Back to WordPress after a Long Hiatus

I’m back!

It’s been so long since my last post. To all my followers and readers, I would like to say sorry for the long hiatus that I have made.  I took a break from creating blogs because I had to focus on my two bunnies and had to review for my Integrationsprüfung A2 (which I passed with flying colors :). Aside from that, I also had to continue writing my English Novella.

On a serious note…

A lot of things happened around us. In fact, the first quarter of 2020 had been tough for most of us, right? (Booooooh, Coronavirus!) How are you, guys? Sending my virtual hugs to all of you amidst this coronavirus pandemic.

Have faith, for we can and will definitely overcome this disease….soon!

I’ll try my best to update you with things like Deutsch Sprache (German language), European culture, being an Expat, summer plans, and yes, my upcoming English Novella.

Please stay connected. Keep safe and healthy, everyone! 🙂

-JL

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An Open Letter to my Busy Husband (14.10.14)

Love,

07.09.14

I know you’re busy right now. I also reckon that you need to finish your work today. Yeah, I understand that you must go out-of-town for business purposes. I know that you’re doing all of these for us, for the future of our child. Yeah, all for the sake of future.

I don’t know if you still remember our 5th wedding anniversary. I don’t know if you want to celebrate it with me. Many questions are rumbling here in my mind but I can’t find any answers to them.

You went to work early, so we didn’t have the chance to talk. I wanted to greet you but your phone’s out of reach. It hurt me knowing that I couldn’t spend this special day with you.

Love, I still want to greet you Happy Anniversary. I also look forward to celebrating it with you, though I don’t know when it will be. I still hope that you will greet me either. I expect those sweet messages and beautiful flowers from you. I dream of celebrating this day with all your surprises.

I’ve realized that we haven’t been to dates lately. We haven’t spent quality time together. We haven’t exchanged sweet messages and gifts like we used to do before. I missed those days, my betterhalf.

You’ve been so busy lately. You’ve been a dedicated and hardworking businessman for those fruitful years. But hey, have you intentionally forgotten that you have a family? A family who has been in need of your attention, love and care?

Few hours have passed. No calls, no texts from you. It saddened me. You’re really busy huh. I was excited, yet that excitement led to disappointment and hurt. I waited for you the whole night; unfortunately, you didn’t show up. I didn’t even see you nor greet you. Well, I decided to do it this morning.

I thought you’d come, but you didn’t.

I was here waiting for you here in our house. I was here with our four-year old son. Oh, maids, whom you’ve been paying much to make our lives comfortable, took care of us. Yeah, we’re home but you’re not with us.

Whole day passed, but you’re not yet home. Surely, you’re so busy with that damn business. You told me before that all those things were for our child. True, I believed you.

14.09.14

I waited and waited. The waiting tormented me because you didn’t show up for one week. Our child kept on asking me why you’re not yet here. What would I tell him? That you’re just busy. Hell no! I knew he wouldn’t understand. I gave him toys, bought him new clothes and took him to amusement parks and malls. I did all those things to cheer him up, to prevent him from asking you again. I also went to spas to relax, to cinemas to unwind and to shopping malls to buy new clothes.

We’re happy but there’s still missing.. YOU.

Finally, you’re here! We were very happy to see and hug you. I thought something happened to you, but I was wrong. You’re just busy. Our son was so eager to be with you again, so was I. I was expecting that you would say ‘sorry’ for not being with us on our anniversary, yet you didn’t. Again, it hurt me, but it’s enough that you’re here with us again.

I missed you, Love. I wish you wouldn’t be away that long.

15.09.14 onwards

The next day, you went to work again. I was there again, waiting for you to come home. Days passed and you became so busy. We seldom saw you at home. We rarely went to malls, restaurants or other places. “I’m busy”, you told us. It’s your usual alibi, but I kept on telling myself that I should understand you because I’m your wife and I love you. I wanted to be an understanding wife. It’s fine. There would still be other days to be with you.

