Switzerland Done Quickly

Time is flying by so quickly- it feels like I just arrived here in Milan, and now school will be over in around a hundred days! I know this is a special time in my life* so I want to preserve everything and savour my time of independence in Europe!**

I've never read any books or watched any movies or learned anything in school about Switzerland, so I had zero expectations when my three friends and I went to Switzerland very briefly last month. These three friends of mine (hello Reg, Donna, and Kat!) held actual meetings in Manila to plan their Swiss trip flawlessly and I just happily tagged along (like the useful friend that I am hehehe).



We took the train to Luzern from Milano and it was treacherously long! But we had a lot of fun because we had so much catching up to do, played charades very loudly (#mature) and were also very entertained by all the views (we watched snow fall). 

About the train: 
>We rode TRENITALIA from Milano to Lucerne. It cost us only Php 472.50 (I'm referring to the perfect excel sheet my friends made! Thank you so much, my beautiful friends!) because tickets were purchased way in advance. You can buy tickets online, and the train ride was around 4 hours long. Note that there are many stops that may make you question if you should get down already (LuzernSomething, LuzernSomethingElse) get down ONLY at the stop that says ONLY LUZERN -- this sounds so silly but had I been traveling alone and sleepy, I might have gotten down at the wrong Luzern-seeming stop.
>If you suffer from "biyahilo" -- remember to bring anti-biyahilo medicines. You might also want to make sure the seats you book are front-facing.
>If you are traveling alone, it would be best to bring a book to pass the time.
>There is food available for sale on the train and prices are pretty fair.
>Weather in Switzerland is different from the weather in Milan, so pack smart!


                 

We arrived in Lucerne at a little past 7 pm. At the train station, we were greeted by the sweetest grandma-type lady in a tourism volunteer's vest who asked us if we needed any help. She taught us how to go to our hotel, Best Western Krohne. (This was a remarkable experience for me because I don't think this would ever happen in Manila or Milano, hahaha unless it was a scam... maybe in Tokyo this could be legit too LOL)

Once we got out of the station, I saw Lucerne for the very first time and OMG it was really the most enchanting thing ever --  this city overlooking a gorgeous river with all the lights twinkling and cobblestones underfoot and large lampposts everywhere.




The hotel is situated in the Old Town -- a really fairytale-looking place! If you've been to Disneyland Hong Kong, hahaha, the princessy town there is EXACTLY like Old Town, except of course Old Town is not Disneyland but the real world and the shops sell things a lot more interesting than keychains and stuffed toys (and the shopgirls aren't as friendly as those in Disneyland haha)


                                     

This is me being very happy in our hotel (which was a nice change from my student accommodation here in Milan. hehe)

About the hotel:
>Best Western Krohne was super-clean and the price was really fair! Our room was HUGE (four girls in one room! SLEEPOVER!!!) and cost Php 7,584 per person for a whole THREE NIGHTS. Breakfast was free! Location was also really nice -- only a short distance from beautiful Reuss river where we saw swans and ducks swimming and going about their daily business  (if you love looking at animals like I do, this will keep you occupied and happy for more than a few hours).

We had two things to do: (1) take the Lake Lucerne cruise and (2) hang out at Mt. Titlis.

About the activities:
>Our concierge directed us to this tourist's info desk where the lady told us about the Tell Pass. Said pass allows you to do all sorts of activities and take all sorts of transportation for a certain number of days. We used this pass for both our Lake Lucerne cruise & our day at Mt. Titlis. Find out more about it here





About the cruise:
It was a brief boat ride (2 hours for the return trip) and there's a restaurant where you can eat. We only discovered halfway through the trip that sitting outside is a lot more fun than sitting inside, so do that. I know a cruise might sound boring but it was actually really fun and a nice way to get some watery air (Milan is landlocked). Lake Lucerne was terribly beautiful, too!

The next day, we went to Mt. Titlis and spent the whole day (not joking) tubing down the snow. Hahaha! You may also opt to ski or snowboard.







