Blue Magic

I can recall, clear as ever.

It was fifth grade. The classrooms air was sticky due to the humid afternoon air. Electric fans whirring, over the teacher’s strained voice. None of  us students cared about the lesson, we were either doodling, gossiping with hushed tones or wiping their clammy hands out of nervousness.

I was a short little girl with big eyes and a bob-cut which made my face plumper that it should be. I was a quiet child, not the social butterfly, or not that I could remember. That day I was borderline anxious and insecure. Why?

Oh, I forgot to mention…

It was fifth grade, and the date was February 14th.

They called it “Valentine’s Day”.

For me, it’s a little more like “Doomsday Jr. Day”

I hated  despised February 14th. Not because I was insecure, (okay, maybe a LITTLE bit) but because for me, it was over-rated. You see, I grew up never believing in love, if I did have a semblance of belief in it, it was that: Ever day can be as special as Valentine’s Day if you have the right person in your life. So quite obviously, seeing a hormone-induced, pre-teen interrupt the entire lecture to confess their love and hand their “soul mate” made me hurl, though it WAS such a bore hilarious way to cut the teacher’s discussion short.

Lunchtime isn’t any better. Coming back to class seeing red roses and giant teddy bears on my seatmate’s desk, and none on mine made me want to shrivel up and hide.

I heard the “Ooohs and Aaawwwwhs” of the teachers and students, swooning over these lovebirds in school.

This went on until fourth year high-school (senior year) when the gestures of the teen boys became more and more extravagant. From giant bouquets to enormous, human sized teddy bears, things just got so much more classy cheesy. For us girls though, it’s a bit of an extravagant blow. Dear Valentine was a voice in our head that whispers: Girls, if you would not be able to receive anything today- not even a tiny, cheap Cadbury chocolate bar, you’re a loser.

And that my friends, is the voice that stuck to me since fifth grade, it just got louder and more convincing as the years went by.

Looking back to where I used to be, I’m glad that I have stuck to the confidence I have in the meaning of love, that it’s not about one-pound chocolate bars, matching t-shirts, giant teddy bears or human-sized bouquets.

Yesterday, I passed by the shop where all those guys in my school used to get affordable gifts for their childhood crushes, oh it used to be such a thing – Blue Magic. I allowed those gifts to make myself feel bad for not being one of the popular girls in school, or one of the lovable kinds either. I was bad at being noticed, so naturally, I never got any presents. For years I let it consume me so much until I believed that I truly was a loser.

To girls like myself, don’t allow anything to diminish your worth. Don’t let those thoughts dim the fire that burns from within you. You are so much more than anything anyone could buy, and the only thing that could make your worth so much more (other than yourself and who you are constantly becoming) is the right partner.

It took me a while to discover that I may have been a late bloomer up until I graduated college, and that it just takes a while for butterflies to grow their wings to the beautiful thing it really is. I’m still growing, still in the process of becoming someone someday – we all are. Let it be, allow yourself room to grow, and tell everyone else (even that voice in your head) to move over for a better YOU.

Don’t let your flames be fizzled by not having what everyone else has. Don’t let that Blue Magic make you feel that you are less lovable than you are.

My Post




The Bluebird of Happiness (P.2)

A continuation to my previous blog post about my current read:



I spent countless days wondering why my life is going. My doctor couldn’t answer life’s purpose for me, nor can a Sunday Church Service magically tell me that. I figured only I could, and the Happiness Project reiterates that there is a difference between people who LOVE their work and people who are simply hardworking. People who actually, genuinely, sincerely love their work tend to pour more enthusiasm and intensity into what they do.

The author has helped me find what I love to do by a simple question: What do you do on your spare time? What did you do enjoy doing when you were younger?

I paused to think for a bit. What is fun for ME?


1. I love, love, love spending a quiet time alone at a coffee shop with good music and the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee wafting through the air. Reading a good book, writing down my thoughts on old-fashioned paper and reflecting about life. This is when I feel most inspired – a really big sort of an “I-can-change-the-world” kind of inspired.

