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A new mom’s first Mother’s Day

Motherhood is tougher than I expected but so much more fulfilling than I ever imagined.

I always tell my fellow new mommies to brace themselves for the sleepless nights and days. But I also do not forget to tell them that this is the most fulfilled I have ever felt. Most exhausted, yes. But I’ve realized – in my short and running stint as a mom – how truly impactful a mother’s role is. I’ve always had mad love and respect for mothers especially because I was raised by a very strong single mother but having experienced it myself is a whole new journey of appreciation and awe of the women that run the world.

The Csection scar, the stretchmarks, the endless changes in my body shape, size and color, the breastfeeding frustrations and disappointment, the sleepless nights and the days spent in a daze, the back spasms and sore arms, the full bladder, the gobbled down meals, the rushed showers, the morning breaths that sometimes last till noon, the forgotten skincare routine, the neglected workouts, the days that look-all-the-same-you-can’t-figure-out-what-day-it-is-anymore, the phone photo album that holds a thousand photos of one tiny human, the dirty nappies, the poop and pee stains, the spit-up showers, the high-pitched screaming and crying in your ears, the autopilot rocking moves and dances, the struggle to put a fussy baby to sleep, the sharp-eyed checking to see if she is still breathing when she is finally asleep, the holding of your breath, sneeze and cough to keep the baby from waking up, the creeping, quiet and constant worry if your baby is fine, the insatiable want to do more and be more and give more.. gosh, the list goes on. And imagine, I’m just new at this. My journey is cut out.

All of these are worth it when my baby falls asleep in my chest, when she longs for mommy to calm down, when she quiets down when I pick her up, when she seems to enjoy my singing and dancing, when she nestles her head onto the crook of my neck, when I shower her little face with big kisses, when I smell the unexplainable goodness of her breath, when I play with her chunky thighs, when I embrace her and she seems to find comfort, when she grabs my finger, when she coos at me, when I make her laugh, when she smiles at me out of the blue..

This Mother’s Day is my first as a mommy and when I greet the mothers in my life a “Happy Mother’s Day!” this year, I really mean it to the deepest of my bone. May your day be filled with so much hugs and kisses and may you always be happy and healthy. You are superheroes. Your sacrifice, strength and selflessness are celebrated today. There will never be a better mama for your baby than you. So know that you are doing a great job and there’s no one more beautiful in your child’s eyes than you.

To my village of strong and fearless mothers, you are rockstars. You do run the world. Happy Mother’s Day! 🤍

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On Prejudice and Discrimination

Growing up, I have seen and felt oppression and injustice. It’s safe to say that I have also experienced it myself because of my racial background, my social standing and people’s judgment of my family dynamics.

I have Tingguian blood. I am an IP. I was raised in a town where almost everyone I know is Ilocano. Not everyone was accepting to Tingguians then. I remember scenes in my childhood where classmates and schoolmates I knew who are Itneg like me would be ashamed to admit that they have Tingguian blood. I silently hated them then. I wasn’t raised to be 100% aware of our culture and traditions but I am 100% proud I am Itneg. Then and now.

As if that wasn’t enough to be singled out then, I am also half Filipino. I am biracial. My father is a Saudi. Obviously, I know close to nothing about how it is to be a Saudi. While I saw most biracial kids my age in show business being treated extra special because of their good looks and fairer skin color, I was in the province getting raised eyebrows and murmurs because I was “anak ti Arabo”. It was kind of an automatic thing for most people to equate a child fathered by an Arab man to a poor bastard. I would say that even as a kid, I have skillfully mastered pretending not to hear their whispers or notice their nudges. But trust me, I saw and heard everything.

My brother and I were raised by a strong, wise and God-fearing single mother. People were not as nice to single mothers then as they are now. There was a very palpable stigma.

My mother used to work overseas as an ECG technician. However, when she came back home to the Philippines to get married to my father and then to start and take care of our little family, she let go of her job. When my father left, she started her own small business. She owned a sari-sari store. With that and the help of her sister, that was how she raised me and my brother.

I truly have the most complicated background. As a kid, I knew some people know who I was for all the wrong reasons. I grew up with judgment left and right. Few people from my past were sincerely kind and had no judgments, or at least were able to keep their judgments to themselves. I still remember all the adults in my childhood – from relatives to teachers to ‘friends’ to random strangers – who were downright rude and straight up asked me about my father, our finances and struggles as though it were their business.

So I guess that is why To Kill A Mockingbird easily became my favorite book and Harper Lee my favorite author.

I read this book in 2013. My husband – who was my boyfriend then – bought it for me. That’s seven years ago. And this book was published in 1960. Sixty years later and we are in the year 2020.

Privilege, however, has become more and more real a concept to me as I age. It is indeed out there. There were many moments in my young life that I would have done anything to trade lives with people with “privilege” just because they had the best lives. They are able to milk the good out of this life just because they are rich or are white or are the sons/daughters of this person. This was me as a grade school student. That was my thought process then. A very young girl knowing the great difference money or skin color can make. Imagine! A very young girl realizing that maybe hard work, eagerness to learn and talent are not good enough after all. What a sad world we live in. What a sad world we are to pass on to the next generation. It is a sad reality we have all lived in but it is a present reality I don’t want to pass down to my children. No one has to ever feel inadequate just because they don’t have the right amount of cash or know the right people.

