Emerald

Hello! I know this blog was supposed to be posted two weeks ago but I got really busy and sick. Schlemiel me contracted some kind of infection, which left me ill all week. I’m not the kind of person who falls ill all the time. Maybe twice or three times a year, but not every month! Maybe time to re-evaluate my priorities? Something good came out of those two grueling weeks though–I realized I’m really fortunate for having the best and the kindest workmates and friends.

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Some of them covered for me while I was sick, and were genuinely concerned for my health. Being away from home for more than five years, I’ve become quite accustomed to taking care of myself–although every once in a while I would text my mom, telling her how much I miss the back massages she used to give me and my siblings everytime we’re sick. Sometimes it can get really lonely being alone, but that’s life I guess. At some point you have to leave the place grew up in and live in an unfamiliar city to actually grow as a person.

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Being in a strange place has its perks. When I arrived in Manila, I felt relieved. Finally I can leave behind all the bad memories and start a new leaf. I never knew anyone in Manila, save for my sister whose only address I know at the time. I and a college friend came with two big bags in each hands, traveled to Quezon City (a two-hour ride from my sister’s place) and looked for a room that we could rent. Our first months were not easy–our salaries were barely covering our needs; our room was too small for us both. We separated ways a year after and found myself living with three of my then-officemates afterwards.

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Many have told me how brave I am for leaving. Naga is a wonderful place, but I knew long before college that I’m destined for something greater, far greater than what people had set out for me. Maybe it’s because of my youth, but I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Add to that my dream school, University of the Philippines – Diliman, is just a stone’s throw away from where I’m currently living. As soon as I settled myself in our new apartment, I enrolled in a Master’s Degree program, got a nice new job, and met new friends.

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SM GTW dress | Zapatto wedges

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I remember when I was just starting out in the big city, I made a dream wall where I posted things I wanted to achieve in five years–tangible and otherwise. I’m about 95% done. Looking back at some of the obstacles I faced, I think I deserve a pat on the back. For taking risks and facing the consequences after. For failing many times, but never giving up. Now I’m pretty much satisfied with what I have–really awesome friends, enough ‘resources’ at my disposal, and I’m marrying the love of my life. Things may have not started off right, but as they say–your end is always better than your beginning. Just hang in there. :)

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Exploring Bangkok Part 1

When I was a child I used to let time pass by perusing photo books and travel diaries, and researching about the places that struck me. It was my way of escaping from my then-reality. I used to fantasize entering the ancient castles of England or the fairy-tale-like villages in Germany. I still dream of them today, but the main difference is back then I didn’t have the means to actually travel to those places. Europe is still unattainable at the moment, but as long as I get to pack my bags and hop on a bus or plane to a faraway place, I consider it a blessing already.

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So when Chad asked me to go to Thailand with him, I was more than excited. It won’t just be the normal out-of-town trip that we usually do when he’s in the Philippines–it would be my first time to fly outside the country, the first stamp on my passport. For someone who grew up surrounded by rice fields and hills, it was such a momentous time. I can finally tell people what it’s like to be unfairly treated by a NAIA immigration officer and how ugly our airports look when compared to another developing country’s. Haha! Nonetheless, I still love the Philippines no matter how crooked our government officials can be.

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Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chad and I queued to the Immigration area. I was nervous as hell, having read so many horror stories about immigration officials. The officer who interviewed me, however, was nice and smiling. He welcomed and wished me a pleasant visit–that was when I was to able to breathe properly. We didn’t plan for this trip at all. When we got out of the gates, we were both clueless as to where we were gonna stay. I must say, though, it’s quite a fun experience. Thankfully I had this app called AirBnb on my phone, I managed to save there the address of this cute hostel in Bangkok, otherwise we would have to rely on suggestions from taxi drivers. So off we went!

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It took us a while to find the hostel. The cab driver dropped us off on an unfamiliar street. The maps we had were no use at all. The street names were spelled differently than what was written on the maps so we had to ask a number of people. What’s surprising was even the Thais were unable to decipher the spelling. After asking for directions from five people and walking a kilometer or two, we successfully found the hostel. At that point we were unsure if they accept walk-ins, but we asked anyway. The staff at Baan Nampetch were really pleasant and accommodating. Fortunately they still had one available room. Hurray! We booked the room with two beds for three days and two nights, which cost us around 1400 Baht (approx Php 1900). Not bad, I think, considering they offer free breakfast and WiFi. On that same day we explored Khaosan Road (I’ll show the pictures later).

Below are just some snapshots I took on our second day. Chad is a Buddhist, and one of the reasons he chose Thailand is he wanted to visit the temples. With the help of the staff at Baan Nampetch, we found our way to The Grand Palace on Na Phra Lan Road, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, where the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) is located.

