Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Iñigo is 5

Just before the last day of this month slips into the second half of the year, I want to tell you about my second son, who celebrated his 5th birthday this May.

Iñigo loves me the most. I'm sure his two brothers, Vito and Piero, will contest that but I know in my mama's heart that my second boy is the one who feels most tender towards me. That makes me feel a lot guilty, to be honest, because of all my boys, he's the one I don't really get to focus on. His older brother, by virtue of being the first to experience everything, and his younger brother who is a baby, get all of my time and attention. Iñigo doesn't seem to mind. Or maybe he's learned not to mind and has taught himself to be content with whatever's left of me.

I know this. I'm not unaware of the little heartbreaks my sweet Iñigo goes through every day, and I try to make up by asking him to help me with the chores or just sit by me while I work. And he's happy with the morsels of my affection. He's thrilled just to be beside me. He doesn't demand for me to listen to his stories like Vito does. He doesn't demand for everything like Piero does. He just sits there beside me, happy.

"I just want to hold your arm, Mama."

"I need to write, Iñigo, so you'll have to let go."

"Okay, Mama. I'll sit here, Mama. Is that okay?"

And of course it's okay but I feel bad I couldn't even give him my arm.

All of his five years, he's the sweet and silly one. He was the quiet baby, so quiet we forgot he's there sometimes because Vito was always a huge presence and Piero refuses to be ignored. So Iñigo learned to shine in other ways. He's the most gifted when it comes to art. He's also the only one who can cook. He's the one with the most hilarious quips. And he always wears red. He must've instinctively realized that red draws so much attention.

Tonight, as we cuddled in his bed with the Spider-Man sheets (he now wants Iron Man), he talked about his birthday because I told him it's the end of May so we'll finally take down all the party decorations. He asked why being 5 means going to a big school when he doesn't feel so big. He was in a chatty mood and then he said, "Mama, are you already sleeping?"

"I'm falling asleep, baby," I replied. "I had a long day and tomorrow I have to go to work early."

"Okay, Mama, you sleep na. Good night, Mama. I love you. I'll sleep beside Vito so you can sleep better." And before I can protest, he crawled over to Vito's bed and was asleep in minutes.

And I woke up because I didn't want him to go and that I liked his chattiness even though it made me drowsy. But that's Iñigo, my sensitive boy, the tender-hearted one, and the one who loves me most.

Dearest Iñigo, thank you for loving me and your Papa and your brothers so much. Thank you for always buying stuff for your brothers even though they don't do the same for you. I don't know who taught you to be so generous with your life and why you are so gentle and kind. While your Papa and I are good parents, we can't take credit for the purity of your soul and the hugeness of your heart.

May you always have this kindness and generosity. May you always be full of contentment even as I wish you better and grander things, all of which such a good boy like you deserve. I don't know what I did to deserve you but I count you as one of my biggest blessings, the one who taught me to be a more mindful, more compassionate mother, all because you love me so so unconditionally. I am a better mama to you and your brothers because you taught me to be generous and kind.

God bless you, my dearest sweetheart. You will always be my darling boy, the one I look on oh so fondly. Happiest of birthdays to you and for many more years to come. We love you so very much!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How the Traveloka App helped me find an affordable staycation in old Manila

We ventured out of the city twice this summer! Imagine that! Since realizing a few out-of-town trips ago that three kids and corresponding luggage outnumber two overwhelmed parents, we've been doing staycations. But we ventured out of the city twice this summer!!! And it was crazy, yes, but it was also fun so I think we can do vacations again. Hooray!

That's why I downloaded the Traveloka App. Yes, I now have an app that will help me book flights and hotels on my phone. It's really rather nifty. I like it! Let me tell you why with these screencaps I took with my phone—just to show you that it's so easy and convenient to do the searches and bookings on your mobile!

1. So many promos! 
And all on one page. This is really something I appreciate because when I try to book flights and hotels online, all these windows come out and it just makes me panic and close everything down. On the Traveloka App, everything I need to know is in one place!

