Tribute to OFWs

Friday, 2 December 2011

I am very proud to say that I came from a family of OFWs. My father left when I was about 8 or 9 years old to work in Saudi. As difficult as it was for my mother to be left on her own to look after me and my brother, more than 11 years of being apart was well worth it in the end. If it were not for my father's (and my mother's) sacrifices, I don't know if I would have been who and what I am today. I couldn't imagine myself going to college because life was hard way back then. That's why I owe everything to them. Being apart from my father was not easy. But perhaps we were still lucky because at least we saw my father every two years. Some OFWs that I hear about nowadays have not gone home in a very long time. 

I am really glad that I learned how to sacrifice at a young age, because that is exactly what I am doing right now. As much as I wanted to see my niece and nephews grow up and my parents grow old, I had to give that up to provide them with a better life. When I found out that my visa for the UK has been approved, I immediately asked my father to come home. I just thought that he has done his job and that it was my turn to "sacrifice". 

I came to England to work as a Nurse in 2001. I am now a British citizen, but I was an OFW first. And I am proud to be one.

My brother is also now in Saudi.

To all OFWs, Mabuhay po kayo! This one is for you.....

And this is why Coca-Cola is the real thing.

tintin x

No Other Woman

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Watching the movie No Other Woman last friday lead to a very random dream about an ex-boyfriend and his wife. Honestly I don't even think about these people, so why on earth would I dream about them? In the dream, I was flirting with the ex-boyfriend in front of the wife. Parang Anne Curtis lang. Naging kontrabida tuloy ako. 

Anyway, let's talk about the movie. First of all, I wouldn't have watched the movie if it were not for Carmi Martin's punch lines. I must say that Star Cinema made the right choice in including that scene in the trailer as it drew curiosity among people like me, who wouldn't necessarily watch Filipino films (anymore) but has a passion for funny and palaban punch lines. I couldn't think of anyone else who could have delivered those lines better than Miss Carmi Martin, so well done.

With regards to the main characters, Anne Curtis is actually the best among the three. She was perfect for her role and her acting was very natural. I think she deserves an award for this movie. Although I have not actually seen Derek Ramsay act before, I think he was good. And Cristine Reyes? Well for me she was not the ideal person to portray the role of Charmaine. I feel that someone like Angelica Panganiban would have done more justice to the role. Her acting was sometimes boring and quite pilit in some scenes. But otherwise she was okay.

No Other Woman is a typical Filipino movie about illicit affairs though. The story for me was very familiar. The scenes towards the climax became too predictable. But despite that, I certainly enjoyed watching the movie -thanks to Anne Curtis, Carmi Martin and the punch lines!

And to end this blog, here are some of the famous punch lines:

"Huwag mong sayangin ang lakas mo, kilalanin mo muna ang kalaban mo" - Carmi

"Anak, ang tandaan mo pag ang lalaki maya't maya nagpapalit ng babae, okay lang yun. Pero pag ang lalaki hindi na nagpalit at may suki na siyang kabit, dun lumaban ka na." -Carmi

"Hindi ko kayang makipag-agawan, at saka bakit ko kailangang ipaglaban kung alam kong akin?"- Charmaine

"Dahil nga ang mundo ay isang malaking Quiapo, maraming snatcher. Maaagawan ka. Lumaban ka." - Carmi

"Kasi tignan mo naman yang itsura mo. Panahon na para i-pack up mo yang Lucy Torres mo, ilabas mo na diyan si Gretchen Barretto. Ako na bahala sa red stiletto mo!"- Carmi

"Ano bang mas madaling kalaban, yung putang mahirap, o putang mayaman?" - Charmaine

"Pareho-pareho lang putang mga yun. Yung mayaman original ang Hermes, yung mahirap binili sa Greenhills! Yun lang yun." - Carmi

Speaking of Hermes, I loved the scene when Kara threw her Hermes at Ram. That was brave I thought. =)

Photo not mine

tintin x

London's Best Kept (Breakfast) Secret!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

If I happen to be in London especially on a weekend, I normally have my favourite longsiloglog (because I always have two eggs) at a Pinoy restaurant in Earl's Court. Either that, or I get my usual double sausage and egg Mc Muffin and pancakes at where else, of course Mc Donald's.  But when my friend Mila took me to the The Breakfast Club in Angel  last week, I think I may have found a new breakfast hang-out. So on Monday, I went there again, this time at their Soho branch.

