Thursday, May 28, 2020

Spotify Reveals the Trends of Our Quarantined Summer

I don't know about you, but I've been on Spotify so much more lately due to quarantine. I listen to music as I work, as I clean, as I workout, and even as I sleep. Before, I only ever listened to Spotify while running - and that wasn't exactly something that I did on a regular basis. :p Well, it seems I'm not alone.


Based on Spotify data pulled between April 17 - May 17, listeners are soundtracking activities from homeschooling to painting to dyeing their hair. And let’s not forget cleaning: there has been a more than 40% increase in listeners around the world creating playlists to enthusiastically clean their homes to (and not-so-enthusiastically, based on TLC’s “No Scrubs” being a popular song choice in these playlists). 

For Filipinos in particular, popular song additions to “cleaning” themed playlists include “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift, “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus, “thank u, next” by Ariana Grande, “IDGAF” by Dua Lipa, and “Shut Up and Dance” by WALK THE MOON.  

Here’s a round-up of some of the other trends on Spotify:

Hair gone wild


There has been about a 50% increase in the creation of playlists to inspire people while dealing (struggling?) with hair maintenance as people searched for keywords like “haircut” “dyeing hair” and “hair dye.” Some popular song additions to these hair-themed playlists include: “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne, “Sugar, We're Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy, “The Middle” By Jimmy Eat World, “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco, “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots, and Hair Cutter” by Animal Collective. 

Homeschool hysteria


Parents and students are turning to music to get through the challenges of homeschooling, as well, with a more than 1,000% increase in the creation of homeschool-themed playlists. Popular tracks added to these playlists include “Supalonely” by BENEE and Gus Dapperton, “Sucker” by Jonas Brothers, “Circles” by Post Malone, and “Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa.

Animal Crossing


It’s not all work and no play, though. There has been a more than 1000% jump in playlists being created around Nintendo’s popular 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons', a family-friendly life simulation video game that’s providing an escape.

Exploring creativity


There has been an increase of about 40% in coloring-themed playlists being created globally, as well as a more than 90% increase in painting-themed playlists. Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You” is a popular song pick in these. To get the arts and crafts juices flowing, there has been a more than 125% increase in streaming of “Just Wanna Quilt” and a more than 60% increase in “WeCrochet”. 

Working from home


There has been a more than 1,400% increase in working from home-themed playlists, too. The most added track to these playlists is “Work from Home” by Fifth Harmony (feat. Ty Dolla $ign). Other popular songs added to these playlists include: “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, “Light On” by Maggie Rogers, “10,000 hours” by Dan + Shay (with Justin Bieber), “Boss Bitch” by Doja Cat, “Delicate” by Taylor Swift, and “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala. Sonatas from Beethoven and Bach are also popular additions, with pianist Lang Lang’s version of “Für Elise” a top classical pick. 

Baking is the new “Ommmm…”


There has been a more than 120% increase in baking-themed playlists being created. Popular songs added include: “Sunday Best” by Surfaces, “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson, “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles, “Sugar” by Maroon 5, and “everything i wanted” by Billie Eilish. Listeners also created approximately 225% more banana bread-themed playlists between April 17 and May 17. There are now more than 2,750 banana bread playlists on Spotify.

Have you created any special playlists to tide you over during quarantine? Share them with me! I would love to listen to them! :D

Unless otherwise stated, all data was collected between April 17 to May 17, 2020. Where percentage increases are shown, we compared data from April 17 to May 17 to the last week in February 2020. Data is global unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Looking for Nice Dresses? Perhaps a Midi Slip Dress or Pretty Floral Dresses for Girls?

Looking for nice dresses? Then you might want to check out kis.net :) Regardless of what kind of dress you prefer, this clothing manufacturer offers a wide array of high quality dresses you are sure to love.



kis.net has attractive designs and uses top quality material that won't just fit you well, but also ensures the utmost comfort. The best part is that their dresses are always in fashion. Plus, they constantly add new dresses to their roster to ensure that they stay relevant and ahead of the trends. Their items are affordable, too, so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank.