One day, I just woke up being used to all your busy schedules. Yeah, I’m used to those alibis, lies and other things that you told me. I got used to getting up in the morning, seeing no traces of you. I didn’t bother to text or call you anymore. I also didn’t expect that you would be here during dinner. It’ was ok if you’re late at home; it’s fine if we couldn’t be with you on weekends. I got fed up, Love. I stopped expecting things from you. Yes, no more!

13.10.14

I am surprised for realizing that I don’t think of you that much anymore. I don’t yearn for your care and attention anymore. I don’t know, but I become numb in waiting for you. My attention now is just on our child. I give him all my love and care. It’s ok, just focus on your work. I won’t interfere with your business anymore. I won’t ask for any favor from you. I just hope that you will not be surprised if you don’t see us in our house anymore. I hope that our child will still understand and love you despite your shortcomings. I hope that he will still consider you as his father.

You’ve been drowned at work. You’ve been addicted to meetings, conferences and other stuffs. You’ve forgotten that you still have your family. I can’t deny the fact that you still provide for us, the clothes, the house, food and other necessities, but they fail compared to the longing that we need from you. We need you – your presence, love, care and attention. You’ve failed to give them.

Money and other luxuries can never replace true happiness. I sometimes envy my friends, though they are not really rich, but they’re complete and loved. They lack material things, but they are blessed with so much love. That’s the bitter reality within us. We almost have everything, but we’re not loved.

Yes, you’re definitely busy but heck, I needed you. We both needed you. We needed your precious time. Why couldn’t you give that to us? Should I get an appointment with you first? Should I call your secretary for you to talk to me? Or should I be your associate instead? What? Just tell me what to do and I would be willing to do it.

I would do that not for my sake, but for our son’s sake. He needs you so badly. He’s your son after all.

To be honest, I’m tired of waiting.

I’m tired of understanding you.

I’m tired of hoping for nothing.

I’m tired of seeking for your damn time.

Above all, I’m tired of loving you.

Your Wife

(P.S. This is NOT about me and my husband! Gott sei dank. I wrote this on October 14, 2014, when I was still single. I got inspired to write this open letter after reading a certain story about a couple with the same dilemma. I do hope that this will be an eye-opener to couples out there especially to busy ones. God bless your marriage.)

Review: Knorr Baby Voletto Combi Set

A stroller is definitely a MUST if you already have a baby. It makes your life easier especially when it comes to walking, going out, or traveling.

There are different stroller brands out there that are economical, but I suggest that you always go for quality. Yes, you read it right. QUALITY.

This is very important when you are choosing a stroller to use for your beloved baby. You need a quality stroller that will give your baby safety and comfort. The style or fashion is only secondary.

Before we had our first bundle of joy, my husband started to search for a quality stroller on Amazon. It was in the first quarter of 2017 when he found the Knorr Baby Voletto Combi set on Amazon.de.

Knorr Baby Voletto Combi set. Photo credits to Amazon.de

He asked me which color I wanted for our baby and I picked the black and white Voletto combi set. Then he immediately ordered it and after two days, the stroller set arrived in my parents-in-law’s house and they shipped it to Hong Kong afterwards.

Actually, I did not know Knorr Baby until my husband ordered it through Amazon. At first, I was a little bit skeptic about it, but hey, when I saw the stroller set in person, OMG, it’s beautiful. When I used it the first time, gosh, it was sturdy and stable.

The current price of Knorr Baby stroller. Photo credits to Amazon.de.

Knorr Baby Voletto Limited Edition is really worth our money.

PROs:

Good quality. Because it’s a quality stroller, it lasts longer. In fact, our 2nd baby is already using it and by the looks of it, our bunny is enjoying the quality of her stroller.

Stable. Like what I’ve observed from day 1 of having the Voletto set, it is undeniably a stable one. The wheels are bigger and stable. Its lightweight aluminum frame makes it more stable and sturdy.

Safe. Because of its stability, the parents are assured that their babies or kids are safe inside the stroller. One key safety measure of the Voletto stroller is its lock, so as to avoid unforeseen accident on the road or uphill. It also has cover for sunny days and rain cover for rainy days.

