For AR and Jill

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I met Jill through our sorority, The UP Sigma Alpha Nu Sorority Manila, an organization whose main goal is to uplift and empower  women. Indeed, Jill has done that not just for myself, not just for the members of the sorority nor for her friends but most importantly, for herself. Amidst her frame (her very cute frame), Jill has been the rock, the shoulder to cry on, to all her friends.I don't know how she does it, but Jill has this contagious energy, an energy that is full of life, and full of optimism. She will never stop believing in you, pushing you until you emerge better and stronger.
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Looking back on our college days, Jill has been my person, my friend, my sister who has been there for me. We were each others backbone. I was Vice Lady Chancellor (for Internals) when she was Lady Chancellor, a term she served with righteousness and grace. Her leadership was unwavering. Her spirit is filled with so much passion that she was able to lead and empower an organization while empowering herself. Along with her, all through the activities we had to implement, as she helped each sorority sisters get through their personal struggles, as she tried to be excellent with her acads, her orgs, her soro and personal life, there was a man who was with her in every step of the way. And that is AR.
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Even up to this day, Jill still remains to be one of my pillar of strength -- a thing she has been doing for me ever since we've met. She is one of those who I can randomly call in the middle of the night and cry whenever I have problems, one of those who I can consult on life changing decision, and basically keep me in place whenever I am all over. Jill's energy is full of love and acceptance. Honestly, she is one of the most genuine persons I know. She would love you, and help you -- in your highs and in your lows, without questions, without judgement. That is why, Jill, I know for a fact that with this heart of yours, that heart that knows no judgement, could love a husband so unconditionally, and could care for a family selflessly and whole heartedly.
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I have seen how your relationship with AR grew, how you managed to put God in the center of your love. I saw how your faith managed to keep the both of you strong despite of everything. AR and Jill, despite all the challenges that happened on the lead up to your wedding day, I am very happy to see that your bond has emerged stronger than ever.
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AR, i know you know how blessed you are to have Jill as your wife. And Jill is very blessed to have you too. Ar, please value your wife. Love her more than anything else in the world and please strive to make her happy. The wife is the light that will shine on the dark, the rock that will serve as the foundation of the house. As a married woman myself, I can say that the key to a happy life is a happy wife. And there is no joke about that, right, ladies? Be strong for her, guide her, trust her, love her, respect her and protect her. But more than Jill, please love her family more, the Cube-Avenas, for they will also, draw their strength from you. AR and Jill, please never stop to be Mr. And Mrs. Meraki. As you do things together, do it with soul, with creativity, with love. As you put yourselves into your work, into your future family, you are making your little Armans and Jillians, your little but better version of yourselves. I am beyond excited to see you build your dreams together and achieve bigger and greater things together. 

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Understanding, communication, respect, and trust. There are numerous advises to make your marriage work but only the two of you can only define, how to make yours work. Marriage will always be a work in progress and there will be times that things will be tough and messy. And when things become hard (which we hope not), you can always turn to The One who brought you two together -- and that is the Lord. May God Bless your marriage.


Photos by Paolo Peralta

10 Things I Learned From 2016

It has been five days since 2017 came and honestly, I still can't move on from the things that transpired the past year. 2016 was probably one of my toughest year that it gave me experiences that tested me as a person. 2016 was an emotional year -- it brought me to beautiful places, it showed me other opportunities but at the same time, it broke my heart, hurt my ego and heightened my anxiety. Those experiences changed me -- it changed my mindset, my attitude, my life in ways I never imagined. Hence, I am pouring my heart out and writing this blog post to share with you things that the year 2016 has taught me.
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1. SOME GOOD THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
Especially when you worked hard for it
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I had an amazing start of the year when I was included among the employees who flew to Switzerland and Italy for our company's incentive trip. It was my first time to fly to Europe and I will forever be grateful to Medichem - the CNS division of Unilab, for giving me an opportunity visit those two places for free. For someone who has been working in sales all her life, out of the country trips are a good motivator to work hard(er). Since then, I have always been inspired to deliver better results 

