Sunshine

Sunshine Blogger Award 2018: Hello, August!

Finally it’s August, my birth month and my absolute favorite month of every year! And just in time, I received news that brought sunshine to the start of my August: I have been nominated by the lovely Steph from The Atlas Edit for the Sunshine Blogger Award 2018.

Sunshine Blogger Award

Ever since June, I’ve been trying to blog more and it has been going well so far: I got invited to my first official event as a blogger (Aja Aja Tayo! press & media launch), got sponsored a spa treat (Balay Hilom Spa + Giveaway), opened a new Facebook page and Twitter account just for my blog, and my site stats have rocketed twice since last year. Along with all these new experiences and opened opportunities, I got to be part of the blogging community full of inspiring and supportive people.

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

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The Sunshine Blogger Award is given from blogger to blogger to recognize each other’s efforts, provide motivation, and promote positivity in the blogging community. Also, just as how it is named, receiving the award means you have literally been providing sunshine to your readers, and now it is time for you to send that sunshine to fellow bloggers as well.

I have been seeing this award from different bloggers so I’m very honored to finally be part of this. While blogging, it gets a little bit lonely as if you’re talking to yourself but with this award as tool, you get to connect with fellow bloggers and support each other with a little sunshine!

Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Questions For Me + mY ANSWERS

Check out Steph’s blog post on the Sunshine Blogger Award and my nomination here.

#1 What’s your favorite part about traveling?

My favorite part about traveling is the exciting thrill that rushes through me while the plane sets off. As the plane soars to the sky off to a new wonderful place, my insides burn with excitement and anticipation of what kind of adventure is waiting for me on this trip. And when I land, I always seem like I’m in a reverie as I see the place I’ve been planning to go to right in front of my eyes.

I love the feeling of excitement in going somewhere new

I love the feeling of excitement in going somewhere new

#2 Which is the most overrated country/city you’ve visited in your opinion?

This is such a hard question but if I were to choose one, I’d pick Seoul. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Seoul with all my heart (I’ll be staying here for two years), it has so many interesting places with all the city lights and large infrastructures. However, first-time tourists often only include mostly just places in Seoul to their itinerary. And I think it’s such a pity because South Korea has much more to offer than its central metropolitan city.

If you’re planning to travel to Korea, I urge you to visit its provinces and nearby cities so you can truly understand the beauty and immerse yourself in the culture of the country. Just located in the vicinity of the airport when you land, why not go around Incheon City? Check my easy to follow half-day trip guide to Downton Incheon! Try the original Jeonju Bibimbap in Jeonju. Experience healing with the natural attractions in Gangwondo. Visit the beaches and the spectacular night view in Busan.

Search for the best deals through Booking.com:



Booking.com

#3 Where is the best food you’ve ever had?

Definitely Taiwan!!! When my friends and I visited Taiwan in September last year (2017), we all kept going back to the street food markets. My absolute favorite (which I still crave for up to this moment) is the famous Flame-Grilled Beef Cubes or Torched Wagyu Cubes with cheese (!!!!!!!!) in Shilin Night Market. Price starts at 100 TWD for 1 serving and, believe me when I say you’ll need more.

Flame-Grilled Beef Cubes with Cheese in Shilin Night Market

Flame-Grilled Beef Cubes with Cheese in Shilin Night Market

Here are some other recommendations of must-try street food in Taipei: Hu Jiao Bing or Kiln-Baked Pepper Pork Buns (caution: as they are freshly made, they can be very very hot), Grilled Mushrooms, Tamagoyaki Egg Roll (delicious, cheap, and has big serving), and Noodle Soup. Of course, don’t forget dessert with their shaved ice dessert, or why not a fresh cup of milk tea?

#4 What is your most spontaneous travel story?

My most spontaneous travel story so far has got to be my random trip to Busan on January 2016. It was one of my solo trips to South Korea, one night while I was in my room in Seoul, I had the sudden urge to visit Busan the next day. So out of whim and nothing planned, I booked my train ticket to Busan that night and hopped on to the train first thing in the morning.

Jan 2016: At Haeundae Beach after a 5-hour trip to Busan and getting lost on the way to my hostel

Jan 2016: At Haeundae Beach after a 5-hour trip to Busan and getting lost on the way to my hostel

It was a crazy decision because I was still just 19 years old at that time and I didn’t know where to go and what to eat, and I didn’t even have a place to stay! Luckily, the train ride was long so I had time to book a room in a hostel and also research for places to go. And as much as how spontaneous that trip was, I had a great time: I got lost going to some spots, had to ask random people to take my pictures for me, and ate so many delicious food only found in Busan. And another unexpected event was when I missed my train to Seoul by five minutes haha so I had to buy new bus tickets instead.

#5 Do you have any travel regrets?

I regret not having jotted down everything I did on my travels in the past. As much as I want to blog about my past travels, I realized I’ve forgotten most of the places I’ve been to and the experiences I made. Luckily I have some photos with me but it would have been better if I recorded every single thing on my trips so I can look back on them, and also share my experience to the world.