We got there just after 8am, so the place was very quiet. We were greeted by a guy who looked like he just got out of bed and couldn't be bothered to go to work. He could be forgiven because it was early Monday morning. It's just a shame though because the place although rather small, had a very welcoming ambiance. So the experience would have been better if the staff was more accommodating. Anyhow, I would probably still go back for the food and the place, but not necessarily the staff.
This is what you see as you go in. A very cosy place. I guess we went there at the best time as there was not so many people. Apparently during weekends and towards the day, it gets really busy and you may need to queue.

Their wall is plastered with photos of people who have been at the cafe, some personal letters and notes from all over the world. Sweet.

Salt, pepper and your favourite sauces! And don't forget to drop a penny or two in the piggy bank!=)

I saw this first when my friend and I had lunch at the Angel branch. I thought it looked weird. So I tried it this time and it was not that bad. It's a smoothie called "Green is Good"- spinach, mint, mango and apple. It's worth a try at 3 pounds and 90 pence. 

And yes, take advantage of the free wi-fi, although the connection was very slow.
I have a bad habit of ordering the same food over and over again. The first time I ordered The All American, and last time I ordered the same again. The eggs normally look more beautiful than that, but because I asked for a well-cooked eggs, it turned out ugly. I love their bacon as it is crunchy and not too oily. The sausage was good as well. And their pancakes? Uhmmm, not sure this time. It tasted like it was not mixed very well. I could taste the baking soda. It left a bitter taste in the mouth. And if you look at it, it's burnt and looks like it may have been fried on the same frying pan as the eggs, the bacon and the sausage. I'm not sure but what do you think?

Anyway, as I said I would go back again, but perhaps I'd go back to Angel instead. But the one in Soho is easier to find, especially for someone like me who has no sense of direction at all. We got off the Tottenham Court Road tube station then walked towards Oxford Street. Then we turned left at Wardour Street until we hit the D'Arblay Street and it's there. You will not miss it as it is, as you can see -yellow!

The Breakfast Club
33 D'Arblay Street
Westminster, London W1F 8

How about you, do you have a favourite hang out for breakfast?

tintin x

The Hills Are Alive At Villa Trapp in Salzburg

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Sometime in December 2009, I was woken up at 1 o'clock in the morning with the news that we would be staying at the real The Sound of Music family home on our trip to Salzburg. That was the best news I've heard at that time in the morning. I have watched the film a few times and I absolutely loved it. In fact, we were watching it again last night that's why I was reminded of our wonderful trip and thought I'd share my experience with you.
The Villa Trapp is not the house that is featured in the movie, so don't expect anything too fancy like the lake terrace or the beautiful stairs. The real house is actually located in a quiet town of Aigen, few minutes away from Salzburg Old Town. Because we were coming from Munich, we took the train to get to the villa. The train station is actually the same train station that the Von Trapp family used to escape from the Nazis. It is just about 5 minute walk to the villa. Then we took a 10 minute bus ride to the centre. The villa is overlooking snow-capped mountains and forests, which was awesome!
This is the family's main living room downstairs. The villa was generally quiet when we were there. I felt like we were the only guests at that time. Probably because it was winter. This is the only area in the house where you can get a free wi-fi. I think it was around 9pm when we decided to hang out in the living room and boy, wasn't it creepy? The silence was eerie and the lights in the hallway turned off automatically. I'm actually glad that we didn't hear any "scary" stories (like boots trotting and everything else) until the day after, otherwise I wouldn't have even dared going back to the hotel late at night. The current owner told me that the house needed to be exorcized three times to make sure that all the evil spirits were completely gone. This is for the main reason that one of the rooms was used by Heinrich Himmler as his conference room. The room was then converted into a chapel. 
The rooms were named after each member of the Von Trapp family. We were given the Rosemarie room which was good enough for two people. Rosemarie was the eldest daughter of the Baron and Maria. The pictures of the Von Trapp family, especially the children were everywhere which is good because it gave me the "authentic" feel of the house.
In the lounge area we found this picture of Maria - the third child of the baron and his first wife. According to the host, when the Von Trapp family left Salzburg, it was Maria who closed the door of the house. And exactly 70 years later (in 2008), Maria formally opened the door to the public. She was apparently flown from America on a private jet owned by Redbull company, hence this photo. =)
Meet Marianne and Christopher, the current owners of the Villa Trapp. Although we didn't see them on the day that we arrived (we were met by the cleaner), they made up for it the following day. The couple prepared our breakfast (of sausages, bread, ham, cheese, juice and fruits) and spent  a few minutes chatting with us at the breakfast table- in the same breakfast room where the Von Trapp family had theirs. They were very accommodating. If you happen to stay at the Villa Trapp, ask Christopher to take you around to learn more about the Von Trapps. It's free.

