Of Dream Chasers, Invisible Crowns, and Yes, Pia Wurtzbach!!!

It has been a great week for the Philippines and yes, we’re still on a high! If you haven’t heard about the news yet, let me be the one to break it to you: the Philippines’ representative to the prestigious beauty pageant Miss Universe, Ms. Pia Wurtzbach, just won the 2015 crown (albeit “with reservations” — if you already know what happened! hehe)!!! But overall, I’m very happy. Call me biased or not (since I’m Filipino), but just based on her final answer alone, #PiaPinas truly deserved to win!!! :D

"Pia Wurtzbach Miss Universe 2015" by Melvin Villacote - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia [click image]

“Pia Wurtzbach Miss Universe 2015” by Melvin Villacote – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia [click image]

But more than the “destination,” it was Wurtzbach‘s “journey” to the crown that’s truly inspiring. Luckily, I found this viral screenshot from Mr. Dex Galban (I don’t know him personally, but we have common friends) on the Internet, which basically sums up everything. He said:

Pia Wurtzbach joined the Ms. Philippines pageant for 3 consecutive years. Only on her third try did she win the Ms. Philippines-Universe. And now, she’s Ms. Universe.

To everyone who has been repeatedly heartbroken, delayed academically, denied a job, or lost confidence in one’s self, keep fighting the good fight!

You just won’t be back. You’ll be Wurtzbach! :)

#MsUniverse #Philippines #PiaPinas

Credit goes to Mr. Dex Galban :)

Credit goes to Mr. Dex Galban :)

That made me look back in the year that was (2015) and the years before it (FYI, this is my year-ender post! hahaha!).

Have I been heartbroken before? Yes! Many times! But it’s true that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all (as Alfred, Lord Tennyson once said). Besides, if it weren’t for those past heartaches, I wouldn’t be where I am NOW: happy, in love, and definitely loved back. <3

Have I been delayed academically? Errr, not necessarily. I actually graduated college at the age of 18. However, graduating early also has its own CONS. But I can say that I’m already past that, so let’s move on. Harharhar.

Have I been denied a job? A BIG YES! Heck, that’s even the gist of this post and how I came back, rather Wurtzbach-ed, after it!!! :D

Have I lost confidence in myself? Every. single. day. But I don’t let the feeling linger because I know that there’s more to me than my flaws and imperfections. Which brings me to the next question…

Have I been fighting the good fight? Yes… and no. Of course I’m not perfect (who is, anyway?), so I also have my fair share of pathetic moments when emotions come in to play. The important thing is I KEEP fighting the good fight. It’s a struggle but as long as I know that the people who truly matter and God always got my back, I continue to bounce back from every setback life throws at me — stronger and wiser!

Having said those, this year alone, I’ve been through A LOT. I’ve felt both happiness and sadness. I’ve made tough decisions in my personal and professional life (probably my highlight of the year). I gained new friends (as well as felt distant to some old ones). I learned new things (self-publishing, surfing, cooking, etc.). And the list goes on…

Just take my 2015 highlight — my dream workplace — as an example. Like what I recently posted on my Facebook timeline, I can’t help but relate to Wurtzbach. No, I can’t relate to her sexiness (ahem!) and pageant experience (especially what happened in the end! hehe) — but I can relate to how she never gave up with her “dream.”

How exactly can I relate? In May 2012, I wrote THIS blog post after not landing a job at my dream workplace. Fast forward to today, I can’t help but SMILE. Two weeks ago, I just “celebrated” my sixth month at the said dream workplace! :) Sure, I’ve had a few more “rejections” here and there in the years that followed before making my dream come true, but I sure realized that those rejections were just “redirections.” I needed to experience those for the lessons I learned along the way — which surprisingly prepared me for where I am today. #everythinghappensforareason

And that’s probably one of my takeaways this year and what I’d like to impart to you as we start another new year. If you think that only “famous” people can make their dreams come true, think again! If an ordinary citizen like me proved that it can be done, YOU can too! After all, it’s true that the only time you “fail” is when you give up and stop trying. Kaya basta walang involved na “agawan” at talagang paghihirapan mo, i-push mo lang ‘yang dream/s mo, friend!!!

