Studying in the UK vs The Philippines

Studying is a phase of life that is important to every person, everybody has mixed experiences depending on their upbringing, what school they went to and the country they live in. Each studying experience is different, some people enjoy it but others don’t. Some lucky people, like me, get a new fresh start when it comes to studying.

I was born and raised in The Philippines, I’m half Filipina and half English. I studied in The Philippines till my 3rd year of High School, I had an amazing group of friends and was thoroughly enjoying puberty and school (bizarre, I know). My parents both decide that we needed to move to the UK in 2011. It was now or never. I was 13, at the start of my 3rd year in high school. In the UK I would be in Year 10 (school in The Philippines starts in June whereas in the UK it starts in September). I had a whole month to pack my life away in a massive suitcase, say goodbye to all of my friends, to all the people I know, and my massive but very tight-knit family. I was distraught but at the same time quite excited.

August 11, 2011. The day we arrive in the UK.

My dad had a month to enrol me and my brother in a school. We did get in but we had to start fresh, they couldn’t convert our grades so we were put in the lowest classes, we were given the ‘easy’ paper where we could only get a ‘C’. It was such a change but that school treated us so well, they helped us adjust and even assigned us a ‘buddy’ to show us around the school and help out.

In The Philippines, the level of education is much harder. Things we were doing when we were eleven were being studied in Biology in sixth form.  So in the UK, That meant that migrating to a new school was incredibly easy for me as I just had to redo everything, I remember loving Pythagoras’ theorem as that was something I have done before. The same with the sciences.  In fact, I was moved from the ‘easy’ class to the higher education class and managed to obtain a ‘B’ in a foundation paper (the highest you can get is a ‘C’).

In the Philippines, I struggled to keep up with the workload. We had four quarters and each of the quarter we had an exam for every single subject that we had. This was in the space of 2 – 3 days, exams back to back. In the UK, it was much different. I had two exams sessions, one in January and one at the end of the year which was at June or early July. Although we had an exam for each and every one of the subjects, it was at least spread out so we only had one exam a day or a maximum of 3. This was so much easier to cope with as I didn’t have to stress about remembering everything.

In the UK, we have an exam board that distributes your exam and it is guarded and is under incredible protection. Teachers are not allowed to see it before the exam, in fact, they only see it an hour prior to the exam or sometimes not till you are sitting the exam. In the Philippines, it was your own teacher who made the exams. Sometimes they don’t even get spellchecked. I remember one exam my teacher misspelt important to ‘imporatnat’, we found it so funny that we all got in trouble as we couldn’t stop laughing. Not only did you teacher make the exams, you can actually hire the teacher to tutor you beforehand, for a hefty price of course. But nevertheless, you can see that ‘exam conditions’ are incredibly different in both countries.

The length of school days are also different. In the UK, my school day was from eight till three. In The Philippines, my school day started at quarter to seven till around half three or half four. We also had several holidays but sometimes for a day off during the week, we had to pay it back by attending Saturday school. Saturday school is also much more common than you think!

As a religious country, our schools we’re teaching us from Day one to praise Jesus and about the love of God. I first went to a Catholic School where we prayed almost 16 times a day! Might seem like I’m exaggerating but I really am not. We would pray in the morning, before and after every lesson, and before we go home. We also would sometimes have morning church sessions and some schools even keep a ‘church’ book. It must be signed by your priest or pastor notifying of your attendance in church.

Those are just a couple of the ‘major’ changes between The Philippines and the UK’s education system. I was lucky as I manage to start fresh and I just had to redo everything I did. Although very different, I still had a great time. I had amazing friends, amazing teachers and enjoyed my subjects incredibly. It was a change that I appreciated!

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Growing Tattoo Collection

Since I was 12, I remember being a massive fan of everything about the 50s – 60s. I loved rocking red clothing, red lips, cat eyeliner, Elvis Presley and everything rockabilly. Basically red, polka dots and skirts was my aesthetic. So when I told my mom and dad that I wanted a Sailor Jerryesque tattoo when I turn 18, they weren’t really shocked. So 2015 arrives and you guess it, the first thing I do is research places to get tattoos.