We only paid about 80 pounds for a night stay which included a full breakfast. I wish we could have stayed there longer but I will definitely go back, this time it has to be in the summer. 

Villa Trapp
34 Traunstrasse 5026 Aigen


Salzburg has since become one of my favourite cities (so far), and here are some of the places that we visited:
Salzburg Old Town - where I finally learned how to read the map - up side down!
The Golden Ball in Kapitelplatz
(The white castle on top is the Festung Hohensalzburg or Fortress - a must see)
The Dom

Dinner was at the oldest restaurant in Central Europe. Their veal Offal in Vetliner and the Pork roast with bacon sauerkkraut and bread dumpling were super delicious!

Stiftskeller St. Peter
St. Peter-Bezirk 1/4
Salzburg, 5 5020 Austria
Since 803

St. Peter's cemetery and monastery and the Catacombs

And then there's always the fashion-fashion shot!
Inner Jacket - Primark, Cream Jacket- Topshop, Jeans- True Religion, Boots- Kenneth Cole, Bag- Burberry

So whether or not you're a fan of the Sound of Music, it's worth staying at the Villa Trapp.

tintin x

My Journey To My Friend's Wedding

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Before I finally got to my friend's wedding, I spent four hours stressing out on things that I could probably have done sooner rather than later. Since I have been busy with work and flat-hunting in London all week, I didn't get the chance to buy a wedding gift until the day before. And then I forgot to buy a gift wrap so I had to go back to town (on the day that I was due to attend the wedding) to get one. Thank God I live a stone's throw away from the city centre, so that was not too bad. But I don't think I can forgive myself for not trying on my outfit few days before the wedding, or even the night before. Mind you, this was the first time that I have not done this  (trying on). For some reason, I just assumed that the dress would fit me. But when I tried it on, the zip wouldn't close. And just to make things worse, it wouldn't come off! Although the dress was stretchable, it would not stretch enough so I can remove it. I was about to get a scissor and just cut it off when it finally gave in to my incessant pulling. There was a small damage on the zip, but hey Aling Sylvia (my seamstress) can always fix it. It's just a shame that the dress is supposed to be one size fits all, but it's clearly just for small people. See, that's what you get when you don't try in the store, then don't wear it until you can no longer return it. Another lesson learned. Luckily, I still had the dress that I bought last summer that I have not worn yet. So I thought I was okay.

But it was as if I have not had enough stress already that when I finally got to the train station, there was a massive queue. I was already running late-only because I pre-booked my ticket and I thought that I could just directly go to the advanced ticket booth to collect it. However, it was closed - on a Friday! So I had to join the queue with other passengers who didn't have pre-booked tickets. By this time my stress levels were already soaring high. I have been stressed for four hours and I felt like I have actually aged four years in that small amount of time. It was only 10 minutes before the train leaves and I was still in the queue. I even asked the people in front of me if they could let me go through as I was about to miss my friend’s wedding, but they won’t let me. I got really annoyed and actually told one guy, “it’s okay, what goes around comes around” and  just gave him a (sarcastic) smile. I know it was partly my fault but you know, I was asking for help.

Anyway, we managed to get to the wedding on time. And after all that jazz, please allow me to love myself first as no one will ever love me the way I do. =)
Top Photo: Coat- ASOS, Scarf- Faux Fur from PRIMARK at £6
Bottom Photo: Dress- Topshop, Shoes- Dolce and Gabbana

Because I thought we were late, we went straight to the reception. But we were actually early so we had a bit of time to explore the vicinity.

