Friday, July 28, 2017

Our Search for the Perfect "Budget" Ukulele

I don't know when my 2-year old son, Gavin, started his interest in guitars; everytime we're in the mall and pass by a music store, he would like to stop and check out the different guitars on display. As much as I don't want to show him my guitar at home (my wife was afraid that he'll always bug her to get it), it came to a point that I had to. :P I allowed him to hold it and strum the strings just to satisfy his curiosity. But because my classic guitar is still too big for him, I just told him that I'll buy him a smaller one next time. Since a ukulele seems to be the perfect size for him and I also want to learn how to play it, I told him that I'll just buy a ukulele. :P

Premiere Ukulele for Kids

Just like what I mentioned in a previous post, whenever I buy a musical instrument for my son, as much as possible, I want it to be the real instrument instead of a toy equivalent. And so for this ukulele, the challenge was to find a decent unit at an affordable price.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Service Review: Shipping Cart's Improved Air Shipping Service

I haven't used the Shipping Cart service since March 2017 primarily due to their increased shipping rates, which took effect last March 1, 2017. But to be fair to them, I haven't used other freight forwarding services either. Interestingly, the $1.00 and $1.87 per pound increase in air and sea shipping fee, respectively, was enough to keep me out of Amazon for the next few months. :P


Amazon Prime Day was enough reason, though, to order from Amazon US again and try Shipping Cart's advertised improved service. Just in case you're not aware, Shipping Cart's air shipping service is now sending parcels from the US daily. This means you can now receive your parcel faster, in 5-10 days after shipping it out instead of the previous 10-15 days waiting period.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Review: My Key Takeaway from Money Grows on Trees

It's amazing how a simple book can have a big impact, how a change in mindset can bring tremendous results. Thanks to Clarissa Seriña-de la Paz and Sharon Que's latest book Money Grows on Trees, I finally realized what can be improved in my investment and business strategies — my money mindset.

Money Grows on Trees by Clarissa Seriña-de la Paz and Sharon Que

Honestly, when I attended the book launch of Money Grows on Trees (special thanks to Ms. Ace Gapuz and Ms. Maddie Cruz of Blogapalooza for the invite), my only intention was to experience attending one and have something to post on my blog. In fact, I thought that being inspired by the experiences of the authors (plus the opportunity to meet Ms. Alice Dixson in person) was already a bonus. :P Little did I know that the book will change how I condition my mind to have an abundant mindset, something I never really paid attention to in the past 11 years, to achieve my current goals and set more grandiose ones. (I started my journey to financial freedom in 2006, and since then, I've read a lot of finance books, got into mutual funds, UITFs, stocks, bonds, and other investments. I've become a financial literacy advocate, and in 2015, I started a finance blog called Make Your Peso Grow.)

Friday, June 2, 2017

How We Survived the No TV / No Tablet Rule for our Toddler

Television and gadgets (tablets, smartphones) are surefire ways to keep kids busy for hours nowadays. Aside from keeping the kids entertained, some parents swear by the educational benefits they give to their precious ones.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem!

However, several articles and studies can be found on the net regarding the adverse effects of television watching and too much exposure to gadgets at a young age.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Abrickadabra 2017: The Philippine Lego Fan Convention


Last May 27, 2017, I attended Abrickadabra 2017, a Lego fan convention organized by the Philippine Lego Users Group (PhLUG), held in Promenade Hall in Greenhills.


It showcased the awesome creations of several PhLUG members. The event also became a venue for buying, selling and trading Lego sets, minifigs, spare bricks, and other Lego-related stuff.

Abrickadabra Lego ExhibitAbrickadabra Lego Exhibit

Friday, May 12, 2017

UITF Investing 101: Equity Funds are for Long Term Investing

I joined a UITF investing group in Facebook recently and I was surprised with the short term investing mindset of some of the members there, a mindset that has unfortunately influenced members who have zero-knowledge or have little knowledge on UITF investing. As someone who has been investing in UITFs, Mutual Funds (MF) and stocks since 2006, I felt the responsibility to share my views on UITF investing, what I believe is the true essence of UITF investing. I have to admit that at first, I was a hesitant to post what I've written because I'm not sure how most of the members would take my opinion. I'm glad that I pressed the "Post" button because my message received an overwhelming response.

