Sunday, June 24, 2018

Here's the chocolate chip cookie recipe that Jack-Jack from Incredibles 2 loves!

Let's take a break from our working mama posts with a recipe today! 

My family and I finally watched Incredibles 2 today. We waited more than a week because all the theaters were full but today, we finally got some seats. Oh, and thanks to SM Cinemas for their promo where two little kids watch for free!

Anyway, we enjoyed the movie. It's not as great as the first one [why I liked The Incredibles here] but we loved it anyway because it was action-packed, so full of spy nostalgia and mid-century modern aesthetic (my favorite era of home design!), and yet it's also so relatable. Any parent understands the chaos on screen! Any stay-at-home parent gets that feeling of overwhelmed exhaustion and the nagging conviction you're wasting your life at home instead of making a difference out in the world. And any working mom relates to the fulfilment of a career clouded by guilt. Don't worry—it's a family movie! It's not just for parents; the kids will enjoy all the superhero adventures and will relate to the sibling squabbles, the resentment at babysitting, and annoying parents!

For us, the best part was Jack-Jack. I just want to commend Pixar for making him adorable in all his manifestations! Whether he was a fire monster or a pink demon, the youngest Parr super was sooo cute! Parang yung youngest Sales boy namin! Cute kahit nakakasira ng bait! And like my Piero, Jack-Jack is easily calmed down with a sweet treat.

So luckily for us mamas, I got a-hold of the Num Num Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe! Here it is and let's try it on our own little super monsters!

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's the plot summary:

In Incredibles 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible!

Incredibles 2 is still showing! Catch it while you can—with the whole family, of course!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Should you go back to school in later life?

I was chatting with some mommies from my sons' school the other day. They were asking me about my work-at-home career. One of them was a housewife and the other one was a manager at a company. The housewife wanted to earn money from home while the manager wanted to quit her job so she can spend more time with her kids. We got to talk about how our sons' school was looking for more teachers and we tossed around the idea of getting an education degree and applying as school teachers. I got excited enough to even ask my husband about it later that day.

Me back to school again at 41? If I had an education degree, I can always find a job, to be honest. Here and abroad (fingers crossed!). My husband and I have been wondering about migrating to another country since we don't feel good about what's happening in our country in the last two years but no one's looking for our skills so maybe it's time to learn new ones and earn new degrees. 

I also feel that I'm falling behind because it's a fast-changing world. My boss, the people I work with now, and my mentors are all about a decade younger than me. I've been looking at online courses, distance-education colleges, and workshops so that I can learn new skills to be on equal footing with my younger colleagues.

The problem is going back to school means time. I barely have enough time to get through my day! Plus, a new degree will cost money and we're already pouring a huge chunk of our income into the kids' education. That’s why I'm thinking think long and hard about this. If you're in the same boat as I am, these 3 questions will help you decide whether you should go back to school in later life.

Can You Afford It?
This is the first thing to consider because college is so expensive. An MBA and PhD don't come cheap either. If you can’t afford it, you might end up landing yourself in some serious financial trouble. Think about the impact of 4 years without an income.

If your husband can support you both, you might be ok. But if not, you need to work out how you’re going to pay the bills. If you have a healthy savings account, that might sustain you, but then you’ve to decide whether you want to spend all of that and start saving for the future all over again. You may also be able to get a loan to go back to college but again, think about whether you want to take on that huge amount of debt at this stage in your life.

Is There Another Way?
Thinking about what your motivation actually is can help you to decide whether it’s the right choice. If you’re thinking about it because you feel that your younger colleagues are more qualified than you, that’s not always the best reason. As long as you’re happy in your job and you have the skills you need to do it well, you don’t really need to get a new degree.

However, if you’re looking at moving into a position that requires a certain degree, then you will have to go back into education. But that doesn’t always mean having to go back to college full time. You can do an online msw program in your spare time. Being able to do the degree from home while you’re still working makes it so much more affordable and you won’t have to leave the job market for 4 years.

Will It Pay Off?
If you do decide that full-time college is the right thing for you, there’s one more question you need to ask yourself before taking the plunge: Will it pay off? If you spend 4 years at college, getting yourself into loads of debt, sacrificing time with your family, and you end up in a job that pays the same salary, is it really worth it? Sometimes, if you change career and that was your motivation, then it’s worth doing. But if you’re going to work in the same industry for the same money, it’s not worth spending all that time and money.