And it was not long before the newly weds arrived:
The new Mr. & Mrs. Trino
The beautiful bride Ana

And her fabulous guests:
Marje(Maid of Honour) 
SLU Beauties!
Moi, Arlene and Arcel

It was indeed a wonderful wedding.

tintin x

Cheat Day At Mickie D!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I had a very long day at school today. The lectures on anti-microbials and the endocrine system almost left me brain dead. Honestly, I didn't even know which bus stop to get off. I think I have come to a point where I just want to get on with my remaining essays and start studying on my own. After almost six months of information overload, my brain cells can no longer take any more diagrams and 15-20 pages of handouts. I should really stop moaning because I know one day it's all gonna be worth it. But it's just totally draining. If I only knew, I could have done this course when I was younger.

That and a text message (that stressed me out a bit) prompted me to move my cheat day two days ahead. Hence, my trip to Mc Donald's.

I can't honestly remember the last time I had Mc Do's Single Bypass Burger,haha! Mc Donald's french fries dipped in Sweet 'n Sour sauce is my favourite! And to add a bit of the healthiness in my meal, I went for tropicana orange juice instead of soda. =)
Biting my frustrations of the day--away!

With my Mc Donald's buddy - the ever fabulous Phillip!

Nothing beats Mc Donald's in the city, kasi walang Jollibee! =)

Have a good night. Tomorrow is another day.


The Mediterranean Cruise With Norwegian Gem

Monday, 10 October 2011

Reading too much travel articles over the weekend reminded me of our Mediterranean Cruise in 2009. I would never have thought of taking a cruise if not for our friends in New York. It was never on my list to do before I die. First, because I don't really like the open sea. The thought of being in the middle of the sea at night, or even at day for few hours without seeing any land really freaked me out. Second, because I thought it was expensive. But I am glad that we did it at this early age so that even if we are not be able to do it when we are older, at least we can say we have done it. It is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. To be honest, that was the first time I have ever come close to a Cruise Ship. It was overwhelming! And when I entered the ship, I felt like I was in a completely different place. For a while, I forgot that I was actually inside a ship. It was massive. My fear was suddenly overshadowed by the feeling of excitement. It was very surreal for me because as I said, I have never ever dreamed of being in a Cruise ship before!

Anyway, we took the Mediterranean Cruise for seven days.
This is the elegant Norwegian Gem. The ship is like a floating resort. They have everything - swimming pool, waterslide, fitness centre, a climbing wall, disco, bars, restaurants, bowling etc.

The ship departed from Barcelona, Spain on the 6th of September. We knew we didn't have much time to really explore Barcelona, so we headed to Sagrada de Familia first, then we had lunch in Las Ramblas.

Day 1. Valleta, Malta
Valleta is the capital of Malta. The whole city is a World Heritage Site. To get the whole Malta experience, we walked around the medieval city and spoke to local people. View our complete Malta experience here.

Day 2. At the Sea: Martini Day
Well, it has been a common knowledge among our friends that we don't drink alcoholic beverages. But since we were baptized during this trip, we have been drinking a little bit more. =) This moment was very memorable for me as I managed 4 shots of Martini without collapsing on the floor. Not bad for a first timer,hey?! Apple Martini then became my favourite. Photos here.

Day 3. Napoli and Pompeii, Italy
Sunrise at Mount Vesuvius. 

Our brief stay in Napoli didn't leave us with a good experience as taxi drivers mobbed us from the moment we got out of the ship, offering us to pay 30 euros each to Pompeii. We thought it was a rip off. What we did was ask two more people to join us so we would pay 20 euros each instead. You know what? It also helps that one of you can speak Italian even just a little bit, so they won't rip you off. 

Right after our short trip in Pompeii, Salvatore (our taxi driver) drove us to Sorrento for lunch at Pizzeria Aurora. Then after lunch, we took the ferry to the beautiful island of Capri for our first ever mediterranean swim!