#6 How do you usually decide on where your next travel destination will be?

I usually decide my next travel destination after seeing a place that interests me. Whether it be while watching a movie or show, or from browsing pictures on Instagram, whenever I see a beautiful place, I jot it down on my travel journal as Places To Visit. I also often look at various travel blogs and get encouraged to visit the places bloggers go to.

#7 What’s something not many people know about your home country?

The Philippines is famous for its beaches and island destinations but just a few select are aware that aside from our islands, we also have our beautiful mountains and summits waiting to be climbed. The past few years, hiking has become more popular so more and more people has started to discover various hiking trails and spots in the Philippines that give breathtaking views. Being home to numerous mountains, you can find the best view of nature through hiking in the Philippines. Check out this list of Top 10 Hiking Destinations Near Manila for Beginners.


#8 What made you start travel blogging?

I started blogging as a whole right after I graduated college in 2016. After graduation, I was honestly so lost with what I’m supposed to do (still am but I’m getting there haha) that I went to travel to different countries. While traveling, I was thinking of the best way to document my experiences and learnings on these countries so that I’ll remember them for a lifetime. And that is when I decided to make my own website where I can document my life through what I love doing most: writing. It was a spur of the moment decision, and surprisingly, one of the best decisions I have ever made.

#9 What’s your favorite and least favorite part about travel blogging?

My favorite part is sharing my experience with the readers and getting a response from them in return. Through blogging, I get motivated to know more about a place, and engage or immerse myself to its traditions and culture so that I can share these tidbits to my readers. I love it when I read comments and feedback on my posts because it is an indication that people do read the things I write. My least favorite has got to be summarizing every experience in a blog post, especially when I feel like I can’t justify through mere words the things I want to share.

#10 What are your long-term goals for your blog and what do you want to achieve out of it?

With the hopes that I can continue writing consistently for a long time, one of my long-term goals is to grow the following and audience for my blog. Every writer needs a reader, and if you really want to get your writing out there, you need to have a solid and engaged audience.

Rather than becoming a popular person, I only hope for my content to be interesting and helpful enough for whoever who reads them. Having a wider audience means being able to share my experiences with a lot more people, and in turn, they get to learn from these experiences, too.

#11 What makes your blog unique?

I think what sets apart my blog from all other blogs out there is that it is very personal and raw: every single detail in this website (from the logo, the colors, even the fonts) is somewhat an indication of who I am as a person, and all my writings contain my deepest passions and everything I love doing. In real life, I tend to be private and not share much about my personal life but through writing, the words just flow right from my fingertips that form beautiful sentences. My blog is a canvas I fill with my endless transit.

Hence, getting nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award provides such good motivation and a boost because I feel like I’m getting recognized for the things I’ve written. Now, after answering all the questions from Steph, it is now my time to nominate 11 other wonderful bloggers which I’ve personally chosen to pass on this Sunshine Blogger Award.

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My TOP 11 Nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award

Questions for my Nominees

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your inspiration behind your blog name, if any?
  3. If you had the chance to talk or give advice to your self on your first day as a blogger, what would you say?
  4. What is your life mantra? Explain what it means.
  5. What do you love and hate most about blogging?
  6. Would you rather go back to the past, or jump to the future? (No in between)
  7. Is there a dream that you had to let go of?
  8. If you could rewrite the ending of one famous movie or series, how would you choose to end it?
  9. What is the most unique or unusual food that you’ve eaten?
  10. Would you rather be extremely good at something you hate doing or suck tremendously at something you love doing?
  11. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done and would you do it again?
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I would like to thank Stephanie again for this opportunity. Do check out her blog where she writes about honest and in-depth travel guides. I had so much fun writing up this post! I can’t wait to see the posts of my 11 nominees, and how they’ll relay on the Sunshine Blogger Award to other more bloggers.

Have a happy August, everyone! Do let me know what you thought of this post on the comments below 🙂

WITH LOVE,

Balay Hilom Spa Review

Balay Hilom Spa: A Day of Healing and Relaxation

Some days, even just for a few hours, you just want to escape into another world to heal your body and feed your soul. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Katipunan lies Balay Hilom Spa, literally the ‘House of Healing’, which is exactly the place you need for a total body rejuvenation. As my favorite month is approaching, I am also hosting a giveaway for Balay Hilom Spa massage gift certificates, check mechanics below.

I was already familiar with Balay Hilom Spa back when I was still in college: living in the Ateneo dorms, Katipunan became my neighborhood and home for almost four years. When the stress of school work started seeping in on my fourth year, I went looking for a place to relieve all my stress in and through the word of mouth of fellow Ateneans, I came to know of Balay Hilom Spa. Despite its quiet marketing back then, Balay Hilom Spa was famous among people in Katipunan because of their unique and superb services.

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I have been to the spa 3 times before and I haven’t been back since I graduated two years ago. Alas, when I got an invite to make a review of their signature Hilot service, I was very ecstatic. I was allowed to bring in a plus one so I didn’t hesitate to bring in one of my closest friends since high school to let her first spa experience be a good one.

