Monday, November 12, 2018

"Always an adventure with Mama!"

My husband tells my kids when we get home later than usual, "Did you have another adventure with Mama?" And my kids will yell, "Yes!" Then they'll tell him where we went and what we did, and while Vince is amused, I know he's also a bit worried that sometimes I take his kids unexpectedly to unexpected places.

My kids' favorite adventure? Jeepney rides. 

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They also like the bus, but only when it's not crowded. They like the MRT. And tricycles. And they like walks.

So why do we go on "adventures," as Vince and the kids call them? It's never intentional, to be honest. Most of the time, we can't book a Grab so I haul them to the bus stop and commute. Sometimes, one kid gets hungry so we check out restaurants near the school.

Sometimes the weather's not friendly (too hot or a downpour happens), so I pull them into a building and we explore whatever's there—an art gallery with weird paintings one time (they were not pleased), a quiet garden with a pond full of curious tortoises another time (they were thrilled).

Sometimes I notice they need a haircut and so they get a sudden buzz. Sometimes I remember they need new shoes so we go shopping. Sometimes we just squat on our haunches on the sidewalk and peer at the shrubbery. Sometimes a kitten is discovered and we feed it. Flowers are picked and offered to me. Caterpillars and cockroaches are pointed out (yes, we found caterpillars along our city roads). Graffiti is studied. And always always strangers become friends. 

People ask me all the time how I can commute with 3 little kids and their huge school bags. I do so because strangers are kind to us. Every day, people help me carry their bags, lift the boys on and off buses, hold a child's hand when crossing the street, share an umbrella when it suddenly rains, hail a taxi (and even give up a taxi) for us.

So we come home from our adventures tired, hot, and smelling of sweat and smog, but we always discover beauty in this ugly city and my kids learn the kindness of strangers. And that is definitely the best kind of adventure!

Friday, November 09, 2018

You can now buy mobile load and data on Shopee!

Lahat talaga mabibili na online! I just found out that we can buy mobile load and data from Shopee. Lahat covered—Globe, Sun, Smart, and TNT networks!

I don't know if I still have any of my really OG blog readers still around but I got a lot of readers around 10 or 12 years ago because I loved blogging about my online shopping. My readers were always asking me, "How do you choose what fits? How do you pay? Paano yung shipping? Paano yung taxes [kasi I bought a lot from online shops based abroad]? What if you don't like what you bought?" I think all my online shopping was what made my blog's stats shoot up before haha And I always hoped back then na magkaroon ng strong e-commerce ang Pilipinas.

A decade after my wish, here we are! Everything from diapers to load mabibili na! Using our phones pa! 

Anyway, just so you know, postpaid ang Smart plan ko since 2013. But around summer time, I was thinking of separating my business use from my personal use, for tax purposes. So I tried prepaid. Does anyone else do this or am I needlessly complicating my life by having 2 phones???

Guys, prepaid sucks. Sobrang hassle when I was booking a Grab para makauwi na ako from an event tapos biglang nawalan ako ng load. And then wala akong mabilhan ng load anywhere! So I quickly learned to load my prepaid before I leave the house.  

And now I can buy load on Shopee! 

BIG NEWS! Shopee is having a flash sale plus mobile phone giveaway when you buy load on November 11, Sunday. Let me break it down for you, mamas:

Special introductory offer: 11% on all prepaid load and data on 11.11. Get P100 prepaid load for only P89!

FLASH SALE: Up to 40% on all prepaid load & data on 11.11 from 12nn to 4pm only.

PRIZE GIVEAWAY: Get a chance to win an Honor 7x when you buy prepaid load and data on 11.11!!!

Here's how to buy load and data on Shopee:

Abangan sa Sunday, 11.11, ang big debut ng mobile load and data shopping on Shopee! 

*This post was brought to you by Shopee.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

My one and only birthday wish

I'm 42 today! It's a great day! Thank you for all the love all these years!

Today, being a school day, the kids will be in school and my husband will be at work and I'll be doing chores. It's a regular day really but I feel extra blessed today because I have a better attitude about life today than I had with my 40th and 41st birthdays. I'm sharing the photos of my 41st birthday here.

I've always been excited about my birthday. It's the only day I'm allowed to be selfish! So I've always announced it to friends and blog readers a full month before the day to make sure everyone remembers. I never asked for gifts, I just wanted people to greet me. I like tiny parties and because I have an instant guest list of 5 (my husband Vince and our kids, Vito, Iñigo and Piero, plus my sister Jacqui, the only one in my Amper family who celebrates me!), my birthday parties are guaranteed.  On my birthday, I'm always so very happy!