I tried tubing headfirst and it was so much fun I got my friends to do it, too! Haha



                                      
Being annoying hehe

                               

Mt. Titlis also has an ice cave (boring and manmade) and a cliff walk (which was closed the day we visited due to weather conditions). Note that both of these activities are also covered by your TellPass.



                                

After each cold day we would trudge home to the Old Town and look for someplace to eat. On the first night, we ate at Zunfthausrestaurant Pfistern; for the next two nights, we ate at Restaurant Fritschi! Fondue is seriously the loveliest thing to eat in cold Switzerland with a lot of wine and wonderful friends. I recommend roesti, too.

Other things to note:
>We noticed that our Swiss meals cost 1.5x those of our Italian meals
>Switzerland is seriously the safest place in world -- only in Switzerland was I able to purposely leave my things unattended!
>Be very careful traveling to and from Switzerland -- when riding the train, watch out for shady denizens who take advantage of the boarding kerfuffle to try to steal your things. We encountered a pair of women (they appeared to be of Eastern European descent) in civilian clothing as we were boarding the train to leave Switzerland and go to Venice. They helped us drag our luggage up into the train and were suspiciously volunteering to help us put our luggage into the luggage racks. They also discouraged us from loading our luggage onto the overhead luggage compartments (the ones atop our seats). When we said that we were doing okay on our own and that we didn't need their help, thank you, they then asked to see a copy of our tickets (as if they were official train employees) -- and got frustrated when we refused. Another traveller (an Asian man) came along and they were "helping" him with his luggage but he immediately shooed them away. Later on my friend Reg realized that had she opened her bag to show them our tickets, they would have had easier access to the contents of her sling, and we might have ended up being robbed.
>You might want to visit the Lion Monument, but if you are traveling without a tour guide it will be very boring to look at if you do not know what it is about -- read about it here.

All in all, it was a really beautiful city!!! Especially at night!

xx 
Daryl



*Well, I really hope that this will be a special time -- in the sense that I will go back to Manila and live happily ever after and just recall my sweet Milanese adventure through hazy and loving eyes as I head to work everyday and brave the Manila heat traffic. Hahaha! As opposed to staying here, braving another @#$%ing winter, taking care of my bratty self, living alone with no one to harass in the evenings hahaha HELLO SIS, and dreaming about the life I used to live in Manila. haha  but don't get me wrong, I love living in Milan.. I will be writing about Milan soon

**Savor, she says! haha! let's see how I'll feel if i do end up living here, hahaha :p




Faith and Financial Freedom

Ever since I came across the idea of "f*** you" money from my graduate school professor, Prof. Andy Ferreria*  the idea has consumed me like a burning fire. Haha! I just LOVED the idea of being financially free, of NEVER having to work once I'd established excellent passive income streams. My entire perspective on earning money changed -- it's not for buying clothes, shoes, or bags. Instead, its purpose became for the building of income streams (and then using the money from those income streams to buy clothes, shoes, bags and whatever else, hehe). The drive to someday own a good, solid business became not so that I could shop and buy the nice things I wanted, but so that I could have enough wealth to let it work for me.  It made me dream my BHAG (that's Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of retiring at age 35** and waking up at 11 am and having lazy breakfasts everyday for the rest of my life, yehey!!!




I also came across this quote and since then it has really stuck to me: "The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it." I've held 9-6*** jobs that were not sales-related and had zero commission, so this quote really stuck to me. The 9-6 jobs helped me begin to see things not as things that brought pleasure but as things I exchanged my life (my time, which could be spent doing things I really loved) for. ****



I also read Bo Sanchez's book about investing in the stock market, My Maid Invests in the Stock Market..., and it got me to enrol myself in COL Financial (something I wrote about previously). That also changed my perspective on money -- it made financial freedom something I could monitor and already begin working on. Financial freedom stopped being a faraway dream that began in real estate; it became something I could build NOW, by buying affordable stocks in companies whose management and ethics I trusted.



My mom also lent me this book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and it further strengthened my then-growing sentiments about money and shopping. The book discusses how material clutter in our homes is directly correlated to mental and emotional clutter. I've always believed that whenever my room is really clean I lose weight (hahaha! it's true, I promise) and the book further cemented the ideas, going on further to say that we really have more mental clarity when we dispose of the things that we do not really need. Read the book, and you'll be in fear of accumulating things that do not bring you joy. The book made it so clear to me that I had to focus my income on financial freedom and not random things that would clutter up my space.