2. It fills me with a sense of warmth when I spend time with my pets. I have had Sushi, a sweet, adventure-seeking Maltipoo (Maltese-Poodle), for a year and a half now; and I believed it was about time for another source of joy. I bought Summer the kitten (at four months, she’s the sweetest little thing. A British Shorthair cat breed, sold to me without papers, but it doesn’t matter because I loved her the moment I saw her). Knowing that you have a purpose in something-someone else’s life. Feeding them, giving them lots of love and care, it really does help boost my mood when they give back love in return. By this I mean lots of furry cuddles, I love it!


Here’s little Summer, the newest addition to our family!

3. On my spare time, I enjoy window shopping,

29663913_10160308595705525_1910296982_n.jpgor in this generation, online window-shopping (what’s that called?). I am thrilled when I see unique new things on the market. I also happen to have a knack at remembering item prices, making it easy for me to compare the price of one item from one store to another.

4. When I was younger, I don’t remember doing anything else apart from drawing, really. I draw during class, I draw at home, I doodle during Sunday Service, I draw through meetings. That’s pretty much what defines me and what I truly enjoy.

5. TRAVEL! I love it. I’ve been a junior jet setter since I was three years old. I love seeing new places and it fills me with overwhelming joy when I see new places, discover new cultures and indulge in unfamiliar dishes all over the world.


It took me these three bullet points before I realised that I am already exactly where I should be. At BARKINGHAM PET GROOMING SALON,  I work day in and day out with dogs, I’m surrounded by people of similar interests, and colleagues who I now consider as my family. I am able to use my purchasing “ability” for the shop, and by thinking out of the box (and hating to see the shop become JUST an ordinary grooming salon), I put up a cafe to serve the waiting customers.

Pets, friends and coffee. Barkingham, I realize, is my bluebird of happiness.



Here’s a quick tour through the shop, in case you’ve never been here yet. (Oh, please do come by with your pets, I’d love to meet you guys!)


I’m not one fond of a change when it comes to things I’m already used to, such as waking up at 7:30am in the morning, eating only after I’ve fed Sushi, things like that. Rubin speaks of embracing change in terms of opening yourself to try new things. So I’ve made a list of my own to live by this year, even just to TRY.

  1. TRY BOXING (AGAIN) – I’ve tried this and quitted on my second day a few years back because of the intense post-work out body aches. Maybe with a new set of goals I can do this with purpose this time (and not quit, hopefully).
  2. TAKE MORE PHOTOS – Sometimes they’re all we’ve got at the end of the day. It’s a way to preserve not just the memories, but the feelings associated with these keepsakes. Here are a couple of my travel photos, I’m making a mental note to have these developed as soon as possible. Alaska, Greece and Spain have been my favourites so far.

    PLAN A PARTY – I’ve  been giving this some thought because I’m not that all fond of planning my own party or much less being in a room full of people. The author mentions that it increases one’s happiness to be around people, and rekindle friendships and build stronger ties. So I’ll add this to the list as well, and plan a double party (for Sushi and Me) soon. Part of the source of happiness for this would come from the planning, and then half would be the actual event itself. I’m half excited and half scared, fingers crossed!



At the end of it all, GROWTH = HAPPINESS. During this time of reflection I realise, how much of a different person I am now than I was three years ago. The twenty-two year old me would be afraid to speak my mind, would be afraid to take chances and would fall into the guilt-trap when I happen to say “NO”. Now, I say “NO” with enough conviction, and in my own way, tread the path I want. It’s one thing to be spoiled, and a whole different thing to be brave enough to lead the life you choose. “You are one choice away from a different life”, this much is true.

I’ve learned to live independentIy, as costly as it might have been. I’ve learned to walk away from a group when I don’t belong.

Having been brought up in a family that communicates very little, I never learned to speak my mind or to express any sadness, anger or hurt. I’ve always kept to myself, my thoughts, my opinions and my desires until it turned me into a shrivelled shell of a person. It never occurred to me how important it is to step out of the shadows and be heard. Therapy has played its part in my growth, it has taught me to be more open, to allow the past to be the past. Amidst my recovery, it has also been my conscious decision to find ways to grow.

On my twenty-fifth year, I finally learned to express myself.  I cry when I need to let out some stored-up emotions. I’ve learned to get angry, likewise I have learned to let go.


