Tips on surviving SXSW

This is one of those posts on tips on how to survive SXSW.

SXSW is something I try to attend every year. It’s one of my favorite tech conferences, but also the *most tiring*. There’s practically no time or energy to go anywhere else.

  • Book early. That is, if you want to stay near the Downtown area. Twice, I booked in January, and twice, I had to rent a car because I couldn’t find a nearby hotel.
  • Prepare for the heat, the cold, and the rain. The temperature will be 10 degrees one day, and 27 degrees the next. And I’m not even kidding.
  • And yes, it rains.
  • Claim your badges a day before the conference starts. It is *really* crowded on the first day.
  • Traffic’s bad. Parking’s bad. It usually takes us 15 to 30 minutes just to find a parking spot. And they’re not cheap: around $15 to $40 for the entire day.
  • Bring a backpack to the conference. I initially had a messenger bag to carry all my gear (laptop, power bank, etc.) and had to switch to a backpack. Just remember that you will be carrying your bag the *entire day*. Please be kind to your back & shoulders.
  • Only bring the necessities. Even the smallest gadget/accessory can put a toll on the weight of your bag. For example, I learned there’s no need to bring a water bottle, since the place is equipped with a lot of water stations. Also, there was no need to bring my high capacity power bank, since there are a lot of power outlets available.
  • You will walk. Really walk. Keep in mind that the sessions are spread out between 7 to 14 venues. And even if you manage to only attend sessions within the Austin Convention Center, that building is still *huge*. Think twice before wearing those high heeled boots or stilettos.
  • Brown bag your lunch if you can. Or eat during off-peak hours. It’s almost impossible to find an empty table in restaurants from 12pm to 2pm. There are food trucks everywhere, but the lines are terrible. Once, I was in line for almost 45 minutes just to get a puny breakfast burrito.
  • Arrive at the talks at least 30 mins early. The sad fact is SXSW books people more than it could accomodate. If you arrive 10 minutes before the session starts, most often than not, you will not be able to get in.
  • Download Google Maps, or your favorite map application. The last SXSW app was a total fail with regards to venue directions.
  • Bring a paper map too, if possible. Because sometimes, traditional maps are a lot easier to use.
  • Download the SXSW app. It has some use. At least when it comes to shortlisting the sessions you want to attend.
  • When choosing sessions, don’t get brainwashed with “Must attend talks in SXSW.” I made this mistake on my first SXSW and I hated all the talks that was recommended in social media. Only you will know what talks you would be interested in.
  • Don’t be fooled by cool titles. SXSW speakers tend to play with titles in order to get more attendees. Not good.
  • This is a matter of personal preference, but avoid panel sessions if possible. Panel sessions are too freeform. The panelists are only as good as the moderator’s questions. And I noticed a lot of the panelists do not even prepare for their session, and even if they do, they don’t prepare *with* the other panelists. There’s usually no cohesion. And to tell you honestly, I don’t learn a lot on panel sessions. So, if you’re a lot like me who attend SXSW to learn new things, stick with solo sessions. Or at the most, dual sessions.
  • There are workshops too which sometimes last 4 to 6 hours. But I haven’t gotten the chance to attend any of them, because they require online reservation and are usually booked months before SXSW.
  • Don’t judge a speaker by the company they worked with. I learned a lot from speakers who were from companies which were totally unknown to me.
  • Priority seating is bullshit. Just line up early.
  • Not sure which sessions to attend? Go to the web or the app, and star all the sessions that you find interesting. Then filter the list to show only your starred items. Then read the details: description, who the speakers are, and requirements for attendees.
  • Have a backup session. Preferably in the same or next building. Because of the next item below.
  • If you don’t like the session for the first 10 minutes, don’t be afraid to leave the session and hop on to any of your backup sessions.
  • You will not be able to attend all the sessions you like. And that’s okay. I know a bunch of attendees who weren’t able to attend almost 70% of the sessions they signed up for.
  • You would feel as if your first SXSW could’ve gone better. And that’s okay. Everyone gets lost, everyone gets locked out of sessions, and misses out at least on something. Smile and make the most out of it. It will still be a fantastic experience.

Amazon’s Baby Registry sucks. Use Amazon Wish List instead.

Just to be clear: I don’t force my friends to buy me gifts. My ideal baby shower gifts are pre-loved stuff, mainly due to the amount of garbage people usually accumulate as soon as their kids outgrow their things.

