Unboxing and Review: My First Order from Althea Philippines

All the products here are actually from two Althea boxes way back in February, so #latepost, but I just really wanted to share my thoughts on some of the items I bought and my experience with Althea Philippines.

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Althea is an e-commerce brand that sells Korean makeup, skincare, and beauty tools, very much like Beauty MNL or Sephora Philippines (formerly Luxola). They’ve recently expanded here in the Philippines after they proved to be successful in Singapore and Malaysia. Althea Philippines is fairly new since they only launched last February, but they’ve been featured a lot in the local beauty scene.

The prices of the products they carry are very competitive, definitely cheaper than the Korean products sold in physical stores here. It’s almost like you’re buying with Korea prices since almost all their products are discounted all the time. And they often have full-size freebies you can just add to your cart when you checkout. It’s really hard not to buy anything from Althea whenever I check their website. LOL.

Since I first ordered from them in February, the list of brands that they carry have grown longer and longer. They have products from the more popular brands like Innisfree, The SAEM, IOPE, Mamonde, 3 Concept Eyes, CLIO, HERA,  Dr. Jart+, and Sulwhasoo to name a few. And also some of the lesser-known brands that have been gaining popularity like SkinMiso; DEAR, KLAIRS; Elizavecca; and Aromatica, among others.

Here are the items from my first two orders:

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Japan 2016: Beauty Haul (and Mini Reviews, Too)

I went back to Japan for the second time a few weeks ago with my mom, my brother, my aunts, and my cousin. We spent a phenomenal week in Hokkaido and a couple of days in Tokyo. I’m definitely going to write about it soon and maybe cut a video, but while I organise and edit all the photos and clips we took, here’s a beauty haul post for yer enjoyment.

The first time I went to Japan, I didn’t really buy anything except for KitKat and other snacks. I wasn’t interested in beauty then, and I was just so ecstatic to be in Japan because I had wanted to go there for the longest time. But during the two years I spent away from the motherland, nagdalaga ako (lol). Now, I’m back home, and I’m broke because I bought quite a bit of beauty stuff back.

Like, I’m really, really broke…but hey, at least I can be beautiful. LOL.

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Look at my stupid face pretending to look in the opposite direction of the drugstore aka one of the happiest places on earth, aka the black hole that sucks time and resources.

Let’s jump in.

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Vietnam: Day 3

Our last day in Hanoi!

The weather was still gloomy at that point, but the cold weather was such a blessing because we just walked all over the city that day.

Our itinerary was pretty simple:

  • Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
  • Temple of Literature
  • Hoa Lo Prison
  • A water puppet show
  • And maybe egg coffee on our way back

Culture Day, basically.

I didn’t expect Hanoi to be so walker-friendly. We just followed a map we got from the hotel. We loved that thing so much. Here’s a scan because we like to share:

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Vietnam: Day 2

The realisation that the Mekong River and the Cu Chi tunnels weren’t in Hanoi only came to me after we had booked and paid for our plane tickets. I was a little bummed about that, but Hanoi offered something equally meaningful instead.

Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Coron lookalike, is a mere three-hour bus ride from Hanoi. Sweet.

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30 Before 30: A Rough Outline

I’ll be turning 30 in four years. And I just wanted to think about all the things I wanted to do before I turn 30. That’s it, pancit. (This is also me avoiding so much blog backlog, I can’t even.)

It has been four years since I graduated from university, wow. I’m on my second job right now, in a sector I want to stay in for the rest of my life, also considering graduate school, investing, and just generally getting better at being an adult – which means fully committing to #StopBuyingShit2k16 and eventually #StopBuyingShitPeriod.

I’m used to the sound of deadlines swooshing by, so I probably won’t accomplish every goal on this list by the time I turn 30, but it’s always good to have some semblance of a plan, right? Right.

So, here’s an outline of things I’ve always wanted to do and things I just thought of right now before I turn 30, in no particular order.

  1. Travel alone.
  2. Eat the best of something in the world once (even though I’ll poop it out eventually).
  3. Write a book (or a lot of little bits that can be smushed together to form a book).
  4. Get published.
  5. Go vegetarian for a month.
  6. Learn a new language – or a dialect!
  7. Start a social enterprise.
  8. Read the entire Bible (I’m not religious, but I think this is important).
  9. Grow tomatoes.
  10. Organize a Christmas food kitchen.
  11. Then do something more sustainable and long-term.
  12. Tutor public school kids in my community.
  13. Grant the wishes of lolos and lolas in a nursing home.
  14. Take my parents on an all-expenses-paid trip.
  15. Climb a mountain.
  16. Build or rehabilitate a public school library in a remote area.
  17. Document 365 consecutive days of my life in photos (a visual journal).
  18. Master my DSLR (I stopped at trying to understand aperture and winged it from there).
  19. Get better at Illustrator.
  20. And After Effects.
  21. And Final Cut.
  22. Learn how to code!
  23. Watch one film a day for an entire year (I’ve attempted this several times already).
  24. Spend a day at an elephant conservation center.
  25. Donate blood.
  26. Get a tattoo.
  27. Get a Master’s degree.
  28. Machu Picchu!
  29. Take a few muay thai or Krav Maga classes.
  30. Make a full-length film using my phone camera.