2. There's a wide selection of hotels. 
Most of them are rated at 2 to 3 stars so the hotels are definitely on the affordable side. I really had to check each 3-star hotel for photos to investigate. I'm happy to say that each hotel has TONS of photos! You can really decide on which affordable hotel to book on Traveloka because of all those photos! It also helps that there's a rating from TripAdvisor. Oh, and reviews, too.

But for those of you who like to stay in luxurious accommodations (like my husband and eldest son), just tap on the "luxury" tab and you get a selection of 4- or 5-star retreats.

3. Discounted room rates on the onset. 
You can see right at the start your savings! I also like how everything you need to know—from the hotel's ratings and location to the dates and duration of stay—are all on one page. Super user-friendly, super easy to navigate!

4. Lots of payment methods. 
I always pay everything I shop for online with my credit card. I have one dedicated to just online shopping because you all know I love online shopping! But for those without a credit card, you'll be happy to know that you can also pay for your Traveloka bookings with Dragonpay, with bank transactions (China Bank, BDO, BPI, Land Bank, Metrobank, UCPB, and RCBC), at M.Lhuillier, and even at 7-Eleven stores!

What I didn't like:
If you're in the app and a notification from another app (say, Instagram) came up and you checked it, when you go back to Traveloka, your search/booking is no longer there. I had to start all over again! I found that annoying because I tend to leave apps while they're processing my requests. I like to multi-task!

So I've been planning a Manila staycation for my little boys. The city of Manila is not so far from us, to be honest, but with the terrible traffic, it might as well be on another island. Am I right or am I right?

I've been meaning to give my husband and the kids a tour of the city I grew up in. I also want us to check out Luneta Park, the Planetarium, the soon-to-open Museum of Natural History, Manila Zoo, Intramuros, Manila Ocean Park, Museo Pambata (before it closes down), and all the wonderful things old Manila has! If we did all that from our home, we'd just get tired from the traffic. Best to book a hotel in Manila!

With the Traveloka App, I found the Armada Hotel. It's right along Manila Bay. It has big rooms with big beds to accommodate my family. It's near all the places I want to visit! I can't wait to bring the kids to Manila and show them the sights!
Small but welcoming lobby
Spacious rooms!
You can see the sea!
If you like traveling and if you like deals and promos, then do try the Traveloka App! Just download it from the App Store and Google Play (it's free!) and start booking your flights and hotels now.

*hotel photos grabbed from Armada Hotel website

Monday, May 29, 2017

Blog Biz: Become a blog queen with these 3 steps

This post is dedicated to my Loyal Reader MJ Lagrimas who sent me messages via my Facebook page. She was asking for blogging tips and I was happy to answer. I know I need to do a blogging workshop soon because my readers keep asking me about my blogging career! When I can breathe again, folks! Lots on my plate these days but, yes, let's do one again soon. Meanwhile, let me quickly throw out a few blogging tips today!

Blogging is such a popular option for moms who want to still make a living while being there for their little ones. I'm living proof it can be done. However, making a living from a blog is harder than it looks. In fact, a lot of people are unsure of how to get started. 

Here are three steps for beginner bloggers to ensure you are on the right path to successful blogging.

Write what you know.
One of the first things you need to do is think about what to write about. I can't stress it enough that you need to write about something you're passionate about. You want a topic that you can talk about in great detail and that you actually enjoy writing about. A lot of moms head down the route of parenting when it comes to their blog. This is a good idea because not only is this a topic you'll always have a passion for, you'll also never run out of readers. There are always new moms trying to hunt down help and advice when they start their journey into parenthood. As your kids get older, you'll find new things to talk about. This topic is an endless source of stories! 

But if you would rather keep your personal life private, that's okay, too. Lots of bloggers have found success writing about the clothes they wear, doing beauty reviews, dishing out household DIY tips, sharing recipes, and whatever topic there is under the sun.

Once you have a topic, make sure you stick with it on your blog. After blogging for 11 years, I've found that focusing on a topic keeps readers loyal and brings more advertising opportunities. People know what to expect from you, they think you become the expert on that particular issue, and brands that are aligned with what you write about want to be identified with you.

Always use good photos.
Even if your stories are good, blocks of endless text can be a strain on the eye. Often, online readers need photos to give them a break from reading. Plus, photos are a great tool for making a story more memorable. You know what they say about pictures being worth a thousand words!