Going back to college in later life is a big decision so ask yourself these 3 questions before you do anything. Good luck to us, mamas! So many things to consider now that the world is changing so fast and everything costs so much more!

*Photo from FlickrThis post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

What you can do to make your small business survive

I'm a sole proprietor of my writing business. The business covers my blogging, writing and editing work, and also my few press release assignments. Even though my business is already a few years old, I still don't know everything about making it succeed. I honestly feel that one of the problems is the government. There are so many requirements to submit and so many steps to take to make it legal and keep it that way. There are so many tax forms and taxes to pay. Seriously, how can a business even start or survive when the government systems are hell bent on making it difficult every step of the way?

And mine is just a tiny business! I'm not a food business, I don't make products nor do I sell anything. Those kinds of businesses need even more permits. I do understand that these systems are in place to protect the consumer. I just wish that the government also understands that in order for a country and its citizens to become richer (and thus pay more taxes to fund the politicians' coffers nation's many projects), it has to make everything easier for small business owners, startups, professionals and freelancers. Singapore, for example, makes opening a business so easy because you do everything online. You have a legitimate business set up in one day! How long did it take me to register Frances Jules Amper Sales Writing Services? Two weeks! 

Anyway, here's a guest post today. A few tips on how to make your small business survive. I'll add my notes at the end of each tip!

* * * * * * *  

Small businesses are popular, but it’s rare that they end in success. Whether you’re starting a home business, taking over a family business, or making a business out of your blog, it will be a struggle.

The fact of the matter is that the world is a very treacherous place for small business owners and most will fail to make it. This makes you think; what can you do to ensure your startup survives? While success isn’t guaranteed, there are certain things you can do to help your company have a better chance of succeeding.

Be Active In Your Local Government
A lot of small business owners fail to see how important it is to be active with local government politics. State legislation can make a huge difference in how successful your business will be. I have two suggestions here. 

Firstly, I encourage everyone to vote in local and state elections. As you can see on, there are Secretary of State elections around the corner, and these play a huge role in small business success. If you vote for someone with policies and legislation that benefit small business owners, then it will naturally put you in a better position to succeed. 

Secondly, I suggest you don’t shy away from writing to government officials. This can often be the first step in getting certain laws changed or relaxed to help your business thrive. At the very least, this communication can help you understand laws better and what’s expected of your business.

This is a good tip, mamas. Let's vote for people who are making legislation that helps families (like Senator Risa Hontiveros who authored the Expanded Maternity Leave Act) and lowers income taxes (okay, while Senator Edgardo Angara's lower income tax bill was fantastic, it became part of the awful TRAIN Law that raised taxes on everything else!).

Understand The Ins And Outs Of Tax
Tax is a small word, but it carries massive worries for small businesses. A large proportion of small companies fail because of tax issues. You either don’t pay enough, or you pay too much. Either way, you end up in a situation where money is a real issue. 

Tax can be a huge business expense, so it pays when you learn how to reduce your tax bill as much as possible. Get to grips with the ins and outs of filing your tax return, and your company can save thousands of dollars every year. This could make all the difference in the race for survival. 

Another good tip! If you're on top of your bookkeeping and if you know the best deduction method for your business and your correct tax code, you can pay less to even no income taxes. I'm lucky I have my amazing tax consultants over at Taxumo who helped me figure this all out! Sign up at Taxumo now for all your tax needs!

React When Things Clearly Aren’t Working
There are loads of common reasons behind the decline in small business success rates. In fact, there a whole list on that goes through them all. I want to focus on one point that stood out for me, this idea of not reacting quick enough. When things start going badly for you, you need to react. This might mean changing your business model completely, to adapt to the way the market has changed. When things clearly aren’t working, this is where you must be proactive rather than trying to ride out the storm. 

Yes. I know many businesses that sell only online. Many Pinoys want to touch and feel a product so these online business get lots of inquiries about a physical store. The owners saw this as a sign to join bazaars and expos. This really helped reach a different market (the not-online one!) and also helped market their brand to new customers. 

Everything here applies to small businesses of different types and varieties. Even if your small business is a blog, everything is still applicable. You’ll still be burdened or relieved by government laws, you still pay tax, and you can still go through a period where suddenly your blog doesn’t make money anymore. So, what can you do to make your small business survive? Following the pieces of advice above is a good start.

*This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email for my rates. Photo from Flickr

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

5 things to cut from your budget ASAP

Enrolment is done! Half the year is over! I hope your bank account is surviving, mamas. If it needs reviving but you can't earn more money, then we'll need to cut some items from the household budget.

