Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The luxury of principles

I almost got hit by a taxi today. I was very careful, crossing the street, but the taxi sped up to overtake the asthmatic jeepney chugging uphill and the taxi driver didn't see me till the last second but thankfully I saw him and stopped. Because I have a really bad temper, I raised my fist to smash his hood but I saw that he had passengers—a woman and small kids—who all looked frightened. So instead of getting mad, I stood in front of his car and wagged my head and finger at him like he was a naughty boy. Then we both went off to wherever we needed to go.

See, this is my life these days. There are so many things happening in my industry, in our country, in the world, and I want to raise my fists, march on the streets, write scathing articles, scream! But I don't. Two reasons: (1) As a working mama of three small children and with no household help, I'm too busy and too tired; and (2) As a working mama of three small children, I've been warned that being critical of the government and being basically disagreeable may hurt my career. While this second reason doesn't matter to me (if you refuse to work with me because of who I am and what I believe in, then why would I want to work with you?), it has tempered my fury and so I sit quietly.

I've been sitting here quietly while thousands of my fellow Filipinos are murdered (see the latest on the drug war's "bloodiest night" here), while mommy bloggers are insulted (Cat Antonio rages against this here), while all bloggers are sneered at (Earth Rullan breaks it down here), and while the most convenient means of transportation for me and my children was taken away from me and many other working people (you can read about that here).

But for me, I keep my head down and do my mommy work. These days, all that matters is peace and quiet.

These days, I also keep thinking of this Mel Gibson-helmed movie called The Patriot. It's about Benjamin Martin, an American war hero who retired to be a farmer because he just wanted peace and quiet with his family. When conflict with the British government threatens this peace, he refuses to fight and he gave this reason: "I'm a parent. I haven't got the luxury of principles."

Ironic, right? Parents, the moral compass of their children, not having the luxury of principles. And it's true. I see it on my Facebook feed. The ones who are most vocal, the ones who march on the streets—they're not parents. They're the single people, the childless couples, the ones who don't have a lot to lose, except maybe their lives, which isn't much apparently in these times when you fight for people's rights and then you get threatened with murder.

And that's why parents can't have principles. If we lose our jobs or our lives because we dared to fight for what is right and decent (as what happened to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reportedly suffered an ad boycott and then had to be sold because they were critical of the administration), then what happens to our children?

I'm not defending my inaction. To be honest, I don't even know what action to take. I have protested many times on Facebook but that honestly feels like impotent rage. I have discussed what upsets me with many people that don't share my anger and I initially thought that was more effective except that they haven't changed their minds at all. So I guess dialogue doesn't work either. So these days, I've calmed down, I've gone on living. I've kept the peace.

In The Patriot, Benjamin Martin is told, "You have done nothing for which you should be ashamed." And Benjamin replies, "I have done nothing. And for that I am ashamed."

Despite all his precautions, Benjamin's family still suffered unimaginable consequences. When there's a war, after all, no one is spared. Even those who survive it.

Now here's the thing: My motto has always been: "The brave may not live forever, but cowards never live at all." My one defining trait has always been courage, but now that I have kids, I want to survive. It frightens me that to survive, my principles are the first casualty. What frightens me even more is the gnawing worry: Will doing nothing actually save my family? In the deepest part of my soul, I know the answer is no because they will grow up knowing their mama kept her head down when she should've been rising up, and they will feel ashamed.

Well, there is one brave act I do with my head down. I pray. Prayer is an act of courage because you choose to believe when there is no hope left. Some people will scoff that that's the most inactive activity to do in times like these. Maybe. But I've been vocal, I've fought back, I've discussed respectfully, I've shared real news and informative articles, I've done what I can and those didn't feel very effective in the face of looming evil and economic despair. In my life, however, I've seen that prayer works and that God moves quietly and mightily. I've never prayed for our country before, never really prayed for my career before, but now I do. It's the only thing I know I can do, the only thing I believe will work.

And you, even if we don't share the same politics, I'm sure we share the same love for our country, our fellow Filipinos, and our children. If you also share my faith in God, let's pray that His will of perfect love and true peace reign over our nation. Maybe that's one principle—our belief in faith, love and peace—that we can have together and work with together.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Turn your blog into a business! Sign up for the next Boss Bellas workshop!

I'm doing another workshop for Boss Bellas, mamas! This time we'll talk about turning your blogs into a real business—something I know very well!

If you recall, last year, my friends Ginger Arboleda of learning company Manila Workshops, online tax filing tool Taxumo, and mom blog Mommy Ginger, and Martine de Luna of blissful lifestyle blog, branding services and workshops Make It Blissful created a business called Beauty Biz Bliss. With it, we wanted to pool together our knowledge and help other working women create passion businesses, juggle work and family happily, and prioritize self-care while doing all that. We called our little community Boss Bellas.

After a fabulous launch, we went on a very slow start and then fizzled out. Last year was very busy for all three of us, individually. This year is just as busy but Ginger and I are finally focusing on Boss Bellas again and we have a few workshops lined up for you!

The first Boss Bellas workshop was Mompreneurship 101, a gentle and encouraging get-together for moms who want to start a business or had just started one. Iyakan kami buong workshop hahaha. What a lovely and honest gathering! But hindi lang warm and fuzzy feelings siya. We also discussed lots of practical tips for overwhelmed business mamas and addressed questions on taxation. I was so inspired!

Here are a few photos I'm sharing from Photography by Lianne, the official photographer of our workshop. Photography by Lianne actually takes photos—not of workshop events haha—of the most adorable family and baby portraits so do check them out.