This midi slip dress is one of my personal favorites!

Shopping at kis.net is quick and easy, and they also offer fast shipping. If dresses aren't your thing, they also have other clothing items on hand for you to check out, including tops, bottoms, innerwear, outerwear, jumpsuits, and even swimwear.

Even plus-sized ladies will be able to find clothes here that will fit them well and that look trendy at the same time. Right now, their bestselling dresses are their floral dresses, casual dresses, and formal dresses. You might want to check those out first!

If you'd like to save even more money while shopping at kis.net, make sure to check out their sale section. Sometimes, they have brand new arrivals at steal prices of up to 50% off. You definitely wouldn't want to miss out on those!

Check them out today! And if you have a little girl like I do, you'll be happy to hear that they have dainty floral dresses for girls, as well. Your daughter is sure to love them! If you want, you can even choose two dresses that go well together, so you can both paint the two red hand in hand. How cute would that be? :)

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Toxicity of You

I found this in my Drafts from late 2019, but never published it because I didn't want my ex to know he actually inspired me to write something. However, a lot of time has gone by since then. I am no longer the same person that I was, and my heart is no longer heavy with the thought of the time that I wasted with you. And so, here it is: the blog post you inspired me to write.



There's always that one final thread that holds you to your past and that you can't seem to cut because of other variables. Maybe they still have something valuable that belongs to you. Maybe you have to work together. Maybe you have common friends. Maybe it's even all of the above. But once that thread is cut, it is so fucking freeing.



Our final thread was cut today. Okay, not really. But although you still have some valuable things of mine, I'm actually willing to oversee that fact for the meantime if it means never seeing your face again.

I try to recall good times - better times because I don't want to feel a heavy heart for anyone; but looking back, there was really nothing good about it.



You made me feel unsafe when you should have been a safe haven. You're the reason I still flinch when a guy touches me unexpectedly and the reason why I slowly inch away from people I sleep next to in the middle of the night. You preach about the evils of the world to anyone who'll listen without realizing that you are actually one of those evils.

Your hypocrisy still rings in my ears like a warning bell - the kind that you hear so many times, you drown it out until it's just a hum in the background. How many times did that bell ring? How many times did people warn me about you? How many times did I ignore their pleas? "Leave him." "Move on." "You deserve better."

But I didn't believe I deserved better - not at the time. I was so broken and so drained. My stomach was constantly filled with medication and my mind was constantly filled with the end of my life. I didn't realize that all of that negativity and all of that brokenness was, in fact, due to you and what you had turned me into.



I try to look back at the kind of person that I was before I met you: carefree, spontaneous, fun, and full of laughter. But when I look at myself in the mirror now, I can hardly recognize myself. I don't remember the last time I laughed, like genuinely laughed because of something. I don't remember the last time I went out without having to worry about someone getting angry about my every move.

Because of you, I turned into the worst version of myself. I lied about so many baseless things. I hid from people. I forgot my priorities. And I cheated. Yes, I cheated. So. Many. Times.

I was unhappy and at the same time disgusted with myself for letting you treat me the way that you did. But after heading to Malaysia and then to Singapore on a much-needed solo trip, where I reconnected with one of the people who shaped my life, I knew it was time to finally stick up for myself, get my shit together, and leave you. And with a little twist of fate, I finally got the courage that I needed to do so.



I still remember the night I left. It was 3 in the morning when I got most of my things together and a friend of yours came to my rescue. I slept in an unknown room hugging a bottle of wine, taking sips every few seconds - not out of sadness, though, but out of celebration. The next day, I knew my heart had finally lined up with my brain. Everything was clear and everything was done.

Within mere days, the insecurity vanished; it was almost instantaneous. Why had I ever thought that I didn't deserve better? Within mere weeks, my doctor reduced my medication. Within a month, I was ready to face the world head-on again.

I won't lie. It was lonely in the beginning, but the loneliness was also comforting. There was no one breathing down my neck telling me how useless I was. No one creeping up at night with groping hands and unwanted advances. No one disrespecting me and making me feel like less of a person every single day.


