4 Steps on How to Pursue a Freelance Writing Career (BrewYourBestYear.com)

(This feature was published in BrewYourBestYear.com last September 6, 2014)

As a child, I never dreamt of becoming a doctor, lawyer or even a beauty queen. In fact, I thought I would be an architect like my dad or an accountant like my mom. Then as I grew up, I realized that I like words more than numbers and discovered my interest in writing.

My passion for it deepened when I first saw my name in print at our high school newspaper. I was bitten bad by the writing bug so I pursued it as a course in college and eventually went into that career path after I graduated from the university and worked in a publishing company.

I got addicted to seeing my byline and never attempted to cure myself of that malady—I doubt if I ever will.

More than a decade after I stepped out of the university, I’m still writing and I’m doing it as a full-time freelance writer. I get to write about my travels, food trips, and other lifestyle-related activities for various print and online publications. I often get the comment, “I love your job!” I do, too. It took a while though to establish myself in this field, as success didn’t come overnight.

Here are some tips on how to be an effective freelance writer.

Step 1: Ask yourself, “Do I really want to become a writer?”

I’ve heard the saying that “Writers are born and not made”, but I believe that most writers are born with the talent although training also plays a big role in a writer’s life. Even if you are unsure of having innate writing capabilities, you can still become a master of the pen through education and practice. The important thing is committing to it.

Step 2: Establish your network

Whether you earn a communications/literary degree or something totally unrelated, you can still become a freelance writer if you have good connections with people from the industry. How? Attend writing workshops, go to book signing events, sign up for seminars, and the like. Be present at events where you can meet likeminded individuals and other people from the industry. All it takes is having one editor-friend who would give you a chance. Once you get your foot in the door, it becomes easy to build your byline one article at a time.

Step 3: Always wear your writer’s hat

The secret to being a good writer is practice, practice, and more practice. You can only get better by doing so. In order to find topics to write about, you need to be a voracious reader and have an open mind. By reading literature written by your favorite authors, you’ll get inspiration for your own writing style and voice. By being open-minded and thinking out-of-the-box, you’ll find new and unique story angles that you can pitch to publications. Along the way, you’ll get to create your own portfolio where you can showcase your sample works or published pieces. Don’t forget to keep on pitching your ideas to the websites or magazines you want to write for so you’ll get better chances of being published.

Step 4: Build a good reputation

Remember, you are only as good as your last byline. Every time you have a writing gig, you should keep in mind that editors want a disciplined writer who has a good grasp of grammar and can stick to deadlines. Make sure that your work fits the style and tone of the publication and that you submit on time. That way, your editor will keep you top of mind for future assignments.

3 Reasons Why You Should Hike Mt. Pinatubo (Looloo)

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(This feature was published in Looloo last October 20, 2014)

Mention Mount Pinatubo to tourists and trekking tours come to mind. But before it became one of the major tourist attractions in the central region of Luzon, it was just another dormant volcano. In fact, it lay sleeping for almost 500 years until it decided to wake up with fury in June 1991 and caused one of the most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Inasal, desserts, seafood: What to eat on your Bacolod food trip (Rappler)

Inasal meal at Manokan Country

(This feature was published in Rappler last October 4, 2014)

A foodie’s haven – that’s how I would describe Bacolod City. I know the place is most famous for its inasal na manok (barbecue chicken), but I only realized how rich its food culture is when I visited the destination.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Oysters unlimited (sometimes) at El Cangrejo (GMA News Online)

Baked scallops

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last September 22, 2014)

Healthy eating has become my mantra ever since I entered my mid-30s. I have become more conscious about my intake, making sure that I consume food that is good for me. I haven’t gone vegetarian, but I practice my palate to eat healthy, which means consuming more lean meat than cholesterol-laden foods. Now I go for seafood more than other types of meat.

My most recent restaurant discovery—El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro—may be a long drive from my place of residence, but it’s definitely worth the trip.

From sea to table

Although he has no formal culinary training, Mikael Andre Degilla’s love of food—particularly seafood—motivated him to open his first restaurant venture in November 2013. He co-owns the restaurant with his wife Maita, brother Leandro, Zeus Yee, and chef Niño Runas, who helped him design the menu.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

California Pizza Kitchen unveils new flavors, new ‘island’ layout (GMA News Online)

Fettuccine with Mushroom Truffle Cream Sauce

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last September 14, 2014)

I remember having my first taste of the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza of California Pizza Kitchen back in college, over a decade ago. Its unusual flavor appealed to my palate then, and I’m not surprised that the item is still available today.

There are now 10 branches of CPK all over the metro, and the latest one in Century City Mall presents a new dining layout and new additions to the menu as well.