#5: Your Membership To The Gym
If you go to the gym every day, then you can skip this one. Most of us, however, start the year with good intentions and sign up for gym memberships but by the time June rolls along, we've never even stepped inside the gym! I know this because I bought a Gold's Gym membership plan a few years ago but because my schedule was so packed, I only went to the gym maybe 8 times. And I paid for an entire year! So unless you can commit the time, these gym memberships end up being a total waste of money. 

Getting fit need not be at a gym. We know that, right? I exercise right in my living room while watching Netflix. My friends also suggest the many fitness apps you can put on your smartphone that aid in working out and making the process a lot easier. You can also walk or run outside—I do it early in the morning so that it's not too hot and polluted. 

#4: Cable TV 
In today’s world of instantaneous connectivity and insane amount of streaming services and platforms that we have, there simply isn’t any point paying for cable television. We're still subscribed to cable because we have a contract but we watch Netflix more so we're cutting off our cable sub as soon as our contract is over. That's P6,600 we can save a year. 

What I'm also hearing a lot about is the Amazon Fire TV (latest version, the Fire TV Cube, launches this month). It's a digital media player that has access to a wide variety of services that are exactly the ones that you would find with a regular cable television package. But, you actually get to choose what you want to watch, rather than having to contend with the programming that the network has chosen to play. The Amazon Fire TV is a Smart TV Set and it comes with the Firestick Remote, which but can be slightly tricky to set up! Pairing it correctly allows you to access many different platforms and services for television, and there really is no shortage of high-quality programming! 

#3: Your Coffee
Yes, you can have coffee at home. Stop getting those expensive frappes and lattes and whatever concoctions coffee shops keep coming up with. If you have three P95 coffees a day, that's around P5000 you spend on coffee every month. And that's the cheapest cup. If you get the ones with whipped cream and lotsa sugar, you not only get poorer, you also get fatter. 

#2: Transportation You Don't Need
This is a very simple one, but more often than not, we end up driving/getting a taxi to places that are a few blocks away. This ends up having a bad effect on the environment, and it also ends up wasting the money that we spent on gas/fare because we could’ve just walked. 

I walk everywhere. If you see me on the street, say hi! Anyway, our streets are not easy to walk on because they're dirty, not paved well or broken, crowded with vendors, and sometimes the sidewalks disappear entirely! So I understand it that us Pinoys would rather take the car or a cab. But if your destination is near, do try to walk instead. By walking, you burn off calories, you get exercise, and you're saving money on gas and parking as well.

#1: Your Landline 
These days, everyone has a mobile phone. I prefer a postpaid plan (my Smart plan is an old one but it's fantastic because it's unli-data—it's not offered anymore so hooray for me!). But if you prefer a prepaid plan, you can get a prepaid card for just P40. I know because I just got one for my business phone. A mobile phone plan is a better option especially if you're never home. You can make calls, send messages, surf the internet, stream services, play games for the same amount as a landline! So if you cut the cord on your landline, you’ll find yourself saving up a lot. 

Now that you've cut out these five things from your budget, you can now take that money and put it towards things like a vacation or a new car, or a financial goal that inspires you! Happy saving, mamas!

*Article concept by and written with Clarissa Caouette. This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Top 5 reasons their stay-at-home dad is good for my sons

My husband Vince and I are both writers. Realizing we have the incredible privilege of choosing where we work, we opted to stay at home while our three sons are young and be their main caregivers. I’m happy to say that in these enlightened times when many women share the role of bringing home the bacon and many men are now expected to help change the diapers, people actually celebrate our decision.

I will admit that while people marvel at our arrangement, they also get confused by it. The main concern is my husband’s ability to take care of our children. “So are your kids really okay with just their dad? Not even a yaya or a female relative to really care for the kids? I mean, men don’t know anything about raising kids, right?” 

Ladies, if we let fathers be fathers, you’d be surprised at how good they are with kids. In fact, in my experience, I’ve found that Vince is the more devoted parent! Well, he’s the one who always wanted to have kids while I always wanted to have a career. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered how adorable he is with babies!

Here are the other reasons why a stay-at-home dad is good for my family:

1. My three sons have no idea what gender roles are. 
As a staunch feminist, I’m so proud to say this. There is no such thing as “women’s work” or “a man’s job” for my sons. “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” means nothing to our sons because they see their Papa cook and wash dishes alongside their mother. They see their Mama work at her computer just as they see their Papa typing away at his keyboard, too. Papa vacuums the house while Mama does the laundry. They see the two most important people in their life on equal footing and sharing the same responsibilities. Mama and Papa both wear the pants in the family. Mama and Papa both wear the apron, too. 