Now this is important: Make sure that whichever photos you use, you have the legal right to use them. If it’s not copyright-free, you could be heading down the road to a legal battle! With practically everyone owning a smart phone these days, you seriously don't have an excuse not to take your own photos for your blog.

Lazy to take your own photos? Well, thank goodness there's stock photography! The photo I used up there is from Pexels, for example, and it was free. The problem with free stock photos, however, is they're not very good. Again, see the photo I used as an example. While I like orange and gingham, I must say that is not a fabulous blouse! Plus, she's pretending she's typing but her laptop is obviously not on (see screen). Oh well. That's what you get when you get free! So shoot your own pics!

(Hehe, did anyone notice I ignored my advice and picked a bad photo?)

Work on your branding.
At my recent and oh so successful Boss Bellas: Mompreneurship 01 workshop, we talked about passion, purpose and plans. Branding falls under plans. You may have a dream and the heart but when you don't know how to execute it, nothing will happen.

Blogging—if you want to earn from it—is your product. So it’s important that you work on your branding to ensure your blog is a success. You want people to instantly recognize it’s your blog when they land on it. For one thing, you should create a logo. This can go at the top of your homepage and then can be repeated as they click through the blog. (I'm introducing a logo for Topaz Horizon, by the way! Watch for it as my friend, Patricia Villa of Fancy Girl Designs, works on it.) You also might want to stick to a specific color theme on your blog, which you maintain throughout your social media accounts. Creating a look that's all your own will make your blog unique to you and ensure it’s memorable.

Now, no matter how pretty your blog is, if the content is worthless, then it won't succeed. Again, I'm proof that a blog doesn't need to look perfect to be successful. For me, compelling content and authenticity matter more than looking pretty. My best example for this is gorgeous packaging—it may make you take it off the shelves and buy it but if the product isn't good, you'll never buy it again. So work on your content—writing and photos—before you think of design.

After all, it's the stories you tell that make readers want to stay longer. More readers means more influence. And that's how brands start paying attention... and paying money.

Good luck, mommies! Send me your blogging questions and maybe I'll do a blogging workshop again soon. I want every mom who wants to earn from blogging succeed. Any work that can help us stay with our kids more is always a good thing!

Friday, May 26, 2017

My back-to-school haul from National Book Store!

This post is brought to you by National Book Store.

I am DONE with my back-to-school shopping! Uniforms, check! School books, check! School supplies, check! And more happily, I even got to buy some stuff FOR ME because shopping for others is definitely more fun if you get yourself some treats, too. Am I right, moms?

For me, National Book Store is THE source for all the best deals on school supplies. This year, I found Grab & Go packs. Yes, just grab a pre-assembled kit for your specific need! For example, I grabbed the Grade 1-3 pack because it’s just what my little boys need. I love these because it’s so thoughtful! Instead of us moms going around the aisles, hunting down individual items, they’re already all together in one pack!

This Grab & Go pack, however, is for working-mama me—I need art and school supplies for the home as well since my boys leave their art supplies in school. So when we do assignments and projects at home, I’m ready! Because I work, I don’t have time to just drop by the mall and buy what the kids need so I have to stock up. It really helps us working mamas to always be ready!

Here’s what I got from the store when I went shopping at the Glorietta branch with some mommy bloggers:

Kid Made Modern Crayon Gem. This is for my toddler, Piero. He loves it!

Leuchtturm journal because I always need a notebook to jot down my endless To-Do lists. And this is one of the best journals. I make it a point to elevate my experiences, especially the tedious ones, with beautiful things.

Golden clouds notepad because it’s so pretty! And it’s just P100. Grab it na, mommies! And my new discovery: Titus pen. I got this because it’s gold ink and it’s just P7.75. Where else can you buy gold for that price???
Post-it pad. Because reminders to myself never ends.

MEGA magazine and Celebrity Mom magazine. For all the waiting I do when I pick up my kids at school. Plus, I write for MEGA now.

Back-to-school season may be a really busy time, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. I like that at National Book Store, I get to experience convenience, find budget-friendly options, and even... wait for it... I get to shop online because you all know I love shopping online!

