Motherhood and all that

I’m on my way to Manhattan with a good 20 minutes or so to my ride. All dressed up with a pair of heels in a handy bag, I’m all set for a fine dining experience with the son. It feels good to be celebrating with him. Everyone can celebrate any other holiday with me, but this one, is strictly between him and I.

So 19 years a mother now— and I’m praying for more years. At the same time, I think about my mom who is 10,000 miles away, whose aging seems to have been accelerated by an injury she suffered just a couple of weeks ago. She molded me into the mother that I am now, and then some.

I go home every year only because she is still around. I know that the annual trips home will stop when she is no longer there, so for now, I do my best to make it home. The only lull was the pandemic, and those three years spanning 2020 to much of 2022 were the most difficult to bear when I thought of her. And finally, in November of 2022, I made it back. I even made it for her birthday in March this year.

On the other side, it has been a year of adjustment for the son and I. He moved out in the fall to begin his BFA in Film not too far away, and I felt a profound sense of loss as my daily routine and life, in general, changed. It’s a relief (although a surprise) that the usual 10 month academic calendar was only 8 for them. I get to have him back for the next 4 months until he can move back into the dorm again.

I’m a proud mother but part of me wants to hold on to him longer. I try to console myself with the fact that he is thriving, which shows me that I have done a good job of preparing him for the world.

Whether you are a mom to someone you carried in your womb for 9 months, or someone who has been your child for whatever period of time, I take my hat off to you. Today, the world recognizes us all, and my hope is that the one who calls you “mum” does the same and gives you that warm hug you deserve and more.

Heading home

A note from Pinay New Yorker: This post was written during my flight home to Manila on March 2, 2023, and is being published belatedly days after I arrived back in New York on March 15.

I’m just over 2/3rds of a 17-hour flight home to Manila, just four months from the last time I touched down on the land of my birth in November of last year. That’s a little rich but I planned this trip the same time I planned November’s emotional journey home.

The November trip was my first time to come home in 3 years. Covid kept me from my yearly trip home, and while air travel slowly returned to almost normal, the fares and schedules just didn’t work. Finally, on the Independence Day seat sale of Philippine Airlines, I snagged the first availability I could find for a round trip New York – Manila sale fare, which happened to be in November. The fare was $1076 dollars, a far cry from the regular fare of $2400 I kept seeing. That already included the additional fee of $20 for an aisle seat each way.

So I decided to buy a ticket for the same price for March, in time for Mom’s birthday.

And here I am, all excited!

The trips home are a gift to me from me. I’ve been a New Yorker for almost 23 years now, but my entire family is in Manila. I left to start a family in New York and while that has been whittled down to just the son and I, I have all of my family back home. Dad passed away 11 years ago, and mom is turning 83. In preparation for the trip home, I always get excited months ahead, planning on the pasalubong I will bring home, and spending time with the family and reconnecting with friends. We’re a tight knit clan of 4 siblings and 4 in the next generation. Although we are constantly in touch via Facebook messenger and WhatsApp, these times that we get to spend in 3D as some now call it, are precious indeed.

In the weeks leading to the trip, I start shopping for the presents for the folks back home. Chocolate is always on top of the list, but we always decide which ones to get depending on the season. It’s easier when the son and I are both traveling, because then we have four 50-lb bags to fill.

I got 3 bags of 100 piece Lindt truffles, and that alone already ate up 4 kilos and change. Ferrero Rocher is also a favorite across the board, and I caught a buy one get the second at 50% sale at RiteAid which made it a good buy. I unpack the truffles from their original container and arrange them in a carton so that they don’t get crushed.

I already have a system whereby I weigh and apportion my luggage allowance, making sure to keep within the 50 lb or 23 kg limit. While I paid for an extra piece in November, this time around, I stuck to the 2 pc checked in bag limit, and I went with a roller and my huge tote as hand carry. I actually ended up checking in a pound or two lighter than the max.