I’m so excited to see the kind of men my sons will grow up to be! They’ll be career-driven and domesticated. They’ll be amazing cooks and all-around handymen. Most important of all, they’ll always see women as their equals. If they choose to marry, their wives will be so lucky!

Vince always does the groceries and he does this with the baby boys in tow!

2. My boys have the best teacher and playmate. 
I must confess I’m no fun. Even when I was a kid, I didn’t play games, I didn’t party, I didn’t have extracurricular activities. I’m a complete bore. That’s one of the reasons I was afraid to be a mother! Enter Vince. 

Bedtime stories are the bomb with Vince. He’s also the one who decides on the kids’ entertainment—what apps the kids download, what animated films they watch, what video games they play. My sons get the best toys because their Papa was so involved with them at the toy store, picking out the stuff they’ll play with. They invent games. They can talk about superheroes endlessly. They have so much fun together every single day! Imagine if they’d been stuck with boring old me!

If I had my way, my kids will never have Legos. So thank goodness they have their Papa!

3. My sons experience life in a better, more relaxed way.
Given all that I need to do, I’ve learned to be efficient with all my chores. When my to-do list says, “Give boys bath,” I do exactly that—soap them up then wash them down. That way, my sons are clean in 5 minutes allowing me to move on to the next item on my list.

My husband, meanwhile, has bath toys and bottles of bubbles. There’s colorful stick-on alphabets so Vince can teach them how to read while scrubbing their knees. One time, I found the boys soaking in their bubble baths listening to the LEGO Movie soundtrack blaring from speakers Vince lugged all the way to the bathroom. My sons are learning the joys of slow living from their father and I’m fast appreciating that pleasure, too.

Babysitting with the iPad. Don't worry—educational apps only and always supervised at that age!

4. My sons have a strong fatherly presence.
Many fathers can claim to have a strong presence over their children, of course. Even absent ones. My husband’s presence is much stronger, I believe, simply because he is physically present. His is a tangible, reliable, and constant male influence on our boys.

He patiently taught all our boys to walk.

5. My sons have the best example of strength and tenderness.
The best part of having a stay-at-home dad is my sons see all aspects of being a father. He’s not just provider or disciplinarian. They see more than just the traditional dad. In fact, they don’t even know what the traditional role of dad is.

For our sons, a father is someone who works and plays. For our boys, a father is a man confident enough in his masculinity to be equal parts tenderness and strength, and to embrace all aspects of parenting—even those that traditionally fall under “mothering.”

Setting an example of tenderness and care to Iñigo.
My sons and I are all the better for this. Happy Father’s Day, Vince! We love and appreciate all that you do!

*This article was published on defunct parenting site last year. Vince is now an editor at The Asian Parent, where he wrote an article on his experience as a stay-at-home dad. Please read it ["I was a stay-at-home dad, and it was awful. It was also the best thing I ever did."]! He also says he misses spending time with our boys.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A mom’s dilemma: To go back to work or not?

Hello, mamas! Today is the first day of school for us and in many ways, it's both good and bad for me as a working mom. On the one hand, I can finally have a few hours during the day when I can have a quiet house and I can get some chores and work done. On the other hand, because I fetch my kids from school and we have to study, study, study, there's more on my plate.

Trying to work while teaching my kids. Not easy!

So sometimes I wonder if I weren't working, would life be easier? And if it were easier, schedule-wise, would I be happier? Would it be better if I had an office job and yayas for the boys? Would it be better if I had yayas??? So many things that niggle at me when I get overwhelmed!

Anyway, this time last year, I was wondering about that office job. Now you know that I didn't go back to the corporate world but I was extremely lucky to get to work at L'Oréal Paris... from home!!! But let me take you back to this time last year, when my dilemma was should I go back to a 9-5 or continue being SAHM/WAHM? I interviewed two friends for this article which came out in, and here's what I learned from them last year:

* * * * * * *

I’m a mommy who works from home. As a writer and editor, my projects give me a schedule flexible enough to let me spend the first years of motherhood with my three little boys. However, now that my two older boys are in big school, I’ve begun to think of going back to the corporate world. I have more considerable expenses now and the bills come in frighteningly regular fashion.

