In The Garden

During the past two mornings, I've been walking in my grandma's garden (now being taken care of by my mom) taking pictures of flies, flowers, and whatever catches my eye. Here are some of the photos I took in that time.

All photos (c) Olivia Peñero 2015
These morning shoots get me sweating (which I love) and I'm planning to do this every morning, provided I see something new. Photographing the same things bores me. Until the next update!

Skillshare, iMazing & The Online Writing Exam

Within the period between my last post and today, a lot of crazy things happened, and I was able to do two things I wouldn't normally have done because of a sudden moment of weak thinking and reasoning.

The first one was that I "woke up" my Skillshare account and went premium, thanks to my dad who graciously gave me his card details without thinking twice (thank you daddy!). I had enrolled at a course on Coursera for the "Psychology of Popularity" class that studies how we behave as adults in ways we don't realize, and I eventually found myself looking for other sites to enrol in. I remembered having a Skillshare account a year ago, but I couldn't remember why I neglected it, so I headed over to check out their new classes.

image from Google

Maybe it was fate (or something cheesy like that), but the first class I saw was "Simple Character Lip Sync", followed by the class that nailed me hard. It was Mary Kate McDevitt's hand-lettering workshop. I immediately chatted up my friend on Facebook who was a die-hard fan of the lady, and I told her we should both enrol for the class. A few minutes later, I checked back on Skillshare and hit the enrol button - only to be greeted with a pop-up for upgrading my account to premium. At the same time, the friend I gave the link to also told me it would cost $8 just to enrol. We expressed our frustration with emoticons and stickers (as young adults normally do) and I went back to Skillshare to think about what to do.

A few minutes and chats later, I was on premium. Dad was online, and I really didn't know what came over me. It was $10 for a monthly payment, and $8 for the annual. I went for the monthly, and now here I am, downloading the 19 classes I enrolled in to my Skillshare app on the iPhone for offline viewing.

image from Google

image from Google

Here is where my real wave of regret came from, and until today, I still can't get over my sudden actions.

Okay, so I had already gone premium and had enrolled in 19 awesome classes on Skillshare. I promised my friend I would get her copies of those videos and I would find a way around the site's no right-click/downloading function. I tried screen capturing it with the Windows Expression Recorder, and it was a pretty decent copy except for the obvious decrease in audio quality. I know I should've accepted that fact and stopped trying, but I remembered I wanted to keep copies for myself as well, and in full HD.

Stupid me began looking for ways to download the videos and a Youtube video explaining an easy way to do it popped up in the search results. Although I wouldn't normally click the link, I did anyway, and to my surprise, it indeed was as easy as the title said it would be. The app the guy featured was called iMazing. He was working on a mac and the app looked great. I figured there was no harm in trying so I went to the iMazing website to see if this was legitimate and worth the download.

They had a 14-day trial available with limited functionality, and knowing it would take me less days to download and transfer everything to my mac, I went ahead and downloaded it onto my PC, since they had a windows version available. After it installed and I plugged in my iPhone to test things, I found nothing on the Skillshare app folder. I thought there must've been something I missed, so I checked back on the video and paused it just to the point where I already was. A few minutes later, I decided to download iMazing onto my mac instead.

Now things looked more similar to the tutorial video. I followed as instructed and sure enough, my downloaded videos had been copied onto my mac's desktop. I was so happy I began playing each video just to see if they were all in great quality. Most of the videos though were only 551 kb, incredibly smaller than I expected. I thought it was a glitch and I did the extraction process a second time, but the same thing just kept happening. There were only around 10-12 working videos!

Here is where I get to earn the "incredibly stupid idiot" award.

Thinking that the trial's limited function was to blame for my incomplete videos, I went back to the iMazing website to look at the price for a single license. It was $29.99 for one user that can be used on three computers. It was a one-time payment that guaranteed a lifetime period of usability. I went to a converter and it translated to Php 1,600 something. Something came over - and yes, i really didn't know what - but I used my dad's Paypal account to seal the deal. It was under my email account, so I knew all the details and had unlimited access to it - something very unfortunate in this situation. Just two clicks later, iMazing had already sent a receipt to my email for the purchase.

GIF from Tumblr

It was a mix of feelings at that point. I knew I had done something wrong and my dad knew nothing about it yet, and I spent $30 on an application to download videos from an account I already spent money for. That was a double-dead situation. On the other hand, I was incredibly excited for what I could now do. I could now download Skillshare videos and transfer them to my mac for future reference.