Last year, however, was not such a good year. There was the residual shock and horror from the 2016 elections, which affected my friendships and relationships. Last year was also when two sons entered big school. Their tuition hurts so much because I've never earned so much in my life but it's just not enough. So there was the endless hustle for work work work. While before I enjoyed work because it was fulfilling and paid me lots of money, now all that work and money just seems to slip through my fingers like fine sand.

There was the fact that we are now two years without household help, and that's been really really difficult because I have three small children and juggling so many jobs. And then there was me breaking my toe. There was my asthma—gone for nearly a decade—returning with a vengeance. Then a strange and constant itch on my ankle area drove me crazy. There were many more things that made 2017 a bad year.

I guess that was why when my 40th and 41st birthday rolled around, I did not have the right attitude to celebrate. Last year, especially, found me depressed. I had no money because I had just paid the third quarter tuition. I was too busy with deadlines and chores to come up for air. I remember the morning of my birthday saw me staring into my cup of coffee and feeling worn out and tired. "So this is how 41 feels like—worn out and tired." I am in very many ways so very blessed but on that particular day, I didn't feel it.

I'm a little sad now, remembering that day, because even though it started with me weary, it got better and I wish now I can go back to that sad woman staring into her cup of tepid coffee and tell her, "Snap out of it. Today is your day and it's going to be a great day!"

And it was a great day. It was a great year! Never lose sight of all that is good, I remind myself. Despite my sunny smiles, I'm actually a half-glass empty kinda person so I have to constantly remind myself: "What's the good that happened? What am I grateful for? What do I say when I say thanks to God when I pray tonight?"

And ya know what? I have PLENTY to be thankful for! I loved being 41. It was such a good year! It wasn't the best year, no, since my situation didn't change. I still have to pay tuition. I still have asthma. I still don't have household help. I'm still sooo tired haha. But my attitude changed over the course of the year and with that change came gratitude and opened eyes to what is really an amazing life!

And to remind me that every year means more blessings to look forward to, let me honor the people who make my life truly a gift:

I want to thank my husband (I love you, Vince!) and our wonderful boys (Vito, Iñigo, Piero!) for the constant love—even when I was unlovable.

I want to thank the very few friends and family (special mention: Ginger, Dada, Claire, Kabbie, Jacqui, Theodore, and my Sales family!) who always reach out to me even when I closed myself off because of my exhausting mommy life.

I want to thank my blog readers (especially my Loyal Readers!) for staying through my blog's evolutions and for the comments and encouragement and support.

I want the brands who send us food (Harvest Meals most of all!) and toys and clothes and fun stuff (Netflix the best!) to know that for them it may just be PR but for my little family, your gifts are appreciated so much!


I don't know if you noticed but if you've been reading my blog for a while now, you might have noticed that all my past birthday photos were taken in daylight. I always wake up happy on my big day! When I turned 41 last year, however, I was only happy enough at the end of the day. So that was when we took out the little red velvet cake (thanks to my sister, Jacqui), gathered round the one pink candle, and made a wish.

My husband and kids teased me for taking forever with my wish, but I wasn't really wishing. I kept my eyes closed for a long time because I was stopping myself from crying. I was feeling guilty for not appreciating my wonderful life, overwhelmed with love from my family, and grateful—so incredibly grateful!—I'm alive for yet another year, surrounded by the people I love and who love me.

So I finally did make a wish—for more of these years!—because after coming out of my funk, I saw again how my little corner of the world is so perfect and that my time here is so short and that all I must ever ask from God is more time. More time to be a wife, more time to be a mommy, more time to repair and build relationships, more time to do my work, more time to be grateful.

When I finally opened my eyes, I saw my family (just look at those cute wriggly little boys!) through my tears and blew out that candle thinking, "More time, Lord. I'm going to make this time count!" And He gave me my wish. One more incredible year with the ones I love, with more provisions, with everything we need. Thank You, Father God!

Birthdays are always a new year. My 42nd year on this good earth is about to start and I'm sooo excited for all the new things coming my way! My birthday wish, however, remains the same: Please give me more time to enjoy this life and the gifts of love and friendship, and may I have time to give back that love. For now, as I turn 42, I just want to celebrate how blessed am I to have the most precious gift of all—time!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

7 Netflix shows to watch this Halloween

It's Halloween tonight, mamas! If you...

a) are exhausted from all your kids' costumed activities
b) want to just chill out but also get scared
c) have nothing to do for the rest of the long weekend

... then you must turn the TV on and go on a Netflix binge! Here are my recommendations:

1. The Haunting of Hill House
I've always believed the house I grew up in had evil spirits. I never told anyone so it freaked me out when a few months ago, my sister and my niece said on separate occasions that they also encountered shadowy figures in that house. I'm not surprised. A lot of evil happened in that house. The worst? My mother died there.

