Friday, April 27, 2018

What I saw at the super fun Super8 Fun Fest 2018

 

If you're a super shopper, then you must visit the Super8 Super Bidang Buhay Fun Fest 2018! Your powers will be mega tested! I was there yesterday and I was overwhelmed. Grabe. I still can't get over it. I have never ever gone to a shopping event of that scale and size. I expected Uniwide-levels of shopping with me gently pushing my cart down aisles of products, but what I saw was a big and loud variety show with mini variety shows per booth, drag queens and cosplay characters, huge and dramatic setups of brands, and a feast of food everywhere! The Super8 Fun Fest is literally a super fun festival!


And a shopping experience, let's not forget what it's really about!


The Super8 Fun Fest is currently happening from April 26 to 28 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. You better go early kasi dinudumog talaga siya ng madlang people. You can take the bus there, I guess, but best to bring a car kasi super shopping talaga siya. The mamas I saw there bought carts and carts and boxes and boxes of products. I felt so poor beside them haha Never pa akong nakapamili ng ganon karami sa buong buhay ko.


Tapos lahat ng booths kaloka sa bongga! As in, may contest ba??? The booths were huge and fantastic! And the people manning each booth were dressed up in fabulous costumes! Superhero ang theme so maraming heroes walking around. Thank goodness sila Batman and Wonder Woman sexy talaga haha Anyway! Each booth had so many offers, promos and gimmicks. It was exciting but also very loud. I don't suggest bringing babies, mamas. Kawawa their ears. I do suggest you bring pen and pad paper to communicate. The place is so loud, it's hard to talk and hear anything.


I got to talk with the big bosses of Super8 and I must say they are such positive, good, amiable and funny people. Medyo nagulat ako. I learned from them that Fun Fest is an annual event and they want to make the shopping event a memorable experience for moms. Yes, moms! Kasi nanay usually ang bumibili ng groceries, yes, but also because most of Super8's customers are hakot kung bumili dahil may sari-sari store sila. This year’s theme of “Super Bidang Buhay” is how Super8 wants to celebrate the superheroes we can all be in business and in our personal lives. That sounds just like my Loyal Readers! 


They launched their new icon, Super Bida. She's a woman with a no-frills bob and her superpowers include a "super eye for discounts and the best deals ever, a super radar for homing in on the newest and most effective brands and products, and the unbeatable diskarte or strategy when it comes to success." Sounds like every mommy I know! 


We got to meet Super Bida, who is a super bibo and super ganda girl. She said that her super weapon is the Super8 Rewards Card. Cardholders earn points which they can use for buying more goods. It also serves as their passport to the grocery’s exclusive deals, promos and raffles. 


Another launch: the new Super8 Mobile App. If you download it during the event, it's your ticket to exciting games during the Funfest. After the event, useful pa rin ang app kasi purchases earns you e-raffle coupons that will you a chance to win a brand-new Toyota Vios! 


A new venture with Super8 partner PayMaya was also launched during this year’s Funfest. I didn't really get all the details but what I did recall is if you use PayMaya to pay for your groceries, you get P100 per P1000 spent. That's 10% rebate, mamas! Malaki yun!


Ano pa, ano pa??? Oh, syempre, dahil mahilig tayo sa artista, celebrities will perform and party with the Super8 crowd throughout the 3-day event so ihanda ang sarili for selfies! Yes, I mean mag-makeup at mag-ayos haha Tomorrow, a special show hosted by Momshies Karla Estrada, Melai Cantiveros and Jolina Magdangal will be there to talk to the mommies about their own “Bidang Buhay” experiences. So do check that out tomorrow.

Here are the list of prizes to excite you:

Raffle Promo Prizes!

Day 1:
2 winners Pa-Grocery Bonanza (worth P20,000 Rewards Points)
2 winners Skyworth 43" Smart TV 43E2000D
2 winners Smart Bro LTE Pocket Wifi (with Smart Sim & P250 worth of load)
5 winners Oppo A37
15 winners 2,000 Rewards Points

Day 2:
2 winners Pa-Grocery Bonanza (worth P20,000 Rewards Points)
2 winners Skyworth 43" Smart TV 43E2000D
2 winners Smart Bro LTE Pocket Wifi (with Smart Sim & P250 worth of load)
5 winners Oppo A37
15 winners 2,000 Rewards Points