Ginger and me! Si Ginger ang totoong boss bella kasi marami siyang companies. Ako, boss ko sarili ko and sarili ko rin ang inuutusan ko haha

My new friend, Lique! She is such a gentle soul. And so talented! For your design and branding needs, please check her out at

Oooh, I learned so much from Monique. She is a superwoman! She's also the founder of Klaseko so if you want to enroll your kids in school or enrichment classes from the comfort of your own home, visit

Now here are the working mamas who joined us that fun afternoon!
All of these wonderful women—though they look nice and gentle—they are formidable. They take care of their families while managing businesses. They are not just bosses, they are women who made their dreams come true and work hard every single day despite criticism and discouragement, physical and mental exhaustion, and the most crushing mom guilt! Gosh, I'm so inspired by these mamas!

For the second Boss Bellas workshop, we'll be helping bloggers make money from their blogs. If you're a blogger (and by that, I mean you already have a blog that you update regularly) and you want your blog to make money, do sign up! I'll talk about getting brands to work with you, how to make a media kit, how to pitch to brands, how to respond to proposals from brands, how to behave properly as a blogger, and how to register your blog as a business and pay taxes.

The Boss Bellas: Blog Your Way into Business will be a fun afternoon on August 26, Saturday, at Pen Brothers co-working space at Makati. The workshop fee is P1,800, but if you register before August 16, you get the early bird rate of just P1,200. And that's me giving away all my secrets!

Okay, can't wait for this workshop! I've a TON of secrets to share. You're going to learn a lot and we're going to have super fun. See you there, blogger mamas!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Our new partner against germs: Hygienix Body Care Pure Defense Germicidal Soap!

It seems ironic that I'm writing a post about fighting germs when I just recently lost that battle and my kids and I got sick with the flu. Me, being the weak-lunged woman that I am, my condition worsened to bronchitis. But after a desperate visit to the doctor this week, I am on the mend!

And that is why today—after a long absence from the blog because of getting sick—I'm back! And I'll tell you about our new germicidal soap, the Hygienix Body Care Pure Defense Germicidal Soap, and why it's now a must-have in my home. Plus, I'll also announce the winners of our Hygienix Shower Rangers giveaway!

So a few weeks ago, we had the most interesting visitors at our little home—The Hygienix Shower Rangers! This super gilas gumalaw group saved our family from world germination by defeating the evil disease-causing monster Germdugo! Yes, pati si Germdugo dumalaw sa bahay namin and nagsabog talaga siya ng lagim! 

Buti na lang the Shower Rangers arrived! The Shower Rangers are the four qualities that make the new Hygienix germicidal soap so effective and attractive to mamas like us. It's Super Sulit (Green Shower Ranger), Non-Drying Formula (Pink Shower Ranger), Refreshing Scent (Yellow Shower Ranger), and last but definitely the most important, Germ Killer (Blue Shower Ranger)!

And yes, mamas, the new Hygienix germicidal soap really does have a nice scent. It's not too mabango, and even though it's a germ-killing soap, it doesn't reek of medical or hospital-like smells. It's super affordable talaga kasi the big bar is just P28 tapos yung smaller bar is only P12! One month na namin ginagamit yung soap and hindi siya natutunaw. Plus, kahit ilang beses pa kaming mag-wash ng hands, our skin don't dry up. It's really very gentle on skin. Now, for the germ-killing part, I haven't actually seen with my own two eyes how the soap can kill 99.9% of known germs but I have faith in all the clinical tests done on Hygienix soap to prove that it really does kill 99.9% of germs!

My sons had such a great time helping the Shower Rangers beat up that nasty Germdugo. Then we all got a goody box of Hygienix germicidal soap and alcohol so that we can fight germs every day!

Last week, Hygienix offered my readers the chance to fight germs, too. My followers were invited to share photos of their families in their best germ-fighting pose. The five mommies whose photos had the most likes won! I screencapped their photos LAST NIGHT when contest ended*, and here they are:
5. Imee Rafe Jaafar with 736 likes

4. Esmeralda De Vargas with 746 likes

3. Rose Ann Nardo Panganiban with 782 likes

2. Nica Enaj with 945 likes

1. Neth Saransan with a whopping 1,100+ likes!

Congratulations, mamas! Hygienix will contact you soonest on how you can claim your prize!

Hygienix Body Care Pure Defense Germicidal Soap is the newest product in the germ-fighting line of Hygienix. It's clinically proven to kill 99.9% of all known disease-causing bacteria. Use every day to protect your family from illness, mamas! As I recently experienced, we can't afford to get sick—our kids can't miss class and it's so heartbreaking to see them sick, and we working mamas can't get sick because our little ones depend on us for everything!

P.S. I highly recommend following their Facebook page for lots of funny videos and clever memes!

*Winners were chosen based on the number of likes garnered at the time contest ended. Additional likes received AFTER contest are not considered.

This post is brought to you by Hygienix.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pimply skin managed! Thanks, Flawless advanced anti-acne facial!

I'm knocking on wood while I type this: My skin is finally clear. Sana hindi mausog haha but because I'm more religious with my skincare and I've gone back to Flawless for facials and consultations, I think it's safe to say that. I'm still not flawless but my skin is smooth and pimple-free for the first time in years. Hooray!

My journey to smooth, acne-free skin only began in July 2015 even though I've had pimples since I was 13 (so for 27 years now!). My pimples calmed down when I entered my 30s so I thought, "Yey, puberty finally done!" Of course I knew full well that puberty is only during the teen years but I couldn't understand why I was riddled with pimples well into adulthood. But when I turned 30, my skin magically cleared up. Pimples only cropped up during the first trimesters of my three pregnancies. Otherwise, my skin was smooth and pimple-free.

Then exactly two years ago, my skin flared up again. It was hideous. It affected everything—I stopped attending blog events (unless required by sponsors), and my blog sponsorships slowed down when potential sponsors met me. I think my bad skin turned them off. I had to do something about my face! Just look at what it looked like back then:
Cheeks inflamed with pimples.
Flaky skin everywhere.

