Preparing for a week in Mindanao!

 

Say hello to a new day! I have brought along almost all shortsleeves polo with me but I don’t remember wearing one since bringing them. As it is almost raining the whole week, the prospect of sweating profusely has significantly reduced. Another colorblind moment, though, as I thought this was a white polo with gray stripes, but apparently, it was pink in some other color. Oh well. I would never know about it not until I commented that Mon and I were both wearing white polos and looked like high school students. I was evidently wrong.A shirt I thought as white, black skinny pants, Red Wing  2913 boots

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Not to be dissuaded by a problematic buyer

One of the first things I have brought inside the apartment was a full-length mirror — something I did not have in our house in Marikina. As we still do not have a closet, all of our clothes are still to be taken out of  our luggages and bags. We also do not have a flat iron, so we just resorted to the old ‘pagpag-and-hagod’ method to sort out wrinkles.

Our nice mirror - PLAY by Comme des Garçons shirt,  brick pants, Red Wing 2913 boots and green Prada tessuto robot tote

Last Friday, I was shocked to see that an item sent via Registered Mail, which I thought to have been lost in transit to a buyer in Netherlands, suddenly showed up as “Item Delivered” in PhilPost’s online tracking. It has been almost a month since I sent the item and as the online tracking was under maintenance for weeks already, I was left with no choice but to refund the buyer. My mistake because I was too quick to refund her without waiting for Ebay to do so. Maybe I just wanted the whole thing to be over, and I was counting on the buyer’s honesty that she would return my funds back to my PayPal account once she gets the bag. Of course, I was wrong and naïve.

PhilPost tracking showing delivery to NetherlandsMy initial reaction was to dispute the case, but as it was already past the 45-day period to open an appeal, I was left with no other choice but to contact the buyer directly. In my email, I have informed her about the online tracking showing delivery, and if it was okay, she could send my money back OR return my item because I cannot NOT have both the funds and the bag. I gave her 24 hours to reply because we live in different time zones, and maybe she was busy with something. Then when I received her reply, she mentioned that she was preoccupied (for three weeks, huh?), that was why she was unable to give a feedback about the bag. The catch was, she did not like the bag because it was too small, has several scratches and the leather was stiff. Hmmm… I have disclosed all information in the auction description so I did not get why she was just telling me that when I already contacted her. As a buyer myself, my initial reaction would be to immediately contact the seller and inform her my dissatisfaction. So why wait for 20 days to react? I guess somebody wanted a free bag.

The worst thing about her reply was she was short of asking money from me so that she can send my item back. The auction description clearly mentioned that in cases of return, the buyer has to pay for return shipping. It was fair enough, considering that as Ebay and PayPal have a 21-day hold on my received funds, I have taken the shipping fee to Netherlands out of my own pocket. Therefor, it was unjust tht I shell out money just to get my bag back.

She did not bother replying until I gave her an implied warning about her school hearing from me, and discussing in full details about her fraudulent online activities. I managed to contact another seller from Slovenia, who received a negative feedback from her on May 5, 2013. I found it too hard to believe that she was busy to inform me of her dissatisfaction, yet she managed to give that poor seller a negative feedback three days after receiving my bag. I think her school administrator would not be too pleased to hear that they are employing a teacher with questionable morals in their school.

I think she got scared after that stern warning, as I flat out told her that all that hassle was not worth it — all of that for a bag. So in the end, she ended up shouldering the return shipping and eventually sent the item back to me. However, she did not mark the item as a “Returned Merchandise” and I have a feeling I will end up paying custom fees for a returned item. In my return policy, I have specified to send the item with the original packaging, but apparently, this seller was intent in keeping a bag and thought she got away after not hearing from me since May 2. What a devious buyer.

