Unwrapping Perk Coffee Drip Bags

With more time indoors and away from crowds, I wanted to try a subscription-based coffee service. A colleague recommended I try Perk, which delivers freshly roasted coffee straight to your doorstep. Plus, an opportunity to try using a coffee drip bag for the first time.

Here’s a new video, enjoy!

The President of the United States has the Coronavirus

Why am I not surprised? This whole year is a collective nightmare.

Some people are actually celebrating the fact that a sitting U.S. president is down with the virus. Of those who are infected, President Trump obviously falls within the vulnerable.

But he’s the president. He’ll have the best doctors and medical staff surrounding him. While millions of Americans and millions around the world can only watch. Like the Philippines president, he downplayed the virus. He refused to wear a mask. He could have done more. Practically, MORE. The simple act of wearing a mask and telling Americans to mask up.

People are screaming karma.

I’m not going to “celebrate” a sitting president being infected by a deadly virus. I’m going to be Michelle Obama here and say “when they go low, we go high”. I’m going to wish the president, the first lady, and all affected White House staff good health. Maybe there can be an awakening. A realisation that this COVID-19 shit is real. They can do more for everyday Americans.

On a personal level, I’m campaigning for Biden 2020. I’ve requested for my absentee ballot and I plan to vote Democrat in November. But I’ve also had it with liberal vs conservative, blue vs red, and all that keeps folks divided. The world is hurting. America is hurting. We should make an effort to build more and more bridges.

We will NOT forget about the Trump tax issue and his non-denial of white supremacy in a recent interview. He should recover fast so he can face the American public.

surprises, relevations, gratitudes

Four months later.

This quote was mentioned in a video blog I was watching earlier. It resonated with me because I don’t think I was quite done mourning the end of what I was doing previously. A life I was living right before we were all told to go home and stay home back in March.

Yes, surviving in a pandemic overshadowed everything else.

Now that four months have passed, I’ve had some time and distance to gain some clarity. I’ve also grown to accept some truths.

I won’t tell myself that I failed, when I know I gave it my best. I won’t tell myself I should’ve done it differently, when I know I did what I could… quietly, and without compromise… that I was kind and curious, bravely marching in unknown territory. I won’t tell myself I’m perfect, when I know I never was.

There are questions that had lingered in my head about how things transpired. But I’ve decided to let it go. It’s September. I would like to think I’d made many friends from that place. But the key takeaway is knowing that I made it, I somehow did it, didn’t last as long as I would’ve wanted… but somehow, for cinematic purposes… from the ashes of where my life was in early 2018, I somehow became a flame.

***

AIM FOR THE MOON.

IF YOU MISS, YOU MAY HIT A STAR.

W. Clement Stone (American Businessman)

video: Daiso 2-for-$2 Coffee and Green Tea Taste Test

I’ve been watching plenty of YOUTUBE videos from JAPAN lately. My favourites are Rion Ishida, Paolo from Tokyo, and Only in Japan. While travel is almost out of the question during a pandemic… watching the videos they create from Japan is the closest to that fantasy. A fantasy of perhaps living and working in that archipelago one day in the future.

Enter DAISO. The addictive Japanese shop where you can find (or rather, haul) all the trinkets and things you rarely ever need. From pots, pans, gloves, pillow cases, stickers, gardening supplies… you name it… you’ll end up considering it. I was in DAISO only to look for some useful hacks to add to our new condo rental in Pasir Ris. But I couldn’t help but notice a glowing refrigerator of coffee and green tea. Ah yes… TWO for $2.

And here is the result of that:

Love my videos? Hit the LIKE button. Even better, hit SUBSCRIBE. ❤

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Bekpackr Blog Exclusive BTS: 3 things not mentioned in the video

  • I used a GoPro Hero8 Black for the medium, two-shot and a Canon G7X Mark II for the close-ups of the products. Both GoPro and G7X are mounted on their own separate tripods.
  • I really didn’t know we only bought one coffee. I thought it was two! The Nata de Coco Milk Tea was a favourite.
  • We had tried multiple locations in our new living space. One by the sliding window (we couldn’t get ideal lighting). Another was on a couch (but the background was boring). We finally settled for this shot at our dining table with the dry kitchen background. The lighting is pretty good!