A tree doesn’t grow through sunlight alone, it also needs plenty of air and water to flourish and become one that gives oxygen, fruit and shade to the people around it. Likewise, there are many ways to grow, through friendships, through books, through experience and so much more. Allow these things to help you grow, allow life to bring you to the best you can be.

Constantly be ready for change, be ready for growth but always, always remain true to who you are. Even if you’re like myself, a complicated mess of things. 😉







The Bluebird of Happiness (P.1)

With an all time high and newly energised by Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, I started this morning with a feeling of newness.

I strolled through a park to a nearby Starbucks with spring through every step, the cold wind brushing my cheeks and the warm sunlight on my skin at 7am in the morning. Nothing came close to this feeling of freedom and contentment, well, not for a while now at least. For some reason I felt optimistic, more than I’ve ever been since January this year. I was excited for this day, I was excited to share all that I’ve learned from the book so far, and how it has turned my life around.


I’ve often seen this little blue book at the bookstores. Wondering with interest as to why had always been one on the best-sellers list. I never bothered to pick up the book, thinking it would be a nasty, preachy, wordy, self-help book. There came a point in my life though, when I wanted answers, I was looking for directions in this ever-so chaotic world, so one day I grabbed it and purchased it straight away. I didn’t regret a single penny that I spent on the book that day.

The Happiness Project, has gives a wholistic view of how life could change for the better, with one’s own conscious choices and decisions to do so, of course. It doesn’t work like a preachy Sunday sermon or a lengthy book going around in circles. Rubin’s book was straight to the point, and very down-to-earth. There’s a kind of practicality in it that makes us realise what we’re missing and what we could do better; as a friend, a spouse, a family member, and a whole person generally.

I lie in bed on most days, wondering how my life has ended up going around in circles. Wake up, work, eat, sleep, repeat. It didn’t sound like much, and I knew there should be more to life than such a routine. I’m sure we can all agree that we are destined for more than to live a life dictated by society, family, traditions and status quo. I wanted more, and that’s why I purchased The Happiness Project. I was hoping for a roadmap, no, a treasure map. True enough, halfway through it I can feel my spirits lifting, as my mind grasped the fact that I was never alone in the search for true happiness. Rubin answers the life questions we were all too afraid to ask. In truth, this book is a wake-up call, an invisible force to urge us all to get up, get out and be YOU.

I’ve always asked myself why I feel stuck on the first step of the ladder, never going another step higher as the days go by. Why am I stuck in this vicious cycle? Why didn’t I feel any progress?

The Happiness Project highlights baby steps we all can do to find ourselves. As “finding ourselves” is such a broad incomprehensible goal, Rubin lays it out for us by chapter, with achievable goals and rewarding results.

Here are the points that have changed my life today.



Declutter. It has hardly come to my attention -until just now, that each day I open my cabinet, there is a slight nagging at the back of my mind that I should wear that blouse I bought two years ago. Going through that everyday cause a kind of guilt that I needed less of in my life. That’s why Rubin went straight to cleaning out her closet, and she felt free of that tiny shopping-guilt.

I happen to love this tradition I call “Spring Cleaning” even though Spring isn’t a thing here in the Philippines. It’s that day of the year when I go thorough all the things in my 10×10 sqm room and decide if it’s a keep or a toss. I went straight to the task, removing everything from my shelves, tables and cabinets, and deciding which one was worth keeping.

We, girls often have this habit of keeping clothes-we- actually-wear, clothes-we-hope-to-wear, and clothes-we-won’t-wear. I opened my cabinet to see all the impulse-buys I’ve made over the past years. Seeing that I had tons of clothes I just kept for the sake of it did give me that guilt, that feeling that I need to wear it soon-just because. Eventually, I mustered up the strength to finally let go. I was surprised myself when I ended up with two extra-large garbage bags full of items and clothes that I didn’t really need, at the end of the day, I decided to give them to charity.


HOARDING 101. My room has always been the only place where I can express myself. I can’t quite distinguish if it’s a good clutter or a bad clutter. Anyway, I’m happy the way it is, and it very well defines ME. A mix of artistic, adventurous and quirky.

Pinned to my wall are photos from my travels, a large world map to exude my sense of adventure, polaroids of my dog – Sushi, postcards from all of the places and countries I’ve visited (a colourful mishmash of cards I hand-picked from Greece, Spain, Tokyo, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Paris, and more).