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Beautiful, colorful things welcomed us before entering the temple. Prior to our trip I was on a portion control diet, but when we arrived in Thailand I could no longer control my appetite. Everything is delicious in that place, I can’t even!

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The Grand Palace was built in 1782 after King Rama I ascended to the throne. Currently, the whole 218,000 square meter-complex houses 35 temples, offices, shops, restaurants, throne halls, and the royal residence itself. I’ve seen some temples in the Philippines, but they’re not as crowded and big as this one.

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Outside the palace, tens of thousands of people were going in and out. We didn’t know this was a favorite tourist destination until… Continue Reading…

Mad Love

My friends and officemates often ask me: Do I ever feel sad? And I would answer with a resounding yes, but I try not to dwell on it. I always tell myself that no one else is responsible for my emotions but me. I can tell the whole world about my feelings but no other person can resolve it but me. While growing up, I have also discovered that negative emotions can be contagious. I want to be that person who’s a constant source of positive, happy energy. Each of us has our own struggles, and I don’t want to be that friend who always brings bad news. I do not want to inconvenience anyone by listening to rants and problems that (probably) do not concern them.

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My mom has taught me and my siblings to be independent. When we were kids, she would often talk to us about taking responsibility. As a child, I did not understand it then. I thought my mom was being too serious and ‘baduy’ by having those talks. I didn’t realize how much those talks have permeated my daily existence until today. Scoldings from parents do have a purpose after all. Sometimes I’d wonder if I can become an effective parent like my mother, especially now that I’m nearing that stage. :)

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A few weeks ago, Chad and I got engaged. YES WE’RE ENGAGED!!! :D :D :D

I choose you @gypsealegs ????????

A photo posted by Daphne Benosa (@dafnyduck) on

Although having kids is not one of our current priorities, just thinking about it can be overwhelming. Seeing a little Chad and Daphne playing some day would be great, but we still have a lot of things to work on as a couple. Chad and I have had many talks about this in the past, even before announcing our official engagement, and I’m glad to have a partner who possesses the same line of thinking as I do.

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Many people think that when you get married, you can no longer have time for your own dreams. I disagree. That may be true for couples with kids but not for married couples. Chad and I still have lots of things to fulfill. More than a year ago we collaborated for several creative projects and realized how compatible we are, not just as boyfriend-girlfriend but as partners. We accomplish so much when we’re together and manage to weed through the challenges of long-distance relationship—these and many other things convince me that Chad and I will make it.

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Not that I need any convincing. I’ve loved Chad since meeting him more than a decade ago and nothing will ever dissuade me from marrying him. When he left for the States when I was in college, I totally gave up hope that I’d still see him. But he came back in 2011–and it was the right time. I’m not one to believe in ‘The One’ (oh boy, here we go), but that moment, our first conversation after so many years, I knew then he’s the person I’d marry. He’s my ideal man and my best friend, and it makes me so happy that I will be spending the rest of my life with this wonderful being. :)

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Top from SM GTW | Cotton On Trousers | Thrifted Parisian Sandals | MANGO Quilted Bag | Casio Watch
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Just thinking about Chad and our future makes all my worries go away. My officemates have remarked about my blooming aura since becoming engaged and I have to say it’s all because of the love I constantly receive from Chad, my family, and friends.

When you focus on how much you are loved instead of how unfortunate you are, it will show. It’s all about perspective. :)

Photos by Chad Verzosa <3

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Island Girl

Recently I’ve been really busy juggling my time among work, school, and blogger duties, I barely have any time for myself. Other than food, my usual destressors are sleep, quality time with loved ones, and traveling. Would you believe that I actually have to schedule all of them just to get that much-needed break? Yes, even sleep. This trip to La Union with my housemates and friends was scheduled a month prior to our actual trip. You can imagine my excitement when the day finally came.

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When asked about my favorite travel destination, the beach always tops the list. The idea of a man-made resort (aka swimming pool) has never really appealed to me since childhood. When my relatives would decide upon spending our family reunions in pools, I would daydream about spending my days in the beach instead. I just don’t get it. Who doesn’t like seeing the sea and the great blue sky? I think they’re the most wonderful things on earth, I will never trade the beach for any other travel destination.