#TiwalaLang, darating din ‘yan sa #TamangPanahon! ;)

Most importantly, keep dreaming, especially big dreams. As David Cook once said (or sang), “if you don’t dream big, what’s the use of dreaming?” Because it’s true, our “dreams” in life, whatever they may be, fuel us to continue. Combine that with your faith in the Supreme Being and your surrender to His mighty hand, and you’ll be making your dreams come true in no time! Believe it, I’m a witness to this!!!

"Always wear your invisible crown."

“Always wear your invisible crown.”

Of course once you make your (big) dreams come true, don’t get used to always having your chin up, up, up. Stay humble. Learn to touch the skies when your knees hit the ground (#HillsongUnited).

So to all of you reading this, especially to my fellow ladies, always wear your invisible crown — always be classy! (Your laugh is an exception, though, just like me! That’s probably the only unladylike thing about me: my laugh! Just ask my friends! WAHAHAHAHAHA! But hey, that’s one of my “classy” advocacies: learn to always LAUGH your heart out while you still can. Many people don’t have that privilege.)

Anyway, I can feel that I’m already rambling. So before I completely make you lost, I’ll end here and bring you back to DREAMING. No, my other dreams don’t involve titles and crowns (except maybe my dream to see the British Royal Family in the flesh — but who knows what can happen next year?! *hint, hint*). But if there’s one thing the Pia Wurtzbachs (yes, plural!) of the universe and I have in common, it’s that we’re all dream chasers. We know what we want (dream). We work hard to get what we want (act). And we definitely don’t give up, despite challenges and setbacks, until we succeed (persevere/persist). So again, if we did it, YOU can too! Let’s all aim to make more of our dreams come true this coming 2016! Again, claim that you won’t just be back, you’ll be Wurtzbach! #push :)

“Disappointments are just God’s way of saying ‘I’ve got something better.’
Be patient, live life, have faith.”

Join me in my 2016 adventures! HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y'ALL!!!

Join me in my 2016 adventures! HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!!!

I Am Not a “Writer,” But I Will Keep Writing Anyway :)

“Good writing focuses on the need of the audience to understand,
 rather than on the desire of the writer to impress.
-a quote I got from one of my writing-related trainings online

Earlier today, I received a message on my Facebook Messenger from a random stranger. Turns out, this stranger is an architect in the making, and she’s asking about a blog entry I wrote more than five years ago, which she plans to use as a reference for her school requirement (thank you!). This wasn’t the first time someone, more so a stranger, asked me about that blog entry to be used for their research. After all, this blog entry I’m referring to talks about The Philippine Fashion Legend, Mr. Jose “Pitoy” R. Moreno. Read all about it HERE.

I wrote that piece about Pitoy because it was one of the requirements for me to pass my Creative Nonfiction elective, as part of my Master’s Degree program then. I decided to post it publicly on this blog because I knew that the world needs to know more about Mr. Moreno and his role in promoting the Philippines all over the world through his fashion masterpieces. I almost became emotional when I reread that blog entry and realized that it. has. been. awhile. since the last time I produced a material like that.

Reading that piece again was like a slap to my face. Or maybe a wake-up call. Either way, it saddened me to know that I haven’t been practicing the craft anymore. I just stopped a long time ago and chose to let social media addiction fry my brain cells and encourage my laziness more. Heck, I don’t even know how to write this very blog entry anymore. :(

Then it dawned on me: deep inside, I know that I still love WRITING. I’ve always been better at the written word than the spoken word, and that’s fine with me. But it’s true that even if something is your passion but you don’t hone/practice it, you’ll get rusty at it, or worse, eventually lose it. Yikes!

I don’t want that to happen to me. I know that God has given me this gift to share to the world and not waste it. Even if I have to start from scratch again, let it be. This blog of mine was, is, and will always be a testament to that.

I started this blog in December 2009 and when I opened it today (after not checking it for monthsss), WordPress reminded me that this very day is actually my 6th blog anniversary! What good timing! For six years, I believe I’ve maximized my blogging skills for only a year or two. The rest, I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with this blog. Haha.