I went to clinic after clinic but it was only in Flawless that my skin cleared up. At first, I had to go every 10 days for my advanced anti-acne facial (review here). Then it became every 2 weeks, plus my dermatologist at Flawless, Dr Boyles, prescribed an additional salicylic acid peel. Then I only needed to go once a month and now I get a gentler peel, which is the glycolic one.
Getting my Flawless facial two weeks ago. So pink!

But this year, I got so busy because of my work at Calyxta that I couldn't go to Flawless regularly anymore. Well, a dermatologist is like a dentist—you're supposed to visit them just twice a year unless you have a skin problem. It's a good thing then I became more diligent with my skincare—which included Flawless products—so even if I skipped my facials, my skin seldom broke out.

Thanks so much, Flawless, for making me pimple-free!

Okay, I'm still not flawless. Naka-makeup ako sa picture na yan but at least walang bulubundukin na sa mukha ko. Flat and smooth na so concealer takes care of my dark spots—acne scars and sun spots. I still have my ice-pick pimple scars. And because I'm 40, there's sagging already, plus fine lines around my eyes and laugh lines around my mouth.

Dr Boyles said I can now try Fractional Needling Therapy (FNT) for my scars. I still haven't decided if I should do that because... I dunno, maybe it's because I'm already 40 so my scars don't actually bother me. What bothers me is my starting-to-sag skin, like my eyelids, my jowl, my neck, my tummy, my boobs, my butt haha For that, Flawless said I can try their new Thermalift Therapy. It's supposed to tighten, lift and contour skin. Will decide this week on what to do!

The Flawless advanced anti-acne facial is just P980. Additional peels like salicylic and glycolic peels will cost more. Click here to find the Flawless clinic nearest you. Follow their Facebook page to get news on discounts and promos.

This post is brought to you by Flawless Face & Body Clinic.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

5 Fulfilling Jobs to Consider When You’re a Mom

Hi, working mamas! I was inspired to write this blog post because I get messages from my readers asking me for job suggestions since they want my situation—earning a living while being with my kids. I did blog about how not all parents can take to the blogger/freelance life (the income is erratic, for example). Now that my kids are older, I'm starting to think of a job that will give me regular pay checks, too!

Mom bloggers Nikki Tiu, Jackie Go and myself actually have other jobs!

Many moms find blogging as a glamorous career—like when we mom bloggers do photo shoots like above. But what you don't see is that we mom bloggers have other jobs doing what we really love. Yes, because for a lot of moms blogging is the platform to talk about what we love. Blogging is not the real job (although sometimes, it's the one that pays most!). I also want to point out that we mom bloggers have to wear many hats to supplement the blogging income that we do sometimes get. For example, Nikki Tiu is a makeup artist, makeup trainer, brand consultant, and HR consultant. Jackie Go is a commercial model and owns a business. Me, I'm a freelance writer, an editorial consultant, and I do PR and am a blogger handler for agencies sometimes. Lots of hats! That's because we mommies are always looking for ways to earn money while being there for our family.

When you’re a mom, it isn’t always easy to find a job that suits your needs. Not only do you have to think about finding a career that you’ll enjoy, but you also have to factor in flexibility, pay, and childcare, too! So many moms end up working retail jobs they hate because the hours fit around childcare, or they end up never seeing their kids because that job that pays well has long hours. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Okay, since I'm seriously considering changing careers (because careers for writers and editors are dwindling), I'm going to share with you mommies what I've been looking at. So without further ado, here are some truly fulfilling jobs that are perfect for moms:

1. Early Years Education
If you're a mommy of older kids but now you miss babies and toddlers, what could be better than spending your days caring for little kids? Working in early years education is a great way to balance your responsibilities as a mom with a great career. You can earn an early childhood education degree online, and then you’ll be able to work in kindergartens, daycare centers, or even as a childcare professional within your own home, earning a living in a way that truly fits in with your family life and your mommy responsibilities.

I'm actually thinking about this because I used to be a preschool teacher and there's a preschool very near my home. My other mommy friends and I have also thought of putting up a playschool, but that didn't pan out because it's going to take a lot of money! But I'm still dreaming of it! If you want to be my business partner, let's put up a daycare center! 

2. Tutor
If you love kids and teaching, you can make a very good living as a tutor. I know because I've been asking around for tutors' rates and it's about P500 an hour. If you tutor just 4 kids a day, that's already P2,000 for half a day's work! That's P10,000 a week, mommies! I'm thinking this is something I can do—from tutoring kids to teaching English to Koreans! 

You might need to go back to college to get education credits or to update yourself with new methods (like Singapore Math and the like), but once you’re qualified, you’ll be able to offer your services in any way you say fit. You could teach kids in your own home, thus ensuring you’ll be around for your own kids; you could become a mobile tutor, traveling to your clients’ homes at a time that is mutually beneficial; or you could open your own tutorial center!

3. Music teacher
Same as being a tutor, teaching music is big business. I asked around for my kids and for 12 sessions, it's about as low as P5,000 to as high as P12,000 to teach kids to sing or play the guitar/piano/drums/violin/etc. The great thing about teaching music, unlike tutoring, is your students don't need to be kids. Your students can be as young as 3 to as old as 80! You'll always have work!

Now, sadly for me, I don't know how to play any instrument, but my brother does (cello, piano, drums, bass, guitar, etc!) and he knows a lot of musicians so I'm seriously considering asking him to put up a music school with me. 

4. Financial Planning
If you have a degree in accountancy or similar, or you’re willing to get a financial planning qualification online, you can set yourself up as a financial planner from your home and set your own schedule. You’ll be able to make a good living, working around your family commitments, and you’ll be able to put your brain to good use, which is something a lot of moms really miss when they take convenience jobs over jobs they love for the sake of their kids.

