Kicking off a new gym membership

I took a peek at the Anytime Fitness in my building and was sold on the location, straightforward amenities, and obvious opening hours. I’ve never been a member of AF before. I’ve had Gold’s Gym when I was in the Philippines and I’ve had Fitness First on and off through the years.

What I’m looking for is a neighbourhood gym that isn’t so fancy and with flexible workout hours. I want to avoid the crowds and I’m living just 2 minutes away from it… so it meets my needs at the moment. Plus, prices are increasing start of next month so it’s best to lock in the price. I think I got a decent deal. There’s also access to all the clubs in the world after 30 days.

How do I feel about it? I’m learning now that consistency matters more than intensity. If I could be consistent at it instead of worrying about how intense a workout should be… maybe I’ll finally get the results I’m looking for.

377A to be repealed!

Big news for the gay community in Singapore as the prime minister announced in his annual National Day Rally the government’s intention to repeal Section 377A. This is an archaic law that criminalises sex between consenting men. Section 377A has been the main reason why thousands join the Pink Dot movement each year. It’s a call for citizens to repeal a law which makes gay men criminals in this country.

Through the years I’ve joined Pink Dot in person and in spirit (when it was changed to citizens and PRs only). I’ve witnessed these events, and during this pandemic I’ve watched the livestreams with interest. While there’s an outpouring and celebration of love within the LGBTQIA+ community, it is nonetheless a protest. It always has been. (I think this applies very much to the Philippines too, that pride isn’t just a party. It’s a protest.)

Like many of my Singaporean friends, I never thought I’d ever hear the government say those words. “The government will repeal Section 377A and decriminalise sex between men.” What I want to also note was in the prime minister’s speech, multiple mentions as to how gay Singaporeans aspire to contribute to their country. The part about 377A wasn’t a footnote in his speech. He really went on to explain the government’s thinking, where society was before including the origins of 377A, how we need to delicately hear all sides… it was presented with facts, clarity… sorry tbh every time I hear him speak, I can’t imagine him in the same room as D30.

This evening I’ve spoken to two gay Singaporean friends and they both welcome the announcement (with tears). I’ve also read some feedback on Twitter that this only benefits a certain section of the gay community. It sounds like the glass is half empty when, at this moment, I’d rather see it as half full.

PM Lee: ““And we need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate both the traditional mores of our society, and the aspiration of gay Singaporeans to be respected and accepted.”

The repeal of Section 377A is a big step in the right direction.

Moving houses, again

After riding out the pandemic the last two years in Pasir Ris, we’ve moved out! It was an expensive and draining move (when compared with all my previous ones). Our condo block is the furthest from the pick-up area where the lorry is allowed to park. This meant that we had to hire movers to safely ferry our furniture and boxes across the estate’s gardens and swimming pools.

Every minute counted since our movers were booked for two hours. Anything in excess would be charged in 30-minute chunks. I’ve been using the same movers since 2016. I’ve received no discounts with the same movers since. That’s disappointing! I asked.

Anyway, I wanted to focus on the destination this time. I mentioned my anxiety in a previous post. However, I think that anxiety has faded. I’m now focused on what’s here and what is up ahead.

Here’s the view outside our downtown apartment!

Wasting no time, PJ and I started to unpack some of our things. We moved into the apartment a full week ahead of our future housemates who will take the other bedroom. This meant we could place our boxes outside (and be able to stow all the items… one too many... before they see them 💀). Sssssh!

Tanjong Pagar is home to numerous Japanese restaurants. For our first meal as downtown residents, we headed across the street to Japan Rail Cafe. We were already too hungry having spent days packing, moving, and unpacking. You can see how hungry PJ was in the photo below.

I think I’ll never get tired of Japanese food.

***

Since our COO is in town this week, the first activity I did in Tanjong Pagar was to get a haircut so I could make myself a little more presentable. There’s a QB House Premium at Tanjong Pagar Centre.

A haircut is SGD 18.00 (instead of SGD 12.00 from a normal QB House). Great service and I highly recommend their barber, Ron. Who has the gentlest hands.

***

I couldn’t help myself on Sunday when I wanted to take the bike for a spin. I found a route to Marina Bay via OUE Downtown. I also got to pass by the Singapore Exchange! This is so CBD, I thought.