If you can’t find the time to go to the store, just shop online at their website,! Right now, there’s a dedicated back-to-school section where you can shop by grade level. You get to see the recommended supplies for each level, choose what you need, check out, and have the items delivered to your home. Orders worth P1,000 or above get free shipping. Here’s what I bought from the NBS online store:

The Steal Like an Artist Journal: A Notebook for Creative Kleptomaniacs and 365: A Daily Creativity Journal.

You can also call the delivery hotline 8888-627 if you’re too busy even for online shopping! Okay, mommies, good luck on your back-to-school shopping! I highly recommend National Book Store—affordable and fun finds, aircon pa!

For more updates, follow National Book Store on social media: @nbsalert on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, and visit their blog at

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Join the Nickelodeon Slime Cup Run 2017! Plus, a giveaway!!!


Hi mommies! I'm with Nickelodeon now!

I'm still the editor of but I took on the Nickelodeon gig because my kids love their shows. As I type, we are watching Peppa Pig. The other shows we watch (yes, we because I have to watch with them!) are Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Loud House, The Fairly Odd Parents, Alvin & The Chipmunks, and Rabbids Invasion. What do your kids watch?

Anyway, I'm here to announce that the super fun Nickelodeon Slime Cup Run is back! Mommies, I saw the race track na and it is AMAZING. The theme this year is a slime factory so they designed an obstacle course that will have you slip through entrance tubes, slide down clean up pipes, jump into a ball mill, treading carefully through filtration pipes, and finally getting a complete wash down... with slime of course! You and your kids (and your pets!) will have so much fun!

Plus, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be there! And Kids Choice Awards Favorite Pinoy Star 2017 winner Nadine Lustre will be handing out the awards to everyone who crosses the finish line! And you'll get slimed at the finish line!

Don't worry—there's a lot of shower areas to clean up afterwards. You can also opt to NOT get slimed, but as my mommy blogger friend Shari of The Misty Mom said, "I want to get slimed!" Slime is part of the fun!

In case you'd rather sit it out, meron din Nickster's Hub where you can relax and enjoy the booths of the sponsors: Nissin Pasta, Propan TLC, Skechers Kids, Toy Kingdom, Pet Express, venue partner Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, official cable partner SkyCable, and media partner

Join the Nickelodeon Slime Cup Run now! Register family and friends at Chris Sports branches at SM Mall of Asia, Glorietta, Market! Market!, SM North, and SM Megamall. You may also pre-register online at You have to register before May 24 so you can get your race kits which will include singlets.

Registration fees per race starting from P350 to P600 will apply. Proceeds will go to the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) so if you know someone who loves animals but isn't joining the Slime Cup Run because they think it's just for families, tell them they can join it and raise money for animals instead!

And now... A GIVEAWAY!

Because I'm new at Nickelodeon, I'm debuting with a fun giveaway!

THE PRIZE: One (1) winner of four (4) race kits for the 4K Double Loop Run!

1. Share one or both of the posters below with your Facebook friends and/or Instagram followers.
2. Say why you want to be at the Slime Cup Run!
3. Share this link:
4. Use the hashtags #SlimeCupRunPH and #THxNickelodeon.
5. Pray. =D

I'll pick the lucky mommy (or daddy) on Monday, May 22, 6pm. Good luck!!!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Frances Finds: Cheers Picnic Set

This post is brought to you by Cheers Picnic Set.

My second boy turned 5! Can you believe it? I can’t. I know moms always say, “Oh, where did the time go?” and I do say that, too, but I also want to add that with Iñigo especially, I feel that the time was too quick. I’ll explain more in another blog post because right now, I want to share this nifty little find: Cheers Picnic Set!

Get a basket for the home, the office, the car, the bakasyon, the everyday!

Cheers is a brand of paper towels for the kitchen and for parties. Cheers also has starch-based cutlery sets and trash bags. Yes, biodegradable!!! So if you want to throw a party at home or at work or in your kid’s school, or you just want your everyday needs at home be met with tools that are kinder to the environment, then cheers for Cheers!