September 2020

I wanted to squeeze in a quick update. I promised myself I’ll write a blog before the weekend ends. Even with a pandemic… much is happening at home.

A sunny September day at East Coast Park.

Since my last post, I’ve relocated to Pasir Ris together with PJ and my flatmates. We moved to a town that most commuters read and hear as the last MRT station on the East-West Line. Pasir Ris is a quiet coastal and recreation town that I wrote about in my previous post.

That’s the biggest news. It anchors the rest of what’s happening:

  • Getting settled into our new home – paying house and PUB deposits, paying stamping fees, fixing cleaning and laundry schedules, shopping for room and household storage solutions
  • Acquainting ourselves with the new neighborhood – finding the better grocery and convenience stores, locating bus stops, learning new bus routes, walkways, shortcuts to get to the MRT station
  • Trying out new jogging routes in the vicinity – exploring Sungei Api-Api, Pasir Ris Town Park, Pasir Ris Beach, condo jogging paths

I’m happy that I’m now able to settle in. When I moved to Tampines in April, I couldn’t really unpack all my things because we were anticipating this move in August or September. Now that we’ve found a nice place to call home, I feel like we can invest in some new things to help tidy up our home.

I’ll write more about our move and our setup soon. In the meantime, here are some other updates…

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Work

Briefly mentioning that I’m diving into full work mode by engaging and interviewing journalists, running verification work, and improving accuracy scores. I’m enjoying the new role because I’m challenged by it. I can really see myself growing in unexpected ways.

***

The pandemic

Singapore saw its lowest daily total of pandemic cases in recent months with around 11 reported the other day. Honestly at this stage… it feels like the country is back to normal. Except that everyone out in public has a mask on. I panicked a bit at Daiso earlier when the store didn’t seem to have social distancing in place (it was packed with shoppers)… where Uniqlo one level down had a queue outside their store because the store only allowed X amount of people inside. Kind of inconsistent!

PJ and I have been in and out of malls and public spaces recently because we’re buying things for the new rental condo we’re staying at. I still prefer to avoid malls and crowded places altogether. Even with the total daily cases reported… this pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon. The temptation to shop is back. But I have to pinch myself. People are losing their jobs because of this pandemic. This pandemic will close more businesses when the economic losses start to ripple across other industries. It’s wise to penny-pinch. SAVE NOT SPEND.

***

New routines

I’ve signed up for a workout programme that my friend U was recommending. This new programme has two coaches that will train you via Zoom from Monday to Saturday. Currently, I can squeeze in Monday, Thursday, and Friday. I already have yoga on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I’m freeing up weekends for running and visiting parks in Singapore. Also, this condo rental has a swimming pool. A large lap pool downstairs. I’ll make time for that too.

***

Going digital first

Earlier I suggested to PJ that we take this pandemic as an opportunity to force ourselves to be more ‘digital first’. This means forgoing cash altogether and even cards.

  • Using Apple Pay, PayLah, PayNow… and other apps to make payments at stores and restaurants. Scan a QR code and you’re done.
  • Making use of Singapore’s apps that carry a digital version of your IC. Instead of carrying around a physical IC all the time.
  • Using apps to top-up your EZ-Link card. No more visiting an EZ-Link machine.
  • Using apps on an Apple Watch to direct you to your location – dropping the need to use ‘traditional’ maps (like my fave ‘Street Directory’ which has dated UI) / also using same apps to indicate if a bus or an MRT train is leaving at a certain time.
  • Automated backups of photos and files.
  • Getting more devices to sync with each other.
  • Smart home, using voice technology more, etc.