I don’t know what’s frightening me more, however. The bills or leaving my kids. Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m more afraid of going back to the corporate jungle. Having been out of circulation for three years, I wonder if I’m rusty, if the skills I have are still needed in a rapidly changing world, and if I can still ask for the salary I had when I was a boss back in the day. 

Giving up one’s career for your kids is noble, but working again so that you can provide for them is just as worthy a sacrifice

I don’t want my motivations to be about sacrifice, however. As a modern mom, I want my reasons to not just include financial obligations but joy, passion, and purpose. Without those three, any career I embark on will be a sad affair. So I asked two of my high school friends who experienced what I’m now going through to give me advice. 

Lou Molina left her job as a product manager in a multinational pharmaceutical company with her first child, went back to work in an educational institution, and then left work again when she had her second baby. She is now starting a business. 

Gelonie Tabia-Yap was an assistant PR manager at a multinational company. She left work when she had her first son and then went back. She now has three sons, the youngest a newborn. Here’s what they have to say. 

Reasons for leaving their career 
There are really only two reasons mothers willingly resign from their jobs: They find a better opportunity or their family needs them. And what can be a more compelling reason to give up one’s career than new babies? 

Gel says, “I was working from 7 a.m. until midnight, and was on call 24/7. We were having our first baby and with that kind of schedule, we felt it would not be healthy to start off a family.” 

Lou also had a demanding career. She says, “I felt then that I cannot give my daughter quality time if I continue working because my husband is also a top advertising executive. We both work really late while I do a lot of out-of-town and even out-of-the-country trips.” 

So the two new moms resigned from their jobs to focus on their growing families. I did the same but only when my second baby arrived. I was feeling guilty about my first one because I remember dictating letters and memos while I was in labor and working throughout my maternity leave. I wanted to do better the second time around. 

Lou felt something similar. She had gone back to work as a consultant for an educational institution when her daughter went to school, but when her son was born, she again gave up her career. “I got burned out. I’m a workaholic! I enjoyed my job, but I cannot give quality time and attention to my kids. I may be home some days but I’m still sitting in front of my computer working.” 

Luckily for the three of us, our families could survive on one income so the decision to become a stay-at-home mom came easy. Gel says, “My mindset at that time was I can fail and try again in my career, but I only have one go on my family.”

Work-at-home pro: Working in bed. Work-at-home con: Working in bed!

Reasons for going back to work 
While we enjoyed being homemakers, there was a restlessness we couldn’t shake off. Gel quickly realized that you can take the girl out of her job but you can’t take the career out of the girl! “Over time, I discovered I am not meant for it,” she admits. “My brain has to have something to process that is fed by the corporate world. I was miserable just being at home. I felt I needed more and I could handle more.” 

With three young kids, I had more than I could handle! But, like Gel, I wanted to work so I accepted projects constantly. I became a work-at-home mom. This didn’t work out in the first two years, I’m ashamed to say. I had babies to care for and couldn’t give my all to my work. Deadlines were missed and articles weren’t as good as I liked. So I scaled back on assignments and just focused on family. However, I felt restless. As soon as my youngest turned a year old, I accepted projects again. This time, I was better. I guess that’s why I think I can go back to corporate life again. 

Like me, Lou was also a work-at-home mom. “The first time I left, I think I was not ready because I still wanted to prove more to myself... so I started a business so I can tell myself that I am ‘not just’ a housewife. The terms ‘mompreneur’ and ‘work-at-home mom’ felt so empowering. It’s nice to have the ‘mom’ associated with being an entrepreneur because it gave my new role as housewife a different meaning.” Then Lou took an honest look at why she still continued to work even though she was supposed to have given up work: “I realized I was doing it to make myself look good to my husband and to my peers. So I stopped pretending!” 

Why a working mama is a good thing 
While many mothers enjoy being homemakers, many other mommies love having a career. My dilemma is I love both equally! 

After giving up her job for the second time, Lou has found peace with being a housewife. She also realized recently that she can’t get the work at the pay grade she wants so she decided to be a homemaker and start a business instead. “I love staying at home,” she says. “I love my house and our community. I like that I get to attend all the school events without worrying about work.” 

Gel has also found peace with being a career mom. “I’m happy because this is me and who I am. I am built for this. It gives me a sense of achievement, being able to take care of my husband, my sons, our home, and at the same time climb up the corporate ladder.” 