I've thought about this because my financial planner keeps asking me to consider it. Maybe one day! If there's one financial job I wish there was more of, it's accountants. So many Filipinos now work from home or are bloggers and we all need accountants to help with our business. 

5. Freelance services
Last but not the least because this is where I am, try freelance work. If you have a skill, any skill, you can work freelance on your own terms. Selling skills like writing, book editing, web designing, graphic design and literally anything you can do well, you can find someone who is willing to pay for that service. For example, I write for magazines and websites. It doesn't pay as well as blogging but it's something I enjoy very much. Most of the time you’ll be able to do your freelance work from your own home, or at least at a time and place that is suitable for you and your family.

Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg, since there are other careers mommies can look at. There's selling homemade products, driving an Uber or a Grab—in fact I blogged about how my former magazine editor friends transitioned to other jobs here: Work-from-Home Careers for Busy Moms. And of course, there's professional blogging, which is something a lot of mommies still consider. If you've been a blogger for a while and hope to make your blog make money, I'm doing a workshop next month! It's another Boss Bellas workshop from me and my friend Ginger Arboleda.  

Sign up here!

I hope this post has highlighted that there are many fulfilling career options out there for moms trying to get the right work-life balance. Good luck, mamas!

*This post has paid links.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pininyahang manok with the #PambansangManok - Magnolia Chicken

If you haven't been hiding under a rock recently, then I'm sure you've seen Magnolia Chicken everywhere. I see their ads on billboards. I see the ads on my Facebook feed. I see my mommy blogger friends sharing their chicken recipes. That chicken is everywhere!

It's okay because it's a treat seeing all three of our Miss Universe queens in one space.

So if bilib sila Pia Wurtzbach, Gloria Diaz, and Margie Moran sa #PambansangManok, then ako rin bilib na rin! I cooked chicken dishes last week using Magnolia Chicken and the chicken has a nice weight and feel, hindi mabaho, hindi slimy, and maganda ang color ng flesh. I like that the chickens are raised in farms that ensure the birds are stress-free. They're also free from antibiotic residue, hormones, and steroids. They have Omega-3, too, so healthy chickies for me and my babies!

Isang manok, dalawang ulam. 

Yes, like my mommy blogger friends, I will share my own chicken recipe dahil pinadalhan ako ng Magnolia ng limang whole chickens. LIMA! My freezer is full. Dear Magnolia Chicken, thanks for making sure my kids' tummies are full! Okay, not a sponsored post but I'm grateful so I'll share what I cooked with my whole chickens.

Now, I've never cooked whole chicken before. I don't have an oven—just an oven toaster. So I took my huge knife and mighty poultry scissors and went to work on that whole chicken in a jiffy. I think poultry scissors is one of the best kitchen tools ever invented, mommies. Go buy one!

It was such a big chicken!

I divided the chopped parts into two—one for soy garlic chicken and one for my family's favorite pininyahang manok.

Yung soy garlic, super easy. I just bought a pack of mix from the supermarket, rolled the chicken in it, then deep fried it. Tadaaaa!

So I'll share with you my super quick pininyahang manok recipe instead.

Super Easy Pininyahang Manok

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, sliced into 1-cm squares
1 pack of tomato chunks, drained (set aside juice)
Half a chicken, (ask your Magnolia Chicken butcher for the tinola cut)
1 cup milk
1 tbsp patis

Chicken absorbing the pineapple juice

1. Marinate Magnolia Chicken in pineapple juice for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, chop the veggies.
3. Heat oil in pan.
4. Sauté onions, garlic, and tomatoes.
5. When onions are transparent, add bell pepper.
6. Add chicken then fry till a bit browned on all sides.
7. Add patis.
8. Pour pineapple marinade and milk.
9. Heat to a boil then simmer till liquid evaporates just enough to leave a sauce.
10. Add pineapple chunks. Simmer till chicken is cooked.

Serve and enjoy!

You can tweak this recipe to suit your taste. Some people add carrots and potatoes. Some skip the patis and use salt and pepper instead.

For more chicken recipes, like the Magnolia Chicken Station Facebook page. You'll also find cool memes like this:

And gusto ko lang sabihin na kung sino man ang social media manager ng Facebook page ng Magnolia Chicken, I like your sense of humor!

Anyway, mamas, if you have recipes on how I can cook a whole chicken in an oven toaster or on the stovetop, please do share! Thanks!

Monday, July 24, 2017

10 ways to prevent a simple wound from killing you

This summer, I was one of the moms that Fucidin invited to talk about the antibacterial cream. The other moms are pediatrician Dr. Empress Carlos-Villapando (with pearls), Leo Pharma president and CEO Gitte Aabo (in green dress), and last but definitely not the least, Madam Kris Aquino (if you don't know who she is, she's the one in orange!).

At the event, Kris revealed that she's been using Fucidin for a while now and in fact became its brand ambassador because she said on one of her Instagram Stories that she applies Fucidin on her kilay when she gets her eyebrows groomed. Yes, kahit tiny wounds, she applies Fucidin. She said, “I have two boys and when they get a cut or a wound, I clean it with soap and water for 15 seconds. Then I apply Fucidin agad. Fucidin is part of our wound care kit!”

Unlike Kris Aquino, new believer lang ako ng Fucidin. Like most mommies these days, I've turned to natural remedies like coconut gel and kung anu-ano pang mga herbal pahid-pahid diyan to soothe bites and heal scratches and scrapes. Of course I wash my and my sons' wounds with soap and water, but pag malayo sa banyo, I use alcohol. I'm a big believer in alcohol! But if walang alcohol, may mga all-natural antibacterial creams din ako.