***

Cutting it there. It’s late. 🙂

Visiting Pasir Ris Town Park and Pasir Ris Park

I wanted to escape the house earlier and visit two parks in neighboring Pasir Ris. Bus 15 from opposite Temasek Poly makes a few stops in Tampines before ending its journey across the TPE at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange.

From the interchange, I followed the crowds around these construction barriers to reach the entrance of Pasir Ris Town Park.

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The entrance to the park

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This modern hawker centre in Pasir Ris opened in 2018.

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These are the reminders that are posted at the entrances of all parks in Singapore.

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Curious, I wanted to take a look at what’s inside the hawker centre.

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The first level has your usual Singapore favorites. The second level has “hipster” and fusion.

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These seat signs are everywhere.

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Treating myself to a local favorite… lime juice! Perfect against the island’s humidity.

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Back to the town park… I got in right at sunset!

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Wearing dry-fit for the weather.

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Pasir Ris Town Park has a marine or fishing pond.

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I think this would be a great place to grab a beer!

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Like virtually all parks in Singapore, they easily connect with the HDB apartments.

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One of my favorite things about Singapore is the close proximity between living spaces and parks.

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You’ll notice that several people are fishing on a relaxing Saturday evening.

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Not pictured… the many joggers on the footpaths.

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Pasir Ris is a coastal town known for its recreational resorts. The town has a very nautical theme.

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The abundance of green spaces.

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I thought this ship was old. Apparently this was only inaugurated in 2019.

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Some areas remain restricted… likely due to the pandemic.

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Vintage NEA signage.

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While walking around this area… I noticed how relaxing and laid back everything seems to be here.

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The paths are sufficiently wide enough for both joggers and cyclists.

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This footbridge crosses Sungei Tampines to reach another area of Pasir Ris.

***

After Pasir Ris Town Park, I wanted to see if I could reach the nearby beachfront across the road. The park connector straddles the side of Downtown East (which happens to house one of the island’s isolation facilities for pandemic patients… who test positive for the virus, but don’t require hospitalization).

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There were plenty of joggers and cyclists along this path. But I managed to capture a moment where I had all this green to myself. On the right would be NTUC D’Resort which houses patients of Covid-19 and are under isolation.

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The sun had already set by the time I reached Pasir Ris Park. I noticed the camp sites and many joggers and cyclists in the area.

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On the right would be the rustic beachfront. The view would be of Pulau Ubin (not Malaysia).

I switched off my GoPro since it was already dark. 🙂

***

I’m looking forward to moving to this neighborhood in a few weeks. I had no idea there’s a wealth of scenic jogging paths that will eventually replace my favorite Bedok Reservoir.

***

As I stand here at the easternmost edge of Singapore, I’m thinking about what the next few months will be like in this country. With the pandemic having affected the entire world in the past 8 months… I feel like all I have to do is focus on getting through today. I shouldn’t really worry about 3, 6, or 9 months into the future. I should focus on improving what I can improve in the present.

I try not to think about the stress of moving houses twice in one year. Or that this is my ninth house move in 8 years. It’s kind of ridiculous to put it that way. But who gives a. I’ll be in a new neighborhood. I’m hopeful there will be new stories to tell.

Pasir Ris Town Park and Pasir Ris Park are different. The former contains the fishing pond and is 5 minutes away from the MRT and bus interchange. The latter is the beachfront one that faces Pulau Ubin.

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Happy 55th birthday, Singapore.

Almost 20 million people worldwide have been hit by the virus.

That’s over 20 million lives and their families, friends, social circles, workplaces, churches that have been changed by what started out as just another news item back in December.

I recognise that I’m lucky to be in Singapore which has done an aggressive job to keep its citizens and residents safe from the pandemic. But it is heartbreaking to see the effects of this virus ravage the Philippines (now Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 epicenter) and the land of my citizenship, the United States (global no. 1 with 5 million people affected).

Sometimes I feel bad that all I have to do is wear a mask and head outside relatively in comfort compared to millions out there in quarantine.