Okay, so back to the point of this post—my particular mom find! It’s the new Cheers Picnic Set. It comes in a cute little coated paper picnic basket. The set includes table napkins, cutlery, and garbage bags. So thoughtful, diba? 

And biodegradable! So thoughtful talagal!

I picked up a Cheers Picnic Set for Iñigo’s little party here at home. We had cake, ice cream. Simple lang. That’s how we are. That’s our happiness! But my kids can still make a big mess so I like that I can put the Cheers Picnic Set basket right on the table to manage the mess but it will still look pretty sa pictures!

Love it! Sana lang I can tell what the color of the cutlery is kasi Iñigo’s favorite color is red and he’d have loved it if our biodegradable spoons and forks were red. But pink will have to do! Iñigo’s fine with pink because we told him it’s a diluted red hahaha

Fork for the cake? Check. Tissues for icing smears? Check. Trash bags for happily torn off gift wrapper? Check. 

So we had a little party for my darling boy, my kulot, my sweetheart, the most tender one, and my wee wittle Wiggle. I’ll tell you more about the party soon! Meanwhile, check out the Cheers Picnic Set and please wish my Iñigo a happy birthday!

Cheers is available at P60 SRP and is sold at SM, Puregold, Robinsons, and Metro supermarkets.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How the FERN-C kidz Mother's Day video made me realize my kids are not like other kids

This post is brought to you by FERN-C kidz.

It's Mother's Day this weekend and Facebook is full of heartmelting video tributes to mommies. I've spent not a few minutes wiping away my tears as I watched these videos. One of these videos is from FERN-C kidz. My Loyal Readers know my kids take FERN-C kidz vitamin C supplement so I liked their Facebook page. That means their updates come up on my feed. That's how I saw this video:

Awww, diba??? So my kids saw me crying while I was watching it and so they watched it with me and I was feeling all tender and thinking, "I'll ask them nga if they think I'm a good mama."

My voice breaking, I asked, "Vito, Iñigo, do you think I'm a good mama?"

Iñigo said, "Well, when you get mad at us, you're not a good mama."

Vito said, "Yes. Peppa Pig's mama never gets mad at her and George even when they make a big mess."

Lokong mga bata, kasing honest ko!

Now before you think my heart broke into a thousand pieces, it didn't. In fact, we giggled when they said that! My kids and I are extremely honest with each other. We talk a lot about our thoughts and feelings, and I tell them all the time that they must always be honest with me. I'm frank and honest myself. I expect no less from my own offspring! When they're mad at me, they tell me. When I make a mistake, which is often, I apologize. They're quick to say sorry, too. We're really an emotionally open bunch!

It's not easy to be a working mama. Because we have no household help (the cleaning lady that came in thrice a week quit because of her alta presyon), I'm so exhausted all the time. So I'm on a short fuse when the work and the chores pile up, when I haven't slept for days, when I haven't showered, when I haven't eaten a proper meal. I admit I yell. That mom in the FERN-C kidz video, si Mommy Iggy, sobra akong relate when she said, "Minsan talaga bigla ka na lang magbu-burst, eh, na parang, 'Can you give me like five minutes?'" Story of my life. I'm always saying that! "Give me a minute so I can just finish this. Five minutes and I'll be there. Just please one minute of complete silence naman diyan at bingi na ako sa ingay niyo grabe!"

The kids don't like it when I yell. I don't like it either. But sometimes I just can't help it anymore. I'm too overwhelmed! But we talk about it. I apologize for yelling. They apologize for making a mess/punching each other/whining about the food. And then we hug and kiss and the world is all right.

I may not be the ideal mom (what is that anyway?) but I still think that I'm a good mama anyway. I love it that my kids feel safe enough to always tell me what they feel—even when it's not the feelings I'd like to hear hahaha. I'm raising boys who aren't afraid of their emotions, who trust their mother to love them through the ugly issues, and who are as unflinchingly honest about their truth.

And anyway, my kids weren't finished yet. Vito said, "But you're a good mama, Mama. I love you so much, Mama, because you're always taking care of us. That's why you're tired. So sleep na!"

And Iñigo said, "Yes, you're a good mama sometimes. Okay, okay, all the time!"