I can't count the amount of times people have told me how much better I look now that I've freed myself of you and the toxicity of you. It's as if all of the weight in the world was lifted off of my shoulders. Atlas no more.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Mute and Block.

Earlier this year, I was more than open to meet new people and build new friendships. I was coming from a bad dating streak and felt that I needed to surround myself with platonic relationships for a while. And while this worked out in the beginning, I very soon realized how full of shit most people actually are.


As if my early 2020 dating streak wasn't bad enough, I found myself surrounded by some people who were so self-serving, they disrespected my values and even my home. I found myself surrounded by some people who used me and abused my kindness and the kindness of my friends.

I also found myself surrounded by some people who would talk badly about some of their closest friends behind their backs, causing me to wonder what they were saying about me behind my back. And at my age... I really don't need that.


I'm a nice person, believe it or not. Or at least I'd like to believe that I am. I'm the type of person who would give you a chance even if people speak badly about you. I like to give people chances to prove themselves. I like to believe that people change and that maybe this time around, they've changed.

Basically: as long as you're good to me, we're good. Heck, I might even give you multiple chances after you do me wrong. I hardly cut people out of my life because I always believe the best in people. However, the older I get, the more I'm realizing that I simply don't need any kind of negativity in my life anymore, no matter how petty or shallow that negativity might be.


I slowly started cutting people out of my life before quarantine, but I think I've amped up that particular job much more during quarantine itself. See, during this time, someone taught me that muting and blocking people on social media is actually one of the best ways to find peace of mind. And he wasn't wrong.

Is someone being negative on social media, but you can't unfriend them coz of work or coz they're family? Mute them. Is someone pestering you or being condescending? Block them. Mute and block. Mute and block. My mute and block lists are so long now, I might seem like a bitch to some; but peace of mind is so important right now, I don't even care.

red and black plaid button-down shirt and green shorts from H&M / grey, white, and black shoes from ASICS / shot by Gizelle Caoile at Prime Fitness Elite Club in BF Homes, Paranaque

It's okay to be selfish right now and to put your mental and emotional health first. It's okay to cut people out of your life if they're bringing you down, aren't serving a positive purpose in your life, or don't share the same values as you.

Prioritize yourself. Prioritize your heart, your soul, and your mind, and block out every piece of negativity in your life. Trust me: you'll be very grateful once you do.


Thursday, May 14, 2020

Why Park Seo-joon Deserves to Win the Best Actor Award for 'Itaewon Class'

Park Seo-joon has been nominated for Best Actor in the Baeksang Arts Awards for his role as Park Saeroyi in 'Itaewon Class'. The Baeksang Arts Awards has been compared to the Oscars of Hollywood. And while PSJ has already been nominated for the same award back in 2018 for 'Fight for My Way', he eventually lost to Cho Seung-woo.

This year, he is nominated alongside Hyun Bin ('Crash Landing on You'), Ju Ji-hoon ('Hyena'), Kang Ha-neul ('When the Camellia Blooms'), and Namkoong Min ('Hot Stove League'). And while all of these actors definitely deserve their nomination, I have to say that my vote goes to Park Seo-joon all the way.

Most articles online are saying that the biggest contenders for the award are Hyun Bin, who plays Captain Ri in the fan favorite show 'Crash Landing on You', and Park Seo-joon... but having seen both, I can't even see how it's a competition. Park Seo-joon absolutely BLEW ME AWAY from the first episode of 'Itaewon Class' with his performance as Park Saeroyi.

From the very beginning of the show, PSJ had to channel intense emotions and just when I thought we had seen the best of his acting chops, he went ahead and carried on throughout the show showing us just how great of an actor he is.



Of course, it goes without saying that most Korean actors are gifted in the acting department and I'm not taking that away from anyone. However, given the vibe of 'CLOY' and the laughs that were to be had in the show, I can't really say that Hyun Bin deserves a Best Actor award from it. Sure, he was cute when he pouted and he's a good cryer, too... but you couldn't really feel those emotions emanating from him the way that they did from PSJ in 'Itaewon Class'.