***

I had a long weekend because of Singapore’s 55th National Day. With Covid-19 cases going down and life resuming to this new normal, the past weekend felt relaxed. I met up with a friend from university. I watched the mobile column pass by the nearby MRT station. I spent it at home watching For All Mankind on Apple TV.

I also spent it updating my portfolio which I set up during my job hunting a few months ago. I’ve deactivated the portfolio and put a classic splash page directing visitors to head over to my LinkedIn account. I’ve also called three people I’m thinking of having as my first podcast guests. Yes, I’m going to come out with a podcast very soon!

PJ and I have also started packing some boxes for our upcoming move to Pasir Ris. I’m in-charge of selecting the movers. We’re excited to move to Pasir Ris. I’m trying not to stress about it too much. Unlike when I moved to Tampines in April, this time there’s two of us working together to pack our things. And there’s five of us moving altogether to a new house.

I feel we’re at the closing stretch of 2020. Cautiously heading into the next few months by staying extra hygienic, saving money where and when possible, and getting through this pandemic. It may be comfortable in Singapore… but it’s not an excuse to let our guard down.

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The baristas being sweet.

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Catching up with my friend A at Chjmes over the weekend.

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Anticipating the trucks and tanks that will pass by Tampines West MRT.

Have a great week everyone. 🙂

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July 2020 Unpacked

LIFE started to resume in Singapore in July.

Businesses are slowing re-opening. People are heading back into the cinemas. The government held its 2020 elections. Millions of good mosquitoes are being set free in Tampines to fight dengue. I saw my own office for the first time. I got my work pass issued. I jogged several times. I danced several times.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from July 2020.


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CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THIS. Probably one reason I’ve been very active in jogging the past two months. This is the view at Bedok Reservoir at sunset.

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BUILDING MY OWN CITY. My credit card points were about to expire in bulk. I used it to give me a good discount on a 7th generation iPad. I thought I’d use it to look at newspapers and magazines using Magzter. Instead, I’m using it more for building a city.

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CHEESY BIRTHDAY PIZZA. Look at that cheese! Celebrated my birthday this month at Wawawa in Bedok Reservoir. I had a date with my partner. This pizza = everything.

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AWFULLY CHOCOLATE CAKE. My partner knows me too well… one of my favorite Singapore brands is Awfully Chocolate. This cake was decadent!

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MORE BEDOK RESERVOIR. What do we have here? Another vantage point.

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MASKS AS THE NEW CURRENCY. Our housemates invited friends over. And we all got these cloth masks as gifts. Cute right!

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E-NUMANS. This was with two friends from my ABS-CBN days. The world is in lockdown. ABS-CBN has been shut down by the government. Let’s just drink.

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WAFFLES IN BEDOK. A friend from NBCUniversal asked me out for waffles on the day of Singapore’s 2020 elections. He had just voted that day. This was my first dine-in at a restaurant since the circuit breaker ended. The waffles were damn good.

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HELLO 35. What do I gift myself? A backjoy!

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TREND ALERT: DINING IN. After my first visit to the CBD in months… I wanted to have some alone time to enjoy a glass of wine and a plate… of… fries… and a CHEESEBURGER. SOOOOO GOOD.

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BEDOK RESERVOIR WITH J. Technically we’re in neighboring towns (Bedok and Tampines). Jogging around the reservoir with my ex-colleague from LinkedIn. J is quite a passionate storyteller. So much chika.

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REVISITING MARINA BAY. In an earlier blog post, I shared a video from this exact spot where I was reflecting by the bay. Yes, reflecting. REFLECTING. I had a view of my old building (Marina Bay Financial Centre) and I was a little emotional. The pandemic forced many of us to work from home. With my previous job ending right in the middle of it… I never got to see my old office. My belongings are still at my table. Running shoes, jackets, even a picture frame of me and my partner. The LinkedIn office is like a time capsule. I’m asking my ex-colleagues to help me pack my things when they’re able to return one day. Also: so many people were IMPACTED by the pandemic and are leaving LinkedIn. 😦

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RELOCATING AGAIN, SOON. Yes, I’m jogging a lot at Bedok Reservoir. Because we’ll be moving soon. At the end of July, my housemates and I have been looking for a new house to stay. There’s a 90% chance we’ll still be in Tampines. But there’s a less chance we’ll find a place along Tampines Avenue 1 which is lucrative because of its proximity to this beautiful reservoir and one of Singapore’s top schools.

