Online Shopping in the Philippines

Online shopping is fast becoming popular in the Philippines.  Even without a credit card, one may purchase online using other payment channels like PayPal, Bayad Centers, banks (over the counter or ATM deposits), Western Union, and other options.

I myself is an online shopper. What, with the heavy traffic around Metro Manila, it’s more convenient to shop online especially if you’re looking for gift items that aren’t too common.  So instead of hopping from mall to mall which could practically eat up your entire day on the road, you can stay home and surf online for items that you need or want.

Of course there are items that you’d rather see and feel first instead of just look at the pictures, so you prefer to visit the actual stores. I do that for clothes, shoes, and bags.

What I buy online are mostly beauty products I trust and only from online shops that I trust.  Like a couple of weeks ago, I purchased Olay Regenerist from Lazada and last week I paid for dental services online at MetroDeal. Lazada and MetroDeal are two of my trusted online shops in the Philippines. I never had any problems nor have I been scammed by shopping from those sites.

Lazada_Olay1

Lazada_Olay

Customized gift items

For gift items that are customized, I doubt if you can find them on Lazada but you can definitely find them on Heart Press.  They turn ordinary items into extraordinary as they personalize practical gift ideas like ceramic plates, mugs, specialty items, linen, keychains, even cellphone cases.

How it works:

1. On their website, you choose an item that you want to personalize.

2. Upload the image that you want to be printed on your chosen item and then press “Add to Bag.”

3. Proceed to checkout using your preferred payment. Heart Press accepts PayPal, debit and credit cards, and other money centers.

personalized clock

Glass square clock you can customize at Heartpress.ph

I believe they’re awesome for corporate giveaways, wedding souvenirs, or even as gifts to ourselves and the special people in our lives.

They also have a physical store in Cavite.

My favorite is their glass square personalized clock.

I’d like to have one on our wall with a nice picture of our family so that everytime I look at the time, I’d be reminded about just how lucky I am to be able to spend quality time with them by working (and shopping) from the comfort of our own home.  :)

 

 

 

Around Pilipinas has migrated to www.aroundpilipinas.com

Hi Guys!

Finally, I’m able to use my domain www.aroundpilipinas.com.  Thanks to Michael of Coffeemags who facilitated the migration for me with excellent customer service.

It was from fellow blogger Mark Villar of Yolomoments that I first heard about Coffeemags. I took the liberty to google the company and I was glad to find out that it’s a Filipino hosting company based in Cebu. I sent them a message of inquiry and I got an immediate response.

It was their affordable rate of $1 a month that initially drew me to them but when I engaged their services, I found their customer service so admirable and rewarding.   Unlike other big hosting companies, you get personalized customer service at Coffeemags.

Being non-technical, I had little to no knowledge in terms of migration and hosting. I only know how to customize and update my site — install and update themes, widgets, plugins, the works. But the tedious  jobs involving hosting and migration, nah! Michael educated me on some technical aspects, which was awesome.

No, I don’t get anything from talking about Coffeemags but I feel that other bloggers like me deserve to know better options when it comes to hosting their blogs and websites.

Again, please know that I won’t be updating the old blog anymore (https://aroundpilipinas.wordpress.com).

Welcome to my new home!

 

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My “secret” life as a voiceover talent

Okay, so my secret is out. I’m an independent voice over artist.  My voice has been used in numerous radio commercials, corporate audio-video presentations, newscasts, telephone response system, voice overs, and narrations since 1994. Fine, now I just gave away my age.

Voice acting/recording is not my bread and butter though. But while I have other regular sources of income, the voiceover craft has always been an essential spice in my life.  It’s been my passion since I joined the radio industry two decades ago and stayed there for seven fun years.

Long after I left radio, up until now, I still do it. It’s a special part of me that I can’t let go, no matter how hectic and serious my life has become. I’m not as young and carefree anymore and I have more responsibilities now than ever before. While perhaps for some people, voice recording is considered just an odd job, it’s more than that to me. It’s my love, my stress buster.