Day 3:
1 winner Toyota Vios 1.3 J M/T
4 winners Pa-Grocery Bonanza (worth P20,000 Rewards Points)
2 winners Skyworth 43" Smart TV 43E2000D
2 winners Smart Bro LTE Pocket Wifi (with Smart Sim & P250 worth of load)
5 winners Oppo A37
15 winners 2,000 Rewards Points

For more information on Super8 Grocery Warehouse, like the Facebook page or visit one of their branches in over 50 locations in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces. The list of Super8 branches plus how to get the Rewards Card after the jump:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: BabyLove Premium Gold Pants Diapers


Hi mamas! I told you last week that we finally tried out a new diaper brand. Because life is short and it presents lots of choices and it's fun to explore those choices, right? And also there's now online shopping! Now here's my quick review of BabyLove Premium Gold Pants.


1. It's a quality product.
Notice the word "premium." That means it's special and it really is. No joke! When the BabyLove diapers arrived, the diapers felt luxurious. Excellent materials. Soft and light. Cute design. Smells good. Really well-made. I know quality when I see and feel it and this BabyLove diaper is top notch.


2. It makes my son feel comfortable. 
The diaper is soft and smooth all over. No sharp edges, no scratchy surfaces, no plasticky feel. Nothing that can hurt or irritate my son Piero's skin. And with him, we have to be extra careful because his skin is more prone to allergies than his brothers' skin. And BabyLove diapers are hypoallergenic. Really a great pick for babies with skin allergies!


3. It really keeps my baby dry.
It quickly sucks up all the pee, so the skin isn't exposed to any wetness, and then it keeps all liquid away from the surface. It doesn't matter if Piero sits, lies down, bounces—that trapped pee is not going to leak out at all! Why? It has Lock & Dry Protection which is really just the absorbing microbeads in the center of each diaper. (These make for great science experiments, by the way! Maybe we can talk about that in another post.) Plus, it also allows air to circulate so the skin doesn't sweat. And we like the leak-proof barriers around each pants hole. These fit snugly around each chubby thigh, preventing any leaks.


There you go! My three reasons why I love BabyLove Premium Gold Pants!

Actually, it's Piero who loves them because he wears them all the time. He likes them so much, our toilet-training sessions have been derailed because, in Piero's words, "Mama, I want to wear this FOREVER!" Uh oh!


Mamas, if you're looking for a new diaper to try, do check out BabyLove diapers. Get them from Lazada so you can have the ease and convenience of having your new diapers delivered to your home. It's Lazada's Birthday on April 25 to 27! You can get your BabyLove diapers on COD terms and shipping is free! SHOP HERE!


Check out the Facebook page of BabyLove Philippines for more info!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Waiting in the wings

"By 40, all women are amazing."

Gwyneth Paltrow said that in an article for the November 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar. That month, I turned 40 and reading that quote from supermom Gwyneth just made me feel... I don't know. Not exactly amazing. I was thinking, "I'm 40. I'm amazing. And yet I don't feel amazing because NOTHING is happening to me. I'm just here at home, elbow deep in childcare, and trying to get some sort of work done. I'm nothing special. I used to be hot shit. Now, nothing."



This blog post has been brewing in my head and my heart for more than a year now. Maybe more. I've changed my mind many times about it as my heart and my head fight it out but I finally let myself submit to the one who should have always been in charge anyway—my Lord! And right now, God is telling me that the only thing I should be concerning myself with is being there for my husband and my sons.

That's it. And that's okay.

This struggle started when my third son, Piero, was born. I've mentioned a few times that I've been having a hard time adjusting to having three kids. Actually, I realized just recently that I was having a hard time adjusting to three kids AND my need to be doing something else. I have three kids and juggling two jobs: I'm a blogger and an editor. I also squeeze in writing assignments, Boss Bellas workshops for Manila Workshops, and PR campaigns for brands sometimes.

Last year, 2017, was really hard for me. I went back to work while also still blogging, right? Well, I was confronted with the fact that I can't get paid higher or even equal than my last salary, I don't know a lot of things anymore because the world has moved on and it moved fast while I was being a mommy, and I was nobody again, working my way up the ladder again. And I was 40. "Life begins at 40," so it is said. I just didn't imagine 40 was going to be truly life beginning again.