This may be my nth time in resurrecting my blog, but like I said, I’ll start from scratch if I have to. Looking back at all my blog entries is like looking at a desk filled with clutter: it’s all messy without a single focus or theme. But hey, this is a personal blog after all. Sure, I try to focus on my favorite things (books, food, and travel) as much as possible, but at the end of the day, this blog will always be as “complicated” as its owner — me, MIKHAELA GEORGETTE. Hence, the new domain name: mikhaelageorgette.com :D

Yes! After years of semi-blogging, I finally own my domain name! The blog’s title will still be “The Lady is In…” (that’s something I’m not giving up! haha), but this time, I’m hoping I can be a more diligent and responsible blogger who can produce more quality content more often, too. I’m paying for my domain name with the plan of putting it to good use! Ahem!

So yes, writing is my passion. Yes, my articles have been published before in magazines several times (see my portfolio). Yes, I’m actually in the process of writing my first novella (which I started in February of this year but has been in hiatus a month after that ever since!). Yes, I’ve attended writing workshops. Yes, I’ve tried article writing, novel/story writing, and even technical writing. Yes, I have my own “simple” writing style. Yes, I write with the goal to inspire. Yes, I have THIS blog. But do all these make me a “writer”? Hmmm. No, not necessarily.

As Ernest Hemingway once said about writing, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master.” No, I may never be awarded the “best writer” title ever, but I’ll keep writing anyway. Besides, I know in my heart that whenever I write, I always give it my best and it always makes me happy. Now that — that’s something no title can ever top off!

There's more to "writing" than this emoji, you know? Wahahahahaha!

There’s more to “writing” than this emoji, you know? Wahahahahaha!

Cheers to writing and to all those who are in love with it! <3

Mika of mikhaelageorgette.com (heehee!)

Writing My Way to Success: #buqoYA x Mina V. Esguerra

Let me start by telling you that I’ve always dreamed of writing my own book. #Hihihi

Sure, WRITING will always be my passion, which is why I never stop honing it. From magazine writing (print and online) to blog writing, even technical writing, I’ve tried ’em all. Now, it’s about time to venture into another form of my chosen craft: story writing. See first sentence. :P

Since I consider myself as someone who “has experience but not enough theory” when it comes to my passion (my course is not related to writing, but that’s another story for me to tell! *wink* *wink*),  I make sure that I attend writing classes/workshops whenever my budget and schedule permit. To cut the long story short, during one of my writing class/workshop hunting sessions, I stumbled upon local author Mina V. Esguerra‘s blog post about her online creative writing class called #buqoYA, which was hosted by Buqo — the Philippines’ #1 digital bookstore.

And from the moment I signed up, I knew it’d be perfect for me!

Why? Everything just fell into place. :)

First, I’ve been a reader of Mina‘s books even before I found out about her class, so I was thrilled to be learning from one of the country’s finest authors (aside from being published the traditional way, she’s also a self-publisher!). And yes, I’ve had the privilege of having my copies of her books signed! Thanks, Mina!!! :D

Second, I love reading Young Adult (YA) stories — especially if there’s a love story involved! And guess what? The #buqoYA class required us to produce a story that is under YA (the category) and romance (the genre). I even got assigned to the trope I wanted: #FTMTF. Woohoo! (But that’s for you to find out once you read my story! Hehehe!)

Next, I, myself, am a Buqo user! I first discovered it during last year’s Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) and since then, I’ve been a convert — of e-book/digital reading that is! Haha! But seriously, what I love about Buqo is that it’s “a digital bookstore, newsstand, and reader” all rolled into one! It mostly offers local publications (so many great local book and magazine titles to choose from!), so think of it as the local version of Amazon‘s Kindle app. I’m actually currently subscribed to the digital version of Cosmopolitan Philippines, and I also get to buy other local books and magazines without the hassle of leaving my house and looking for a place to store them — all thanks to Buqo! ;) So to start your Buqo reading adventure, download the app on your Android or iOS device, or simply visit their site HERE. (If you want to read my story, Buqo is where you’ll first find it… SOON!)

Last but definitely not the least, the #buqoYA writing class by the Mina V. Esguerra was perfect for me because of the most obvious reason: I finally got the chance of being closer to my dream of writing a book and actually publishing it! To give you an idea, I’m writing a novella. :)

Trivia: A story is considered a novel if it has at least 40,000 words (at least!). A novella if it has around 15,000 to 39,999 words. A short story if it has 14,999 words or less. Or something like that.

