2016: The Year of Wonder, Wander, and Faith

2016. WANDERing in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

2016. WANDERing in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Ever since I started posting year-ender entries on this blog, I’ve always been amazed on how each post serves as a reminder of how blessed, at the same time, how humbled I was for the year that was ending, as well as on how each post serves as a “guide” for the year that’s about to start. Each year-ender post has its own unique “highlight” which I try to reflect on (“try” being the operative word! haha!) before hitting the “publish” button.

And this year, it’s WWFWonder. Wander. Faith. (not World Wildlife Fund, although I totally support that too!) πŸ˜‰

WONDER

If there was a year that made each person on this planet scratch their head in wonder or because of WTF moments, it’d probably be 2016! Just take the “current events.” From the never-ending wars and struggles in some countries to the results of local and international elections, to Brexit, to a controversial burial, etc. — it seemed like everyone WONDERed (at least those that I know!) what the eff was happening to the world!!!

But you know, even if I don’t agree with some of the things happening now, I still believe that everything happens for a reason — just continue to pray and keep the faith that it’ll always be for a good reason and for the greater good! “Bad” or for personal interests just won’t cut it! But yes, it has truly been one big “WONDER” for all of us this year!

WANDER

As I’ve mentioned in a social media post earlier this month,Β 2016 was my second “travel year” — the time when I travel as much as I can using my own hard-earned money and making the most out of my work leaves and holidays. The last time this happened was in 2012 (four years ago!) when I found myself traveling to Bandar Seri Begawan,Β Brunei in January;Β Bohol and Cebu in April; Ho Chi Minh,Β Vietnam and Siem Reap,Β Cambodia in May; and Hong Kong (for the nth time!) in June.

my 2012 "travel year"

my 2012 “travel year”

This year, it was extra special because I was finally able to achieve one of my lifelong dreams: travel to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (in short, the UK!) ❀ For those who are close to me, they know that I’m such an Anglophile (and British Royal Family fanatic!) and going to the three “lands” (England, Scotland, and Ireland) was really one big dream come true for me!

Wander Mika's second "travel year"

Wander Mika’s second “travel year”

But aside from that, I also went to other places I haven’t been to before (and two places I’ve been to before — can you guess which?! haha)

Anyway, it seems like my “travel year” happens every four years! So if I follow through with that pattern, my next “travel year” will be in 2020!? It’s highly likely! Like I said, one of my “secrets” on how I can go on travel sprees is pacing — which you can read all about HERE.

But you know, even if my travel years happen rarely just like the Olympics, I make it a point to travel at least ONCE A YEAR during my non-travel years. So yes, I will still travel in 2017, but not as frequent as I did in 2016! Wahahahaha!

Aside from the literal travels, though, the “wander” part of this entry also involves other things that unleashed my inner “Wander Mika” — my yearning to pursue my “impossible-turned-possible” dreams without really knowing what the future holds, but guaranteed with lessons to be learned! Hehe! This year, I also “wandered” in…

  • Starting a business

In July, I attended a basic jewelry making workshop without really knowing that it will lead to what it is today: Metallic Gems & Crafts by MGC — MGC being me! But connecting the dots backwards, it’s not that surprising because I’ve always loved all kinds of jewelry, fancy and real, and I realized that I just needed the right push to finally make it a passion project/business. So that “own a business” item on my bucket list? Consider it check! check!! check!!!

handmade, handstamped, and custom-made metal accessories by moi!

handmade, handstamped, and custom-made metal accessories by moi!

  • Registering a new domain name

In the first half of this year, I’ve rebranded my blog from The Lady Is In to Wordy and Worthy (WAW). I came up with the WAW theme more than a year ago actually, and I’m just really glad that I finally had the guts to “publicize” it, even name my blog after it. Why Wordy and Worthy? The answer is HERE! Hehe!

In fact, a few months after I decided to rebrand this blog, I got a prompt that it was my 7th blog anniversary on this site. And to commemorate that, I also officially registered the domain name WordyAndWorthy.blog (yes, dot blog — which WordPress proudly started!). So whether you type that or my main domain name, MikhaelaGeorgette.com, either way, you’ll still end up HERE on my little happy place on this big, big worldwide web! I do this whole blogging thing mostly for myself and no one else (so yes, even if nobody reads it, I’ll still continue to do it), so despite that, I want to thank you for still taking the time to read (hopefully you get something meaningful in whatever post you end up reading, btw! haha)!!! πŸ˜€

7th Blog Anniversary last December 9, 2016

7th Blog Anniversary last December 9, 2016

FAITH

And of course, the highlight of my year: my renewed self and relationship with the Lord!