So this idea of financial freedom really ate me up and I was so consumed by the idea of it.  When sales of my sideline were bad, I would always claim God's promise that he would be my Provider, just as He has always faithfully provided for me. I would also always pray that God be my partner in my sideline. At desperate times I would really beg and plead, "Lord, please please please give me benta (sales), have I not tithed faithfully, did You not promise that my 'storehouses' would overflow? Please be faithful and provide."

These few weeks have been really tough; the income I expected to earn from my sideline was only a fraction of what I had expected... sales really went significantly down (taking my self-esteem with it, haha). This evening I really couldn't sleep again for the nth time because I was thinking so much again about  what businesses I could engage in when I was done with school, what I could start doing now, what opportunities I wasn't seeing. My eyeballs were near popping out, what with school stress from the daytime and this self-induced stress I would wallow in at night, hahaha.

Then God impressed on me that He is not only my Provider but He is also my Treasure. True wealth is not a number in the bank account. We do not have to wait for financial freedom, for "f*** you money," to have peace of mind. God has been holding my hand day in and day out, not only in terms of business but in all aspects of my life. I think of how the Bible says that God is a jealous god.... He's a jealous lover that does not want to be second to money; He wants to be First in every aspect of my life. He does not want money to be what makes me feel secure; He wants to be the one who makes me feel safe, secure and provided for. I realized that He is my present Treasure, something that has already been given to me, not something I have to constantly work for and stress over. My freedom is already here, it has been here and has been provided for me before I even realised it. I don't have to keep working and keep going until I achieve financial freedom -- this Freedom He has given allows me to rest, to be at peace, to feel safe, NOW.

Isaiah 33:6
In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the LORD will be your treasure.

Matthew 11:29-30
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Isaiah 9:6b
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.



*he happens to be a self-made millionaire/billionaire and is a consultant for BDO as well as one of their endorsers/speakers for why taking out bank loans are smart, if I remember correctly
**on more ambitious days, it was at age 32 HAHAHA
***yes, it's not 9-5 in the Philippines, haha.
****Don't get me wrong, I STILL LOVE TO SHOP, I'm no non-shopping saint here hahaha, hehe but my priorities and habits have changed a lot -- I try to buy a FEW really nice things that I REALLY like and can see myself using forever, and that's it. No Zara sale hoarding. I can also help you pick out beautiful things to keep and love for a long time at @curatedmanila on Instagram, hehehe







J Crew Forever

I'm in fashion school now, and we currently need to choose a brand to hypothetically compete with. At first I chose Marchesa,  the eveningwear brand I hold closest to my heart - inarguably feminine and consistently beautiful, always luxurious!! But we were then told that the collection had to be composed of different kinds of garments (Marchesa is all about - and ONLY about - the opulent evening gown - Lord knows how I would live my life entirely in beaded things, if it were feasible!) so I looked through a few other brands I love: Carven, Chalayan, Miu Miu, Blumarine, Alberta Ferretti and J. Crew. They all make pretty nice things but my absolute favorite was J. Crew. I would wear everything they sent down that runway.

Some gorgeous looks from last year's fall collection:


Classic necklines always get me




And my favorites from this year's collection:





Please notice the fur at the bottom of the sweater and the floral embellishments on her sandals




This is their fall collection and they're featuring a lot of PINK, yellow and clementine-y peach when everyone else is sending down umber, mustard, bordeaux... Definitely my kind of brand.


Fur again! With STRIPES this time. Please also give attention to the tassels at the ankles of her shoes.


Full sequined maxi skirt + classic denim oxford + Fendi-esque bag (those are feathers, BTW!) = winner


Cuffed trousers and pointy pumps..... definitely my kind of thang


I love how the looks are (1) tailored and clean; (2) fun, glittery, be-sequined, be-furred and be-tasseled; (3) easy, slightly thrown-together-looking/the antithesis of trying too hard.