The plan was to take my bike only up to Marina Barrage and back to Tanjong Pagar. But I was enjoying the sunset and decided to bike all the way to Stadium. Definitely will repeat this route soon!

***

On Monday, PJ and I set off to look for cheaper places to get dinner instead of our usual Grab food deliveries in Pasir Ris. Our first dinner? Getting Don Don Donki takeout. Bentos were at 20% off around 8:50pm.

And we felt like enjoying it by the window with a view of the city below.

So far I’m enjoying the first four days in Tanjong Pagar. I hope to write about what we’re doing with the apartment, what restaurants we’re trying in the area, and other activities from downtown.

Share your recommendations for food and activities too!

Thoughts before my next move

The movers will be here in a few hours.

Here I go again. For the nth time in ten years, I’m moving houses. The new address is different from all previous ones. I’ve lived in condos and HDBs. This is the first time I’m moving into an apartment complex. How is it different? It’s not a ‘condo’ like what people would see these days. It’s an old apartment in an old (but historical) building in downtown Singapore. There’s even an MRT station downstairs. Like, literally, the building has it’s own access to the MRT. Anyone living there would be spoilt with choices. It’s a dream come true.

Except that it hasn’t felt that way in the past few days. I’m feeling anxious.

We started packing things into boxes more than a week ahead of our scheduled move. That’s when I noticed this… feeling of a cloud above my head. I’m feeling stressed when there’s really no reason to be stressed (the movers, permits, all of it… all completed ahead of time). Worried about packing my things? I have a boyfriend who is already disassembling furniture and putting my books into boxes. Why do I feel this way?

I tell myself that moving is one of the most stressful things anyone can experience, regardless how simple it may seem. I remind myself that things are in boxes for only a few days… and by the end of the month, they’ll be neatly in place again on shelves, cabinets, and tables. There will be a new space to decorate and make new memories. I should focus on that, right?

Or is it because at 37, I’m in a country where living in an HDB, condo, or city apartment is a fantasy. It’s like role-playing. I’ve yet to try for permanent residency status again even if I got rejected a few years ago. I guess no harm trying again? I hate this feeling of being transient. I’m starting to feel the pressure of wanting to settle down. I want to move into an apartment or dwelling that is entirely mine. Maybe I’m looking for something more permanent. But in this city? You love it. But IRL I’m just a statistic.

The thought of living in Tanjong Pagar was exciting. Now I’m worried I’ll miss the quiet parks here in Pasir Ris. I hope all goes well with the move later. I’ve done it a few times already. I’m sure I’ll deal.

Maybe once I’ve unpacked my things in the new apartment… the excitement will return. My old office was in Tanjong Pagar and that was my “work” neighbourhood for a good five years. I know where some of the good stuff is at. I should be happy.

For our last night in Pasir Ris, we packed the TV and the IKEA Kallax cabinet we had been using as a console. I unpacked the projector, connected it to my laptop, and played Extraordinary Attorney Woo on Netflix. Park Eun-bin is AMAZING.

I’m back home in Singapore

I’m sorry. I had the intention of writing more on my blog during my 35-day workation in the Philippines. But when I was there, I felt like I was always catching my breath. There was nothing complicated about my month-long itinerary. Everything fell into place with accommodations, transfers, work, and family time. But I would find myself exhausted in the evenings. Preferring to indulge in a few episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 7 or For All Mankind. I also felt full most of the time. Like, I was eating too much. (When the truth is, I would only eat one piece of chicken or about 80% of my meal.)

I’ve been home in Singapore for the past three days and I’m isolating at home. Nobody asked me to isolate at home. No policy exists that tells me to isolate at home. The country is “back to normal” even when the world is still in a pandemic. I’m trying to unpack why I have a preference to stay home.

Maybe because I’m tired.

Maybe because I don’t want to spend money.

Maybe because we’re moving houses in a few weeks and I just want to crawl back to this simple and quiet life here in Pasir Ris. Because it’s going to change in a few weeks.

How was my trip to the Philippines? I would say it’s a success. I did spend time with my family and dedicated a whole week with them in La Union. We stayed at a villa in San Juan and it was perfect. Our own quiet space away from crowds. It wasn’t a hotel so it meant my family had the luxury of privacy with exception to the pool repair gang which did knock on our doors a few times (the Airbnb hosts apologised). Other than that, it was great to be with family at the beach. We got takeouts, we dined in, we viewed the lot I purchased in neighbouring San Fernando. It was our family reunion, our family outing… the first in over two years.

