Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday Shopping

During our past few vacations, my family and I have had bad experiences with our bags falling apart, barely getting to our destination and back again in one piece. I don’t know if our bags got mishandled at the airport or if we didn’t pack properly, but there were always zippers, handles, wheels, and what have you getting damaged beyond repair during the course of a single trip. It’s quite exasperating, where did we go wrong?

So since we have an upcoming trip to Singapore later this month, we’ve all been searching for affordable yet durable luggage that will hopefully withstand more than just a round trip. Luggage is an investment, especially for Papa, he is a seaman, after all, and his luggage must last. Papa’s Samsonite attaché case has certainly returned that investment, serving like this solid piece of hardware for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I actually thought it was a “tashie” case because of the way Papa would pronounce it. Anyway, it’s a really old school briefcase, classic and vintage looking, and Papa’s had it since way back when, and it’s doesn’t look like it’s going to give out anytime soon. Papa’s other Samsonite, a big fat suitcase, probably would still be around now, if my sister and I hadn’t played with (in) it when we were younger, riding in it like a car, breaking its hinges and body. Apparently Samsonite luggage can outlast travels, but it is not child-proof.

In any case, we’re not as well-travelled as Papa in his line of work, and going to Singapore later this month is only going to be the second country outside of the Philippines that I’ve ever been to. Mama went to Thailand a few years ago and that’s when she bought her own luggage for her first trip abroad. So for our domestic trips as a family we mostly took large duffel bags and backpacks with us. In recent years we’ve bought two stroller-type suitcases, and both didn’t survive to even boast of battle scars like dents and scratches, the two just broke and had nothing to show for it but round-trip stubs.

Which brings me back to looking for decent luggage. Samsonite, heavy duty and tried and tested as it is, is just way too expensive, as well as other known imported brands. We’re not really jetsetters to need that sort of luggage. Papa travels regularly for work, so his luggage is high end, but our irregular vacations and travel for leisure are hardly enough to say that buying Samsonite luggage would be warranted, or worth shelling out a huge sum for. So we had to reach a compromise between economy and quality.

And what perfect timing for a sale at SM Megamall! We had canvassed for prices and checked out models a few weeks ago and even compared different shops and stores, but decided to put off any purchases until the big sale to save with discounts and other promotions. Good thing we decided to wait, because this whole weekend there was a mall-wide sale at SM Megamall. Yesterday was the last day, and thankfully we got what we came for and then some more! We had actually made plans last week to go to the mall to look for our luggage, but then Papa got called away unexpectedly soon, so we couldn’t, but then the sale was coming up, and he said it was best to wait until then. He was right, as always. It would have been nice to still have him around for his expertise in luggage. Whatever I just miss him.

Anyway, on Saturday night we agreed that we would go to mass early, first thing in the morning, and then go straight to SM Megamall to avoid the rush and the heavy traffic. I wasn’t too keen on going to Church, but then it was a necessary concession to keep the peace. So I woke up that morning and got ready for a day out. I decided my skin had sufficiently healed up for me to wear light makeup again, so I put my face on and dressed with Church in mind, this time at least we were warned. I applied concealer on my blemishes with a light hand, and over that, I used my Ellana mineral foundation and my Krave Minerale Oil Eliminator and Skin Hydrator very sparingly to keep my makeup from caking up. I also kept my blush, contour and highlight powder to a minimum. And my eye makeup and nude lip color finished off my polished and simple look. Which is my everyday look, except I used less than usual. Besides, even if the Church was open air, the 8:30 am mass wasn’t as packed and the air was somewhat cool, and then the mall’s air-conditioned. Unlike going to class in UP, where it’s just as hot indoors as it is outdoors and makeup melts away.




I wore a pair of pants, surprise, surprise! I do own a few pairs of pants, and they’re reserved for those rare occasions that I feel remotely conservative. Either that or it’s cold. Apart from the sporadic rainy weather, it’s not at all cold, so yes this was for Church. That and the light green floral printed blouse and my purple Kickers sandals. Church, lunch, and some shopping, my outfit clearly has an agenda. I got those pants from Divisoria back in first year and I stopped wearing them around second year because I couldn’t fit into them anymore, but now they fit me perfectly again. This top is from late high school, I think. I can’t be quite sure.