 Kind of like Ralph Lauren meets Kate Spade... I think this would be the look you got if you always stole your brother's/boyfriend's clothes and hung around thrift shops looking for furry/sequined vintage things!!!

I also love the hair and makeup on all the models. Even from the previous year's RTW collection (the first three photos), the look is quite consistent: effortless, healthy, fresh, youthful. Nothing scary, avant-garde or prima donna-ish here!

 I would wear everything they make. So it's settled (despite it's lack of blue blood):  J Crew all the way!

P.S.: Michelle Obama wears J. Crew, too!

(everything from J. Crew)


(belt from J. Crew)



Italian Style, Two Ways

I think that there are only two ways to do Italian style: loud and printed and be-furred and gold-swathed (Anna dello Russo, Versace, Missoni, Pucci) and utterly subdued and understated and refined (Tilda Swinton's character from I Am Love,  Marni, Valextra).

Loud:

loud

               Subdued:

subdued



I love both! Thoughts?





Wardrobe Update

trend update

Things you need right now:
1. A shoulder bag that sits under your armpits, hehe. I love the Celine versions. I think they are right between boxy and slouchy and absolutely perfect.
2. Dior So Real/So Electric sunnies, or any lookalike.
3. Slides: best embellished, in my opinion! I think that leather slides or slides that are too bulky (or God forbid, RUBBER slides which I've seen at Zara -- How about NO!) are too manly! The gem-encrusted, more slender versions appeal to me much more.
4. Culottes: perhaps the most important (and most comfortable!!!) wardrobe addition.
5.  Hyper-strappy heels! Aquazzura's are incredible.
6. Slouchy, ballerina-off-duty-looking sweaters 
7. Halter-strapped slouchy tops (yes, my new favorite word is slouchy hehe)
8. Slouchy-but-tailored trousers
9. For those who are ready, BELL-BOTTOMS! I've seen perfect high-waisted pairs at Topshop.

Bare (Wardrobe) Bones

What would you take with you if you were going away for a bit to somewhere absolutely new to you (and would need to fend for yourself entirely)?

Gave a lot of thought to this question and I think that everything I would bring would have to meet all of the following criteria:
#1 Must not be provocative in any way (yes, feminists, I totally get that we women are never asking for it no matter what we wear, but of course if we are going to be all by ourselves in an entirely new place, it is safer to not look even the least bit like we are asking for it)
#2 Must be immensely comfortable (for walking around a lot/getting lost)
#3 Must be easy to care for (things you can just pop into the washing machine.. hand washing is feasible -- I personally handwash all my beaded items -- but always makes me feel weepy. Also, things that would not require a lot of ironing!!!)
#4 Must look elegant and presentable (we all know how confidence is intimately related to appearance)
#5 Must be supremely versatile and get along with everything else you are taking with you

milan

And here are things that I think would fit the bill perfectly!
1. Boat neck-ed blouses in washing machine-friendly fabrics
2. A perfect, classic, Burberry-looking trench coat (Burberry Blue makes a pretty wonderful lookalike -- but the price is also a lookalike! Wahaha)
3. An equally perfect and classic non-Burberry-looking coat
4. Dainty skirts past knee length (the better to ride trains/climb stairs with without giving the whole world a free show)
5. Old school trousers (been thinking a lot about high-waisted flared pants but I don't see that bit happening to me yet)
6. High-waisted culottes to be lazy (but polished) in
7. Black maryjanes (I've been thinking about them since January!)
8. The new Chuck 2 (made with Lunarlon soles! Thank you, Nike)
9. Thermals (to survive cold temperatures!)

Cheers to new places and new faces! :)





How To: Open A COL Financial Account Without Getting Off Your Bum (Hehe)

Ever since I ninja-read* Bo Sanchez's My Maid Invests in the Stock Market book in the airport bookstore while waiting for a flight, my eyes have been really opened** to what the stock market can do for you in your mission to create wealth. Bo Sanchez wrote so simply and clearly and I was absolutely moved. My favorite part was when he explained (in the simplest terms!) how banks make money. This how-do-banks-make-money thing was something I thought about often as a child, when I would play Village with my siblings, cousins and helpers (basically, we would pretend to have different stores in our make-believe village, and of course, we had to have banks where we could deposit money and earn interest on our savings)... Finally, at the sweet age of twenty-five (HAHAHA) I have finally understood how they do it, all thanks to Kuya B!