Outside of that week, I was working remotely in La Union or from Makati. Working from the beach was a treat but it posed some minor challenges such as finding a meeting room when you can hear someone singing Hopelessly Devoted to You on a videoke machine at a bar next door. I suppose it adds to the charm of Urbiztondo beach. It is laid back. I fear it won’t be as laid back in the years to come… as new highways and roads will turn the area into a tourist hotspot. It already is. But I think the place will see big resort names or big hotel chains coming in. There’s “space”.

Working from Makati was another experience. Prior to my 5-day work visit to Makati, I hadn’t really been to Poblacion and experienced its many restaurants. I enjoyed it. I got to meet up with an old friend who took me to places like Krapow, Crying Tiger, Onlypans, and a couple of other restaurants. I was busy all of that week… meeting journalists and editors. I was trying to contain my anxiety of meeting people within indoor spaces. Good thing that most of the meet-ups were outdoors. I got to go to Quezon City and BGC as well.

The worst part of the trip was the airport experience going back (NAIA Terminal 3). The immigration hall was crowded, no social distancing, and no fans to circulate air. I tweeted the NAIA social media account and they’re looking into it. LOL. As if I’m expecting some type of real action. I guess the kudos is on the folks managing NAIA’s social media (for being responsive). But what can they do? They can only escalate it… it’s up to the management to implement and safeguard their staff and the public at our international airport during a pandemic. Bahala sila.

***

I’m fine now that I’m back home in Singapore. I use that line “back home” with intention. Singapore is my home of ten years. I’ve no plans to change it even after I got to visit the Philippines. There were a few learnings I had while travelling for a month.

I didn’t want to wait until I had the photos ready until I could write on my blog. So I just went in and wrote it anyway.

Leaving La Union… for now

I can’t believe 18 days has passed! This is the longest pandemic “travel” I’ve ever had. I’ve stayed at three different accommodations. I’ve eaten or gotten takeout from dozens of restaurants. I’ve visited the beaches multiple times. I took a crash course on surfing five minutes after logging out of Slack. I did remote work and actually think my productivity went up (it helps to work side-by-side with a friend who is also working remotely).

I guess I accomplished what I set out to do which is to experience La Union for myself. After recently purchasing a small lot in a neighbouring town, I thought I wanted to create some memories that I can pin to this location. In the past three weeks I’ve met locals at coffee shops, restaurants, and co-working spaces. I’ve gotten a sense of how laid back San Juan really is. I see it’s potential for development (unfortunately, commercialism) — it feels like it could be a Boracay in the making with the amount of large spaces that look ripe for big hotels and resorts. I don’t wish these on San Juan. I wish for it to be as it is right now… a quaint surf town where you can hear karaoke, the buzz of tricycles, and maybe occasionally the passing buses going to Manila or Laoag in either direction.

I love how it is right now and I’m glad I got to experience it at this stage of the pandemic.

I’ve loads of photos and videos taken on this trip and hope to share them here very soon. ❤

A sunset in Elyu + Photos from the past week in San Juan, La Union

After seven days in San Juan, I finally saw what a sunset looks like from these shores. We’ve had clouds and scattered showers in La Union all week. Sometimes we’d get good sunshine but by late afternoon, clouds would roll in and block the view. It was also very cloudy today. But across the sea you can spot a small break in the clouds. We waited for the sun to take a peek.

Around 6:30 PM on an early July evening, the sun did take a peek. I captured the sunset in the photo below:

It really is spectacular. This was coupled by beautiful, big waves that hit the shores. I was with my friends T&M this time. We were at a quieter side of the lengthy beach in San Juan. Some people were playing beach volleyball in the distance. There were pockets of people scattered across the full stretch of the beach. But really, you could only see as far. The beach didn’t look like it had an end on either side. There’s also this fog or mist the further out you looked. It reminded me of what someone might see from the beaches in California. T disagreed. She described it as Silent Hill. 😛

I was thinking how beautiful is this sunset. Maybe this was something I’d like to have on the day I get married. It needs to be something like this. A gentle sea breeze, a glorious sunset, the intimate company of friends, and the heartfelt person I’ll share my life with. I’m 37 in a few days. I’m not sure how close or how far I am to having that kind of moment. I’m not in a rush though. But this sunset gave a glimpse.

