How “Babysitting” triggered my Wanderlust


“You are JUST a babysitter? But you are a college graduate though.”

I heard this a lot back when I had my first job after college as a babysitter.

Yes, that part of my life was just like that of Scarlett Johannson’s in her film the “Nanny Diaries”. But that was the only thing similar to what happened to my story because mine did not include an oozing hot neighbor and mean parents, who barely have time for their child 😜.

My story started after I graduated Cum Laude with a Marketing Major back in 2009.

I was completely lost.

Having good grades might be a bonus but in reality it is not enough.

I realized I didn’t have the skills.

Gone were the days when fresh graduates with honors were “haunted” for their dream jobs. Out there, in the real world, I fought head to head with other fresh graduates in getting that aloof first job. I’ve been to a lot of interviews but I was never given the job.

Frustrated and torn, I lost all confidence.

Months have passed and I remained jobless until one day, an opportunity came knocking.

It was an offer far off the corporate career jumpstart that I hoped for – I was offered to become a babysitter in Vienna!

Since I stayed jobless for months after graduation, I grabbed the opportunity.

I have never dreamed of traveling to another country let alone living in one. So, I have gone through all the visa process unenthusiastically.

I learned basic German, waited for the terms of my contract and for the documents my employer had to provide, and processed all the papers I needed on my end.

That was my first time hearing the term “Au-pair”, which was stated on my contract. I read the description in the contract and I concluded – babysitter!

The job description was way more than babysitting though.

It is more of a cultural exchange. Childcare in exchange of cultural immersion by learning a country’s language for free, which will be paid by your employer on top of the “allowance”, and of course by living in a country, whose culture is far different than one’s own.

It also cannot be considered as a full-time job because you only are required to work 10 hours a week (this may differ from country to country and of course from employers).

I was not that enthusiastic because I wanted a real job even though the pay, which they call in Au-Pair terminology as allowance, was decent.

And so I flew to a foreign land and met the best host family in the world, who eventually became my friends for life.

They treated me as family and made my experience as an Au-Pair worthwhile.

There were times I have to admit that I felt homesick but looking back, the job gave me the best experience of my lifetime.

I learned how to ski, I continued studying German, ate good European food – all to their expense.

My favorite part of all  – being able to travel and learn other interesting cultures, which made me the open-minded and free-spirited person I am today.

As mentioned, I didn’t think much about traveling before. This was not until my host family brought me to cities and countries I have never even thought of seeing and setting foot on.

Venice was a dream, Berlin is one of my faves, but Vienna is still where my heart is.

Then as natural as that, I came to love everything about travel.

I love learning a few words and phrases in different languages.

I love eating different kinds of dishes from different cuisines.

I love walking and biking in a foreign land.

Everything I know and have now, I give credit to that first special job I had after college.

And to no regret, I am glad I took the opportunity and experienced the perks that came along with it.

So, if you are reading this and you are still not sure of which path to follow, turn your way to the path you have yet to explore. Get yourself out there and you will be surprised with how much you can still learn and experience and maybe realize that in the end, taking the risk is worth it.

The Philippine Passport Renewal: Steps, Price and Reminders

Planning to go abroad this year, but your passport is about to expire?
Let’s get your passports renewed and ready.
Since I have some countries that I would like to visit this year, I decided to renew mine early before it expires this coming June and so that I can already apply for a visa, where it is needed.
When I applied for my passport for the very first time back in college in 2007, I can still remember the long waiting hours and the slow pace of each stage of the application plus not to mention –  months of waiting for it to be released.
In 2012, I renewed my passport in Vienna, where I used to study and live. The process was already better – no long queues. But, I was thinking back then, “maybe this is just because I am in Vienna and there are fewer Filipinos applying for a passport here.”
Fortunately, this process has really improved over the years. I can attest that it has indeed become faster and smoother.
The new (not sure what year it went live) DFA website for setting an appointment is actually easy to follow but just in case some of you need an overview, here is a step-by-step process to guide you :



