Monday, January 31, 2022

The Topaz Horizon 2022 Giveaway!


Happy New Year, everyone! I was supposed to do this giveaway weeks ago but we had a very busy January so how about we make this a Chinese New Year giveaway instead! 

新 年 快 乐

Xīnnián kuàilè, everyone! That's Mandarin for New Year happiness and that's all I want for all of us this 2022 - happiness that comes from gratitude and good health. Although for this to be a proper Chinese greeting, I should wish prosperity for us as well! So may we all prosper in business, our career, and our bank accounts!

Let's start the good luck with a Topaz Horizon Giveaway! Here's the grand prize:

That's worth P12,000! 

One lucky winner will get:

One (1) signed copy of my book, Not Invisible

This is my memoir of my first 10 years as a mommy! It's a story of faith, hope, and love. It's about welcoming life's surprises and not losing sight of oneself and what matters. Most of all, it's about embracing all the love and joy that comes with family. Definitely a must-read!

One (1) tin of Topaz Horizon scented candle

This special limited edition candle smells soooo good! Even unlit, the sweet and feminine scent wafts everywhere. When I was deciding on what scent to use for my candle, I tried many scents but my husband and kids said that this particular fragrance reminds them of me best. 

One (1) 18 carat gold-plated bookmark

It's in the shape of a feather. I love it because writers of long ago used a quill to write, diba? So I thought it would be nice if you marked your page in my book with this gold-plated quill!

One (1) bottle of Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice

It's the New Year! Let's celebrate with some bubbly! My family and I love Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice. It's festive because of all the bubbles but it's not alcoholic so my kids can share a glass, too.Every bottle is sweet and fruity but it's great for mixing with other juices and alcoholic beverages if you want a little kick. 

One (1) bottle of Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate

This is the Chinese New Year Limited Edition bottle. Happy New Year! This is Shiseido's #1 serum with ImuGeneration Technology. It's packed with anti-oxidant rich reishi mushroom and iris root extracts, to strengthen skin, restore firmness and defend against daily damage for skin that’s stronger, smoother, firmer, more hydrated, and resilient. 

One (1) Flawless Age Defy Super Serum and one (1) Flawless Underarm and Body Lightening Deoconcealer

Jumpstart your skincare this 2022 with 5 vials of the Age Defy Serum. It smoothens out fine lines and rejuvenates the skin by promoting cell renewal. Take care of your body, too, for example, the oft-neglected kili-kili! Try the Underarm and Body Lightening Deoconcealer. It's makeup for your underarm, but it also lightens skin tone and provides 24-hour sweat protection!

One (1) Belle de Jour Power Planner 2022

The Belle de Jour Power Planner (prices range from P599 to P1,199) is a planner packed with lifestyle coupons from over 40 brands. You also get access to free mobile and desktop wallpaper downloadables, Spotify playlists, and NEW features this year include free virtual reality meditation videos and 12 Coaching Experiences led by 12 world-renowned experts in the field of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Strengths Finding, Reiki Masters, Holistic Aromatherapists, Business and Beauty Experts, Energy Healers, Positive Psychologists, Motivational and Image Training Professionals in the BDJ Coach Quenza App that you can access from the pages of the BDJ Planner. Woah! 

I'm also giving away these prizes to 2 readers:

1 signed copy of my book, Not Invisible

1 tin of Topaz Horizon scented candle

1 surprise beauty product

How to win:

I'm not doing this giveaway to get more followers. So no need to share this on social media. I just want my Loyal Readers to know about this giveaway. So I just hope you'll write a comment below this post telling me your favorite Topaz Horizon blog post ever and why. Or tell me about one time my blog helped you. Or tell me if I made you buy something haha. That's it!

Easy, right? Basta gusto ko lang malaman if may katuturan pa ang blogging ko haha I know there is, okay. I feel like whether I have readers or not, and whether everyone has moved on to TikTok or nor, I will keep blogging because I just love it. Sixteen years of blogging this 2022. Imagine that!

So just leave a comment! I don't mind whether I get 100 answers, or 20, or even just 5. What matters is my Loyal Readers, the ones who are still around after almost 16 years, are the ones who join and win these prizes. I want to see your names below, okay! 