Moving on, our house is just five minutes away from the Clubhouse and the Church of the adjacent subdivision, but we were still five minutes late to mass because Mama blow dried her hair. Oh well. I’ve already talked about my religious beliefs, or lack thereof, for that matter, in my entry about Easter Sunday, but I took the message from yesterday’s mass for what it was worth, words of wisdom. I didn’t take in anymore all the ceremonious and ritualistic observances that I don’t subscribe to. In the case of worship, I prefer substance over form, content over style, I suppose. I believe that if my heart is rejoicing in God, then that is enough, and all of that kneeling, making the sign of the cross, reciting of verses, is superficial to me. That is just my own, personal, belief. I don’t feel that saying practiced lines during mass brings me any closer to God, but I respect the convictions of others. I actually try to understand others’ faith, and though I can’t be made to appreciate the responses, kneeling, and whatnot, I do keep an open-mind to the message. And even if I went to Church unwillingly, yesterday’s homily was actually interesting and memorable. Our priest was Indian and when he spoke in English, if he went too fast, it was hard to understand him, but then he was actually fluent in Tagalog or Filipino, and I saw that he was trying to make his homily very relatable to us, so we could identify and internalize the message. The Gospel was something about Jesus being the grape plant, and the disciples being the vines, and the priest adapted it to puno ng mangga (a mango tree) in his homily. He even joked about Sharon Cuneta, KC Concepcion, and Piolo Pascual, and how KC had become stronger after the breakup. We all had a good laugh, but he returned to the point, that like the grape vines being pruned so that they would grow, our hardships in life are also in order for us to grow. These trims, pruning, are like the challenges we encounter in life, that we overcome and in so doing we become better people. We should not think of these as limitations, but opportunities to improve ourselves. The priest spoke so plainly and sincerely, without any pretense, not to mention the homily was just fifteen minutes long, unlike another priest at that Church who speaks pompously and lengthily, but without making an ounce of sense. So I left Church, if not religiously moved, then at least spiritually enlightened.

After that we headed straight for SM Megamall. Traffic was very light, until we reached the vicinity of the mall, it seemed everyone was going there. We got there at 10:30, and it had barely opened, yet our parking space was already on the roof deck of the parking building because all the lower floors were full. And when we entered the mall, it was so crowded already! It was the last day, so it’s understandable, but just as it was SM Megamall, it was mega-full!

Our first stop was the Department Store to shop for luggage, of course. It was so dizzying and disorienting, all those people, and all the merchandise! We used to go to SM Megamall often when I was younger because it was the only big mall around, but since SM North EDSA underwent a lot of expansion and Trinoma and Gateway came around, and they’re a lot closer and more convenient, we haven’t gone to Megamall in years! It was completely unfamiliar and it was so hard to find shops even with directories and the information counter, that we just made a beeline for the Department Store. No matter what SM, the Department Store is the constant.

We went to the luggage section and the salespersons were really very insistent, offering different styles and models left and right, but we already had the kind of luggage we wanted in mind. Since we’d had bad experiences with the suitcase types, we wanted the duffel kind but with a stroller, that way, even if the wheel or stroller part broke down, you could still carry it by hand. And if you’re going up stairs, you can go from stroller to hand carry. The best of both, if you ask me. And in my entry about packing for Laoag, I talked all about my orange duffel, and all the advantages of that bag. So yeah, in the luggage section, we did a quick walk around, and even with huge discounts, the imported bags were just way too expensive and we went to the local luggage brand, Voyager. The workmanship seemed pretty sound, and the price range was right up our alley. Us three sisters all picked different colors of the same style of bag.


Behold my lovely bright pink bag! Of course I picked a striking and loud color, black and dark blue bags are so common, and almost identical, it’s easy to mistake someone else’s bag for yours, and vice-versa. But with a shockingly bubble gum pink bag, how can you go wrong? My sisters got purple and blue green. My bag actually costs only PhP 999! I don’t know the specifications, like what its capacity is, but when I got home, I compared it to my very roomy orange duffel bag, and that was only a tad bigger, like one extra side pocket on this one. My sisters’ bags were the same style, but were around PhP 1200 because they had an additional side pocket and name tag holder and a zipper provision for a pad lock, but then the pink color was out of stock. There was one display unit, but it had some damage, so I took the slightly smaller bag, and really the side pocket wasn’t much of a difference, and I wanted it in pink. It was also available in red, but pink is way more eye-catching on an airport conveyor belt.