This has worked for us so far until last year when my bunso had a scratch on his knee and thigh na hindi gumagaling. In fact, lalong lumalaki at lumalala. As in, it's been MONTHS. Kahit anong pahid ng herbal/essential oil/plant extract balm chorva na recommended ng mga all-natural-no-chemical mommies na kilala ko, walang effect! We finally asked his pedia about it and she prescribed Fucidin. Within two days, healed na yung sugat. Two days! Imagine that—ilang buwan kong pina-suffer ang anak ko?!? Never again. From now on, doctors win any medical argument!

Why is Fucidin so effective? Fusidic acid/sodium fusidate Fucidin is a powerful antibiotic that is clinically proven against wound infection. It is fast-acting, working on the infection 2 minutes upon application and deep-penetrating, reaching the skin’s deepest layer 30 minutes after application. It also helps prevent bacteria from spreading.

Like Kris, I have Fucidin in my medicine box because I've seen how effective it is in preventing infection and healing wounds. But after this particular month, I'm even more convinced to join the fight against wound infection. Let me tell you the sad reason why.

So the event was done, I went about my life and thought nothing more of Fucidin unless we have little wounds, but this month, I was very alarmed to learn that two people died of staph infection. One was a little boy in my sons' school and the other a mommy [GMA News: Wasp sting blamed for ex-TV anchor's death]. It frightened me because I'm a mommy, I have little boys, and I just learned about staph infection a few weeks ago! In the late TV anchor's Facebook post [Once there was a wasp], she says a simple wasp sting became a full blown staph infection, which sadly was what killed her.

What scares me is hindi ko siniseryoso ang staph bacteria. Why? Because ALL of us have it on our skin. As in, right now, while you're reading this—you have staphyloccocus bacteria on your skin and nasal passages. When we get wounds, usually our immune system will heal it. No problem. If we don't clean it and magnana yan, staph infection yan. Nursing moms who suffer from mastitis have a staph infection. The worst staph infection I got was from a pedicure and it bled and hindi ko pinansin. Next day, my toe was so swollen with pus, and the veins leading out of my foot were red. That was cellulitis—a painful skin infection. My dermatologist gave me antibiotics and Fucidin and the wound healed within two days.

So in my mind, skin problems lang ang dala ng staph bacteria. But after the two deaths this month, I learned that sometimes the staph bacteria can cause food poisoning or toxic shock syndrome. When the staph infection enters the blood stream, sepsis happens. Sepsis kills.

So if maarte na ako sa sugat before, now I'm taking wounds even more seriously. Here are the tips I found to prevent a staph infection:

1. Always wash hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds [Tip: Sing the Birthday Song twice]. Rinse thoroughly.
2. In the absence of soap and water, alcohol will do but wash with soap and water as soon as you can.
3. Do not share personal items like razors, soap, towels, etc. 
4. Do not use makeup testers at makeup counters [TODAY: Model warns about makeup brushes after getting infection]. Do not borrow your friends' makeup and makeup tools. If you're having your makeup done for an event, make sure your makeup artist uses clean brushes and disinfected makeup. If you want to be super safe, bring your own!
5. Make sure you clean your own makeup tools and disinfect your makeup! 
6. When you have a wound, wash it immediately and thoroughly with soap and water. Dr. Empress said it is still the best first step to fight infection because dirt, blood, and bacteria will be washed away.
7. Do not scratch insect bites. Do not pop pimples. Do not make kutkot scabs.
8. Do not touch other people's wounds or bandages. Tell these to your kids!!! You also, mommies, whenever you care for your family's wounds, wash your hands thoroughly after.
9. When you're working out sa gym, disinfect the equipment before using it.
10. Always apply Fucidin on wounds—big or small! Sometimes nga pag sobrang laki ng pimples ko, I dab a bit of Fucidin on them and they heal so much faster!

Wounds are part of life. From moms and dads to kids of all ages, everyone gets cuts and scrapes when playing, insect bites, puncture wounds, sliced open skin when cooking, paper cuts, mani-pedi sugat, etc etc. So since all of us get wounds, all of us should make sure these don't get infected. At best, when we're healthy, our immune system can take care of our wounds. But if we're not as healthy as we should be, then a simple scratch, a tiny insect bite, or even a silly thing as borrowing a friend's mascara can be fatal.

Okay, masyadong serious. I'll leave you with this anecdote, when Kris asked me about what my sons want to be when they grow up:

Fucidin® comes in two variants. Fucidin® cream is ideal for exposed parts of the body like the face and hands, while Fucidin® ointment is ideal for dry, scaly or cracked lesions. Fusidic acid/sodium fusidate is the generic name of Fucidin®. Fucidin® is available in leading drugstores nationwide.

If symptoms persist, please consult your doctor.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Climbing Out Of A Career Rut: Where Will Your Next Step Take You?

As the weekend draws to a close, I'm already plotting the coming week. There's a lot of work coming up but I'm also seeing friends, getting a treatment from my skin and body clinic of choice (I choose Flawless!), and diving into lots of school-related concerns since it's oral tests and PTC this week! Thank goodness my work set-up is flexible. It really is kind to my situation as a mommy of small kids.

Many of my Loyal Readers have emailed me telling me they wish they can just quit their jobs just like I did. Well, it wasn't that easy. When I left my employment, I walked away with a generous compensation package earned from more than a decade's work. While I agree with the wish that all moms can spend more time with their kids, I'm also aware that not all of us can do this freelance life. For one thing, the pay checks come at erratic times, which can be a source of worry especially since we have kids to feed and send to school. Honestly, I'm starting to think of going back to the corporate world! So if you wish you were also a freelancer and entrepreneur like me, think of your financial situation first. If you determine that regular pay checks are better for your family, then stay employed. Just think of ways to improve your work situation!