2) On the menu located at the upper part of the website click on Schedule an Appointment
3) Read and Accept the Terms and Conditions
4) Enter the following information:
For the Site Location, I personally chose NCR East (SM Megamall). I am not sure with the other locations but this branch is open on Saturdays too.
5) Review the details of your application
6) Confirm
    A Confirmation Notification will be sent to your e-mail. You have to click on the link to confirm within 120 hours to secure your appointment. 
Things to bring
– Your old passport and a photocopy of the page with your personal details
– Two (2) Government IDs (original and a photocopy)
        I presented my driver’s license and UMID (Unified Multi-Purpose ID)
-Application Form (sent to you per e-mail)
        Fill-it up but don’t sign it yet. This shall be signed on site and in the presence of a DFA representative a.k.a “passport agent”.
– No to fixers
    Aside from it not being permitted by law, with the ease and simplicity of the process there is no need to go the extra mile of having someone else do it in your stead.
– No Food & Drinks
– No Taking of Pictures
   I had to learn this the hard way. I wanted to take pictures of the whole process and I got told off by an officer while doing so. He even asked me to delete the photos I have already taken. I understand why they don’t allow it – security purposes. It was mega embarrassing to gain such attention, so just don’t think of doing it at all.
– Bring Cash
   I am not sure if government agencies do not accept credit or debit cards in general, but yes, only bring cash with you when renewing your passport.
– Beautify yourself
  This is something I always remind myself but was just too lazy to do so. I then regretted it the moment I saw the picture on my passport 😜. So guys, do prepare for it since you will use this for 5 long years.
On the Day of the Appointment @ SM MegaMall (NCR East)
On the day of my appointment, I saw to it that I am 30 minutes early.
My appointment was for 5:00 p.m. and I came a little before 4:30 p.m.
I was surprised by how organized it all was. When I came in, the line was long but I waited in line while being seated in less than 15 minutes in the processing area. I am guessing that this can be quicker if you choose an appointment in the morning or mid-afternoon because lesser people will set an appointment at those times.
I showed my filled-up (unsigned) application form to the “receptionist” right at the entrance of the branch. Here I was also given a checklist of each step of the application.
There were about 6 counters open that day, which made the process faster. At the counter, I was asked to submit all the documents I have with me including my old passport for identity verification. I was also asked to sign the application form in the passport agent’s presence. He then asked me to proceed to payment.
So, you ask, “how much does the renewal cost?” Here it is:
PHP 950.00 – Standard  (15 – 20 working days)
PHP 1,200.00 – Expedited (7 working days)
I chose the standard one since I don’t need it that soon anyways.
After payment, I presented my receipt and signed application form to one of the counters in the encoding area. My photo was taken and I electronically signed the encoded details.
Courier (Optional)
If you happen to be busy or just too lazy to come pick-up your passport, you can also have your passport delivered right in front of your doorsteps for an additional fee of PHP 150.00 (I am not sure about this though, if I remember it right 🤔).
That was it.
I was done in exactly an hour from the time I came in.
I just had to wait for the pick-up date.
Pick -up Date
Please bear in mind that there are fortuitous events (e.g. natural calamities) that can cause delay to the processing of your passport. In which case, instead of giving me an exact pick-up date, they advised me to come over between Jan. 4-9. Just to be sure that I don’t have to go back there again should it not be available yet, I went there on the last day of the advised date.
Getting my passport only took me around 5 minutes. I went in, presented the receipt and had holes “punched” in  my old passport.
And there it is – I am officially and globally travel ready! 
[Oh! Please do not forget to apply for a visa – if needed 🙄.]
So what are you guys waiting for?
Go get your passports ready and make your #travelgoals a reality.
Please do head to the comment section and tell me your thoughts about this post.


Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort: A day in Paradise


Disclaimer: Villa and boat transfer schedule photos from Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort’s website are used with permission.
Gaining popularity in the Philippines nowadays is the southern part of Cebu. This is not only because of whale shark watching and canyoneering but also because of the island paradise of Sumilon, which belongs to the municipality of Oslob, Cebu.
One not so sunny day in July of this year, I was able to experience and explore a high-end beach resort on the island – Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort.
I am from Luzon so I had to fly from Manila.
Since my itinerary for the whole trip included Mactan Island and Cebu City, I flew to Mactan International Airport via Philippine Air Asia.
From Mactan Island, where I stayed with relatives, I took a cab to Cebu South Bus Terminal.
This is the terminal to go to if you are headed to well-known tourist destinations in Southern Cebu, which inlcudes Badian, Moalboal and of course, to the gateway to paradise, Oslob. The daily bus schedule starts as early as 4:00 a.m. and buses leave the terminal every 30 minutes.
Tell the bus conductor to drop you off at Bancogon Port or simply at Bluewater Sumilon.
The bus ride to Oslob took me around 3.5 hours.
Upon arrival at Bancogon (Mainland Cebu) in Oslob, I was greeted with welcome drinks and warm smiles from their staff.
To get to the island, Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort has its own boat transfer arrangement, which can be booked privately or by sticking to their complimentary boat transfer schedule. See photo below:
They strictly follow the schedule and since I was a bit late for the 8:00 a.m. schedule, I took the next one.
15 minutes of boat ride and I arrived on the island.
A look inside their Villas
I actually came to the island for an ocular visit and Ms. Evianne, Bluwater’s Assistant Manager, was very accommodating that she even showed me the inside of one of their villas. As stated above, the photos of the accommodation belong to their website and I asked permission to grab them since I was just on day tour.
Day Tour
For a day tour of the island, there is a lot of fun-filled activities you can do to make the most out of your stay.
Here are the inclusions of the said tour:
– Lunch Buffet
– Roundtrip Boat Transfers
– Island Activities (Snorkeling -including snorkel and mask, Kayaking, Trekking and Fish Feeding)
– Use of resort facilities ( Beach, Swimming Pool, Cottages and Shower Rooms)
All these for only PHP 1,500.00 on Weekdays and PHP 2,000.00 on Weekends/Holidays.
Here are the photos I personally took that day:
The view of Sumilon Island from Mainland Oslob
Bridge to the boat taking guests to the island
Natural lagoon surrounded with mangroves
Beautiful corals fill the island’s shoreline
Trekking route to the famous sand bar
 Yamashita Cave
Kayak on the natural lagoon
The sandbar is accessible to all tourists even to non-guests of the resort.
 The only picture I was able to take of myself 😃.
When I recently asked Ms. Rose of Bluewater’s Reservation Team if I can grab some of the photos from their website, she then informed me that the glamp tents are already gone. She told me that the area that used to be a glamping (Glamour Camping) site will be used for a new facility for the guests. Surely, it is something to look forward to.
The old Glamping Area
Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort
Sumilon Island, Bancogon, Oslob,
Cebu, Philippines 6025
For bookings and inquiries CLICK HERE.