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ADOBONG PUTI. My first take on adobong puti because of SIMPOL with Chef Tatung. All these years I’ve been describing that my favorite type of adobo is the oily type… I had no idea I was describing adobong puti. My first batch was AMAZING. My second batch was… I couldn’t repeat my first batch.

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DELIVERIES ARE BACK TO NORMAL. When the pandemic started and Singapore started to buckle down for circuit breaker… getting a delivery slot only happened if you prayed to at least three gods. But happily, Lazada-RedMart and the other grocery delivery services have returned to normal.

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OH I DISCOVERED THE NORMAL PATH AT BEDOK RESERVOIR. It’s not all gravel apparently. There’s this and it reminds me of Hyde Park. Except with humidity.

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BAKING IS A THING NOW. My partner and I have discovered the wonders of easy-cooking through baking. Baked salmon. Baked chicken. Baked potatoes. Baked carrots.

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THAT SAID, THERE’S MCDONALDS. I have cut down on carbs significantly this past month. I feel great and energetic. I feel my tummy is smaller and I’m on the path to a slimmer body. Yadda yada yada. We still order in McDonalds from time to time.

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THE EMPHASIS IS CLEAR. I love this neighborhood. More jogging while holding onto my mask.

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DONKEY KONG: TROPICAL FREEZE. While assembling these 40 images for July unpacked, I realised not a single one captures my Just Dance 2020 obsession. I’ll share another game I’m playing which is Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. Yes, I am allowed to play games. I am allowed to save on “partying outside” and “drinking at bars” by staying at home and playing this stressful game.

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MY NEW OFFICE. Omg, an address I never imagined I would ever have for an office. This 1930s building in the CBD really stands out next to the tall buildings that surround it. I’ve been intrigued all these years by the Quadrant. And now… it’s where my office is. When I visited in July… I couldn’t help but feel emotional. YAS. When your previous work contract ends in the middle of a pandemic… when you’re living in a country that can eject you if you don’t have a valid work pass… seeing any semblance of normal… like an office building = gratitude. Like in most roles that we start in… I’m on new joiners probation. But still, I had my moment. Thank you. 🙂

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VISITING THE CBD = EATING CBD FOOD. What can be more CBD than a bowl of poke. For months… eating home-cooked food… this $12.50 bowl of raw fish was an experience.

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DENGUE IN THE HOOD. Dengue doesn’t give a shit about a pandemic. The country is seeing record levels of dengue fever. Like seriously. I’ve befriended a couple of Wolbachia mosquitos… since there are millions being set free here in Tampines to fight the bad mosquitos. I can’t pronounce wolbachia. It’s like worcestershire. Wol-ba-chia. Wol-BA-chia. “Hi everyone, my name is Wolba Chia, I’m 35… and I’m the first to enter the work room.”

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IMMORTALIZING THIS VIEW. This is what you see if you look out the window from our room or our living room. It’s a view of Temasek Poly and in the distance… Singapore’s CBD. Why is it significant? Because this was my view during Singapore’s circuit breaker and lockdown. Even if I’m at home… I can still see the city. We’ll be leaving from this house soon.

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DIMBULAH COFFEE. It so happens that my new officemate’s favorite coffee place is Dimbulah. Highlighting this because Dimbulah Coffee at Marina Bay Financial Centre was our go-to for coffee outside the LinkedIn office. I mean at 35 I should cut the sentimentality. But I welcome the transition between two roles, same coffee shop.

