Monday, August 20, 2012

Make Money Online

A lot of people are into the lookout for alternative sources of income, mostly part time in nature.  With the popularity of the internet, it has been a good source of money making ventures.  People start with an online business or job as part timers and graduate to full time when the income becomes stable and lucrative.
I am a housewife and I am also finding ways to contribute to the family coffers.  The best bet for me is to make money online.  Why do I say this?  With “make money online” jobs, I can practically work at home or anywhere. I don’t have to be tied up with an 8-5 job while my mind is somewhere else, definitely not in the office.

Aside from literally applying for an online job, one can also make money online by putting up online stores.  A lot of websites like Multiply and Ebay are portals for e-commerce.  For a minimal fee or at times the registration fee could be waived, a retailer or merchant could offer goods and services.  An online buyer will be surprised at the gamut of things one can buy at these portals.

Another way of making money online is to blog for pay or to put it simply, create a blog for a client and write the first ten articles or so. 

Being a Virtual Assistant for a company or person is also another way for one to make money online.  A company doesn’t need the physical presence of a Virtual Assistant as almost all work or transactions could be done online.

When working online, it is best to have a website.  With a website, one can host Google Ads and other text ads, be an affiliate marketer for Amazon and other companies.  The list of possibilities is endless.
While making money online looks too good to be true, it is still best to exercise prudence so as not to fall victim to unscrupulous individuals lurking on the web.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Family Vacation at Hong Kong and Shenzhen

Last February I booked a Hong Kong/Shenzhen tour package for the whole family from Groupon Philippines.  My brother, Ricky, also joined us for this tour.  For P7,400 each, we spent 4 days and 3 nights in Hong Kong and Shenzhen plus free entrance and unlimited rides at Disneyland and a Hong Kong city tour (Ocean Park was not included in our tour package).  Once I had arranged the availability of the dates of the tour, I booked all six of us to a Cebu Pacific flight.

The day of our departure started on a sour note.  I made a mistake in setting the alarm clock and to think that everybody depended on me to wake them up.  It was good that I woke up by myself thirty minutes before check-in time.  To make the long story short, we arrived at the airport with just enough time for check-in and a quick bite at a San Miguel outlet.  Whew, we almost missed our plane.

At the arrival area, we met our tour guide, Billy who brought us to Silka Far East Hotel at Tsuen Wan, Kowloon.  While waiting for Billy to bring us to Ocean Park, we tried to look for a place to have an early lunch.  Lunch starts at 11 o'clock in Hong Kong unlike here in Manila where breakfast is up to ten o'clock only.  The waiter at the first restaurant we went to, Chan Kee, couldn't be persuaded to serve us lunch even if it was already 10:30.  We ended up ordering noodles with toppings and soup capped with either hot or iced coffee or tea from Ngan Lung, the eatery right after Chan Kee.  Aside from the noodle soups, french toasts are standard breakfast fare.

My breakfast:  beef brisket noodle soup

Lemon Iced Tea

We all ordered noodle soups and iced tea, either lemon or milk flavored.  Not adventurous in trying out new things, I ordered beef brisket noodle soup and lemon iced tea.  The iced lemon tea was a perfect drink for my beef brisket.  I didn't make a mistake in choosing beef brisket, it was superb.  My companions got the other offerings and I liked the iced milk tea.  I don't usually drink milk tea as it is too milky for my taste.  For those who don't know me, I am not fond of milk.  But the milk tea from Ngan Lung didn't taste milky and it was so good.

After a sumptuous breakfast, we freshened up at the hotel and got ready for Ocean Park.  Because ours was a packaged tour, waiting for other vacationers was unavoidable.  Our bus cruised along Hong Kong's  busy streets for almost an hour before arriving at our destination for the day, Ocean Park Hong Kong at Aberdeen.  Though Hong Kong is a bustling city, its roads are not congested.  I asked myself again why vehicles in wider roads in Metro Manila like EDSA are crawling or worse at a standstill any time of the day. (I will be coming out with a separate article on the places we visited for this tour so I am withholding details of our tour experiences at the moment.)

Tired and hungry, all six of us proceeded to Chan Kee for a late dinner after our tour guide dropped us at our hotel.  Dinner was roasted goose, a house specialty and a variety of rice toppings (each one of us ordered).  Not adventurous with food, I ordered something familiar, yang chow rice.  The roasted goose was so rich in calories but we threw caution to the wind.  We just have to try it. We were not disappointed when we dug our fork to it.  So crunchy and delicious.

