Not Another Live Stream

Now that our YouTube channel is up and established we will be doing a livestream tomorrow, details on the missus’ blog, if you’re asleep at that time you can catch up with it later when the whole stream will be uploaded. There will be some book talk unsurprisingly, pop along if you wish…

Lost in invisible cities

It is a very hot summer day here in England – something very unsual for I don’t really associate this country as bright and sunny.

As you all know, these past two months have been very busy for my husband and I. We started our YouTube channel – The Johnsons mainly because we were bored in lockdown. Two months later, we are making genuine friends and making connections from all over the world. I would like to invite all of those who bothered to read this post for our second live streaming tomorrow, June 26, 2020 at 12:30PM +GMT.

This is where it all began.

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Modern Art and Old Titles

Modern art is really not my thing, however I will turn my hand to anything, and the result is about as on par with the other nonsense that graces popular galleries, so I will be accepting bids for this one starting at £20,000.

The one armed doll is a metaphor, please add appropriate £ value.

In other news, I have been gathering up the books of late and am now looking forward to reading some more eclectic and obscurer works to go with the madern titles that are more familiar.

In the future expect to see reviews for such travel books as Lord Dufferin‘s Letters from High Latitudes, more Indian works including, A History if Indian Literature, and A History of Indian Railways, thanks to our respective countries’ ties. And I’ll throw in The History of Chess for good measure.

Another geographic area that fascinates is Polynesia, so I’m pleased to have my grubby hands on Legends of Ma-ui: A Demi God of Polynesia.  And finally, to round off the southern hemisphere jaunts, and perhaps unsurprisingly I have also procured, Barangay: Sixteenth Century Philippine Culture and Society, and Looking for the Prehispanic Filipino.

My quest to vary my reading matter, and to push myself ever onward to new, fascinating, and perhaps undeservedly forgotten books will continue constantly, and I hope you will join me in these ventures, and perhaps suggest any fascinating titles you come across on your own reading journey.  The stranger, the better.

Less Thrilla, More Manila

This is not the post I had in mind for today, but it is timely and as many of you have asked after our little family and about keeping safe (as there is some virus hanging about or something), so I thought I would just let you know that we are all fine and still planning on heading back to the Philippines in April.

I took this at a posh do, last year, happy to clock the football stadium for a future visit.

However, yesterday it was announced by the Filipino government that Manila will be locked down from 15th March to the 14th April, severely restricting travel in and out of the capital by land, sea and air.

Thankfully a friend of ours has kindly offered to put us up when we land, so although we will miss the Easter family get together, we will be able to avoid what I expect will be sky rocketing hotel prices. Continue reading “Less Thrilla, More Manila”

Changing Places

On Sunday, we took the last-minute decision to put off our imminent return to the Philippines. The news from South East Asia was all about the Corona virus being rife nearby, and a baby with little immune system made it easy to delay until the beginning of April.

A death in the Philippines coupled with a government that had, until then, refused to shut the border to mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong, due to ‘diplomacy’ issues was also deeply concerning.  Since we changed the tickets this has thankfully been rectified but it remains a worrying time for all over there.

We still took our planned trip to London to do a bit of exploring.  It was good to visit a new place, although London doesn’t interest me particularly, it is Instagram heaven for Filipinos.  It was enjoyable seeing new scenery and and eye opening to compare Londoners to dwellers from other cities. Continue reading “Changing Places”

Taal Volcano

With yesterday’s eruption, now seems as good a time as any to dust off the volcanic ash on the Taal volcano draft and finish writing it.

Located in Tagaytay, and in view of many fine eating establishments, this is usually a go to area for us, both for the beautiful view and the constant need to feed, inherent in all Filipinos.

With the Filipino branch of my family situated about 18 miles from the volcano its been a worrying time, what with power and water outages, as well as the ash cloud which has reached as far north as Baguio which is 145 miles away.  On top of all this, one of our dogs recently gave birth to seven puppies so we are excited to see them when we return, although worried for their little lungs in the meantime.

Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines and the world’s smallest active volcano, the photo I took, below, is from  a typical day, a view from, unsurprisingly, a restaurant in calmer times. Continue reading “Taal Volcano”

Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez

My father, John Gokongwei Jr., started out as an entrepreneur at age 13, after his father died.  He sold friend peanuts cooked in garlic, and dreamt of one day having enough money to bring his brothers and sisters back to The Philippines.  They had been sent to China after his father passed away. 

When Dad was 15, he got on his bicycle every day to head to the marketplace to sell thread, soap, candles, and other things he felt people needed.  He woke up earlier than anybody else and worked longer than anybody else.  He dreamt of being the biggest salesman in the market place. 