BALAY HILOM SPA

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Balay Hilom Spa logo

Its name originating from ‘Balay’ which means ‘house’ and ‘Hilom’ meaning ‘to heal’, Balay Hilom Spa is definitely a House of Healing. They aim to promote indigenous healing practices and traditions that were passed down from generation to generation through massage services. The services of Balay Hilom Spa, unique from other spa services out there, are honed only from the traditional way of Filipino healing originating from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Balay Hilom Spa is currently located in FBR Arcade (building in between BPI Katipunan and Yellow Cab) in Katipunan, across Ateneo de Manila University. They decided to open the spa in Katipunan as they try to serve a market that is both discerning and knowledgeable about prices. And as seen in the Katipunan market, it is quite challenging to meet because establishments come and go.

Balay Hilom Spa on 75 Things About Quezon City

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Currently a Quezon City Tourism Awardee, Balay Hilom Spa is included in the 75 Places To Visit in Quezon City for 2017. They are slowly increasing their marketing efforts and are planning to add merchandise and expand to cater a wider market soon.


SERVICES

Their menu of packages are dividded into three categories:

  • ‘Sinaunang Ginhawa’ or Traditional Massages 18301815_1688864371142799_8930632639723877886_n
  • ‘Lingap ng Mga Isla’ which means ‘Nurturing of the Islands’ as they offer different healing practices from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
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  • and lastly, ‘Katutubong Lunas’ for Indigenous Remedies

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THE BALAY HILOM SPA EXPERIENCE

As soon as we arrived, I caught the familiar smell of pepermint and the Kubo (Nipa hut) interior. Unlike other spas I usually go to, the lobby of Balay Hilom Spa is set as dark so visitor’s eyes can relax from glaring lights. I particularly loved the background music playing on loop, the sound of akulintang (a traditional musical instrument from Mindanao) which gives a more relaxing and homey feel to the place.

Kubo Interior

Kubo Interior

Each service comes with a complimentary cup of hot heirloom tea, a brew of organic, locally sourced ingredients from a recipe passed down through generations. It is one of my favorite things in the Spa, the tea is so refreshing with a hint of sweetness in flavor.

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After the delicious tea, our feet were soaked in warm water for a few minutes. The daily journey of Ifugao tribesmen hiking up and down the mountainside of the Cordilleras has inspired the Dagdagay or Kolkolot, a ritual originally performed by children to help soothe the tired legs of their fathers.

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After soaking your feet in holok or herbs, the Dagdagay follows the principles of acupressure, wherein we two runos (rattan sticks) are used to stimulate the nerve endings of the sole in order to treat kimminal (muscle cramps) and gang-ngo (rheumatism), and to cleanse and rejuvenate your legs after a hard day’s work. After the feet soak, we were each given a pair of comfy handwoven slippers.

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We were then brought to our room where we removed our clothes to get ready for our massage. For those uncomfortable to be just in their underwear, they offer satin shorts (just request for them from the staff). Although it is recommended to not wear the shorts at all for the best massage experience.
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The massage treatment we got was Hilot Balay Hilom, their signature deep tissue massage, which is mainly for freeing your body from lamig or coldness. I am an absolute fan of massages, specially because my back always hurt caused by my habit of always crouching down, so I couldn’t wait to receive my massage. When I felt the strokes (I requested hard strokes, you may opt for what suits you most), I immediately went into a reverie of healing and relaxation. I was free of my thoughts and the only thing I could feel were the strokes on my body.

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We were supposed to have just the 70-minute massage but it got extended to a full 100-minute treatment because of how good it felt. After the massage, we were asked if we wanted water or tea while we go and sit at the lounge and of course, I got my beloved heirloom tea again.

After a very satisfying Hilot

After a very satisfying Hilot service

Even their toilet fits the spa's concept perfectly

Even their toilet fits the spa’s concept perfectly

With the service, the ambiance, and all the treats of the spa that is definitely a value for the money, it is no doubt that I give it a full five-star rating. For those looking for a unique spa experience complete with total healing and relaxation, stop by Balay Hilom Spa to experience directly why so many patrons have been coming back to the spa just to receive their services, and why they have so many excellent reviews.

Follow Balay Hilom Spa on their Facebook page to check their recent promos. You may also inquire about their services or reserve an appointment through their number: 0927 5358380.

AUGUST GIVEAWAY

Since my birth month is approaching + it is also the anniversary month of Balay Hilom Spa, I’ve decided to hold my first-ever giveaway. 5 lucky winners will be chosen to receive a massage gift certificate for Balay Hilom Spa worth PHP 500 each + a Korean face mask from Mulbit.

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 To join my giveaway, simply follow the mechanics below:

  1. Like Janine Anne: Endless Transit on Facebook
  2. Follow @janineladdaran on Instagram
  3. Like album and tag 3 friends in the comments section on Facebook
  4. Share album on Facebook (set to Public).

BONUS ENTRY #1: Share this blog post on Facebook with hashtags #JanineEndlessTransit and #BalayHilomSpa.