Comfortable. The stroller is comfy especially inside. There are foams to protect your child and make him/her comfortable while lying down or sitting.

Stylish. Knorr Baby Voletto Limited Edition stroller is not just a quality, sturdy, stable, and comfy stroller, but also very stylish. It comes with different styles that cater the needs and ages of your children. Another thing is its height-adjustable push handle that I find cool. Lastly, a fashionable diaper bag is included in your purchase.

CONs:

Big and Heavy. The stroller is indeed of good quality, but the problem is its size and weight. It takes a lot of space in the house or apartmen. If you have less than 50 sqm house or apartment, you’ll have a hard time finding a big space for it.

Aside from being big, Knorr Baby stroller is heavy to carry in terms of traveling. Moreover, you have to dissemble it once you ride a car or taxi. In terms of riding a train (like in Hong Kong), Voletto stroller undeniably takes a huge space inside and in case of a crowded train, it is difficult to get in.

Expensive. As of this writing, it costs 507,32 € on Amazon. I know that it’s expensive but honestly, it’s better to buy a little bit expensive stroller than to buy twice. You get what I mean? Like what I’ve said, Knorr Baby Voletto Limited Edition stroller is worth the money.

P.S. The car seat is optional to order through Amazon.

Overall, I rate the Knorr Baby Voletto Combi Set (limited edition) four stars. Despite its cons, I still strongly recommend this baby stroller to all parents out there.

If you have extra budget and you don’t mind the space for the stroller, try it now. Just be ready for the attention of other people. For sure, there will be some curious audience who will ask you about your baby’s stroller (or should I say car hahaha). Mind you, there will also be a few who will take a photo of it (like what other people did in Hong Kong when they saw this Voletto combi set).

Thanks for reading. Until my next post. Ciao.

With best regards,

JL

Filipino Roots

The meaningful Philippine Flag. Photo credits to my husband.

As you all know, I am an expat living in Central Europe but I am very proud of my Filipino roots.

I love Philippines. I really do. In fact, I consider it as the best home ever despite all the not-so-good issues that its citizens complain about.

The camaraderie. The hospitality. The love and warmth. The happiness. The Pinoy resiliency. And yes, the Filipino spirit. These make Philippines the best home ever for me.

It’s not that I don’t love Hong Kong and my husband’s country. I love both with all my heart, but as a Filipino, my heart always goes with my first home and first lovePHILIPPINES.

I may be away from home, but I think of it every day. No joke. I might be speaking Deutsch most of the time now, but that does not surpass the great value of Tagalog in me.

If you are to ask me whether I am happy or not in my husband’s country, of course, I will say I am HAPPY. But I still can’t help but think of my parents and siblings back home.

I am definitely happy here with my own family, but this will never change the fact that I also miss Mama, Papa, my sister and my brother and their own families.

Moreover, questions like these occupy my mind…

What is my family doing at the moment?”

“Are they okay?”

“How are my friends in there?”

“How’s the education in the Philippines?”

“What happened to my former students?”

“What’s new in my hometown?”

“What are the current events there?”

“When will be my next Philippine vacation?”

Oh, how I miss Philippines. Really!

Five months of being away from my home country isn’t easy. More difficult than being away from Hong Kong.

It might take three to four years from now before I get to visit Philippines again. Seems like an eternity, huh. But yes, I have to wait. Good thing, I have lots of patience. Anyway, time is just fleeting.

After a few years, I’m back again. How excited I am to see my family and close friends on my next vacation. To spend quality time with them and to see them happy are what I dream of once in a while.

It might not be too soon, but at least, it will happen in the future. I hope and pray that my family and friends in the Philippines will be (and are) always healthy and safe.

Trusting God is what I do now. In time, my family, friends and I will meet again. That’s for sure.

For now, I just have to be contented to having our daily communication via Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatasapp. I am really grateful to these social media platforms. They make it easier for me to connect with my home country and of course, to my dearest family back home.

My Filipino roots will stay with me as long as I live. Wherever I go, whichever language I speak, whatever foreign food I eat or whatever lifestyle I adapt to, these will never change the fact that I am a Filipino, by blood and by heart.

