A Quick Guide to Long Distance Relationships (LDR)

When you love someone, being apart from them is the worst feeling ever, especially if you only get to come together once a month or once every three to six months. It's obviously harder to catch up with each other and make time for each other, and in my case, having someone living two hours ahead from me adds to that difficulty (might not be a lot of time, but you get the point).

Since people have asked me time and time again how we've managed to be together all these years, and how we're still very much in-love, I've put together a little guide to help people who are new to LDRs or those who will be experiencing an LDR in the future. These are from experiences, and have been proven to work in our situation. Some might work for you, and some might not. Ready?

1. Establish trust before going long-distance.

One of the ultimate causes for failing relationships (LDR or not) is the lack of trust between the couple. Before you go into a long-distance relationship, you two have to be able to trust each other to stay loyal - and that could be incredibly hard. The less we see of a person, the more thoughts we have of him/her being unfaithful or getting bored and looking elsewhere for comfort. When you start getting thoughts like these, STOP.

Here's a tip: when your mind starts playing with you, go back to past memories you had when you were together. Go back to that moment he assured you of his loyalty. Make sure it's as vivid as you can make it, and just breathe. Want an easier solution? TRUST HIM. A fight can be triggered just by a single text or message, without any solid evidence to back it up. Don't let your imagination and lack of faith in him ruin your relationship.

2. Give him/her space.

You might think that with all the miles between the two of you, he'd have all the space he needed, but that's not the case at all. Yes, spatially, you are countries apart (in my case, at least), but in a relationship where one is clingy and one is a little more laid-back, the latter might feel suffocated. 

Giving your partner "space" doesn't mean going for weeks with just a single text/message. That's preposterous. I used to think that being thoughtful meant always chatting with him at least twice a day and asking him how his day has been, but the more we matured, the more I realized multiple texts each day might not be the best way to make him feel I'm looking out for him.

Here's a tip: Instead of sending a lot of random texts each day, why not greet your partner in the morning before work and send a message before you go to bed at night? You don't have to be all strict about it of course (we still text random times when we know the other person is stressed, bored, or doing something they need moral support in), but we have to consider the fact that a message intended to make them feel special might have been sent at the worst time. 

3. Make time.

Never think for a second that because both of you are busy, you'll no longer have the means to let them know you're thinking about them throughout the day. What's so hard about sending a short message like, "Hey babe, busy atm but wanna let u know you got this" (his actual message to me by the way, haha)? Got your hands full? USE SIRI and make her text for you. 

Giving time for each other should matter more because time is all you have going for you when you're in a long-distance relationship. You can't be together physically, but you can spend time together either via Skype, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts - just any way. And you'll need time to make it work.

Ever heard a couple fighting because "you don't have the time for me anymore" or "your priorities have changed"? This can totally be avoided. I've been with my guy for 11 years, and we've never had this fight. We're similar people who need our space, enjoy silent moments alone or with each other, and devote time to regularly talk. Yes we've argued, but never for this reason. In an LDR, time is ten times more valuable.

4. Send random surprises their way.

For those whose love language is more on material things, sending your significant other unexpected gifts you know they'll love will be a great way to let them know you care. If you're in the same country but in different states/towns, this will prove to be quite easier. In our case, we're online shopping buddies, which means most of our shopping is done online. 

I know, we're not all rich and can barely afford to pay off student loans or pay monthly bills, but your gifts won't have to be super expensive. Lance has gifted me several expensive jewelry (hello, Tiffany) because he can afford it, but I don't have that kind of bank account. Instead, I send him statement pieces like an elegant tie from a favorite store he likes, or get him a health box subscription 'cause he's a total sucker for those things. Here's a tip: buy from his/her country's store site as there's probably going to be free shipping within the territory. 

Also, don't feel bad if you can't match something expensive with an equally wallet-tearing item. It's often the thought that matters (cliché, yes), and when you're in-love with someone, you'll be willing to accept anything they give you.

5. Don't give in to social pressure.

You might be seeing a lot of posts on social media these days about #couplegoals, followed by people in the comment section tagging their partners and saying, "this could be us" or "babe, why don't you do this for me". The thing is, every relationship is different (which is why in the beginning of this article I mentioned some may work and some might not), and with long-distance relationships, you can't afford to give in to society's idea of the perfect relationship.

This generation is waking up to a world full of #goals, and it makes people think that if you're not within that definition of said "goals", you're a loser. This is dangerous thinking, because we tend to overlook what's real and try to apply what society says should be. I often see posts about guys sending flowers a few times a week, or boyfriends taking their girls to trips to the Bahamas or to Paris, and even guys who spend so much on creating the perfect birthday party for their girlfriends (and vice-versa). While these are all great expressions of love, you shouldn't expect a 30-karat ring on your monthsary. 

Appreciate and feel happy for couples who are able to do said goals, but don't go forcing your man to do the same thing. Chances are, he wants to give you these experiences, but can't at the moment. Don't be a stuck-up b*tch and prattle on to your friends about your man's "incompetence" and how you need a new sugar daddy. (Also applies to guys, okay?)

Long-distance relationships are always under attack, much like normal relationships are. They sometimes get into crazier fights and go weeks on end without talking to each other. They sometimes get the feeling that the other is cheating on them, and sends a message that infuriates the other. What's incredibly difficult is that you can't talk about an issue face to face, and no matter how great your internet connection is, there's a tone in his or her voice that will make you think twice about what was said. 
Lance and I used to see each other once a month, but now that he's taking his Masteral on Neurology, we're seeing each other less often. His last visit was July 2017, and we're looking forward to coming together again either this November or December. It's hard, because there are many times I need him to be physically present, and he's told me he would've loved to share a cocktail or two with me during the weekend many times before. There's not an experience I've had where I wouldn't have wanted him there too. 