I always make sure my underwear and at least one change of clothes is in my hand carry. Just in case my luggage gets lost, I know I will have a change of clothes. And I like to change to something more comfortable when I land, more so when I leave New York in winter clothes and land in the much warmer climes of Manila. I have a pair of leg warmers that have travelled back and forth with me, that is essential to my travel go bag. And while I always go with a neck pillow, I have managed to start a small collection because I always end up leaving it behind. To date, I think I have 6. I know I left one in Manila and am almost sure I left one in Sydney in November. I just bought another one when I left New York today when I realized I failed to take my newly washed neck pillow with a hood with me. You’d think an item so essential to my going on long trips would be something I would be glued to. On the contrary, in my haste to go down and catch the Uber car picking me up, I often end up forgetting about it.

So I am heading home,and my heart is full. Nothing quite compares to the joy that takes me over each time I find myself back with family in Manila. Laking pasasalamat ko.

My phone is charging on the seat USB port and I’ve picked out the films I’m watching. I am exhausted from the long wait for take off. I’ve taken off the shoes and donned the slippers, made sure my eye glasses are within reach, and I closed my eyes.. finally. Dreaming of Manila.

Youtube Stories: My Journey to Monetization

The podcast of this blogpost is available here.

This post has been languishing in my drafts folder for months, and I thought it was about time I finished it and published it. I’ve been a content creator for 9 months now, but I actually started in Youtube in 2007 as a “watcher” — as part of the then growing YouTube audience. I did try to make a video or two in the intervening years since, but I never really quite caught the groove. So I dropped out, came back, and was totally discouraged by the monetization requirements of years past. I marked my web presence on Instagram and recently, Tiktok, but it was just me being there, documenting my days. It was just like writing here was to me— a way to memorialize life.

Then sometime in June, a friend who has had quite the success with her own channel goaded me into giving it a try. This time, I had her wisdom and guidance to encourage me through the seemingly tall order of racking up 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours within a year. (240,000 minutes!) She told me she knew I would be able to do it, given my penchant to snap pictures and videos of things I bump into and pass as a denizen of New York City.

I had 3 accounts which had videos of some sort and which were connected to my personal brand and pursuits. There was GothamChick which, like my blog, was meant to be my crafting channel. There was The Postcard Storyteller which had two or three videos uploaded in the last year, given my return to active postcard trading. Then there was, of course, Pinay New Yorker, which I snagged in 2007 when I started on YouTube.

Of the three, the choice of Pinay New Yorker was obvious given my focus on “New York.” I also thought it would be a good partner to my 2-years-in-the-making podcast which I wanted to call “Conversations with Pinay New Yorker”. With all that settled, I started with begging friends and relatives to subscribe and add to my 20-something viewers. This was important because I could not do any streaming videos until I hit 50. And when I did, the journey started in earnest.

I knew from the start my vlog was going to be about New York. There were endless subjects to film as I had been doing, and it was a topic of interest to the world. Something as common as walking past the Chrysler Building (which happens to be my favorite building in New York City, by the way,) was a sight to behold for people thousands of miles away. I could take footage of my walk to work along Park Avenue, and that was already one video to upload.

I also didn’t even have to debate the topic of being in front of the camera or just putting out a so-called faceless channel, because I wanted the focus of the channel to be New York, not me. I have always been confident that New York, by itself, would be enough to sell my channel. And to be honest, I don’t have the self-assuredness to actually show myself on cam beyond my voice and my hands. So that was settled.

I published a long livestream the first opportunity I got, which was when I hit my first 50 subscribers. I uploaded content consistently, going around the parks and sights and doing Times Square and similar attractions. I made sure my videos were at least 10 minutes long, and I toyed with the thumbnail until I settled on the current one which I am reworking across my channel. It was simpler, direct to the point, and almost always mentioned New York or NYC somewhere there. This wasn’t my own idea— I looked at well established channels showcasing destinations and picked up the simplicity of their titles.

I managed to rack up the 4,000 hours before the 1000 subscribers which was the more difficult task of the two for me. I joined community chats in the livestreams, actively sought out so-called “new and beginning YouTubers” like myself, leaving comments and subscribing to their channels. And more importantly, I started creating shorts.

Shorts are a minute or less clips that have their own category in the YouTube realm. Again, I focused on the easily obtainable clips of my daily life. People walking to work, the New York icons all around me like Times Square, and our parks. My breakfast or the sizzling steak I’m cooking. A BTS birthday video I caught quite by accident, or clips of magazine pages referencing HRH Queen Elizabeth II when she passed. I was so surprised at what topics or clips caught people’s fancy. And I was even more surprised at how those shorts brought in the subscribers.