Mahal kita, Pilipinas. Pangako, babalik ako. Kitakits ha.

We hired a helper in Hong Kong

I was not born with a silver spoon. Neither had I a nanny when I was a kid.

For me, hiring a helper was never an option while living as an expat in Hong Kong, but…

Bunny #2 became a surprise!

Having a hard time with my second pregnancy while taking care of our little bunny gave my husband an idea of hiring a domestic helper.

I was against the thought beforehand, but my body said otherwise. I was weak and nauseated most of the time, so my husband still encouraged me to look for someone who could be with me and our bunny.

Five times of puking every day and having loss of appetite, plus the tiring household chores prompted me to agree to my husband’s idea.

I joined a group of foreign domestic helpers on Facebook and advertised our hiring. I posted there the requirements and asked those who were interested to contact me afterwards for a possible interview. By the way, I was looking for a hardworking and dedicated Filipino domestic helper back then.

A lot of applicants messaged me, but I shortlisted them to make it easier for me to choose the right helper/nanny. I had four candidates then, and told my husband that I already set an interview with them. He said ok, so that’s it.

The interviews with those Filipino workers went well. It was really hard to choose and break someone’s heart, but we had to decide asap. In the end of our search, we chose a Filipina from Ilocos region, two years younger than I am and have her own family in the Philippines.

Actually, hiring her was not easy, because she was terminated by her previous employer. Based on Hong Kong immigration law, she should go back to Philippines first while waiting for her working visa with us. And that her papers should be processed by a recognized agency in Hong Kong. Fair Employment Agency came to our rescue.

The agent assigned to us was very helpful and attentive to our needs. She sent me updates regarding the hiring of the Filipina worker. We really had a great choice of agency, despite the fact that they were not a cheap agency to begin with.

Everything was processed by the agency. I just had to give them some pertinent papers to send to the Immigration. Of course, my husband and Charm (her nickname) needed to sign some papers in the office of Fair Agency. Two days after, Charm flew back to Philippines to process her papers in the local agency there and waited for her visa to arrive.

We waited two months and 2 weeks for her to be with us. Actually, we were having vacation here while she was in the Philippines.

I had to rebook my flight from Switzerland to Hong Kong because my baby then was sick, and also had to rebook Charm’s flight due to strong typhoon in Northern Philippines. Anyway, all was well afterwards. My bunny and I went back to Hong Kong and waited for our helper to arrive. Three days after our arrival, she came to Hong Kong.

In her first day, I gave her a sort of orientation. Giving her some house rules was very important for me so as to avoid some misunderstanding in the future. She was hardworking, dedicated, obedient and nice. My husband and I were lucky for having her hired.

Despite the expenses we spent for her papers and flight, we had no regrets because she was really a great help in our household. Thank God!

Charm’s duties were as follow: making breakfast, doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom and the living room. My difficult pregnancy did not hinder me from making our dinner. Why did I have to make or cook our dinner? Well, my husband used to work from Mondays to Fridays and the only time we could be together was during the dinner on weekdays and yes, weekends as well. I told our helper that I still wanted to perform my duties as wife to my husband and cooking dinner was one of them.

Would you believe that I was able to make our dinner until the 8th month of my pregnancy? During Charm’s day off, even breakfast and lunch! I also took care of our bunny’s needs like giving her shower or bath, feeding her, and playing with her. Wew.. tiring but all worth it. Good thing, my nausea stopped after our European vacation. From fifth toward the last month of my pregnancy, I regained my strength and went back to being healthy. Gott sei Dank!

Going back to Charm’s tasks, she also accompanied me sometimes to my checkup or if not, she took care of our bunny. During my ninth month of pregnancy until the second month of my postpartum, she took care of baby S. I was touched because she treated her like her own, and for us, it was a sweet gesture.

Whenever we went out for lunch or dinner, she was with us. Charm was given freedom to choose her food and drinks when we were in a restaurant. I was the one feeding baby S., and not she. All she had to do was to carry the baby bag or sometimes took care of our bunny while I was in the restroom.