A 500g parcel to be sent to US via Philpost's IEMSMoral of the story? Do not use Registered Mail because it takes forever. I am now using International Express Mail Service (IEMS) from PhilPost, and even if it was slightly more expensive, the 3-5 working days delivery time would surely be more favorable against impatient overseas buyer. For instance, a 500g parcel sent to US via Registered Mail cost Php 885 (and Php 1,770 once it passes the 500g mark), while a similar weight via IEMS cost me Php 1,409 (and Php 1,853 if more than 500g). PhilPost’s website is also updated with the fee, and they have the rates printed and inside a clear book so they are definitely accurate. (See link: http://philpost.gov.ph/web/international-mail-rates/) Well, the new batch of items I have sent via IEMS should be received by early next week, but my first experience of IEMS years ago was pleasant. I do hope that my funds get released earlier than the expected 21-day holding period because shipping via IEMS was no dime a dozen!

P.S.

Mama, Kuya and Ate Ja visited our apartment today, and I was so happy they thought our unit was fair enough! ^_^

Friday, Friday!

On Fridays, we are allowed to wear jeans but I still opted to wear black pants because my beloved pair of jeans is still yet to be laundered. However, I was more keen to use this printed shirt with the robot bag because they both have the capacity to make me look, errrr, younger. LOL

1017 printed shirt, black skinny pants, Yves Saint Laurent patent sneakers and green Prada tessuto robot 2 tote

I’ve been using a lot of canvas and nylon bags lately, and even if I hate to admit it, I’m also kind of getting over my love of heavy leather bags. Under the summer heat, I prefer not to lug around a heavy luggage and anything non-leather makes my life easier. But in a month or so, summer will be up soon, and rainy season won’t be too kind as well. I have been looking at a functional bag on Ebay, from a brand I have never owned before. And that was when I saw this Porter by Yoshida Freestyle 2 Way briefcase bag.

The Porter by Yoshida briefcase bag on Ebay

(Photo from the Ebay seller)

Technically, I’ve been seeing this bag listed on Ebay since last year, and I kept on having tentative decisions whether I should just go for it or not. The first thing that put me off was the color. It it were on a happier color (i.e. red or even blue) or anything neutral other than black (preferably camel), I would have definitely gotten it in a snap. But as I already have a lot of black bags, common sense tells me that I don’t need another bag in black. Frankly, I’ve been trying to get rid of some of my bags by selling them online, but things are not going as fast as I’ve originally hoped. I’m really determined to downsize my stuff this year, given that I will be working in another sector where I need more discreet and less recognizable items to use. This Porter by Yoshida bag perfectly fits the bill. Discreet – check, functional – check, weatherproof – check; so what am I waiting for? The seller.

Porter by Yoshida Freestyle briefcase bag from BLACKBIRD

I’m still waiting for the seller’s reply. I remember haggling for the price way back in February but I have completely forgotten about asking. And then I thought of checking if the bag is still available, and saw that the seller had actually answered my request. It has been almost three months since that reply, and I’m still hoping that the offer still stands. I think i’m getting an extremely good deal over it at Php 1,500 total, especially the same bag is sold for US$ 500 on BLACKBIRD, and for US$ 603.25 of Ebay.com! The item looks leather-y but it is actually polyurethane-coated canvas, making it  really durable against the elements. Of course, I’m just justifying this purchase again with all my reasoning might. =D

Hello! Ilocos Norte! – Day 1

I have never been to Ilocos Norte and I was very happy to be invited by Mon to stay in the place where he grew up. According to him, it was approximately a 9-hour night trip and I knew that Bonamine would be my best friend again. We arrived in Fariñas Bus Transit near UST, Manila because our bus was scheduled to leave in exactly 9:00 PM. We were seated directly behind the driver and we had enough leg room to even put our bags on the floor. It was at Php 750 per person because they had an on-board comfort room! No more waiting for the stop over. It was difficult to sleep, though, because I was really suspicious of the people getting in and out of the bus. I fear for the sake of the duffle bag on the overhead compartment.