Day 4. Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
We only had one day to see the beautiful city of Rome, but because Jess planned our day really well, we got to see a lot of places and even spent a lot of time in some.
The Vatican City (where we tried to beat other tourists coming off a tour bus)
St. Peter's Basilica ( to see Michelangelo's Pieta)
The Sistine Chapel (where we jumped a massive queue big time and where Omar took a sneaky money- shot of the  iconic image of the hand of God giving life to Adam).
The Spanish Steps
The Trevi Fountain 
The Pantheon (for the Oculus)
The Vittoriio Emanuele II Monument (where we spent a few minutes chatting with Italian Policemen pretending to be a local)
The Colosseo (where we met two American ladies who told us how lucky we were to have been allowed from the ship to go out and explore the city on our day off.... just because we were asians!

Day 5. Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Italy
In Florence, we visited the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore first before we climbed up 414 steps to the Giotto's Campanile to get a panoramic view of Florence. Then we had their famous gelato at Vivoli.
While our friends went to look for the famous black gold, we entered the Basilica de Santa Croce to check on Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, Niccolo Ma Chiavelli, Galileo. Then we met up after for some private wine tasting at a wine store beside Santa Croce, where I drowned a whole bottle of wine (how I wish), before heading to Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's David.
From Florence we took the train to Pisa.

Day 6. Cannes, France
Our last destination before we headed back to Barcelona was Cannes, where we had a walk on the red carpet upon arriving at the port. We passed by the Palais des Festivals et des Congres before we headed to town for some crepes.

If given the opportunity, I would love to go on a cruise again for 5 reasons:
1. It's not that expensive if you get the best deal. In my experience, we didn't need to pay extra for a window or a balcony because we were out all day anyway and only used our rooms to sleep- literally.The price also includes all meals, snacks, activities and entertainment. You only need to pay for alcoholic beverages.
2. It is very convenient. You don't have to go through the stress of planning your itinerary as it will be planned for you. The only time you probably need to plan your own is if you like to see other places in between. We didn't even need to join group tours. 
3. You will never get bored. There is always something to do. I love the fact that we get to dress up on some nights.
4. You meet wonderful strangers who eventually become your friends like Karishma and Hasseem.
5. And lastly the customer service is exeptional. When we were on the cruise, there was this Filipino guy who greeted us every morning at the door of the breakfast room with his hand spray, welcoming smile and the phrase,"wakey,wakey, washy,washy,happy,happy". And that made our day, everyday. That really made me even prouder to be a Filipino.

It is indeed true when they say that "You Haven't Lived Until You've Cruised". So, if you get the chance you shouldn't miss this experience!

tintin x

My Tooth Scare

Friday, 7 October 2011

I was gonna write about Amanda Knox's acquittal and the death of Steve Jobs, but I know that my brain cells will not be able to cope with writing even just the first sentence, so I decided to stick to what I do best - writing about myself. =)

Three weeks ago, I decided to register with a dentist here in Bristol. I have been here for a decade but has never gone to a dentist. First, because it's expensive and second, because I thought there was a waiting list. I would normally save my dental check up for when I go home to the Philippines. But when I went home in April, I just didn't have time. So I didn't have a choice than to get a dentist here because my teeth have not been checked for three years. Yes, three years and that's disgusting!

When I went for a dental check up, the dentist told me that I have a gum disease. I kinda knew I had a gum problem because it bleeds everytime I brush my teeth. This really scared me because I know that gum disease is associated with tooth loss. Losing my teeth is my biggest fear. So I was prepared to do anything to save my teeth. The dentist asked me to go back a week later to see a hygienist, and I did.
My Hygienist is called June and she's very nice. She made me comfortable all throughout the procedure. What I liked about her was that she went through everything with me and she was constantly asking if I was okay. I thought she was sweet.

According to, about 50-90% of the adult population suffers from gum disease. And this is caused by plaques accumulated from the foods that we eat. I asked June if there are foods and drinks that I should eat more or avoid, but she told me I could eat anything. However, some articles suggest that eating crunchy vegetables and fruits with skin helps to get rid of plaques, and eating sugary foods can contribute to the development of plaques (which we know already).