UITF Investing: Equity Funds for Long Term Investing

I would like to re-post the message here, so it can also be shared to other people who are new to UITF investing, or are about to try UITF investing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

10 Truths Newbie Stock Traders Should Know

2017 marks my 10th year trading in the Philippine Stock Market. Looking back, I'm glad that I didn't quit and lost hope on the market when my portfolio went down by more than 50% during the 2008 global financial crisis, which is considered by many economists as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the past 10 years, I've learned a lot from books, online resources (articles, e-books, market reports from brokers, etc.), stock trading forums, and stock trading EBs / meet-ups. I've also had a lot of realizations when it comes to stock trading based on actual experience. These things helped in my portfolio recovery and enabled me to beat PSEi and index fund performance consistently since 2012 without having to trade actively.

In this article, I will be listing some of the lessons and realizations I've had for newbie traders and for those planning to enter the stock market. I hope that with this, I can give you a better idea of what to expect from the Philippine Stock Market, as well as clarify some misconceptions about it.


1. Stock trading is simple, but it's not easy


It may appear that stock trading is simple: buy low, sell high, right?

The truth is, earning from the stock market is not easy. You can study all you want before plunging into the market and still find yourself in a string of losing trades. Even buying a fundamentally good stock doesn't guarantee a gain.

There are just so many factors that affect the market. Aside from political and economic issues in and out of the country, you also have to look at personal issues that can make you lose money: fear, greed, hope, ignorance, dependence on others, and dependence on luck.

You need time and experience to be a consistently profitable trader. Sometimes, you can be lucky and win big on highly speculative plays. But if you want to stay long in the market, you must not rely on luck alone.

Study, plan your trading strategy, check the results, then re-assess your strategy. These are the things that you need to do in order to improve your trading skills. These will also help you determine which strategy works for you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Book Review: 7 Reasons Why Filipinos Will Change The World by Mike Grogan

The story of the Filipino is like the story of the butterfly, it cannot see how beautiful its wings are. Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind them of that beauty.


- Mike Grogan


When I first posted the cover of Mike Grogan's latest book entitled "7 Reasons Why Filipinos Will Change The World" on my Facebook account, a friend guessed singing, beauty pageant, boxing and OFWs as some of the reasons. While it's true that these things help put the Philippines on the map, the book focused on the unique traits that make Filipinos excel not just in singing, beauty pageant, and boxing, but in other industries as well.


In his book, Mike Grogan, an Irish national who has been living in the Philippines since 2014, described the different traits and culture unique to Filipinos. Culture passed on to us by our forefathers, such as bayanihan (being helpful without expecting compensation or reward), being madiskarte (resourceful), and being mapagbigay (generous), to name a few, that a foreigner like him couldn't help but notice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Your Zoo in the City: Ark Avilon Zoo

Whenever we need a quick fix for zoo activity, the first place that comes to mind is Ark Avilon, an indoor mini-zoo located in Frontera Verde (near Tiendesitas), 10 minutes away from the concrete jungle of Ortigas. Ark Avilon is operated by the Avilon Wildlife Conservation Foundation, the same group that operates Avilon Zoo in Rodriguez, Rizal.


As an early summer treat for my 2 year old son, my wife and I decided to take him to Ark Avilon last Saturday, March 18, 2017. We arrived around 10:30 am, and as expected, there's not much zoo visitors. This is one of the things I love about this place (but something they probably don't want :P). It doesn't get crowded, so you can comfortably walk around and view the animals at your own pace.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Switch to Inverter Air Conditioner

After almost a year of contemplating on the switch to inverter air conditioners, we finally decided to buy one last March 4, 2017. We got the Kolin 1-hp window-type inverter aircon (KAG-110RSINV model) after considering other options from Hitachi, Gree, and Carrier.


Why Kolin?