After that, we told the salesman to hold onto our bags for us because we would still be going IMG_1002_thumb2around the department store for more purchases and we wanted to pay for everything in one go, so that Mama could avail of the rebates or something like that when your purchase reaches a certain amount. So we went our separate ways and agreed to meet up when we had finished picking out what we wanted. Naturally, I headed for the swimwear section. My bikinis are all a few Summers old, and I haven’t had the chance to buy a new pair for myself! The last time I checked out bikinis earlier this summer, I didn’t really find any that I liked, the designs weren’t my type, but this time I found just the one for me! It’s from a brand called Coco Cabaña and it cost PhP 699.75, but since Mama had a 5% or 10% (I’m not so sure), discount off the total, along with our luggage and some other clothes my sisters bought, it’s actually less than that. So, going back, I really like the color and the design, when I saw it among the other designs in the racks, I didn’t have eyes for any of the other bikinis. I like the unique pattern and the color combination of black wavy stripes and violet, blue, red, orange, and yellow. I also think the black ties at the sides of the bikini bottoms are really cute. I rushed to try it on, and I saw that only two sizes were left, 32 and 36, no more in between, and when I asked the saleslady, she said that 34 was already out of stock. I would normally go for the medium size, because that’s the safest choice, but it was either small or large, and with my weight loss to account for, I wagered on 32 and hoped for the best when I headed to the fitting room. On my way there, I bumped into my sister along the women’s wear section and we went to the fitting room together. It’s pretty common in the Philippines for two or more people, usually family member or friends shopping together, meaning women, to share fitting room cubicles. I don’t know if that’s unusual in other countries, though. So, she helped me tie the bikini, and lo and behold, after years, I am once again a small! I wasn’t too worried about the bikini top as much as the bottom, the top is adjustable, and even then, I am flat chested, so it’s rarely a problem. But I’ve encountered swimsuits in the past where the top fit just fine, but the bottom was too small for my big butt. Luckily, my butt has also slimmed down and so I stood there and I had a “Damn, I’m hot” moment. Yes, how conceited of me, but I have to give myself some credit. I was tempted to take some pictures, but my sister was with me, and she would’ve gotten annoyed and frowned upon the blatant cam-whoring. Hopefully, I’ll get to sport it to a beach or swimming pool sometime soon! Oh, Singapore hotel, I cannot wait!

One would think that going to a mall with two college-age children, and one high-school age one is smooth sailing, but yesterday it was not. My youngest sister, while Mama was in the fitting room trying on a blouse, went looking for a pair of pants, and they agreed to meet back at the fitting room. More than thirty minutes later she still hadn’t returned, and she didn’t bring her cell phone so we couldn’t call her, and with the number of people, and the size of the department store, it would be hard to look for her. Like a needle in a haystack! Mama actually went to customer service and had her paged over the PA system. HOW UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL! I mean seriously, my youngest sister is fourteen and still has no wits whatsoever. Apparently she wasn’t lost or gone at all, she had just lost track of time picking pants, and when she stumbled on over to the meeting place, Mama had a tongue lashing for her. Such a stupid girl. My other sister and I have gotten lost before, but we always found our way back, and Mama never had to resort to having us paged, or Mama being paged for us, for that matter. You always hear the, “Will the parents of the boy wearing a red cap, blue shirt, and Avengers rubber shoes, please go to Customer Service” and think you’ll never end up in a situation like that, but there’s a first time for everything. Even for a fourteen year old that has the brains of a four year old. What a hassle. We wasted so much time!

We also encountered delays at the counter because the cashier was having difficulties or mix-ups of one kind or another. By the time we were done paying for everything, we were all just about starved. We saw a directory of restaurants near the department store, and thought that the directions were simple enough, but given how big Megamall is and how we had forgotten all about going from Mega A to B, or was it the other way around (?), we ditched our original plan of going to a Persian place, and went to the Food Court instead. There we ate at Manang’s Chicken.