It was also on the same day that I had a scheduled online writing exam for Propelrr, a premier digital marketing agency in the country. I was referred to the company by my long-time friend Stela, and through her (she was also their employee), I was able to get my resume and writing samples to the bosses. One content writer named Mr. Hernandez contacted me around 2 days ago to ask if I was available at 5pm yesterday for my online exam. Of course, I said yes.

Due to my anxiety, I was getting stressed out an hour before the appointed time and I logged on to Facebook to chat with my dad and whoever I was comfortable talking about this with. Thankfully, both were online. As if my level of worry was not enough, after encouraging me and telling me to just be myself, dad slipped in a casual "I just received the receipt for the $29.99 you spent using my Paypal" line. I honestly didn't know what to say, other than tell him that I thought it was free and that it wouldn't be charged immediately. I also told him that if he was going to get angry at me, he should leave it for later. I wasn't in the mood to get scolded at, not an hour before my exam. I was glad he didn't, and he didn't even mention it when I mentioned "bank" and "credit card" to him when we had a video call after. Fun dad. :)

Anyway, I was able to start my exam around 6:30 pm due to the late arrival of emails between me and Mr. Hernandez, and once I saw my topic, I froze. It was definitely not what I thought I had to write about. I thought I would be given a Hotel to review or something that I could give "5 Tips On Such and Such", but no! I was to write about "Irrefutable Proofs Mobile-First Strategy Boosts Conversion". I was like, whaaaaattttt?! I didn't understand a thing when I first read it. I really thought I was doomed. I thought I had gotten into something I was never prepared to do. I was really scared.

GIF from Tumblr

Mr. Hernandez and I were chatting on Google Hangouts so that he could give me real-time instructions, all of which I worked hard to understand. I had only 3 hours to finish the article which should amount to at least 1000 words, link to two related pages (provided), use 8 of the 11 given keywords for SEO, and have a meta description with 4 other title suggestions. When we were done chatting, I plunged right in.

My first agenda was to understand the topic and figure out what each term meant in business. I opened the provided sources and did a little research of my own. My open tabs were too much to count. I couldn't even see the title for each tab that was open! The first 30 minutes were spent on research, taking down notes, and trying to organize my flow. It was one of the most stressful writing project I've ever had to do. I was also given a sample tone for my article, but I didn't really check my submission as I was already two minutes past the deadline. I wish I did though. Right now, I don't know what they'll say about my work. Maybe it's crap.

It was an amazing experience in general. I've never been pushed to this limit in writing before, especially with an "alien" topic that I wasn't really knowledgeable of. I was incredibly hungry afterwards, especially since as I was writing, I could smell mom baking banana cake downstairs. Pigged out a little once I could breathe. Haha.

So that's what happened. This post was supposed to be my take on a "Would You Rather" challenge, but my hands decided to write about my experience instead.

Do you have a similar experience to at least one of mine? Tell me all about it!

DML: The (Unplanned) Trip to Manila

April 17 was the most unexpected event in my life - ever.

That morning was the first day of my driving lessons and I had my mom with me for that. I was given a small owner-type jeep to master, and though I was scared at first since it wasn't an automatic, I eventually got the hang of it. My instructor told me I was an incredibly fast learner compared to the other three students there with us. Flattered, I did my best to live up to that statement.

This was my 'playground' for the morning. Those upright bamboo sticks served as my guides when driving forward, reversing, and parking. Of course, my first try wasn't perfect, and if I had counted, I'm sure it was a little under 10 minutes before I eventually got to start the car. Under the heat and glare of the sun, I'm pretty certain my instructor thought it was a twenty.

Before anything else, here's a little background. The evening before (16th), my aunt who had arrived just days before from Germany chatted me on Facebook and talked about the possibility of me and/or my brother travelling to Manila the next day for my cousin's wedding. Thrilled at the thought of travelling without 'adult supervision' for the first time, I told her that it was a shame we couldn't make it because we had no budget for it. There were five of us if ever we decided to go and 10,000 would be just a cut above the reasonable spending money in total. A few exchanges later, my aunt sent a screenshot of a flight schedule for the next day. It was a blur afterwards, but I ended up assuring my aunt I'd ask mom if she'd go with this sudden plan or not.