Last year was very humbling. I remember one night when I sobbed to my husband Vince, telling him I had worked so hard and so long to become somebody and then motherhood happened and now I had to start all over again, like all the work I did before didn't matter. I cried, "What was all that for then? I feel like I wasted my life!" And he gently told me, "You know who you are. You know the work you can do. What you know about you and your work is what matters." Something like that. I was very upset that night! But he helped me feel better. My pride was wounded but it's okay. We all need to be knocked down once in a while and I'm glad that happened. I'm more humble now. And in many ways, I'm a better person because of it.

Celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary with the kids! 

I'm grateful. I may not be amazing anymore but I do have an amazing life and I really ought to be grateful. God is good and He is faithful. Yes, I stepped aside and focused on my family. Yes, I did something else (I did the crazy freelance life! I put up a blogging business!). Yes, other bloggers have become bigger and better. That's okay. I always liked the path I chose. Sometimes, however, I have to be reminded that I chose this and that I like it.

If you're a mommy who had to give up her career or pass up on a promotion or you find yourself saying no to a lot of nights out with friends (or concerts and musicals like Lion King!), breathe in, breathe out. Life isn't passing you by. Your life is happening right now. And one day, if you choose it, then the career will happen. The dressing up again will happen. Your super hot bod will come back again. Sure, it will take a ton of work but if you want it, it will happen. Just wait. I like to think that it's the other way around—that kind of life is waiting for you. You're just too busy with the important stuff right now.

My mommy life is happening and it is so very real, too—all its mess and chaos, sweaty hugs and sticky kisses, deafening shouts of joy, soft breaths of babies sleeping, conversations deep into the night with my husband, hearts bursting as we both watch our kids grow. Not a milestone missed! Add to that my working life and, honestly, what is this waiting for? I'm living the dream right here, right now. How crazy lucky am I?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Considering a career change around your kids? Here are questions to ask first!

All mothers are busy. We can all agree on that, right? But when the kids are already spending all day in school, or you're lucky enough to have responsible household staff, and you feel that you now have time to do what you've always wanted but still have time for family, what do you do?

Many mamas feel they are missing professional challenges in their life. Now that you have a little bit of time on your hands and your long-suppressed ambitions are getting rowdy in your heart, then it might be a good idea to look through your career progression options. Whether you would like more flexibility or better time management, there is a perfect job out there for you. Before you make your final decision, however, you will need to check whether you can complete the transition and get what you want out of your new career. Here are the questions to ask yourself:

Do you have support?
Looking for a new job or asking for more work responsibilities is not just a professional decision. You have to make sure your family is behind you 100%. That means they really will be there for you when you come home late or need to meet deadlines. Supportive means they won't complain about the hours you spend studying or training. Supporting you means no emotional blackmail and making you feel guilty. It's hard enough to be a working mama so you're going to need your family's cooperation if you believe it's time to pursue your dreams.

Do you really have the time to pursue this?
One of the things mothers struggle with is time. You don’t want to spend more time away from home than necessary. If you are working full time at the moment, you might not be able to commit to training and development. If your training or further schooling is far from home, you might feel bad at the long commute, especially if you live in the traffic hell that is Manila. Before you decide which career option to go for, it is important that you check the time it will involve and if you're okay with committing to it. I'm not being discouraging, okay? I'm just being pragmatic. Best to know if you can do it than jump in and then find that you wasted your family's money and efforts because you didn't have the time to do it.

Being a consultant editor for BABY magazine was perfect! I brought the kids along to photo shoots, for example.

Can you build on your existing qualifications?
One of the best ways of speeding up your career progression or transition is to look for a new course that takes into consideration your previous qualifications. As an example, if you would like to upgrade your diploma online RN to BSN you will get credits for your previous course and get your degree faster studying at your own pace.

How flexible are your choices?
When raising kids, you will have some important responsibilities that you cannot neglect. Ideally, you would like to spend the weekends with your family, eat dinner with the kids, and be able to attend parents’ meetings and football matches. If your chosen career is not likely to give you this flexibility, you might need to look further. If, however, you will be able to work from home for a couple of days a week, you can work around your family life. That's my life now! It takes a lot of discipline, working from home, since there's a bed, a TV, and books to distract you! But I do enjoy working from home.
There's a lot of cute guys in my work place. Here's the littlest one!

Have you considered starting a business?