Stuck at work while the kids look for you? All working mamas relate!

We all have days when going to work is the last thing we want to do. However, if you feel like this every day, it’s likely that you’ve fallen into a career rut. If your current job doesn’t fulfill you, you feel like you’re giving everything for nothing in return, you’re exhausted, or you crave more, it may be time for a change. Where will your next step take you?

If you love your job but you’ve been at the same level for years, and you want to take on new challenges and earn more money, why not look into the possibility of working towards a promotion? Let your boss know that you’d be interested in any roles that become available, and try and make sure you put your case forward in the best way possible. Show that you’re passionate about moving upwards and that you’re committed to the company. If the company says there's no budget for a bigger salary, sometimes it's possible to ask for a higher position anyway and ask for another kind of compensation—like flexible work hours, a car, travel with learning opportunities, even a home nearer your place of work!

If there aren’t any posts available and movement within the firm is restricted, only then should your consider looking at jobs offered by different companies. Even if you get on really well with your colleagues, you don’t want to stay on the same rung of the ladder for too long. 

Sometimes, a change of scenery is what we need when life becomes a little mundane. If you enjoy your current job and you want to stay with the company, ask about the possibility of moving to a different branch or taking a position in a different province, or even another country. When I was looking for jobs last year, my family advised me to apply to international companies so that in case the Philippines implodes, I have a chance to migrate to another country via my work. 

Before you research long distance moving companies, think carefully about the jobs on offer, make sure they appeal to you, and find out exactly what the move entails. For example, will your new job pay enough in case your husband will have to quit his job to move with you? Will your kids miss their school and friends? Then again, your new office doesn't have to be a country away! You can do it the way my mother did—she found out a Meralco branch was opening right outside our subdivision so she asked for a transfer there. She was happier to be nearer our home. So even if you’re only relocating to an office a few kilometers down the highway, you can still benefit from meeting new people and experiencing a different environment.

Change of career
Of course, if you're really unhappy with your job, by all means consider leaving it! It’s important to put food on the table, but it’s also beneficial to get something other than financial reward out of employment. If you dread every morning or work is purely a means of paying bills, think about what you really want to do, and start working out how you can get there. This is easier said than done, of course, because your family needs to be financially secure before you take the leap, but when you're finally ready to take that leap, do it! You may need to study, train or get some experience, but it’s worth making changes that will benefit you in the future now.

Career break
Sometimes, when you’re burned out and you’ve been working incredibly hard for as long as you can remember, a career break can do you a world of good. Even if you only take a few weeks to relax, do something different—take some time out to travel and catch up with friends, learn a new skill, enroll in a few online classes, or even if it's as simple as spending time with your kids and just being a housewife (which may make you decide if being a housewife is something you really want!), time off will let you think about what you’re going to do next. You can either go back to work refreshed or you can have that drive to start a new job with a new lease of life. 

If you’re stuck in a career rut, it’s time to mull over your options and work out where your next step will take you. Good luck, working mamas!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Blog Biz: Taxes 101 for bloggers

For today's edition of Blog Biz, we're going to talk about something that bloggers don't want to talk about—taxes. This is true! When I started blogging in 2006, I never thought it would become an income-generating hobby. I'm sure people who created blogs before 2010 also think that way. But when 2010 happened, people started to notice blogs and bloggers and the massive influence they have and that you can monetize said influence. So lots of people started blogging in the hopes of making it a career.

So if you're one of those bloggers who set out blogging because you wanted to make money from this platform then you have no excuse not to pay taxes!!!

First, blogging and being an influencer is such a PUBLIC business. The very nature of it is you telling everyone who follows you—whether they number in the thousands or the millions—that you're making money from social media posts. There is no way you can hide from the BIR and no way you can deny you're making money.

You're not like one of those word-of-mouth businesses, yung all your customers are your community. Or like those businesses that sell online like eBay and Etsy where you can hide behind seller names. With blogging and social media, you're forever trumpeting to the world that you're earning from this activity. Therefore, you have to be super transparent about everything. At least, that's what I believe.

I do my own bookkeeping. It's the tax-paying I outsource.

By the way, this is not a sponsored post from the BIR. I wish! I'm only doing this because I get questions from fellow bloggers and freelance workers about paying taxes because apparently, I'm the only blogger they know who pays taxes (say it ain't so!). So I asked my friends over at Pinnacle Sources to help me out with this post.

Pinnacle Sources is an international business consultancy firm. They help register businesses, help you pay your taxes, help with your books and accounting needs. Thanks so much, Pinnacle!!! Especially you, Lynn, for being so patient with me every time I'm whining about my business!

For someone like me, a sole proprietor who doesn't have staff, assistance like this is necessary. A working mama never has the time to line up at DTI, barangay hall, mayor's office, BIR, etc! So everywhere I can find help, I get it. Even when it comes to writing blog posts!

Yes, for today's post on taxes for bloggers, I talked to Ruby Gestiada, the Finance Director of Pinnacle Sources. I asked her the questions I've been getting from my fellow bloggers and attendees of my workshops. Thanks so much, Ruby, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give me and my readers such comprehensive answers.

So here's my interview with Ruby. And then I added my own comments on some of the questions because gusto kong mag-share ng experience ko. Read and learn!

Why should bloggers turn their blogs into a BIR-certified business?
Ruby: The major reason a blogger should legitimize their blogs and be recognized by the Bureau of Revenue (BIR) is that almost all well-known clients and companies that might possibly work with them will most likely want that they have official receipts and know that they’re registered. Aside from that, having your blog recognized by Law as a business signifies credibility and assurance to your potential clients that you are legit and existing. 