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STEAK AND FRIES FOR $13.50. We’ve discovered a Grab food delivery gem here in Tampines West called “Amigo’s”. They serve pretty decent pastas for a good price. Plus, they serve decent steak and fries as well. Delivery is life… on a busy “working from home” day.

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MOBILITY. I’ve been trying yoga in the past few weeks. As usual, my mobility is a problem. I can’t seem to stretch or bend far enough. I got this on Lazada for a few dollars.

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WINGS. This was part of my birthday lunch. My birthday was on a weekday this year. This delivery came from the Wingstop in Bedok.

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CRAVE NASI LEMAK PACKAGING. This is cute. I wish Singapore had binalot.

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RAWR. Rion Ishida is my favorite YouTuber right now. He has been a companion during this pandemic. He releases videos weekly… sometimes twice a week. Here’s us enjoying his video while we have lunch by the window.

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OUR 2ND FAVORITE FRIED CHICKEN. Arnold’s. It’s a staple in these times.

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PICNIC AT EAST COAST. Our buddy C is leaving Singapore for Canada. We wanted to have a picnic at the park recently. The park was crowded. We wore masks… but we can remove them while we’re munching down cupcakes and chicarons.

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MERE MORTALS IN MARINE PARADE. I had to send this to my partner.

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CATCH-UP WITH EX-COLLEAGUES. Thanks for inviting me out for sushi!

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SUSHI ROLL. For evidence. This was in Tampines. 🙂

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CATCH-UP WITH COLLEGE FRIENDS IN SG. It had been about four months since. We had dinner in an empty Chinatown and drinks at a half-empty Maxwell hawker.

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WEEKEND VIRTUAL BRUNCH WITH FAMILY. This is a new tradition we’ve started. Thanks to my brother for organising these. We should have more.

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YOGA WITH THESE PADDLERS. Led by our former women’s captain (or wait, is she women’s captain again this year?) — yoga on Tuesdays! I need to work on my chaturanga.

And we’ve reached the last two out of 40 images for my July unpacked…

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FAMILY. I am grateful they are safe and healthy at home in Cavite. They are quarantined safely and avoid going out even with numerous types of community quarantines being imposed in the Philippines due to the pandemic. They appear lively and happy… even 3 or 4 months into this pandemic. I am a man who doesn’t go to church… but I do pray. And I pray for strong health for my brother, my parents, my partner, and all my loved ones.

TURNING 35. This month I turned a year older. I’m halfway to 40. My greatest lesson in recent weeks is the ability to edit out what’s unnecessary. Why? Read on.

Just because we’re surrounded by friends, family, and people… does not mean we have to keep people around “for the sake of it”. Evaluate your surroundings. Evaluate the people you converse with. I wouldn’t suggest surrounding yourself only with people that you agree with. I suggest you give yourself the power to choose who or what you want in your circle. There’s no need to force things or force situations. You have the power to do what you want. You can be an asshole. You can be someone’s blessing. Don’t be afraid to edit things in your surroundings. Don’t keep things around “just for the sake of it”.

Ending the month with one of my most played songs on Spotify. Take care.

Other matters (very important matters, putting it here for documentation)

  • SINGAPORE COVID-19 CASES: 52,205 cases, 27 deaths (businesses have reopened, Singapore held elections, malls and businesses require SafeEntry, active contact tracing)
  • PHILIPPINES COVID-19 CASES: 85,486 cases, 1,962 deaths (Philippines overtook Singapore in July, and is now 2nd in SE Asia for total cases. Indonesia is on top.)
  • UNITED STATES COVID-19 CASES: 4.59 million cases, 155,000 deaths (the United States is world no. 1 in Covid-19 cases)
  • PHILIPPINE CONGRESS DENIES ABS-CBN FRANCHISE TO OPERATE (affecting 11,000 workers including many of my friends)
  • LINKEDIN LAYS OFF 950 EMPLOYEES (mostly in sales and talent acquisition)
  • NUMEROUS COUNTRIES ARE SEEING 2ND AND 3RD WAVE OF INFECTIONS