I am a fond collector of miniatures, figurines an memorabilia from various countries. Photos are a great way to remember not just the adventure, but the feelings associated with them. I kept a postcard from our recent cruise to Korea, and I couldn’t forget the nostalgia, the sense of comfort and enjoyment it brought me up to this day.




“THERE IS NO LOVE, ONLY PROOFS OF LOVE” (P. Reverdy) It’s often the little things we fail to notice, yet it’s the little things that matter. They say that expectation is often the poison of relationships. As a girlfriend I admit that I occasionally fall into the trap of expecting much from my significant other: expecting him to give me a ride home, or writing love letters in reply to the ones I wrote him (a year ago). Sometimes people love differently, and show it in their own way. I accept him for being that guy who shows his love silently, simply and yet genuinely true.


An illustration of love I drew quite a number of years ago.

As a big sister to two (annoying, smart, not-so-little) brothers, I do miss those summer days when we would stay in and do simple arts and crafts together while the dogs lay asleep beside us. Those little moments won’t happen again, those memories shall remain memories. Some say we never go through the same road twice, on the contrary one writer exclaims, we never go through the same road once. At one point we will always be a different person, at a different place in life, at a different scenario. “The days are long and the years are short” I will get out of my way now to say that I do miss those days. I hadn’t realised how much those meant until now that they’re too old or too far away to spend time together as a complete family again.


It struck me how simple yet profound this principle is. My generation and the ones to come, (admittedly I am also a victim to this) have a low self-esteem because of the standards set by others; whether it be the social media, movies, peers or family. Furthermore, the number of “LIKES”, “COMMENTS” or “SHARES” do NOT dictate who your worth. The only person who can define you, is you. Rubin mentions a quote by Erasmus: “The chief happiness of a man is to be what he is..”


I admit I’ve always been ashamed of who I am, for being that finance major who never had a inkling about math, for being an introverted wreck, for the inability to express my emotions vocally since childhood and the fact that I am an emotionally unstable person (currently under therapy). It’s hard to love a person like myself, I have accepted this fact since day 1, and I’m surprised there are a handful of people who have provided me with the kind of love I’ve never had nor deserved.

Rubin was right about this: “People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think they do” I have long been afraid of gatherings, and opt out of group events because of the fear of being different. I’m afraid to be judged, to be noticed and then be the subject of gossip. I learned it the hard way, that you can never please anyone, no matter how what kind of wallflower you are. They’ll notice you anyway, gossip about you anyway, make up stories too. If you’re lucky, they won’t notice you at all. In the end their opinions about you don’t make up your identity, that’s your job, not theirs.

I am often plagued by my inner dialogues such as: “Go there and mingle! You need to get out there!”, “But I don’t know what to say!”, “Find a common interest and get to it!”; thus leading to lower self esteem when I don’t do what my mind tells me to because I personally enjoy being on my own. The Happiness Project reinstates my stand that you don’t have to have the same interests as others, you don’t have to go with the flow if it isn’t YOU. I, for example enjoy the company of dogs more than people for the reason that I am fascinated that they have a language heard only by those who listen well enough.



While on the other hand there are people, like my boyfriend who can mingle with a crowd like it’s no big deal! Some people can work for years in a closed-office environment, while it would drive me nuts to sit in one place for hours. Everyone is different, and it changed my life when I began to accept that I don’t have to be like everyone else, I don’t have to enjoy what others enjoy, but be at peace being ME.

“In many ways I wish I were different…” but I have learned to “embrace what IS”.

29829236_10160308098305525_783679629_oWe are all unique individuals, beautiful and interesting in our own way. The key to happiness is to accept oneself, and be free of the standards posed by society. That’s true freedom, that’s true happiness.

I’ve divided my blog post into two sections, partly because it’s quite long, and partly because I can’t wait to have this post up right now and share Rubin’s goldmine of wisdom in this book. (THE HAPPINESS PROJECT)

I’ll be working on the second part soon!




Sushi Travels

A Whimsical Treat!

The cutest cafe opens at Uptown Mall, BGC! Hello Kitty Cafe PH welcomes everyone with an amazing display of bright and colorful decorated, or as they call it – “Kitty-fied” pastries.