In 4 months, I became a YouTube partner. My channel was finally monetized with my 1000 subscribers, and over 5000 of the 4000 watch hour requirements.

It’s been just over 5 months since, and I’m at 2270 subscribers as of this writing. And to be honest, my YouTube revenue just slumped over $20 a week or two ago. Yay on that! I’m not fazed or discouraged. This whole journey, after all, has always been meant to be a stress free and fun passion project. And to date, it has stayed that way.

I’m hoping to make it to 3000 subscribers by the time I hit my first year anniversary. Baby steps.

I am still a new YouTuber, otherwise referred to as a beginner. I claim no expertise other than what I have managed to build within my channel. I want to help fellow new YouTubers to establish their own channels by sharing my journey, and I have been so surprised at how many Pinoys are out there. It makes me feel proud to be among both small and big channels alike, because I feel like I am part of a big community of kababayans (countrymen) who are trying to make their way around YouTube.

And my biggest supporters and mentors have come from the same group. Being on YouTube isn’t quite as easy or as glamorous an activity as others might think. You have to go in with low expectations, and a boat load of confidence. You have to be willing to learn and to share, and do your own marketing and networking to grow. it does take a village, starting with your first 1000 subscribers. Your first 240,000 minutes watched or the 4000 watch hour requirement cannot be achieved alone.

So I seek out new organic subs and watchers— I look at what my analytics tell me, and I try to learn from those who have done more than I have. It is a journey I have come to enjoy and have fun with — and one I will stay on for as long as it stays that way for me.

I upload shorts everyday, and a long form or full video at least every 3-4 days, if not daily. You can find me on YouTube as @pinay.newyorker , or you can just click on this link.

Finally, as we YouTubers always say, please don’t forget to click the “like” and “subscribe” button.

Below is my latest upload, showing New York as I ride a bus out of Manhattan, on the way home.

Monday Musings: Hello, February!

UntitledPlease click here to listen to the podcast featuring this article.

A milder winter weekend. The temperatures in New York have started to turn milder, but we are just hovering above freezing. So our heaters are still on full blast, and we New Yorkers are walking around all bundled up like eskimos.

I am not a fan of cold weather. As someone who came from the warm and humid Philippines, winter can be such a chore. We are lucky to have been spared snow so far, but the below freezing temperatures can be brutal as is. Don’t get me wrong —- it is as pretty as it has been touted as it falls, and right after the snowfall stops. But in the days following, the snow becomes an unwelcome presence for the constant cold, the slush and the ice if we get the mix. Then again, we’re in February! Winter will be over before we know it.

Creating again. So I made a sale on the Etsy store and I was just caught off guard. That turned into a panic when I realized I couldn’t find the bracelet. It led me to go through my supplies so I could recreate the bracelet and ship it on time. I went through my trays and found the Czech Pressed Glass beads, set aside the antique brass findings needed, found the heart charm that was one of the focals of the design and recreated it. Done!

In the process, I found some pieces I had made for a craft fair I had joined last year but which never made it to the shop. I also found some necklaces I now want to rework. There were beads, chains, focals and other components I had set aside but have yet to use. I am hoping I can find regular time in the coming weeks to start crafting again. It seems like that’s the only way I’d get anything done, given the stops and starts with the creative projects.

I must say the sale has made me look at the shop again. If I can sell without doing anything or uploading new pieces to offer, imagine what would happen if I posted more products, more regularly.

And the podcast is live! After much hesitation and endless postponement, the initial post featuring my blogpost prior to this one, is now live via and available on Spotify and some other podcast distribution channels. I am also premiering a video of the audio on YouTube on February 8th. The podcast version of this post will follow shortly after. I feel a sense of accomplishment in that, and can only hope that I will be able to maintain the momentum.

Of course this will always be the first place where my posts will land.

My sister is suggesting I read my poetry or any poems for that matter. I am on the fence about that because my poems are very personal to me. I also think production would vary slightly because it would need more background music.

Friends have been supportive of the idea of the podcast as a whole, but I need listeners more than the support. Just as I am with the YouTube channel, I’m being patient and taking it slow.