We initially thought of getting the Hitachi brand, but realized its air vent was small. The location of the air vent (left side of the unit) also became a concern because we will install it in the leftmost side of our room (we thought that air flow coverage would be somewhat limited). We then saw Gree as an alternative, but it's a bit expensive. Further research showed that Gree air conditioners has the same manufacturer as Kolin, Mabe, Sharp, American Home, and Fujidenso. We found no reason to pay more for practically the same product offered by the other brands mentioned, so Gree was also scratched from the list. Carrier, on the other hand, was the most popular in my list but also the most expensive. According to the person who assisted us, when it comes to inverter aircons, brands don't really matter much (the premium you'll be paying is for the brand name and customer service). I did a quick research on the Kolin window-type inverter aircon, and it appears to be the bang-for-buck and proven effective option, albeit a high pitch / hissing compressor "noise" reported by some users (but noise level is subjective per user, and most said that it's something that you can get used to after some time).

Kolin S-Series Inverter Aircon

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5 Reasons Why I Prefer Grab Over Uber

Since 2014, whenever it's the color coding schedule of my car, I use app-based transport service such as Grab and Uber to take me from my home in Mandaluyong to my office in Pasig, and vice versa. Although they can be more expensive compared to traditional taxicabs and other mass transport options, the convenience it brings plus peace of mind when it comes to passenger safety are enough reasons to reconsider the additional cost.


Lately, I find myself using Grab (GrabCar) more often compared to Uber (UberX). Here are the five reasons why I prefer Grab over Uber:

1. Grab arrives faster than Uber


Whenever I book a GrabCar, the unit usually arrives within five minutes. There were even times the unit arrived within a minute after booking! From my experience with Uber, the unit usually takes around 10 minutes to arrive. There was a time when I was asked to wait for at least 15 minutes because the driver was still in BGC while I'm in Pioneer, Mandaluyong! You know how bad the traffic in EDSA could be on a Monday morning so 15 minutes might not be enough

This could either mean there are more Grab units available compared to Uber or more people in my area use Grab instead of Uber.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Book Review: Break Free by Don Soriano

Ever since I started my advocacy for financial literacy, I've always wished that financial literacy will be included in the school curriculum, as early as high school, if possible. I believe that if only Filipinos will learn proper money management way before they start working, less Filipinos will get into bad debt, more will invest / get into business, and the earlier they can achieve financial freedom. While waiting for my wish to happen, it's good to know that we now have a relatively wider selection of financial literacy books from Filipino authors (when I got interested in the topic in 2006, it seems that only Francisco Colayco's "Pera Mo, Palaguin Mo!" series was the option), the latest one coming from Don Soriano entitled Break Free: 8 principles to get from employee to employer in 3 years or less.

Break Free by Don Soriano

Break Free is an 81-page book that discusses the 8 principles that Don used to get out of ₱500,000 debt and become financially free in less than 3 years.

Friday, February 24, 2017

My Shipping Cart Experience: Macbook Pro from US to the Philippines

This is the second part of my experience in buying a Macbook Pro from the US via B&H Photo and shipping it to the Philippines via Shipping Cart. The post provides a review of the Shipping Cart service, and describes the steps one will go through when Shipping Cart is used.


[Related Story: My B&H Photo Experience: Buying a Macbook Pro from the US]


After B&H Photo has successfully shipped my 2016 Macbook Pro order, the waiting game for its arrival in Shipping Cart's office began. Aside from the thought of not being able to receive it before Christmas due to the delay in order verification, I was also concerned on the dimensions of the box used by B&H Photo because it will determine my item's shipping cost to the Philippines.


Finally, on December 7, 2016, I received a notification saying that Shipping Cart US Warehouse has accepted my item (received December 6). From my previous experience using Shipping Cart, I can expect the item to show up in my account in 2 to 5 days (it can really take several days for them to update your cart when the volume of orders they receive is high, just like during Black Friday and Christmas season).

Monday, February 20, 2017

Easy as 1-2-3: LTO Car Registration Renewal

It's February again, time to renew my car's LTO registration. Except for the last digit of the car plate that tells me the month when I should renew the LTO registration of my car, I always forget the week when I'm expected to renew it, so I did a quick check on the LTO website.