Winner will be chosen by random and announced on August 18 (My birthday yaay). I’ll be posting mechanics for more bonus entries on Instagram next week so stay tuned!


Want to give more exposure for your brand or business? I provide features and reviews for events, products, and services. Send me an email or message me on my Facebook page and we can work on something together. 

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With love,

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Six More Months: Recap of June + July Goals

Today is the start of a new month. Can you believe that six months has already passed in 2018? In this post I’ll be looking back at how last month went with a recap of June, and I’ll also be setting my July goals to make the most out of the remaining six months of the year.

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Halfway there to making 2018 my year!

Recap of June

June was unexpectedly a good month for me. May 30, I departed from Korea (after a 3-month Korean language course in Yonsei add to that a missed flight that resulted to a half-day trip to Incheon), and I arrived in Manila at 6PM that day. Morning the next day (May 31), I went back to the airport to depart to Cebu for a one-week backpacking local trip going around Cebu and Bohol with my high school best friend. Although it was quite exhausting, it was a good decision to go travelling right after I arrived back in the Philippines because I was able to free my thoughts from missing everyone that I met in the previous semester in Korea.

I also went back to blogging and started being more active in Instagram. Doing this resulted to increased traffic in my site, 200% increase in AdSense, emails for press releases, invites to events, and more followers and subscribers. Seeing all these results made me more motivated to be more active in blogging.

And the highlight for June happened on June 25. Along with the comeback of my most favorite group NU’EST W came the results of my Master’s application. It is not a surprise to all my friends that I have been wanting to take Master’s abroad but it has been two years since I graduated and I still haven’t sent in any applications. This year, I decided I could no longer waste time so last March, since I was already in Korea, I sent in my application to Yonsei University.

While opening the site where the results are shown, my hands were shaking tremendously because I wanted this so bad and when it finally loaded I was in for a big BIG SURPRISE. Not only did I get accepted in my chosen program, Master’s in Business Administration (specializing in Information Systems) in Yonsei University, I also got awarded an Outstanding International Student scholarship providing me  with free tuition and free entrance fee (amounting to KRW 5,908,000 or USD 5,300 per semester).

I was on the verge of tears because this is the kind of acknowledgement I have been yearning to receive for the past few years. After I graduated, I have been so lost with what I wanted to do in life, I’ve been lazing around at home feeling guilty that I was wasting my youth and potential while contributing nothing to my parents. And having received this result made me realize yet again that everything happens at their own pace, and that I, have much more to offer and much more to prove in the world. I am ready to take another step of my life: Graduate School!

As much as how June became an unexpectedly good month for me, I believe the next six months of 2018 will be much much better. Setting attainable goals for myself from the start gets me motivated to tick them out so to get me on track, I have listed below my July goals.

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JULY GOALS

1. Write more frequently & consistently

One thing I regret last year was that I did not write and blog about my trips. I went to several countries and I only wrote about Korea so far, and it’s such a waste to keep all the wonderful pictures and beautiful stories about the places I’ve been. After starting to be more active last month, I plan to be much more active by posting 1 or more post per week for July and the upcoming months.

2. Healthier lifestyle

When I was in Korea last March until end of May, I ate so much junk that I could feel how unhealthy I was becoming. There was that one time where I ate instant ramen for a whole week because that was the only thing I could find in the kitchen, and let’s just say I don’t plan on doing that again anytime soon. On June after going back home, I started eating more vegetables and fruits, lean meat such as chicken breast, and stopped eating rice. For July, I want to incorporate exercises (hopefully I can go back to boxing), while eating healthily. The goal is to lose at least 5 kg before I go back to Korea again.

3. Declutter and get rid of baggage

I got this idea when I heard my friend was fixing her room and throwing out unneccesary stuff she no longer needed. When I went to sort out my closet, I found out that 70% of the items there are clothes I no longer wear or have never even worn. And so, I decided to sell them at a lower price so other people can make use of them. I’ve already started selling some of my clothes on Carousell and Instagram, check them out if you want to see the items I’m selling!

4. Reply to people

Something most of my friends would say about me is that I reply, if not never, very late to people. This is not because I don’t want to reply but I tend to be very lazy and forget to send in my reply after a long time, and when I do remember, it’s already too late to send in my reply. For this month, I want to practice replying to people right away so that I don’t forget to do so.

5. Rebrand

I’ve wanted to do this since the start of the year but I had no ideas on how to do it. Last week, I finally had something in mind for my blog’s new logo and asked someone to design it for me (as I lack the artsy skills to do so). Once it’s done, I plan to change the layout of my site so it fits more with the finished logo. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinions on my new logo and layout!

6. Keep Learning

When I went to fix my email subscriptions, I found out that I’ve signed up to a number of online courses last year but never had the chance to finish them. This month, I want to keep on learning new things that I can use to my advantage. Some of the things on my queue to learn are: Designing on Illustrator, Copy Writing, Stocks & Investment, and Affiliate Marketing.

I have claimed since the very start of the year that I was going to make 2018 my year (18, being my favorite number), and that it will be the year that I chase my dreams. Looking at the first six months, it seems that I am on the right track: I’ve already reached two big goals so far which was to study in Yonsei and now I’m going back there again this time as a Master’s student.