Having an LDR isn't all bad though, as it did a lot of good things for us as a couple and as individuals. We both don't like to hover around the other, and we both prioritize our families and career first. We're firm believers that we need to both be successful to be able to help more people around us, and we both hate feeling inadequate in any form. Thus, we tend to want to "out-please" the other, and that goes for some very funny stories. (I guess his Australian genes gave him a natural sense of humor?)

Are you in a long-distance relationship right now, or going to be in one in the future (maybe because of studies, etc.)? Don't worry, you'll get through it. I hope you picked up a thing or two from this article. Like I said in the beginning, these are tips and shouldn't be followed religiously. If all points work for you, then hey, congratulations. Just please don't come back after a few months and tell me off 'cause they didn't apply to yours.

Any other LDR-related topics you want to read about? Let me know in the comments, and if I have enough know-how about it, I'll do an article on it. Deal? Deal.

Happy loving!

The Sweet Spot: Tugawe Cove Café

Ya'll know I'm a coffee/café lover, and it's such an exciting event when a new café opens up in my area. One such place is Tugawe Cove Café, a cute, very chill hang-out location situated by the entrance of Robinson's Place Naga.


From the get-go, I was immediately attracted to the huge painted wall by the entrance, and anyone who passes by is sure to see it. I found it intriguing and very bold, and the wall had the makings of becoming an excellent background to my selfies. From the outside, I like how it was designed. It felt homey and warm, and gave me a sense of not having to rush to do anything immediately. I wanted to stay and chase time away.


Tugawe Cove Café offered a relaxed, calming vibe. I stepped inside and I resolved to stay for as long as I was allowed. There's plenty of light (perfect for those flat lays!) and it just feels airy. Light. Paired with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the setting was perfect. If I were still studying I'd definitely come over during long breaks and review for an exam there.


Of course, you don't go to a café just to admire its interior. The deal-breaker is the quality of the food being served. No matter how pretty a place is, if the food sucks, I'll be out the door in a moment. Here's how Tugawe Cove Café fared in my opinion.

lt was my first time, so I wasn't sure which pasta dish to order. I went for my guts and ordered the Tugawe Lasagna, along with a glass of Iced Caramel Macchiato.

Now I do have to be honest - as I always am when reviewing things/places/food - the quality of the pasta could've been better. It was pretty good overall though, and I would've loved to have taken a fork out of it while it was still hot (our fault - we just had to take photos). Tasted very light for a pasta dish, and it isn't hard on the stomach at all. 

I loved the macchiato though, but I made a terrible mistake by having a glass during the afternoon. While I have a high tolerance for caffeine, certain drinks still get to me. Surprisingly, this was one of 'em. I could NOT sleep that night. That was when I got heaps of ideas for zines I wanted to create. Huh. Would you look at that. 

For this set, I'm giving it a 3.75/5 stars. (Don't get me wrong - it was great, okay? I just have high standards when it comes to pasta, coming from a family of great cooks and having a mom who's worked at an authentic Italian restaurant in Australia. Once you taste authentic, anything else won't compare.)

This dish was ordered by my friend over at Nickastig, and according to him, it tasted great. Personally, I've never tried any seafood dish I didn't like, so I'm guessing it holds true for this pasta dish as well. I'll have to try this out for myself next time.


Overall, I see myself going back during the weekends off work and just hanging out. I LOVE the ambience and the amount of sunlight it invites inside the café. I can't pass judgement on a place just because I tasted one dish. Not my style. :)

Stay tuned for progress of this review. I'll definitely be trying the others on the menu. 

Get Your Hair SNATCHED! - Divatress

© Divatress

They say that a woman's hair is her crowning glory, and while we'd all love to have gorgeous locks that look soft and fragrant, our genes and diet could get in the way. There are also times we'd like to get our hair colored a dramatic ombré of maybe pink and purple, but don't want to risk permanent damage. Good thing wigs were created.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. As usual, everything I write and comment are my own opinions. 

Introducing Divatress. They're a leading beauty e-commerce company that provides heaps of hair care products and wigs. Their clients are also varied, ranging from professional stylists to students. Remember when I said we all want gorgeous locks? Look no further because this site has you covered. From a plethora of styles and hair colors, Divatress delivers.

Listed: 5 Amazing Living Room Inspirations

Who doesn't want their own crib? Ever since I've had the right to live alone (and I will in the near future, once I save up to get a place of my own), I've been attracted to browsing the internet for interior design inspiration for all parts of the house, most specifically the living room, garden, and the bedroom.

It's one of those wishes that I hope to will be my reality before I reach my 30's (yikes - 5 years to go), and I'm getting excited and more aggressive in figuring out what I really want for my future place. There are so many amazing designs to choose to emulate, so I've gathered 10 of my favorite living room arrangements that might also help you see what it is you want. For this post, our focus will be on modern, airy designs.


I love indirect lighting, especially when shooting flat-lays. If I'm going to be living alone, I don't want to feel suffocated inside my own space, so having a lot of big, glass windows that allow the sunlight to seep through will definitely help me with that.

My Experience at One Shangri-La Place

There are reasons why I set strict rules for myself when booking hotels and tickets for travels. One, I don't want any mix-ups or hindrances that will prevent me from having a great time, two, I have trust issues when it comes to dealing directly with people for a tour or a place to stay - I'd rather talk with a hotel staff and be sure they won't mess things up to protect their brand - and three, it makes me feel cheap (for some reason) to not book directly with a hotel (just my thing I guess).