2. NEVER GIVE UP. 
No matter how many times you fall
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2016 may have started with a memorable European incentive tour but it honestly did not start off as easy as it seemed. The trip to Milan and Zurich was good distraction from the loneliness I was feeling for being rejected (for the 3rd time) for a promotion I have been applying for at work. Yes you read it right, I was rejected not once, not twice but thrice. The experience was highly demotivating. I remember days and nights of crying, of having troubled insecurities and self-doubt. My pride and ego were deeply hurt. Fortnuately, during those times, I was surrounded with good friends, colleagues - my manager, my workmates and of course my husband who stood by my side and told me to never give up. It was a long, hard and tiring process but slowly I was able to move on and accept those rejections. I even tried to apply again to another position at the middle part of the year and yes, again, for the fourth time, unfortunately, I did not get the position. 

3. ACCEPTANCE
is the first step to become HAPPY
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It took me several months to accept and move on from my first major heartbreak at work. I have been with the company for eight years and the past couple of years pushed me to aim for a higher position at work. Truthfully, it was very painful to experience a number of rejections despite all the hardwork, dedication and loyalty I have given to the company. Truthfully, that's life and life is harsh. I have no choice but to accept it. It was a very difficult process but I realized that in order for me to move on, the first thing I need to do was to accept the truth. In accepting my defeat, I was able to win back my self respect. I was able to see all my weaknesses and strengths. I was able to re-evaluate myself. One step at a time, I was beginning to regain my self worth.

4. TIME EFFICIENCY IS KEY
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Keeping a full time job while trying to be a hands on mom and a wife is not a piece of cake. Everyday, I am overwhelmed with the tons of things I need to accomplish both for work, for family and even for personal needs. I must say that in 2016, I sort of mastered the art of time efficiency or in other words, I learned to make the most out of every minute of time. Every hour I am away from my family, I make sure that I am being productive at work. Every time there's a free hour at work, I try to read, to blog or do something else for my personal pleasure. Most especially, when I am with my family, I make sure that I devote myself to them. 

5. LOVE IS TIME
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There is no other way to best express your love for your family than giving them the gift of time. There are times that my husband and I would feel guilty for staying out of the house so late, but we make sure that when we are at home, we give Leon our 100% attention. Also, with the recent events that happened to my side of the family, with my Nanay and Tatay being hospitalized during the holiday season, I made sure that both my parents felt my presence physically (and even financially).

6. MARRIAGE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
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Three years married, nine years together. Paolo and I have been inseprable since I was 17. You all know the story of how I managed to marry my dream guy -- the guwapong chinitong may kotse then lived happily ever after. But no. 2016 was also a challenge year for us -- we had misunderstandings, fights - common to any marriage. There were moments when we hated each other, yet there were times when we feel so in love. Indeed, marriage is a work in progress. Despite the number of years we have shared together, we still encounter difficulties, surprise each other with habits and attitudes we never knew existed. Those things though, are the things we learn and discover about each other, things that we accept and things that we love about each other.  

7. MAKE TIME FOR THE THINGS YOU LOVE
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2016 was also the year when I decided to do more things for myself. Last year, I went back to blogging and revived my blog. I even re-branded the then fashion blog The Bargain Doll to a more personal blog named Hello Rovie Dear! I even got into fitness again and started spending more time at the gym. I may not devote the same time and energy into blogging and working out like I used to three to four years ago, I am still pleased that last year, I started to take care and love myself more through my hobbies.

8. PRAY
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"Prayer is the most powerful weapon against trials, The most effective medicine against sickness and The most valuable gift to someone you love."
The last two weeks of 2016 have been one of our toughest months. My nanay and tatay were both admitted to the hospital that made our family skip our usual Christmas celebration. During those moments, I prayed harder - harder than I ever did i my entire life. It was also one of my most exhausting two weeks for I was also hands on in taking care of both of them. Gratefully, The Lord showed me how powerful my prayer - our prayers were that He put Nanay and Tatay out of danger just before the year ended. It was the moment I realized how much The Lord loves me and our whole family. He granted my wish to extend the lives of the people who stood as my parents, of the people who have been making me strong, whole and intact. The Lord knew that my parents, my grandparents are the ones who are keeping me inspired and motivated. It was in 2016 I further realized that when all else fails, there is a big God who listens and takes care.