With all these good news, I am now much more motivated and eager to truly make 2018 my year.

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Thank you for reading! I hope this year is going great for you, too! How about you, how has the first six months of 2018 been for you? What are your July goals, how do you plan on making the most out of the remaining 6 months of 2018?

WITH LOVE,

8 Things To Let Go Of

8 Things I Decided To Let Go Of

2017 was not an ordinary year for me. In a span of a year, I’ve experienced so many new things, felt a rollercoaster of emotions, and had the chance to reflect on my life’s current situation. With these reflections, I was so excited for 2018 to arrive: a new year which brings forth a chance for a brand new start.

Two months have already passed in this new year but who says we still can’t have our new start now? Here, I have enumerated 8 things I’ve decided to let go of for this new start.

In a world where we’re all too comfortable with the known, we tend to overlook certain aspects that are perhaps already blocking us from being the best version of our selves. By letting go of these, we’d get a clearer view of new goals we can set for our selves. It is a process that takes time but acknowledging that these things do exist is already a step in itself.

#1. What Others Think

I always cared too much on other people’s opinion about me. And this very thought created a limitation for my actions. Instead of doing things I like or expressing my true feelings, I’d take into consideration first what others would think. When someone praises me and my work, I’d feel great; and when someone gives a disapproval, I’d feel bad.

I’d go out of my way to please others to the point that I could no longer distinguish what was the real me. Trying to please everyone is a hard habit to get out of. We all try to please everyone around us: our bosses or professors, our parents, our friends. And the price of trying to please everyone every single time is compromising our very self, the very thing that makes us real.

This year, prioritize your self (of course without hurting others in the process), stop letting other people’s opinion control who you really are. Set yourself free from the clutches of the society’s expectations. Trust your own judgment because this is your life and no one should dictate how it goes aside from yourself.

#2. Obsessing over a social media image

Being conscious of other’s opinion made me try to always portray some kind of image on social media: something people would “like”. But all those flatlay images of food or coffee that took so long to arrange, all those scripted candid poses, thoroughly-revised captions, and likes that came with it were becoming too far off from my offline self.

Being in social media and using its benefits to your advantage (especially when you’re trying to build up your own brand for your business) is not the problem, it is when maintaining that certain image consumes you too much that you eventually forget who you truly are in your attempts to have more likes. Remember, your social media image is merely an extension of your identity, thus, it must not be too different from who you are in real life.

Make this the year where you become comfortable with showing the world who you really are by uploading less-scripted but more authentic posts. So go ahead, don’t be afraid to show off that messy table setup or show off a wide gummy smile to the camera if that’s what you want to post. When we care less about the likes we’ll get, we can truly enjoy the goodness that social media brings without compromising our very identity.

#3. Negativity and Fears

The problem with me is that I have so many dreams, so many plans I want to do but before I get to do them, I always let the fears consume me. That little thought in my head saying I’m not smart enough to do this, I’m not talented enough to do that, or that I’m not good enough to be that person I imagined myself to be.

Probably what we all fear the most is failure. I’ve had enough failures in the past to acknowledge how heartbreaking it feels to experience one: your very core crumbles and you start doubting your ability in something you once thought you were good at. But think about it: is the fear of the unknown really worth the regret you’d feel if you gave up on your dreams? Would you let something that might not even happen get in the way of the life you’ve imagined?

Instead of avoiding these fears altogether, this year, let’s embrace them. Acknowledge that you have fears, allow yourself to feel them, and then as you get comfortable, slowly face them. Take a chance to at least try. If things work out, good for you; If they don’t, never beat yourself up because you can always keep trying again and again. Surround yourself with positivity and possibilities as you bravely listen to the wild beating of your heart.

#4. Toxic People

When I was little, I thought having the most number of friends was the most important thing in the world. As I grew up, I realized it’s not about the quantity but the quality of friends you have. It’s not always having the most number of friends, but having people who genuinely care for you.

Find those people who would make you feel that even if you don’t try hard, you are still good enough. The right people would embrace you as who you really are. You won’t have to change the way you think just to fit theirs.

So stop forcing yourself to the wrong people. Stop engaging with those who are always holding you back to get to your full potential. Instead, surround yourself with the people who are there by their own choice, those who you won’t have to cling on just to feel accepted in this world.

#5. Trying to be Perfect

I had so many ideas at the start of 2017, and I had so many things I planned to do. But only a few of those were actually implemented. This is because I was trying too hard to make them perfect that in the end, I never actually completed them.

Perfection is setting unrealistically high standards to which we often base from successful people we look up to. And when we fail to reach these standards, we beat ourselves up and end up feeling worthless. When we follow the standards of other people, we forget the most important thing: that is, each of us has different standards.

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”  Anonymous, The Bhagavad Gita

Instead of struggling to achieve perfection, strive for excellence. Excellence is when you do your best, making use of your entire potential, and being that which you can possibly be.