Please also include your Facebook name or Instagram handle so I know how to contact you if you win. 

I'll publish the comments on Friday night, and announce the winners on February 5, Saturday.

Good luck!



Giveaway winner: Nerisa of Wanderful Mom

Book and candle winners: Noreen DVB and MJ Lagrimas

Please send a message to my blog's Facebook page to claim your prize!

None of the products is sponsored. They are either mine or were given to me but I'd like to share them with you! But if you'd rather buy these awesome products, here's where to get them:

Not Invisible memoir - Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Shopee (signed copies)

Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice - all grocery stores and supermarkets,,, and

Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate - Rustan's and Zalora

Flawless Age Defy Super Serum - Flawless clinics and website

Flawless Underarm and Body Lightening Deoconcealer - Flawless clinics and website 

Belle de Jour Power Planner - I Love BDJ

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Book reviews! Homeschooling! Here's how I use my Viviamo planners

I've been a Viviamo fan for years and years now. They call their products Dreampowerment because their planners help people make their dreams come true by empowering them with careful goal-setting and detailed planning. But lemme tell you that planners don't necessarily have to be a To Do list. Today, I wanted to share with you how I use mine. 

Viviamo's most popular planner is the Belle de Jour Power Planner, but since I'm more minimalist, I prefer the Essentials Planner and the Everything is Possible Planner. I make my own bullet journal for daily planning so here's how I use my Viviamos.

As a homeschooling planner

We're in our second year of homeschooling. Imagine that! Everything truly is possible!
Our schedule changes every quarter.
This is our student mantra. Mine, too, if we're being honest.
Projects for the kids!
And here is our schedule of lessons! It's divided into 4 rows - individual lesson plans for each of my 3 kids and then the bottom row is for the lessons we take together. It's full of correcting tape because we got derailed by our family's bout with COVID early this month so I had to adjust everything. 

As a place for my book reviews 

This is the simplest Viviamo planner and it's my favorite. It's the most versatile. I've used it as my work planner, my "Interesting Things I Learned This Week" journal, and now for my weekly book reviews!
I also use it to write down quotes from the books I read.
I also include the cover of the book! It's nakaka-pressure, though, because I already pasted all the covers every week this January and I feel rushed to finish my book of the week!
And this is this week's book. I just started! 

And that's how I use my Viviamo planners! 

I like how my friend, Viviamo CEO Darlyn Ty-Nilo, said, "COVID-19 has left many feeling displaced. ‘I’m stuck. What can I do? How do I move forward?’ The pandemic has affected us in so many ways, bringing up fear, worry, and even languishing. We, at Viviamo, want to reassure Filipinos that these feelings of hopelessness and despair can be replaced with hope and positivity. That is why we offer you the tools to help you switch from that mindset of ‘simply surviving’ to thriving! We have the power to rewrite our own stories." 

Power. Yes! I like the feeling of control that my planners give me. More than reminding me of what to do, they also make life feel a little less messy and a bit more laid out and peaceful. They symbolize my hope, you see, that I'm looking forward to tomorrow. They symbolize my audacity because I insist on my belief that I have a future, that my kids have a future even with the pandemic, even with the corruption around us. 

And good news: I have a Belle de Jour Power Planner 2022 here and I'm going to give it away tomorrow in my first giveaway in so long. can't wait to tell you all about my giveaway!!! 

To know more: and

Thursday, January 27, 2022

I found a body fat percentage calculator!

New year, new health goals! First, I just want to say I am grateful that it's two years into the pandemic and we're healthy. I can't ever take that for granted. But I really shouldn't stop there. I need to get fit, too. I've gained weight in quarantine. It's just so good to eat! I never seemed to be able to eat well before, with me always running to and fro, stuck in traffic, and all a busy mama does. So for the past year or so, I've really been enjoying my meals... and my clothes have gotten tighter! 

The thing is my weight and BMI are still kinda okay so I got complacent. Then I read that what matters is body fat percentage. You can be heavy but if it's all dense bones and strong muscles, that's okay. But if you're skinny but you have no muscle and it's all just fat, then you're fat. Skinny fat. That's why it's important to know your body fat percentage. And I found a body fat percentage calculator!