After saving up money from buying and selling these wares, Dad dreamt bigger, and bought passage on a small boat called a batel to head to Manila.  He dreamt of becoming one of the biggest traders in Manila.

Today at age 90, Dad is still an entrepreneur, and heads one pf the largest and most diversified Filipino conglomerates.  He still dreams of being an even bigger player in the global marketplace.

This book is a collection of the things I’ve learned from him throughout the years – lessons on  life, love, family, work, and the courage and determination it takes to fulfil your dreams.

Reading the recent news of the passing of John Gokongwei Jr.  It reminded me that I still needed to review this gem of a book.  Written by his son Lance, Lessons from Dad is an eye opener when it comes to big business, and how it can be done right.

The family first came to my attention when Crissy, (formerly an employee of Gokongwei owned Cebu Pacific) bought me the book in order to help me immerse myself in Filipino culture, and it was a pleasure to discover a genuinely inspirational business story, where people are as important as the bottom line.

John Gokongwei Jr’s journey was one of guts and determination, an inspirational tale, and one of a man who remained grounded and was always looking to give back to society. A huge believer in education and pushing oneself to the limit, he spent plenty of money funding schools and scholarships, believing that education was the only way to make the Philippines more successful. Continue reading “Lessons from Dad, John Gokongwei Jr. – Lance Gokongwei/Yvette Fernandez”

Back in Blighty!

I started a blog post back in January that had the first line, ‘Before it gets forgotten in the tumultuousness of the  new year…’. Having singularly failed to get around to chronicling our travels in England over Christmas, I can belatedly litter a few of those photos over this post.

Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire

Deleting most of my notes from the previous drafts, it is nonetheless a pleasant feeling to finish a post about England, and as it turns out – almost like it was planned –  we are now back over in the isle seemingly known as Brexit.  Ignoring the news though, it is good to be back on home ground, although I’m gutted that the football wasn’t on terrestrial(is this still a term?) television.

Nice view looking back from the entrance of the awesomely named cave, The Devil’s Arse.

Suffering the usual fourteen and a half hour flight – spent watching Creed films this time -the highlight by a cracking English breakfast just before we landed at 8:10pm.  It was good to finally touch down, especially when we were gifted fast track passes for passport control, because Crissy has friends everywhere. Continue reading “Back in Blighty!”

Plans and Planes

Hurley, the latest puppy to add to the menagerie.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but in the brief time taken off, lots has happened.

first off, work has been taking up most of my time.  I am now working for a second book publisher, Shadow Alley Press.  The opportunity came out of the blue, but grabbing it with both hands, it promises lots of tight deadlines and a good stream of work, which is handy as I am not averse to grabbing a coffee at 10pm to power through to the early hours, if needs be.

We are also heading back to England for a time, at the end of May, so getting a visa for Crissy was a necessary distraction.  This was by far the most frustrating waste of time and money.

VFS Global are notorious for their terrible service.  The barriers we faced were, a website that logged us out automatically (and constantly) meaning we couldn’t book an appointment with them.  This was sorted after countless attempts on their poor excuse for a website.  When the visa arrived it was the wrong one, there was no phone number for the UK, it turns out that it doesn’t have a number (but numbers for Malta, Netherlands, etc are available).  Only bots ‘answered’ our messages on their website and social media.  Randomly turning up at their offices they acknowledged their mistake, nevertheless we had to buy an envelope for them to send the passport back to the British embassy for correction.  Then we find out their policy is to not deliver the visa to our door despite the mistake being theirs. Continue reading “Plans and Planes”

Break Time

Owing to an uptake in work recently, not to mention offline stuff, I shall be off the blog for a short time.  I will be back to visit you all soon, and finally finish some posts I have had in the works for a ridiculous amount if time.

Until then, enjoy a photo or three the adventures of last weekend.

(F)easter

Good Friday promised a leisurely start, especially as the citizens of this country run on ‘Filipino time’ which generally consists of being late at ever opportunity so if you want people to show up at your desired time, its accepted that you tell everyone to arrive at least an hour earlier.  The opposite happened, of course. The rush was then on when word came through that we were going now, Right Now.  You can’t plan anything in advance, I find it best to go with the flow.

Liliw, Laguna. I have no idea about the umbrellas.

The whole weekend was glorious sunshine, especially after a cooling thunderstorm had  hit us the day before.  Off we went to Quezon province. Around about forty of us piled into cars and a lorry, and as usual the lovely countryside sprawled out for my viewing pleasure.

Rolling into our resort, the air con going 24/7 in the rooms was the best thing since the bread before sliced bread.  The first order of business was to go on a short pilgrimage up the Kamay ni Hesus.  Not being a Catholic, I still chose to wander up its 300 steps for the experience.  Thankfully it wasn’t too busy, last time my Filipino fam came the queue was three hours long. Continue reading “(F)easter”