#6. Doing things later

I thought I had so much time, I kept delaying things I have planned. And next thing I know, it was already the last day of 2017 and I was rushing to check things off my bucket list. Looking back, I’ve actually had so many idle times, so many times I could have been productive and could have done so many things but I chose to spend them watching TV shows or scrolling mindlessly on my phone.

The concept of tomorrow being another day has two possible outcomes. At one point, it gives us motivation that whatever bad thing that happens today is just another day and that there is a hope for a brighter day ahead. On the other hand, the thought that we have so much time in our life brings forth laziness and being too comfortable with where we are right now.

Remember those excuses you made last year: when you said you’d do something when you have more time or more money or whatever. As long as you keep making excuses for yourself and justifying your laziness, those excuses would just keep building up until you can no longer break free from that cycle of empty excuses. It’s an amazing feeling, that of finally finishing something you should’ve finished a long time ago. But wouldn’t it have felt so much more amazing if you’ve finished it earlier and on time?

The world doesn’t wait for you. Stop waiting for later that might not even come. Work with everything that you have right now and make full use of every opportunity that comes your way.

#7. Dwelling on missed opportunities

I spent the majority of 2017 thinking of the opportunities I missed. So many things I could have done if only I was this or that. And honestly, dwelling too much on the what ifs just made me have lower self-esteem and made me hate myself.

The irony of this is that as we keep wasting our time dwelling on the opportunities we’ve missed and ruminating over what could have been, we are also blocking our view of new opportunities that may come our way.

A common mistake that we all do is that we focus too much on the right things we have done, and yet we forget the wrong things we’ve done. Instead of completely forgetting these missed opportunities, look deeply into them. Evaluate your past actions and learn how you could have fared better. And then apply everything you’ve learned the next time another opportunity comes.

Ultimately, acknowledge that you are responsible for every action that you do. With this, you also learn to forgive yourself because you no longer define yourself through your past, instead, you realize that you are a self-improving individual on the way to being the person you want to be.

#8. Comparison

We are all guilty of comparing ourselves to others. We scroll through Instagram, look at the feeds of friends or bloggers enjoying their trip somewhere, and then we end up feeling bad about our lives. But the worst kind of comparison is when we compare our current situation to what we expected them to be. When I was younger, I imagined my 20’s would be more extravagant than it is now. And when I compare that to my situation now, I feel like I’ve failed my past self.

Comparison, while sometimes provides motivation, stems greatly from insecurity. It is when we equate our self-worth to someone else’s fortune or misfortune. It is also when we set certain standards for ourselves: to be successful or have various investments or own properties all limited to a certain age. The most toxic mindset but to which we repeatedly do to ourselves.

The world is our canvas: each of us having a canvas of our own. And how we paint that canvas lies in our very hands. Your tools right now may not be as advanced as other’s but still, you need to make use of what you have now because you can keep upgrading as you go your own way.

Let go of all expectations: from people around you and from your own. Look forward (literally) towards that bright future ahead of you. A well-respected Korean singer-songwriter, Jeon Inkwon, once said, “When you do your best at whatever it is that you do, your turn will definitely come. And when that time comes, it will happen in such a magical way. So just keep on doing what you do because your magic will happen”.

You are who you are until you are not. You have your own time; it may not be now but it will eventually come. Allow yourself to trust that your moment will come, and when it does, everything you’ve encountered, all the wait, all the tears and sweat that came with it, will all ultimately make sense.

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Does this post resonate with you? What are other things that you feel have been impending on your personal growth? Let me know on the comments below!

With love,

PHILSTAR

Stepping Out Into The World: Exchange Student in Korea

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A trip to South Korea is a dream of many; I’m fortunate enough to have been given by the Korea Tourism Organization Manila Office a free round-trip ticket to the country last December as my prize for being the 3rd place in the 2016 Korean Speech Contest organized by the Korean Cultural Center. While this is not my first time visiting Korea, this trip has enabled me to see it in a new lens. It also made me relive my memories of being an exchange student in Korea two years ago.

As published in The Philippine Star on January 29, 2017 at the Sunday Lifestyle section, page D-2.

For as long as I could remember, it has always been my dream to visit Korea. This started back in 2008, on my first year in high school, when I started learning the language for the first time. A transferee student from Korea, which I befriended, taught me the basics of the Korean language – from reading and writing Hangul, the Korean writing system, to phrases and grammar structure. Eventually, I became more confident in watching shows without the help of English subtitles, and after just a year, I started translating full Korean shows into English. I would say that the best way to learn the Korean language is not to just rely on books but to continuously immerse oneself into everything Korean –from watching Korean shows, listening to K-pop, and taking Korean classes.

Being an Exchange Student in Korea

My lifelong dream was fulfilled on 2014 when I got accepted as an exchange student in Korea University. I remember the variety of emotions that rushed through me the moment the plane landed in Incheon International Airport, Korea’s main gateway: I was finally in the very country I’ve only imagined and watched from dramas and shows. And, arriving on the very day of my 18th birthday just made it more special.