Though it can be argued that this might be because Captain Ri grew up having to hold his emotions in - being a soldier who still needed to be strong after losing his brother - I never felt a deep emotional attachment to his character in the show. If anyone, Son Ye-jin is the one who really made me feel things in 'CLOY'.



Park Saeroyi, on the other hand, had me rooting for him and feeling things alongside his character. The frustration of not being able to get the justice his father deserved and yet holding that in in order to make his dreams of success a reality. You could feel all of that as you watch the show. I've never wanted to bash someone's face in as much as I wanted to bash in Jang Geun-won's face in, and I've never hated an old man as much as I hated Jang Dae-hee.



I also love how Saeroyi silently but surely struggled with his emotions between Soo-ah and Yi-seo as time went by all the while without turning the show into the usual K-Drama romcom. In fact, it wasn't until the very last episode where I felt like there was a bit of romance and kilig involved... which is a good thing because that isn't what I primarily look for in a K-Drama (my favorite ones being the more action-packed ones).

Although 'Itaewon Class' isn't action-packed, though, it truly captured my heart. It's the K-Drama that I now recommend to people over and over again - and a big reason behind that is Park Seo-joon's acting in the lead.

While Park Seo-joon has played many memorable roles in the past, this is the role that really made me appreciate him as an actor. He is AMAZING, and I really hope that he gets the recognition he deserves at the Baeksang Arts Awards.

The Baeksang Arts Awards will be held on June 5, 2020. Who are you rooting for?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Why Starbucks Delivery Means So Much to Me Right Now

If you know me well, you will know that Starbucks has always been a staple in my life. Since I work from home, I have spent most of the past decade at Starbucks (the Phase I one in BF Homes).


See, back when I was still a smoker, it was the only comfortable place to smoke while working here in BF. You could even plug in your gadgets in the sockets outside. (Those don't exist anymore last time I checked.) That's not all, though. That particular branch also happens to be close to home. Plus, my pole studio is right behind it. I also like the quiet and calm ambience, and how the baristas there treat me like family by now.

It's not too crowded; the aircon is hella cold (perfect for days when I wanna snuggle in a hoodie); the couches are comfy (if you're early and lucky enough to snag one); and my friends loved hanging out there, as well. I also ended up dating a barista there once, but that's an entirely different story reserved for another time. :p


So imagine the adjustment phase that came with the BF Homes lockdown. Coffee shops were one of the first places to close and while I was lucky to get a huge box of Great Taste Brown Barako Coffee Mix before lockdown started to tide me over, I have to admit that it wasn't the same. I missed going out. I missed having a wide array of options for my coffee and food. And I missed standing there in line in front of the counters deciding on what my tummy was craving for on that particular day.

Just imagine the void that appeared in my heart (and stomach) when I lost all of that.

Although things still aren't back to normal, I am proud to announce that Starbucks (at least here in our village) is finally back in delivery form.


I may not have gotten my ambience, my aircon, or my place of peace back; but at least I have my productivity back. See, as delicious as Great Taste or Maxim Gold might be, they simply don't give me the caffeine kick that I need for my brain to go into complete productivity overdrive.

Since Starbucks' brewed coffee has a higher coffee to water ratio, they have more caffeine than others (or so I've heard) - just the right amount to make me feel a good kind of alive.

My personal favorite, Starbucks' Cold Brew Coffee, has 155mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz. The Blonde Caffe Americano apparently has more, but I love the taste of their Cold Brew the best. I sometimes get a bigger size just to pour some of it into my ice cube trays for some Kori Kohi the next day. 


There are some limitations to the Starbucks delivery here in BF, though. They don't have whipped cream or non-fat milk, for example. And the food options are super limited, so you have to check what's available by the day. Some days, they have a lot of choices. Other days, they only have one kind of sandwich available. But still... the mere fact that they are back in my life is enough to make me incredibly happy.