Here's June's Tips to healthy gums and teeth:
1. Use electric toothbrush because it cleans deeper than the manual toothbrush.
2. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, in a circular motion. And when you brush your teeth, it is also important to brush the gums. According to June, by doing this you're keeping your gums healthy.
3. Use dental floss before you brush your teeth. When flossing you have to go as deep as you can.
4. Have a regular dental check up, at least every 6 months.
5. Use Tepe Interdental toothbrush.
This according to June is very effective in cleaning between the teeth. They're very soft and bendable. She gave me two different sizes to choose from, because apparently the gaps between our teeth are different. They are 2.50 pounds for a pack of 8.
I think I have found a toothpaste that I am going to use for a long time, if not forever. I helped myself with the samples from my dental practice. This is the toothpaste that has all around protection, and it's true. Trust me, it really works. I have only been using it for three days, but I can already see the difference. There are lesser plaques on my bottom teeth and my teeth are slightly whiter. What I love about it the most is the freshness that it leaves in the mouth. Honestly, this is totally different from any other toothpaste that I have tried before. It's quite expensive though, 2 pounds for a 75ml tube.

The combination of June's tips and the Oral B Pro-expert is definitely effective. I have noticed that my gums do not bleed anymore even if I have sores (from brushing my gums quite hard). I also enjoy brushing my teeth more than ever before. 

Anything to keep that perfect smile.

tintin x

I Love My Water Bottle

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

For the longest time, I have been buying bottled water for work or for when I travel. Although I only bought the cheap bottled water (Nestle Pure Life Water£2 for 12 bottles at Tesco), it added up as days went by. Don even kept telling me to reuse the bottle, but I only did it for so long because the bottle left a funny smell after two days of reusing it. So, I got frustrated and then I started looking for "designer" water bottles, yes "designer". I don't know but I have this mentality that if it is a designer water bottle, it will look more interesting (and different), and will last longer because they are expensive. I know I'm wrong, but.....

I don't drink a lot of water anyway. When I am at home, I only drink at least three glasses of water a day. And when I am working, I drink a little bit more, but I don't just drink water at work. I mean I don't drink water directly from the tap, because it's the hospital. You probably know what I mean. But if you don't, well, because I'm crazy. =)

Anyway, in my desperate bid to find a unique water bottle, I found Kor Delta Hydration bottle by googling "unique water bottles". And this has been one of my best purchases ever since.

Kor Delta comes in four different colours- blue, green, pink and orange. I chose green because it's my favourite colour. It's so cute, no? One thing I like about it is that I can actually carry it around with me. The handle fits my hand perfectly. =)
This water bottle is very easy to open. See those two buttons in the middle? It's a push button cap. You just have to push it up(to open) and down (to close). When it's closed, even if you turn it upside down, it will not spill. The cap is totally removable, so it's also easy to clean.
This is my favourite part of the bottle. You know when I said I don't drink a lot of water? Well, since I've had my Kor Delta, I have been drinking a lot more! Maybe around 1.5 to 2L. You know why? I keep telling Don this. When my lips touches the rim, it feels like I am actually kissing the softest lips on earth. Seriously. And when I finally drink the water from the bottle, it's sooooo refreshing. All of a sudden, the water tastes different. Most importantly, it doesn't smell of plastic. And yes, on top of the cover, there are actually two "stones" which you can choose from - for inspiration (to drink more water). The green bottle comes with the"Be the Change" and "Imagine" stones. You can just alternate them by opening the cap.
This is the bottom part of the bottle. It's rubberized so it doesn't make any noise when you put it down. Most importantly, it doesn't get scratched. But for some reason, both sides of my bottle already have minor scratches. Oh well, I have it for quite a while now, so no wonder. =(
Generally, I can't live without a water bottle in my bag because my throat dries very easily. While I always had bottled water before, now I have my Kor Delta. It fits perfectly in most of my bags. By the way, I have the 500ml bottle. They also have 750ml bottles. Promise, it's not heavy.
Photo from
Kor Delta Water bottles are available online. They ship internationally. The 500ml costs $19.95
You can also buy them from Amazon or Reusable Bottle - £19.95
If you're in the Philippines, you can buy them from Sunny Sunday.

I know it's quite pricey, but I can guarantee you that it is worth it, and you probably will never go back to drinking from a bottled water again. Be inspired to "Go Green". 

tintin x

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