Today is World Refugee Day!

My colleagues, especially Robyn, have been working very hard for the past few weeks for the event organized with UNHCR and the Department of Justice. June 20 marks “World Refugee Day” and our NGO has put up an exhibit of artworks done by refugees near the fountain in Shangri-la Mall . It was my first event and I even had to borrow Mon’s blazer because I realized I had none. LOL I have a barong from my graduation rites two months ago, but that would have been too formal for something that requires smart casual.

1 family torn apart by conflict is too many

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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! ^_^

Measuring up!

Black is beautiful, but too much black is charcoal” — that was the tongue-in-cheek saying I immediately thought of upon receiving the Porter by Yoshida Company bag on the mail yesterday. I already have eight black bags but it did not prevent me from getting this briefcase/messenger bag. I was really happy because the bag was lightweight and both the straps and rolled handles are comfortable on my shoulders. The coated canvas gives off a leathery finish on pictures, but I guess it will hold up really well under the heavy rains.

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag

Porter by Yoshida Company briefcase messenger bag and Red Wing 8875 boots

Anyway, on my way to work today, I dropped by the Handyman store in Farmers Plaza to buy locks and bolts for the apartment we will be renting starting in June. I found the aisle dedicated to these items and I had a great time choosing what should be used to secure our apartment. At first, I was just looking for a traditional door knob but I remember Mon describing an alternative. He was not able to give its exact name but when I saw the ‘deadbolt lock’, I immediately sent him a photo to ask if it was what he had described.  I subsequently bought approximately Php 900-worth of items, which we would be giving to the landlady so that they will be installed during the repainting of the unit.

Locks and bolts from the Handyman storeSpeaking of repainting, I wanted to have the unit’s paint changed from yellow to at least off-white, just like what I’ve mentioned in my previous post. The unit is due to be repaired/renovated for occupation this weekend, so I also asked the landlady if she could have it repainted and I will just pay for the extra cost. I wanted off-white because that is the color of our walls in our house, so the color scheme is a piece of home away from home. Our extremely yellow roomSo during dinner break, Faye accompanied Mon and me to the apartment . We needed to give out the locks to the landlady, and I also had to measure the floor area so we can proceed in deciding what pieces of furniture to purchase/bring. I know that I should have brought a retractable measuring tape, instead of the one made for human/fabric measurements because my hands were a bit dirty as the place was still quite dusty. It was an oddly-shaped studio apartment (well, at least the area excluding the bathroom), so I have drawn a rough sketch on paper of the floor area to facilitate measurement.

Floor plan of the studio apartmentWhen I got there, my immediate decision was to use inches instead of centimeter. I normally use inch-foot when measuring bags and clothing, but I usually resort to centimeter-meter when measuring space or floor area. SO I had no idea why I immediately jumped the gun on inches, when centimeters could have given me a more accurate measurement, especially I needed every single space I could measure. Well, no good crying over spilled milk so I would just have to live with the measurement I have made.

From the sketch, I have generated this floor plan of the unit with approximate measurements of every single side of the polygon. The total floor area is 115.50 ft²! It was not much but I see it as a challenge.  I’m not big in interior decoration as I never had the chance to foray into tinkering whatever it is that we have in our house. But honestly, I see the limited as an opportunity and I was greatly inspired by this “IKEA Small Spaces – Small ideas” video.

I love the idea of maximizing every bit of space available, and having items with multiple functions. What worries me the most is the amount of clothing, shoes and bag I have. I’ve been doing a mental inventory and selection of what items I will be bringing with me; and as much as I have pared down that list, I still could not think of how I will manage to properly fit them in the unit. We will be going to the Makati malls on weekend, and I look forward to seeing possible options for the bed and closet (if we will be getting one). I think our work would be easier because we have the floor plan with us. I just  hope we’ll find a decently-price sofa bed because that is the whole point of moving from Marikina to Makati —to have a decent sleep!

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