Also, I’m going the indie route since I’m the publisher of my book (not to be confused with my would-be first e-book distributor, Buqo). But hey, of course I’m not closing doors to the traditional way (hello, publishing companies!) but for now, I’d like to have overall control of it.

So much control that I’m not even done with the story yet! Toink! =))

Kidding aside, yes, I’m still in the process of finishing my story, but I promise that it’ll see the light of day THIS YEAR! It’ll be available in e-book format first, then in paperback… Yeah! THIS. IS. REALLY. IT!

But since mine is still in the works, I’d like to ask you to please also support my classmates who are already done with their stories. Theirs will be available by April (I think), but I’ll be sure to spread the word here or through my other social media accounts. I’m counting on yah, guys!!! :)

#buqoYA class of 2015 :)) (photo courtesy of Buqo's Facebook page)

#buqoYA class of 2015 :)) (photo courtesy of Buqo’s Facebook page)

All in all, I can say that my #buqoYA writing experience is a success! :) Sure, I may not be done with the actual novella yet (for personal reasons I’m not comfortable disclosing to the public for now), but it definitely has taught me A LOT OF THINGS! From learning the different romance tropes to self-publishing, meeting people who have the same passion, to brushing elbows with those who already have success stories to tell when it comes to creative entrepreneurship, I owe all those to this class!

But most of all, this experience taught me this: that I. CAN. DO. IT! And you know, just having the guts to finally start one of my lifelong dreams is already success for me! Besides, I believe for a fact that for wordsmiths like me who live, breathe, and bleed THE WRITTEN WORD, there’s nothing more affirming than knowing that we’re all writing our way to our own success stories!

Oh yeah!!! <3

If you’re one of my #buqoYA classmates,
what’s your takeaway from this entire experience?

And if you’re one of my blog readers,
I want to ask you now how many copies of my future novella will you order?
Hahaha! Kidding… not. =))

Papal Visit 2015: How It Felt, Feels, and Will Forever Feel

Pope Francis finally arrived in the Philippines and as a Filipino Catholic, I can’t help but be in awe of everything. After all, the last Papal Visit in my country happened 20 years ago with John Paul II as Pope (now Saint John Paul the Great). I was only five years old back then, and I can’t even remember the exact details of that event. All I know was that my family and I tried to catch a glimpse of him at Taft Avenue in Manila. And we did (though from our vantage point, the Pope’s head was comparable to the size of a dot. Hehe!).

Fast forward to today, I suddenly found myself being one of my parish’s volunteers to act as a “human shield” when the Pope makes his way from the airport to his home at the Apostolic Nunciature — again, located in Taft Avenue.

At first, I was actually nervous about being a human shield. We were required to pass complete volunteer forms with pictures for background checking (not that I have anything to hide, but I realized security’s very strict that those with “records” weren’t allowed to volunteer anymore). The weekend before the Pope’s arrival date, we even had a briefing given by the archdiocese and the police. Of course it was all about what to expect, where we’re going to be assigned, and the things NOT to bring (which include umbrellas and opaque bags/backpacks), etc. Having said that, I was nervous because you know, I’m naturally an overthinker! Hahaha! So given the security measures being taken, thoughts of stampedes and whatnot entered my mind.

posing beside the standee before seeing the real one :) (and oh, only see-through bags allowed!)

posing beside the standee before seeing the real one :) (and oh, only see-through bags allowed!)

But of course, my longing to see the Pope in the flesh was stronger than any of those doubts. :) Our call time on January 15 (Thursday) was around 2PM, but we saw the Pope around 7PM. Yes, we waited for a little over five hours only to wave at the Pope for a second (literally!). But you know what? IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!!!