About that notorious mom guilt that working mothers suffer, Gel has this to say: “Motherhood presents a huge burden on women where they become primarily responsible for another human being who needs to develop well in all aspects. But present times have changed this. I believe that motherhood now means taking a wider perspective than just the development of the kids. A woman's role as a wife should come first and she must be there for her husband. Their bond is where the success of the family and the security of their children are anchored on. The family needs finances to allow them to grow so this is one aspect that the couple must address together. So moms should not feel bad about working. My mindset always has been, even if I am at work, that time I spend there is for my kids—it is for their food, their clothes, and their schooling. Helping my husband gives him also the time to spend with me and our kids. He does not have to be a workaholic. We get to balance our time overall as a family and get the most out of the life that we have!”

Applying to companies last year meant ID photos after a decade! Left is me at 30, right is me at 40.

So do I go back to work or not? Based on what Lou and Gel shared, these are the questions I (and you, if you’re a stay-at-home mom going through the same dilemma) need to answer: 

1. What is my real reason for going back to work? Is it for financial reasons? Is it my ego? Being honest with myself will help in solving this dilemma! 

2. Will I be okay with leaving my kids to do what I love? There’s no point in chasing after a dream when I’ll feel guilty doing it! 

3. Am I willing to take on new skills, learn new technology, and maybe even start an entirely different career yet receive smaller pay? 

4. Will my return to corporate work ultimately be for the good of my family? Will it help me be a better wife and mommy? 

How about you? Have you experienced this same yearning to return to the workforce yet feel the pull to stay home? How did you solve your predicament?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Just P1000 will help 3 children with their school supplies. Please help now.

Pasukan na, mamas! Do you know that every enrolment, every day my kids go to school, I feel so accomplished? Every day my boys go to school, I feel my one of my biggest dreams has come true. Of course, working so much to raise the money to pay for their education hurts. But it also feels great! I know every parent of a school kid knows how I feel.

Now let me share with you my support for World Vision, a humanitarian organization that helps fight poverty. One of the ways they do this is to help poor children get an education.

I came from a poor family. Never ko tinago yan. My mother worked so hard and got into a mountain of debt just to put all 4 of us in school. Thankfully, I was able to get free high school education at Manila Science High and subsidized tuition at UP Diliman, so that lessened the load on Mama. Thank you so much, Mama! I am where I am now because my brains got me here. Not my family name, not my connections (I had none anyway). So for us poor people, a good education matters. It's the foot in the door. It's what opens doors. 

So every birthday of my kids, I donate to World Vision. My goal is to support three kids from Leyte one day but P2,250 (P750/kid) a month is a bit out of budget for now. When I told this to World Vision, alam mo sagot nila? "We will pray that God blesses you abundantly so that you can do that. God bless you!" How can you not support an NGO that blesses you??? So I'm glad World Vision offers the option to sponsor the school supplies of these children with its Back-to-School sponsorship.

As mamas with school kids, alam naman natin that school expenses don't stop with the tuition. May school supplies pa, uniforms, shoes, socks, plus baon at pamasahe araw-araw. Kapag may assignment and school projects pa, gastos na naman. Mabigat talaga siya.

I'm very lucky to be able to send my kids to a good school but I will confess that even kami na hindi naman mahirap nahihirapan sa lahat ng gastusin. Lalo na last year when my family depended only on my freelance/blogging income. Hindi regular ang bayad sa freelancers. Late ang release ng checks. Hindi sunod-sunod ang projects.

I was so plagued with anxiety last year that my fears manifested physically as a stress rash. It wasn't an allergy or a disease. It was my anxiety. I was so afraid last year, mamas. Every time the quarterly tuition invoice arrived, every time may project yung mga bata, every time the bills came, my itchy rash flared up. Thank God I got a big client that signed me for a year and Vince got a job. Nawala yung rash ko when I felt more financially secure.

So I'm painfully aware that other parents feel the same anxiety I have. If I can help kahit konti, kahit sa school supplies lang, I will and I do so through World Vision. Try niyo rin, mamas! P1,000 will help three school kids na. Kung may extra kang P1,000 diyan, baka pwede mong i-donate to the kids that World Vision supports.

Click to donate!

Click here to sponsor Back-to School Kits and help our Pinoy kids enjoy school and lessen the worries of their parents. Thanks so much and God bless you!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

My silly Iñigo

My mamas liked the photo of Iñigo and me in my Mother's Day post so here's another shot from that time, which was his birthday:

Yes, his birthday! He turned 6 last month. Please tell him your birthday wishes. He loves his birthday a lot!