So when I watched the TV series, The Haunting of Hill House, I was totally sold on the idea that a house could be evil, collecting souls to keep itself alive. The most horrifying thing is the devastation it causes a family. But what makes this show so riveting and relatable is the true horror: that we are capable of doing evil in the name of love.

2. Coraline
Coraline is a tweenager upset that her family moved to a rundown house in the middle of nowhere. She hates the house, she dislikes the neighbors, and she's angry at her parents the most for never paying attention to her and dragging her to this awful new home. Things get interesting when a strange small door leads her to a world exactly like hers... but much better! The neighbors are fascinating, the food is home-cooked and delicious, and the parents are doting and devoted. Will Coraline choose this better world or will she stay with the familiar and, more importantly, where she is safe?

Watch this movie with your kids! It gets scary towards the end. But I like that it drove home the lesson that there's no place like home!

3. American Horror Story
I'm late to the viewing party. There are already 8 seasons of this show but I'm still in the first one. It's quite addicting even though the writing and acting is sooo bad! It's scary, too, so it's worth watching if you like the idea of following a family wade through infidelity, teenage drama, and marriage trauma while dealing with strange new neighbors (dead and alive).

4. 1922
Okay, another haunted house! Or more accurately, a haunted family. A man murders his wife. Worse, he asked his son to help him commit the crime. Why? Because she had big dreams and wanted to move to the city, while he wanted to stay on the farm she owned. Okay, we all know marriage is tough and compromise even tougher but murder is never the solution! Watch this movie with your hubby. Maybe that's not a good idea.

5. Cargo
Can you imagine this scene: You're turning into a zombie and you have to frantically look for someone to take care of your baby? As a mommy of three boys, that's the true horror for me. Some things in life can't be prevented—you get sick, you get hit by a car, or in this post-apocalyptic movie, you get turned into a zombie. Not being glib about it, just stating that no matter what we do, some tragedies will happen anyway. As a parent, our real nightmare is who's going to take care of the kids when we're gone? Watch this movie to see how one dad battled zombies and (worse!) other humans to make sure his baby will be safe.

6. The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell
If you love cooking shows like I do, then this is the show for you! You can even watch this with your kids because not only does it have delectable treats (in creepy forms), it also has puppets! It's got wonderful costumes and lovely 60s-style sets. The dreamy kitchen of a lovely soft-spoken woman who creates horrific edibles. Really crazy and fun!

7. Creeped Out
If you loved Twilight Zone and want your kids to have the same experience but won't scare or confuse them too much, then watch Creeped Out with them. I like that there's a moral that comes with each episode, too. But don't tell your kids that! Let them figure it out on their own. For example, a girl hates that her parents tell her what to do so she gets her wish granted: her parents do whatever she wants! She has fun with the new arrangement first but quickly starts missing her parents. Now how does she get her parents—and their "bossiness"—back?

Watch these shows and movies on Netflix now. There are actually so many more frightening movies, TV series, and documentaries that you'll find. Some I'm too scared to watch (like The Conjuring and The Haunted) but if you're braver than me, click here to subscribe!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Review: Olay Magnemask Infusion Rejuvenating Sheet Mask

When you're a super busy working mama, time for self-care is near impossible to find. Don't let that fact make you feel bad. I used to think I could never find time to go to the salon. Guess what: I still haven't found that elusive time! So what I do is I self-care at home with the best pampering and budget-friendly products I can find. Today's product that I'm going to share with all you mamas is the Olay Magnemask Sheet Mask.

5 sheets in 1 box

First, here's the complete name: Olay Magnemask Infusion Rejuvenating Sheet Mask. It's an anti-ageing sheet mask that promises to improve skin texture and elasticity with its super concentration of niacinamide (a.k.a. Vitamin B3) and pentapeptide. These ingredients hydrate the skin and plump it up, resulting to a more youthful look. 

I got all of that from the internet because I really research the products I put on my skin. I have sensitive skin and react horribly to bad products. Since all I saw online was happy reviews, I tried out the Olay Magnemask... and scared my kids haha. Just in time for Halloween! 

My verdict: I LOVE IT! 

Full of product!
Here's what I like:
1. The lotion is very thick so it won’t drip into eyes and down your neck and ears (if you’re lying down).
2. It smells good. But it doesn’t have a strong fragrance.
3. The feeling is refreshing and cool but not minty. 
4. The sheet is shaped to fit snugly onto your face. They call it tension-fit technology. When the mask hugs your face, that means the products are absorbed better.

Super saturated sheets!

Here's what I didn't like:
1. The eye holes are so small. Or maybe my eyes are too big. I feel like the mask was going to get into my eyes. It didn't, but I did feel like rearranging it throughout.