I FINALLY SAW THE POPE IN PERSON! And just a few inches away at that! I was so speechless, I wasn’t even able to say Viva Il Papa... naging woohoo nalang! :)) And to top it all off, kudos to the crowd for being well behaved. When the Pope made its way to where we were, it’s like everyone was glued to where they were standing and all they could do was shout their welcoming cheers. :D

our parish's volunteers,  on the way to Roxas Boulevard-Quirino

our parish’s volunteers, on the way to Roxas Boulevard-Quirino

worth the wait :)

worth the wait :)

That’s just the FIRST DAY. As of this writing, the Pope is still in my country spreading his message of “mercy and compassion” to ALL people — rich or poor, Filipino or not, Catholic or otherwise.

I know that for some, they’ve been lucky enough to go to the Vatican and see the Pope closer (case in point: my two older sisters!). But even they agree with me that nothing compares to seeing the Pope in our home country, where we can all feel the power and unity of the Filipino faith. It really is both a blessing and a privilege.

As you can see, I wasn’t able to take any pictures or videos of the Pope while he was in front of me. How could I? I was a “human shield” and my hands and arms were looped around the arms and hands of the people to my left and right. Hashtags #hawakkamay at #kapitbisig. Haha. All I’m left with now is that awe-inspiring memory, which I know can’t be “deleted” easily.

So yeah, I was in awe. I am still in awe. And I know that I’ll forever be in awe of this historic religious event in my country.

And despite the number of people criticizing the Catholic faith, I’ll strive to continue to defend (and strengthen) my faith and promote what it means to “be like Jesus every day.” Sure, we’re all humans. No person’s perfect. So whatever our religions are, let’s just strive to learn from our mistakes and be better every single day. Aside from that, give LOVE (and not just on Chistmas day! Hehe!). But if you can’t give love, at least give RESPECT. I respect my brothers and sisters from other religions. So please, also respect me when I say that I AM PROUD TO BE CATHOLIC.

For I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. ;)

How about you? What can you say about the Papal Visit 2015?
Sound off in the comments section below!


Last month (or shall I say “last year”? Haha!), I was able to attend a very “blissful” event called Blog : Inspired (How to Blog with a Purpose & a Mission).

(photo courtesy of Share Movement's Facebook page)

(photo courtesy of Share Movement’s Facebook page)

The event was actually a blogging (obviously! :P ) workshop made possible by Share Movement‘s Jam Pangilinan and MakeItBlissful.com‘s Martine De Luna (who also happens to be the blog coach of my personal blogger idol, Patty Laurel! #starstruck)

with Martine and Jam :) (photo courtesy of Share Movement's Facebook page)

with Martine and Jam :) (photo courtesy of Share Movement’s Facebook page)

I’m actually fond of attending workshops (I consider them intangible personal “investments”), but what made this event stand out from the rest was the fact that it donated its proceeds to Joseph Feeding Mission (JFM).

The session was started by Jam, who told us the whole the story behind JFM. And for someone who admitted that she’s into photography more than speaking in front of an audience, her introduction was really something because it really opened my eyes to the current situation of our brothers and sisters in need. :| Good thing there are people like her who thought (and continue to think) of ways to help those in need in their own special ways.

After that blissful intro, it was Martine‘s (the “bliss maker” herself) turn to inspire. :D

I won’t dwell on the details anymore just in case you plan to attend a blissful blogging workshop in the future… but this, I’ll tell you. In that “crash course” on blissful blogging, I learned three main things (and more!):

  • There’s more to blogging than just “promoting” something.

These days, blogs have become important marketing tools for different companies and whatnot. And there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, we’re at a time when social media is slowly becoming a “necessity” already, regardless of age (okay, maybe 1 to 92 only! Or maybe not! Haha!). But are we sure that we’re blogging because it’s really our passion? Are our blog posts inspiring our readers or the complete opposite? Worse, do our blog posts NOT make them feel anything at all? As in blah, nada?

Simply put, there’s more to blogging than being used for marketing purposes. Sure, with the rise of “celebrity bloggers,” it’s natural for them to get endorsements here and there. Who doesn’t want that, right? If I were to have a site partner or sponsor, I’d be really delighted! But at the end of the day, we have to make sure that we stick to the “original purpose” on WHY we started blogging in the first place.

For me, that’s WRITING. I wanted an outlet to express my thoughts and “practice” my God-given talent, as well as inspire people along the way. With or without endorsements, I know that I’ll continue to do this. :) And I may still have a long way to go in honing my chosen craft and passion (push lang ng push even if I feel like I’m starting to get rusty at it!), but hey, that just makes my whole “writing” journey all the more fun! Heehee! DIBA?!

