Do I need a drinks package on a cruise? (Saturday Uncut EP20)

Week no. 20! Do I need a drinks package on a cruise? This is a question I asked after we booked our trip on Quantum of the Seas last October. I was also recently asked the question by a friend who was about to embark on the cruise too.

The fastest answer: No, you don’t need a drinks package.

But here’s my unedited video on why I think you don’t need a drinks package:

Do subscribe to my channel on YouTube, thanks!

Cabin fever

Current situation:

From this CNA article.

While technically we’re not in a hard lockdown like the OG circuit breaker of 2020… the mood, at least for me, is somber. I don’t want to go to the malls. I don’t want to go out and do touristy things. I don’t even want to go to East Coast Park yet because I know everyone will be there too. My preference is to go places that are within walking distance.

Current movement in public is limited to two pax per group. (That’s PJ and me, if you think about it). They started allowing dining-in up to five people from the same household. That would enable PJ, myself, and up to three other housemates to dine in together. But I just don’t want to bother. I can imagine getting stares… or having to explain that we’re flatmates to strangers (I don’t think they’d obviously care). We have proof that we’re housemates. But wait… why would we want to dine out with our flatmates when we spend 24/7 with them already.

I’m not sure about the work from home situation in the next few weeks. I am thinking it will be status quo. At most, it might be 50% in a few weeks or maybe in two months. WFH is super normal now. I can’t imagine having to be in the office 100%. I think companies have to adapt or come up with a plan of some sort where the adjustment will be in healthy phases. Certainly, when applying for new jobs in the future… a factor will be the flexibility to work remotely. This comes with certain tradeoffs like how companies monitor their employees. Tech can track these things.

Yes, a bout of cabin fever. Especially with the election sh*t show happening back home. Today, certain sectors put a mockery on the filing. Substitution is part of the process, fine. But step back for a moment and see all this scheming. If someone is running for the highest position in the Philippines, why can’t that authentically come from the beginning? Why must it come at the very end… obviously there was manoeuvring to get the right formula. It gave some political analysts’ a hard-on. It gave newsrooms a headache.

There are no ‘plans’ to head into downtown the next few weeks. I am tracking the ‘infection’ growth rate and it’s hovering below 1. I feel comfortable resuming most social activities if that infection rate is more consistently below .5 or something… basta, downward arrow please.

Be safe out there.

Marcos is NOT a hero.

What I’m watching: The King’s Affection

After Hometown Cha-cha-cha and Squid Game, our latest Netflix and binge is The King’s Affection. I wanted to fill the gap left by Hometown Cha-cha-cha. I’ve not seen any period dramas from Korea (hmm… wait, Kingdom?). I’m attracted to the plot. A queen gives birth to twins, one boy and one girl. Things being as they are in whatever time period it was… they have to kill the baby girl and ensure the baby boy lives. She is secretly sent away. Later on, her twin brother, somewhat oblivious… gets killed. She happens to be at the palace around the same time as a laundry girl… gets discovered somehow and then styled as her late twin brother to save the succession. With only a handful of people knowing. During all this, the original girl had this whole puppy love thing going on with a boy in the royal court. The laundry girl “vanishes” much to the boy’s confusion… and the boy goes off to some faraway land (Ming Dynasty I think). Enter the present… the boy is now a young man who becomes the Crown Prince’s tutor. And the crown prince is who? The twin girl of course… so it’s a gender-bending love story.

I will NOT be able to explain that to a five year-old. So here’s a trailer instead:

New episodes pop up on Netflix every Monday and Tuesday after they air in Korea. It’s on-going.

What Korean drama do you recommend? Shows like these add colour during these dark days.

What would I do… if I had a little more $$$

It’s 4:17am and I can’t sleep. Again. It’s been like this for a few weeks where my sleeping habit is sht. I can take a 3mg pill of melatonin but it makes me feel sluggish when I wake up. I’ve started journalling but my work table has a pile of clothes and an Amazon microphone that never seems to find its own home. (Do I hide it in the cabinet? Hassle. I need it for my Zoom call.)

So instead, why not I write here.