However, during a recent trip to Manila, I decided to try going against my rules - and it was one of the best experiences I've had in the area.

Starbucks for the 'Late Bloomers'

As much as people hate to admit it, Starbucks is currently one of the largest and most popular café chains in the world (aside from good ol' Australia). I don't know of anyone who hasn't been to Starbucks yet, but even those that go in from time to time have doubts and inhibitions about the menu and the fancy pronunciation of things.

If you haven't been to Starbucks (or rarely go) but have friends who are regulars (and practically live there every day), chances are you might have heard a thing or two about what goes on inside and that ordering something you don't know could be a total nightmare. So you never go, and when you do, you have your friends order "whatever they think you'd like" just to save yourself from having to choose from the menu.

To start going to Starbucks and hanging out like a pro, you need to bear in mind 5 things that'll help you blend in and look like you practically live off of the brand.

6 Amazing Templates for Your Blog on Etsy

No matter how awesome your content may be, it's usually the aesthetics that really make your readers feel safe and comfortable on your website. Give them something too plain and they'll find your site boring. Give them something literally popping out of the screen and they'll be clicking out of your tab as soon as you can say 'sorry'.

I've struggled with my blog's look for years, and I can never quite get what I actually wanted. I didn't have enough time in the past year to actually code my own theme, so I looked to online sites to find the perfect one. Recently, Etsy has been looking out for me. While I do believe you don't necessarily have to pay for a good theme, I find paid themes do most of the work for me, unlike most free ones.

Here are 6 awesome templates from Etsy that will give your site the 'punch' and help capture your readers for longer periods of time.

Blogger Themes

1. Kell 

This is a truly beautiful theme. If you have a blog that relies on photos, you'd definitely want to pick this one up. It's clean, chic, and very nicely done. I'd buy this right now if I just hadn't purchased another one a few days back, haha.

Robinsons Place Naga is Now Open!

Shut up and take my money.

Yes, the much awaited mall is finally open, and SM Naga finally has a reason to up their efforts and give consumers what we've been wanting for years: more stores to spend money on (I have no beef with SM though, just saying). Kidding aside, Robinsons Place Naga is the newest (and currently the largest) mall around, so of course, we couldn't have an opening without a grand launch. On August 15, 2017, they did just that.

Thank you to everyone who joined the Grand Opening of Robinsons Place Naga! #RobinsonsPlaceNaga #RobinsonsPlaceNagaNOWOPEN #RobinsonsMalls
Posted by Robinsons Place Naga on Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Listed: 7 Animated Films That Are Well Worth Your Time

I'm a film buff, and as I graduated as an Animator with a real passion for well-made films (technical and story-wise), it pains me to see a lot of people unaware of the other wonderful movies that aren't exactly mainstream. This list was born out of the many times I've talked with people and none of them had heard any of those listed here.

Hopefully, you'll find time to watch these beautifully done animated films. From someone who's experienced the struggles and the amount of effort needed to finish an animated piece, I urge you to watch more and learn to appreciate the effort the creators and the whole team have done to deliver you entertainment.

1. Mary and Max (2009)

This film is easily one of my favorites from this list. The story centers on a young girl from Australia who finds a pen-pal through an old Yellow Pages at a store on one of her trips with her mom. Questions such as "Where do babies come from?" are also humorously answered.

Reviewing Coreanos: A Piece of Korea in Magsaysay

As a foodie, it’s my mission to find and review food that I will enjoy with friends. I’ve gone around more well-known restaurants and cafés that have been in Naga for years, and I figured it was time to focus on those I haven’t been to, which have just popped up within the past few months. So, one Friday evening after work, instead of our usual Starbucks Friday sessions, me and a few colleagues decided to try something new.

BPI Foundation: The Sinag Program

I've always been a strong advocate of self-improvement and youth empowerment, always willing to share my knowledge and experiences with people who want to listen. As such, I'm blessed to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who continue to pursue their goals and passions without thinking twice if there will be an ROI or return of investment - something that eventually becomes present in the long run.

This is also why BPI Foundation's Sinag Program caught my attention. They're also working towards the same thing - to empower social entrepreneurs and support these young businessmen/women. The more I read about their Sinag Program, the more I began to feel like I wanted in on their advocacy.

Go to their website here

My Go-to Makeup Essentials

They say makeup should enhance a person’s natural beauty, and I’m all for enhancement. While I don’t wear makeup everyday (only during “feeling pretty” days, special events, and meetings) I’ve come up with a routine-to-materials-available ratio that works for me. These aren’t by any means expensive as far as I know, so if you want to know more, please keep reading!

Note: I wasn’t sure if I should do a little makeup routine video to complement this post, so I just didn’t do one. I’m also still trying to get over my fear of appearing on camera and subjecting myself to judgmental internet creeps. 

Disclaimer: I’m not a beauty guru or makeup artist. Just putting it out there, haha.

1. Covering Concealers by Douglas (Shades 2 & 3)

I used to wear concealer sticks - often way lighter than normal - but soon found liquid concealers more to my liking. They’re easier to apply too, and easier to blend out with a beauty blender or blending brush. I don’t use #2 often as #3 is more my shade (the reflection made #3 darker than it really is in real life). I’ve got my aunt to thank for these babies, as she gave these to me during her recent vacation from Germany. 

Komentarista Café: A Quaint Place to Hang Out

A lot of coffee shops have been popping out in Naga City the past few months, and each one has had to adjust to make themselves unique so people keep coming back to them. Among them is Komentarista Café, located along Mayon Avenue.