(photos courtesy of Share Movement‘s Facebook page)

  • I’ll never get tired of learning (or re-learning) things and meeting new people.

And that’s why I love attending workshops! :D

When I attended Blog : Inspired, I’ve already been blogging (though not consistently) for several years already. But it was only during the workshop when I re-learned what blissful blogging is all about.

The best part? I got to meet new people (my fellow attendees) who share the same yearning as mine, as well as gained new “life pegs” — Jam (for her passion in feeding the hungry — not just hungry for food, but hungry for the Lord too!) and of course, Martine (for her “blissful blogging” advocacy and others; know this, she turns down event invites if she feels like that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with what her blog’s all about).

(photos courtesy of Share Movement‘s Facebook page)

  • Generosity goes a long way.

Like I mentioned earlier, proceeds of this event benefited JFM. :) But of course, the entire success of this event wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the generous enterprises that made the entire session more exciting! I, myself, brought home some goodies. As Jam said, everything’s just connected. We paid for the workshop, the proceeds went to JFM, but each participant still got to bring home something — all thanks to the generosity of others, too! Isn’t that amazing? Generosity does go a long way, and I hope and pray we continue to “pay it forward.”

You can check out the complete list of the event’s partners/sponsors by visiting Share Movement‘s Facebook page or Martine‘s blog. ;)

(photo courtesy of Share Movement's Facebook page)

(photo courtesy of Share Movement’s Facebook page)

I really hope YOU could attend a future Blog : Inspired session, too, one day. :)

Thanks again to my fellow attendees, Jam, and Martine!

(photo courtesy of Share Movement's Facebook page)

(photo courtesy of Share Movement’s Facebook page)

 Indeed, this whole blissful event has made me very much inspired. #BlogInspired ;)

Clean Slate

More than two years ago, Erwan Heussaff of The Fat Kid Inside told me that my blog’s “too dark.” And he sure was right. As to why Erwan and I were exchanging e-mails, I’ll keep that between the two of us. Mwahahahahaha! But trust me when I say that I’m NOT close to him (so let’s get that out of the way already; he’s just really kind to reply to a fan like me!), and that screenshot above is LEGIT!!! :D

So anyway, for a little over five years since I’ve had this blog, I was using the same old “too dark” theme. For some reason, I didn’t want a bright/white background. I don’t know… In those five years, I was happy with it. UNTIL NOW. Haha.

So yes, as you can see now, my blog’s “bright” with a hint of pink (which is one of my favorite colors; the other is green, btw!). And I think it’s also good timing as we enter the New Year! :)

I know that I haven’t been a diligent blogger for the past two years (sorry!), but since 2011, I’ve been writing year-ender posts.

And for 2014, THIS IS IT. I’d like to keep it short and simple — just like my new blog theme!

I just promise to TRY to blog (and save what’s left of my writing talent!) more next year.

So goodbye 2014 and hello to my “clean slate” 2015! ;)

HAPPY NEW YEAR, y’all!!!

May we all fill in our “clean slates” in 2015 with nothing but HAPPY memories and all things POSITIVE!

Mikhaela Georgette of The Lady Is In (ahem!)

The Day We “Time Traveled” in Manila

Traveling has always been a passion of mine (domestic, international, or even that just-a-few-blocks-away kind of travel). Traveling with my special someone — now, that just makes it all the more exciting! But since my boyfriend Paul and I aren’t allowed to go on overnight trips YET without any “chaperones” (haha, strict ang mga ate ko!),  we just make it a point to squeeze in traveling through our “day” dates. Luckily, we’re both history buffs and we both share an interest in getting to know the Philippines more — with Manila first on our minds. ;)

I’ve been living in Manila since day one but to be honest, there’s just so much more to know about its history. On the other hand, Paul‘s from Laguna so exploring Manila is also on top of his list. Having said that, it just became a priority for us to save and sign up for different Manila tours because let’s face it, going anywhere (even places you’ve been to before) makes it more interesting depending on your new-found discovery. And how do you “discover” something new when you’ve been to a place once, twice, thrice, and so on? My answer is through KNOWLEDGE and INFORMATION! And those knowledge and information? Well, their new-found “effect” on you will always depend on your tour guide! :D

And that’s exactly why Paul and I decided to avail of Manila for a Day (M4AD)‘s 3G time-traveling engagement, which basically covered God, Gold, and Glory in the Walled City — thanks to our tour guide Dustin Ancheta (who also happens to be a college course mate of mine).