Most people would probably think that my travels this year are the most memorable in my 2016 “life” book. But to be honest, you’d be surprised to know that my travels take only second place. The first place goes to the silent retreat I attended at the start of December. πŸ™‚

In the last few months of 2016, I “struggled” with my faith. No, I didn’t become an unbeliever. After all, I know that I believed, believe, and will always believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The struggle I encountered was more of not being satisfied with my then “walk of faith” that instead of working harder to find my “answers,” I chose to become complacent instead. I knew that I still had the belief, but I thought that was enough. I started missing Sunday masses, almost became tired of praying, blah, blah, blah. In short, I had a lot of “excuses” — deep inside, I knew I could do more, but the enemy really was trying to make me believe that my then state was okay. My soul, as per one of the novena intentions in the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer, had “become lukewarm and indifferent.” It could also be called sloth or something else, but the bottomline is, there was a struggle, and it sure as hell was very real!

But you know what, God really works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, things happen in our life — good things and unfortunately, bad things — as God’s way of waking us up from our ungodly way of life. This meme here from the Internet pretty much sums up what I realized:

5/7, I think.

5/7, I think.

To make the long story short, after that beginner’s silent retreat (which lasted for one entire weekend), I came out renewed and refreshed. That’s what you call soul searching! The real kind! Not traveling!

Of course I’m still human, there are still struggles in bettering my ungodly way of life, and changes for the better don’t happen overnight. But the important thing is, I’m more discerning now than before. For example, if someone has wronged me, my initial reaction before was to blow up in anger (either obvious or hidden), think of revenge, and pretty much anything that’s opposite of being Jesus-like. Now, when someone has wronged me, I still feel anger (again, it’s a human thing!), but I already take a step back, think that if I stayed angry, the only person who would be dragged down by that anger would be me and not the one I’m angry at, PRAY, and then I would slowly start to relax and release the anger — even forgive, not just the one who wronged me, but also myself.

I’ve also started reading the Bible again (which is why my social media contacts can now often read Bible passages/quotes on my feed/timeline!). In my current walk of faith, I still chose to belong to the Roman Catholic Church and supplement it with the guidance of the Light of Jesus family (e.g., Brother Bo Sanchez‘s ministries, The Feast, etc.). This is my personal choice, and each person has his/her own walk of faith, but in Catholicism/Christianity, reading God’s Word is really a must!

And again, God has reminded me that He really just “woke me up” this latter part of the year because when I saw a photo of me from seven years back (see below), I realized that reading the Bible has always been a “me” thing. I just really kind of lost my way.

Featured in Candy Magazine, July 2009 issue

Featured in Candy Magazine, July 2009 issue

So yeah, I guess now, you can say that I was a lost daughter that has been found — AGAIN. It’s easier said than done and the whole thing’s a process, but yes, I realized that it’s not impossible to feel inner peace despite all the outer chaos happening in my life. It’s really just all thanks to Him!

❀

And there you go. 2016 has been a year of wonder, wander, and faith FOR ME. Life goes on this coming 2017. I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned, learn, and will learn along the way! As I mentioned in another social media post, in this journey called life, my own definition of “wandering” is living without knowing the future. This kind of wandering is continuous. And that’s where FAITH comes in. Luckily, in this wandering of mine, I always have the best travel buddy: God.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." -James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-3‬

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” -James‬ ‭1‬:‭2-3‬

So yes, in all that I’ve been through this 2016 and all that I’ll go through this 2017, to God be the power, kingdom, and glory!!!

2016, signing off…

short hair_wacky

HAPPY NEW YEAR, friends!

Let’s all start 2017 with peace, joy, and of course, looove! ❀

Thai Getaway: 3 Things to Do in Bangkok (when in a hurry!)

Things to Do in Bangkok, Thailand (when in a hurry!)

It has been a while since I arrived from my quick Thai getaway, and yet, it’s only now that I get to write about it. Haha! Anyway, it was so quick that it consisted of only one weekend. Why? Because it just so happened that one of my sisters had a conference in Bangkok, and I just didn’t want to miss the chance to stay at a five-star hotel for free (I just tagged along, remember?) and explore a new place I haven’t been to before.

So after I purchased my own last-minute airline tickets (yes, this one, I paid for with my own money), I had to quickly think of things that could make me experience Bangkok, Thailand with the limited time I had. I’ve been to Phuket before, but it was my first time in the Thai capital city. And if you’ve been to these two famous Thai places, you would agree that both offer very different Thai experiences — think Manila is Bangkok; Boracay is Phuket. πŸ˜‰

So what did I do and what do I suggest you do when you’re in BKK for a weekend?