If you're tired of your office hours or the commute or if you're a housewife who now wants to work but doesn't want to go back to the stiff corporate environment, then you might consider starting your own business and being your own boss. Like I did! While at the beginning you’ll need to put in the extra hours and work hard, in the end you will get more freedom and money to spare. Consider your options and build on your strengths and opportunities to create a long term plan that works for you. From blogging to becoming an affiliate, virtual assistant, or online accountant, there are several options to choose from, depending on your qualifications, interest, and skills. 

I turned my blog into a business: I get sponsorships, partnerships, brand ambassadorships, and launched workshops.

Us working mamas often struggle with work-life balance. If you feel like it is time for a career change, consider your current and future commitments, and what your new job will help you to achieve. This way, you can not only improve your career, but also live a more balanced life.

*This post has affiliate links.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The day after our wedding

Look at what Vince found last week! Photos from the morning after our wedding!

He's showing off his wedding ring. Hindi nakita haha
My eye bags are so wow.

These were 11 years ago. I took them with my Blackberry. We were so exhausted and exhilarated. Just so giddy and happy and tired. My eye bags are huge! I swear I look younger now than I did 11 years ago haha Thank you, eye cream!

Oh, such a happy day my wedding was. But, as someone once said in a speech at another wedding a long time ago, your wedding day is not the happiest day in your life. And it's true. The next day was. And most days after that. When the children are born... Oh my dear heaven, nothing beats that day and I'm so glad I had three of those blessed days.

Sure, marriage isn't all happiness. One time, Vince and I had a massive fight and I said I wasn't happy anymore and he seethed back, "So what? I didn't marry you to make you happy. I married you till death do us part!" And I was taken aback and realized that if every couple married for happiness, then what do you do when you're not happy anymore? And in life, there is only one guarantee—it's going to be hard, sometimes so hard you can't see through the darkness and despair. That's why you vow to stick together for better and for worse. Your husband is the hand you hold as you struggle out of the muck. And we went through a lot of shit a few years ago, and we came out of it still together and stronger than ever.

I can see Vince reading that last sentence and rolling his eyes in mirth. Vince likes to tease me whenever I blog about difficulties in our marriage. He goes, "Grabe, parang maghihiwalay na tayo! Grabe ang drama!" Kainis!!! In my mind, these are real struggles. But in his mind, I guess, as long as we're together, they're nothing to be worried about. He's so stable, so secure, so sure. I love this man.

Happy anniversary, Vince! Eleven years married, 19 in love. Next year is 20 years yo! You're such a lucky guy. And I'll always be the luckiest girl.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Frances Finds: BabyLove Premium Gold Pants Diaper

Hi mamas! I just discovered the joy of shopping for diapers online!!! And I found a new diaper brand and we love it, too—BabyLove Premium Gold Pants.

But first, the back story: Ever since I've blogged about products I love, it's become stressful to do the grocery. Why??? Let me tell you this one time I wanted canned corn kernels and my usual brand had run out so I grabbed another brand instead. No biggie, right? Wouldn't you know that a blog reader just happened to pass by and remark, "Ay, diba Jolly ka?" GUYS. Stress! It's not just when there's no stock. There have been many times I wanted to try out a new product I saw on the supermarket shelf or on another mommy blogger's IG feed and I couldn't!

So I was telling the girls at work that the supermarket near the office didn't have my toddler's diaper size and I had to go to a much farther grocery store to get our usual diaper brand because I can't buy another brand in case there just happens to be some blog reader passing by to question my brand loyalty. They laughed at my ridiculousness, decided they'll never become a blogger, and said, "That's so crazy. Why don't you buy diapers from Lazada or Shopee then? They're much cheaper, there are more brands available, and they're delivered straight to your house!" Straight to my house...! Why did I never think of that?! I never realized you can buy diapers online!

So I went to Lazada and Shopee and sure enough there were diapers upon diapers upon diapers! Good thing there were official stores so it was easy to find authentic products. I was about to put our usual brand in my cart when I remembered that I am now safe to check out other brands. Oh yes! So I clicked on this diaper and that diaper and then discovered BabyLove.

Okay, here are my 5 reasons for choosing BabyLove:


1. As I was clicking away, Piero, my toddler looked over my shoulder and liked the baby on the packaging. "That one, Mama!" So I clicked on it and read the description and figured it was worth a try.