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Oh to travel and see the rest of the world! It has always been my dream but it was only in 2011 that I got around to doing it. That year was when Chad and I became a couple. After being friends for more than a decade, fate finally nodded in our direction and permitted us to be together. (Wow, that sounded so cheesy but I can’t help but be all mushy when I think about our history together haha!) I didn’t expect that this guy who I loved since I was 13 is the same person who would eventually help me begin fulfilling some of my dreams. I learned to be more spontaneous because of him. During our first two weeks as a couple we embarked on our first trip to Zambales without much planning. It was scary for me because before, I avoid uncertain situations. I always had to know what’s coming so I can prepare. That attitude of mine often snuffed the fun out of things, it became a bit tiresome. Things changed when Chad came into my life. After Zambales, we visited a number of surfing spots in Luzon such as Daet, La Union, Baler, and Ilocos.

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He taught me how to ride a surf board and skim board. I got some bruises in return, but the pain was no match for all the amazing stuff I experienced. And then I realized, we cannot learn if we don’t unlearn a few things. My fear of the unknown, that sense of wanting to be in control all the time has always prevented me from experiencing wonderful things. So I’m extremely grateful for the people who’ve encouraged me to just relax and go with the flow. It’s kinda surprising how I, Chad, and my friends have developed similar temperaments, especially when it comes to traveling. I am still fighting the urge to plan everything, but I think I’m getting there.

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Terranova swimsuit | Sunnies by Charlie sunglasses
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Sometimes I wonder why we castigate people so much for changing. For me, change is fine as long as it makes you a better person. I would rather be different, in a positive way, than get stuck to the same immature, self-destructive person that I was. Coming to Manila in 2010 made me discover things about myself, career, and life in general. Since I’m far away from my family, I needed to develop a thick skin but at the same time be more open to my loved ones. I used to keep all my problems to myself when I was still in Naga, which only worsened every situation.

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Decided to ditch makeup, so here’s my bare face. :)

And then one day four years ago, after a horrible breakup, I decided I will be better. Change takes a lot of courage and determination. We sometimes get too comfortable with the person that we are now, but I’ve learned that if I want to make my life worthwhile I have to improve myself. That attitude has helped me and my loved ones in so many ways, and that’s enough reason for me to keep on developing as person. What other people say about me is irrelevant.

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So go live your life to what you think is best. If you’re not stepping on anyone while on your journey to a better you, then by all means continue. :)

#IXUSStyleSelfie with Canon

The earliest known photograph was captured in early 1800s. Us millennials think we owned the ‘selfie’ trend, but our forefathers actually beat us to it. It was them who demanded for portraiture in the 1830s, which lead to mass production of the daguerreotype—paving the way for further development of photography. Cameras back then were huge, and we’re quite lucky that we are living in an era where everything is just the size of our palms.

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And I’m quite thankful to companies like Canon for producing cameras that are not only high quality but also ergonomic. I have really small hands and it’s very difficult for me to use DSLRs that are twice the size of my hands. However with the Canon IXUS 265 HS, capturing moments and portraits has become so much easier. This camera has an Image Stabilizer and Intelligent IS preventing photos from looking blurry. It’s also light on the hands (a major plus for me) enabling my fingers to easily position it and click the capture button. If you like taking ‘selfies’, I’m certain you would appreciate IXUS 265.

You guys know that I’m not currently allowed to bring heavy backpacks. This camera is so small, it doesn’t take much space in my already tiny shoulder bag. I brought it in a restaurant a couple of days ago; also took a photo in the office yesterday:

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One of the problems I often encounter when using cameras is how to set them up. Talk to me about exposure and aperture and I would immediately explode. I have difficulty absorbing technical information, I just rely on instinct (and luck) when taking pictures. And most of the time, most of my photos especially the indoor ones would end up either blurred or so gloomy that even Photoshop cannot repair them. So while I was checking out the features of the camera yesterday at my favorite steakhouse I took a few shots to test its indoor, lowlight capabilities and these are the results:

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Apparently, the Canon IXUS 265 HS has a Smart Auto feature that allows amateurs (like me) to just point and shoot and not worry about the settings. My pictures turned out to be really clear and un-pixelated even though the place was not well lit.

Having a camera that captures moments clearly is important for me as a blogger. When people visit blogs, they expect that posts contain well-taken photos. I’m not the best blogger out there but here are a few things I do in capturing the best portraits:

1. When I take selfies, I make sure I look good but not too made up. I just want to look fresh and clean, like I just woke up. I put on some translucent powder and my baby pink blush and lipstick and I’m good to go.

2. Next, I check which side of my face is my best angle. I like showing my full smile so most of my photos are taken from the front.
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3. And lastly, I find a well-lit place. In this case, it’s my kitchen and I snap away with my camera! Make sure you use a quality camera like Canon IXUS 265 — it comes with a selfiepod too!
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Don’t forget to have fun with your camera!

Thank you Canon for giving me the perfect selfie companion, Canon IXUS 265!