It’s a two-story building that’s a great size for intimate conversations or spoken-word sessions, something they’re also known for. (I’ve got a work mate who regularly performs his spoken-word pieces here.) I had never been to the place despite living near the area, so I decided to tag along with colleagues one weekend.

It was around 7-8pm when we got here, and I was quite glad to have the place to ourselves (aside from a couple by the terrace), mostly so that I could do a little photoshoot for the blog. 

You can order food and drinks from the counter downstairs, then proceed upstairs to find a table. That evening, I remember us getting beers and pizza, while listening to our friend perform.

The menu items are reasonably priced, but to be honest, I wish they served better food. The drinks are a given - beer, juice, shakes, etc. - but the food could be better. Having great company can make up for this, but again, if it were just me and a friend, the place wouldn’t exactly be my first choice. It’s cute, but sometimes, cute is not enough.

Would I be willing to go back and give Komentarista Café a second try? Sure, granted that I’m with a pack of people and not quite concerned with filling my stomach. I have to be honest though - it would take a good set of friends to make me.

Pet Peeves '10,000 feet above'

If you’ve ever been on a plane, you know the dreadful feeling of not knowing the type of people you’ll be with for the next 8-12 hours, on average. There’s also that fear of boarding a flight that might be a terrorist’s target, or a flight that puts you between a movie buff and a “this-flight-could-be-better-if” nagger. 

I’ve never had to travel alone on a plane (except for domestic flights), so I’m thankful I don’t have to guess my seat-mate and get butterflies in the process. I’m a people person, but I just hate the idea of sitting next to a total stranger who may or may not be the last human you’ll ever interact with. (Sorry for always thinking the worst when flying, but one tends to get these dark ideas at times. Moving on!)

Don’t get me wrong - I love flying, especially with airlines that have comfortable seats and a great selection of food (on top of great TV channels). Sometimes though, I can’t stand being around a certain group of people or be put in a situation where I’d rather be watching some corny telenovela (which is a total pain). I’ve listed a few things that irk me on a flight, and if you can relate, let me know in the comments!

On a side-note, this article might get a little emotional. Haha.

1. Babies / kids in general.

Look, I get it. You can’t help but fly with your little monster/s (I love babies - no sarcasm intended) and I like the fact you’re trying to widen his/her horizons. I admire you for wanting to give the best for your children, but please, please know how to control them when they hold tantrums. 

I’m not talking about moments when they whine for something (as that’s understandable). By tantrums I meant violent episodes where a little goblin baby is jumping up and down on the seat, holding a bagel or beverage, crying at the top of his/her poor lungs, asking to watch Scooby-Doo, and waking everybody up in the middle of the night. I’m trying to get some rest on an already stressful flight, so don’t make me hate kids because you can’t control yours. (I still love kids, by the way. Don’t take your pitchforks out just yet.)

2. Bathrooms that smell like - well - bathrooms.

If I’m 10,000 feet in the air, I don’t want my bathroom smelling like how they would on the ground. It might sound a bit “prima donna-ish” to you but I really can’t stand the smell. I also don’t appreciate bathrooms that smell like a crap-load of disinfectants, Zonrox, and other cleaning chemicals mixed together. I like my bathrooms odorless as much as possible. I have a sensitive nose - a curse, in other words - and just recalling the time I got a whiff of that scent sends shivers up my spine. I won’t mention the airline, but I will say that I was on a flight that changed my perspective on life. 

For passengers who really have to do a number 2 on the flight, I implore you to bring your own air fresheners or something to tone down the smell of last night’s dinner (or whatever you ate before the trip). 

3. Snoring.

Light snores are okay, but if you sound like a microphone was squeezed up your nostrils and connected to the plane’s audio system, we’ve got a huge problem. We’re all trying to get some decent sleep, and as much as I’m glad you’re enjoying your moment of solitude, please help me enjoy mine. 

If you’re a loud snorer and are going to be on a flight, please do yourself a favor and do a little research on how to reduce the volume. This speaks of your health too, so if you think about it, I’m actually also concerned for you. Read up, for your sake first, then ours. 

4. Cold meals.

I don’t know how long my sandwich has been sitting on your tray in the kitchen, but it’s no longer edible. It feels more like a tire than bread to me. I expect to be served food that I can appreciate, not food that I am forced to eat because (1) I paid for it, and (2) a lot of children in Africa are starving (I am not making fun of Africans, just to clarify - people interpret things waayyy out of context these days).

I just need the airlines to realize that part of their service and rating are the food being served. This isn’t just about the seat or the 24-hour bar available for business and first-class passengers. It’s everything from the moment I buy your ticket, check-in my luggage, ride the flight, and pick-up my luggage afterwards. It’s the experience, and if I’m being served meals that seem to have just come out from the freezer, your airline will be a solid 1-star. 

Alright, back to positivity and rainbows. 

I may sound like such a drag to be on a trip with, but I like being comfortable. If I can afford it, I choose the best option available. I choose my flights (and bus trips) wisely now and try to avoid putting myself in situations where these items arise. I pay for my peace of mind, and this applies to everything - whether I’m buying a gadget, booking a hotel, or planning where to host my next blog. Don’t suffer if you don’t have to. 

Public Speaking: Just Get Up There!

I used to be a really, really shy teen. Growing up, I was told I used to be comfortable singing in front of relatives during family gatherings, but as I matured, I started building a shell around me. Eventually, this turned into a bad case of introversion, causing me to underperform during high school and shy away from the stage during elementary as much as I could. Not that this prevented my teachers from pushing me forward. 

Numerous times, I was tasked to do speeches, asked to sing in front of my peers and a larger audience, participate in debates, speak for my group during discussions - and other things that required a "me-against-the-world" type of setting. It made me uncomfortable to speak my mind to a large group of people who might not even care about what I wanted to say, and the mere thought of being rejected and openly dismissed scared the crap out of me.