  • eat Thai food AND drink Thai milk tea

Eat Thai. Drink Thai. Yep! It doesn’t matter where, you’re in the “original” land anyway — Thailand itself! Just choose a restaurant or even a fast food chain, and look for the “unique” items on their menu that’s not present in your home country. I, for, one had a blast when we went to Chatuchak market because aside from the Divisoria-likeΒ tiangge finds, there were hole-in-the-wall restos that served authentic Thai food: pad Thai, tom yum, and yes, Thai milk tea!!! As a milk tea addict, I had Thai milk tea every chance I got! Even their McDonald’s serves Thai milk tea (and corn pie, too!).

Sawadee ka from Ronald and me!

Sawadee ka from Ronald and me!

  • visit a temple or two

If you’re into discovering Thai culture, temples are your go-to. Bangkok has river cruises that go to different temples, and the good thing about these cruises is they’re doable in a day. You can even customize the tours depending on your schedule. You don’t need a tour operator to avail of this. Just go to the dock, buy a ticket (or tickets, depending on what you choose), and off you go.

golden Buddha, anyone?

golden Buddha, anyone?

temples! temples!! temples!!!

temples! temples!! temples!!!

Another interesting thing to do in Bangkok, especially for a Catholic like me, is attend mass in a Catholic church. The church we went to was called Holy Redeemer, and its architecture was very interesting (see photo below). At first, you wouldn’t even think that it’s a Catholic church! But of course, this was a perfect example of combining cultures and existing in peace despite the different religions present in Thailand. πŸ™‚

Holy Redeemer Church Bangkok, a Catholic church with interesting architecture

Holy Redeemer Church Bangkok, a Catholic church with interesting architecture

  • do something for the first time

This is something I recommend for any place you travel to. For me, this was watch a movie in a cinema — in a foreign country! In all my travels, I did it for the first time in Bangkok, Thailand! FINALLY! And yes, this involved going to a mall! Hahaha! Good thing that the mall we went to, CentralWorld, wasn’t your typical mall either. It was huuuge. Think SM Mall of Asia meets Greenbelt in Manila. Hehe! It has a lot of cinemas, too — 15 in all! Wow, right? It’s so upscale that the cinema where we watched used La-Z-Boy (or at least similar to that) as seats! So yes, I really enjoyed my first foreign cinema experience.

To top that off, we watched a space-related movie. And during that time, there was a NASA exhibit in the mall! I’m not sure if they really put that exhibit for the movie or it was just coincidence, but either way, it was so cool that I even got to “play” astronaut for a few minutes! Check out my photo below! Wahahahaha!

enjoying the NASA exhibit in CentralWorld mall

enjoying the NASA exhibit in CentralWorld mall

Three things, one weekend. So that’s how I made the most out of my quick Thai getaway. The next time I go to BKK, I’ll definitely add more things to this list. πŸ˜› How about you? What would you do in Bangkok if you had only a weekend to visit it?


Have you also been to Bangkok, Thailand?
Please share your travel story to me, too! πŸ™‚

How to Apply for a (Tourist) Visa for Ireland… if you’re in Manila!

How to Apply for an Ireland Visa in Manila

It has been a little more than a quarter since I arrived from my UK-Ireland trip, and I still have to write a lot about it! Including applying for a visa for Ireland — so here it is!!! Haha πŸ˜›

Most people think that when it comes to traveling to Europe, acquiring a Schengen visa is the be-all and end-all of it. That may be true for some. BUT for someone like me who has been an Anglophile since I was seven, the Schengen visa wasn’t the answer to my dream Euro trip simply because the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the UK for short) and the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) are NOT covered by the said visa. So yes, my friends, my dream Euro trip involved applying (and paying) for two separate visas: one for the UK (which I already wrote about here) and one for Ireland. Yes, ganun ko ginustong pumunta sa Inglatera!!! πŸ™‚

Before you ask me why there are separate visas for the UK and Ireland (even if geographically, they’re like one country!), let me already tell you that it all dates back to their history. Now, I’m not going to tell you a history lesson here, so let’s just accept and respect the fact that they’re two separate countries. In short, if you want to go to Belfast (where the infamous Titanic was built), you will need a UK visa; if you want to go to Dublin (the capital of Ireland, and where my favorite boyband of all time — Westlife — was from), you will need an Ireland visa.

If that’s already clear, I can tell you that applying for an Ireland visa is somewhat similar to the process of applying for a UK visa (only with slight differences). In fact, having a UK visa prior to applying for an Ireland visa actually has its advantages! So what are the steps you need to do in order to be able to see the Cliffs of Moher or maybe even bump into one of the members of Westlife?!