I can’t believe that there are millions more of people who have gone through and are going through so much worse than my share of cruelty. It’s difficult to accept that there is a much wider scale of wrong and prejudice. I can’t believe there is still a need to have cries against selective injustice in the PH and movements like #BlackLivesMatter.

How are respect, compassion and equality still inconceivable in this day and age? Why are hatred and racism still unhampered?

It is never right to think and act that you’re superior to another human being because of your race, skin color, money, job or education. We were all born human beings. No one is above anyone.

Each one of us, no matter how young or old, deal with our own silent battles against oppression every single day. Bullying in school may be regarded by the bullies as harmless and nothing but a phase but to the ones being bullied, the torment on their ego and self-confidence is a battle they fight to win every waking day even in adulthood.

Each one of us contribute a ripple to the bigger wave of kindness or unkindness, whichever we choose. Whatever standing you think you have in this world, you have a much deeper impact than you think you have. You, through your words and actions, have an influence on another person. It could make or break another human being. You may have, deliberately or unknowingly, inflicted wounds in another person’s soul – wounds that may have not yet healed and they struggle to lick for the rest of their lives. You have a responsibility. The way we raise our kids to treat other people from different walks of life now will be the way they treat people in their adult life and long after we are all gone. May we all make an effort to choose kindness over ridicule. May we all, from this day forward, begin our own little ripples of good.

I have gone way too emotional in this blog post that originally started to just be a caption for an Instagram post I was going to make. So, let me just end this blog with two of my favorite quotes from my favorite book. And if you have the time, please read it too. It is a book that you would want your child to read too.

“The older you grow the more of it you’ll see. The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.

“First of all,” Atticus said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” #

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Aly’s Top Book Picks (May 2020)

Besides writing, reading has been one of my passions. I remember always getting excited when it was time for us to buy our school supplies from Vigan. That meant we would visit National Bookstore which also meant that I could browse the seemingly endless choices then. While most teens my age did not exactly find a bookstore exciting, it was the most amazing part of the trip for me. After getting all the school supplies we need, we would go to the bookstore’s second floor to check out the books. My mother would always buy me a book of my choice then. She would let me go around and skim the shelves for titles myself. I could spend the whole duration of our Vigan stay in there if it was up to me. I remember wanting to bring home a bunch of books but knew that I can’t. I had to pick one. It was torture. But also, I was grateful. Because it was one of the few and rare “luxuries” I got then. For the rest of every school year, I would satisfy my book craving by borrowing books from classmates or making do of the novels that were at home. I’ve read Sidney Sheldon titles before I entered high school because of this. It was also at the kindness of my classmates that I was able to read the entire Harry Potter saga. I rarely borrowed books from the library unless it was absolutely necessary because I had a little scary experience when I misplaced a borrowed book and the daily fine just kept accumulating because I couldn’t return the book. :p

Hence, it’s a no-brainer that when I finally earned my own money, books were where I would usually splurge. I still borrowed books from friends when I just started working but purchasing my own paperbacks and bringing them home has never failed to make me happy. It felt like an achievement and I considered it as another block towards my dream of building my own little library. When I started working abroad, my pile of books immediately grew. My close colleagues knew my passion for books so sometimes they would even bring home abandoned books they would find in aircraft cabins for me. Almost immediately after landing a flight, I would pass by the airport bookstores. The staff already knew me. Sometimes I buy. Sometimes I just browse and check out new titles or the bestseller list.

Perth, Australia. 2015

Perth, Australia. 2015

Sydney, Australia. 2015

Right now, I have a boxful of books from when I still worked in Malaysia in my apartment in Doha. It was maybe 2018 when I told myself that I had enough clutter and had to stop buying paperbacks. It was giving me a migraine just thinking about how I would bring all of my books back home. Hence, I resolved to only read ebooks. I had to give up the very comforting smell of book pages.

I didn’t exactly enjoy reading from a device then. It just didn’t feel like reading to me. Also, Netflix was born. So, all my reading challenges from then on went down the drain. I rarely read. I rarely set aside time for it. Huge portions of my free time were spent watching Netflix or Youtube. I felt guilty not reading enough books then but it was truly hard to stop watching when you could go through an entire book simply by watching an hour-long movie. My “the book was better” self was so embarassed of the Netflix binger I have become. 😀

Fast forward to 2020. COVID19. Quarantine. I had everyday for Netflix and Youtube but eventually it got boring. There were still so many good choices but they all looked plain to me. Hence, I went back to reading.

Below are a few titles I have read recently and have found really good. Without giving too much away (I did my very best, swear!), I wrote each book’s impression on me and my own rating. Here goes.

  1. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

It is a story about a Palestinian family that migrated to the US and how their traditions, culture and beliefs are affecting each member’s life and their lives as a family in an obviously fast-paced modern world. It is about double standard, injustice, culture, gender roles and inequality. But more importantly, it is about strength, courage and empowerment. This book is a little culturally-controversial, I would say, but totally eye-opening and inspirational. Four stars for me.

2. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and  Francesc Miralles

As for longevity, it was not exactly my concern when I was reading this book. It was more on the second adjective used to describe life: ‘happy’. Not that I was unhappy. There wasn’t any reason for me to be depressed then. But I would say I was physically in distress. I felt that my body was slowly giving up on the challenges that I used to consider and perform quickly and easily. Physical stress would then eventually turn into mental and then spiritual stress. It’s no rocket science. I guess you could say that this book came to me when my soul was experiencing so much tension. I quickly went through this book because it was such an easy read and while there were parts that talked about the Japanese practices that led to having the most centenarians of the world in Japan, what I appreciated the most were the simple and real life tips written all over the book that were so basic they made so much more sense. Four stars.

3. Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

I think it’s safe to assume that most women my age know who Ali Wong is. I bet you’ve seen her craziness on her Netflix specials – Baby Cobra and Hard Knock Wife. Nope? Then what about her Always be my Maybe movie? Yes, that fearless, funny, viciously smart and strong Asian-American of a woman. Reading the entire book, I could hear her voice and picture her animations in every written word. If you need a good pick-me-up while waiting for another Netflix special of hers, you have to read this book. You have me (and Ali) to thank for. 😀 Four stars.

4. The Tattoist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

I came to know about this book because Kryz Uy, one of my favorite local Youtubers, mentioned it in one of her Favorites video. Since I’ve seen that video, this book just kept popping up in my feed from acquaintances currently reading it and I kept seeing it at airport bookstores. When I was still busy flying, I quickly forgot about it. It was only now that I had the time and after setting my preferences on my Scribd subscription, this came out on my suggested titles. I added it to my ‘to read’ list right away. It’s easy to liken this book to The Diary of Anne Frank, only this has as an adult perspective hence the story line is more mature. The experiences shared in this real life story are truly heartbreaking and would just make you count the blessing of living in this generation a hundred times more. It is a beautifully-written novel about love and friendship, hardship and suffering, racism and empathy, struggle and survival.. Four stars for me.

5. Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection by Haemin Sunim

I read this book August of 2019 but I felt that I had to include this on this list. This is one self-help book that just from the get-go has gotten my attention and has made my heart understand every word as though it was written especially for me. That was how I felt reading this book. Several of my friends even asked me about it when I was sharing excerpts on my Instagram stories because the words just spoke so much truth. It is such a comforting read. Reading it felt like speaking to an older friend who had nothing but your interest at heart – over coffee. Very practical, very warm, very honest. It is a #1 internationally bestselling book for a reason. I honestly wished for the book to never end. Solid five shining, shimmering, golden stars!

If you like this kind of blog, do let me know. I also love finding out great titles, whether new or old, from other readers. Feel free to share your recommendations below.

I have recently started sharing on my Instagram account some excerpts of books I read so follow me there at @alyalkholifibello or add me up on Goodreads and let’s make our 2020 reading challenge something to talk about! 🙂 #

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A Cabin Crew’s Perspective: The Things I Miss About Flying

It’s been a long while now that my wings have been on hibernation. Like many individuals during this pandemic, my job and the industry it belongs to has been affected. Honestly, even at the beginning of this viral spread and even having flown to China and other affected European countries myself during that period, I have not imagined the effect to the aviation industry to be like this. I haven’t braced for this kind of impact, so to speak. I’m certain many others have not either.

Having spent my time at home since everything started going down where many airlines began shutting down, announcements of aviation staff being retrenched were made all over the globe and most borders were being closed, there are moments where I’d quietly think of what my job has been to me over the past six years of flying. My thoughts go back to the many times and instances that I have maybe not really given it high regard, if not compelete disregard.

I have a close friend who is also a cabin crew who, during this quarantine period, has asked me one too many times if I miss flying. My answer off the top of my head was a straight and solid no. And I meant that. Do I really miss the “job”? You know, what we do every single day on every single flight? The heating of meals, serving customers, being occupied with special meals and last minute special requests, clearing trays and china? Running around against time – against boarding time, departure time, meal service time, clearance time, cabin preparation time, top of descent, landing time, safety and security checks time, blanket and headset collection time, getting-off-the-aircraft-because-the-next-crew-are-waiting time? Definitely no.

There are so many things about this job and this industry that will make even someone flying for just six months answer ‘no’ to the question my friend asked. That’s a given. I still think that this does not only hold true to the job of a cabin crew but also for the many other jobs there are. After all, there is no perfect job. If there was, everyone would have flocked to it. But all jobs have their own share of good and bad. That’s the similarity of all jobs in the world. As an employee, you just have to choose which ‘bad’ you are willing to take so that you can enjoy the ‘good’ of that job or industry. Like they say, you choose your poison.

So, going back to my friend’s question. Do I miss my job? Really dissecting this question over the past days has given me a more complex answer. I don’t miss the “job” per se but there are many things about being a cabin crew that I definitely and undeniably – even surprisingly – miss.

I miss the lifestyle. If you’re a cabin crew yourself or have cabin crew in the family or your close circle of friends, you would know what I mean. It is indeed a lifestyle, as I hear many of my seniors say when I was still starting in the industry. You have access to all the best and famous global brands in retail, food, hotel, travel.. You get firsthand experience of all these brands anywhere in the world plus you enjoy the power of getting discounts from most of these brands all because you are a cabin crew. Your ID works like a discount card at airports, restaurants, cafes, hotels, shops.. basically, everywhere. Not to mention the tax refund you can get from overseas. Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

I miss the variety of food and products. During this quarantine period, I have been watching so much Kdrama that I have been craving for everything Korean particularly the food. I miss those times that I would just bid for an Incheon flight when I had these cravings. Or if I’m really desperate, look for crew scheduled to fly there and offer to swap whatever destination I have. I miss having my fill of authentic food from other country’s cuisine. I also miss doing my grocery-shopping from wherever in the world and bringing back to base a luggageful of local goodies. My personal favorites for supermarket hauls are the US, Spain, Germany, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and Korea. A funny thing about a cabin crew’s fridge is how internationally random the contents are. You’ll find chocolates from Brussels, kimchi from Seoul, potatoes from Amsterdam, coffee from Vietnam, cheese from France, avocados from Melbourne. Most crew even have reusable shopping bags as a must-have in their suitcases.

