July 13, 2020

Trying to Get Back

It's been a while since I saw this blogger editor page, to my blogging friends, I think you took notice of this. I would like to extend my apologies, I know I don't have to but still I feel like it because it might worry some friends I have here, you are all so dear to me. I think it has been three weeks since I last posted something. I really appreciate your thoughts, especially my friends Iris Flavia and Ananka who took time and efforts to send me emails and check on me. I really appreciate that my dear friends.

I had a restful weekend so I really put posting as a top priority here, but the problem is I'm having a hard time on what I will be writing about. Do you also feel this at times? Like you feel so motivated to write something and share something but the problem is you don't know what to write? I guess I'll just share some updates on what happened to my life in the past weeks:

  • Hectic last two weeks of June at work - It as been quite hectic at work for the first two weeks that I was away. As a response to the current situation, to save our company, it decided to roll up a directive to use all our paid leaves in the second quarter, and with that, since a lot of my teammates had to use more leaves than me, I was the one left to work on their processes and so as my manager. We worked hard for a week, substituting for a team of 4. It was quite tedious but the gratefulness for having a stable job despite this situation just embraces my heart much more than the extra efforts I gave.
  • Deactivated Facebook - It's been a very crazy series of events here in our country, plus having fake accounts made of me, complete with pictures and information that seemed very legitimate, encouraged me to leave Facebook. Plus trust me, a lot, that is happening about the country just urged me to kick the can and shut my profile down. I had to post a notice for a good 24 hours just so my friends will not be surprised and think that I blocked them or something because if you leave Facebook and a friend searches for you, it displays the same screens and behaviors as when somebody blocked you. At the moment it's been more than two weeks since I left Facebook. I did not deprived myself that much of updates from my friends and family, I'm still on messenger so they can connect with me. And I'm also on Twitter @stevenque and on Instagram @thisisstevenque just in case you may want to follow me.
  • My favorite Aunt is not feeling well - This one, I would like to ask for your prayers because it's something that is so hard for me. She is a very close Aunt, just like a mom to me and we traveled together to a lot of places like Japan, USA, Italy, Czech Republic just to name a few. I wish she gets well very soon. Can you please help me pray for her fast healing and recovery.
  • Moving on to a New Garden - A few things happened and I had to move my plants from the Garden I used to show you at. It was sad at first but I thought I can't just leave my plants on a place they won't be cared as much so I thought of starting a new Garden on a spot at our rooftop. Excessive sun will be a problem but then I thought challenges are good and rewarding once you get to work on it and I even thought it will make me a better gardener if I learn how to take care of my plants in such extreme conditions like too much sunshine. Luckily, there's a cheap but good quality UV net available online and I was able to get one. So yes, I'm starting from scratch. Sounds sad to leave the old spot but also exciting to begin again from something bare.
A spot on our rooftop I'll try to make my new Garden

Net Arrived! Thanks to my Dad who helped me set it up yesterday.

Just in time for a strong rain this morning

I'll leave you my dear friends with these updates for now. I just really felt like writing and I really miss all of you and your blogs and also reading your heart-warming comments very much! Let us continue to pray for each other, and for the whole world. It's getting tougher and tougher as the days go by but we are still alive, still breathing, still have the power to see the beauty in this world despite all the ugly things happening in the foreground.

Leaving you with my happy Bromeliads. Moving to a new garden brought new perspectives, one of which is getting to see how beautiful these plants are when viewed from above them.


Never Stop Going Back to what you Love,
Stevenson

***

This post is part of Betty's My Corner of the World

June 25, 2020

Roman Holiday - Timeless Thursdays 9

This Thursday, I'll bring you back to the not so distant past, just six months ago, last Winter, in Italy. Rome is such a dream, not just for me but for a lot of people who are in love with its history, its grandeur, its beauty. To be able to share this trip with my cousin Carmina is such a blessing. She has been sent by her company to Italy for half a year on a special assignment, and just as her past assignments in Japan, I have always been honored to be her constant visitor.

Oh looking back at these photos made me feel like a model with that same black coat. I only brought two coats on my three week trip. I left my leather coat at my friend's house in Paris, and I just took this black fleece one since I only had a backpack from my Milan-Rome-Brussels-Prague leg of my trip. So proud of myself for living a week with just a backpack worth of clothes, thanks to my cousin's awesome villa, I got to use her laundry machine every single day!