These days, I'm not too worried anymore. No, it's not because I'm an expert or that I no longer have the fear of messing up - rather, it's because I've learned something about myself that made me realize I didn't have to freeze in terror.

Before I get to that, here are a few tips I'd like to give those who are struggling with speaking in public, to help you perform better and get rid of "the-world-is-gonna-eat-me-alive" thinking.

1. Know your crowd.

Control is everything, more so in public speaking. To know your audience is to know how to calibrate your choice of words, your tone, your voice, your style of persuading and/or informing, and how strong you'll need to come on with your topic. What kind of people are they, and why did they attend to hear you talk? This is about them believing in what you're proposing. If you've been invited as a speaker, ask the organizer about the event's demographics. The more you speak your audience's language, the easier it will be to convince them of something.

2. Trust your knowledge.

Chances are, whoever tapped you to speak knew what they were doing and respects your experience. You were asked to speak for an audience in need of what you know, so use that to boost your confidence. Sure, others in the crowd might have their own opinions of how, say, a newbie blogger should get started, but for the period of your talk, they're there to learn from you and pick up new ideas. You wouldn't have been put in that situation if no one believed you were ready. Trust what you know (but don't stop there).

3. Relax, be yourself.

Okay, this is such a cliché, and I'm sorry if you cringed. But this is true in almost all cases of public speaking. People listen to those they can relate to, and if you come across as robotic, monotonous, or incredibly superior to them, they'll tune out. That human aspect you bring to your talks is the anchor to your believability. I've attended seminars and workshops over the years, and some of the best speakers I've heard used their 'humanity' to connect, instead of pushing the audience to believe what they're saying. Once you connect on that level of familiarity with your audience, you can persuade them to believe anything you say.

4. Organize your thoughts into segments.

People in general don't like storms (for good reason). It's a given that if your speech is all over the place, no one, not even those with hard copies of your speech, will understand your point. Plan your 'opening grabber' (an introduction that will capture your audience's interest), your points to highlight, and your explosive ending. Endings don't have to always be something that leaves your listeners weirded out or shocked - just a little something to keep them thinking about your talk hours (or days) after it's over.

Of course, if something happens in the middle of your talk, following your outline might be the worst thing you could do. Learn how to easily adapt to changes in your audience's mood and interest. You might have a story or two to help them further understand your point or just to lighten up the room a bit. 

5. Smile.

We forget a lot of things when we're afraid or shocked, and during public speeches, forgetting to smile is one that's been on the list since the beginning of time. Remember, the people you're talking to are there to listen to you and learn from your expertise. A smile instantly tells your audience that (1) you're confident with what you're saying, (2) you're approachable, and (3) have their interests at heart. Be the friend that will help them ease into doing whatever you're talking about, and let them know you can be trusted. Some smiles deceive - let yours encourage.

Practicing, being prepared, and doing mouth exercises are all helpful, and are a given in getting better at public speaking. What I listed are those which helped me break most of my shell, and I'm still at work. I've done workshops and seminars in the past, and those experiences have helped take away my shyness in talking to a crowd.

Have any tips for your fellows? Let me know in the comments! 

Need help? I'm always ready. Shoot me an email at contact@theindymiss.com :)

How To ‘Wing’ Any Task, Every Single Time

You may have, unbeknownst to you, done this a few times in your life already, but how do you go about actually ‘winging’ certain tasks? What situations do you have to be in to ‘wing’ them? What does ‘winging’ even mean?

To ‘wing it’ is to simply perform well at something you otherwise have little or no skill to accomplish. Some classic examples could be doing a talk on a topic you don’t really know about or playing a sport you’ve had no training at whatsoever (thank your genes).

Winging things in life has its perks, and I’ve definitely had some great experiences with it. I’ve winged so many tests at college, winged reports, winged interviews, meetings I’ve had at work, and even some tasks I’ve never done (but have heard about a few times). While I always recommend being prepared for anything, there are times when you need to wing yourself out of (or into) situations.

Winging things can only be successful if you’re confident you can get away with it.Confidence is key here. You’ll need to know how to keep eye contact, modulate your voice that’ll make you sound believable (if you’re doing a speech or something similar), use body language to exude power (link to my article), and hold yourself as someone with the authority to be doing that specific task. It will also help if you’re a wide reader

Now, a question usually posed to me is this: Isn’t ‘winging’ lying or deceiving other people? Personally, I don’t think so. Deception is often intentional, while winging is having to improvise when you’re left with no other choice. If you’re suddenly put in a position where you’ve got zilch time to prepare, there’s no other choice than to wing it.

I remember having to wing a debate in college, about whether or not sleeping with the lights on is better than sleeping with the lights off. Our team had very little time to prepare, if at all, and in the end, after looking my classmates square in the face as I refuted the statements of the other party (we were assigned the ‘lights on’ position by the way), we won. Scientifically, sleeping with the lights off provides more benefits, but because our team spoke with such confidence, we managed to steer the audience our way.

Also, back in Oman (a country 4 hours away from Dubai where I spent three years after high school in), I had to play bowling with some friends from church. I didn’t say I had zero experience ‘cause they might not give me the time of day, but once I got into it, I started getting the hang of holding the bowling ball and ‘steering’ it where I needed it to go. After a few hours, I felt like I had been bowling all my life. No one knew I’d never bowled before too, and I got away with it. Not only did I spend such a great time with friends, but I learned how to bowl just by observing others doing it.