2. I did some research because of course we mommies always research on the products we use on our kids. I found out that BabyLove is a Thai brand. Now, Thailand is the last country I visited so I felt a connection. So I guess that's also why I had more interest in this diaper than the others online!


3. Mommy blogger friend, Denise of Royal Domesticity, uses it on her new baby girl. In fact, she was the one who told me about BabyLove so since I like checking out what my friends use, I said yes to this brand! Denise blogged about BabyLove here: #MyBabyMyWay should be the official hashtag of your motherhood.


4. Okay, I wanted to try a high-end diaper. Yes. Because Piero has extra sensitive skin (compared to his older brothers, he has allergic reactions to more things). My research told me that BabyLove has all the qualities I look for in a diaper: absorbs fast and well, no leaking, keeps skin dry, and made of really soft material. I was so happy that when the diapers arrived, they looked and felt and even smelled so posh!


5. I also discovered on Instagram that BabyLove is supporting mothers' choices in raising their babies through their #MyBabyMyWay campaign. We may have different ways but our choices are always dictated by love. I like that. I support that. There's just too many mommy wars out there when we should just all be supporting each other. Motherhood is hard enough already. Let's just believe that the mother who raises her kids differently than we do made the best choices given their situation. 

So I got the BabyLove Premium Gold Pants because we're trying to toilet-train Piero. The pants arrived fast and we just started using them last week and so far so good, we love the "dia-pants"—that's what Piero calls them haha. We actually still have a dozen pieces of our old diaper brand but Piero doesn't want to use them anymore! That's how much he loves his new BabyLove Premium Gold Pants!


I'll do a proper review next time since this post is getting long haha. Anyway, just sharing some good news: If you want to try BabyLove, get good deals (up to 30%-50% off, mamas!) on this great find on Shopee's Baby Fair Event on April 19-24.  Shop here!

Check out the Facebook page of BabyLove Philippines for more info!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Frances Finds: Easy cook-at-home lechon kawali (plus a sawsawan recipe!)

I just had the best lechon kawali, mamas, and the bestest part of it is my husband cooked it here at our very own kitchen! That's because of my new mom find, the Purefoods Heat and Eat Lechon Kawali!


I saw this product first last Christmas when some of my mommy blogger friends posted photos of their Noche Buena and meron silang lechon kawali at crispy pata. And nainggit ako hahaha So I checked it out at the supermarket, found that the Purefood Heat and Eat packets were so affordable (the Lechon Kawali is just P230 and the Crispy Pata is just P325), and so now we are eating them!


Preparing the Lechon Kawali was super easy lang. It literally is just heat and eat. We just opened the bag, took out the pre-cooked chunk of meat, and fried it for a few minutes. That's it!


Here's my recipe for the sawsawan:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup patis
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp. sliced shallots
1 thinly sliced garlic clove
half a thumb of ginger, sliced into thin strips
2 siling labuyo

The lechon kawali was so hot and crispy and so good with my sawsawan, mamas! Paired with hot and steaming rice, plus pinakbet on the side and we had such an enjoyable and truly Pinoy lunch.


Yung leftovers, kung meron man, you can either fry or broil again, or you can make into lechon paksiw. So sobrang sulit talaga the lechon kawali because for just P230, you can feed your family na a hearty meal. I am so happy about my find!


You know, mamas, I'm really happy whenever I find anything that makes this whole motherhood thing easier. When you're a working mama like me without a maid or yaya (and I say that in grief and despair because every single day for more than a year, I've been hoping and wishing for a kasambahay and especially on my birthdays and the holidays, all I ever pray for is a trusty household helper), cooking and keeping house become drudgery. So when discoveries like these come my way, I get super excited and happy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Lucky Ones

I used to have a column in parenting website, Juana.com.ph. The website folded within a year and that made me very sad because I loved being a parenting columnist. Loyal Readers would know one of my dreams is to be a columnist.

Well, it came true naman. I was a lifestyle columnist at Manila Bulletin 4 years ago (my column was called Behind the Scenes) but that didn't go so well because I was a new mom for the third time and quickly found I couldn't juggle three kids, a blog, and a weekly newspaper column. After a year, I resigned with much regret and I think my editor was very disappointed I wasted my chance. So, two years later, when the Juana column offer came, I was so happy!

Oh well. Life in the time of rapidly changing media. 