I’ve never tried it before, but my sister has, and she recommended it, and we were too hungry to look for something else. It was actually quite delicious. We ordered one of their group package meals, with six pieces of chicken, three servings of rice, two servings of coleslaw salad, three drinks, and two servings of their potato chips. We just added an additional serving of rice and another drink since there were four of us, and everything was reasonably priced, I can’t recall exactly how much, though. We asked for half the chicken to be in the Original variant, and the other half to be in the Spicy variant. I’m not very fond of spicy food, so I wanted to eat the Original variant, but I got a piece of chicken from the Spicy variant by mistake, because the salesperson switched the two, though they were on separate plates. But it turned out to be pretty good even if I got the Spicy variant because it was still very mild, and there wasn’t much heat. I liked how tender and juicy the chicken was, and the coating of the skin was really tasty that all that was left of the chicken was the bones. I can’t quite describe the flavor of the chicken, it was slightly sweet and savory, but the frying itself is a cross between Max and Bon Chon. Their potato chips were really nice and crispy too and well-seasoned. I can’t say anything about the coleslaw since I didn’t try it, and anyway, I don’t eat coleslaw. For the drinks that were included, I asked for lemonade instead of soft drinks since I’ve been cutting down on carbonated drinks, as much as possible, and there was a water station in the Food Court so I drank plenty of water too.

After having lunch, we went to Forever 21! It was my first time to go to a Forever 21 store, there’s a branch at SM North EDSA The Block that just opened, but I haven’t checked it out yet. I do have a pink Forever 21 mini skirt, but that was given to me as a gift years ago. At first I was amazed by how big the store was, and many clothes there were, such a wide array of patterns, colors, and designs. I was in awe for the first fifteen minutes just going around the store and taking a look. But then this weird feeling just crept on me, that out of place feeling, like I didn’t quite belong there. Don’t get me wrong, the clothes were all cute and girly, very chic and sassy, but I noticed all the other customers and shoppers already looked like their outfits were straight out of Forever 21 and they all looked the same. Yes, they were trendy and very stylish, I suppose, but they all looked so much alike that they didn’t look like they were shopping at all, instead it looked like they were just browsing their own closets, granted a larger than life one. I like trends as much as the next girl, but not to the point that my whole ensemble looks copied straight from a magazine. The crowd was almost homogeneous! And I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb in my pants and sandals and simple blouse. It was they who blended in with the racks. But then I guess that was the whole point of them coming to Forever 21, they want to achieve that Forever 21 look. The so-called hipster look, that’s borderline the same in uniqueness. I mean they were different, but the same in their difference, cut from the same cloth, literally and figuratively.

It’s not my thing, though. There were some pieces that caught my eye, some pretty prints and dresses, but when I saw the price tags, I thought to myself, I could probably find something just as nice in the Department Store for less, and with better quality. I mean, most of the dresses had really sheer and delicate, thin fabric, and I thought, with how our house help does laundry, it wouldn’t be long before the clothes got faded or the fabric got torn. Also, when I tried on some dresses, I found that their Small was still a bit loose on me, and the lengths were off, because in the US they’re generally taller and with bigger body frames. Local ready to wear brands offer better sizing for the average Filipina build. So I went home empty-handed while my sisters came home with a few pieces. They think I’m having a case of sour grapes. I don’t know, really. All I know is that I waited over thirty minutes for them to finish and I just kept going around the store. While I was at it, I noticed that all the male companions—boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers—were just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, having nothing better to do while their ladies were off having a field day in the store. For that brief moment, I shared in their bafflement of shopping. I sometimes wonder what guys do at the mall. Even in a sale, the men’s section of the Department Store is always near empty.

After that we left the mall since we were done with the important shopping, and we didn’t want to go through the trouble of navigating through throngs of people and we didn’t have any idea where stores were located anyway. We stopped for merienda at Chowking on our way home and we all ordered halo-halo. It was so good! Somehow it always tastes like it’s the first time I’ve ever eaten it, every mouthful a wonder of flavor and sweetness. Okay, halo-halo is just beyond describing.We went home afterwards.It was a good thing we started early and beat the traffic, and it wasn’t late yet, so we weren’t very tired.

I’m pretty happy with my purchases. I can’t get over my adorable pink luggage and my new bikini! And of course they were all on Mama’s dime so I’m doubly pleased HAHA! I hope we can go swimming again before the Summer’s over. Meanwhile, I still have time to tone up! I’ve completed the 4 week program of Hip Hop Abs, but I’m keeping it up and I’m really enjoying the results!

On another note, Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. I wonder how I can thank Mama and make her day special. I highly welcome any and all suggestions!

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