My very first tattoo was a tribute to my mom. Although very simple, mamait’s actually very symbolic. I got it done at Cloak and Dagger by the lovely Luke Jinks. Firstly, instead of using the traditional ‘mom’ in a heart tattoo, I used ‘mama’ as that is what I call her. Then I had flowers added to it as my mom loves gardening and is obsessed with flowers and lastly a swallow that is of great importance. As I have mentioned, I’m half Filipina and half English. I grew up in The Philippines but moved to the UK when I was 13. A swallow tattoo usually represents how much a sailor has travelled, one swallow equates to 5,000 nautical meters. The distance of The Philippines to the UK is 5,792 nautical meters equating to one swallow.

My second tattoo was actually done on the same day as my first one and it is just the words GRL PWR. I know, it is a very well known and popular tattoo but I found it really pretty. Also, being a massive feminist I just had to get it!

The rest of my tattoos were done by a lcactusovely French lady named Fiona (@inkyfiona on
Instagram). She works in Clapham Ink, a lovely tattoo studio at Clapham. My third tattoo is a cute little cactus. Fiona was working as an apprentice then and was offering tiny tattoos for free as practice. Looking at her work I instantly fell in love (that’s why I kept coming back).  My fourth tattoo is a bunch of pretty flowers, again done by Fiona. These two aren’t really as symbolic as the first one, I just thought they were cute.

My fifth tattoo is a pixelated heart, this was done when Fiona started doing much bigger tattoos. This one is when my geekiness comes in. It is inspired by pixelated games but most especially The Legend of Zelda games. When I was young, my mom used to give us coins to play on arcade machines but the arcade machines in The Philippines were quite similar to how a Playstation worked. They had Metal Slug, Mario, and even The Legend of Zelda. I remember wasting my summer days, in the heat, with a cold coke next to me playing different video games with my brother. So I, of course, had to get a lovely pixelated heart to remind me of when I was a young girl.

I didn’t actually get a tattoo for a long time after the pixelated heart, mom and dad were getting annoyed that I was getting so many tattoos. I waited almost a year to get another one.

So 2017 comes, I’m at uni and I’m looking through InkyFiona’s Instagram (because I am mermaidher biggest stalker) and I see this beautiful mermaid flash that she has drawn. I message her as soon as I get paid from work and book an appointment. I finally get the mermaid done, this was probably the most painful tattoo I have had done as it’s inside my arm, Fiona (being the babe that she is) talks to me whilst doing my tattoo and even lets me eat a couple of Oreos to distract me from the pain.

My seventh tattoo was actually done on the same day as the mermaid. When Fiona was conchdoing cute little tattoos she drew a flash of this beautiful conch shell, I fell in love with it but at the time she wasn’t doing tattoos behind the ears or fingers. I talked to her beforehand and she agreed to do it behind my ear, this one is another very symbolic tattoo for me. Do you remember putting a conch shell on your ear and hear the ocean? Well, that’s why I got the conch behind my ear. I grew up in Manila in the Philippines but would always go back and forth between the city and Ilocos Sur, my mom’s hometown where my grandma lives.  Our place in Ilocos Sur was right next to the beach so I’d spend half of my time pretending to be a mermaid. Having the conch behind my ear means that I am never far away from the ocean, it is always with me wherever I go.

So far that is all the tattoos I have done. However, I have no plans to stop (although mom and dad really wish I do). I have so many plans and flashes noted in my head but I just need to find the right artists and the money to do them. My next tattoo idea is a floral garden on my leg with little bees (drawn by my sassy friend, Emma). I love tattoos not because they are ‘cool’ but because it is a way of expressing myself, it makes me happy seeing all these beautiful art on my body. It gives me the confidence to show off my skin!

Posted in Tattoo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Portsmouth Vegan Festival

Several people know that I am a huge animal lover and also an unhealthy vegan. I have been vegetarian for a year and became vegan two weeks prior to the festival. Being half Filipina, my diet always consisted of rice and meat. It was a difficult transition but when moving to university, things became so much easier. I was in control of my own food and I was in control of my shopping. When I heard about The Portsmouth Vegan Festival, I was ecstatic. I planned to go two months ahead but silly me put off purchasing the VIP ticket, luckily they were selling tickets at the door. With a £30 budget and two lovely friends by my side, I was ready for all the cruelty-free goodness!