However, my family, relatives, and friends have been bugging me what else I need … so …

Now that I got that out of the way …


The baby registry of sucks BIG TIME. Please, avoid it if you can. At least until they’ve fixed it:

  • My items get deleted as soon as the item is not anymore available for sale in Amazon. This is a BIG DEAL BREAKER. I would always see “Item not available” almost every week, and I would have no idea what the hell has deleted.
  • I cannot create custom items. I can only add items which are available for purchase in This is not the same with Wish Lists. In Wish Lists, I could at least enter items which are not available in so that my friends could at least find alternative sources.

I’ve already deleted by Baby Registry from Amazon and ported it over to Wish Lists. Peace of mind. Finally.

Prinsesa ng mga Kabuntisan

Something weird happened when I became pregnant. I started hating a lot of pregnant women. As in a lot.

Well, not all. But the ones who are so hung up on their pregnancy & symptoms that they need to share & complain about every single damn thing to the entire universe.

I was weird. I was crazy. I started calling them Prinsesa ng mga Kabuntisan (Pregnant Princess).

I mean:

  • Going on and on about their pregnancy cravings in Facebook when they are barely even 3 weeks pregnant. Girl, matakaw ka lang talaga. Ginagamit mo lang ang pagkabuntis mo para lumamon.
  • Complaining about being tired and sleepy all the time. Wag mong gamin ang pagkabuntis mo para maawa sa yo lahat ng tao.
  • Complaining about headaches and fatigue. Utang na loob. Lahat tayo dinadaan yan. Lupus, gusto mo?
  • Taking a month leave from work because, oh, they experienced morning sickness twice in their first month? Seryoso ka?
  • Hashtags for every tweet or FB post about their pregnancy. May social media manager ka, ‘te?
  • Gender Reveal Activities. Asking friends to participate in guessing the gender of their baby, giving prizes, organizing their big gender reveal party. Girl, walang may paki-alam sa gender ng baby mo. Basta tao yan, masaya kami para sa yo.

Of course, later on I realized I was sounding like a bitter and crazy woman, always grumbling about all the pregnant princesses that I even remotely encounter.

I was probably a tad jealous, too, because I felt as if I don’t have the right to celebrate nor complain, with all these other health complications, responsibilities at work, etc.

Right now, I’m already in my third trimester — when all the discomforts of pregnancy are at its highest level. Yes, expect me to complain as loudly as I can. Because I gave everyone six months of silence. It’s my frickin turn.

I will be spoiled. I will refuse to drive. I will demand food.

Royal baby lang po ang peg.

Review of the JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphone

JayBird Box

The JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphone is hands down, the best bluetooth headphones in the world — if you could figure out how to correctly put it on.

I also own a couple of LG Tone Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset, which is also a great bluetooth headset in itself. However, I had to look for an alternative because I couldn’t stand the LG Tone hanging from my neck when not in use. It wasn’t HEAVY, but it was heavy enough after wearing it for an hour. It doesn’t help that I already wear a bunch of necklaces on my neck. JayBird, on the other hand, is like a little string I could just hang, or easily fold and put in my pocket or wallet. Very very convenient.

JayBird had some things going against them. With having fewer buttons than the LG Tone, it’s a little harder to figure out the fast forward/background from the volume control.

The biggest challenge, however, was that it takes a maestro to figure out which buds and wings to use. Yes. It has WINGS. They hook up to the folds of your ears so that they would stay put. It took me days of looking at official photos and trying out all the sizes to finally figure it out. But once you do, trust me, you’ll never use another bluetooth headphone again.

More photos

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The time when they all hung out at my condo

I used to love having visitors. I got it from my mom. I love entertaining, and always appreciated the relaxed atmosphere. My parents’ home actually became one of the “official tambayans” while I was in college.

Years ago, I got a 1 bedroom condo unit in Salcedo Village. Once again, visitors would come & go, and I would open our doors to anyone who wants to hang out or simply do their thesis.

There was just one problem: It was the only place where we would hang out. When I would suggest that we explore malls, coffee shops or restaurants, I would just get the usual reply: “Sa condo mo na lang!”

Later on, one of our habitually late friends, started become even more so. Her previous 1 hour lateness became a record breaking 3 hours … each and every time. This means that my visitors started staying an average of 6 hours in our condo, 2 to 3 days per week.

After a few months, this arrangement became too much for my now husband, who became very vocal on why others do not offer their own homes, or even suggest to meet outside instead.

Later on, even I felt I needed a break. Playing a hostess for hours started to take its toll. I began subtly tell my friends that we need to meet outside instead because our condo won’t be available.