The following morning (the 17th), I told my mom about our conversation and after a few calls and texts between her and folks in Manila, I thought we had finally settled for a 'no'. So, it was business as usual for us and we travelled to Goa Central School (photos above) for my driving lesson. It was around that time that my mom started receiving calls and texts from my aunts persuading her to allow even just me to represent our family at the wedding. My mom ended up agreeing with them and as I continued my lesson, she left to go to the other side of town to get me a plane ticket for that afternoon. Using her 'powers' (haha) and contacts in Lagonoy, she secured a seat. It must've been a 'go' sign from God because I learned that my seat was the last one available on the last flight that day.

Around 11:30, we got a ride home and since my flight was still for 3pm, I figured I had heaps more time to prepare. It was a problem that I couldn't drop by our apartment in Naga to get clothes and toiletries, but my aunt had assured us she would buy me what I needed when I arrived in Manila. It didn't help that I was on my cycle and that I was already feeling weak from the heat and stress of the situation. After a quick shower, I grabbed my laptop bag, stuffed what I could in there and said my goodbye to everybody. A cousin would be accompanying me on the ride to Pili Airport, a solid one hour from San Jose.

The agonizing wait

We weren't able to find a ride to Goa as soon as I thought. We spent 20 minutes by the side of the road waiting for a van or a quality bus to travel by and at 1 pm, my chances of getting to the airport on time were becoming thinner every minute. Thankfully, at around 1:15, a bus arrived and we boarded, planning to get off at the terminal and switch to a van which would take us to our destination much faster. When we got there though, the van was less than 2/3 full and we knew it would take longer to wait for other passengers. My cousin suggested we get on an air-conditioned bus instead and at that moment, one arrived. We eagerly boarded and sat on the second row. Thus started my hour-long agony.

Every 10 or so minutes, I'd check my phone for the time. My stress worsened when I got a whiff of something fishy near our seats. I investigated and found that the smell was coming from one of the windows nearby. All I could do was cover my nose and close my eyes.

It was a little past two when we finally got to the airport. It was very hot and I was surprised to find out my cousin couldn't enter the facilities and wait for the flight with me. I'm telling you, I never thought my first time would go as smooth as it did. The guard was kind enough and the helpers were just as accommodating. I paid the terminal fee of Php 75 (another surprise I wasn't informed of) and went through the scanner. It was safe to say I didn't look like a total idiot during the process and once I found my seat in the waiting area, I calmed down.

Unfortunately, my seat was beside a girl and her mom. That wasn't really a bad thing, but this girl had no manners at all. Her elbow always got on my side of the seat and her feet kept grazing my jeans. It was immature of me, but I actually gave the kid a few cold stares (oops). That seemed to keep her in check for a few minutes before it started all over again. *Sigh. She looked 12 with the manners of a 6 year old brat.

The airport had free Wi-fi so I took the opportunity to go online and chat with friends and my mom. I eventually called them through Messenger too but avoided using my phone too much since its power was already below 50% (iPhone batteries are not great). It was then that I observed the partition for each waiting area. It turned out I was sitting in the Cebu Pacific waiting area. Mentally, I slapped my hand against my forehead. I was a dunce. It took me another 15 minutes to transfer to the PAL waiting area, mostly because I felt like standing up and sitting on another seat would make me look like a fool. It also took me another hit from the girl's elbow before I realized I had every right to get away from her to a better seat.

As if that experience wasn't enough, someone from PAL announced that our flight was going to be delayed. A few minutes before, I had been checking my ticket repeatedly just to make sure I hadn't missed my flight by accident. The boarding time was supposed to be at 2:40 pm, but it was already 3 pm and there was still no updates. I sort of relaxed when my flight was announced late, knowing that I hadn't missed it at all. It turned out that the plane still hadn't left Manila due to a runway problem. The plane eventually came at 4:30 pm. I'm telling you, my bum was more than sore from sitting that there's no word to describe it.

Flying solo

As we walked towards the small plane, I wondered how its inventors came to estimate that 40 people (excluding the pilots and cabin crew) could fit into such a tiny thing. It was a full plane, and I can tell you that because I was at the second to the last seat and was very close to the exit door. I was seated beside a man with a bag made from straw (really fascinating) and thankfully, I got a window seat. That meant I could take photos (which I did) and shoot a video (yes, that too). I only wish I was able to take a video of the actual lift off, but we were instructed to do otherwise (I'm such an obedient citizen, haha).