Wish me luck..

The Blog, The Podcast

This blogpost is available as a podcast here.

I’ve been meaning to start this podcast featuring my blogposts here for a while now, but it has been rather slow in coming. The podcast idea has been brewing in my head for the last 2 years, but the idea of doing a podcast of my blogposts was a recent development.

I initially wanted it to be a conversation with one, two or three others, regarding topics of interest to me. A real conversation. I conceived the title, asked a friend to create the soundtrack for the intro and extro, had my niece create an avatar for the podcast page, began writing show outlines and I started pounding on friends’ doors to agree to join me in what I was going to call “Conversations with Pinay New Yorker.” That wasn’t difficult – and I almost always got an instantaneous nod from the friends. But for some reason, the actual production never took off. After more than a year of the idea being in the backburner, I almost forgot about it. Somehow, it crept upon me again last year, in the middle of my being a newly monetized content creator on Youtube.

I suddenly thought – a podcast connected to my blog, produced in purely audio format – would be good additional content for the Youtube channel.

I felt it was a good way to get me writing more, as well as allowing me to explore a new avenue of expression. I was, after all, once upon a time, a newscaster for a local radio station back in Manila. It was there that I learned how to produce magazine style shows, and I figured I had more than enough material to go by, given I’ve been in this space for over a decade.

So the idea is to be able to give my blog a voice by not only publishing it online, but also making it listenable. I’m still trying to learn the rudiments of podcast publishing, but I’ve chosen the platform I will publish on, and I have a pretty good sense of what my material will be. Besides producing what I write as I go along, I intend to pick an article or two from the archives, and give them new life in voice.

I’ve also decided to narrate my own blogposts. If it’s written by my hand, it makes sense to lend my voice to my words. Who else can better put feeling into it than the one who wrote it… the idea is evolving, and I’m hoping this will be my first episode. I guess you can say that this is a work in progress. I don’t know if it will eventually turn into a book, written or in audio format. Or that it will just be a shortlived project that dies a natural death for want of purpose or an audience. As always, I am all gungho about giving this a shot. For me, myself and I. And if it makes its way to someone’s listening list eventually, and I can give someone something they can relate to out there, then I would’ve given my words more meaning.

I’m not here to change minds or swing votes – or even to make you agree with me. Like my blog, I’m doing this for my own benefit. It’s me, talking to the universe. And I thank you for having bumped into my space, and giving me a listen. Here’s wishing you come back for the next.. and the next.. and the next..







Monday Musings: Slowing down

UntitledIt was a busy weekend. It was one of those Saturdays I gave up the luxury of sleeping in to meet with some cousins to go around town, but it was definitely worth it. I don’t get to see family in New York often enough, and a cousin from Rome was visiting. I don’t even get to see the cousin here in New York with life being so busy for both of us. But family is family.

I trudged down to the Oculus which, to be honest, was my first time going beyond those picture perfect perches looking down. The last time I was even on that edge was in 2018 when the brother was here. This time, I got to explore some of the stores at Westfield mall, and I was able to stand right smack in the middle of this gigantic architectural wonder of New York. That spot, if you ask me, is where you should take in the entire structure, whether you are a tourist or a native New Yorker. Anywhere else won’t compare to the 360 degree view of the space and the light you will take in from there. You can best appreciate the whole concept of that gigantic space and all that light from outside steaming in.

Trying to jumpstart the art. I know I’ve been saying this for weeks now, but I’m really itching to get on with the jewelry, the art journal and the sewing. One at a time.

I’ve been gathering the pages to be of my journal, but I was really hoping to do a flip through of my two art journals from previous years before featuring the new one. I’m suddenly faced with the dilemma of producing that vid so the new one might get featured first. Things don’t always go as planned.

Meanwhile, I’ve been gathering bits and pieces to add to the new line, specifically the 2022 roundup.

Momentarily back to postcards.. it was the Chinese New Year which was kind of a big deal. So I’m producing a maxi card , a topic for another day. And maybe I’m going back to just collecting instead of trading actively for now.

So here’s wishing us all a good week ahead. Hoping for something better than last week. ( breathe, Dinna.. breathe…)

One of those days

I always start my posts with the title. And top of mind tonight at 8pm is that it’s been one of those days. Indeed.

