Saturday, August 8, 2015

STUDENT FINANCE | How saving helped me chase one of my dreams

Probably one of my little accomplishments in life, which took so many years before it paid off, is having to pursue one of the dream hobbies I really, really wanted to do.

I think it was in Grade 4 - I was 11 years old - when I first realized how it feels to be punched in the stomach by extreme poverty. At that time, Mama only gave me 10 Php for the day. I was too shy (and very embarrassed) that I cannot join my peers in buying lunch at the cafeteria. I can recall our lunch meal was around 25 Php for a fried chicken meal. Worst, I had to eat only when I was about to go home as my kind bus-mates had excess snacks to share.

It was at that moment when it dawned on me to make every peso provided to me count and to assist my parents in our family's expenses. I aimed to be admitted into the best schools my intellect, strong will and determination can bring me. I learned to practice saving, hiding money behind picture frames, within the pages of the Bible, inside my drawers, and even underground (which at one point got me surprised and confused because when I dug it a few months later, I realized it was gone haha).

First Love

By the time I reached the ending year of high school, I realized I wanted to capture memories, to shoot for beautiful scenery, and relive moments at just one click. I wanted to become a photographer.

Unfortunately, SLRs at that time were very expensive. I looked up to people who had beautiful digital cameras and SLRs as if it was decoded in mind that they belonged to the upper echelons of society. Most of them looked fulfilled; others had it just for show. For me, photography was something internal; I didn't truly comprehend why it became an urge, but it was there. It was not a luxurious want, but a defying need.

"I will have that in time," I comforted myself during my high school graduation. It was a dare to myself.

College life began; it was my first time to be far away from home. I had to survive, on my own. Living in NCR was very hard for someone who was just weaned off his family's love and affection. I cried every night for the first two weeks of college out of homesickness.

Soon, I became more challenged. The funny thing is eventually you'd get the hang of it and just get tired of crying, projecting your need for love towards your new found friends.

Months passed by, I got to see more people having SLRs and better phones. To be honest, I envied them. It was my calling to join the world of photography. 

Every time my allowance (which was really just enough for my food and shelter) is sent, I only withdrew what I needed for the week which meant employing extra tight budgeting. There were cases I missed lunch or just ate crackers to fill my tummy, but that was because my class schedule was a bit full and intoxicating. You know, in our university there was a shortage of professors so there's very high demand for subjects, the last solution of which would be opening new slots that sacrificed lunch breaks. Eventually, I was able to adjust.

I was determined to keep money - first, out of the fear that Metro Manila life is scary when one doesn't have money, and second, out of the tethered longing to pursue photography. While most of my peers were busy eating at fast food chains and posh restaurants, I was satiated by food offered by carinderias (their homemade food were really yummy!). Occasionally, I'd join my friends to eat out as a reward (usually after exams).

To cut the story short, I graduated in college with a sigh of disappointment because I wasn't able to buy myself an SLR. At that time, my priorities changed. I let go for a while, with the thought that I might need the money in case of emergency. And so, my savings (just a few thousands) were left untouched in the bank.

But the longing didn't stop. It was my first love, some passion my heart was really yearning for. It was for me.

(RIGHT) Three years later, just this year, I accidentally found a post about a DSLR being sold in an online store at a bargain price. It was secondhand but had no defects and just a little less than 2k shutter count. I felt it was the right moment for me; I needed to give myself something I worked hard for and something that would motivate me more to succeed.

I bought it. I felt so elated, with that ounce of pride having been able to buy a DSLR out of more than six years of dedicated saving! Wohoo! I felt I responsibly decided for myself. It was something I wished to have since my teen days. I never regretted all the years of waiting; seemed like God told me, "take it, My child, it's for you."

No to worship of money, yes to frugality at best

Indeed, I got to buy a DSLR, but still retained a chunk of my savings. My hands were really excited to maneuver the buttons that glossed out of it.

One thing that didn't stick with me, all throughout the wait, was worship of money. I know money is somewhat important but it's not the most essential thing in the world. Bear in mind, though, that it could be some means to achieving happiness - for my case, I am happy I got to practice photography even if I had to wait for years. I was content I got to bond with friends even in just the most sketchy places (pero yun pala, the best eateries I dined into).