9. DREAM BIG
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When Paolo, Leon and I went to Australia last April, we fell so in love with the place so much that did not want to go home. Thus, when we went back to Manila, all Paolo and I did was to dream to go back to Australia, specifically to Sydney and live there. Paolo and I were so impressed with Sydney's cleanliness, its safety, its transporation system, its VERY child friendly facilities and parks. All we did was dream to raise Leon in that kind of environment -- and luckily, that dream became a reality.

Paolo was given an opportunity to be assigned in their head office in Sydney. We could not believe how lucky we are to be given that once-in-a -lifetime opportunity. Both of us are looking forward into building our lives, and Leon's future in Sydney. Up until this point, I feel like I am dreaming and I cannot grasp the reality that next month, my family and I will start our lives in a different place.

10. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON

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All those months of heartbreak, all those years worth of career rejections, those challenges that come the past year all happened for a reason. I now realized why those doors I want to enter never opened. It was because the Lord was giving me a bigger door - a larger door that can occupy me and the huge dreams I have for my whole family. As I have been telling Nanay the past days to never get lonely when we leave, cause we are given this unique opportunity to start anew, to earn more and to provide not just for Leon but for the extended members of our family. Paolo and I were being honed to be strong, to be tough and at the same time be caring and loving to our family. That is how The Lord works. Sometimes He wont give you the things that you want because He will give you better and bigger things - things that would add value to you and to the people around you.


Hence, 2016 was definitely my most colorful year, yet. It was a year of discoveries and travels, a year filled of love and family time. It was also a year where I experienced countless rejections, failures, frustrations and self-doubt. Then, just when the insecurities were piling up, the blessings unfolded itself one by one. I was slowly learning that indeed, the Lord has been preparing me for His plan - a plan bigger than mine.

2016 was the year that made me believe that indeed, I have a big God - bigger than I ever imagined.

Til my next post!
Xx,
Rovie Dear

PINAC: Capampangan Food at its Finest

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Pinac's delicious Kare-Kare (P365), Crispy Pata (P645), Pork Embutido (P1,550) and Overload Pinoy Paella with BAGNET (P1,250) are just the greatest things that can happen to your dinner table.
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Sometime in November last year, I got a chance to dine for the first time in Pinac, a casual dining restaurant that serves delicious, DELICIOUS Capampangan dishes. Filipino dishes will always be my topmost favorite cuisine and I am very particular to the Filipino restaurants I dine. Since I get to eat most of the dishes at home, I make sure that when I eat them in a Filipino restaurant, they taste far better than home. Fortunately, the dishes in Pinac passed my standards -- with flying colors. 
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Most of Pinac's signature dishes have its own twist. This Pork Embotido platter in particular is served underneath a soft, buttery mashed potato that you would not need rice to partner with is. The Overload Pinoy Paella is a wonderful experience for you get to enjoy your crispy bagnet with shrimp and boiled egg. It was my first time to try a Pinoy inspired paella and I was very much impressed.
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The cucumber mint dalandan shake is perfect for those who love that citrus flavor! It has a very cool and refreshing taste that my son, Leon enjoyed!
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Pinac's Kare Kare, Lengua and Crispy Pata are just so great that you just can't stop serving yourself with rice. I enjoyed the classic nutty taste of their Kare Kare while devouring the sweet yet salty bagoong. The Lengua is also good and the crispy pata.. who doesn't love crispy pata?
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Flat Top Smores (P255) - The best thing that ever happened to Flat Tops. Or smores.Or both.
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THE BEST PUTO BUMBONG EVER

When it comes to dessert, Pinac did not disappoint. I fell madly in love with their flat tops smores for it brought back so many childhood memories. Their puto bumbong on the other hand tops my list of the best puto bumbong I ever tasted cause you can taste the ube halaya. The muscovado sugar is also perfect to pair with it.
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Obviously, I enjoyed eating at Pinac a lot. Right after dining, I immediately planned to have our Christmas lunch on that restaurant however due to some unforseen circumstance, we were not able to celebrate Christmas the past year. Still, when the situation gets better, I promise to bring my folks here. My lolo is kapampangan, and I am sure he would love it in Pinac!