I won't be saying much on this post, but I will let these shots of me tell you the story of how amazing my winter in Rome was. All of these photos were taken by my awesome photographer, Ate Carmina. Grazie Mille Ate Carmina!

Piazza Navona

Piazza del Popolo

The Pantheon

Fontana de Trevi

Spanish Steps

Colosseum

Vittoriano

Never Stop Dreaming of a Roman Holiday, 
it happens!
Stevenson

***
I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join this new Linky that I thought of starting - Timeless Thursdays(Bear with me for any short-comings, this is my first link ever)




Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.

This runs every Thursday at 12 am (Manila/Perth Time) until Sunday at 11:59 pm (Manila/Perth Time)
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter



June 23, 2020

Antonia's Garden in Amadeo

Kathleen is a good friend of mine since College. She was my classmate all four years of my university life and after graduation, together with our other classmate Jayson, the three of us became professors at our University for another 5 years. All that time plus another 6 years of friendship beyond work and school, I did not know that they sell plants! It was just during this pandemic lockdown that I found out because she decided to do some marketing for their budding but strong family business.

Antonia's Garden

If you guys have been here since I got active again to blogging this year, you would know the story between me and plants. It was a story of healing and joy that I am still currently in and hopefully will be for the longest time. Knowing about my friend Kath's business I knew I had to support her and at the same time, get some plant babies for myself too!

Antonia's Garden is named after my friend's Grandmother. Almost all their plants are propagated and taken cared of by her father. They live in Amadeo, which is a big advantage for plant lovers because of its milder climate, all year round, due to its higher altitude. 


They sell a wide variety of plants, both for outdoors and indoors which are getting such a hype these days. Everyone here in the Philippines is starting to get crazy with such expensive plants that are grown inside their homes, I am not a fan of hypes and trends but I must say that this one in particular is something that I would even promote because of the benefits we can get from having plants inside our homes, plants are part of our families.


Though of course, just like pets, we should also know that having indoor plants is not the same as taking care of outdoor gardens. They require knowledge and for that, a lot of information is readily available on the internet on how to care for them, from watering, to pruning, and even on how you can propagate them. Just see to it that you take information from more than one source so you can be sure of the legitimacy of the information so that you can take the best care for your house plants.

Aside from normal potted plants, Kath's father is also gifted in the art of making Bonsai Trees. This one, I already known of for years because everytime we will visit Kathleen's house for fiestas and celebrations, I saw a lot of beautiful bonsai trees at their home garden.


There is always healing in plants. Especially in these times of the pandemic, a lot of us are having battles with anxiety, even for other who unconsciously have them, plants can be our very best friend. No matter how big your garden is or how small your room apartment is, there will always be a plant baby that you can take care of to take care of you. If we learn to love these plants at our home, we'll also develop a love for the environment at large - and that, is the best bandwagon we can always be riding at!

Sister Judy, Friend Kathleen, and Yours Truly (forgive my hair)

It's really nice to have life-long friends who don't just share memories of school and work with you but also hobbies that turn into life-long passions! Thank you so much Kathleen for having us. We'll surely take care of the plant babies that we got, and we can't wait to adopt some more in the next month.

Thank you also for my sister who did not just bought plants as well but also drove us to Amadeo because aside from my fear of being exposed outside (especially in our overcrowded city) but also because I don't know how to drive (there friends, another fact about your friend Stevenson).

By the way, here is the plant I bought from Antonia's Garden. My first Philodendron selloum. I got myself two, one for my bedroom and another on my bath. Since these species originated from Latin America, I thought of naming them Sergio and Thalia, both named after my favorite telenovela actors from Mexico!

Philodendron Selloum

Shown below are a few shots sent to me by Kathleen. She took these gorgeous photos from their garden one afternoon so she can post them on their Garden's facebook page. You can visit their Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/AntoniaGardenPH/ and also on their Instagram Account @AntoniaGardenPH. Aside from her full-time work on the banking industry, Kat is also a skilled seamstress and makes beautiful clothes specially for Catholic Saints. And yes, she also takes stunning photos.

If you are in the Cavite or Manila area and you are interested to get yourself some houseplants from Antonia's Garden. They have a good variety of plants that you can choose from. Plus, they also ship your new family members via Lalamove (delivery charge at your cost) straight to your door and they offer a variety of payment modes that will best suit your account availability including GCash, PayMaya, and Bank Transfers.