I miss getting my monthy payslip and roster. These are the two things a cabin crew always looks forward to toward the end of each month. The salary is like no other. You can achieve so many goals for yourself and for your family with the pay you get from this job. For other cabin crew, this job is also a means for them to extend help to the less fortunate. I know some crew who dedicate a portion of their monthly earnings into foundations and in funding children’s studies. As for the roster, I miss the hype of getting what I bid for. The excitement for rosters has never really died down with most crew as the systems are always busy or are even crashing come the day when someone says, “roster is out!”. Gosh, those days… 🙂

I miss staying in 4 to 5-star hotels. For free. Actually, you even receive a daily allowance whether you opt to stay in and enjoy the hotel amenities or sleep in the highest thread counts of hotel bed sheets or roam around and enjoy the city’s attractions. Isn’t it a sweet life? This is why one of the most common things they say about flying is “travel and get paid for it.” Truth be told, I kind of miss the funny crew habit of collecting pens from Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and the like. 😀

I miss having the option to practically go anywhere, anytime. While I have not exactly maximized this benefit in my six years of flying because most of the time, I use my days off to go back home or just rest from always being on-the-go, being a cabin crew definitely gives you the option to go anywhere when you want to. You can make last minute plans for your days off or annual leave credits because you can. You can decide on the destination whenever – even as late as when you are at the airport. You can literally stand in front of the departure board, randomly choose a destination, book that flight, check in and board the plane all in sixty minutes. Did I mention the tickets are on discount? And you get to share them to your family and friends too?

I miss playing “guess which nationality?”. This I play myself on many occasions – sometimes for entertainment, most times just as a habit. When I overhear conversations in a language other than mine or conversations in English but with a different accent, I try to guess which nationality they’re from. In a planeful of people from different backgrounds, this is a fun thing to do. Most cabin crew especially those who have been flying for so long will almost always get it right.

I miss making honest and sincere moments onboard. There have been so many times that I yearn to go back to my nursing profession. Sometimes it’s because I miss the mental challenge. But more than that, it’s because I miss the moments of human warmth, kindness and compassion. I miss the feeling of fulfillment – of knowing you have made a difference. Most cabin crew, no matter how hard and consciously they try, cannot be immune to being robotic on flights. It is after all a task-oriented and time-bound job. All the time they have to get their jobs done is from when the seatbelt sign goes off up until when the seatbelt sign goes on for landing. The pressure is truly high. It is an everyday struggle to get the perfect blend of being efficient with your tasks and remaining human while doing it. In the tiny bits of the mundane tasks we do everyday as cabin crew, there have been moments that made me find the fulfillment I was longing for. It was not exactly safety or service-related even if these two words make up for the main job roles of a cabin crew. It was simply the moments where I was there for another human being – whether to a customer or a fellow crew. It was when I carried bags for elderly people, reassuring them I was just seated a few seats behind them, seeing gratitude and peace of mind register in their faces. It was when I helped sleep-deprived parents soothe their kids and entertain them myself if only to give them a minute to take a deep breath and attend to their own needs. It was when I offered an empty window seat for someone who looked dazed by the beauty of the clouds or the fast-changing colors of the sky. It was when I took a little bit more time to explain the meal choices for someone whose language I do not speak. It was when I gave a gentle touch to the hand to console a mother who just said that she lost her son on their holiday trip and is coming back home with his body in the cargo. It was when no matter how badly I was fighting fatigue from back-to-back flights, I managed to stand in one corner of the aircraft and listened to an hour-long story of an OFW going back home for good after working abroad alone for the past thirty years. It was when I made a conscious effort to help a struggling junior crew with her tasks when I could have just minded my business. It was when I took a few seconds of my precious pre-boarding time to pour cups of cold water for the aircraft engineers and catering staff. It was when I made sure to say excuse me and thank you to the aircraft cleaners even when how rushed we all were to get off the aircraft. It was all these tiny moments that have from time to time revived, no matter how little, my exhausted spirit into keeping this job. It was these seemingly unremarkable occasions that have made remarkable prints in my heart as a human being. It may not have been in the ways that I wanted it to since a nurse’s job description is inimitable to that of a cabin crew’s especially now in this crisis. But these moments have definitely – even just for a second and albeit unheroic – made me feel that I have made a difference.

To the skies we will soar again, to the clouds and stars we will be a touch away again, the big birds we will ride again and the wings this pandemic has clipped we will spread and fly again. #

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 2020 Favorites

I have always enjoyed watching Youtubers’ monthly favorites videos. I think it satisfies the little girl in me that likes to see and have pretty stuff. It also makes me know of what’s currently in and of course let’s be honest – what I have to get my hands on real soon. 😉

But even years before Youtube became a daily thing in our lives, there was a magazine in the Philippines called Candy. I grew up collecting their monthly issues and one of my favorite things to do with it (besides dreaming of becoming a member of the Candy Council of Cool) was to check what are the current faves of certain featured local and Hollywood celebrities from books to cologne to lip balm to blush to their go-to fashion brands. It gave me so much happiness then. Even when I was studying high school in the province, I would make sure to check stores in my town for these celebs’ faves. Oh how I remember those times and those moments that made me wish I was in the big city to have all those brands available.