Embrace your inner kawaii with their adorable motifs and the fun and delightful ambiance. As for me though, my eyes were drawn to their intricately decorated cakes and pastries. Amazing how every detail was meticulously placed atop these miniature cakes. Loving all the pink, pastel colors there! *squeals with delight*


cafe3I was giddy with excitement and took the liberty of looking around while our orders are being prepared. The entire place looks like royalty, exuding classy Versailles Palace vibes.


Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup with Truffles. My absolute favorite! I can’t resist any dish that has those two words “mushroom” and “truffles”. Our first dish was served beautifully with the signature Hello Kitty face stamped on the bread bowl. Look at their attention to detail, it’s absolutely mouth-watering!


Our second dish was the Salad Maison, served in an elegant boquet-style presentation. Fresh lettuce topped with feta cheese, grapes, croutons, olives and walnuts. The vinaigrette was just the right amount of sweet and tangy, and we loved it!




Hello Kitty Cafe’s Beef Stroganoff was a great twist to the usual cream based pasta, (I’d love to order their Pink Carbonara Pasta the next time, as it’s not available today).

Capping the meal off with a good, warm drink – Smore’s Latte. I expected more of an espresso-based drink, or a bolder coffee flavor, however it’s more of a thick, creamy hot chocolate drink. It’s one of the best hot chocolate’s I’ve tried here in the Metro so far!



White Truffle Kirsch

Just when I thought their presentation can’t get any cuter – here’s my favorite dessert from their cafe. A soft, pillowy texture with a hint of  creamy strawberry flavor, drizzled with dessicated coconut and finished with a golden strawberry (and of course the signature Hello Kitty Ribbon).


The Mango Charlotte was the perfect way to end the Hello Kitty Cafe experience; an feast for the eyes and the taste buds.


Hello Kitty Cafe, 3/F Uptown Mall, BGC








The Reality

I feel the “Christmas Blues” as December draws nearer.

Since August this 2017, it’s been liberating to be able to freely post and share to the world the reality and familiar feeling of depression. It’s more than a “feeling”, more than a “disease”, it’s an invisible monster that needs to be battled tirelessly on a daily basis. Although my Instagram follower count has dwindled and the changes in life has become more evident since then, I have never felt freer to take off the mask and finally be myself.

For people suffering the same, it’s often described like a dark cloud waiting to come at the most unexpected time: like darkness without the dawn and thunderstorms without warning.

It’s not rainbows and butterflies when one deals with such demons, waking up seems harder, sometimes even eating becomes a chore. Ever since I began treatment last August though, the could has lifted a little. Days have become a little brighter. Sunlight comes through once in a while, and there are good days when I have the energy to draw once again.


This is one of my favorite photos from our recent trip to Tagaytay. It sums my life up in one photo. I love how the sun shines brightly through the clouds and the horizon beyond is infinitely beautiful.



My TRAVEL ESSENTIALS: Canon EOS M3, Moleskine and fineliners (inside my Punchdrunk Panda Organizer)

Although life isn’t getting easier, it takes a lot of hard work and support from loved ones to get me through each day. Travelling has helped me get things off my mind temporarily, too. With lots of sights, sound and culture to be immersed in, I realized that instead of imploding with all the thoughts of self doubt, self blame and self harm, there is more to life than “ourselves”.

Hong Kong was a beautiful place, similar to the hustle and bustle of the city life here in Manila. But throughout our brief stay, I saw that I was being too nearsighted, that the world is enormous, that there is more to life than oneself. Overcoming depression is about finding YOURSELF (Overrated little quote I agree). But in between my therapy schedules and regular life, it took me a while to find what makes me happy to be alive. I’m still on the pursuit of finding that “something” but little by little, life isn’t as bad as I thought it was.


City Life is Coffee Life


I learned to live one day at a time, worrying less (I need to work on that), stressing less, and being braver in facing life’s challenges.

I hope and pray that as the days go by, I’ll find what makes me fly.

“We’ve all got wings, all we have to do is fly”.


Cheers to brighter days ahead.




Stationery Haul-idays!


Christmas is in the air! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with (more than) a room-full of colors? I was giddy with delight as I stepped into the SM Stationery section was bursting with delightful colors!