Never Stop Planting!
Stevenson

***
This post is part of my friend Jesh's All Seasons, Our World Tuesday, and Betty's My Corner of the World

June 18, 2020

Camiguin Island - Timeless Thursdays 8

This Timeless Thursday, let me take you to a time five years ago, when all 8 of us best friends are still together at the same town and at the same country, travelling together on a beautiful southern island here in our island nation. If you have been a frequent on my blog, you'll remember my post about my best friends. You can read more about us here in Timeless Thursdays 4.

They have been my classmates since Kindergarten up until High School - R-Jay, Judy, Myrcel, Lea, Dianne, Ivy and Faith - at first you might think we all chose each other but just to think, we really had no say about us being friends because it was time and fate that let us stay together in the same classroom! But, kidding aside, we all love (and hate) each other so much, especially even now that we are all on our 30's. Yikes, I was the last of us 8 that turned 30 just a couple of weeks ago.

Faith, Lea, Dianne, RJay, Myrcel, Ivy, Steve, Judy

All eight of us went on a long and amazing journey together across the heart of Mindanao island, the second largest island in the country which is also the name of the region or islands tat includes all other smaller islands around it. Our first stop was the island province of Camiguin where the people are friendly, views are magical and beaches are phenomenal!

Just about a five to ten minute boat ride from the island's coast is White Island which is a sandbar lined up just across the Island born of Fire. It was truly a beautiful morning that day as we were the very first ones on that stretch of white sand in the middle of pristine blue waters. Here are some of our pictures taken at the Sandbar.

We were first at the island, no person to take our photo, glad my friend Rjay brought his GoPro

This post is part of Skywatch Friday

Ok where do we look?

Hey! What phone should we look into this time?

26 Years of Friendship (80% of our lives)

Roommates

Praying we'll travel again someday

I asked them to wear something white so we can have good pictures but it turned out to be more than good! We can surely use these pictures to bring back millions of memories not just of this trip but the happiness and joy of our friendship that started since we all knew how to read and write.

I will forever be grateful to God for giving me these wonderful siblings. People who I will surely take with me until my final days.

Do you have best/long-time friends too? Where and when did you meet them?

***
I would love to welcome and invite everyone to join this new Linky that I thought of starting - Timeless Thursdays(Bear with me for any short-comings, this is my first link ever)


Timeless Thursdays is open for anyone who wishes to share old photos or old thoughts that you would like to share as beautiful memories with everyone. This can be from yesterday, a year ago, or something from your grandma's treasure chest.
This runs every Thursday at 12 am (Manila/Perth Time) until Monday the same time (12 am)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

June 15, 2020

Once Upon a Time in Beijing

The Forbidden City at the heart of Beijing

Last January 9-12, 2013, a new country has been added to my list - it was country number 7, another dream came to life! Together with my Dad and my cousin Ate Judy, we went to China seven years ago. China will always be extra special for us because our grandfather is Pure Chinese. though he is from the south of China, it was still magical to be able to visit his country, and in some ways, our country.

The first destination we have been to, Forbidden City. Located in the Tienanmen part of Beijing, Forbidden City has been one of the symbols of Beijing and of China. It was the imperial Palace of China during the Ming Dynasty up to the end of the Qing Dynasty. For half a millennium  the palace served as the home for the emperors and the whole of his household.

The Forbidden City has been marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1987. UNESCO listed the site as holding the world's largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. 

Ate Judy mapping were we are on our way to Tienanmen

The way to the palace is easy from our home in Beijing, the Red Lantern House. With the help of our map, we followed the route all the way to Xidan and then walked our way until we end on a big Major road with a metal barricade. We then headed left until we see the big red walls with many police. The Forbidden City cops are tall, quiet and reserved and they know very few English  But at least, you feel a little bit safer with their presence.

We walked and walk until finally, we saw the Front. It was so cold and chilly even in the middle of the afternoon. But at the sight of the first building in front, it was truly astonishing! As always, it felt like I was in a dream! It was just a picture on my desktop computer but now, with the cold of minus three degrees, I confirmed that yes, I am in Beijing!

The gate facing Tienanmen Square

An Imperial Guard guarding the gate with the portrait of Chairman Mao.

There were a lot of tourists both local and foreign taking pictures of themselves together with their family and friends! Some Chinese people are conversing me in Mandarin and I think they are asking me to take their pictures which I cheerfully agreed and took their photos. They were really nice and friendly people.

The guards are standing firm, guarding over the gates and looking after the tourists. People were flocking on their way to pass the first gate to get inside. Through the first two gate, it is free until you reach the Meridian Gate. Everywhere you look is picture worthy!