Back in January of this year, I have wanted to start a monthly favorites post. However, so many things have happened that eventually led me to postpone it to the following month. The same thing happened to the month after that. And now, here we have April. A few days over a month into this quarantine period and the same idea has been rekindled in my head. And since I now have all the time in the world as my wings are temporarily on rest, I guess now is the best time to actually do it.

This post is not meant to glorify materialism. I am fully aware of all the urgent needs and the deficiencies in different parts of the world because of this pandemic. I would simply want to share some of the things that, in a way, have kept me sane and have put a smile on my face during these difficult times and that maybe, you too might find the same in one or more of them.

  1. Scribd app

I have subscribed to this app last March 18 and I have a free subscription until April 19. They offer a month-long free membership to new users during this Covid19 situation. Also, they not only have ebooks but they also have audiobooks, magazines and sheet musics available. The app shows a Top Charts list so you get to have an idea which books are popular now and upon joining, you can also set your suggested titles by choosing which genre interests you. Now, I am on my fourth book and I am loving everything about it.

2. Beauty Lab’s GOAL face and body soap

This is the only soap I’ve been using for my face and body all throughout this quarantine period. I am about to finish my second bar. It is very much unlike the typical kojic soaps in the market that does the job but leaves your skin dry and sometimes flaky. This soap has been true to its claims of whitening and moisturizing so far in my experience. I also love that kojic acid is only one among its many ingredients. There are other healthy ingredients incorporated like papaya, shea butter and coconut oil. I have also shared my loot to my mother, aunt, mother-in-law and sister-in-law because the product works.

3. Sunniesface Airblush (Doll) and BLK Cosmetics Face Stack (Pool Party)

The Sunniesface Airblush in Doll has been my favorite since last year. It’s my go-to blush for a fuss-free heading-out look. Just last month, I purchased BLK’s version of an Airblush in their Face Stack line. Coral has always been my color for blush, hence, I got the Pool Party shade. Now, I alternate between these two for when I’m getting ready to go out for my supermarket run.

4. The Ordinary Niacinamide serum

I bought this 30 ml bottle when I was in New Zealand last month. While I was 50-50 with the brand based on my bad experience with their Vitamin C suspension and a good experience with their Caffeine solution, I purchased this Niacinamide serum after a close friend has sworn on its wonders. Even on my first use, it already showed me results that my skin was loving it. It is meant for skin blemishes but I feel that it works so well with the moisturizer I am currently using in making my skin looking and feeling plump. This product is going to stay in my skincare holy grail for now.

5. Down Dog Yoga App

Just like Scribd, Down Dog has made their apps free until May 1 because of the current outbreak. I am loving the Down Dog Yoga app specifically because it has made yoga simple and easy to use. The app allows you to choose what type of yoga, which level you’re comfortable with, which body area is your focus for the session, how long you’ve got for the session, desired pace, music of your choice and trainer voice (also, of your choice!). I have tried doing yoga years ago with some of my friends. We were coached by an Indian yogi then but I swear it’s nowhere near how good I’m feeling after every practice using this app. I have used the beginner practices and they are amazing. Yoga is a very fluid exercise and I still need a lot of work but I always feel great after every session. If you’re like me who is not really a fan of HIIT workouts, then you might enjoy this app as much as I do.

  1. The Sims

I have been playing The Sims since college when Klapaucius and Motherlode were the secrets to millions of Simoleons and gazillion-worth of mansions. The game is still the best there is for me. I enjoy being able to dress up my Sims, design my own house, earn a living, pay my household’s bills, have a boyfriend, get promoted, develop my hobbies, get married and have babies! In short, you get to control your life.. err, your Sims’ lives. 🙂 Back in Doha, the first game I bought for myself in my husband’s Playstation is of course, The Sims. Now in the Philippines indefinitely because of the COVID19 travel restrictions, I still have to play the game. I created another family and below are some screenshots of my home.

7. Scrabble

Nothing like a classic board game to bring the family closer. This is what we have been playing in the house the past days. While I have always been a fan of word games and this one right here brings some good memories of high school, we made the stakes of playing it even higher by making the loser pay for a round of milk tea. My hubs has paid for six orders of milk tea as of the moment.;)

(None of the brands mentioned have sponsored this blog. ;))

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#MassTestingForPHFrontlinersNOW

I have years and years worth of heartbreak and anguish (pain is just too light a word) over how health care professionals, particularly nurses, have been and are being treated in the Philippines. I have left the profession and the country years ago because honestly, the system (if you would even dare call it that) in place was just problematic and depressing. I swear just trying to deal with it will make you cry and pull your hair out. I gave up. It was too much because there was too little to nothing for nurses. Little to no respect. Little to no pay. Little to no benefits. Little to nothing to bring home to their families after an 8-12 hour (“volunteer”) shift. Little to no pride, really.

This has been the reality for so many nurses who chose to stay in the country. And now with the COVID19 pandemic, with health care professionals on the frontline, including nurses, who are very ill-equipped and ill-treated; add that to another present reality where the same nurses are being called to volunteer as more and more of the country’s existing frontliners are being exposed to the virus and being quarantined and some, if not all, are not even getting tested at all while these politicians and their families get to be tested and retested with their results being expedited. Wow!!!! How disposable are Filipino nurses to the Philippines, really?!!!! How is the health care team really viewed in this crisis??? Who, for the love of God (!!!!!!!), is looking out for these frontliners???