Another example of winging something is going to a meeting unprepared but still providing input into the conversation. Sometimes, I have no idea what we’re talking about but then I hear a word or two that gives me a hint and I go for it. It works out all the time for me. In this case, the key is being attentive to the words being exchanged. You pick up hints when you do, and using these little keywords, you try to inject related items until you understand what you’re meeting about fully. Call it luck during the first go, but if this happens often, it’s no longer just that. It’s winging it.

It takes practice to be great at this. You might feel awkward and very self-aware when you try it for the first time, but as you are pushed to keep doing it, it’ll get easier. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been winging things since my school days (which I’m sure you have done too), making me look so prepared all the time and knowledgeable about a lot of things. Believe me - I don’t know everything. Hell, I’ve winged conversations I had no knowledge about, but people still saw me as sort of an expert on it after. 

When was a time you winged something? How was the experience?

3 Ways To Make Client/Designer Relationships Work

So you’ve got a client, and you’re very excited to get started on your project. The first few stages roll out fine, but you notice your relationship becoming quite strained. You find yourself wanting to speak with your client less and less, and you just want the project to be done with. You may have finished the job, but how did your relationship with your client fare?

This dynamic could be very powerful if handled correctly, and it doesn’t require a magician to keep things running smoothly between designers and clients. What does it take to make this relationship (or any other relationship, in fact) work at top condition?

1. Communicate continuously.

As a Designer, when you’ve got the green light to start working, that doesn’t mean you speed up so fast there’s no time for pit stops. I get it - you’re a free spirit whose creativity shouldn’t be confined to a box, but you’re 50% responsible for delivering the project as best you can. You’re part of a team of yourself and your client. Be open to your client and make sure you’re both on the same page. Keep each other in the loop of whatever developments happen. That doesn’t mean staying connected 24/7 of course, but major movements need to be reported.

As a Client, giving the designer a green light doesn’t mean you can just sit back and give the whole task solely in the hands of your employed worker. Yes, while the whole point of you getting someone to work on it was for you to be able to relax and be worry-free, you handle 50% of the success of the relationship too! Staying in the loop allows you to work on developing the project together, making necessary adjustments that will benefit both you and the designer. 

Lack of communication often leads to misunderstandings, causing “I told you so’s” and generally a sour relationship between both parties. Instead of having an awesome project which you both can be proud of, either one or both of you may feel cheated or feel they’ve wasted time on it. Most problems come from the fact that there was no communication in the duration of the project, and the expectation that the ‘designer should know what to do’ or the lament that ‘the client wasn’t very clear about what the next developments will be’, could’ve been avoided altogether.

2. Set expectations.

While we’re on the subject of expectations, I’d like to say that it’s better to set these before the project even begins, and the more detailed, the better. I’m sure you already know this, but setting expectations help put milestones on the map, and both parties are then able to see the roadmap more clearly. Expectations help make the blueprint of the whole engagement - you know what’s expected of you as a designer, you are clear on what you need from the designer as a client, and anyone can look back on that list further down the timeline and not get lost in terms of what they need to deliver. 

As someone who’s been doing professional freelance design work for 4-5 years now, I’ve experienced clients who have no idea what they should expect, and in this case, it’s our role as designers to educate them. This will make things easier for us ‘free-spirited’ people, because once we’re clear on each others’ expectations, only then can we actually use our creativity to execute it as we see fit. 

When we do video or voice calls over Skype (most clients are foreign employers) and they finish giving a very vague brief of what they want done, I go over what they’ve mentioned. An example would be if someone wanted an animated video done, ‘with pictures and a character in it’, I go back and ask what they mean. Is it a video that’s 2D, or 3D? What’s their general idea of “pictures with a character”, and so on. More often, all they want is an infographic with “moving pictures”, and not a fully animated character. Again, we go back to item number one - communicate

3. Understand where both parties are coming from.

We tend to get impatient with others who don’t understand what we’re saying, and that happens even in normal conversations, right? More so in this dynamic. Often, clients who want some design work done have no idea how to call something so trivial to us, and we involuntarily widen the gap between us and the client by perceiving them as idiots. We’ve got to understand that they didn’t study Fine Arts or get a degree in Design to learn the jargon. They wouldn’t know the difference between “raster” and “vector” images even if they went to the best University in the country. It’s not their chosen discipline.

This is the same for us designers. If we’re employed by a businessman, we also wouldn’t know jargon related to their field. If they looked like idiots to us for not knowing Color Theory, we’ll look like idiots to them for not knowing simple business terminology. We’ve all got our strengths, and the reason why they come to us for design help is because they know we know what we’re doing. We also go to other professions for help in their related areas, like a doctor or a veterinarian for example. 

Patience goes a long way in making relationships work, and that applies to the work dynamic too. Don’t get tired of interacting with your client or your designer. The more you start getting fed up by the other, that emotion will rub off on them. It’s a cycle, really. Be more understanding of each other’s short comings. Give it time, as long as that time doesn’t hurt the deadline. 

Have you ever experienced anything like this in your career? How did it go? How did you make your relationship work?

Body Language: Exuding Confidence

In a room full of people, it's always beneficial to have the upper-hand. You get to control your response and other people's response to you, charm them and make you believe whatever you say, and practically trust you with their lives.

Some use this to take advantage of people in a negative context, but today, I want to show you how you can use these tips positively, whether during a deal meet, a lunch date, or at an office setup.

What are Non-Verbals?

Non-verbal communication includes pitch, speed, tone and volume of voice, gestures and facial expressions, body posture, stance, and proximity to the listener, eye movements and contact, and dress and appearance.