Anyway, I wanted to publish my Juana articles here on my blog to preserve them. I'll post two or so every month. This was my first—a love letter to Vince when we were so dangerously close to not making it. It's apt since this April is also our 19th fell-in-love and 11th wedding anniversary! I'll add an update after.

* * * * * * *
This was taken shortly before I wrote my letter.

Dearest Vince, 

People tell me all the time how lucky we are to have careers that allow us to work from home. I blog. You write. I cook. You play with our boys. I negotiate another contract. You edit another chapter of your book. I help the preschoolers with their homework. You read to the toddler. I rush to meet a client’s deadline. You rush to meet a magazine’s deadline. We live and breathe words and kids under the same roof, 24/7. It’s an amazing life, one we always dreamed of, and we made this life together, just the two of us. 

People tell me how lucky we are that we live the way we do, but they don’t see that we are so busy, we sometimes spend days rushing past each other. There’s always dishes to wash, laundry to do, deadlines to meet, emails to answer, chores, errands, kids! Always the kids. They need to be fed, hugged, kissed, read to, played with, bathed, scolded, encouraged, taught, brought to school, fetched from school, again and again and again. While we love our life, everything in it is so urgent. Everything is now, now, now! Oh, Vince, if you only knew that my need for you is just as urgent as your need for me. 

I feel it from across the living room, where the kids and their toys and my laptop and notes are between us. It isn’t even sexual, this need, although of course many times it is. Most times what I desperately need is a laugh, a hug, a kiss, a good long chat. I feel it when we’re in the car with the noisy kids in the back seat and the endless errands before us, and we can’t really talk because the things we talk about when we finally do talk are just for the two of us. 

I miss the two of us. Please know that there will always be the two of us. We just need to ride this out. I hope you’ll wait for me, not years from now when we’re old and wrinkly. Please wait for me now, for those pockets of moments when we can be alone, even for just a minute. I know you do but after six years of the kids, work, and exhaustion grabbing me away from you, I know sometimes you give up and you fold into your books, knowing your books are always there and I am not. 

Sometimes I also ignore those moments. Sometimes I catch a rare chance when the kids are all asleep, and this is it, this is when I can be with you, but I chose instead to check Facebook because being married takes effort and I was too tired to get up and be married. 

I’m sorry, Vince. I’m sorry for not always appreciating the gift of you. And oh what a gift! I still remember that rainy Monday from 18 years ago when I met you. I didn’t know then that you, my wonderful you, were about to completely change my miserable life. 

My luck changed when I met you. People call it luck. I think it was love. It was love that made us push each other to chase our dreams and be each other’s sole cheerleaders because no one else believed we can make a living out of words. It was love that put us in a church on the hottest day of the year to vow forever. It was love that made us children, and love for them that made us build a life around them, and love that keeps us going even when we haven’t talked or bathed or laughed together for days.

So it isn’t luck that we have. It’s love. And love may not be as exciting and as passionate when it was just the two of us but the two of us built this amazing life with so much love. We may be buried under diapers and duties now, but we’re still here. And it sure isn’t luck that’s keeping us here. No, it isn’t luck at all. For that, I’m grateful.

* * * * * * *
This is us now. Stronger, better, happier!

Update: That letter was published February 2017. My Juana editor said my theme was Valentine's Day. I was a bit dismayed because I wasn't feeling very romantic. I believe any mama drowning in childcare and household chores can relate. But I sat down, took pen and paper, and forced myself to think about Vince, to think about him and only him and, and about us, too, and I was overwhelmed with a fierce love and longing, and then grief because children were overwhelming our marriage.

I was afraid we wouldn't make it, not because we were having affairs or fighting or hurting each other, but because we were so focused on the kids. Kids when we wake up, kids throughout the day, and kids when our heads hit the pillow. I was afraid that one day, we'd look up and see a stranger. 

So I wrote my letter. 

It's been more than a year and I'm happy to tell you we're still married. And we're so much happier now in our marriage than last year. There are things that could make our life better (like more money, a yaya and a maid, the work we really want to do—like writing and publishing books, editing dying magazines, and did I mention more money haha) but all of those are extra now that the marriage is going smoothly again.