We were all taken aback when our rice orders came.  Each order was good for two to three people.  My yang chow rice had a generous serving of shrimps, vegetables, sliced scrambled egg and chicken.  It was so good so with the dried fish rice.  The lemon iced tea was a welcome treat from five hours of continuous walking at Ocean Park.

The following day, our tour guide, this time Mary showed us downtown Hong Kong.  She brought us first to Avenue of Stars, local version of Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  This was opened in April 2004 to pay tribute to outstanding professionals of the Hong Kong film industry like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li among others.

With Mary, one of our tour guides.

Next in our itinerary was the Jewellery City, a place where one can buy what else but jewelry.  We were met by the Filipino-Chinese manager of the store.  Zodiac pendants, bracelets good for arthritic people, watches and jade jewelry can be found.  Bought some pieces which we found to be reasonable.  Since Hong Kong is known for shopping, Mary brought us next to a retail store.  It was a one-stop shop where one can buy pasalubongs.  We were grateful for this diversion as we don't have time to shop anymore with the hectic schedule that we had.  It was also very convenient as the shop took care of bringing our stuff to our hotel.

A must-see in Hong Kong is the Fishing Village at Aberdeen.  Riding a sampan, one gets a front seat view of  the life of the boat people, mostly fishermen.  The fishermen had turned their sampans into their homes that when we passed their boats, you can see the appliances and the living quarters.  Very difficult to miss is the casino owner Stanley Ho's Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  Diners of the restaurant are ferried from the dock to the restaurant.  An elderly lady navigated our sampan.  Mary said that the boat woman is a fisherman's wife.

Inside the sampan.

From the south, we headed north to Hong Kong Disneyland.  After our tourist bus driver dropped us at the parking lot, we were left on our own.  Lunch was at Plaza Inn, a restaurant serving Cantonese food managed by Maxim's.  Food was okay but expensive.  At exactly 3:30 in the afternoon, the grand parade named Flights of Fantasies started.   We saw a lot of Filipinos in the performers.  Filipinos oozing with talents.  So proud of you guys.

To see all the attractions, one has to walk and walk we did for the second day.  A train ride around the complex was a welcome respite for our tired legs.  Several restaurants are scattered all over the place for a quick bite and refreshing drink.  They said the highlight of the day is the fireworks just before closing time.  Unfortunately for us we weren't able to see it as thirty minutes before closing, a heavy rain poured.  Well there's always a next time.

On the third day of our vacation, we woke up early for our trip to Shenzhen, China.  After checking out from our hotel, our tour guide brought us to the Hung Hom station for our train ride to Shenzhen.  We alighted at the last station of the East Rail Line, Lo Wu.  After presenting our travel documents to both Hong Kong and mainland China immigration officers, we followed our new tour guide, Joanna, to the bus.

Joanna spoke passable English and it was enough.  On our way to the restaurant for lunch, Joanna shared some stories about Shenzhen, the gateway to mainland China from Hong Kong and a place where Hong Kong people migrated to for a lower cost of living.  She also said that some Hong Kong men keep mistresses at Shenzhen.

The restaurant served several viands, hot tea and fruit.  If you prefer soda or bottled water, there was a store beside the restaurant selling drinks.  We were all excited when we saw our table laden with so much food only to be disappointed with the bland taste.  From the gustatory sensation of the food from the Hong Kong restaurants, our lunch was a big letdown.  This was repeated during dinner.  The restaurant served practically the same viands as the other restaurant.  Maybe that was the standard menu for tourists.  Same bland taste.

The local market in Shenzhen is a shoppers' paradise but here's the catch:  you have to speak basic Mandarin.  The goods are cheap after haggling for the desired price but you can only do this in Mandarin.  I was with my two daughters, Nina and Kara, and I got my bag for less than P500.  Thanks to Nina for haggling for me.

Joanna brought us also to stores selling jade jewelry, jade figurines and jewelry made of semi-precious stones.  I could not keep my eyes off the jade set with a price tag that was a steal.  I ended up buying it.  In these stores, the sales personnel spoke perfect English.  For the cheap prices of goods and jewelry, Shenzhen deserves another visit.