After 15 minutes, I peeled off the mask and really liked the results. You won’t see anything different in these photos (left is before mask, right is after), but in real life, I could see that my skin was plumper and more dewy. Face also felt so tight and smooth and moisturized. Oh, and I didn't become whiter - it's just I was by the window and it was cloudy in the before photo.

Another thing I liked was that there was so much product, I massaged it into my face, neck, nape, ears and upper chest. In fact, I was able to use the mask to scoop up leftover lotion in the packet and applied it all over my body—literally every square inch of my body! I felt so soft and velvety afterwards.

When I woke up the next morning, my face and whole body were still super soft and velvety! I kept running my fingers all over my arms and legs. My skin was just so nice to touch! I’m going to use this mask every week and will update you after a month! 

The Olay Magnemask Infusion Rejuvenating Sheet Mask comes in a a box with 5 sheet masks. It’s available for P495 at Lazada. Try it, mamas! 

*This post was brought to you by Olay Magnemask Infusion Rejuvenating Sheet Mask.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Good-bye to my fashion blogger dreams

LOL I don't have any fashion blogger dreams. But I did want to do more #OOTDs on my Instagram because waiting for my kids at dismissal time is boring and I figured it would be fun to pass the time with outfit posts. Like this:

Okay, I usually don't dress up when I fetch the kids. I had an event to go to after my school run so I put on something prettier than usual. The silk top is from Australia. I forget the brand but a reader sent a big box of goodies to me and there were a lot of clothes in the box. This blouse was one of them. The pleated skirt is Zara. The pleated flats are Dune London. The bag is my very own. The earrings are Rory & Sloan.

Now this is what I usually wear when I get the boys: Uniqlo torn jeans, basic top I bought from Zalora, my worn out super comfy Skechers sneakers, and H&M back pack.

Some days, I switch it up with ballet flats and a hardy tote. But the shirt and jeans stay. My shirt is Uniqlo. My bag is from IG: @themodernfolkph. My favorite black ballet flats are Mango. The belt is just a black ribbon I used to make my outfit look more feminine. Poor Piero. His face! I wanted to take a better photo but he refused so I need to respect that.

I came from a meeting here so I had to wear a nice top from IG: @casualchicmanila and my favorite Topshop slacks. But since sa BGC yung meeting and kailangan ng maraming walking and chasing after taxis dun, I wore my Skechers sneakers.

This was a rainy day ensemble. So I threw on a satin jacket from Evernew over my chiffon blouse. The blouse is from that same box of goodies from my Australian reader. My flats are Bata. My jeans are Uniqlo. I was wearing a cream belt, by the way, but I took it off nung nag-banyo ako kasi hindi ako makahinga LOL

This day, I didn't fetch the kids. My husband took time off from work so I can attend a vlogging workshop care of my Nido family. I wore a Zara coat over my Bench shirt and Topshop pants. This is really comfy!

So why bye to my "fashion blogger dreams"? Well, again, wala naman talaga akong balak maging Camille Co of the mommy universe (I'm so excited to see her mommy-and-baby OOTDs one day, though!). Gosh, si Cams talaga ang peg kapag fashion blogger. All her posts are FANTASTIC. So since siya ang peg, hindi na ako nag-attempt. Masyadong impossible haha

But I did enjoy the OOTD pics I posted recently. Sadly, that has come to an end as my photographer, my 6-year-old son Iñigo, has decided he no longer wants to take my pics. Cryyyyyy. I guess I should pay him. Maybe that will change his mind. But as of now, no more OOTDs from me! Thanks for indulging me, though!

Check back on Wednesday for a new post! Have a great day!

Friday, October 05, 2018

9 helpful real estate tips to learn from Netflix's Stay Here

Do you have a condo unit, a townhouse or a house that's sitting empty and you'd like to rent it out to vacationers? Then you MUST watch Stay Here on Netflix!!!

Stay Here is a show hosted by real estate expert Peter Lorimer and interior designer Genevieve Gorder. Together, they traveled across the United States, picking properties from dilapidated historical homes to a house boat to transform and market as a short-term rental, a.k.a. an Airbnb gem.

My husband and I have watched all the episodes. We like home design shows a lot. Our recent favorite is The World's Most Extraordinary Homes and it's also on Netflix and it's also a must-watch! We like home makeover shows, too. I mean, nothing is better than watching decorating experts transform a terrible piece of property to an astounding house! We learn a lot of design advice and we picked up a few tips and tricks in all the years we watched shows like decorating-budget-is-from-selling-old-stuff Clean House to the insane sky's-the-limit-budget of Million Dollar Decorators.

What makes Stay Here the kind of makeover show that made me take out pen and paper is it's also a business plan for people who want to make money on Airbnb. Airbnb is the most popular and the biggest accommodation-sharing service in the world. Whether you have an extra room or an extra house, you can rent it out to travelers. Airbnb makes this possible for millions of property owners and tourists out for a unique experience. It's also made tons of money. So if you want a piece of that pie, here's where Stay Here comes in.