It was a purely magical experience. I watched as the ground became smaller and smaller and the clouds got bigger and less out of reach. The Philippine islands were indeed something to look at from above. The skies were open and the sea was very blue. I even saw small boats out on the sea a couple times too. Here's a short video of the flight (it's quite shaky, but watch-able).

During the flight, the man beside me continually kept dozing off and there was a point where I though he had fainted. At lift off, he was clutching the sides of the chair with his life and as soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, he yanked his off and closed his eyes. He even missed the stewardess as she handed out biscuits and water to the passengers. I didn't really want to eat it, but I realized I hadn't eaten anything for four hours already and I didn't want to complain about being hungry once I landed. I took my time eating and drinking and before I knew it, we were less than ten minutes from NAIA.

It was a bumpy landing (based on my experience riding other planes) but we arrived around 5:15 pm. We got onto a transporter bus and I followed the other passengers to the exit (I told you, I didn't want to look like a first-timer). There were a few minutes of waiting time and trying-to-find-each-other-moment, but eventually, I saw my aunt and uncle in the crowd. I remember thinking: No turning back now. Be a mature, responsible woman during your stay and try not to make things complicated for everyone. I've always been aware of my awkward tendencies around relatives who I haven't seen in a long time (and strangers too, of course), so I made a mental note to not screw things up. Now that I think about it, I might have tried a bit too hard.

The longest route

We ate dinner at Shakey's inside the airport and had small talk while eating. I got updated and my uncle (the father of the groom) seemed really excited and happy for his son. I was just really thankful to God that I had arrived safely. (My dad's always been afraid of riding small planes because due to its size, you can really 'feel the wind' from the inside. I wanted to prove that I could travel solo in small and big planes alike, so if I ever needed to travel alone to another country, they wouldn't have a hard time letting me go.)

After dinner, my aunt and uncle began talking about the quickest way to get to Trinoma, a mall near my cousins' place and also our shopping location (hee hee). It was smart of them not to bring a car since we'd have definitely been stuck in traffic for hours. It was fortunate that I brought just one bag.

We first decided to get into a taxi just so we could get out of the airport area. The line was incredibly, horribly long, and it was already dark. I think it was a little over 7 pm that we managed to get into a taxi, but we didn't have to get in line. Thankfully, I didn't look like I had just arrived from a flight given my minimal luggage and when we saw a taxi parked by a small group of policemen (they were holding inspections for vehicle registration and license validation), my uncle asked if we could get a ride out. It paid off that my uncle was a senior citizen, I'll give you that.

It was heavy traffic, and we got off a little way from the MRT fly-over. Ascending a long flight of stairs wasn't really a problem since I was used to those, but going on an MRT car with heaps and heaps of people squeezing themselves in was going to be a problem. Again, my uncle's senior citizenship worked like a charm. We got our tickets quicker than the others and we got to ride on the first car meant for disabled, pregnant, and old people. I don't remember the number of stops before we got to ours, but it was more or less seven stations we passed. Remember, I already had an aching bottom from the long wait at Pili earlier.

The first order of business at the mall was to get some heels. It had to be wearable, fashionable, classical and can transition from formal to casual with the right clothes. We found one after 30 minutes or so and we proceeded to find clothes. I'm not a dress person, so it had to be dark pants and a formal blouse. At just 8:40 pm, we finished the haul. The mall closes at 9 pm, so we had no time to get some contacts for me. I had to deal with the fact that I was going to look older than I was in the wedding. But then again, I won't be the center of attention. I'm not sure of the time, but it was pretty late when we got to my cousin's house in Frisco.

The evening drags to a close

I wanted to go online immediately after washing up and preparing for bed so I took out my mac and settled in the living room where my cousins, aunts, and grandmother were applying polish on one another's nails. I wasn't digging getting my nails done, so I left them to it. A little while later, I went to bed. One of my cousins and I had to share a bed and admittedly, I couldn't sleep properly. I was charging my phone on the batteries of my mac so it was settled at the foot of the bed. My other cousins who were on a mattress on the floor were busy with their phone and tablet. It was well past 3 am that I got a fair amount of sleep. Around 6 am, I woke up. The day had come to put on my best self.

This post is already long enough as it is. Thanks for reading through! I hope I didn't bore you too much. See you tomorrow!

DML: The Coffee Bean - Throwback to a Day of Shooting

One event I failed to blog about before we graduated was the time we had passed the initial panel stage and were then facing around two weeks of revisions. That meant we had to re-shoot and re-render certain parts of our reel before we submitted them to the industry panel.