(photo courtesy of Manila for a Day’s Facebook page)

(photo courtesy of Manila for a Day’s Facebook page)

Our M4AD experience has been our second Manila tour (our first was with a different tour guide and it was in the Malacañang area, but I wasn’t able to blog about that because I was on a blogging hiatus back then! hahaha!). Anyway, M4AD prefers to call what they offer as “time-traveling engagements” instead of just plain old tours. Why? Well it’s in the way their guide Dustin does his engagements! He even brings along with him a TIME TRAVEL KIT!

Manila for a Day (M4AD)’s Dustin Ancheta

So to kick off our virtual time-traveling engagement, here’s our first stop that day:

San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church

I’ve been to San Agustin Church several times before but to be honest, I was just as awed as Paul (it’s his first time in the church) during the entire tour. It was only that day that it sank in to me that we were inside a UNESCO World Heritage Site — equivalent to the Pyramids of Giza in Eqypt or the Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico! Like, really, WOW! #ProudPinoy here!

Having a tour guide who really knows what he’s doing (and saying!) does change the entire travel experience. It even has its perks, too!

San Agustin Church

One of which is having access to places that are not usually open to the public. Case in point, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi‘s resting place!

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s resting place in San Agustin Church

As a Filipino, we’ve all been taught in history class that Ferdinand Magellan discovered the Philippines. But since he already died in Cebu during the Battle of Mactan, he wasn’t really able to reach Manila. Hence when you say “founder of Manila,” the title really goes to Miguel (yes, feeling close lang! wahahahaha!). And before this tour, I wasn’t even aware that the actual Spaniard who discovered my hometown actually rests IN MY HOMETOWN nonetheless! So much for being a Manila Girl all my life! Oh well, at least now I know. :P

San Agustin Church

We also walked on the church grounds as Dustin educated us in the way society influenced art back in the day. I won’t explain it to you in detail anymore (you have to avail of the tour if you want to know! haha!) but in a nutshell, that experience in the room full of religious figures reminded us that life does imitate art (or vice versa), and there’s no one definition of beauty. It changes from one generation to another, and the cycle just goes on and on. So if chinitas and mestizas were the “in” thing then, it somehow changed in the middle of history, and returned again in the present, etc. Just like in the Renaissance period, voluptuous women were all the rage because they symbolized fertility — fast forward to today, everybody wants to have Victoria Secret model-inspired bodies because that’s what the media dictates, etc. You get my drift.

Most of all, that experience showed us how God and Gold mixed back in the day — quite literally! Just take the statue of Jesus as an example:

Those threads? Made. of. pure. GOLD!

Dustin also guided us in other areas inside the church and learned a ton of things along the way. But like I said, I don’t want to spoil things for you so better attend the actual tour yourself. :)

posing in the middle of Mexican-inspired architecture

ringing a (small) bell to compare and imagine what it’s like to have the original (larger) bell ring in these walls back then; viewing the church from the top

other random shots inside San Agustin Church

After the church, our next stop was…

Casa Manila

Casa Manila

Picture-taking isn’t really allowed inside Casa Manila so for this part, I’ll be borrowing photos from Travelibre. :)

Basically, the Casa Manila in Intramuros isn’t an authentic 19th-century house (it’s an actual replica of one) — but some of the things inside it are 100% legit. It was created by the Philippine government in the 1980s (headed by Imelda Marcos) to depict what it’s like to be RICH and POWERFUL in the time of Spanish-colonized Philippines.

Inside, we were required to walk on a long red carpet (they say it’s to make the museum easier to clean) and if you happen to step outside of it, a guard will definitely reprimand you for it! So consider this a heads-up! Haha!