In every episode of Stay Here, Peter and Genevieve check out a property, assess its income-generating potential, renovate it to a wow-inducing piece, and help the owner market it online. The renovated properties make so much money after, it's crazy! So let me share with you my Top 10 helpful real estate tips I learned from Stay Here:

1. Research the competition. How much are the hotels and rentals in your area? What do they look like? What can you offer that they don't? This information can help you decide on how to decorate your place, how much to charge, and how to market it.

All Malibu beachfront properties have this view but only The Beach House on Malibu Road has this deck to soak it up! 

2. You have to be better than the hotel in the area. Guests know they're staying at a home so they usually won't expect a hotel-like experience. But when you give them 5-star accommodation and service, that will make them leave you a glowing review, refer you to friends, and they will return. Peter always says, "Referrals are the lifeblood of short-term rentals!" So if people like you, they'll recommend you forever, which means free marketing for you.

Why choose a bland hotel room when you can sleep in this blissful blue bedroom in the Palm Springs Time Machine?

3. Target families. Most everyone who chooses Airbnb do so because they're a big group. Hotels infamously limit occupancy to 2 people per room, or 2 adults with 2 kids aged under 12. So people like me who have 3 kids, or families who like traveling with the grandparents, or those who bring along their pets are dismayed at hotel restrictions. So here's where you—dear property owner—come in. Target families! They are willing to pay more especially since hotels don't offer them space and a home-y feel. Look at your amenities with a mother's eye. Make it child-safe and child-friendly. Make them feel it's a true home away from home. Peter said, "Ninety percent of vacations are booked by moms." Moms are who you need to impress!

The loft in the second bedroom of DC Firehouse 4 can accommodate 2 kids while the wall of curtains can hide baby stuff like strollers and car seats.

4. Highlight the uniqueness of your property. Always tell the visitor the history of your rental and your neighborhood. All properties are the same anyway in that they offer the traveler a roof over their head and a pillow under it. Spotlight what makes your property unique. Tell its story because stories add to its appeal. Add these stories and photos in your listing. 

The Palm Springs Time Machine offers a sexy bar, psychedelic rooms, a fabulous pool—all in their original 1969 glory.

5. Make the entry impressive. If your property is a home, make the gate and/or the front door stand out so that guests—especially those arriving in the middle of the night—won't miss it. Genevieve always emphasizes the importance of the entry way. It has to cheer up the weary traveler and make them excited for their stay. Even if your property is a condo, you can still make your guests feel you care for them by making your entry hallway warm and welcoming. Make it bright. Make it intuitive—meaning your guests will immediately know where to drop off their luggage, take off their shoes, etc.   

Expect this cheerful living area to greet you when you book  a stay at the Yellow Block Bed & Breakfast.

6. Stock up on essentials. Do as hotels do and offer coffee, water, snacks, grooming products, towels. Peter suggests putting together a welcome basket of treats you can find in your neighborhood for local travelers. For foreign tourists, fill that basket with native goodies like dried mangoes, piaya, polvoron, and the like. Spend 10% of what you charge for the night on the welcome basket.

The Yellow Block B&B has cereal, the local favorite rainbow bagels, and its own Yellow Block bagel for guests to enjoy.

7. Include a tourist guide. Places to go, transportation tips, shopping malls, unique shops, bars, banks with ATMs, landmarks. Guide them to a great local experience.

Families seated at that generous table can plan their itinerary using the Yellow Block B&B Wall of Attractions.

8. Don't take pictures of your rental with your phone. The biggest mistake of all! Please use a real camera. Better yet, hire a professional photographer. You've got to have great pictures if you want to sell your property. Take pictures of the neighborhood, too. 

You can't miss DC Firehouse 4—on the stretch of colorful homes, it's the one with a firetruck!

9. Make your rental social media friendly. If it's Instragammable, you get free marketing when your guests take selfies and photos. Genevieve says it's not enough to make your place look nice, it has to have a feature that will make your guests take out their phone and snap a selfie. She calls it "a social media moment." That's a fabulous wall to pose against, a crazy pink bedroom, a historical piece. Peter says, "Create a hashtag!" In the time of Instagram, but of course!

At the Palm Springs Time Machine, a #selfie in this fantastic pink bathroom featuring a crazy sunken bathtub is a must! 

You have to watch the show, mamas! If you're thinking of a business that allows you stay at home, then Stay Here will help you make your dreams a reality with concrete business advice. Truly a must-watch show in the time of businesses at home, room-sharing, and social media!