Pinac is located at the Second Floor, UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City

Til my next post.

In His Perfect Time

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As I grow older; as I slowly build the foundation of my small family, I begin to realize how hard the term adulting is. Presently, I could no longer sit on laurels and do things the way I do before. I begin to be more cautious of the things that I do on a daily basis, I became more strict on how I spend each second of my time. My attitude towards work has changed, and I became more eager for career and financial advancement. The past two years have been a neverending struggle to climb up the corporate ladder. 

This time last year, I was praying so hard to the Lord to grant me the promotion I have worked so hard for. Last year, I tried to apply for a position, for the promotion I have longed for- for the third time. Unfortunately it never came. I never knew why. I never understood why.
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2016 started with so much heartbreak and insecurities. I began to question my self. I started doubting my strength and capabilities. It was tough to be rejected not just once, but thrice. It was more difficult to see your younger colleagues advance before you. I have been working for eight years with the same company and I could say that I have given my best to perform and deliver what is expected. I may have done some mistakes along the way but I owned up to it and outperformed myself. However, there are really things that you can never have -- no matter how much you worked hard for it.

After three rejections, I never gave up. I tried to step back and tried my luck again. In the middle of the year, an opportunity for advancement opened again and I tried to apply -- for the fourth time. You guessed it right. I did not get it. For the fourth time, I was rejected. I never knew why. 

You could just imagine the amount of heartbreak that I feel after all those rejections that I got. For many months I never understood why The Lord has never answered my prayer. Now, I understand why,
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In His magical way, God is starting to unfold His plans not just for me, but for my whole family. Today, He made me understood the phrase that "everything happens for a reason". Finally, He revealed to me the reason why I was never getting the promotions I worked hard for. It is because He is promoting not just me, but my whole family -- my son, and my husband to a better and brighter life abroad.  I finally understood that all this time, all He has been doing is to shape our destiny and to prepare me for a bigger role that I should play the coming year. That is to become a wife to my husband, a mother to my son and a provider for my family.
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As the Lord slowly reveals His plan for me and our family, I am also praying that He guide me with enough wisdom and strength do well in the next challenge He is giving me. I would like to end this post with this timely quote I saw online. Cause really, if you Trust The Lord with all your heart, He will make your path straight.