Moving on, one of the first things we saw inside Casa Manila was the kwartos. According to the labels, they were actually just “dorm rooms,” so imagine what an actual room for a family member looks like! Dustin even told us that back then, visitors inside a house owned by the rich and powerful were “filtered” by floors.

We know that back then, people in the Philippines were divided according to status: the Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain), the Insulares (Spaniards born in Manila or anywhere else but not in Spain), the Mestizos (half Spanish, half-Chinese or half something else as long as there’s Spanish blood), the Indios (pure Filipinos), etc. (Trivia: Most of our national heroes like Jose Rizal and Emilio Aguinaldo were Mestizos).

So for example, if you’re part of the Insulares, you could go anywhere in the house. But if you’re part of the Indios, you’d be lucky you even made it past the entrance door! Get the picture? That’s how rampant racism was back in those days. :(

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

Another interesting area in Casa Manila was the cucina (kitchen):

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

As you can see from the photo, it was so 19th century! Dustin mentioned that during those days, a rich and powerful family had many servants and all those pots and pans were used to the max. One unique item there (unfortunately, no photo) was the vintage ice box. Since there were no refrigerators back then, only the rich could afford to import ice. But of course, you couldn’t just import ice without having the equipment to actually sustain it (the Philippines is a tropical country, so just imagine your bad ice investment if you just let it melt under the sun!). And that’s when it really hit us. There’s truly a big difference between the truly wealthy and those who are just trying to climb the social ladder — the rich can sustain their lifestyles; social climbers can’t. In relation to this is the next area, the dining room:

(photo courtesy of Travelibre)

As you can see, the dining area has a long table. If you watch Downton Abbey, well you’ve already got an idea how this works. However in the Philippine setting, only the master of the house had arm rests on the sides of his chair, and the rest were seated alternately (male, female, male, female, and so on). BUT if you’re a guest gentleman and you were seated in the middle with ladies surrounding you, might as well leave the feast because that’s a form of insult. If you’ve read Rizal‘s Noli Me Tangere, Dustin shared that there was one scene there wherein Crisostomo Ibarra was seated (on purpose) in the middle of the table and knowing that he was being insulted, he charged toward the master of the house, which was none other than Padre Damaso. Hihihi. #history

Going back to the dining area in Casa Manila, refer again to the photo above and you’ll notice those two curtain-like decorations hanging from the ceiling. What are they? Let’s just say that those were their manual version of the electric fan. And since they’re manual, a person (usually a young boy servant) actually had to run them. Our very informative tour guide even said that a guest shouldn’t see the servant or else, that would also be a form of insult! Kalurkey talaga! But now you realize what the lifestyle of the rich and powerful was like back then. But unlike those who could buy ice just because they wanted to try it but couldn’t really afford it again and again, the truly rich and powerful could (and still can) sustain their lavish lifestyles. Except nowadays, I believe that the luxurious ice has already been replaced by designer items! Hahaha! ;)

There were other interesting rooms in Casa Manila, but of course, I think it’s better if you just see them for yourself!

The Manila Collectible Company

And then our last stop during that time traveling engagement was The Manila Collectible Company (TMCC).

(photos courtesy of The Manila Collectible Company Facebook page)

Upon arriving at the place, we were served refreshments and snacks. And yes, those snacks were those you can see on the above photo! Haha! I must say, they were all very tasty, especially the con cremas and the coco jam (not in photo). I actually bought a bottle of the latter for myself! Wahahahaha! But yeah, TMCC is “a one-stop shop that offers the best of Philippine products, tours and events!”. So if you’re in the mood for all things Philippine culture, then this is definitely the place to go to!

And oh, this was also the place where Dustin answered our questions about the entire tour. That’s what I like about M4AD’s offering, they really try to give you the best of history through what they know. In fact if they don’t know it right then and there, they’ll still try to answer you via e-mail. Now that’s what I call dedication! :D

So that’s our M4AD experience. Thanks so much to Dustin for making time travel in Manila such a fun (and learning) experience!

As for Paul and I, the whole point is to explore Manila one area at a time (Malacañang area, check! One area of Intramuros, check!) — which is exactly why next on our Manila adventure is Carlos Celdran‘s Walk This Way! So watch for that! :)

Time travelers of the day (#TTOTD): Paul and Mika <3

Until then… see yah! :)