What would I do… if I had a little more $$$

  • I would like to rent my own place with PJ. For the past 9 years, I’ve lived in shared accomodation in Singapore. This means I have flatmates. About 90% have been great flatmates, no regrets there. But lately I’m jealous of some friends (also: couples) who have rented their own cute apartments. It’s pricey! It’s not in PJ’s budget. It’s not in my budget too. But only if we earned a little more… kahit konting dagdag… we would be able to afford our own place. Preferably one that sits right next to a grocery store. So I can cook. Nakakatamad maglakad from our current condo to FairPrice. It’s at least 10-12 minutes one-way. It’ll be a 20-25 minutes return… carrying groceries in Singapore’s homophobic weather.
  • I would get myself a MacBook Pro 16″, the new ones. I’d like to top-up the specs so I have the best MacBook Pro in its class. This wouldn’t be for vanity reasons, no. I really utilise my Macs. The one I’m using now is from 2013. It can’t render 4K video. Heck, it can’t even render normal video at an acceptable speed today. I’ve produced many videos with my current laptop but I’m due for an upgrade. I want to edit in 4K. I want video editing to be fun and breezy again… not a gargantuan task when it comes to adding layers and rendering. I know my creative side is in video. I’d also use it to start a side job editing videos for clients perhaps. I dunno. Basta… a juiced up MacBook Pro 16″ would be nice.
  • Hire a personal trainer to keep me in check. I need one. I’ve put in effort to exercise. But I want to be accountable to a personal trainer who will push and guide me closer to my fitness goals. I aM nOt gEttiNg aNy yOunGeR. I want a personal trainer to guide me in nutrition as well. Apps can only do so much. Online classes can only do so much.
  • It would be nice to start investing in a small plot of land outside Metro Manila. Perhaps one in Laguna or Cavite. Gaah. What am I talking about right. I think this is part of my growing need to set up my nest. I’ve been watching numerous real estate videos. I’m also watching ones from the States. Houses that cost USD 40 million dollars. I love watching these house tours. I don’t think I’ll ever live in a house that costs USD 40 million dollars. But I do like looking at one… I’m a dreamer.
  • I want to never feel bad that I’m ordering Grab delivery food that costs over SGD 20.00. Decent delivery food can be around SGD 10-15 per meal. And I already feel bad about that. Normally walking into a hawker centre near the office you can get food for SGD 8-10. So ordering food at SGD 10-15 (though it keeps you safe at home) makes me feel uncomfy. I know it’s ridiculous. It’s food. I NEVER want to scrimp on food – we should eat good food. But it comes with a pinch. If I had extra $$$ I would like to never feel bad for ordering food that’s below SGD 30.00 at least. Okay that’s exaggerating. But you know… I want to eat from the ‘gourmet’ ones in Katong or downtown. Why must stick to Hao Lai Ke every week.
  • I’d love to start a mini-bar at home. Alak is expensive in Singapore. We normally get our alcohol from duty-free shopping on the way into Singapore from our travels. But travels are mostly imaginary the last 20 months. If I had more $$$ I’d like to resume a wine subscription. Or ‘invest’ in whiskey. Gusto ko may mini-bar sa bahay. I’d like to be Don Draper even in my pajamas.
  • Send a regular balikbayan box back to the Philippines. I mean… if I had more $$$ I’d like LBC to send me a small balikbayan box each month. And they’d collect it on schedule after 2 weeks. I’d like to fill it with groceries, a care package, masks, chocolates, gifts… and keep sending it back home. Like I don’t have to think twice if I can afford it. I’d like to just tap a few buttons on Lazada and have it delivered home. I’d write my notes and pack it nicely in a box.

I’ve intentionally left out the charities (like WWF), investments, and further studies (master’s degree, short courses on edX). Everything above are some of what’s on my mind. Call me out or add yours. What would you do with extra $$$?

Did going to college help me in my career?

I was invited to give feedback on a revised curriculum from my alma mater. My program was shelved in 2020 due to the low turnout of enrollees. However, the good news is that the faculty is revising the curriculum to make it more attractive to prospective students.

In 2002 I studied at DLSU-D in Cavite. I was part of the 2nd cohort of broadcast journalism students. We were a brand new course offering at our university. Our sister program, AB Communication, was the only media-related course at DLSU-D before that. I remember upperclassmen asking why we were taking journalism when we could “learn more things” in communication.