He's a very happy child, my Iñigo. Vince is always saying, "We should bottle his laughter and sell it." Iñigo has the bestest laugh in the world. I thought my laugh was good but when this boy laughs, everyone who hears it just lights up. He has such a happy laugh. I wish everyone had his happy laugh!

He's also the one with the best sense of humor. All my kids are funny, okay, but they're different funny. Vito is a lot like me—very serious and we laugh at smart jokes. Piero is 3 so his humor is all toilet-related. Iñigo is silly and shallow and also smart and naughty and he truly finds something funny in everything. Everything is funny!

This is a good thing. He's good for me because I'm serious. I've always been a serious person but in my youth, I laughed a lot anyway. But maybe for a decade now, I have felt my sense of humor getting buried under increasing responsibility, endlessly busy days, and never-ending household chores. Only Vince and our kids seem to make me laugh these days.

Iñigo especially. Just look at him. That's him every day of our life!

Of all my kids, it's Iñigo who has a fans club of sorts. People tell me they're attracted to his huge eyes, mischief, and big smile. Well, you should see him in real life. He's so full of life and fun!

May you always be full of life and laughter, my dearest Iñigo. May you always bring happiness to everyone you meet. May you always be tender and kind. May you always see the joy in life, even during the darkest days. God bless you for being so generous with your time and laughter! Happy birthday again, my sweetest silly boy! Mama, Papa and your bros love you!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Important school year prep: Boost your kid's immunity with these 5 steps

It's a new school year once again, mamas, and we all know what that means. Sipon, ubo, lagnat, trangkaso! And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to childhood illnesses. Whenever you put a group of people together, especially in an enclosed room, the chances of getting sick spike up because there's just more germs flying around and you're trapped in a room just touching or breathing in those germs.

As working moms, we are especially worried when our kids get sick because we can't always be there for them. Of course, when it's serious, we will definitely take a leave from the office. But when they have the sniffles or a little cough or even just a slight fever, we always have to think: "Should I stay home?," "Maybe it's not bad enough and I can go to the office," and "If I go to work, will the yaya take care of my child well? Maybe I should just stay home." And then if we do go to work, we can't completely focus on work because we're worried about our child. So it's bad. 

The key is to keep the kids as healthy as possible. Here are my ways to boost my boys' immunity so that they can resist the germs flying around in school:

1. I encourage a healthy lifestyle. 
This is hard, mamas. When kids have enough sleep, eat fruit and veggies, drink a lot of milk and water, get lots of exercise, their bodies are stronger. But my little boys like to stay up late (they like talking to each other in the dark), they dislike fruits and vegetables, and water is "tasteless!" So what's a mother to do? Well, I nag away and insist they sleep early/eat just a few more bites of veggies/drink just a little more water, and they do it naman. Pahirapan lang. Hopefully, all my reminders will stick to them one day and they'll actually start living healthily without me going on and on about it.

2. I teach them to avoid potential contamination spots. 
Cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Cover your nose and mouth and turn away when someone is coughing and sneezing. Share food but don't share bites of the same sandwich or cookies. Don't touch anyone's nose and mouth. 

3. I insist on clean hands. 
The kids have alcohol in convenient spray bottles in their bags. But I know they don't use it as often as I would like so I ask them to always wash their hands after using the bathroom and before eating their baon. Then when we get home from school, the first thing I make them do is wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

4. I make sure their vaccines are up to date. 
I can't stress enough how vital vaccines are in protecting our children from many diseases. Measles, flu, whooping cough, chicken pox, polio and so many diseases that can weaken, disfigure, disable, and even kill children are preventable with a simple vaccine shot. My sons' school requires up-to-date vaccinations, too, because they also believe—as scientists and the medical community do—that vaccines keep our children healthy and strong. 

5. I give them Vitamin C and Zinc. 
On top of their multivitamins, I also give my kids FERN-C kidz. This is a yummy supplement syrup that has both Vitamin C and Zinc. Vitamin C does NOT cure the cold or cough. What it does is it boosts our immunity, helps us absorb iron (which is good for our blood), and hastens healing of wounds. So as a mommy of super likot little boys, Vitamin C is a great idea! What about Zinc? Zinc is what boosts our body's immune system and helps us heal from the common cold and other infections faster. Vitamin C and Zinc have more important benefits but I'll just keep the list short.

There you go, mamas! My 5 steps to boosting my kids' immunity—a super important thing to do now that the new school year is here. 