I love giving life to an otherwise humdrum script. Sometimes I help in formulating the script too. I love being a voice to a faceless character.

Is it lucrative? It depends on one’s skills. Is it in demand? Recently, I see a surge in demand for audiobooks so I believe if you know where to find clients and you’re good at what you do, you can make a killing out of it, regularly.

Working with ABS-CBN Davao Director Beling Rodriguez.

Lots of Filipino voice talents can compete with native English speakers due to our neutral accent (some can even mimic American and British accents). Plus, Filipino talents charge lower rates compared to their American counterparts so those clients who work on a budget, they outsource the job to Filipinos.

To give you an idea about the business side of it, here are sample rate cards (Filipino rates):

30-second Radio Commercial – $100 minimum

Corporate Presentations, tutorial/training modules – $100 (5 minutes audio)

Audio book – $100-$300 per hour of finished audio

All rates above are for raw files only, no music beds included. For complete audio production, the rates are higher depending on client requirements.

Some people don’t understand why a 30-seconder would cost that much and even higher on some cases. The output may sound like a breezy job but the truth is, there’s a lot of work behind a single 30-seconder commercial or audio file.

Behind the scenes of a 30 seconder voice file:

  1. Pre-production reading, rehearsing –   5-10 minutes
  2. Recording  –   5-15 minutes (depending on skills, it could take 30 minutes)
  3. Editing      – 1 hour or more, depending on client requirements

Ergo, a 30-second audio file takes more than an hour to do.

For longer audio files, it would include lots of research. One word or name could mean 15 minutes of researching and calling several people just to make sure your pronunciation is correct.  No, not all the time Google has the answers.  Some words and names may not be on YouTube and other sites where you could verify proper pronunciation. Not even native speakers know all the answers. What I’m saying is, it’s tougher than one might think.

My latest audio projects:

  • Game of Thrones Season Finale Spoiler Alert
  • True Detective Review
  • NBA Draft Confidential
  • Newscasting on weekends

How I do it:

I have set up my own recording system at home just this year, which makes it more convenient and cost-effective compared to doing it in a professional recording studio or in a radio station (which I’ve been doing since the beginning of my voiceover career).

Sometimes clients work on a tight budget so negotiation is part of the business. But I make it a point not to sell myself too short. Like I illustrated in the kind of work that a 30-seconder audio file would entail, imagine a 300-page audio book.

One time, a client said my rate was too high so he tried to haggle. I gave in, considering that I really wanted to do that project. After the recording, he took back his word and said I deserved to get paid in full. Ending, he added more payment before I left the recording studio.

If you have the same passion, pursue it.  It can definitely put food on the table and the great part is that you’re enjoying it.

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As Coco Martin's voice coach in a TV commercial.

Worked as a voice coach to multi-awarded young actor Coco Martin in a TV commercial.

I put it this way: It’s my recreation that actually puts good money in my pocket. That’s exactly the reason why I can’t let go of this craft — I love it and I earn from it.

To others in the business world, I’m a budding entrepreneur, a marketing person, a trainer, a struggling writer. Little do they know, I’m a voice talent by heart.

It completes me.

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Beautiful Bataan

Bataan: One of the country’s last stands before succumbing to Japanese forces during the World War 2.

So much have been said about this place in Philippine history, yet more of its beauty can be unraveled when you visit it yourself.

Perhaps most of us remember Bataan for the dreadful Bataan Death March where our Filipino fighters and American allies were forced to walk by the Japanese Imperial Army for 102 kilometers from Bagac and Mariveles to San Fernando then to Camp O’Donnell in Tarlac. They were beaten, starved, and some were summarily executed. Most survived, but many didn’t.

With Bataan’s important role in our country’s history, I found it imperative to be one of the places to visit in the Philippines. For me, it’s a symbol of our forefathers’ valor and their heroic fight for freedom.

A few amateur snapshots I took while marching around: Bataan bataan2 bataan3 bataan5 bataan6 bataan capitolUpdate: Bataan at night. Photos courtesy of UNDP’s Ryan Cuanan.