I was always attracted to studying media. Journalism made sense since I’ve always pictured myself as a storyteller. I’ll say that the four years of college were probably the best and most transformative in my life. I learned how to speak fluently in Tagalog. I experienced so many firsts. I fell in love with another guy (triggering me to discover and fully accept that I was gay). I got elected into a student body. I was an editor for a publication. Aaah. So many things.

The question is – did it ever contribute to my career?

You can learn all the techniques in journalism from school. But I’m a firm believer that it has to be practiced consistently. Most of the applicable soft and hard skills needed in journalism were learned from the orgs I joined. The course provided the fundamental building blocks. Everything else needed to come from the individual.

I share more in this week’s Saturday Uncut video. 🙂

It’s mid October in Singapore

I haven’t had any updates in a month. I’ve had my hands tied with getting good work done + a hoard of other things as we head into the twilight of the year. I’ll do a sweep.

Semi-lockdown. The local community cases in Singapore have reached record highs. Gone are the days we would hear about five, fifteen, or twenty-five cases. The local community cases are now in the thousands. Yup! Thousands. But it comes with the feeling of opening up an umbrella as you step into monsoon weather. 83% of the residents in this country are fully vaccinated. The language and tone has shifted to endemic living. “It’s going to be like this, get used to it.”

Upcoming cruise to nowhere. I never imagined I’d book myself on one of these. But after twenty months of living safely within this island city-state, it’s time to see the open oceans. PJ and I are joining two of our flatmates on a Royal Caribbean cruise which departs Singapore, goes out to sea, and comes back to Singapore after three days. Onboard activities include sushi making, world capitals quiz games, and bumper cars. I’m looking forward to holding a Prosecco with a view of blue skies, blue ocean.

Squid Game. I never imagined I’d watch this series after I stepped back from Alice in Borderland on its third episode. I’m finding myself hooked. I want the memes to make sense to me. I want to understand how another South Korean title can take the world by storm. The series is brilliant.

Hometown Cha-cha-cha. This is absolutely necessary to wash off Squid Game each night. It’s a past-time of our generation to enjoy these feel-good Korean dramas. How can they make a seaside town look so dreamy? IRL, a town like Gongjin must be scorching hot. Here, the townspeople are lovable. You have Shin Min-a and Kim Seon-o who have great onscreen chemistry. This is fun to watch.

Japanese classes. I’m wrapping up the first term of my basics course with Tomo Japanese Language School. I’m going to continue to the next term. I’m enjoying the classes because you pro-actively have to shadow sensei and your classmates. I’m pairing his with Duolingo.

Election fever. Social media is toxic these days. I’ve unfollowed news organisations and I’ve switched off notifications to a majority of apps. I naturally read the news on dedicated news apps. I just don’t need the news to be fed to me every waking moment.

Thoughts about the future. As we move into endemic life in Singapore, I’m comfortable to start dreaming again. What’s a 36 year-old have to say about pursuing new goals, new ventures? I’m all-out now to develop new skills. I’m ready to take on opportunities to accelerate my growth as a dedicated media professional. If there is any doubt, we can recognise it, tag it as “useless”, and discard it.

What did you plan to do today, but didn’t?

Fast answer: I wanted to edit a podcast episode.

Two episodes are sitting in my edit folder right now. But I’m at peace that these have to wait until I can clear other tasks I need to get done right now. One thing I’ve learned recently is that we have to properly schedule our priorities (instead of “prioritising our schedule”). I think this means placing more value in the tasks that contribute to our end goals. Rather than just trying to get everything done.

The podcast is something I’m excited about but it could wait a few more days. 🙂

I’m also happy with how the first four episodes have turned out. You follow the podcast on Spotify here.

Here’s my last episode “Cats on an Airplane” where I interviewed my friend Eric who lives in California.

(This question is part of a 30-day Q&A challenge using the “365 & me” app)

What fits you better: living in the countryside or in the city?

Fast answer: Living in the city

Ideally, it could be living in the city on weekdays and living in the countryside on weekends. That’s entirely possible if you had a city dwelling in Metro Manila followed by a Bali-inspired tropical residence somewhere in Laguna.

BTW, I love Presello! I can’t afford the houses on it but it is INSPIRATIONAL.

How about you? What fits you better: living in the countryside or in the city?

(This question is part of a 30-day Q&A challenge using the “365 & me” app)