I just finished a dinner of manchego cheese, grapes and most of the Ste Chateau Michelle Riesling 2022 bottle I got from the ex for Christmas. I think I’m officially buzzed and it’s just 8pm. But it feels good.

It was a long, long day. A day of disappointments in a sense, but it was at work, so the disappointments ended at just before 6pm. Then I shut the computer off and I disappeared into my own moment.

I had started chilling the Riesling around 4pm when things were really bad. I vented. I ranted.. I breathed and I said, I’m okay. I just need to let this go.

You know how sometimes something is said or happens, and you step back and have a totally unrelated realization based on it? I had one of those moments today. When, at the end of the conversation, I realized people thought I didn’t have enough to do. That because some things at work had changed, my load was easier. Forget that there are other things that are part of the job which is totally overwhelming me at this point. So what was all the chasing for?

Realization: everyone thought it was easy as pie because I got it done. I remember someone telling me decades ago I need to slow down. The pace at which I work makes people expect that kind of efficiency at all times. When I end up sliding down to “normal”, they find it “slow” and unacceptable. It looks effortless even when I’m pulling my hair trying to keep my head above water.

I’m upset, I know. Upset enough that I am returning to meditation. I had my half a bottle of Riesling. I am here ranting.

Breathe, Dinna. Breathe…

Monday Musings: Creativity postponed

A note from Pinay New Yorker: The post below contains affiliate links which might cause a commission to be paid to me if you click on it.

UntitledI’ve been drafting posts in my head for weeks now. I even had a list written up last week to write about, but I didn’t want to do another Monday Musings on a Tuesday, and then I got swept up with the work week.

The year has started rather busily. I didn’t book anything for the first day of work for the boss and I, thinking I’d keep it light. But it ended up a busy day.. and a busy week, and a busy week after. So here I am.

Back to the jewelry making. Well, I’m trying. I want to get to the natural stones I bought at the start of the pandemic.. repair some older pieces and work on my supplies that have been tucked away in their bins forever. I want to document jewelry making in videos I can post on my channel.

I’m pulling together the supplies and plans to make the video or even a livestream, and hope to create the thumbnail and the intro soon. I’m sketching ideas in my head of new techniques I want to try. I have a list of pieces I want to pull together. I was hoping to get started right after the new year, but things got put on the back burner until I can be better prepared. I am hoping I can get started soon.

I’ve been reading and reading and reading. I finally finished Kenny Loggins’ “Still Alright”and started reading “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. Then I got my copy of “Spare” by Prince Harry and I’ve been focused on that the last couple of days.

I’d be reading more if I had more free time. Next to sleeping in during those days when I can, like this previous weekend, I would love to read and read and read. I’m happy that I managed to read more than my quota of 6 last year.. I want to keep going and do even better than that.

I’m hoping to start the new art journal this week. It’s killing me that I still haven’t even gathered the base pages. I already know I want it to be like my last art journal that was 5×7 per page. I will try and get the cutout year done, at the very least.

I’m looking forward to a creative and productive week ahead, and hoping that I can get even just one of the above done. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed I will be back here writing sooner than another 2 weeks.

Where did 2022 go?

Every year, I begin a list of things I hope to accomplish or do in the the coming year, with periodic updates in between. So today I was looking for “22 for 2022,” and I couldn’t find it. I could’ve sworn I would have a draft at least, but even that eluded me. Wow.

The last year seems to have breezed by not just quickly, but unremarkably. How could I have skipped that altogether! It doesn’t help that I cannot seem to get WordPress to load properly on the laptop, and midweek next week when I return to the city might end up a tad too late.

So here I am tapping away on my phone, in the app. I want to write a post to end the year right, and hopefully begin the next properly.

I don’t have a new year’s eve party to host or go to— my left hand still has 4 fingers elegantly bandaged after I had a cooking mishap last Wednesday. I purposely chose to stay home and just greet 2023 quietly. (The son is with his dad but will be with me tomorrow.). I wasn’t that excited about the new year in the weeks leading up to it, so much so, that I just made my dinner reservation for tomorrow with the son, before I started this post. And I’m still iffy about the steakhouse I chose.