***

Photos from the past week in Elyu

Before my friends T&M joined today, I’ve already spent a full week in Elyu by myself. I’ve worked remotely here in Elyu this past week.

I lived on a hillside Airbnb called Alon & Sandy, just steps (or stairs) away from Great Northwest. The past days were working from either a co-working space called “The Attic” or working from the comfort of my Airbnb. I spent 90% of all the meals the past week at Great Northwest. There’s a particular barbecue place that I like (next to Sabong Fried Chicken). I’ll write more about these in a full-on review of everything I got to try on this trip.

I thought I’d be able to get some time to read a book, catch up on blogging, or editing some videos… but it didn’t happen! Kulang pa ang oras! I did manage to watch two of the eleven Marilyn Monroe classics I purchased and downloaded on my laptop prior to coming to Elyu namely “All About Eve” and “Don’t Bother to Knock”.

Of course there’s work! I am working. I did welcome our new teammate last Friday. I’ve also booked some in-person journalist meetings in two weeks. I like working from the co-working space and from my Airbnb.

***

I thought I’d be able to write more but this will do for now. ❤

Going back to the sunset, isn’t it beautiful?

I’ve forgotten that I can be independent

I don’t have complaints living with my boyfriend 24/7 since this pandemic began. I think what’s made our relationship last is patience. We rarely argue. We’re comfortable. We enjoy each other’s company.

When I was in Hanoi last month, I thought I’d forgotten how it was like to venture off to a new city and explore it on my own. I don’t need companions (though I did meet up with a friend in Hanoi, I’m confident I would’ve been able to do that same trip by myself). I just need a few things to be excited about and a safe place to stay… and I’m good. It’s probably more of an adjustment phase. Like what’s happening with me right now here in La Union.

When I got here on Sunday I felt the quiet shock of coming from city life… to suddenly quaint surf town. I wasn’t ready for the Airbnb. I probably romanticised it and thought of my travels to other Southeast Asian cities. But this Airbnb at Urbiztondo, though quiet and beautiful on a hill overlooking the beach community… it’s lacking something. Maybe the warmth of the actual owners instead of the caretakers. Maybe because of the pandemic, there’s no “pandesal and simple breakfast” to be had at the common area. That would normally entail some type of ritual of running into other backpackers, travellers, surfers even… that’s gone. And, lastly, it’s wet. The monsoon season and a low pressure area greeting me when I got here. I’m feeling an extra layer of solitude. I anticipated it but it hit hard today.

But in these moments I’m learning to take a step back and look at myself in the tiny bathroom mirror. Hey, George. You’re here by yourself. And you’re not scared. You’ve planned this trip for months. You know what you’re doing. You’ll be fine. Stop worrying. This is a rare time for you to have to yourself – because in Singapore, you’re physically committed to showing up to your partner, to your workplace, to your housemates, to society… but here, it’s just you and the beach, babe.

***

Flashback

It was in 2000. I was a high school student and I remember I couldn’t go home after school because I was afraid to ride public jeeps and buses. I ended up waiting for my classmates to wrap up their Tamiya cars, Pokemon cards… whatever after school hobby… so I could commute with someone by my side. I wasn’t conditioned at the time to be independent. I was pampered, yes. But imagine that! What a waste of time to have to sit there through Pokemon cards and teenage obsession with toy racing cars… when I could’ve taken the jeep or baby bus home… or to a mall, or I don’t know… SOMEWHERE… anywhere, which I can utilise for myself.

If I could change something about myself 22 years ago, it would be to encourage myself to become independent at the earliest possible instance. The other thing to change would be to “stop worrying about what others think of you” and to really just carve your own path. Be different! It’s okay. Really, it’s okay.

Video

Reuniting with my family in the Philippines

I’m here in Manila! Cavite to be exact! I’m visiting again after two and a half years away due to the pandemic. I documented my first two days in a traditional video blog episode below.

Feels great to be back in the Philippines. I hope I can get to doing the ten things I wrote about earlier on.

Suggestions welcome! If there’s a new museum, cafe, restaurant that you’d recommend I go see. 🙂