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RyanCuanan_Balanga6

Sunset in Balanga, Bataan.

 

 

 

 

Around Pilipinas to have its own domain

I just bought the domain aroundpilipinas.com to finally give this wordpress blog a sense of ownership.

Three months after I jump-started this blog as a diversion from work and everything else, I decided to keep it and give it a name without WordPress as its last name.

I’ll be using the domain soon so I thought I might as well give you a heads-up.

This is actually my 4th since I started blogging in 2009 but I’ve killed the other two a few years ago. Time and again, I miss writing. I guess some old habits really die hard.

Rescued cats draw cattraction for new café

Cattention: all paws on deck!

There’s a purr-fect haven for cat lovers just within Quezon City where one can enjoy good food and drinks and the precious company of their feline friends — Cat Café Manila.

Partnered with CARA Welfare Philippines, a non-profit and non-government organization advocating animal welfare, Cat Café Manila provides shelter for cats while looking for a fur-ever home for them.  Such a brilliant  ‘CATtraction’ that allows animal advocates to help give these furry fellows a better life and at the same time enjoy their company. The good eats are a plus.

Mama Cat and Shelly lounging while waiting for customers.

Mama Cat and Shelly lounging while waiting for customers.

Basu was found and rescued from a garbage bin (basurahan), thus the name

Basu was found and rescued from a trash bin (basurahan), thus the name “Basu.”

For only P200 per person (half of which goes to the cats’ welfare and half goes to your food/drinks), you get to enjoy a good serving of either pasta, cupcakes, cookies, or drinks. The invaluable side of it is that you help Cat Café in its noble ‘CATvocacy’ of caring for these rescued cats.

Yes, those are rescued cats by CARA, and most of them were found in the streets and garbage cans in horrible conditions. Now, you wouldn’t even think they had a sad past. They’re obviously well taken care of, neutered, spayed, and vaccinated.

The cafe is manned by two friendly people (forgive me for forgetting their names) but trust me that they’ll give you excellent customer service and loads of interesting information about the cats when you visit.

If you’re not a cat person, I would still recommend that you try visiting it.  The sociable and cuddly cats there like Ling Ling, Chaka, Bicco, Mama Cat, Basu, and all the others just as adorable might give you a change of heart.

You may even adopt one of the furfriends there.

My namesake Shelly was rescued from a Shell gas station, hence her name. Cat Cafe recently announced that Shelly is their first cat to be sent for adoption. Sad to hear that we won't see her again at the cafe but glad to know she has found a new family.

My namesake Shelly was rescued from a Shell gas station, hence her name. Cat Cafe recently announced that Shelly is their first cat to be sent for adoption. Sad to hear that we won’t be seeing her again at the cafe but glad to know she has found a new family.

Many years ago, I didn’t like cats. It was because my first encounters with them were unpleasant — some strays would sneak into our kitchen and steal our food; one of them ate the helpless bird I tried to rescue after it broke one of its wings; and the worst thing happened when we woke up one day to see all our hamsters gone, with no other suspect but that same stray cat we previously saw trying a few times to get to the hamsters in their cage (apparently the cat succeeded while we were sleeping).

Frustrated about that particular cat, my uncle opted to feed it to his pet snake. My younger brothers told me about it and without hesitation, I rushed to the snake’s pit and took out the poor cat. Though I hated that it wasn’t a tame cat, I thought it didn’t deserve to be a snake’s hearty meal.

Fast forward, I noticed that cats grew tame on me and I started to like them.

Check out Cat Café Manila at 2nd Floor, 189 Maginhawa St. corner Makadios St., Sikatuna Village, Quezon City.

To avoid stressing the cats, Cat Café Manila limits the number of customers to 15 at a time so it helps to book ahead. Send them a message through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/catcafemanila?fref=ts. Don’t worry, your curiosity would benefit, not kill the cats.

Good food plus feline friends are a purr-fect combination not only to bust stress but also to show that you care for those rescued cats.

Nuff said.  Meow. Cat Cafe_FoodCat Cafe_Glass