In simple terms, it's how you present yourself to other people without having to say anything. It's the art of showing power/authority or intent to others using your physical features.
Here are some non-verbals which may be useful to you (if done right):

Be aware of your hands.

What you do with your hands during a situation says a lot about your confidence. An example would be keeping your palms facing down from behind a desk, which shows a high level of personal confidence. To not look too overbearing, show your palms once in a while.

Psychology tells us that exposing the palms speak of a character that is quite subordinate or lacking authority compared to someone who keeps their palms downwards. This is said to signal confidence and certainty in one's self.

Get in their 'space'.

It's not about making the other person feel uncomfortable - rather, it's making them feel you're approachable and willing to step forward. By meeting others in their space, you're telling them, "I'm present, I'm currently acting in-the-moment". Shake their hand and step forward. Don't wait for it to happen the other way around. Doing this will show your control of the situation.

Stay still, physically.

If you want to exude confidence, stand your ground and keep still. Obviously, people who are frantic or nervous can be hyperactive or fidgety. Nothing shows courage and assurance by being physically calm.

A lot of us move our heads around when we speak, but if the head is still or moved slowly, that person speaking exudes an air of authority, seriousness, and confidence. If one constantly looks around with a darting eye or have quick head movements, it indicates that one is under threat or is of a lesser status or rank.

Have good body posture.

Sometimes, being the most powerful person in the room requires more than looking good in a suit or dress. Often, it's about how you hold yourself - quite literally. To be confident, stand stall and don't slouch, look at the people you're speaking to in the eye, and keep your hands relaxed. Fidgeting with you hair or your clothes can make you look bored or insecure, which we don't want.

There are heaps more non-verbals you can look into, but the ones I mentioned will help you get started. I do seminars/workshops on Body Language, so if you're interested in scheduling a session with me for you or for your team, shoot me an email at contact@theindymiss.com :)

Let me know if you need more series like this on self-improvement, and what topics you'd like me to cover. I'd be more than happy to oblige. 

The Ultimate Squarespace Review

You've heard about it, but haven't really gotten around to looking it up. Maybe you've tried the trial, but just didn't seem to find enough reason to migrate from your current platform to Squarespace. Whatever your reservations, I completely understand. After all, I was in the same position three months ago, when I seriously started considering moving everything to Squarespace. 

If you're truly considering the move, I suggest you keep reading, 'cause I will be detailing my reasons for moving and staying with Squarespace as much as I can. Basically, here are some points I'll be covering for this series:
  • Why I got to trying Squarespace in the first place
  • What's so enticing about Squarespace
  • How much you'll be spending every month
  • Why Squarespace is (or isn't) worth the money
  • Analytics, Ads, & SEO
  • Is Squarespace as user-friendly as it says it is
So, buckle up and let's dig in.

Squarespace - beauty and ease in one. I first came to discover this platform around 5-6 years ago, when blogging was just beginning to boom. At that time, I was already on Blogger and was quite content under a subdomain and your standard HTML themes (which I often tweaked to make my blog look more personal).

Wordpress wasn't making much noise back then, but I viewed it as excessive for my needs, and under a price which I couldn't pay for, being a student and all. Fast forward 6 years later and you've got plenty more places to blog on. Wordpress has become the go-to CMS, with every other platform having their own specialty in terms of content. What's great about all this is that each CMS is selling you their services, trying to offer more than the competition. 

What took me so long to try out Squarespace?

Thing is, I was a broke-ass kid. Even before, Squarespace was the premium CMS everyone wanted to be on, but very few could afford. Aside from financial implications, I swore by Blogger, and was quite content with everything. Sans all the explanation, I really had no money to afford being on Squarespace.

Why did I decide to finally try it out?

One, I finally had the budget. Two, I wanted to test the waters (and what I was possibly missing) on the premium part of town. Three, I became really attracted to minimalism and photo-centric themes. Four, I noticed so many great reviews about Squarespace that I couldn't stay away. I've been blogging on Blogspot since 2009 and have tried Tumblr & Wordpress while at it. Honestly speaking, I was kinda getting pretty bored.

The First Month

The most exciting part about trying out something new is discovering what features are available. I spent a good one and a half weeks getting used to the settings, features, themes, and blogging system (which I am now incredibly fond of). As I did, I began formulating the brand I'd be giving this probable new site, its contents, and how I want it to look like.

Since Squarespace gives every potential customer a 14-day free trial, I was really able to test and simulate a regular "blogging session" under it. I must say, at the end of that period, I was no longer really struggling about whether I wanted to make a home here.

The Cost

The only other problem was the cost. For the basic, personal tier, it'll cost you $12 (paid annually, totaling $144 for one year) or $16 (paid monthly). Those figures go up quite higher if you want to go for a business or online store package, with more features for larger-scale companies.

That doesn't include a custom email, which costs $5 more (under G Suite). It also doesn't include your domain, which costs $20 for one year of registration. Taking all that into consideration, you'll have to pay a total of $37 for the first month, then $17 for the succeeding months. In peso, that's Php 1,837 for the first month, then Php 844/month afterwards, waymore expensive than just getting your domain & hosting from a provider like GoDaddy or iPage

Of course, if budget isn't an issue, I'd say stop reading this blog and go right ahead. I highly recommend Squarespace if money isn't an issue for you. If you still haven't decided, please keep reading. :)

The Satisfaction Level

The first month, I didn't really feel like it was worth it, but since I already invested for the domain, hosting, email, and researching about new articles I wanted on here, I really had no choice. It would all go to waste if I decided to quit after a month. So, I just closed my eyes and kept paying for everything.