Timeless Vigan: An 8-Hour Itinerary Guide

It was already 9 P.M. and I was about to go to the bus station for my planned trip – ALONE.
That was the first time that I have ever traveled alone and honestly, I even thought of not going.
Well, I am glad I did!
I have already been to Vigan in 2012 with my friends but since I was looking for a side trip near La Union, where I really planned to go and learn how to surf, I chose Vigan.
This beautifully vintage looking city with its cobblestone streets is located in the northwestern part of Luzon, Philippines and is the capital of the Ilocos Sur province. The architectural structures that this city boast of dates back from its Spanish and Asian settlers.
I was just there for roughly 8 hours but I can say I had visited most of the must- see places in this  UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It took me around 9 hours to get to Vigan from Cubao by bus. Note that choosing this type of transportation takes a bit longer because there are about 2-3 terminals, where the passengers are either being dropped off to or picked-up from.
This, for me, is good news since I always need “to go to the loo.” Also, if you suddenly get hungry, day or night, the stores are always open in these pit stops.
There are several bus lines that can take you to Vigan and all go-to destinations in the North.
I chose Partas Bus Lines for this trip.
Here is a time and fare table from the said bus line that I grabbed from for your reference: ​​
(Insert Bus Fare Table)
By Car
Since I personally prefer taking public transportations for my own comfort, here is Mr. Google showing us approximately how far and long the drive is to Vigan.
(Insert the map)
The sulit trip was made possible by a tricycle driver who introduced himself to me while I was looking at a vicinity map and planning how I could make the most out of my stay.
Kuya Raymond, who is a local in Vigan,  asked me if I would like to hire him as a tour guide for P400.00 and weighing my options – Kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) or Tricycle – I said ‘Yes!’ to the tricycle so I can maximize my time. Since I was more than satisfied with his service – he served not only as my tour guide that day but also as my photographer, which he voluntarily and patiently did – I highly recommend him for solo backpackers out there. Here is his contact number: (+63) 905 1767758.
Well without further ado, here is my 8-hour Vigan experience listed in chronological order:
no Entrance Fee
Pagburnayan is derived from the word burnay, which is an earthenware believed to be brought to Vigan by the pre-colonial Chinese settlers. You can experience the jar making first-hand for free but I gave the one who assisted me a decent tip for his service and time. Expect it to be messy but don’t worry because the clay can be washed-off easily with water.
no Entrance Fee
While asking around, I found out that they offer services like landscape design and waterfalls set-up just like in the photo below.  Apart from the plants and a big collection of bonsai inside this garden, they also have a restaurant inside where a lot of tourists stop over and have a taste of the sumptuous Vigan cuisine.
no Entrance Fee
This attraction in Vigan is not your ordinary zoo. Some of the animals roam around freely and visitors can feed and pet them too. I personally just took a picture of the one below not because of time constraint but because I just felt that the activities are more for family or group of friends to enjoy.
no Entrance Fee
The abel is a colorful woven product of Vigan, which is made from strong colorful yarns. I was able to experience the meticulous way of weaving a table runner in progress. According to the lady who assisted me, these products are still being sold in the neighboring municipalities of Vigan and even in some stores in Manila ( – pardon my unkempt hair on the photo 😜).
Donation in any amount
Museums are always on my must-go-to list when I travel.
Owned by the political clan of the assassinated Governor Floro Crisologo, this mansion turned museum exhibits their family’s well-maintained memorabilia. I highly recommend this museum to those who are curious as to how a house in the early 70s look like on the inside.
no Entrance Fee
Another museum I got to visit without shelling a dime was a former provincial jail. The collection that can be found in this museum is that of the late Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, who was said to be born on the second floor of this jail, where his father was a warden. Aside from his own collection there were other art exhibits too. During my visit, I was able to see a photo exhibit of Philippine Waterfalls.
Donation in any amount
There is no tour package to Vigan that does not include this sight. As its name suggests, it is not even in Vigan but in a municipality outside Vigan called Bantay. From the National Museum, it took me just about 5 minutes to get there and that’s all thanks to my tour guide on three wheels.
Bantay means “to guard” in Tagalog and that is exactly what this watch tower served as during the Spanish era.
CALLE CRISOLOGO – end of tour with Kuya Raymond
This picture perfect street may well be Vigan’s major attraction. With it’s Spanish-styled houses situated on a narrow cobblestone streets, every inch is a social media post worthy 😃. Don’t forget to drop by the shops for some souvenirs for your loved ones.
Other Sights to see on foot
The tour with my tour guide ended after a little less than 4 hours and it was exactly time for lunch. I was not able to munch on any Vigan cuisine because I was just plain tired and was not that hungry that I only opted for bland sandwich and treated myself with a dirty ice cream (it was really not dirty though – it is just how we, Filipinos, named it 😉).
The bus I was targeting to take bound to La Union was set to depart by 4:00 p.m. so I still had time to roam around on foot from Calle Crisologo.
Here are the other sights and impressions of Vigan that I soaked myself with while I wait for the set bus departure:
(Insert Gallery)
After all the sightseeing, it was time to go. It was a short stay but I definitely was able to make the most out of it.