Stay Here is exclusively showing on Netflix. All photos here were grabbed from the websites or Airbnb listings of Yellow Block B&B in Brooklyn, Palm Springs Time Machine in Palm Springs, The Beach House on Malibu Road in Malibu, and DC Firehouse 4 in Washington DC.

Check back on Monday for a new post! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Working mom dream: A career that lets her be with her kids

At one of my blogging workshops (the super successful one held at the beautiful corporate offices of Flawless Face & Body Clinic), I was so happy to see moms bringing their babies. While I was speaking, sometimes a kid cried or talked loudly or had to breastfeed. I didn't mind at all. I brought all my babies to work so I totally understand how life is with kiddos. And that makes me constantly dream of a work environment that allows mothers to be mothers.

I wish more work places allowed kids to be with their mommies and daddies. Yes, I should change my title to "Working PARENT dream: A career that lets moms and dads be with their kids." Kids may be a distraction when you're working—as a work-at-home mom, I know this so well—but worry over them and guilt at spending too much time away from them can be a distraction, too.

At Summit Media, I brought my kids to events, radio tours, and to my office. I don't know if that was allowed because I was OK! magazine's editor-in-chief, though! Of course in Baby Magazine, my kids always tagged along to my shoots. Now, in L'Oréal, I sometimes bring my kids along and my co-workers get so excited to see little people in the office. In fact, the past 8 years that I've been a mom, I've always had my kids around when I work (for better or for worse!). I'm truly grateful for this privilege.

At an interview and a shoot for my Manila Bulletin column, I shot my OOTD... and my Iñigo!
Vito (in yellow) at a photo shoot for Baby Magazine. He wasn't a model, just a bored kid at mama's office!
Piero enjoying a photo shoot for Halo Sleepsacks

I'm grateful that my work now as a blogger allows me to earn money while I'm home. But this career is like a freelance job - sometimes the checks don't come in for months. I may be working on so many campaigns, which impress the heck out of everyone, but our bank account is screaming, "Show me the money!!!" The bills come with frightening regularity and with three kids now in school, the expenses have shot up. That's why my husband went back to an office job and I got a regular editorial gig at L'Oréal just to match the schedule of the bills with a reassuring monthly pay check. But we're already missing what we had just last year - 24/7 with our boys! Our life was so amazing. But we had to give it up.

It's not so bad, okay. Our kids spend a lot of time in school anyway, plus our jobs now allow us a lot of flexibility. We're not complaining. In fact, we're grateful we're allowed so much time for ourselves and our family while also earning a living. Many parents don't enjoy what we have.

Parents are such hard workers. And we'll work better if we knew our kids are safe and happy. For many of us who have wonderful yayas and relatives to care for our babies, that's great! But some of us, like me, who have no help at all from either kasambahay and family, work is almost impossible if we can't bring the kids along.

I wish companies can have daycare centers. Or a family room. Or offer flexible working hours or work-at-home options to all its employees, parent or not. It's a changing world anyway. Moms and dads are great employees because they need the job more, ya know? Employers can take advantage of that by taking care of the little kids, too. Parents spend a good chunk of their day at the office so it would be lovely if it would be a home away from home!

Kids also benefit from seeing their parents at work. I will never forget walking into my mother's office and observing the respect and good will towards her. I mean, to me, she was just Mama. So to see that she's more than that, that she's actually important to other people, was eye-opening. So bringing kids to work can be a good idea!

Dream dream dream away! I don't know how this can be done but I have an unshakable feeling it will be the future. And we'll be the generation of moms who will make it happen, if not for us but for our kids.  I'm so excited for my sons and future daughters-in-law!

Check back on Friday for a new post! Have a great day!

Monday, October 01, 2018

My job-hunting tips for housewives going back to the workforce

In 2012, the magazine I edited closed down. Being a mom of a toddler and an infant, I decided it was time for me to take a break from my intense career schedule and focus on my babies. I did, I loved it, I learned a LOT from being a mom, and I started a new career as a blogger and as a work-at-home editor. Losing my job was truly one of the best things that happened to me!

Fast forward to six years later and with my now-three little boys in school, I'm mulling over going back to the corporate world. My reasons are simple: (1) tuition fees are frightening, and (2) I have more time for myself now.

I write articles to sell lipsticks now! Shop for L'Oréal, Maybelline and Garnier at Lazada! 

So last year, I started submitting my CVs to every job vacancy for editor, writer, PR position I saw on Jobstreet and Linkedin. I'll be honest, mamas. It was not easy. I dusted off my magazine copies, printed my articles, and "minimalized" my CV. When I got to the interview, no one even wanted to see my CV and sample work. "You could email that," I was told. "And I already have your CV on my computer."

I was mortified. Me, a blogger, didn't even realize no one liked physical manifestations of my work anymore. I could've just submitted everything online! If there was anything that corroded my self-esteem and made me feel like a dinosaur, THAT was it.