The ones that didn’t make the cut:

  1. Find a foundation shade that matches my skin tone.
  2. Shave my head.
  3. Have a very, very specific Starbucks order.
  4. Make my own cheese.
  5. And butter.
  6. Audition for Pinoy Big Brother.
  7. Run for public office.
  8. Become an Uber driver on the side.
  9. Become a Munchkin cat.

What are your 30 before 30 goals?

Vietnam 2016: Day 1

“Night life or chill?”

That was the question we asked ourselves when we had to choose between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi when Cebu Pacific held a seat sale over a year ago. To take on the night in a bustling, electric city or leisurely walk about like the lolas we truly are—there really was no contest. Hanoi won by a mile and a cane shake at a bunch of young’uns.

Most seats on sale are on flights that depart and arrive at ungodly hours. That’s what we get for being cheapskates. They’re the kind of seats that require planning weeks prior to the trip, arranging airport transfers, and eschewing the #YOLO attitude a young traveler like myself would oftentimes adopt in the face of adventure.

We arrived at Hanoi at 2:00am. Our hotel, Tu Linh Palace 2, had arranged a $15 airport transfer for us and let us hang out in their “relaxing room” (the staff room) until we could check-in…at 10:30am. Eight and a half hours later. It was going to be a long night.

The relaxing room wasn’t much. A couple of hard couches and a mysterious pile of luggage in the corner. We watched the first few episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (whose opening theme would haunt us for the rest of the trip) until the hotel and the city started to come alive around 6:00am. We decided we would catch the sunrise from Hoan Kiem Lake, which was thankfully a few streets away from our hotel.

Hoan Kiem Lake, meaning Lake of the Returned Sword, is right in the center of Hanoi. It serves as a focal point for the city’s public life.

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Our research told us March is the perfect time to visit Hanoi because the season was transitioning from winter to spring. We packed for warmer weather, but when we got to the city, we were looking at temperatures of 20 degrees and lower.

“I packed shorts.”

“Uh. Me, too.”

Tiis-presko?

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Books, Briefly: Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

Kay reviews books in 100 words or less.

Brooklyn

The brevity of goodbyes surprised me the most. Every time Eilis had to say goodbye, I expected grand paragraphs that revealed the storm inside her and the pain of separation—but that didn’t happen, or it rarely did. Goodbyes were cut short. They were scenes that happened between lines and pages. The focus of the narrative was on her first day, her first time, her new beginning. I think it’s because this isn’t a book about letting go; Brooklyn is about Eilis finding herself.

Now that this is done, I can finally watch Saoirse and Domhnall in Brooklyn, the film!

My Grab Driver was a Jehovah’s Witness

Friday night. Payday weekend.

I made plans to have dinner with a friend, uncharacteristically. On Friday nights, I would normally be found at home, watching Netflix, guzzling chips, and beckoning my cat to sit beside me (she doesn’t, that tart). I was coming from my office in Makati and decided to take a car service going to Bonifacio Global City instead of testing my luck trying to hail a cab. Since it was almost 6:00 in the evening on a Friday payday night, Uber’s surge rates were ridiculous. I turned to Grab for the first time and found the fixed fare to be more reasonable. Within five minutes, I had a driver. Excellent. Let’s call him Fred (not his real name).

When I got inside Fred’s car, I was feeling pretty good. He greeted me very warmly, and I felt comfortable enough to start a conversation with him. Fred seemed like a nice guy. We lamented the traffic a little bit, as usual, then I asked Fred about his weekend plans (because it was a long weekend weekend at that time). He said he was just staying in Manila, but if he could, he would go back to Palawan where he worked as an engineer for Hagedorn when he was younger. Palawan is one of my favourite places in the world, I told him. He started reminiscing about the days when Palawan was practically underdeveloped, and how beautiful it was before it boomed as a prime tourist destination. I thought this cab ride might be one of the bests in my book.

We were waiting for a stoplight to turn green along Makati Avenue when he asked me a really strange question. “Ma’am, Katoliko po ba kayo? (Ma’am, are you a Catholic?)” Huh? What does my religion have to do with El Nido and Coron? The evening’s first red flag went up.

“Um, yes. Kayo po? (Um, yes. What about you?)” I asked.

Fred said he was also a Catholic. “Ma’am, alam niyo po ba kung sino talaga namumuno sa mundo? (Do you know who really governs the world?)” Alarms started ringing inside my head. I checked the door locks.

When I hesitated to answer, he gave me options. “Tao? Pera? O si Satanas? (People? Money? Or Satan?)” This ride officially become weird at that point. What the fuck is going on?

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Beauty Empties 1

Here’s a list of products I used up last year. Some of them I liked, some of them not so much. All of them are affordable and accessible since I rarely buy high-end products. I am also too lazy to do individual reviews, so I hope you don’t mind this bunch o’ lunch.

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Let’s start with… *nuninuninu*

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