The secret to success

The Century City Mall branch also features a first for CPK worldwide: a layout that Archie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts Inc. (which brought the brand to  the Philippines), calls its “island concept.”

“We call it an ‘island’ because it’s located in the center of the mall, without walls, and yet has our trademark open pizza kitchen,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do this concept for a while now.”

The new branch can accommodate 80 guests and the open space allows mall-goers to see the restaurant from any angle, which lets the establishment showcase its food and service at the same time.

 

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Why Subic Should Be Your Next Weekend Getaway (Looloo)

 

Stroll along Subic Bay's boardwalk

(This feature was published in Looloo last September 1, 2014)

Whenever there is a need for a weekend getaway, Subic is always on top of my list because of its attractions and close proximity to the metro. Just a couple of hours away from Manila, it offers a nice change of scenery from the hectic city life.

If you have just a couple of days to spare (a weekend should be enough), here are some things you can do if you find yourself in the former site of the U.S. Naval Base.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

On the Chopping Block (Celebrity Mom magazine)

(This feature was published in Celebrity Mom magazine’s August-September 2014 issue)

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Hello, Teddy’s! Hawaii’s best burger joint is finally in the PHL (GMA News Online)

Burgers and fries--the perfect combination

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last August 29, 2014)

The burger has always been on my list of top food cravings. It’s easy to satisfy my hankering for it since one can find it practically anywhere—from food stalls to fast-food restaurants, and even some fine-dining establishments.
Not all burgers are created equal, though. Some are far superior to the rest, especially in terms of quality and taste.
Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was established in Hawaii in 1998 by Ted Tsakiris and Rich Stula, who are both burger lovers. Their concept was born during their backyard cookouts in Hawaii, which inspired them to establish their first restaurant right on the side of Diamond Head—where they flipped burgers for five years and never took a day off.
New burger joint on the block
The years of hard work have paid off and now Teddy’s has 11 branches in Hawaii and the mainland. It opened its first international location in Japan, and its second one opened in the Philippines this August.
“This is a landmark store for us,” said Stula. “We’re all so excited to be a part of this grand opening. To let you guys know what sets us apart—we have the anatomy of a burger sign over here, the quality of the ground chuck of the burgers that we make, the special sauce, the seasoning… It all fits together for a great burger. We have won best burger in Hawaii since 2001.”

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

A taste of Indian-inspired cuisine by the Spice Goddess, Bal Arneson (GMA News Online)

Sweet potato and yam samosas

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last August 22, 2014)

A slender lady dressed in a chef’s coat brought a plate of fries over to a young boy seated beside his older sister from across our table. It seemed such a casual act that I didn’t think the lady was a celebrity chef. It was, in fact, cookbook author and television host, Bal Arneson who stars in both the “Spice of Life with Bal Arneson” and “Spice Goddess” in the Asian Food Channel.
I love watching all kinds of cooking shows and I’d seen this particular chef create delicious-looking Indian cuisine in her shows. In some episodes, I saw her two kids, 20-year-old daughter Anoop, and 10-year-old son Aaron, help her in the kitchen. It was obvious how their close family ties played a big role in the program.
The chef and her children were recently in Manila for the “Bal Arneson Spice Adventure” tour. Based in Vancouver, Canada, they traveled a thousand miles across the world for their Asian tour, which included stops in Singapore, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Of mangoes and kare-kare
It was their first time to step foot in the urban jungle of Metro Manila and their eyes were glistening with excitement. While in Manila, they explored the streets to sample local fare.
“We’ve been checking out the street markets. So we’ve been eating just street market food because I’m like, ‘don’t take me to fancy places, just take me to the streets where locals eat,’” disclosed the down-to-earth chef.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>

Restaurant review Kessaku’s symphony of Japanese flavors (GMA News Online)

Salmon sashimi

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last August 8, 2014)

My eyes were drawn to the slices of pink-hued raw fish that were beautifully garnished with lettuce leaves, green sprouts, a lemon wedge and a dollop of wasabi. It was my ultimate favorite sashimi. I just had to grab a pair of chopsticks and get a bite of the fresh salmon sashimi offered by Kessaku.
“This is one of our bestsellers,” according to Yums Aggabao, one of the owners of this Japanese restaurant in Alabang. “People really come here for this.”
I now know why. Its vibrant color alone was a giveaway of the freshness of the fish. It was juicy, it had a creamy texture, and a clean taste—like it was just caught from the sea. Aggabao mentioned that they get it from a supplier who ships it from Norway chilled in an ice chest. My taste buds could tell that the sake sashimi was truly superior grade salmon.
I was actually happy with the sashimi alone but I just had to sample the other specialties of the restaurant, which opened late October 2013. It has been almost a year since its opening and it continues to dish up delicious Japanese cuisine to the south crowd.

<Read the rest of the article HERE>