When my parents-in-law visited us in Hong Kong, she had not much tasks to do because we were out most of the time. She was even with us when we went to Macau, not as a nanny, but as a friend joining our group. She was indeed thankful for our nice treatment toward her.

She was not treated like a nanny, but a family member. My husband and I were not rich and neither of us have had a nanny before, so we were really against the idea of treating her like a slave or so. For us, she was (and still) a friend in our household.

Moreover, her dayoff was on Sunday and on Saturday but very seldom. Her busiest day was Monday; there she had a lot to do, but most of the days, she had free time. After our lunch, she had two hour-break and at three pm, she would make our snacks or accompanied me to the harbour while walking, or played with baby S in the park. Then, around 5:30, we were back to the apartment and there she was taking care of our bunny while I was preparing for dinner.

By the way, with regards to her stay with us, we told her on her interview that she would not be with us longer; not that we wanted her out, but due to the fact that we had to relocate soon (hubby’s work contract was about to end then). She had a year to work for us and that’s it.

But after our vacation in the Philippines in February this year, we told her that we had to relocate sooner than expected. We were both sad because she had become a family. Charm even cried after hearing my husband’s decision. Instead of being with us for a year, she only stayed with us for nine months.

I helped her to find a new employer. My friend (who’s also a Filipino domestic helper) recommended Charm to her employer’s BFF. The British couple wanted to hire her after interviewing her and calling me in March.

She was happy that she was able to find a new employer shortly before we parted ways. We gave her recommendation letter plus the other mandatory payment.

Her last day with us was also my and the kids’ last day in Hong Kong. We cried a river before parting ways. It was really an emotional day for all of us.

We may have relocated here but we maintain our communication until now. She misses us and the feeling is mutual. During her day off (Sunday), we also talk, so she can see the kids.

It’s very nice to know that we have not just had a helper/nanny in our household in Hong Kong, but also a friend.

We hope to see her again someday. In Hong Kong or maybe in the Philippines.

Missing Charmie.

End of my uber long post haha. Till next time!

-JL

Adobo Journal

Here I am again, craving for something that is totally far from me. Waaaaaaah, I miss the spicy chicken adobo of my sister and the yummy and tender pork adobo of my father.

How I wish they were here to cook my favorite food. 😦

Adoboone of the most famous and most delicious dishes in the Philippines, aside from sinigang and lechon.

The classic Chicken Adobo of the Philippines. Photo credits to EatingWell Magazine (Goode, JJ; March/April 2018)

It’s cooked using vinegar or calamansi, soy sauce, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, onions, garlic, and chili (but optional). Aside from such ingredients, pineapple and potatoes are also added to add a distinct taste. Of course, meat or seafoods are also part of the ingredients (or just vegetables if you are vegetarian or vegan).

Do you know that adobo recipe has many variations? Well, it really depends on the region where you are residing. But whatever region you are in, it does not really matter. The most important thing is that adobo is so delicious. No doubt.

Have you ever eaten pork adobo? chicken adobo? or the combination of the two? These are the common adobo recipes in the Philippines, but wait, there are more to challenge your taste buds.

The undeniably yummy Pork Adobo. Photo credits to Panlasang Pinoy (by Vanjo Merano)

Aside from chicken and pork adobo, I also like adobong atay ng manok at baboy (chicken/pork liver adobo). Honestly, I like it a little sweet and spicy and with lots of onions. That’s why I request or I cook adobo with pineapples.

Grrrrr, this makes me really hungry. Helpppppppppppppp!

Adobong isda (fish adobo), adobong sitaw (string beans adobo) and adobo rice are also three of my choices. They are easy to make and the ingredients aes that I have not yet tried cooking or eating like adobong pork chop, adobong bulalo (beef shank adobo), bok choy adobo, adobong mani (peanut adobo), adobong labong (bamboo shoot adobo), adobo meatballs, adobong kangkong (water spinach adobo) and pork adobo with tofu.