The following day, a Sunday, Joanna, fetched us for our trip back to Hong Kong.  If we came by train to Shenzhen, we are leaving it by bus.  We were brought to the airport for our flight back to Manila.

Truly, travelling is a great teacher.  One learns a lot from the places he has visited.  Great time too for bonding moments.  Where will we go next?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Children Going into Business

Several times, my husband and I have business meetings with people young enough to be our children.  I couldn't help myself from telling them that I admire them for having their own businesses at a very young age.  They in turn will narrate how they got into the business.  Common denominator for this young businessmen is that their parents are businessmen.  On school vacations, they were encouraged to help out in the family business and this is where they first honed their business skills.  It's like an "on-the-job" training but this time they have their father or mother or an elder sibling hovering at their back and drilling business tips in their head.

This led me to ask myself if children who started early in the family business are likely to succeed more when they become businessmen themselves later.  

I am a mother of young adults and my children had expressed interest in going into business.  My husband and I had counselled them to go into employment first for a few years before wading into the tumultuous waters that is business.  They already heard our lectures on getting experience and building their network before venturing to entrepreneurship.  Our family business is still fledgling and we can't accommodate them just yet.  

The question now is when is the right time to involve them in the family business.  Would the children be better off while they are young but the business is starting to gain ground? Or should they go to employment first to gain discipline and experience and later join the family business that has become stable?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Steak Dinner Gone Kaput

I purchased this voucher last February.  Who would ever ignore an Angus rib eye steak, two Wagyu beef skewers plus rice for P250 only?  I did not pass up that chance.  I immediately booked for five vouchers, one for my husband, three children and me.  My children had been pestering me for weeks for this steak dinner only to find out after reading the fine prints of the voucher that we can only consume the vouchers every Wednesday and Saturday at 10PM to 3AM!  My dream of a quiet dinner was gone after that. 

Efforts of talking to someone from Taste and See Gourmet Creation were nil.  The telephone number kept on giving a fax tone when dialed.  My last resort was to the google the name of the company and was thankful to get a page of articles.  From the articles, I got the mobile number of the owner and called her at once to expect us (it was a Saturday yesterday and as early as noon I already told my children of the planned steak dinner).  She replied to me that they can only accommodate vouchers on Wednesdays.  What a damper.  Apparently, the merchant, Taste and See Gourmet Creation, was prevented by Mercato Centrale where the store is located from holding the promo on Saturdays.  For whatever reason, I still cannot understand.  The merchant is not to be blamed alone for this fiasco.  It expected MetroDeal, the marketer of vouchers, to send emails to all who purchased the vouchers.  Of course, I didn't receive an email otherwise I wouldn't be wasting my time arguing with the merchant/owner and MetroDeal.

MetroDeal offered a refund of the money I paid for the five vouchers but I turned it down.  I chose to wait for a Wednesday when all five of us are free.  To make up for this unfortunate incident, I herded my family to Chicken Rice Shop at Katipunan for a late dinner.  

What had I learned from last night's failed dinner?  Well, I would always read the fine prints before clicking on the BUY and before availing of the voucher, call up the merchant involved first for last minute instructions and information.  Let my experience be a warning for everyone.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Online Shopping

For more than a year now, I have been actively buying online. My first purchase was a dinner of different crab recipes for four persons at Clawdaddy. The price that was being advertised was reasonable and coupled by a mouth-watering picture of the big crab garnished with lots of toasted garlic, I didn't think twice on clicking BUY.

My excitement waned when I didn't receive my voucher through email. Ensogo Philippines blamed me claiming that it was not able to receive my order. After a lengthy exchange of postings at their Facebook fan page, it was decided that I will be refunded of the amount I paid through BPI.  Good thing I didn't use my credit card. That incident ended my online relationship with Ensogo: I unsuscribed from receiving emails about their latest promos and unliked its Facebook fan page.

A few months after, a lot of Ensogo clones sprouted like mushrooms. Deal Grocer, MetroDeal, Groupon to name just a few. These three are my most-patronized companies. Buying from any of the three is smooth and seamless. Upon confirmation of payment, they automatically send the voucher to my email address. I print out the voucher right away lest I forget about it. Oh, those senior moments.

My first purchase from MetroDeal.