I planned to start my Live-to-CG from scratch, so I needed a green screen. Thankfully, we had a Chroma room at school and the only dilemma I had left was coming up with a good enough concept to wow the industry panel. As I continued searching for ideas, a friend of mine (the same person I usually hang out and have food trips with) decided she would shoot hers at The Coffee Bean at Magsaysay Avenue, so off we went like a bunch of pros - carrying a very heavy tripod, backpacks, and a DSLR. I admit, I felt like we looked a little more 'legit' than usual.

Of course, we had to order drinks (I think we also had cake) to shoot, so I ordered cappuccino (which Bem used to shoot her scene) and she got something with honey and green gulaman. We started in the afternoon and went home a few hours after sunset.

The piece of paper stuck to my cup was the track point she used for her shot. We initially had planned to draw on a moustache in Photoshop on the mug, but I figured it wasn't a new idea. In the end, I left the paper on there.

It was definitely moments like this that made our months of labor worthwhile. As the rest of our batch mates were slaving away in front of the computers and rarely relaxing, we constantly went out for food trips and coffee whenever we had the budget and if we were up for it. Looking back, it was a good thing we decided to regularly eat out like this as it helped us focus later on and release the stress.

That's another trip down memory lane I'd enjoy taking everyday. :)

Minions + Mason Jars + Locket: Update Post

Hello there!

Okay, I'm really excited for a load of stuff this month, and most of them are still ideas brewing. There are a number of movies I'm waiting for as well, and there are reviews I've been putting off making until now. It's going to be a packed blogging week and hopefully, my writing skills can catch up with the stories.

Around five days ago, my brother and I went shopping for anything we saw we wanted (we had a limit, so we knew those items had to be good). That involved eating, snacking, trying on clothes, going through all the isles in the department store and talking. We saw heaps of glassware I wanted to buy because they were all too cute to handle, but I decided to hold back for the time being and move on to other important things, like clothes and school items.

There was a whole stall dedicated to BIC at the National Bookstore and sitting on top of them were Minion-decorated writing tools. I'm a sucker for these things (and anything cute to be honest) and I was going to get ten of each tool but my more practical side argued with me and I ended buying just one of each (plus a ruler and 2 erasers from Pilot and Faber).

Also, I've been getting into lettering recently and although I'm not the best (not even half of 'great'), I'm experimenting and {so far} liking the results. Watercolor has been a real pain in the bum since I'm not used to it 'cause I'm more of a colored pencil-ink-digital kind of artist. I'm not giving up on this though, and I have loads of inspiration on the net and from my friends who are really pretty good at it. That's a work in progress. I might not even finish it.

This is what I've really been excited for. Getting my very own mason jar.  I know it's a shallow goal (obviously) but I've seen pictures on Instagram and Pinterest and the drink that look so good in them and well... I had to get one. Well, I got two. One with a gold lid and one with a silver lid. The gold one has a hole on it for straws but I'm still looking for the perfect one.

I even got around to researching about making healthy drinks and what goes well with what but I still haven't been motivated enough to go shopping for the ingredients. The sad thing about all this is that I want to make something with raspberries, and there aren't any being sold in the supermarket (or anywhere else nearby). Even strawberries are sort of rare. Bummer. There aren't even any kiwis!!! Double bummer!

Now, this isn't something I bought but I figured I'd share it with you anyway. My mom and dad bought me this locket a few days before my graduation day as a gift. I've been looking for a locket (real silver that doesn't smell like metal or turns black after a while) for at least two years now and being gifted with this cute heart locket made my entire month. Thanks mom and dad.

Ever since, I haven't failed to wear it for anything. Wearing it, I experienced my first solo domestic flight to Manila (a travel post I have yet to write). I wore it to my first driving lesson, my first swim-outing at Calalahan, my first dinner at Italiannis, my first dinner at the Shakey's restaurant at NAIA, and my first personal meeting with someone I've been wanting to see since I found out how I was connected to that person.

It's just something I want to keep with me all the time and open it up to be reminded of the loving family I have. I printed the photos and placed them in there the same day I got it. Mom got a smaller heart locket just last week too.

I'm really thankful for everything that's happened the past month and now that it's May, there's potential for more experiences and adventures. My job hunt has been pretty slow, but I'm quite confident that when I do get contacted for an interview, it'll be the perfect job.

Until my next post!
(Hint: It's going to be soon!)