This is so so so painful to me and I didn’t know I cared and hurt so much for my colleagues until this point. These nurses who chose to still be in the profession despite and in spite of and serve in the country, along with other health care professionals, deserve so much more. They deserve so much more even before this pandemic. So imagine how much we owe them now!!! #MassTestingForFrontliners #MassTestingForFrontlinersNOW #MassTestingNowPH

Eight Things You Should Be Ready For Before You Move Overseas and Become a Flight Attendant

1. Homesickness. Being a flight attendant, part of your job perks is that you get to go home basically anytime you want. ‘Anytime’ being relative; relative to your days off or annual leave, relative to your prior duty, relative to your next duty. So yes, while it is so much easier for us flight attendants to go back to our home countries to spend quality time with our families (or just satisfy your craving for real Pinoy food) compared to other OFWs in other industries, there will still be days when you can’t go home – just yet.

2. Missing homecooked meals. I became a flight attendant at the age of 23 and while I have been living away from home since I was 16, I’ve never really developed a sincere liking to cooking. I’ve lived on budget meals and instant noodles when I was in college and working in Manila. I would only get spoiled with homecooked meals by my mom or my boyfriend then (now my husband) when I go home to my province or when he comes to visit. Living overseas and being a flight attendant for more than five years now has not exactly changed a thing about my cooking skills. I think I just am lucky because both in KL and Doha, I had and have good cooks for flatmates (Thank you, Ja and Ate Sha! :p) Otherwise, when left to my own resources, I’m back to my cupboard or clicking on Talabat.

3. Different time zones, different weathers. Starting out as a flight attendant, you don’t have to have a closet full of winter clothes and another one for summer. Just be sure to have at least a few pieces that you can mix and match for extremes of weather. Always be sure to check the weather forecast for a particular destination you’re headed to before you actually pack your suitcase. Case in point: Three years ago, I flew to South Africa for the first time. I stupidly assumed that since it is in Africa, it will be hot, hence I threw in a couple of knee-length sleeveless dresses in my suitcase never once thinking to check the weather forecast. Lo and behold, when I was going out for dinner with a few other crew, I had to make do of that dress on a 12° Johannesburg night! My cardigan (which I always throw in the suitcase even on summers because I’m one of those people who get cold easily) literally saved me from the cold. Seated with a bunch of people in bubble jackets and turtlenecks, it didn’t save me from feeling and looking so stupid the whole night though. Oh well, just another lesson learned! 😜

4. Time flies when you fly. Time is going to be a breeze, darling. Before you know it, another month is over. Flight attendants live on and off their monthly rosters. We don’t do Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, whatever.. In a flight attendant’s head and tongue, we talk dates. We don’t exactly care which day of the week it is as there are days we work on weekends and there are days we rest on weekdays. One layover flight is typically equivalent to three days off your roster. Two destinations flown and you’ve already said goodbye to a week off your roster and yes, your life.

5. Say goodbye to family events and reunions. Like I’ve mentioned, staff tickets and discounts make it so easy for us to go home but just like in any job, your work schedule (aka your roster) will be of more importance. It is a reality in the life of a flight attendant especially one in an international airline, to miss many important family celebrations and events of friends. I’ve stopped counting which cousins’ and friends’ weddings I haven’t attended, which nieces’ or nephews’ baptism I missed, which birthday celebrations I’ve only celebrated on video calls. I remember spending my birthday last year in a funny twist of events. I was rostered to fly to London Heathrow and meet my college friend in the city. I knew it was going to be a great birthday as it will be a reunion with my friend after so long and it will be my first time to meet her husband. Less than two hours before the departure, sitting in the pre-flight briefing room, the telephone rang. At this point, let me tell you that the phone usually ONLY rings on two occasions. One, when one crew is missing. Nope, everyone on the list is present. Alright then. Two, when one crew is being pulled out of that flight. Guess whose staff number was being called out? Of all people in the briefing room, of course it had to be me. 😂 So I pulled my trolley behind me and went on to ask where I was flying to instead. Colombo, Sri Lanka. Deadheading. Not bad, I thought. I just had to let my friend know to cancel their trip to London. I was already picturing my birthday hotel staycation in Colombo. Operating coming back right away. 😳😳😳😳😳 So to cut the story short, I basically did a Colombo turnaround flight – on my birthday. (PS. I also missed on getting the birthday flowers my guy asked my friend to buy and give to me. Lol) Not complaining. Just warning you this is a #crewlife reality that you may face.

6. Long waking hours. Picture this. You see a flight attendant hustling in the cabin for a flight that’s scheduled to depart at 10AM. The million dollar question is: What time do you think she started her day? Roughly 3 hours pre-departure, she’s supposed to be headed for work. 2 hours pre-departure, she’s supposed to be signing on for the flight. Add two to three hours for her to prepare and create the look you’re seeing now. If that is a normal flight attendant, probably 5AM. If that flight attendant is me, the answer would be 4AM. (I like to take my time. 😉)

7. Creating and maintaining friendships. In this industry, you will meet so many people. You may fly with people who could be your soul sisters or brothers and have a good time with them on a layover. But that could be the last of it. Keeping in touch and actually meeting up to keep the bond will be truly challenging as it is very unlikely for you to fly with them again or have the same days off and rest days. The same goes for your friends outside the industry. Most of them will have weekends off and as for you, you will know no weekends as you could be flying those days. It is not impossible, it is just really frustrating sometimes to find a common free day.