To date, I have an inventory of more than ten vouchers, from dinners, derma procedures, hair care, airline tickets, tours, gourmet chocolates and others. I am in the market for bags, shoes, more dinners and tours. I guess more items will be put up for sale online as the market matures. Can big ticket items like cars and condo units be far behind?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bad Roads at Daang Maharlika

My family and I journeyed to Bicol earlier today for our Holy Week respite. Instead of arriving after seven hours of driving, we reached Naga City, our first destination, after ten hours. Of course the total travel time included the short pitstops for breakfast and calls of nature. The delay was caused by the untimely road works on several stretches of the Daang Maharlika. Twice we had to be rerouted to the remote parts of the towns as the main highway was either congested for some repairs. In some parts, motorists had to move alternately as there was only one lane passable.

I just couldn't justify the timing of the ongoing construction works at Daang Maharlika. Why were they not completed before the exodus of Metro Manilans to their respective provinces? It's as if the Holy Week exodus is something new that it caught the DPWH by surprise. Or is this electioneering, premature at that, in the guise of public service? Just asking.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Post Valentine Dinner and Concert

A month ago, the hubby and I went to the post Valenting dinner-concert of The Chocolate Kiss Cafe.  It also coincided with its 15th anniversary celebration.  The celebration titled Kissed! fused two things that are important to me, food and music.  Food, of course was courtesy of The Chocolate Kiss while good music was provided by Da Capo, a group of instrumentalists that became a regular feature of the restaurant since 1997.  The evening also coincided with the launch of the restaurant's involvement in Isko Cleans UP (ICU), a student movement at the University of the Philippines which aims to make UP-Diliman a "zero-waste and self-sustaining campus".  Part of the proceeds of the dinner-concert went to ICU.

We arrived at the venue, UP's Ang Bahay Alumni's Main Hall just in time for the buffet dinner.  About half of the tables and chairs was already occupied mostly by students, faculty members and loyal patrons of the restaurant.  Mini Devil's Food Cakes with flowers arrangement were used as table centerpieces.  I fell in love with the arrangement.  

Our table's centerpiece.

Table setting
An usher dressed in black pants and shirt brought us to a table just in front of the stage.  A waiter came with glasses of iced tea.  We declined it but settled for cold water instead.  Before proceeding to the green salad/appetizer station, I took pictures of the table centerpiece, the crowd, and the food stations.  Unfortunately most of my pictures did not come out nice because of the colored spotlights that bathed the stage.  Luckily for me, the restaurant's Facebook fan page posted several pictures of the occasion and I grabbed some.  Thank you The Chocolate Kiss Cafe.

Mixed Green Salad Station

Buffet Table
Piece de resistance, the dessert station

Because my husband and I were trying to cut down on our food intake, we shied away from meat dishes.  We had a plateful of mixed greens in Balsamic dressing.  For the entree, we had Chicken Kiev, my first time to taste this popular dish, and Fish Fillet with Pesto Salsa.  The latter was so good that we had second servings.  

We skipped the pasta dishes.  A lover of pasta, I had to forego eating the Carbonara and Gamberi to leave space for dessert.  We sacrificed the entrees but not the dessert. It's one of the reasons why we frequent this place.  Food and dessert have become family favorites.  

The hubby went for a slice of Date Walnut Cake, his favorite.  I opted for a cake suite of dayap chiffon cake, orange chiffon cake and prune cake.  The cake suite is composed of four squares of any of the cakes. I could have gotten more if not for my diet.

After everybody had their dinner, it was time for the program.  For the opening number, the staff of The Chocolate Kiss Cafe like waiters, cashiers, bakers, food production staff and admin staff performed a dance number that was heartwarming.  Who wouldn't be touched when you see your favorite waiter gyrating to the  beat of the music.

Dance number by the employees

After the dancing, the Da Capo serenaded us with their repertoire of classical, standard, pop, Latin and mainstream jazz music.  From the reaction of the crowd, it was safe to say that the crowd was composed of habitues of the place.  Two or three people sang with the guest singer, Gail Blanco to the accompaniment of the Da Capo.  The children of the violinist, Royce Aviguetero, played the violin and their father's face was beaming with pride at their renditions.  Another pair of guests, both 16 years old, demonstrated to us their terpsichorean talents.  Both are veteran dance sport dancers and had represented the Philippines in various international competitions.  

Da Capo with Gail Blanco
The night was still young when the program ended at ten o'clock.  Since there was nothing else to be done, my husband and I headed home, some four kilometers away.