Upon entering the festival, we were surprised by the number of people who attended it. Masses of people were already inside but I was so excited to discover all the vegan goodies that I left all my anxieties at the door.  We entered the first room which seemed the quietest. There were a lot of tables for charities, organic fruit and veggie subscription boxes and even a stall that sells everything you need to know about gardening. It was a very interesting place and not as busy as the rest. It does make sense that it as quiet as there was nothing specifically vegan about the stalls in this room (except for the one table that sells organic skincare items).

The hall is where all the magic happens, rows and rows of food stalls, vegan printed badges and clothing, charities like She Shepeard were there. It was heaven. The first place that drew my attention was a lovely stall selling badges and shirts (I cannot remember the name of the stall, but once I do I will give credit). I took home 3 badges

IMG_1725

A cupcake from Hannah Banana’s Bakery

and there is where I discovered my new favourite thing – I bought a pin with an image of a pig and a slogan underneath saying ‘Mistaken for Bacon’. This really hit hard for
me, I know a lot of people wanting to go vegan but they always use the excuse ‘but bacon though’, personally bacon was the easiest thing to give up and when you think about the innocent piggies being slaughtered it will be easy to give them up too (little jab for the omnivores out there). After purchasing all my new lovely pins we began exploring more.

 

Working for Lush, I have heard of numerous charities like ‘Save the Badgers’ protecting innocent Badgers from inhumane culling and ‘Sea Shepherd’ another famous charity that helps to preserve the ocean. It wasn’t a huge surprise that I spotted the famous Sea Shepherd stall. Different bits and bobs in black and white (my aesthetic) laid neatly on the table with a black cloth on top, I oogled and ogled all the Sea Shepherd merchandise. I decided to purchase a patch to sew onto my favourite tote bag and then I had a lovely chat about Sea Shepherd with the lady at the stall.

The last place we visited was something straight out of my dreams. After walking for ages, we felt our stomach grumbling. We saw this stall selling nachos and rolls using jackfruit! It’s a well-known fact that pulled jackfruit with seasoning tastes exactly like pulled pork. So, of course, I had to get myself a beautiful roll.

IMG_1726

Jack Fruit roll

IMG_1727

Jack Fruit nachos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a vegan student is a lot of hard work and it is quite expensive. It’s not easy for me to just go to Tesco or Sainsbury’s and purchase a sandwich. I have to take the time to meal prep if I have a long day at uni or if I’m going to work. But when I think about the countless animals I am saving, it is all worth it. The next Vegan Festival in Portsmouth is going to be on the 17th of September 2017. This time I’m buying the VIP tickets in advance and I hope to catch some of you there!

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hair Dyeing DIY (do’s and don’ts)

I have been dyeing my hair for nearly five years now, it started with subtle ombre to full on bright blue hair. Not once in those five years did I go to a salon, not because I didn’t want to but because I couldn’t afford it. I was about 15, it started off as brown to blonde ombre then I had purple ends for a little while then stuck back to simple blonde ombre till I was 17. One day, out of nowhere I bought myself some box bleach, bleached the hell out of my hair and dyed it green. Cos you know – I was bored.

Anyway, in the five years of dyeing my hair, these are my tips and tricks that I have come to discover. Please note that this stuff worked for me and it may not work for everyone, also I do recommend going to the salon if you are unsure.

Don’ts:

  1. Do not expect perfect results immediately: as I was dyeing my hair at home with box bleach and eBay bought dye, my hair dyeing journey was never going to be perfect. I wanted to dye my hair blue but it actually resulted into a pretty green. It wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t mind it. Recently, I dyed my hair again wanting a soft, subtle pink but I ended up having deep, hot pink hair. Again, I didn’t mind. When dyeing at home you’re never going to get the perfect results unless you have experience with dyes.
  2. Do not expect it to be cheap: if you are bleaching your hair at home I recommend to have money to spend. My hair used to be hip length when I dyed my hair green, so bleaching cost me a fortune. The first time I bleach all of my hair, I did it twice. Each session I had to buy four boxes of bleach which cost around £10 per box. Plus the hair dye on top which had to be six bottles as they were only 88ml, cost £4 each. So in total, I had to spend £64 that as a student I couldn’t really afford. But I really really wanted coloured hair!
  3. Do not wash your hair as long as you can before bleaching: when you don’t wash your hair for a week, the natural sebum in your hair builds up and helps restore your hair cuticles. Bleaching destroys the hell out of your hair but if the protective sebum is present beforehand it really helps limit the damage.
  4. Do not bleach it yourself: unless you know exactly how to bleach it yourself don’t do it. Just don’t. Listen to my advice. I’m incredibly impatient and couldn’t wait for my friend to come around, so I bleached my hair by myself without knowing how bleach works or without dyeing my hair previously (the ombre was done by a friend). This was 17 years old me, my hair came out patchy and I only really dyed the top bit of my hair but not the insides. So for a month, I looked ridiculous. Fast forward two years later and does Angel learn? Of course not, I again attempt to dye my hair by myself in my uni room. Again with a bleach box dye and again it came out patchy. I never learn.

Do’s:

  1. Do wear gloves: it may sound stupid but this is actually pretty important, not just any gloves by the way but plastic gloves. They can be bought cheaply off eBay. I used silicone gloves, the ones that doctors use cos we had it lying around the house and it pulled out so much of my hair. It was horrendous, using plastic gloves is much softer on your hair and it will limit breakage.
  2. Do wait at least a month in between bleaching: I can’t stress this enough, the reason why people’s hairs fall off after bleaching is because they bleach it too soon. Your hair has just been fried and you do not want to put it through that again. During the month off, if you desperately need to bleach your hair you can do a bleach bath (1 part bleach and 8 part conditioner). But you should just leave it to rest and nurture it back to life. This is the time when you soak your hair in as much coconut oil (or any oil of your choosing) as much as you can.
  3. Do nurture your hair: As we have established bleaching can really damage your hair, my advice is to get yourself some deep treating hair masks, conditioners and a tub full of coconut oil (or argan oil). I use to sleep with coconut oil in my hair and then washing it off in the morning but it was quite uncomfortable top sleep with a shower cap on my head. Nowadays, if I have a day off, I just put coconut oil in my hair in the morning rinse it out at night. I found that it has really really helped my hair in the long run. When conditioning, I recommend getting deep conditioning conditioners, I use Retread by Lush because I find that the jojoba, avocado and extra virgin olive oil really brings back the oils that I stripped away in the bleaching process.
  4. Do use safe dyes and bleaches: At the beginning I mentioned buying eBay hair dye, to clarify I used LA Riche Directions. They are a vegan company that do not test on animals, they do not contain anything that is harmful so I definitely recommend them, they are quite cheap but they do stain especially the darker colours. Another brand that I recommend is Colour Freedom from Superdrug, I’ve only used their toners and I found that they really moisturised my hair alongside toning them. I have not tried their bleach or dyes but when I run out of LA Riche Directions and I need to redo my roots, I definitely will try Colour Freedom.

 

At the moment, those are all the things that I can think of. Dyeing your hair is super fun, sassy and it’s really unique. I love having coloured hair, it really gives me confidence and makes me feel quirky. I really really hope that this helped someone!

Posted in Hair | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazarus

The reason I got Netflix was to watch Dexter, I remember watching the whole 8 seasons in two weeks and a half. I was known to be that person obsessed with Dexter. So when I found out that Michael C. Hall was performing a play in London I knew I had to get tickets. Luckily my friend was interested in it too so we both decided to go.

The play itself was interesting – it is a sort of sequel to the David Bowie film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. I didn’t know this beforehand. I arrived at the theatre empty handed not knowing what the play was about or even knowing that it was linked to another film. All I knew was that I was going to watch Michael C. Hall sing David Bowie songs and the rest is just a bonus.

It was set at The Kings Cross theatre, a makeshift theatre temporarily placed there to feature a couple of plays. The theatre itself was disappointing. The bar was reasonably priced and it was quite warm for a makeshift theatre but the chairs and the placing of the stage were awful. The chairs were too close to each other in height meaning people at the back couldn’t see much. There were a lot of scenes where the actors were laying on the floor and you really had to stretch to see what was happening. I wasn’t really expecting a grandeur, plush velvet seat theatre but I just wish they had the stage higher so we didn’t have to stretch so much.