What changed? Basically, it's time. I have more time for Vince now. I'm glad we waited for each other and I'm glad we helped each other through it. You know how people will demand, "I'm married. I have to have my needs taken care of!" Valid point. But what if you're sick, what if you're apart, what if you're working, what if you're just too tired and overwhelmed by parenthood? I believe in waiting, I believe in the right moments, I believe in riding it out. And I'm glad we waited out this whole small-children phase in our marriage. We know there will be other phases when we'll have to take a back seat to more urgent things. But we survived this. Good things come to those who wait. I'm glad we were so patient because now our marriage is good. Again. 

Friday, April 06, 2018

Frances Finds: Manulife GradMaker app to make college tuition not so scary

The school year has finally ended! Let me tell you, mamas, that when I paid the last quarterly installment of my boys' tuition, I literally felt weak in the knees as I stood at the cashier window of my sons' school. "Nakaraos din," I breathed out and I felt a bit like crying, too. I'm not being melodramatic. Last year was tough financially mostly because clients weren't paying on time. Plus, I was sick a lot and busy with the kids too much to take on more projects that could've eased the money situation. Only by the grace of God that we made it.

And while I'm again breathing a sigh of relief that summer has come and I won't be so caught up with the boys' activities (which hopefully means I can focus on making more money), the summer only lasts 2 months. After these short months, it's tuition time again and now I'll have 3 kids in school. Three little boys who are so smart and deserve the best education, an education that costs a lot of money. 

The climb to success starts with a good education.

I seriously get terrified thinking of the next 20 years. I mean, people worry about their kids' college years but where my kids go now, the tuition is already a lot. So I'm not even thinking of college yet—so far off into the future—because I worry if we can afford their basic education now! I have to keep reminding myself to take it one day at a time and trust God to provide. 

I was forced to think about the boys' college tuition when I attended a Manulife event launching their new app, the GradMaker, and introducing their new brand ambassador, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal. It was a small event, very intimate. Bianca and the Manulife officials went to sit at every table to answer questions. So in that setting, instead of volunteering to go up to a mic and asking in front of the whole audience, we were really able to throw questions at them. 

L-R: Mommies Michelle Aventejado, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, me

Bianca sat and ate her lunch beside me—I know her from my magazine days when she was a Candy Girl and then a Preview Girl—so I was able to whisper personal questions to her, too. Not revealing those! But anyway, Bianca told us how she valued her career so much and that she and her husband, JC, are working so hard now so that they can send their kids to their alma mater, Ateneo. Why? Because by the time their baby girl gets to college, P3,000,000 na ang tuition! That's the total for a 4-year course naman. Let's not panic. 

THREE MILLION PESOSES! Panic!!!

Bianca said she loved how the app was so easy to use and when we saw a demo, it really is so easy to use! Check it out: 


You can get a Manulife GradMaker policy on your phone! You can pay your premiums on your phone! You can see how much your investment is growing in real time on your phone! What! I love it!

To start an investment, you need at least P10,000. You don't have to pay every month or even every quarter. Just every time you have 10K extra, you can put it on your policy and see your money grow. Syempre, the more P10,000 you put in, the faster your college worries will disappear!

I don't have money right now to actually get three policies, but I downloaded the app anyway so that when I do have an extra P30,000 lying around, I can put it towards my kids' college education. To be honest, I'm not aiming for Ateneo. I studied in UP Diliman and I am so very proud of our legacy of free thinking, resistance, and uprising. I want my kids to be steeped in that culture of defiance, too. In 10 years, a UP education will cost just P800,000 (vs Ateneo's P3M yo!) so that's a big plus. But I guess it's a good idea to save up for a pricier school anyway. Just in case my boys would rather go to the AreNEyo (my husband is from ADMU so this is me teasing him).


To learn more about this fantastic financial tool, visit the Manulife website. I highly recommend you check out the Manulife GradMaker app, mamas. You can download it from the App Store or from Google Play.


*GradMaker is a Variable Life Product. This post is brought to you by Manulife.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

You know your life is complete when...

Vince and I are super enjoying Netflix's shelter show, "World's Most Extraordinary Homes." I 'grammed it as we were watching it because I needed to tell you all about it. If you have Netflix and don't know what to watch, I'm sure you'll like this. I don't know any mommy who doesn't like looking at other people's houses!