Sadly, and also quite expectedly, the texts and phone calls stopped. It happened fast: my friends and I stopped seeing each other altogether as soon as I stopped opening our doors. Even 2 people I felt I was particularly close with. It was as if me and my condo are a package deal.

Soon, I’ve moved on. I’ve made new friends, got a new job, and a new condo.

Just last year, I saw one of my old friends, who exclaimed: “Chette, na-miss kita! Hang out naman tayo sa condo mo!” I laughed and waved goodbye.

First look at the Zip Top Organizing Utility Tote by Thirty One Gifts

I’ve always been curious about Thirty One Gifts’ Zip Top Organizing Utility Tote. A lot of moms seem to be using it as their diaper bag of choice. I now understand why!

Buy it here:
Thirty One Zip Top Organizing Utility Tote Black Parisian Pop

Week 23 pregnancy update

  • Babies started kicking last September 11 (week 23, day 1). Surprised with how happy those kicks made me feel. I thought I would be just cool about it. Apparenly not.
  • Hmmm. Maybe I could also stop having my “secret ultrasounds.” You see, I do elective ultrasounds without my doctor’s permission, just so I could check how the babies are doing every week.

  • Had a Congenital Anomaly Scan in St. Luke’s Global City. Very unevenful. It was just like a regular ultrasound, only longer. Or maybe I had the wrong sonologist. (Always pretty wary of the capabilities of the in-house doctors of SLMC. They seem to know how to do their job, they’re just not amazing with it, you know?)
  • Anyway, according to the report, everything looks normal with the two babies — heart, lungs, etc.

  • I seem to have more energy. I can walk the dog now without running out of breath, and have more energy to go to the gym. However, I need to start watching my diet. Too much binge eating this week.
  • More people commenting how big I am. More people touching my belly. Sigh.
  • Going crazy again researching on cloth diapers, how to mix formula (just for emergencies), bedtime wear for humid climates, etc.

Ultimate pet peeve in malls: Elevator Etiquette


So I’m in Megamall right now, on a WEEKEND (I know. Brave right?) and I’m reminded of my ultimate pet peeve in malls: People insist on using the elevators despite being obviously physically active and able to use the escalators … and even the stairs!

Even when I was a toddler and whining, my parents rarely allowed me to take the elevator. We were encouraged to walk and be active!

So here I am, pregnant, limping, and 5 noisy women in their late 20s, who have been laughing boisterously and taking selfies the entire time, tried to push me aside to they can get in the elevator.

I pointedly looked at the “give priority sign,” which made one of them to roll her eyes.

Okay. I know some people will hate me for saying this, but I don’t think having a 7-year old kid with you is an excuse to even get priority to use the elevator. Kids are active. Heck, they can even outrun you. Don’t use your kids as an excuse not to give way to someone on a wheelchair. I actually witnessed this *twice* today.

Review of MAC Face & Body Foundation

Make Up Forever and MAC Face & Body Foundation

The best foundation for me has always been a water-based liquid foundation. Powder or cream based foundation just look cakey on me — which is ironic considering I have oily skin.

My go-to has always been Make Up Forever Face & Body Foundation (Shade 34), applied using MAC’s stippling brush. But nowadays, it’s pretty hard to find stores which sell Make Up Forever here in Metro Manila, so I needed an alternative which will provide at least the same feel and finish.

I got the MAC Face & Body Foundation (Shade C3) hoping that it would be “it.” Although I loved the packaging (Make Up Forever’s pump wastes a bit of product), I didn’t like it at first. For one thing, it doesn’t seem to play nice using any of my go to foundation brushes.

Application was great, however, when I used my bare fingers. I am not yet too comfortable with this because I hate messing up my hands when applying makeup. Plus, I do not want to inadvertently “scrub out” my moisturizer and SPF.


I also noticed that I need to use 50% more of the product than Make Up Forever (which provides more then enough coverage with just 3 to 4 pumps).

One good thing about MAC though is that everyone seem to love it on me. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on how my skin looks brighter and smoother. So despite everything I hate about it, I might end up using this more in the long run.

I’m pregnant

When you have already gone thru a number of miscarriages, and just got diagnosed with lupus, you get more words of caution than congratulations. I just got an earful from my doctor about the risks of pregnancy on my kidneys and how I should evaluate my options.

Next week, I’m about to see more doctors — the same ones who have repeatedly warned me against getting pregnant.

I know I’m not allowed to be happy. But I secretly am.