I always thought that banks made money through loans and mortgages, and some vague investments they made using the money that was lent to them. I understood the loans and mortgages part, but the investment part was something very cloudy and blurry in my head. In my sweet quarter-century lifetime, I also learned a little bit about insurance companies and how they give you rates that are far better than the bank's. But it was only until I read this one, super-short, super-simple paragraph in My Maid that I truly understood!!!! Very simply put: the banks make tons of money out of us non-financially savvy citizens because they are making so much more out of investing our money! AND, more importantly, we can DIRECTLY invest our money all thanks to these insurance companies/COL Financial! It is so simple that Bo's helpers can do it (the entire premise of the book, which, by the way, I have found is a FREE DOWNLOADABLE on the COL Financial site! Good thing I didn't buy it and saved myself 300+ Php, yahoo). It is as if we were sweatshop workers in Vietnam making Nike shoes and getting paid 30 Php per pair... And then Nike (the bank) retails our shoes for Php 3000. The wonderful news is that this huge social enterprise (COL financial) has decided to help us marginalized sweatshop workers by allowing us to sell our shoes directly to customers. Now, instead of earning a measly Php 30 for each pair, we make Php 3000! Yahoo.***

The book also answers a terrific question about what to do if you have no stock know-how (like me) and do not know which stocks to buy: just get great, solid stocks like Jollibee Food Corp (JFC) (I LOVE Jollibee and eat there all the time) and Ayala Land (ALI). Buy a fixed amount every month regardless of the current price, so that the cost averages out over time. Bo also suggests that you make a nice fluffy portfolio of different stocks so that if one boat sinks, you won't go all the way down with it. He also discusses the Easy Investment Program (EIP) in the book, which is interesting if you are not a risk-taker. This technical stuff is far better explained by Bo so go ninja-read or buy his book or download it on the site (although I think you can only download it once you are a member).

Of course, it's not all perfect. Here are the bad things I thought about:
1.What will happen if the stock market crashes like it did in the USA and a lot of people committed suicide?
2. What will happen if I urgently need money and stock values are down?

And here are the bad things other people thought about:
3. Isn't the Ph stock market easily manipulated since it is small compared to international stock markets? Doesn't this make it more dangerous since it is in the hands of just a few, and there are so many political issues?
4. Isn't it stupid to lend your money to other people for them to build their businesses? Why won't you just build your own business with your extra money?

And here are the responses:
1-2 (This is me responding to myself) Must only invest EXTRA money in stock market (shopping budget can be used here instead of for buying more clothes I do not need); must have a nicely-sized safety fund that is liquid.
3. (This was a wonderful response given by a very sage elderly man, when #3 was brought up over lunch): Size is relative; all stock markets are subject to manipulation, and on this premise it is best to invest in a market wherein you DO know some things about the local politics and those most likely to do the manipulating, rather than randomly investing in foreign markets where you DO NOT know the politics/interests of those in power.
4. (My own thought): Only invest extra money, and it is good to have some passive investment. Stocks are a good place to put your extra cash into, instead of bloating up your inventory (something I like to do a lot, huhu).

I also had some doubts about whether I could navigate the complex website and understand everything there. But I realized that a lot of my peers have already been investing in the stock market without a peep coming from them (I suppose they are really raking it in now, hahahaha) so I just decided to do it and try to learn as I went and ask questions as I go (this is how I do almost everything in my life wahahahaha).

So after reading the book + going through my mental monologue, I enrolled myself into COLFinancial, and it has been a lot of fun! I have become really obsessed with selling all the things I do not wear/need and buying stocks with the money I raise! Hahaha! It makes me SO HAPPY because all the unwanted stuff get new homes and I get stocks that will make me rich when I am old (if God allows me to grow old).