Laoag Bound - Fariñas Bus Transit

Around quarter to 6:00 AM, we arrived in Fariñas Terminal in Laoag City, where we were met by Mon’s aunt, who will be accompanying us to the house. The air was so cold and FRESH that the difference between city and rural atmosphere could not be starker. Reaching their house, Mon’s mother greeted us from the veranda and the next thing I know, I was being finally introduced to his grandmother. =D She was still full of energy at her age, and I was really delighted to see her. One by one, within the next hour, most of the people in the house began waking up. We had to eat breakfast before going to the cemetery to visit their grandfather’s grave (Mon was the first-ever grandchild), which was followed by a mass because it was Palm Sunday.

Mangoes directly from the tree

Mon visiting his late grandfather's grave in the cemetery

The mass was delivered in Ilocano and I could not understand a single thing. LOL There was also a sinking bell tower right across the street. They say that one can make a wish whenever visiting a church for the first time — I just did that as well. =P After the mass, Mon and I separated from the group to buy things from the market. I also needed my quick fix of coffee and we found one near PureGold, Laoag City.

Palm Sunday mass in Laoag, Ilocos Norte

Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag city center

Before lunch time, we went home to fix our things because we will be going to the river! I forgot the name of the river but it only took us around 30 minutes to get there. As soon as I saw the rows of nipa huts, I knew I was in for a treat. =D

A view of the river directly from the water's surface

Look how clear the water was? Amazing!

River from Ilocos Norte

But before anything else, we had to eat our lunch and I was surprised to see that the watermelon we bought from the market did not have a red flesh inside. LOL A lot of Ilocano dishes on the table as well, and I was particularly pleased with the longganisa and pinakbet. I think bathing in a river was an ingenious way to start the summer season!

Colorful watermelons! I never thought there were yellow-fleshed watermelons

LOL

I think after the lunch was over, I was one of the first people to jump right away to the water and was also the last one to get out. LOL That was how river-deprived I was. The water was not that deep, though, as the deepest part was barely above my waist. It was a good thing especially the place was packed with families with little kids.

Enjoying the cold river water

Mon's sister, Anne, striking a pose

I think these girls were looking for fish and shells to play with

Then at around half past 3:00 PM, we decided on a whim to head to Batac and visit Ferdinand Marcos’ body preserved in a mausoleum. We were not allowed to use our cameras inside and the guard was watching our every move, trying to catch people violating the rule. We were inside for less than two minutes as we only had to walk around the casket.

In Batac, Ilocos Norte after visiting Ferdinand Marcos' body on display

Then for a late merienda, it was a perfect opportunity to eat empanada! After a five-minute drive, we reached this area, with rows of stalls selling food. We sat down in Glory’s Empanada and I finally  had my first ever empanada from Ilocos. LOL

Finally! Got to taste empanada from Ilocos Norte - Glory's Empanada

 

After that quick snack, we went to Paoay to visit St. Augustine Church a.k.a. Paoay Church (“Paoay! Kumakaway!”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site built primarily with coral blocks. We got there late in the afternoon, so naturally, we were not able to see the church lit-up. which was too bad because I was sure it would have looked heavenly in person.

Paoay Church (St. Augustine Church), Ilocos Norte

 

Peculiar material of the structure - coral bricks

 

Tourists in Paoay - Paoay Church, Ilocos Norte

 

 

And in the nick time, just before sunset, we went to Fort Ilocandia’s beach just to literally take pictures. There were also a lot of people and the beach itself was quite OK. We would have loved to swim as well, but we were not to go to the beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday.

Dropped by Fort Ilocandia beach

 

Literally dropped by to take photos

 

Getting our feet wet, but no beach until Pagudpud on Tuesday

 

This amazing race in a day made me love Ilocos Norte very much. =D It made me realize I should be really going around the country more than outside because we have an amazing share of wonderful spots — without breaking the bank. Tomorrow would be a less eventfuly day because Mon and I still haven’t properly slept because of the bus ride! One regret: I should have bought at least two more empanadas to take home with me!