For quick reference, I lifted below guidelines from the LTO website (updated as of February 2, 2017).

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My B&H Photo Experience: Buying a Macbook Pro from the US

This is the first part of my experience in buying a Macbook Pro from the US via B&H Photo and shipping it to the Philippines via Shipping Cart. The post recounts what I had to go through in order for B&H Photo to successfully process my order. 

The 2016 Macbook Pro is by far the most expensive item I purchased online. B&H Photo's Cyber Monday offer, coupled with BDO Visa's "The Great Online Shopping Rebate" promo, made the offer too good to resist.


While it was easy placing the order online, the order verification process gave me some anxious moments.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Chinese New Year: What to Expect in Chinatown?

This year's Chinese New Year falls on January 28, 2017, a Saturday, a perfect time to troop to Ongpin and explore Chinatown. When visiting Chinatown on a Chinese New Year, the first thing that a Chinatown first-timer (just like The Curious Daddy in 2013) looks forward to is the dragon dance. But during my first time in Chinatown in 2013, together with my then fiance who is Fil-Chinese, I discovered a lot of new things. I went through my photo archives and thought of sharing them in this post so you can know what to expect, in case you plan to visit the place this weekend. Though the photos were taken in 2013, I'm pretty sure that the same can be expected year after year.


Tikoy

If someone will be asked what's the first thing that goes into their mind when talking about Chinese New Year, it would probably be tikoy or glutinous rice cake.


I'm used to seeing the white, brown and violet varieties of this delicious snack, but I was surprised to discover that some tikoy varieties come with designs: double fish, fish with gold coin, pineapple, fish with pineapple. I'm curious if these varieties can give more luck than the plain ones.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Shop from Amazon, Ship to the Philippines, Get Tax Refund

Do you know that when you shop from Amazon US and have the items shipped to the Philippines via freight forwarding service such as Shipping Cart, My Shopping Box, Jinio or Johnny Air Cargo, you are eligible to get tax refund? That's right, whatever tax Amazon has charged you during checkout, you can request for refund once your items have been shipped to the Philippines. All you have to do is send a sales tax refund request email containing the Bill of Lading or Air Waybill (from the freight forwarder) to tax-exempt@amazon.com.


Friday, January 20, 2017

How to Handle Requests for the Use of Photos You Shared Online

My 2017 started with a nice surprise courtesy of my photography hobby. Ten minutes before the new year, I decided to take out my Fujifilm X30 camera and shoot some fireworks. Despite of the lack of preparation, I was still able to come up with some decent shots, which I then shared to the Fujifilm Facebook group.

What happened next was totally unexpected. I would have been happy already to receive 100 Likes, but in just a few hours, I already got more than a thousand! It's the first time I received that number of Likes for a Facebook post so it was some sort of achievement for me. I was glad to read comments of appreciation. Some shared the album too. One member even asked my permission to download the image since he found it good enough to inspire him in this hobby.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Official: I saved ₱18,000 on my 2016 Macbook Pro Purchase

Now that the cash rebate from BDO Visa Gold's "The Great Online Shopping Rebate" promo has been credited to my BDO credit card, I can officially say that I saved close to ₱18000 on my 2016 13-inch Macbook Pro without Touch Bar purchase (as compared to the ₱84,000 SRP). While majority of the savings came from BDO credit card, I also have to thank B&H Photo, Shipping Cart and BPI credit card for the additional discounts.

macbook pro unboxing

New Year, New Blog

My name is Glenn, a systems analyst, investor, photographer, and a dad, and this is my second attempt to serious blogging. My first blog is a finance-related one, thus, limiting me to writing investment-related topics only. As much as I wanted to write about other interesting stuff, I just can't, because I wanted to stick to the blog's theme.

And so this 2017, I'll be starting a new blog and call it "The Curious Daddy - Journal of a Curious Filipino Dad". In this blog, I'll talk about interesting life experiences, parenthood stuff, and product/service reviews. It is also my intention to document these information for future reference since I often forget details easily. :P I'm hoping that this can also be of help to you in one way or another. :)

In case you're reading this, thanks for visiting my blog and I wish you a blessed and prosperous 2017.