I was ready to give up. Then I figured I was doing this wrong. No one who's never heard of me would want to hire me. At 41, I'm old. I haven't worked in a corporate environment in 5 years. I needed to do things differently. I'm here to tell you that what I tried is working well for me.

Many women who left the workforce worry about the gap in their résumés. Take heart! True, it may be harder for moms to get hired but it’s not impossible. If it’s that career gap you’re worried about, here are my top tips for getting back to work: 

Sending out CVs isn’t enough. A piece of paper that lists down just your jobs can’t possibly cover all the skills you learned as a mom! Managing a team, thinking on your toes, coming up with creative decisions on demand, stretching the budget, beating impossible deadlines, being completely organized—companies would be crazy to not hire a mom! But HR departments don’t realize that mothers are the best project managers in the world, so the way around that issue is networking. 

Now how do you network when you've been cooped up at home for 5 years and the only people you've talked to are toddlers and fellow homemakers? Here's how to start: 

Reach out to your former colleagues. 
They know two valuable things: your experience and vacant positions in the company or in the industry. They’ll most likely help get word around and, most importantly, put in a good word for you. I did this and it took a few months but I started getting calls for interviews. 

My first day at L'Oréal, I was so nervous. Such a huge company!

Try part-time jobs. 
Most of the calls I got were for project-based work. I managed the product features for BABY Magazine. Then I covered for an editor at beauty website,, because she had to take an extended leave. I did the PR for the kiddie network, Nickelodeon. And now I have a project as beauty editor for L'Oréal Paris (which I hope will be renewed—pray for me!).

These are not full-time jobs but on my CV, they definitely filled in the career gap. As a mom, I also appreciated that I was able to dip my toes back into the workforce yet still be able to care for my kids. 

You don’t need to volunteer for jobs related to your work. Volunteering for any opportunity that presents itself also opens you up to other career possibilities. Help your friend organize her party. Take over the church fundraiser. Do the door-to-door marketing for an event in your village. You’ll not only learn new skills but also expand your network. A couple of years ago, I volunteered to give a talk at a hospital about fashion and beauty for moms and now I’m a professional speaker! It’s crazy considering my stage fright! 

So get yourself out there, mommies! And good luck on your career comeback!

Check back on Wednesday for a new post! Have a great day!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

7 lessons for working mamas from An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring

I just finished this lovely little book, An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring. It's a short biography of National Book Store founder, Socorro Ramos. And when I said it's a little book, I meant it's a short and fast read, written in simple language that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate.

I think if you're a mom looking for books to inspire your kids, this is a good pick. If you're a working mom looking for inspiration, then this is definitely something that can encourage you. I read it in an hour and I found myself highlighting passages and writing my thoughts on the margins—Yes, I write on my books. For me, when I do that, that's always a sign it's a good book!

Every chapter in this book tells the story of Mrs Ramos, lovingly called Nanay Coring—from her impoverished childhood, her whirlwind and enduring romance with her husband, and how she lived through the great war to how she built her business again and again and still remains to this day the massive force behind the country's biggest book store and stationery supplies chain.

Each title of the 14 chapters highlights what the Ramos matriarch wants us to learn from her life. Here are Nanay Coring's advice and life lessons:

1. Live simply.
2. Never surrender Corregidor. (You'll have to read the book to understand this advice.)
3. Remain humble.
4. Knowledge is power.
5. The more time you spend at the store, the more you know.
6. If you work hard, nothing is impossible.
7. Always be on time, if not early.
8. Never show signs of weakness.
9. Be known as a good person, not a rich person.
10. It takes time to build something.
11. Happiness is helping people.
12. Rely on your own gut feel.
13. Always pray.
14. Read more. Know more. Earn more.

Aside from those life lessons, I picked up 7 other tips from Nanay Coring. Here they are:

1. Remember what's important.
Nanay Coring was from her father's second family. She lived through the war. She saw her business fail several times. So even when she became massively successful, her values remained the same: Don't forget where you came from, and take care of your family. That's it.

Throughout the book, she constantly reminds her children and the reader to work hard but to not forget your husband and children. Eat meals with your family. Talk with your family. Go out and spend time with them. Being busy with work, Nanay Coring and her husband Jose only had Sundays free. So they used that time to reconnect with each other and their kids by going to church, eating lugaw and siopao at Ongpin, snacking on fruits, candy and tsampoy.

Unlike what we working mamas are told, it doesn't really take a lot of time or money to make an impact on our kids. We don't have to be with them 24/7, we don't have to be their sole caregiver, we don't have to take them on out-of-town trips every weekend, we don't have to give them "the best" a.k.a. expensive shit. I see this so often these days! Moms who over-schedule their kids or spend every single minute with them, or demand their husbands to jet off the whole family somewhere exotic every weekend or so "to make memories." How exhausting. How frantic. How mom-guilty.

