearless as I am in trying new food. We tried snake on a stick, frogs, crickets, a spider, and I’m not quite sure what that other critter was but it looked like a giant roach to me. Oh and kangaroo meat! (which I honestly feel bad about…I didn’t eat a lot!

Food Cambodia

We also tried their other street food like their pancake (which is really just fried crepe with bananas and other toppings), and their fried noodles (we couldn’t get enough of it!), and their version of fishballs (I’m not sure if these are fishballs actually). IMG_3181





The rest of our time were spent chilling in our fave tuktuk (we even took a nap in it), looking for souvenirs at the markets, drinking beer in pub street, and having fish foot massages (4 hours total for me, 3 for cuz!)


Not sure if we imagined it, but we stick to our testimony that this is the comfiest tuktuk there ever was!



Here we go!!


me and my beer

Drinking cold beer was always something I looked forward to because of the heat! 😉


Thanks for reading up!! 🙂 Please go to Cambodia if you haven’t yet. It’s purely fantastical! And cuz, if you’re reading this. I love you, thank you for the adventure!! :*






Hello again!

It’s been almost a year since my last post. I can’t say I’ve been too busy to make an entry. It just wasn’t at the top of my list, or I don’t think it was on my list at all. But there’s a lot of things that have happened since. (A lot of the photos in here is taken from my phone so that explains the quality.)

~ I resigned from my teaching job, which was a really, really tough decision that was not exempted from tears. I grew so much from my 2 years in that school. Two years may sound short but how much I changed and how much I matured is not an exaggeration. That experience is really worth it’s own entry. So I chose the path where my passion truly lies, and that’s psychology. I’m really excited to learn new things and meet new people- a bit anxious too. Wish me luck?

The wonderful life that I left behind. It never really felt like work to me.
The wonderful life that I left behind. It never really felt like work to me. :”)
Here's a dorky photo of me looking like I was in a candy store next to the gigantic interactive brain the Mind Museum has.
Here’s a dorky photo of me looking like I was in a candy store next to the gigantic interactive brain the Mind Museum has.

~ I travelled a bit since last April. So there’s a few entries lined up for this blog. I’ll be writing about Hong Kong, Nagsasa Cove, Calaguas, and Cambodia. I hope my memory doesn’t fail me!

From upper left clockwise: Cambodia, Calaguas, Nagsasa Cove, Hong Kong
From upper left clockwise: Cambodia, Calaguas, Nagsasa Cove, Hong Kong

~ I’m trying out calligraphy, which is a real challenge to someone who’s known for having terrible handwriting. Suffice to say, my handwriting has not changed much since I was in grade school. But here I am, trying to achieve the impossible.

I still need a lot of practice and better pens!
I still need a lot of practice and better pens!

So, that’s that! In lieu of the Lao New Year, Cheers!!

Taken from New Year 2014
Taken from New Year 2014

Masbate in April

It is not easy for me to write about Masbate because I honestly don’t know where to start. I went to Masbate with my mom, her friends, and my cousin Monica. We were welcomed by Tita Carmen and Tito Mario Espinosa who were extremely accommodating. We could not have asked for more! We went to Masbate with bright eyes curious to see what a rodeo festival would be like. I was looking forward to seeing bulls and cowboys or cowgirls going at it. I had no idea that we would be experiencing so much more of what Masbate has to offer.

I was particularly excited to see their beaches. I love love love the sandbar/ Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary! I love the idea of two currents pushing at different directions to form a small island. Star-crossed seas, perhaps?

I also enjoyed Palani Beach, in Balud. We basically had the long stretch of the shoreline to ourselves. These are my favourite kinds of beaches, with sand so fine it feels like it’s never been stepped on before.

masbate beach wp

We also passed by Fazenda de Esperanca, a rehabilitation home that looks like a quaint rural paradise. In all directions, you could see shades of green with just enough sprinkles of colour from flowers. This rehabilitation centre is unique for many reasons. The recovering addicts reshape their lives purely through spirituality and hard labor. Here’s a link for those interested: http://www.fazenda-ph.org/



Of course, a trip to the province will not be complete without amaaaazing food. We mainly had seafood in most of our meals. No complaints about that! 😉 They also served a local delicacy, a type of kakanin made of sticky rice and coconut meat. (I forgot what it’s called. :|) It’s delicious!!


And since we went there during their fiesta time. We were able to have a go at their local carnival. Mon and I rode the small roller coaster for just 20 pesos!


Finally, we were able to watch the rodeo competition. It was so unexpected and so surreal because I had no idea we had rodeo competitions yearly in the country. I was especially impressed by the girls who were part of the games. Also, luckily, we were able to witness the first bull riding competition to be held in the country.

I wasn’t able to take good shots but here are a couple of still frames I got from the video I took of this cowgirl bull riding.


That wraps up our Masbate trip! I left the place with a promise of returning. Maybe we’ll even get to try to ride a bull… a mechanical one at least? hahaha