Being the only Filipino out of a thousand exchange students in Korea University, I was compelled to socialize with others. The anxiousness of being alone for five months encouraged me to really step out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, the buddy system offered by the Korea University Buddy Association (KUBA) is one of the best in the world, and was very accommodating. It is here that I found my closest friends, who I still keep in close contact up until now, and who I have been meeting in other countries for travel. We saw each other almost everyday for five months, and I became so comfortable with them that it almost felt like I have known them for years. Although I was alone when I arrived in Korea, I left with hundreds of new friends who all came from different countries.

I also learned to handle being alone, and in the process, I learned that I am much more independent than how I put myself to be. Actually, some of the greatest moments I had were spent getting lost and wandering around all by myself. I was able to grow independently in an unfamiliar environment. I got lost so many times in Korea, but it was okay because I was able to pass through places I would have never seen had I passed by the usual route. It’s amazing how from not even knowing how to take the train or being unable to take a taxi by myself in Manila, I became a person that could take the subway and roam around the streets of Seoul late at night until dawn.

Perhaps because I had limited time in the country, I ended up saying yes to everything that I was invited to. I went paragliding and conquered my fear of heights, I ate raw octopus and raw beef, I went to Busan all by myself and ended up missing the last train going back to Seoul, I had my first fall and snow experience, I reported in front of a class which was being broadcasted live in China, I shopped until 6AM at Dongdaemun, and many more. I ended up doing so many things I never imagined myself to have ever done.

My fangirl dreams were also very much satisfied as I got to attend so many K-pop concerts for free, got to watch filmings of Korean shows, and I even got to meet K-pop stars face to face. In one of my classes, Korean Media and Popular Culture, I got to meet Alexander Eusebio, a former member of K-pop group U-KISS, who sat right in front of me for an entire semester. There were also times when we ran into each other outside class, in cafes or restaurants, and he was nice enough to approach me and talk with me for a few minutes. It was surreal how someone I used to watch only from my laptop screen was right in front of me and was actually talking to me.

Studying in Korea was everything that I expected it to be, and even more. The fulfillment of a lifelong dream, meeting different kinds of people, gaining a family away from home, and having memories that are mine to keep forever made my stay in Korea more than a mere experience. In fact, I would say that it has been the best decision I have ever made in my life yet. Spending an entire semester in Korea made me fall in love with the country – from its people, the language, and the culture. Thus, when it ended, I was absolutely devastated. The minute I set foot in Manila, it felt like I just woke out of a beautiful dream: like building a life for five months and leaving it forever in order to go back to the life that I temporarily left for five months.

On the other hand, it is true that coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. Being away and living in a foreign place made me appreciate the Philippines more. I realized that there is so much more about our country that I didn’t know about, so many more beautiful things that I haven’t recognized before. And as cliché as it sounds, I came back as a different person. On my fourth year in college, I joined so many events and became more confident in myself as a person. This was how I was able to have the confidence to participate in the 2016 Korean Speech Contest. Through this event, I was able to talk about my experience as an exchange student in Korea, and encourage other students to apply for an exchange program.



Two years after

Little did I know that joining this contest was also an opportunity to bring me back again in Korea. When I was informed of my free round-trip ticket, I was ecstatic and nostalgic. I decided to stay in Korea for two whole weeks in order to get to do a lot of things. Instead of going to the usual tourist spots, I opted to visit places I have never been to yet, mostly to small cities outside Seoul such as Guri, Suwon, and Gapyeong. Since I was alone for this trip, I decided to become more adventurous and spontaneous, I just ended up walking to anywhere I could go to. I also became more confident with my Korean language skills that I ended up talking in pure Korean.

I also got to meet up with many friends. I spent Christmas Eve with my Korean high school friends who I haven’t seen for like five years now, and we also spent Christmas day in Hongdae whose entire street was filled with performances and people giving free hugs. I also met up with Korean buddies and fellow exchange students from Korea University, and was glad that even after two years our friendship still hasn’t changed and there were no awkwardness between us. Most specially, I reunited with one my best friends from exchange who came from Hawaii who was with his friends for this trip. I spent my last three days in Korea with them where I volunteered to be their tourist guide, and I experienced so many things I couldn’t have done alone such as: riding a zip line to Nami Island (in the middle of winter), strolling around the palaces in a hanbok (the Korean traditional attire), and playing in the snow on the streets.

This recent trip made me realize how comfortable I am being in Korea, and how much I consider it as my second home. Even when this is already my fourth visit and even when I’ve been to so many places and done so many things here, I still can’t get enough of this country. There is just so much more left to explore, and so much more to experience.

I ended my speech for the Korean Speech Contest through the words of Ahn Jung Geun, a patriot of Korea, “A man keeps a great ambition through stepping out into the world”. My entire stay in Korea has enabled me to learn more about the world and myself, and also left me with so much more to wonder about. Through this article, I would like to encourage other people to find an opportunity where they can step out more into the world, because just like how doing so made me who I am now, I guarantee that it would also change their lives for the better.