I saw a blanket of fog outside when I picked up two deliveries that came in the afternoon. I was almost tempted to grab the phone and walk around to take some footage, but the prospect of dressing up in the heavy and puffy winter coat and donning the boots was enough to convince me to stay put. I told myself, I had more than enough footage I still need to edit to bother with adding more.

I am too lazy to cook so I ordered some Thai food from a neighborhood reliable. It’s been a while since I ordered out— mealtimes have been simpler since the son went off to college, but I’ve been cooking since he returned for the winter break 2 weeks ago. I thought I’d celebrate the year’s end with a dinner treat to maybe inspire more writing. My planned videos for this weekend were all thwarted by the cooking accident, and the only thing that shows promise is maybe, the podcast.

Yes, I’m finally pushing through with the plan, but kicking off the effort with an audio version of the posts I write here. The idea for the podcast had come together during the pandemic, and I regret how I’ve sat on it for the longest time. The avatar, show title (Conversations with Pinay New Yorker) and the intro and extro soundtrack had long been available and set. And now I’m seriously rethinking the title given what I am planning to do. Shall I shift to “PinayNewYorker says”..? Should I change that to “Just thinking online,” a category that I use here on the blog, or should I stick with the original title?

I’ll give myself the first week to decide. This might yet end up the first episode of the podcast. Meanwhile, I hope that we all have an even better 2023 ahead, whatever our plans and dreams may be.

Manhattan streets

Thoughts on Christmas Eve

I woke up this morning to a few texts.. I replied and tried to savor sleeping in on a Saturday like I usually do. Sleep has been a luxury at my age— more so now that I’ve gotten back to work full time. Weekends are all about chilling and just lazing the days away… until Monday, that is.

Well, I have a long weekend to look forward to. No special plans really— except tonight’s Christmas Eve dinner with the son. I have him Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. The latter can be a dinner some place outside.. tonight, I cook.

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, but it doesn’t mean that I always greet it with guns blazing, all set and festive! I am still writing my Christmas cards and it’s Christmas Eve! I haven’t finished my window decorations which I am hoping to get done tonight. And the biggest blunder was that I forgot we had thrown away my old Christmas tree last year, with plans to buy a new one for this year. It was too late to order by the time I found myself remembering this while I was desperately turning the attic upside down, so I decided to use what was a lit up twig tree I nestled on the bigger window in previous years. It actually worked out great, but now I have no use for two sets of white Christmas lights I meant to use on my former tree. (I am torn between returning them and just keeping them for next year..)

Christmas dinner isn’t a big production, because the carnivore in the son and I means a steak dinner usually seals the deal. I order a standing rib roast good for a full table, and just keep the half that remains for the intervening week between Christmas and new year. Our sides are pretty predictable as he prefers his corn and his rice, and I make a Brussels sprouts side. I am just glad he’s home.

I did the customary Christmas family Facebook chat after midnight and caught up with the siblings. I miss Christmases back home but that has been tough to pull off given the cost of travel post pandemic. I really only managed the November trip home because of a fare sale that I caught sometime during the middle of the year. That was a lucky break for me, given that flight schedules are nowhere near normal as yet, making the fares still a bit on the high side. So I’m happy spending Christmas on this side of the world.

It’s not quite the same— spending Christmas here and Christmas back home, that is. But Christmas here has improved from the two christmases before it. The throng of tourists are back— almost to normal levels. You can feel the spirit of New York coming alive again with the festive air everywhere. I actually don’t mind the crowds as much as I used to— maybe because they give me the sense that we are back — or almost back— to where we used to be.

That really isn’t such a bad thought— considering we diverted to different routines and had to adapt to the demands of the pandemic. Last year, people crowded the urgent care centers and testing booths to get tested before heading home. Lines wrapped around corners and people waited their turn. I haven’t seen the lines. Perhaps we have let our guard down with a false sense of security, thinking the vaccines and boosters are all we need. There is that sense of complacency that even I am guilty of.

We celebrate the holidays in the ways we are used to. And I know not everyone chooses to celebrate — we all have our own faith that guides us during these times. I’m winding down Christmas Eve with a happy thought. I celebrated with the ones who matter the most to me, and for that, I am grateful.

Grand central this Christmas season 2022