Me: I turned mine into a business because of three reasons: 
(1) Big brands ask for receipts. If I wanted to level up my collaborations and sponsorships, I need to be a real business. There was this mom blogger who had a much bigger following than me ask me, "Why are you always getting campaigns when my blog's stats are higher?" (Yes, this happened!) And I replied, "Because I have receipts. It's hard for businesses to justify big expenses—like an influencer fee—without receipts." 
(2) I needed tax documents when I apply for visas. 
(3) I was scared the BIR will sniff me out when they see I have so many sponsored posts and no BIR records.

When do I know my blog should be turned into a business? How much should I be earning?
Not all bloggers have the same level of success and earnings; with this in mind of course some individuals will most likely consider certain things before pushing through with the registration of their blog. For example the cost of registration which will send them back by P15,000.00-P20,000.00, not to mention the monthly overhead of having an accountant which is roughly another P3,000-5,000/per accountant per month.

So for the answer of how to know if your blog should be turned to a business should depend on how steady your blog/s generate income, and for how much a blogger should be earning just make sure you can cover the monthly cost and that you are actually earning something that equals or exceeds your effort.  

Should bloggers register as professionals or sole proprietors?
If one would like to register as a professional they will be required to have a PRC ID. If in case they don’t have, then they will have to register as a sole proprietor and will be required to have their business permit.

If a blogger registers as a sole proprietor, what kind of business is blogging?
Well, now that social media have boomed without showing any signs of slowing down and that a very special niche was discovered, add in the fact that blogging has established a very strong presence in the communications industry, we think that one can actually register their business as “Blogging”.

How do I register my blog as a business?
First, an individual would have to check with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) if their desired name for their business is available. Next comes the securing of business permits and clearances from City Hall. Lastly, registration, filling, and payment of Docs Stamp Tax “if applicable” and Registration of Books, Filling Authorization and Printing of receipts in the Bureau of Revenue (BIR).

Me: Finance blogger Fitz Villafuerte said you should register your first business yourself so you know how to do it. I didn't listen. Instead, I hired someone I actually don't know to make lakad the whole thing. Big mistake. Basta I won't go into details. Basta ang takeaway ko is if you want someone else to do the registration for you, hire professionals. 

Hire professionals! They won't let you down!

Can I use my blog name as my business name?
Ruby: Yes, as long as the name is acceptable and available in Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) system.

Me: I wasn't allowed. That's why my business name is my full name. It's so looooong! My former accountant said all the "Topaz" word combinations were bought by some entity. For the record, I do not believe this.

I work from home. Does my residence qualify as a workplace?
Yes, but The Bureau of Revenue (BIR) will require a lease contract if you’re renting and also an authorization from the owner of the property or a letter that they are allowing you to use your address as business address. If not, they will ask for the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) or Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) if you own the property.

What taxes should I pay? What exemptions can I get? My blog is not a big business yet.
There are two types of taxes they need to pay: first is the "Sales Tax" which is either non-VAT amounting to 3% (Percentage Tax) or VAT which is 12%. The 12%VAT can be passed on to your customer by charging them the additional 12%. For example, your service is P100.00 but you will charge them an additional P12.00 for VAT. Second is "Income Tax" which amounts from 5%-32% depending on your net income for the year.

The only exemptions you will get is when you have a child/ children. Up to four children is allowed and will be granted P25,000.00 income tax exemption.

Lastly, regardless of how big or how small a business is, you still have to register it. Once your business is registered, you will be required to pay the right amount of taxes.

Me: I have three kids. That's P75,000 deducted agad! There's also personal exemption of P50,000.

Should I get an accountant? What exactly can they do for me that I can't do? I'm scared their service is expensive. I don't earn every month!
Honestly speaking it’s a big yes because there are several tax fillings that some individuals cannot comprehend and might find very intimidating. Having the service of an experienced accountant that is familiar with that field saves you not only the hassle but also all the stress and headache that comes with it.

Plus, it’s really not that expensive to get an accountant because the charges and fees depend on the volume of work they will do for them. Our accounting service can start as low as P3,000.00/month and you’re actually paying not just one professional but the expertise of a whole accounting team.

We can help SME entrepreneurs like bloggers to build their business by handling and organizing their taxes and accounting. We know how busy a blogger can be and by getting our service you will have more time to focus on what you like to do, which is blogging. With our help, building your business will be easy and convenient. By managing your monthly overhead expenses, we can accurately know how much you’re really earning per month and per year. As for the payment, no worries you can actually pay quarterly.

Me: You should totally get an accountant. Unless you're great with accounting yourself!

So there, dear bloggers and freelance friends! Thanks so much again to Ruby Gestiada of Pinnacle Sources for answering my Q&A. For your business and accounting needs, contact them. Highly recommended! So professional! So reliable! 

Address: 32/F BPI-Philam Bldg, Ayala Ave., Makati

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Frances Finds Harvest Meals (my favorite meal delivery service!)

Creamy carbonara with lotsa bacon and chicken burgers!

I was supposed to publish this post earlier because I have gotten a LOT of questions about Harvest Meals. Because I wanted to style the food first to make them nice and IG-worthy, I've been postponing it. But kebs na sa styling! I'm never going to be a food stylist! What I am is a working mama who needs all the help she can get and when I found Harvest Meals last April, I was hooked and now can't imagine life without these delicious, healthy and affordable meals!

Best chicken lumpiang shanghai ever!

Okay, so first question I need to get out of the way is, "Why are you promoting Harvest Meals so much? Business mo ba yan?" Mommies, I WISH! Hindi ko siya business at all. Ang nangyari niyan is I took photos of the first deliveries to share on my Instagram and then when I stopped doing that, people would ask me, "Walang Harvest delivery ngayon? Ano ulam niyo ngayon? Post niyo the Harvest meal today please." It was weird haha but ayan tuloy, I now post our Harvest Meals as much as I can. If I don't, it's usually because the kids got to it first so hindi ko na nakuhaan ng picture.