FERN-C kidz is available in leading drugstores, supermarkets, convenience stores and FERN kiosks nationwide for P62.75 for the 60ml bottle and P129.50 for the 120ml bottle. FERN-C kidz is from the makers of FERN-C and a quality product of FERN. To know more about FERN-C kidz, like their Facebook page

*Please consult your pediatrician before giving your child vitamin supplements.

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

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Electrolux lightens the loads of parents with washing machine donation

Electrolux asked me to share with you news about their donation program called Love You Loads. Of course I agreed! I wanted to share the good news with you because heavens knows we need good news in this time of increasing corruption, fear and hate, and open misogyny. I also wanted to share it because I'm an Electrolux mom. My vacuum cleaner, my range hood, my hot plate, and my beloved washing machine are all Electrolux so I highly recommend all their products and believe that if more of us buy their appliances then they'll have more money to help our fellow Filipinos!

Because of Electrolux, I love doing my now-favorite chore: the laundry!

So this is what happened: Electrolux Philippines, together with its supply chain partner CEVA Philippines, donated 200 washing machines to mothers, communities and organizations in the Philippines in their donation program called Love You Loads. The program aims to help lighten the loads of Filipinos through modern appliances.

As a working mama who has no household help whatsoever, I know that this is true. In fact, even though I wish I had a kasambahay, because my appliances help me clean and cook better, faster or more efficiently, I know I really don't NEED a kasambahay kasi kaya kong gawin lahat since my appliances are the best. Imagine if every household is equipped with helpful tools! All of us parents, especially those who spend so much time just cleaning the house, will suddenly have more time on our hands. Imagine what we can do with all that that extra time (pursuing a hobby, making extra money, spending more time with family, etc.)!

During the turnover ceremony held at the Electrolux office, Electrolux Philippines Country Marketing Manager Andrea Soto-Pionilla said, “May is the [month when] we recognize and share our appreciation for mothers and all the hard work that they do. Electrolux wants to express our support for moms and families all over the country.”

“Mothers have so many concerns to juggle – from work to taking care of their children and the house on top of that! Laundry should be the last thing they need to worry about. Having a washing machine in their household can make this chore faster and easier so that she can move to more important things and families can spend more time together,” she added.

Okay, mamas, we all agree with Ms. Soto-Pionilla. Now let's see where the donated washing machines went. Well, they are now with the GMA Kapuso Foundation and Gawad Kalinga’s beneficiaries and programs.

Gawad Kalinga Luzon Building Communities Head Jon Ramos said that the mothers in ther GK communities are so happy about the donation. “When we told them the news during one of our meetings, many of them said that to have a washing machine is really one of their dreams.”
I love that my washing machine is so efficient and saves me time and energy.

Mother-of-six Amy Gomez from the Gawad Kalinga community in Bagong Silang is a mom who's had a washing machine since 1993, and she shares her appliance with two other families in their neighborhood! “There are 8 of us in the family. That is 8 sets of clothes every day... Doing the laundry is hard so I can only pray moms in the area could have their own washing machine to make their lives easier and their families happier.”

It's not just moms who got an Electrolux washing machine. GMA Kapuso Foundation COO and EVP Rikki Escudero-Catibog said, “We have a lot of partner organizations, most of which handle indigent patients. The washing machines will go to halfway houses like Child Haus. There are a lot of children who can’t afford [cancer] treatment in Manila so they go to Child Haus for a place to stay while undergoing chemotherapy. If you are a parent with a sick child, how can you do the laundry while you are in Manila? The washing machines will come in very handy.”

My Electrolux washing machine is my favorite appliance!

And there are more people who benefited from these free Electrolux washing machines. The mothers and families who live in Kapuso Villages located in typhoon-devastated areas in the Visayas and Mindanao! Recovered drug addicts in Damascus House, which also offers livelihood projects for mothers and families; and the dormitories and barracks of the Civil Relations Service of Armed Forces of the Philippines. So many people that Electrolux has helped with Love You Loads!

Electrolux Philippines employees also helped by creating cards filled with encouraging messages. These cards were included with each washing machine.

Love You Loads brings to life the new aim of Electrolux, which is to shape living for the better and improve the everyday lives of Filipinos. It means a renewed focus on what their products and solutions can help people achieve, to create experiences that will elevate everyday life and to be a driving force in sustainable living.

For more information on Electrolux Philippines and Love You Loads Program, visit and follow @ElectroluxPhilippines on Facebook and Instagram or @ElectroluxPH on Twitter.