8. Brief (thank God!) periods of disorientation. I don’t think there’s ever a flight attendant who has not experienced this. At least once or one of these two, I’m sure a lot, if not everyone, had this mini panic moment. One: Waking up and NOT knowing where in the world you are. You just woke up alone in a nice bed and you had to look up and stare into the ceiling for a good five seconds to allow your brains to land on the idea of where you currently are. Sometimes, the hotel pen and notepad by the bedside table helps. 😛 Scenario 2: You know how waking up before the alarm sometimes gives us the fulfilled feeling? Well, as a flight attendant, waking up before your alarm especially when everything is dark and quiet could give you a heart attack thinking you’ve hit the snooze button in your sleep, overslept and missed your flight when the sad but funny truth of the matter is you’ve just had three hours of shuteye. True story. #

The Ten Commandments of Adulthood

1. Do not compare. We have all been guilty of this. It has become a natural thing for all of us to do with the ease brought on by social media for the latest happenings in another person’s life be readily accessible. We all have our own timelines. We all have our own stories. Our own ups and downs. No one is made the same. Don’t compare the hardships you’ve gone through to the “ups” that you see in another person’s. You don’t know their story. You don’t see the whole picture. Remember that what is both good and bad in social media is that we only see what the user wants us to see. So don’t focus on a fragment of a person’s life. Focus on your own and live it.

2. What doesn’t kill you ultimately makes you stronger. Remember that. That heartbreak, that job you didn’t get, that friendship you lost. They’ve served their purpose in the story of your life and you’re a much better person for it. Also believe that you are a strong woman. Your strength isn’t only based on the successes you’ve had but more so on the failures you’ve weathered and stood.

3. There are no hard and fast rules to go through adulthood. Live your own truth. Live your own principles.

4. Live your dream. Go after your passion because you only live once and everyday that you let slip is a day that you could have done something you love doing. You only get to have this loaded dose of physical energy and enthusiasm while you’re in this age, let’s be honest. This is the time to live your best life.

5. Let your circle be a circle of support, love, real friendship, honesty and motivation. Let your circle be a pool of strength where you can draw from and give to.

6. Live according to your means. A real adult knows that savoring the present does not equate to neglect or complete disregard for the future.

7. Make an effort to always choose kindness. We have more than enough adults who have gone to the dark side. It’s time to make the composition balanced.

8. Say what you mean and mean what you say. There’s nothing more adult-like than being able to speak your mind and holding your ground. Never let anyone pressure you into saying yes or saying no to something when it’s contrary to how you really feel. Follow your gut feel. Voice out your opinions gracefully. And stand by what you believe is right.

9. Take care of yourself. How you do self-care now is very much reflective of how you will flourish into the many and longer phases of adulthood. Eat healthy, sleep, exercise. You’ll be happier. You’ll live longer. Accept that you are not invincible.

10. Know that it will sometimes be an unjust world. No matter how good a person you try to be and no matter how much you treat others the way you’d like to be treated, there will still be tough circumstances. Accept the fact that it won’t be easy but also rest in the reality that the world can’t put a good woman down. Life will sometimes be difficult but it definitely isn’t impossible to enjoy a beautiful life. #

How My Twenties Groomed Me To Be “A Strong, Independent Woman”

I love my twenties. I don’t think I could put it any other way. I think they are the best years of my life, not just my adult life, to be honest. Oh, the vigor and the strength and the silliness and tears of growing up and taking on the line “I am a strong, independent woman” to heart..

Here are some of the things that transpired in my (early) twenties that paved the way of me becoming a full-fledged strong and independent woman. 😉

Getting hired

I’ve waited five months after college graduation to finally get my license and finally apply for a nursing job. I’ve never imagined myself working in the communities. If you’re a nursing graduate, you’d know that community nursing isn’t exactly the most popular area of nursing nurses would choose. Almost everyone want to work in the hospitals. Me included. But during that time, Philippine nursing was at its lowest, I would say. I don’t remember knowing any hospitals hiring at the time. Most hospitals were doing the “volunteer system”. And as I’ve said in my previous posts, I was too proud to be a “volunteer”. (Hands down to those who did and are now working overseas and reaping the fruits of their labor. You guys deserve it.) DOH was hiring community nurses at the time to be assigned in the uplands. The job comes with a monthly stipend – which was a very unusual thing to hear related to a nursing job opening. So I grabbed it in spite of my reservations about the community nursing field.

Earning my first paycheck

Oh, no matter how little that stipend was from my first ever job, I’ll never forget how much that made me feel like an adult – finally. Especially that my first job (I worked as a rural health nurse) did not only require me to be theoretically competent but also physically and more so emotionally strong.

Spending my first paycheck

In my case, I didn’t exactly buy something special to commemorate my first paycheck because like I told you, the amount just wasn’t significant. It was just enough to get my needs covered through a whole month of working in the rural areas (a.k.a. mountains) while we wait for the next stipend. But even if I spent that money mostly on groceries on toiletries, it still felt so emancipating to finally spend your own cash for your own needs. I felt super.