Tinolang manok and chicken meatballs. A hit with the boys!

Okay, I really really really love Harvest Family Comfort Meals for these reasons:

1. I have more time for other things. I'm a working mama and to have someone else think of the week's menu for me is a BIG DEAL. That's brain power and physical energy I save and devote to work instead. Also the time I save not cooking is now spent with my kids or on me napping. It has totally changed our life!

2. We eat healthier now. There's more vegetables in our diet. Again, because of my busy schedule, there are times I just fry chicken nuggets or Spam or order McDo. Quick, fast, kids are happy. But now, we always have gulay! Every meal! Healthy na kaming kumain! Every meal!

3. Our diet has variety now. When I do meal planning, I rely on the trusted food that my kids eat and what's quick for me to cook. After a while, paulit-ulit na yan. Adobo, spaghetti, tinola, beef steak. Repeat. After a while, nagsasawa rin yung pamilya ko. But ever since we got Harvest Family Comfort Meals, sari-sari ang ulam! Minsan, when the kids think, "It's weird, Mama," it's kinda hard to make them eat. But they try it anyway, and they eat naman. And I feel good because they get exposed to many kinds of food and tastes.

4. It's so affordable. It's just P250 a delivery and dalawang ulam na yan! Madalas kasya na sa aming lima yung ulam and we have leftovers pa. So minsan umaabot ng two to three meals yung isang delivery!

Okay, now I just want to say that hindi kami malakas kumain. The Harvest Family Comfort Meal is good for 2-3 people, but someone who ordered told me her husband ate the whole thing up at hindi nagtira sa kanila so pang-isang tao lang daw. Grabe naman yun. Look at all the photos here. I seriously don't think pang-isang tao lang ang servings! Another person told me on my IG that she ordered for her officemates so, mommies, very generous servings talaga. Hindi siya fiesta levels, sure, but there's enough for a family. Promise!

Look at those kids eat!

I got to talk to Judy Cruz-Malabanan, the woman behind this food delivery business, because I was getting lots of questions about Harvest Meals and I think she's the best one to answer them. Here's our FAQ:

Where do you deliver?
We deliver in Pasig, Mandaluyong, Ortigas, Quezon City, San Juan, Makati, Taguig, and in the south up until Alabang. There's a minimal delivery fee :)

Can I order meals for tomorrow na? Or is there a deadline for orders?
We have a weekly menu. Ideally, we need you to place the order the week prior. We try to place in the orders for our ingredients beforehand to save on cost :) The shortest notice is 24 hrs advanced order. 

Can I just order one day's meal or kailangan buong week?
You don't need to order all 5 days, just a minimum of 3x a week.

Pansit and siomai! Kulang na lang Coke!!!

When is the food cooked?
The food is cooked the day prior. For example, your Monday meals are cooked at around 4pm of Sunday. It is then cooled down and refrigerate to be delivered in the morning. 

How do I pay for my meals? Pwede COD?
Payment is by BDO deposit :) Pwede COD pero Check-On-Delivery hehe, not cash. We try to lessen instances where our riders handle cash for their own safety na rin. 

The Family Comfort Food meals are so affordable! How is that possible?
Thank you! We try our best to give as much value as possible. Since we've been in the food business a while, we have good relationships with suppliers so we get a good price if we pre-order the ingredients. They don't get delivered all at once (para fresh), but we have our list beforehand. That's why we need to know the orders in advance :) 

Porkchops with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and steamed beans. Sosyal pero P250 lang yan!

What made you decide to put up Harvest Meals, especially the Family Comfort Food type of offering?
Well, I'm a solo parent now and no helper. So I needed a way to feed my son without calling McDonalds every other night hehe. 

How do you plan the meals? Please give tips to the poor working mamas like me who don't know how to plan menus!
The comfort food meals are planned with lots of love! We have senior cooks that we sit down with weekly and we plan the menu. Usually, it's dry viand matched with something saucy or soupy. We try to add in vegetables whenever possible. We also add variety to the protein, mixing up chicken, pork and beef in the week. 

I found that most of our clients order the comfort food for their kids. So I think of varieties that kids would be curious to eat. Mostly, I show the menu to my son, mom, and siblings :)   

Ooooh, this chicken pot pie with garlic bread was sooo good! Siksik sa manok and veggies! And TWO pans!
What are your plans for Harvest Meals? 
It's really by God's grace that Harvest Meals came to be. I pray daily for the business, asking God to lead decisions, bless the clients, and bless the food. For Harvest Meals, I hope and pray we get bigger and serve more areas, and possibly develop more menu options. 

How do you juggle business and motherhood?
It's sooo hard! By God's grace we get by. And mommy duties always come first. I am thankful that Harvest allows me to work flexible hours and that I have trusted staff! 

Things are not perfect. Just today he told me that I work too much. I guess, it's a constant reminder that to him, LOVE is spelled as T-I-M-E. 

Meatball muffins and nilagang baka for my bunso.

Thanks, Judy! And thanks soooo much for feeding my family since April!!! I've been able to be more productive while also now having more time for my family. It seems such a little thing—a lovingly cooked meal—but it has changed our life. Thank you!

Dear working mamas, especially yung masyadong busy, pagod, di magaling magluto, walang katulong, alam niyo na kung sino kayo, order the Family Comfort Meals from Harvest Meals na! Only P250 a day para sa dalawang ulam na! Sulit forever!

Like their Facebook page (/harvestphilippines), follow them on Instagram (, and order via text: (0932) 878-5258.

The kids' favorite: pansit canton and chicken and pork adobo