The cold Ate Judy posing for a photo when we got through the first gate

One of the main reasons we went to Beijing on a January is for us to hopefully see snow! For all 5 days we were there, unfortunately, there was 0 snow fall. It was quite sad but experiencing Negative degree temperature was very good enough for me! Maybe it was really not yet my time to see it falling but yes, I did see snow on the grounds! It was slippery as it hardened and started to melt at the heat of the sun.

Beijing really is cold in the Winter but as they call it, the city enjoys a Sunny Winter where the suns rays feel mild and comfortable even in negative temperature. But the nights were really cold, which I LOOOVE! I am always a lover of colder weather than the hot ones we have on Philippine Summers! I Love the Philippines but if I would omit something about life here, it's the very hot Summer nights which is so hard for me personally!

We went through and through and took many pictures until we saw this vendor selling hats. I talked to him and we got it for 80 RMB. We bought two of the hats, one for me and another for my Dad. But while we were waiting for change for our 200 RMB, the tourist police went straight in front of us and confiscated all the hats being sold by the vendor. It was full of action and I can't help but feel sorry for the guy so I did not get the change. I don't know if it was a front by the vendor and the police but well, I got the hats.

Me at the Meridian Gate.

Oh! Here's a little something about my outfit. I was wearing a cotton undershirt inside my Navy Terranova woven long sleeve cardigan which I got from SM Mall of Asia. The gray scarf was also from Terranova and the thick trench coat I wore all five Beijing days is from Esprit. I was wearing black leather work-boots and my favorite brown leather bag which carried most of my things including my Nikon camera which was really heavy.

We paid an entrance fee at the Meridian Gate of 30 RMB each and went inside the gates. There I did my Travel dance video using my late iPod Touch where the remaining photos of the Forbidden City trip was in. Oh my I miss my iPod :( So we went on and on and visited two more gate until we decided to get back to the front  and go back home for dinner.

The place is so beautiful and that time of the day where the sun is starting to set. The shadows were full and the faint gleam of the sun makes the beautiful reds, beiges and browns glow like it was the Ancient times. I feel like I am on the actual set of Chinese Movies set on olden times during the days of the Dynasties.

Daddy very cold on a bridge leading to another gate inside the Forbidden City

Coming to Beijing was really a dream! Well, everything about the places I travel is always a dream but there at Beijing, it was extra special. Seeing the country where my Ancestors once were at living and fighting for their lives to survive is just awesome to think. While I was there, the magic was so alive that even I was just a quarter Chinese, I feel so connected to that place even if I don't speak the language nor I look like them much. It was a connection that only me and Beijing can ever explain, something that I will treasure for a lifetime!

Some people say, those who have been there, that Beijing people are not that friendly or even at times, rude. But for me, I did not have my share of those Beijing people because each and every Beijing local I talked to, bought to, were nice and warm. They may not be as friendly as the Filipinos, as refined as the Japanese, or as warm as the Thais, a lot of them were nice. They may not smile at you usually or even look at you, it was the product of their daily battles in life which made them stronger and wiser as they are today!



Never Stop Looking Back,
Stevenson

This post is part of Our World Tuesday, Travel Tuesday, and Betty's My Corner of the World.

June 12, 2020

Kyoto - A Portal to Ancient Japan

Japan was amazing, and Kyoto is no exception. With its ancient Japanese heritage sites and traditions that have been preserved, this city is truly a porthole that can warp you to the Japan that have been listed on history books and magazines.

*This Springtime in Kyoto is also part of my friend JESH's ALL SEASONS

Last June 2018, I went to visit Kyoto with my favorite cousins and we had an amazing time together that will forever be cherished and treasured. Let me guide you through some pictures I took during our unforgettable adventure in the ancient capital of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Train Tracks of the Arashiyama Line

Tenryu-Ji Temple

(L) Yasaka Shrine       (R) Cold Soba at Honke Owariya c/o Ate Carmeline

Old Streets of Gion makes me feel at a scene on the "Memoirs of a Geisha"

(L) Kinkaku-Ji Shrine        (R) Fushimi Inari Taisha

Kiyomizu-Dera Temple

(L) With the Birthday Celebrant, LILY!   (R) Jogging with Carlos at Nijo Castle

Sushi No Musashi, Kyoto Station

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arigatou Kyoto!

***
This post is part of Skywatch Friday. Click the image link below to see more skies around the world!