Ang babaw ko, noh? :p

What has been keeping you sane and making you happy during quarantine lately?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Harry Potter Podcasts to be Read by David Beckham, Eddie Redmayne, Daniel Radcliffe, and More

Calling all my fellow Potterheads! If you're anything like me who loves the Harry Potter books to death, you've probably re-read them an uncountable number of times by now. To spice things up a little bit, why not have someone else read them to you for a change? And why not someone with a gorgeous accent? ;)

Yahs! Stars from the Wizarding World and beyond are coming together to read J.K. Rowling’s 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' exclusively on Spotify for both free and Premium users.

Entitled 'Harry Potter at Home', this free initiative is designed to help bring the magic of Harry Potter to children, parents and carers during the lockdown.



Daniel Radcliffe reading Chapter One: The Boy Who Lived is already available on Spotify, and we cannot wait for the rest of the lineup, which includes Stephen Fry, David Beckham, Dakota Fanning, Claudia Kim, Noma Dumezweni, and Eddie Redmayne!



Each of these stars will be reading different sections of the iconic book with its themes of family, friendship, courage, and overcoming adversity to families around the world.

All 17 chapters of the book will be released between now and the middle of the summer with videos also posted weekly on www.harrypotterathome.com :)

It is hoped that this new slate of readings bring further comfort, entertainment and magic to children, families and carers confined to home everywhere. I know it has already worked for me. :)

To get started streaming chapter one today on Spotify, click here

What's your favorite Harry Potter book?

Monday, May 4, 2020

ASTRO Shares Their Favorite Songs from the New Album 'Gateway'

Hello, fellow AROHAs!!! Yesterday was an awesome day for me - one I had waited for with bated breath because yes, ASTRO finally released their 7th Mini Album 'Gateway'! And that's not all! They also released a new music video, and it is everything I could have possibly hoped for. Cha Eun-woo is just so darned dreamy!!! Watch it here if you haven't yet:



Their good looks aside, though, I also have to commend the intense choreography that they did for this song... and those dreamy-like stairs (and stares!). Haha.

If you're an AROHA, I'm sure you've already listened to the new album several times by now (as I have). Well, in case you're interested in knowing which songs out of the album the members loved the most, here are their answers based on an Instagram interview by Soompi:


Sanha



Sanha's LSS out of the new album is '12 Hours' because of the lyrics. He also points out that it's a good bedtime song. Since he is very particular about lyrics, he says 'Star' would fit his personality best because it reminds him of all of his memories with ASTRO so far.


Rocky



Rocky says his favorite track is 'We Still' because of the melody and the explosive energy of the chorus that makes his heart feel free. However, the song that best fits his personality is the title track 'Knock' because its refreshing and powerful vibe matches his dance style well.


Moonbin



Moonbin also loves 'We Still' because it's refreshing and touching. 'Every Minute' fits his personality most, though, because it is hopeful and bright.

MJ



MJ shares that 'We Still' touched his heart from the very beginning, but 'Somebody Like' fits his cool and refreshing vibe best.

JinJin



JinJin's favorite song is the song that he made for us AROHA while waiting, 'Lights On'. He says he can identify most with 'When You Call My Name', though, because of its happy and refreshing vibe.

Eun-woo



Eun-woo says he likes 'Somebody Like' because it gets more exciting the more you listen to it. And being the adorable lil joker that he is (oops - you can clearly tell who my bias is now hahaha), he says 'When You Call My Name' fits his personality best because he wants lots of people to call his name. Lelz. :p



I've listened to 'Gateway' for the past few hours and I have to say: while I am happy to hear new music from ASTRO, I'm also a little sad because six songs simply weren't enough to satisfy my selfish AROHA heart.


Fortunately, all of the songs are amazing, though my current favorite is 'Lights On' (though 'We Still' is a very close second). 'Lights On' just hits different the minute it starts.