Husband and I are enjoying our new favorite @netflixph show, World's Most Extraordinary Homes. It's fun seeing other people's dream homes and judging if these people have taste or not hahaha 😂😂😂 One thing they do have is lotsa money. These houses are crazy! 😄 And yes, the show inspired me to blog about it. And yes, I'm having a heavy midnight snack of pansit canton from @harvest.ph 😄😄😄 Ya know, my home may not be huge and my bank account may not be awe-inspiring but I do love my life. It's very happy and full. Messy and chaotic at the moment because of the kids, and a little worrisome sometimes because of all the bills, but it is full of love and joy. And that makes my very ordinary life extraordinary ❤️❤️❤️ #netflix #netflixandchill #streamteam #FrancesFinds
A post shared by Frances Amper Sales (@topazhorizonblog) on


I hope you read my IG caption because it's true. I don't have everything I want but I have everything I need. Sometimes I even think that if I ask for more, then I'll be greedy and greed is a sin. To paraphrase an old country song, I have four walls, three kids, two hearts, one love. What more do I need? My life is complete.

Of course, I still have dreams, but my dreams now revolve around the happiness and success of my husband and our three boys. I work now because I want to support them. There is a certain peace that comes with just working for others. If you had told a younger me that I'd come to think this way in my 40s, that younger me will scream in fright or anger or despair. I don't know. I'm a different person now. My career dreams already came true more than a decade ago. It was fantastic while it lasted. It ended and I loved it. I had my chance at career happiness and I'm grateful. So now I just want to devote myself to work that puts food on our table and sends my kids to school. There is a nobility to that, a simplicity, a different kind of joy that brings me so much fulfilment. Growing up I was always told, "Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life." And yes, that was true. But this, at this stage in my life, is also so true: "Work every day of your life so you can give everything to the people you love." It's beautiful, this selflessness that I finally finally (and never thought I would) have.

Anyway, thanks for sharing my journey with me! If you've been around since the start of this blog, you know I've always been selfishly devoted to my career. I love working! I love earning money! So I hope you're proud of me that I'm changing. I still love working and I still love earning money but now I do it for love of others. 

Here's a guest post about how you'll know your life is complete, mamas. Enjoy!

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There are many people who struggle when it comes to knowing when to relax and enjoy the fruits of their labor. For instance, think about how many individuals you know who keep moving through the ranks at their workplace and gain extra qualifications until the day they retire. Those folks never have time to enjoy their achievements because they’re always looking to succeed at something else. However, money and job progression isn’t everything in life, and sometimes you need to put things in perspective. Regardless of what else is happening at the moment, you know your life is complete when… 
They make my life not just complete but so extra!

You’ve found someone who loves you.
Human beings are needy creatures, and they continually seek the approval and reassurance of their peers. However, humans also have a sincere desire to feel love and affection from others. You know your life is complete when you find someone who’s willing to spend a couple of months salary with specialists like 77 Diamonds, pop the question, and then spend the rest of their lives making you happy. Be aware that some people go through life without ever meeting that special someone, and that could happen to any of us. So, think yourself lucky for what you have. 

You have an excellent group of friends.
What are the most important things in life? While some people might argue they are fame and fortune, others know that it’s friends according to the guys at the Huffington Post. If you don’t have a fantastic group of friends around you at the moment, that is something you need to change as soon as possible. If you’re one of those lucky people who’s had the same mates since they were young’ your life is near to being complete. Those people will be around when you need them most, and so you will always have support or a shoulder on which to place your head. 

You live in your dream home.
While it’s slightly materialistic, most people would agree that buying a comfortable home in the right location is one of the most critical milestones in their lives. If you live in a suitable property at the moment and you plan to stay there indefinitely; there is a decent chance your life is near to being complete. Your dream home should contain all the elements you imagined when you were young. Maybe you used to dream of having an indoor pool or something similar? Perhaps you wanted to live in a bustling city like London or somewhere like that? When you achieve all those goals, you know your life is complete. 

As you can see from the information on this page, lots of people have different ideas about what the perfect life involves. However, if you have somewhere warm and safe to live, someone who loves you, and lots of friends to call on the telephone whenever you need a chat; you’re richer than some of the most wealthy people in the world. So, consider yourself lucky, and make sure you never mope about your situation again. 

Enjoy your life!

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I like that: "If you have somewhere warm and safe to live, someone who loves you, and lots of friends to call on the telephone whenever you need a chat; you’re richer than some of the most wealthy people in the world."

Truer words were never spoken!

But if you do feel like looking at how the 1% live, turn on Netflix and watch this fantabulous show!


*This post contains affiliate links.