Relax! Remember what's important! They need us to love them. That is all. We don't have to prove it so much. We just need to eat a meal with them every day, give them hugs and kisses, and make simple memories. My husband was lucky enough to come from a well-off family, but it's their dinner-time stories he tells me often about, or how their garden overlooked their school and their mom waited there, or their trips to the grocery. I hardly ever hear about their annual shopping jaunts to Hong Kong, even though as a girl from a poor family, that was what impressed me most. So keep it simple.

2. Don't call for trouble.
See my note there? Haha. How indeed! Also, since I'm very confrontational, I'm noisy and argumentative. In the time of social media, how do you keep quiet about your food, your trips, your shopping, your kids, your career, your political views???

So my takeaway here is don't ask for trouble unless you're ready for it.

3. Have integrity in everything you do. 
This isn't easy. Sometimes we really mean we'll do the job, attend the meeting, be at the event, pay the bills. But life happens. Traffic happens. The kids happen. But it should be our guiding principle in work, in parenting, in marriage, in politics, in EVERYTHING. Have integrity. Be true to who you are and what you value. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

4. Give people what they need.
Many moms ask me what business can they start so they can work from home. Many mompreneurs I know started their business because they needed something no one was providing or a product no one was selling, and they decided to just fill that space. I like how Nanay Coring also figured out that people sometimes don't know what they need and you have to tell them. Create your customers!

I love that advice because sometimes I have a great idea and then I think, "Maybe I'm the only one who needs this." But Nanay Coring is proof that marketing can be as simple as telling people, "This is my need, and this solved it. Do you want to try it out, too?"

5. Care for people.
Smile. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. Open doors for clients and assistants. Give your customers and messengers a cool drink. Say thanks.

6. Be proud of your work.
Whenever I feel guilty about being away from my kids, I tell myself to shut up. As a work-at-home mom, I'm not even away from them often. Once a week maybe, for 4-6 hours. That's not a lot so I shouldn't feel guilty for the time spent away from them, especially since that time was used for one or both of these reasons: (1) I earned money, (2) I refreshed my mind and spirit doing something I'm good at.

Many times in the past, when my kids see me tired from meeting a deadline, they say, "Mama, I'm going to work one day so you won't have to." And I always say, "That's nice, but I like my work. I like using my brain. I like making my own money. I like work a lot!" So now my kids don't equate work with bad things. They see that it's not easy but it's something I'm proud of, that provides for our needs, and that makes our comfortable life possible.

Except for when I worked at the Senate, I'm always proud of what I do, even when people sneered at it. And when you're a blogger like me, people are always sneering at you. It's so funny that when I tell people I'm also an editor and a beauty writer, they kinda relax into a strange relief: "Oh, you have a real job." Then when they find out my blog still makes more money than any other "real job" I hold, they protest again.

I refuse to be ashamed of my blogging. It puts food in my children's tummies, it's not corrupt, it's not stealing. So as long as you have a job that helps people and your family—whether you're a janitress or a CEO, be proud of it! Your children are proud of you! 

7. Do what you're best at.
Throughout the book, author Cecilia Ramos Licauco who is also Nanay Coring's only daughter, says that her mother wanted to be other things. Nanay Coring wanted to be a doctor. She also wanted to be a singer. Instead she became an entrepreneur and succeeded in it so massively.

The lesson I got there is we all have dreams and sometimes we can pour our whole lives into making those dreams come true, and sometimes we can allow life to tell us where to go. As a young girl, I was determined to make my dreams of becoming a magazine editor-in-chief come true. And it did! But as a mother, the latter is what's true for me. I had a job with crazy hours that demanded I wear stylish clothes and sky-high heels, I had babies who only wanted to breastfeed, and yayas who kept resigning. I couldn't juggle my dream job and my kids! So I let life take over. I became a stay-at-home mommy, I blogged about my boring/crazy mom life in the most raw and honest ways, which people seemed to like a lot. Blogging was so successful that—tada!—I registered it as a business.

I never dreamed of becoming a mom and a blogger, but those are what I am now. And guess what—these roles fulfill me more (and blogging pays more, too) than anything I've ever done before. So maybe when we as moms feel life is passing us by and our dreams aren't coming true, maybe it's time to look at our life, dream new dreams, and see how we can make this mom life work for us instead.

If you want to get a copy of An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring, it's available at all National Book Store branches. You can't miss it. It's always by the cashier! You can also leave a comment on this post and first one gets my copy! When I'm done with a book, I sometimes give it away. I wrote on this one, though, so if that doesn't bother you, then it's yours!