What's your favorite song from 'Gateway', fellow AROHAs? :)


Saturday, May 2, 2020

5 Reasons Why I Love My Job at When in Manila

After living in various other countries most of my life, my dad retired from being an ambassador about a decade ago and that meant that our family had to move to the Philippines.

I hadn't lived here for very long before; so in my head, the plan was to live here for a few years just to see what it's like and then eventually move to the US with my kid. (I'm a US citizen, so the plan made sense to me at the time).

Little did I know that I would fall in love with something here that would no longer make me want to leave: my job at When in Manila. Job offers come and go (with one even coming from my current dream company); but to be honest, I wouldn't give up working at When in Manila for the world. Here's why.


5 Reasons Why I Love My Job at When in Manila



The Perks


Like most of our contributors, I started writing for When in Manila just for fun. I did it for the love of writing, for the chance to meet new people in a relatively new country, and for the perks.

Free food, free beauty products, free concert tickets, free all-expense-paid trips - what was not to love? As someone who was barely making enough money to make things meet at the time, getting freebies like that gave me a chance to experience things I otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford. 


The Passion


As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons why I decided to contribute to When in Manila in the first place was my love for writing. I have always loved writing, but doing it for a living can really drain all of your love for it. When in Manila revived a fire in me that I had lost along the path of monotonous transcriptions, pointless ghostwritten articles, boring jewelry descriptions, and fake dating advice.

Through the site, I was given the chance to experience new and exciting things to rave about in writing. When we first moved here, for example, one of my main priorities was to get to know the city and the country more; When in Manila helped greatly in that regard. Because of WIM, I found myself enjoying writing all over again - and I still enjoy writing for the site every single day.



The Setup


Prior to When in Manila, I only ever applied to one place here in the Philippines. It was my dream job and during the final interview - you know, the one where you talk about your potential salary - my heart sank. The salary was so low that if I factored in my expenses for food and transportation (from Sucat to Ortigas), I would have been left with absolutely nothing. Add to that the fact that I had to battle traffic on the way there and back, and it was simply not something I wanted to do, especially since my daughter was only 1 year old at the time.

When in Manila has made things incredibly convenient for a single working mother like me, thanks to our work-from-home setup. Throughout the almost-decade that I have been working for WIM, I hardly ever felt like I was missing out on things concerning my daughter. I have been there for almost every honors' convocation, sports fest, dance performance, birthday, and holiday. Although I may have meetings and events here and there, they're fairly easy to work around. And since I don't need to go to an office for work everyday, I get to save more money for other things.


My Workmates


To say that my workmates and I have been through a lot together is an understatement. Having worked at When in Manila for almost a decade, I have seen so much growth and witnessed so much happiness.

I have watched people from our WIM family come and go to fulfill their dreams. I have cried profusely when someone left the team. WIM members have given birth to adorable WIM babies. One of our interns eventually became a full-time videographer for WIM, and now she's married.

My workmates and I have grown to become much more than just workmates. We are there for each other for work and beyond. From dirty jokes to the most random conversations outside of work, we are there for each other. I love to be able to say that WIM has truly become like a second family to me.


Our Boss



I have had several bosses in my lifetime, but none of them even come close to my current boss. Vince is honestly one of the nicest people I've ever met - and I'm not just saying that because I work with him. Notice how I said 'with' and not 'for'. See, working with Vince doesn't feel like you're working day in and day out for someone. He listens to people. He is open to feedback. And he lets us all grow together as a team. It's a very collaborative setup where no one ever feels like they're a tier below anyone else.

Vince is also incredibly understanding when it comes to personal problems or mental issues. And he gives people chances. Over and over. Even when they feel like they no longer deserve it. And he's patient. And he cares. A lot. I can't say that about a lot of other people I've worked with.

If you've watched 'Itaewon Class'... that's pretty much what our team feels like. When in Manila had very humble beginnings, but we've grown into what we are today because of the amazing team behind it and our faith in one another. There were times when I just wanted to give up and other times when I was tempted to try my hand at other opportunities, but the love I have for WIM is simply unparalleled. And I hope you all find this kind of joy at work someday.