The play, on the other hand, was amazing. The orchestra was perfect, they created dimension by placing the orchestra on the stage behind glass windows. They utilised a big TV to capture things that would be difficult to see like Thomas Newton (Michael C Hall) laying on the ground on a makeshift rocket. The little girl, I believe she was an angel sent to help Newton to return home played by Sophia Anne Caruso was also amazing! It was a surprise to learn that she was only 15 years old. Her performance really struck a cord in my heart especially at the ending when the plot twist happens (no spoilers here).

I will admit I have followed the Lazarus playlist on Spotify and it’s been my jam ever since. Unfortunately, the play has ended but when it comes back I definitely recommend getting yourself a ticket!

Posted in Theatre | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fancy munching on some edible hair dye or a tongue sandwich?

Menu

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer menu

The Edible Cinema sets to return next month at a venue yet to be announced. The Edible Cinema aims to create a whole new cinematic experience using taste, aroma and texture. They choose a movie and create a menu based on the film you are watching.

The recent production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ featured tongue sandwiches made out of ox tongue, bread croute, olive oil, duck liver parfait and pea shoot during the “Two Blushing Pilgrim” scene. There are also vegetarian options and non alcoholic options for movies like ‘Withnail & I’. In the film ‘Perfume: The Story of a Murderer’ the menu was created by Jake Rigby-Wilson who served roses in the roses scene made out of rose mousse, white chocolate, chocolate covered rose petals with rose scent (created by Louise Bloor). Some of the food can be silly for example, in ‘Spirited Away’ Sen’s Tears are made with Bombay Sapphire, Creme de Cacao, Martini Bianco and Sea Salt as a drink and the sea salt makes it taste like tears.

The Edible Cinema offers a relaxing and comfortable movie experience compared to what you get at your local cinema. You can choose to sit on a velvety red armchair, a sofa or even a sofa bed for those who want to chill out and pretend they’re at home. They also provide you with cashmere blankets for a truly relaxing and homey experience.

The Edible Cinema is set to come back at the end of August (based on their Twitter account). The location and movie is yet to be confirmed and the tickets are usually around £20 to £40 (based on past events). For more details about upcoming movies and events check out www.ediblecinema.co.uk.

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Film Review: How to Train your Dragon 2

The long-awaited sequel for the Oscar nominated film “How to Train your Dragon” is finally here. Directed and written by Dean DeBlois, this sequel has been given 8.4 stars out of 10 on IMDb. The film follows the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his new best friend Toothless after 5 years of friendship. The dragons who were pests are now the loving pets of the Isle of Berk. Trouble starts  and it’s up to Hiccup and Toothless to save the day.

Jaime Martin

Jaime Martin

I interviewed Jamie Martin who recently saw this film and he gave it 9 out of 10 stars, he also said “(How to Train your Dragon 2) is a fantastic animated feature.” Jamie watched How to Train your Dragon 2 as he enjoyed the first one and he was curious to see how the sequel was presented as sequels usually disappoint fans.

Jamie also said that if he could change something about the film, he would get rid of the cliché most animators use which is presenting the creatures or animals in animated films as dogs. “(Toothless) acts like a dog to look cute, similarly in Frozen the animator presented the deer like a dog, to make it look cute”. Jamie also commented on the voice direction, he thought Hiccup’s mother and father showed strong emotion and he was impressed with the voice acting, however, he thought Hiccup’s voice did not mature at all even though it is set 5 years after the first movie and everything about him has matured.

The main character Hiccup 5 years after the first film.

The main character Hiccup 5 years after the first film.

Overall, Jamie Martin was pleased with How to Train your Dragon 2 and he thought that the sequel was surprising pleasant. The film gives more insight into the back story of Hiccup and his family; has a dark twist and overall is much better than the first film. I am a massive fan of How to Train your Dragon. However, I am not a fan of going to cinemas, buying overpriced popcorn and having to deal with uncomfortable seats. So I will sit at home quietly and wait for the sequel to come out on DVD. This is definitely a film worth waiting for and I cannot wait to watch it myself.

Posted in Film | Tagged , , | Leave a comment