Enrolling is supremely simple and here is how to do it without getting off your sweet butt (I love being baby-ed and having people I know/trust "hold my hand" and personally & clearly explain the steps to me and verify that it is all legit, so that is my intention in writing this and I hope that it helps):

STEP 1. Read this:
https://www.colfinancial.com/ape/Final2/home/open_an_account.asp and choose which account you would like (I chose the 25000 one)

STEP 2. Complete the THREE super easy documents:
a. The completely-filled up downloadable form under STEP 2 of the above link. When you click the download link, you will only get one file and that is all you need.  It is very short and you will be very encouraged when you see it. Hahaha
Notes:
For the US-y form, you just put NA for everything.
If you do not know your TIN, just call up your ex- or present employer
If you do not have any TIN, there is a link on the site that teaches you how to apply for TIN (https://www.colfinancial.com/ape/Final2/home/pdfs/TIN%20Application%20Procedure.pdf)
b. A copy of billing statement (credit card, phone bill) within 3 months
Notes:
I'm not sure if you can submit a billing statement that is older than three months, or what you can submit in lieu of it in case you do not have any. It might be good to keep in mind that COL is a business out to earn profit, and you will be a customer, so there is a chance that they might be more flexible than you think. They have excellent customer service, just call them at 6515888.
c. Photocopy of any government-issued ID where your signature and photo are visible, like your passport or license.

STEP 3. Book shipment through Xend.com.ph 
Pop all three docs into an envelope and seal it. Xend will pick up at your house and will deliver to COL for just 60 Php; you just have to create an account, book pick-up, and they will show up and whisk your sealed envelope away. Signing up will only take 5 minutes so do not be lazy! Alternatively, you can also deliver it yourself to:

COL BUSINESS CENTER


  • 2403-B East Tower, PSE Centre
    Exchange Road, Ortigas Center,
    Pasig City, Philippines 1605

STEP 4. Wait for the email from COL Financial saying they received your documents and telling you to fund your account.
I funded mine through BDO online banking (I only discovered online banking less than a year ago and it has been a REAL game-changer! haha). All I did was enroll the COL Financial biller, and then transferred 25,000 Php to them, indicating my account number (this number will be provided in the email) as subscriber number. It is important to enroll COL Financial as a biller first because if you do not do this, you will only be allowed to transfer 10,000 Php. I also suggest that you take a screenshot of your transfer for your own peace of mind.

COL discusses the how-to here:
https://www.colfinancial.com/ape/Final2/home/pdfs/fund-online-bdo.pdf

Alternatively, you can also do bank deposits.

STEP 5. Wait for the email from COL Financial saying they received your payment. Here they will also tell you your account number and password. Then you can login and go and buy your stocks!!! :D :D
This will take around a week but you can also bug them/reassure yourself haha by calling 6515888.

You're done! :D I also heavily suggest that you read My Maid as it is very inspiring and very clear in its explanations (manages your expectations but encourages you at the same time).

I've been really enjoying myself and I try now to learn as much about it as I can. It feels the same as when I first discovered Ebay/Xend (and eyelash curlers, joke!); a whole new world has opened up to me! I am sure that there are so many others out there who have been doing this for ages and I would love to learn from you, if you would care to share! This blog is definitely not for you; it is for those like me who had no clue/were too scared/wanted someone to walk them through it.

P.S.
Here are other things I love about this:
1. It gives you a nice alternative for where you can spend your money: media/culture has got us all thinking that it's either we spend it on travel/thingies/pop it into the bank/buy an insurance plan/save for a house/save for a car; we have not been told about how easy investing in the stock market is.
2. It gives you a nice alternative for where you can spend your time: being a part of this has motivated me to read about different companies, learn how to let numbers speak, etc
3. It helps you think in terms of productivity (ex: this Zara shirt costs 2500 and will not earn me any money whereas one Globe share also costs 2500 and WILL earn me money)


*AKA: was too cheap to buy the book and hence just "browsed" through it in its entirety
** I suppose for now, my eyes feel like they are open. But the nice thing about life is we always find more things to have our eyes opened (or opened WIDER) about! I am sure one day we might say pooh, stock market? How small-minded!
***This is my own analogy, not sure if it is 10000% correct.