Janine Laddaran, 20, is a recent graduate of Ateneo de Manila University. She was an exchange student in Korea University under Ateneo’s Junior Term Abroad program on 2014. She also won 3rd Place in the 2016 Korean Speech Contest hosted by the Korean Cultural Center.

Planning to travel to South Korea soon? Search for good deals on hotels at Booking.com now:



Booking.com

Read also my review and experience on the Yonsei Korean Language Institute program for Spring 2018.

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With love,

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Getting Featured in Thought Catalog

I’ve thought of sending an article to Thought Catalog a year ago, I even already had certain topics in mind that I wanted to write about. But having been a senior in college at that time with so much stress and school work to do, I never had the chance to finish writing them. It was only round the first week of December 2016 that I finally forced myself to finish one of the articles I had, with the goal of submitting at least one article before the year ends.

The article I wrote about, “To Those Dreams I Had to Give Up,” delves on a topic I’ve always written about in many papers during college. Here, I talk about how the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” transforms from a simple question of an adult asking a kid his dream to a question that gives us intense pressure on deciding our future career path. Even for me, there hasn’t been a time that I have been sure of my future. Especially now as a 20-year-old recent graduate, I have never been so frustrated and anxious with what to do in life. This was probably why I was able to finish the article immediately since the topic was so apt to my current situation.

After google-ing the selection process for Thought Catalog articles, I ended up lowering my expectations. It was said that editors have become much more selective now, and some people have even sent in 5 or more articles but have never been accepted. So I just kept it off my mind since then. It was only when I Googled my name (in my defense, I’m not usually this vain, I was just trying to see if the SEO for my website was working well loool). And lo and behold, I actually found my name under Thought Catalog, with my article published for the world to see.

Here is an excerpt of the article:

“TO THOSE DREAMS I HAD TO GIVE UP”

As kids, adults would often ask us again and again in various ways possible, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We used to dismiss this question and answer nonchalantly. However, at some point, that once-so-simple question deepens and complicates: “What do I really want to be?” As we get older, this start to keep us awake at night and haunt us as we begin to make decisions for our life.

My answer to the question kept on changing as I grew up; I blame this on my changing preferences and interests. At 5 years old, I wanted to be a singer. At 8, I wanted to be a fashion designer as inspired by watching Project Runway. At 11, I dreamed of being a pop star. At 13, I wanted to be a surgeon. At 14, I wanted to be a journalist.

However, in my last year in high school, I was asked the same question again. But this time it was different: I wasn’t just being asked what my dream was, I was being asked to decide my future. I was being asked for my future career, what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

From then on, I started to consider various aspects and became more practical. I realized I was no longer that kid who thinks she can achieve everything she wants. I was too shy and nervous to become a singer or a pop star. I can’t be a fashion designer because I suck at drawing. Thinking about opening up a body and drawing blood from patients makes me cringe so there was no way I could be a surgeon. I had a passion for writing but I chose to major in IT instead, thinking I could get a job easily with this major. And so I had to let go of my childhood dreams.

Fast forward to the present time, at 20 years old and as a recent college graduate, I am currently stuck. I don’t have any idea on what I want to be nor what I want to do in my life. I have been asking the same question to myself every single day but the answer to the question does not come very easily. Now I often think about the childhood dreams I used to have. They may seem absurd or impossible to reach now but at least I had dreams before. At least then I was actually excited of the future, not caring whether my dreams will come true or not.

To those dreams I used to have, I miss you. I wonder, if I had tried hard and actually pursued you, would things have worked out? I’m sorry that I’ve given you up too soon. Sorry for thinking you were impossible to reach when I haven’t even started yet. At some point, you were the one that pushed me past my limits. You were the ones that kept me going and encouraged me to dream further. For us to have to let go of these wonderful dreams just makes me hopeful that somewhere out there, something much more wonderful awaits.

After much deliberation, I have come to realize that maybe the answer to what we want to be is not something definite. There could be countless possible answers for which we will find out along the way.

I’m still very much unsure about my future, but that’s the thing, no one really is.

It’s like buying a new camera and trying it for the first time. On that first shoot, we realize that the lens is out of focus. As we get used to the new camera, we learn to fix the lens and somehow the pictures we take become much more clearer and sharper. But then we know that we’ll never be able to take the best picture. Why? Because we could always buy a better lens, upgrade to a better camera, and improve ourselves the next day.

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” — Anthony Bourdain

When we were younger, there were no limitations for our dreams. There was no such thing as the impossible in our world, we could dream about everything we wanted to be – we believed in magic, fairytales, and Santa Claus. But as we get older, we realize the harsh reality of life: not everything is possible. And so we had to let go of our impractical dreams and give up our deepest passions just so we can fit in the world. But doing so, we ended up being so consumed with figuring out our lives that we have forgotten how to live it.

Yes, not everything is possible. But we don’t know yet which ones are possible and which ones aren’t. So we just have to keep on trying, and find them out on our own. We’ve got a lifetime to figure this out, anyway.

You may view the entire article HERE. If you could relate to the article, I would really appreciate it if you share it or provide comments on my writing so I may improve on my next piece. 🙂