The first resignation

No matter how fulfilling my community nursing job felt, I knew it was not enough. I knew that’s not supposed to be everything I can get out of being employed. I knew I had to be well-compensated because I knew that I am a hard worker. I knew I deserve more and that there’s a larger world out there, no matter how depressing nursing was at the time. So I submitted my resignation and mentally prepared myself for a new chapter that was going to unfold by going back to the city.

Stepping on foreign ground

I joined the BPO industry. It was a tough decision to make – to bring myself to apply, that is. What made it easier was that I was accepted on my first try. So I accepted what was happening and what I believed life was throwing at me. It was an intimidating environment especially for someone like me who always strives to be the best. Imagine having to speak English every second you are in the office. It would be violated every now and then during breaks but I honestly felt like someone was always listening and waiting to catch me like in high school where our school nuns enforced EOP (English Only Policy). It was an adjustment. Not entirely because of the English language having to be spoken at all time but it was a drastic change of environment for me. From the mountains to the sophisticated buildings of Quezon City and a workplace where everyone spoke English and a lot of them seemed to purposely but effortlessly looked conyo for it.

Questioning my career choices

A year into my stay in the call center industry where I’ve made some friends whose friendships are still important to me and where recognition and opportunities abound, I have started missing my nursing career. I started questioning my decision to be in this industry. I looked for options and applied in some hospitals even if Philippine nursing has not really made improvements. No matter how much appreciation I was presented with the promotions that were down the line, I knew I had enough. No matter how grateful I was of the opportunities given me, I knew in my bones I wanted out.

Taking my chances

I applied in the airline industry as a cabin crew. The second airline that I tried applying for accepted me and I was ready to be shipped off to Malaysia to realize another dream and that is to work abroad.

Unemployment

The waiting time for the “shipping off” part stretched from a month to four months. I could be the most impatient person in the world. The waiting time was hell.

Stepping on yet, another foreign ground

Finally, those four long months have passed and I found myself being whisked away to Kuala Lumpur – excited, nervous and motivated. This time it was a whole different world. It was a world where looks, poise and aviation smarts were expected of you every time you’re on duty that it should have become your second nature if you wanted to truly thrive in the industry. Having to learn manuals by heart was not really much of a challenge for me, to be honest. I guess nursing prepared me so well for that. Our safety and emergency procedures manuals were nothing compared to Marieb, Saunders, Perry & Potter, etc. The challenge for me was the grooming part. I’d say I was in the bottom third of my class when it came to makeup skills. It was not my thing. I wasn’t blessed with the gift. But every preparation for flight was a chance for learning and though I can’t really say that I have improved so much, I could still say I’ve improved.

Getting engaged

Having my boyfriend of eight years (ten years now) to pop the question and put a ring on it is of course one of the defining moments of our long-term relationship. It was the start of a new chapter in our lives where we had to both step up in envisioning and preparing for our future – not just his, not just mine, but this time, ours.

Seeing the world.. and still learning

Now on my fourth flying year and my second airline, I’m still blessed with the opportunity to see and experience different parts of the world and learn from it. Although honestly, I guess I have reached a point in my flying career where sleep is just so much more important than sightseeing, I still get excited particularly about places that I’m visiting for the first time. While my earned experiences through travelling have taught me and opened my eyes to so many realities, there’s still so much to see, so much to do and so much to explore.

Making friends who have become family

It is in my twenties that I have identified the best people in my life. I know just who will stick with me and ride with me until the end. The craziness of my twenties have filtered these people. And they’re here to stay, I am confident to say.

Cutting people off

Toxicity is toxicity – regardless of its form – be it a relative, a colleague or a friend.

Making nemeses

No matter how saint-like you live your life, you can never please everybody. Enter Taylor Swift who once said “There are going to be people along the way who, will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or fame. But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you will know it was you and the people who love you who put you there, and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Ticking off my goals

Professionally and personally, slowly but surely, my goals are being met one by one.

Me doing me

— whether that is writing or making a series of funny IG stories or making Youtube videos or cooking or being an insurance pro or creating a wow feed or being a proud full-time housewife and mom or watching TED Talks for pastime or buying makeup that you don’t use or collecting Pandora charms. I unapologetically do me. Just like Sarah Knight said, I do “whatever sizzles my bacon.”

Now who’s ready for the dirty thirty? ;p #

Being present on social media

Hi, everyone!

As I’ve said in my latest IG story, I’m trying to go back to writing/blogging. I’ve done some “research” and apparently, to be on top of the game, you have to have strong social media presence. Really, it’s not all about what you write anymore. You have to be visible if you wanna make it. I’ve resisted this since I started blogging because I truly don’t want to share so much about my personal life. I hate feeling exposed. I’ve resisted this even at the time that my WordPress stats were booming and the notifications for comments, reblogs, shares and private messages were endless. This I resisted even when at the time I knew how a big following can further hoist me up the blogging or writing scene. A part of me believed that it’s 99% the content and the meager 1% is social media. But three years later, I have seen how social media is actually everything now for those who want their art seen, their voices heard, their feelings felt, their business succeed..

My love for writing and the printed word is stronger than my reservations. Hence, I’ve decided to create an Instagram account for my blog and be more active on its Facebook account. I have not totally caved in to the idea of being all out on social media by making my personal accounts public but this is a start. With my blog being on social media, I hope to be more “present” in the digital world and for my work to be really “out there”.

So, if it isn’t too much to ask and if you like my work, please follow @alyseestheworld on Instagram and  like Alyseestheworld on Facebook. Thank you and have a good day!

PS: Real blogs soon. 😉 x

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