The thriftiness I acquired stayed. As you can see below, saving is petty much instilled in me. This is just to add pun to my post haha. It's funny because my coins don't even have their proper shelters (alkansya haha). 

Yep, I just laid them on the floor. I sometimes use some of my (non-bank) coin savings (from last year), which I taped by denomination, to buy load haha. The salesladies won't mind if I pay them piles of coins late at night hehe.

(LEFT) Another area where I place my current savings. I use these for my day-to-day living. I eat 50-peso meals, and just drink the cold water that the carinderia offers. Sometimes, though, I eat inside malls but only in the food court (where it's cheaper) haha. My phone is an obsolete, annoyingly malfunctioning Nokia which just got replaced when my friend lent me his secondary phone a few days ago.

Always take aim

What's more valuable to me is the realization that I can live life with that street-smart attitude and frugality I acquired throughout the years of independence and struggle in Metro Manila. One more important thing I set my mind into is to make sure that I don't step on anyone's shoes. Money can't buy class; I'm not yet rich, but I sure know how to empathize with people from any socioeconomic class.

Whenever I take photos of people in the streets, I  always ask permission from them and thank them for giving me the opportunity to render service to them.

(RIGHT) I also apply semantics - meanings hidden within frames. Whenever I take shots, I make it a point to convey something. To me, the mind can interpret a photo differently - to each his own.

I took a photo of a bull when I went to Rizal Park because it reminded me of the PH stock market. In addition to that, I feel bullish (hehe) I could learn so much more from established mentors in different finance-related groups of which I am a part.

I have survived the toughest financial difficulties in life and I know there are a lot more coming, but my outlook and character will always take me somewhere, evident of which is the achievement of this dream I long thought was impossible to have. Life will always give you surprises; sometimes they're pretty cool surprises, other times they're extremely mind-boggling and stressful. So, it's important to seek guidance from elders, friends, and even (in extra-rare conditions) enemies.

No man is an island; you can't live life on your own. A bull needs a matador in order to play its game. A matador sees a bull as integral to his life. 

There will be triumphs and defeats. It's up to your perspective, how you see things. Turn misfortune inside out; convert weakness as your strength. My longing for familial love became my strength to keep up with college life's pace. Financial debacles didn't hinder me from obtaining a DSLR; instead, it pushed me to strive harder.

I always believed in myself. I know I can surpass whatever stones life hurls toward me 'cause there are people out there who I can ask for support. And there's Someone who'd always catch me whenever I fall down. 

Just keep pushing forward; there will always be a way to solve a difficult problem. Anyone can be whoever you want as peg in life, or you can tread a different path and live uniquely. It's a matter of setting your eyes on the prize - on your goals, aspirations.

As Norman Vincent Peale once said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#WalangPasok | Two long weekends this August

Hurray! There will be two long weekends this month!

In a Twitter post, the Official Gazette (@govph) cited: 
  • Ninoy Aquino Day on Aug. 21 (Friday)
  • National Heroes' Day on Aug. 31 (Monday)
Workers and schoolchildren in Quezon City, and the provinces of Quezon and Aurora will have a midweek holiday in observance of Quezon Day on Aug. 19, a Wednesday.

Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, was born on August 19, 1878 in Baler, Tayabas (now Quezon). 

Source: GMA News

Monday, August 3, 2015

GOOD NEWS | Samsung Philippines to drop price of Galaxy S6, S6 Edge

Here's one great news for those who have excess money in their pockets!

Korean smartphone giant Samsung has announced it is dropping its prices of its 2015 flagship handset Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge due to disappointing sales. In response, Samsung Philippines will be lowering its retail prices.

Local retailer Gadgets in Style has revealed the new prices of the Samsung S6 and S6 Edge, which reflect those of global price drops.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Old Price: Php35,990 (32GB)
New Price: Php29,990 (17% drop)

Old Price: Php41,990 (64GB)
New Price: Php34,990 (17% drop)

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Old Price: Php41,990 (32GB)
New Price: Php34,990 (17% drop)

Old Price: Php47,990 (64GB)
New Price: Php39,990 (17% drop)