And Piero said, "Mama, wuv you!"

It's not always easy to give my best and to do my best for my kids, but they just proved to me through this always honest talk that I may be doing something right after all. But, okay, maybe a little part of me wished they just said I was perfect! These kids. They're not like other kids. They're just like me! Sobrang honest!

May you have the same honest love and communication between you and your kids, mommies! Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 05, 2017

Frances Finds: Simply Modular "Assemble-It-Yourself" Furniture

Hi mommies! I'm here to tell you about my exciting new find—Simply Modular furniture! 

Since rearranging the furniture a couple of years ago, my husband Vince and I have hatched plans to do something about the blank wall behind the TV. Sun-burst mirrors. A collection of framed art prints. Built-in shelves so we can move out the books in the boys' room, which used to be our home office in our before-kids life. A wall of cabinets for extra storage and to hide the TV. We always planned our plans whenever we watched TV (so that was every day haha) because look at it:

Soooo saaaaaad! How could we have lived like that?!? (Hehe, so melodramatic.) Well, we had to live with that because we just couldn't find the energy to have carpenters come in and build shelves and cabinets for us. We live in a condo and there's so much red tape and fees just to have people come over to OUR house and fix OUR house, services that WE hired and paid for using OUR money. I mean, seriously, with the way condo management polices what we do in OUR homes, you'd think THEY own the place! So even if we want to do stuff like a simple cabinet installation, a paint job, or an entire home renovation, we get defeated.

And then Simply Modular sent us an email and told us to check them out.

Simply Modular Furniture System was designed by and for megacities. Yes, Simply Modular is from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. Now it's in Manila! It's basically panels that snap together so you can assemble them any which way you like to create shelves, cabinets, closets, tables, desks, cribs, beds—whatever you like! 

I liked Simply Modular because we can design the specific furniture we needed, and then as our needs change, we can reassemble the panels to create new furniture. Amazing! Vince liked it for the same reason plus the fact that every Simply Modular piece is made of high quality ABS plastic. So it's basically LEGO! That also means they're waterproof, termite-proof, and rust-proof! And, unlike IKEA (which almost destroyed our marriage hahaha when we built our kids' bed), Simply Modular is so easy to assemble! Look!

So we agreed to have a starter kit sent our way. As soon as we saw the panels, we liked them so much, we bought more! Good thing there's a wonderfully made website to shop at:

Okay, big con for me was that the website (at the time I shopped) did NOT accept credit cards or PayPal. As a longtime online seller and shopper, I know that a basic requirement of any online shop is to offer easy online payment options. I almost quit at this point because this means I have to shop at the store. My longtime readers know I hate shopping at malls! But since Vince had his heart set on Simply Modular and because I love him so very much, we made the looooong trip all the way to SMDC M Place in Panay Ave., Quezon City, to shop for the pieces we needed.

Ideas: shelves, TV console, cabinets.
Ideas: Desk, side tables.
So many colors! We picked white, orange, blue and green. I'm still dreaming of that pink, though!

After our shopping trip, we were super excited to build! Simply Modular, being flat panels made of plastic, comes in tidy boxes that are easy to transport. They're not that heavy, too.
Bottom panels have attachable legs.
The sets can hold weights up to 200 kilos so your kids can sit and lie down on them.
No need for screws or pegs. Just click the panels together!

And here are the finished shelves!

Sooo happy!!! We love our Simply Modular shelves! The entire thing cost us about P15,000. (And it was so easy to assemble, it didn't cost us our marriage, too!) That's actually affordable because these shelves will last forever. And I can reinvent them into another piece of furniture, too! Like what my kids did with the extra panels:
They made a stage for their puppet shows!

The first store is at G/F SMDC M Place, Panay Avenue, Quezon City, just beside ABS-CBN. I'm glad to report that more branches are opening this year at SMDC malls below SMDC condos. Hooray! There's an SMDC mall near us! I'm thinking of replacing the TV console with Simply Modular shelves and cabinets, too, because the darkness of the wood doesn't look so nice against all those happy colors. I'm also planning to make my laundry room pretty and efficient so I really want to shop at Simply Modular again!