The Third Month

Fast forward two months later and I am so thrilled and happy I didn't decide to quit. Sure, it's very costly to maintain, but I've managed to find ways (side jobs) to earn additional money via this blog. I've started using it as a portfolio for online writing gigs, and it's paid-off.

My satisfaction level has increased, especially after I decided to look into the Analytics Squarespace has built-in. I've also taken advantage of the apps they have on the App Store to help you manage posts and see statistics on your iPad. 

An Observation on Ads

Now, I've gotten used to Wordpress and Blogger, and how easy it is to add plugins or added functionalities to personalize my blog. That includes placing ads on your blog and making money out of it.

I've figured out that Squarespace isn't as ad-friendly as I expected it to be, and there are also complications when it comes to injecting 3rd-party codes. I guess that's just because Squarespace was designed to be (and look) premium, and that means no ads, no other intrusive codes that will junk up its blueprint, and any other functions that might clutter your blog.

I haven't been a fan of placing ads on my blogs, even when I was on another platform ( I still am keeping a personal blog with its own domain on Blogger). So it really wasn't such a huge deal for me when I couldn't add advertisements on my blog. If it is for you though, be prepared to do a little research for help in setting up ads (which aren't 100% guaranteed to work). 

Posts, Photos, & Other Content

I truly, truly love how Squarespace deals with the content. They've updated recently and added additional settings for photos, as well as the others. In Squarespace, content can be placed via Content Blocks, each layout tailored for the specific type of post. Here is a list of content blocks you can insert into your blog post and pages.

They've got almost everything you really need to compose your post or layout your page. As I said previously, they've updated the image section with Image Layouts, a pretty nice addition to an already nice toolbox.

I can equate this set of features to Wordpress' plugin library. You've got features to insert music, customize how it looks, insert a summary of posts (either by category or other filters), add newsletter/sign-up forms within the post with very little effort, add menus, product views, maps, calendars - just everything really that would have been quite complicated under other blogging platforms. 

Squarespace's content blocks have really made me aware of what content I can place into my posts. It's also really cool that each content block follows your theme's aesthetics. This means a uniform, polished look across your whole site. No more need for tweaking 3rd-party apps to fit your theme. Squarespace has made it easy to achieve an elegant look for all your pages and posts. 

Drag & Drop (WYSIWYG)

I know Wordpress has this feature as a plugin that is either free or that you pay for, and it's sweet that Squarespace has made it really easy. If you want to rearrange your post exactly how you want it, you just drag the block around and place it where you want. You can resize blocks, too, by dragging its edges.

(I'm really trying to sell Squarespace to you, aren't I? Haha. Well, I'm just sharing my joy over being on Squarespace.)

Whew, that was a long-ass post right there. If you've got any questions you'd like to ask to help you decide, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able. Let me know how I can help make the move easier for you if ever and you know, just general support.

If you need more sections added to this little guide/review, tell me and I'll write about it. 'Til then, have fun!

App Review: Sleep Orbit

Hello everybody! So today, I'll be talking about an app I recently downloaded on the App Store called 'Sleep Orbit', and according to the developers, it's a 'unique 3D sound concept' that'll help you relax and/or sleep through layered sounds. 

I recorded a short review video for you, so you can really experience the sounds before you download the app. (Earphones recommended!)

Helpful links/ASMR sources:
App Download for iOS | Android

There you go, I hope you guys will want to download the app and try it out for yourself. I'll update if I ever decide to go Pro with the app. 'Til then, I'll be confined to my little orbits of ASMR goodness. 

Review: Arabica Coffee Shop & Resto

After tasting some genuine Arabic food then having to come back to the Philippines and not be able to get that same taste is frustrating. I rarely get to go food-tripping here with all that’s happening in my personal life, but I am so thankful people at work recommended I try out Arabica, a small Arabic-themed (and owned) restaurant/coffee shop near Magsaysay Avenue. 

Prior to coming, I’d been telling my workmates how much I was yearning for some hummus; it was practically a need at that point for some reason. By the time I finally went with the fam the following Saturday, my expectations had elevated.

The shawarma we used to buy in Oman usually cost OMR 1.5 if I remember correctly, so converted to peso, it’s Php150. It’s cheap at Php 70 so I had no second thoughts getting one for me and my brother (mom has never liked Shawarma because of the smell, haha). We also got a plate of pita bread and some hummus (oh yeess).

(Sorry for the photo quality - I only had my iPhone with me.)

Now, the taste. Mom asked the waitress if the shop was authentic Arabic cooking, and according to the lady, they only served authentic Arabic food and that the cook was either Arabic himself or well-trained. After a bite of the Shawarma and a dip into the hummus, I can definitely say that Arabica is 70% genuine.

The Shawarma almost tasted the same with the fries and veggies, but I couldn’t taste any garlic sauce in the mix. The consistency of the sauce was also very runny, and would often drip from the end of the wrap. While that doesn’t affect my rating much, I wasn’t expecting it to be so runny, haha. 

As for the hummus, it was also almost the same, though they could’ve added more flavor. I’m quite sure measured chick peas, tahini, and the right amount of sesame paste would’ve made this 100% awesome. I think it’s 65% accurate. 

So yeah, I haven’t tasted their other Arabic food items, so I can’t speak for the authenticity of the others (perhaps an updated post soon?). All I know is that Arabica satisfied my cravings more than I expected. 

Before our orders came. Not the happiest, most satisfied I’ve been haha.

Oh yeah, my mom got a cappuccino at an Arabic restaurant. Not sure how to feel about that, but okay. 

Visiting Arabica was a Saturday well-spent. If you’re ever in Naga and get the urge to grab some Arabic food for lunch or whatever, I suggest trying out Arabica. It’ll help satisfy most of your cravings, haha.