FIRST, complete your documents (original and three photocopies of each — yes, this includes photocopying your passport pages three times!!!). I’ll divide this into two categories: the required and the others.

The required documents are only three actually:

  • application formΒ (more on this later)
  • valid passport (for at least 6 months from date of travel to Ireland)
  • 2 photos (45mm high by 35mm wide or passport size, with white background)

The others, or what you call your supporting documents. ALL DOCUMENTS ARE REQUIRED TO HAVE THREE PHOTOCOPIES. As mentioned in my UK visa blog post, these documents will help you “convince” a consular officer that you have strong ties to the Philippines Β (a.k.a. hindi ka magtatago sa Ireland dahil may babalikan ka sa Pilipinas!) and that you have enough funds for your trip. Since the Irish Consulate in Manila is document-dependent when it comes to their visa applications (unlike other embassies that require personal appearance/interview), I believe it’s crucial that you really don’t lack any of the following:

  • cover letter explaining your intent to travel to Ireland and itinerary
  • proof of previous travel (i.e., passport stamps)
  • bank certificate/statements or payslips (for the last 6 months)
  • certificate of employment (or proof of business/self-employment, whichever applies to you)
  • booking details/itinerary (it’s not really advisable to book your airfare/accommodation without having a visa first, so make sure that your bookings are not yet final to the point that you can’t refund them anymore)
  • others (any other document that you think might be helpful to your visa application)

More information about their accepted supporting documents can be found HERE.

SECOND, accomplish the application form.Β The Irish Consulate in Manila doesn’t really have an official website, so all Google searches will always redirect you to Ireland’s government site,Β https://www.visas.inis.gov.ie/avats/OnlineHome.aspx. Just click “Continue” and follow the instructions. Make sure to remember your application number because you will need it later on.

An important note to remember is when it comes to the Ireland visa, you have the option to choose if you want single entry or multiple entry. Of course, choosing the latter makes the visa fee more expensive. (I just chose the single entry because our itinerary involved going back to London after our Dublin trip. And besides, it was my sister’s decision to visit Ireland anyway, so why spend more?! Haha!)

THIRD, pay for the non-refundable visa fee.Β As of this writing, the single-entry visa is Php3,600 (but if you have a valid UK visa, it’s around Php4,600); the multiple-entry visa is Php6,000. If my memory serves me right, you can do this on cash basis at the Consulate itself. Which brings us to the next step…

FOURTH, book an appointment (by calling the Irish Consulate in Manila at +63 2 896-4668). Once your documents are ready, you need to set an appointment at the Irish Consulate in Manila for them to schedule you when you can submit your documents and pay for the visa. Upon calling them, you need to give your application number (the one generated in your application form) for easier reference. If you don’t want to go there directly, you may also send your documents via courier. Still, it’s better to call or e-mail them to ask about their preferred couriers.

The e-mail address of the Irish Consulate in Manila is irishcon@pldtdsl.net, and their address is:

Consulate General of Ireland
3/F Max’s Bldg. 70 Jupiter St.
Bel-Air 1, Makati City
1209 Philippines

I suggest you call the Consulate a week before your preferred date. Also, make sure to submit your documentsΒ 8 weeks or earlier prior to your planned travel date because that’s how long it takes to process the Ireland visa. If you have a valid UK visa, it takes only 6 weeks — which is probably why the visa fee is more expensive if you already have a UK visa (consider it an expedited process). The reason why it takes long is because in general, consulates are only for citizens; embassies process visas. Since there’s no Irish Embassy in Manila, the Irish Consulate in Manila still needs to submit visa applications to the nearest Irish Embassy — which is in Singapore.

The step-by-step visa application process for Filipinos by the Embassy of Ireland in Singapore can be found HERE.

FIFTH, wait for your visa to be processed. Once you submitted everything, the waiting game starts. After 6 or 8 weeks, you need to call the Irish Consulate in Manila again to ask for your visa status. This is required because no status will be given if you don’t call. If they give you good news (meaning, your visa has been approved) and go signal, you can go back to the Consulate for visa stamping. If the Consulate gives you a go signal on your agreed date and time, the visa stamping can be done within the day — as in submit your passport in the morning, and get it back in the afternoon of the same day with your visa already! YAY!!!

SIXTH AND LAST (but definitely not the least), ENJOY YOUR IRELAND TRIP!Β And speaking of which, I still have to blog about my own trip!!! Wait for it and read it, please! Haha! πŸ˜‰


Have you tried applying for an Ireland visa in Manila or elsewhere? How was it?
Let me know what you think! πŸ™‚