Shrimp Adobo—looks inviting huh! Photo credits to Fresh Tastes: A Celebration of Food and Cooking; recipe and photo by Mr. Marc Matsumoto.

I know that there are still other adobo recipes out there, but due to my allergy to seafood, I cannot eat them now. What are those? Well, adobong pusit (squid adobo), adobong hipon (crispy shrimp adobo), adobong hipon sa gata (shrimp adobo in coconut milk), and adobong tahong (mussels adobo) are also parts of adobo family. Wew! What a list huh. Thanks to Panlasang Pinoy for providing a list of different adobo recipes in the Philippines.

Enough of these or I will start to drool over adobo recipes I am thinking at the moment.

P.S. I really miss my family in the Philippines, with or without their adobo dishes. Promise!

Anyway, I have to sleep soon.

Gute Nacht. Bis Morgen.

-JL

How is it like to be an Expat?

Expatriates. Abroad. Different Culture. New Language. Away from home. Far from family and/or friends.

These are just some of the issues that expats around the globe are currently experiencing.

I know it because I am an expat myself. Actually, I have been an expat since 2016. Kinda long now and to tell you the truth, my journey has not been so smooth and easy.

The beginning of my expat life was difficult, especially in terms of language barrier and socialization. When I was still in Hong Kong, I found Cantonese and Mandarin so difficult, that I gave up the thought of learning them someday. Going to local restaurants and buying some stuffs in the wet market, dispensaries or some local shops gave me a hard time because of the language barrier.

I tried to buy fresh goods from two Hong Kong wet markets, but talking to the salespersons there was not that easy for me. They seldom spoke English and for me, that’s one hard thing to deal with. I ended buying a bulk, instead of only pieces because of the language barrier. It also happened to me in some dispensaries and supermarkets in Hong Kong. There were a few times that my fellowmen would save me from talking to the locals and explained to me what the salespersons wanted to tell me.

Not only Cantonese and Mandarin were difficult, but also German language, however, unlike the first two languages, I had the guts and time to study the latter. I spent hours at home and in school just to learn it. (Why? Because my husband is a German-speaker! Hahaha)

Aside from the language problem, I also had an issue with socializaton. I longed for moments like bonding with my dearest family, going out with friends, and spending time with colleagues and former students.

Most of the time, I was only with my husband and two Pinoy friends. Very seldom that I socialized with my husbands’ colleagues. Well, drinking and going to bars were not really my cup of tea; so, I declined the invitation. Not to mention my pregnancy which made me vulnerable during those times.

I also experienced some down and difficult moments like homesickness, boredom, and culture shock. Every time I saw photos of my friends’ families on Facebook and other social media, and whenever I saw families at the park or in the mall in Hong Kong, I got sad and felt the dreaded homesickness. Truly, it’s sad and a little boring to be away from home, but the fact that me having my own family gave me hope and happiness as well.

Facing a new set of rules, a different lifestyle, and a totally divergent culture almost made me rather weary and a bit shocked. I could still remember my first two months in Hong Kong and first month in Central Europe. Encountering some people who looked down on me, or scrutinized me just because I’ve got different color and nationality. Waaah, this I hated!

But I did not give up. It’s not because I had no other choices. It’s because I began to realize that I was actually blessed to be in different countries in the span of three years. I started to be positive, embraced the fact that I was not alone, and of course, adapted to changes around me.

Yes, expat life is difficult, but if I start thinking of those people wanting to be in my shoes, I just feel blessed. I have traveled and experienced a lot since 2016–going to Europe twice a year, visiting my family three or four times a year, having some Macau trips, and living in Hong Kong for three years to name a few. Wew! Not bragging though.

Here I am now, enjoying my life as an expat and a stay-at-home wife and mom. Thanks to my very supportive and loving husband. He and our kids serve as my inspiration for defying the challenges and solving the issues in my expat life.

And of course, thank you to Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Twitter for connecting me to my loved ones and friends in the Philippines.

Above all, thank You, dearest Lord, for giving me this one great chance of traveling some parts of the world, and for entrusting me this expat life I have now.

.