Til my next post

Kuala Lumpur Day 2: Batu Caves | Mederka Saqure | Jalan Alor | Bukit Bintang

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For the our second day in Malaysia, Paolo and I managed to hike at Batu Caves, explore the Dark Cave, stroll around Merdeka Square, walk around the City Central, have super late lunch in Arch Cafe, walk back to the Square, failed to tour the KL Gallery, went to Genting Square, have Persian dinner in Bukit Bintang, strolled around Jalan Alor and have drinks in Bukit Bintang. So I basically summarized everything for you guys but no I have tons of side stories!!
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As expected Paolo and I woke up really late on our second day. The lack of sleep and the relentless walking the prior day exhausted us that we just could not find the energy to wake up the next day. As expected, we missed the free breakfast (actually, there was really no breakfast, agoda lured us, lol) and opted to eat in one of the restaurants along the street of Jalan Raja Alang, where our hotel, Bagasta Guesthouse is located. It was always an adventure to eat along the streets and learn about a place culture's through food. I had my super favorite Roti Canai (which was pronounced as cha-nai, not ka-nay, as I thought), and some curry flavored beef that I just randomly ordered cause it was a carinderia style restaurant. Of course, I always loved having the classic milk tea on the streets cause nothing can ever beat the classic.
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After our brunch, Paolo and I rode an uber to take us to Batu Caves. The fare costed us around 17RM (Php170), which we still find very unbelievable compared to the uber and taxi charges we have here (or even in Singapore or Australia). Anyways, we were also surprised that we booked the same driver we drove us from KLCC to Menara tower the day before. He was so jolly and so entertaining that we enjoyed our 30 minute drive to Selangor, where Batu Caves is located.
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Pigeons welcomed us upon arriving at the Batu Caves. Very eager to have photos taken, we bought pigeon feeds, just like the other tourists for 5 RM and fed the pigeons and enjoyed the experience. Afterwards, we also watched monkeys steal food from tourists, have our photos taken before we decided to hike the hundreds of steps to the top of the temple. Before we can proceed, I had to rent a sarong for 3 RM cause ladies in shorts were not allowed to enter the temple.
photos of batu caves
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After 272 steps, and battling with monkeys who were trying to steal things from our bags, we finally reached the top of the temple. The cave is being constructed when we went there so we could not really see the beauty of the caves. Still, Paolo and I enjoyed looking at the Hindu structures and the observing the culture in the cave.
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After touring the top of the temple, Paolo felt the need for more adventure so he decided that we do the Dark Cave Tour. For only RM 35 per head, we get to explore the dark cave and learn from its ecosystem and habitat. It was indeed very dark that we had to rely on flashlights as we tour. Thousands of bats live in the cave and other endemic species hence the cave emit a certain smell that only the adventurous ones could tolerate. I honestly had a migrane while doing the tour cause I could not take the strong smell inside the cave but I pushed myself to tolerate it cause I wanted to explore, learn and discover and most importantly, I don't want to disappoint my husband. (Haha)
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It took us 3 hours to complete the whole Batu Caves tour, most of which was spent taking hundreds of photos. After resting for a while, Paolo and I booked an Uber again to take us to Merdeka Square -- that took us roughly 30 minutes. Paolo and I were so amazed at the sight of Merdeka Square (also known as Detaran Merdeka), for it gave us a beautiful sight of Malaysia's culture and history. We spent half an hour in the square, of course to take more photos before we walk our way to Arch Cafe to have our super late lunch.
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For only 15 RM (Php 160+), we get to enjoy a full meal, with fruits, a cake and unlimited coffee!! I got to enjoy my favorite Hainanese Chicken and savored the unlimited (and very strong) Malaysian coffee to give us more energy for the rest of the day. We took our time to eat and rest cause our Batu Cave adventure was too tiring that we just wanted to sleep but no we still had a lot of things to do. We headed back to the square to enter KL Gallery but miserably failed cause the gallery was closed already when we arrived (and we took so much time to eat and take photos),
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Anyway, since it was 7 already, we ubered our way to Berjaya Square to meet with a a friend (and now an author, woot woot), Kath Derla, who is now based in Malaysia. Felt really good to meet with a friend when you travel to another country cause you get to catch up on life and things. It was also the first time I got to meet Kath's husband, Jester who was actually the man behind her book, Before I Do (which is a super good book, especially for those ladies who are getting married, thinking of getting married and afraid of getting married).
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Kath and Jester took us to a Persian restaurant (the name I forgot) and treated us for dinner. I love trying out other cuisines and I also like Persian cuisines cause of the kebabs and the pita bread. Tourist tip: make sure that you always have your bottled water or tumblers with you cause drinking water in restaurants is so EXPENSIVE. We warmed up and talked about life, plans and dreams. Honestly, I am very excited for Kath and projects she is about to launch. Afterwards, the couple brought us to Jalan Alor, the popular street with a lot of chinese restaurants (imagine hawkers!) where you can find the BEST SALTED EGG SQUID ever!! (Hindi ko sya makalimutan guys kasi sobrang sarap nya). Tourist tio: Food prices in Jalan Alor are expensive and comparable to restaurants in the mall cause it is a tourist spot. So don't get surprised if the food there will range from 18-30 RM  and up (Php 180-300 and up).
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After dinner, it was our turn to treat the lovely couple. Since we are with older (pun intended, haha) boys, we found ourselves to Bukit Bintang, the party spot in Kuala Lumpur. Paolo insisted that we pay for our beer and cocktails as we continue our interesting conversations. Tourist tip: Beer and alcohol are EXPENSIVE in Malaysia. A bottle of beer or a cocktail will cost you around 22-25 RM (P220-250). 
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Overall, our second day in Malaysia was yet another tiring endeavor. I have initially planned to include Sunway Lagoon to our itinerary but we skipped it cause we lacked time (and energy). It was a jampacked day but the husband knows that I love accomplishing and seeing a lot of things every time we're out of the country. It may not be a romantic day but it was an adventure-packed event.