PRO TIP for Stationery Addicts like myself:

  1. DO bring a basket. If you’re a hoarder and a rainbow fanatic like me, a double decker trolley would be much recommended.
  2. DO NOT set a budget. Hey, it’s Christmas! The perfect time to splurge as a way to say “Thank You” to the people who have made your 2017 extra special. (And of course you can get yourself a little something along the way, too. You deserve it, girl! ) *wink*

I was eyeing these black and white tote bags. These would make perfect personalized gifts for those closest to your heart. Just grab a set of fabric paint or fabric markers and you’re all set to make your gift, a masterpiece from the heart.

Ohhh those colors. I had to resist grabbing all those candy-colored wall plaques. The inspirational ones were among my top picks. I’ll post the rest of my haul on Instagram, check it out here: LITTLE GIRL WANDERS


Did I just see a unicorn? I’ve been obsessing over lights since I moved down from my attic-studio. I spent half of my moolah mostly on home decor recently (much to my wallet’s regret). These unicorn lights are the more affordable version, compared to those I’ve seen from Typo Shop. It’s pretty much the same thing and costs less, so why not?

SM Stationery prides itself for having a little something for everyone, check out the latest stocking-stuffers they have for everyone!

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Here’s my recent haul from the stationery section. My favorite is the rub-on sticker that says “Collect Moments Not Things” and I plan to stick it somewhere in my room! The toiletry kit and travel pillow are such cuties, perfect for my upcoming December travels, more on this soon!

I was never fond of cats, and a cat-lover was the last thing I thought I’d be. But I guess it just takes one cat to steal your heart: I rescued a stray kitten from the streets one day and my life was never the same again. That’s why I just had to get my hands on this pink kitty-cat bag – because it’s pink, too- duh! Oh, I absolutely love a pastel-themed Christmas! Don’t you? 🙂 What are your Christmas gift ideas? Show me your Pastel Christmas hauls and be sure to tag me at @littlegirlwanders!


Have a merry, merry Christmas shopping! 🙂




About Coffee and the South

We all need a break once in a while. Sushi here has been itching for some time out of the hustle and bustle of busy-‘ol Manila. The road trip was a quick one as we drove steadily down to Alabang early in the morning. Here we are hanging out at Starbucks for breakfast with my baby girl. She loved the cold Greek Yogurt cup they serve!


If you want my honest opinion on their Americano though, I’d say McDonald’s is way better – by a lot. I’m not too fond of Starbucks when it comes to coffee, as it seems too diluted for my taste.

The best places for coffee for me (whose budget isn’t a far stretch):

  1. Costa Coffee and Seattle’s Best. They make their coffee just right, with the blend of Espresso and milk right on fleek.
  2. McDonalds (perfect for those who are on a budget and fond of straight black coffee).
  3. Barkingham Pet Cafe (@barkinghampetcafe) – of course, where I can bring Sushi along with no fuss. No skimping on the espresso right here, I’ll tell you the beans are the secret. (Will blog about this soon!)
  4. Afters Espresso and Desserts. They take their coffee business seriously.
  5. Craft Coffee Revolution. Always the first in mind when it comes to the entire beans to brew process. They roast, brew and serve the best of the best.
  6. St. Marc. Well, not the best but the Vietnamese Coffee kept me up til sunrise.


On a hot day, thankfully Evia Lifestyle Center was (seemingly) open-air, yet air-conditioned. Lovely, lovely place to survive the Philippine heatwave, especially for the pets.


Evia was certainly a place perfect for lovers of all things fun and whimsical like myself. From the brightly colored buildings to the amazing display of flowers in Happy Magnolia and the fantastical ambiance of Another Story; Evia is certainly a must-visit. It is a bit far from Manila, with a one-and-a-half hour journey, but it’s definitely worth it for pet-owners seeking for an indoorsy-outdoorsy venue (Visit Evia and you’ll get what I mean).


Sushi loved the mini Carrot Cupcakes from The Cheesecake Fairy! They’re tiny little nuggets of joy for this little one. (I checked the ingredients, they said it contains no nuts, no raisins, just carrot, egg and flour.)

Where else have you and your furry friend been to? Share your experience with us and sign up on our newsletter below to win PAW-some prizes from the BarkinghamPH!


Love lots,

Sushi x Pearl