So I'm 5 feet 3.5 inches tall (I rounded up hehe) and my weight is 135 lbs. So my body fat is 30.5%. That's a lot. As my results show, I am carrying around 41 lbs of body fat. FORTY-ONE POUNDS OF FAT! 

While the body fat percentage calculator said that's "acceptable", I was alarmed to know there's a child's weight in fat on me. 

At 30%+ body fat, I'm definitely bordering on obese. I don't look fat but I'm getting there, and fast! I really should lessen my food intake and exercise more. Wish me luck! 

P.S. By the way, as we are on the topic of food, my kids have discovered some food games online. They're quite fun! I've taken to playing them myself. Check out this burger-building game my son Iñigo liked a lot:

And here's another one. I personally like this because I love Tetris-type games and this one is great because it's made of chocolate blocks!

(Thanks, Iñigo, for making videos of the games you played on your YouTube channel!)

My kids love this culinary games site a lot because there are soooo many games to play and they learn a few things about cooking and the restaurant business. I also like it because instead of me eating food, I can just play with food now! That body fat percentage calculator really woke me up from my food coma. Try it, too! Then tell me your body fat percentage in the comments haha 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Facebook Memories today reminded me of something I probably shouldn't be reminded of:

Grabe, I sound so positive here. This is January 2017 and 2018. So my kids were 6, 4, and 2, and then 7, 5, and 3 respectively. Cutest years! 

But I was really drowning and overwhelmed those years. 

I have tons of these Facebook updates and blog posts from 2014 to 2019 saying, "I'm not sleeping anymore. I don't know what to do. I can't juggle. I'm sick again. Help me help me I can't do this!" But all I got was, "You're such a great mom! Such a natural! You can do it!" And I did do it. By God's grace, my husband's tenacity to hold on to our marriage, and my own love for my boys, I did it. 

I wonder sometimes if my joke-y manner (my way of surviving) backfired on me. No one believes me when I say I was struggling. Or was it just everyone's refusal to see, to acknowledge, to believe that a woman so blessed can have such a hard time with her blessings? 

No one believes me when I say I'm so glad my kids are bigger now. "But your babies and toddlers were so cute! You don't mean that." Oh, but I do. I do prefer them now, older, independent, helping with the chores. While the baby years were incredibly happy years, I also nearly lost my damn mind and marriage*. 

I still can't understand how such duality can exist. How can I be so happy and miserable at the same time? How can I be so sure that loving my babies is the best thing I'll ever do in my life and also be so terrified and doubtful every day?  Even when I look back, I still don't understand how such conflicting emotions existed in me for years and years. 

I don't even have the benefit of hindsight to tell me that if I did so and so and if I tried this and that, then it would have turned out better. Yes, even now, I still haven't gained any wisdom that would help me be the experienced mama sagely giving advice to new and terrified mommies. All I can tell them is, "One day at a time. Breathe. Pray." The words are true, but I doubt if those words can help any mommy who is drowning. 

Back then: Overwhelmed mom of the cutest little boys

Well, those years are over now. I'm settled now, more peaceful. Maybe because I can sleep more than 4 hours a night now. And I can sit down and eat now. I can take a real bath now, stay longer than 5 minutes in the bathroom now. I'm relaxed now. I can breathe better now. The pandemic helped. A world that slowed down was kinder to a mother who could barely cope. 

But my kids will get their COVID-19 vaccine this year. Hooray! The pandemic will soon end. And I'll have to start running around again. As all parents do. And not one of us is allowed to admit it's so damn hard or to ask for help because that's blowing the lid off the fact that parents may be the most blessed people in the entire world, but we are not okay. The constant pressure to be on our best behavior, the relentless workload to provide the best life possible for our kids, the looming threat of failure every day... Argh. A perpetual Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.

When I was single, everyone told me, "Get married! Have kids! Best life ever!" The minute I got pregnant, everyone said, "Sleep now because you'll never sleep well again. Eat now, buy that now, go on that trip now because once the baby comes, you'll never eat/shop/travel the same way again." And pregnant me was like, "Great. Thanks a lot for telling me now when I can't do anything about that anymore."  

Well... It is the best life ever. For me, it is. I may be drowning sometimes but yeah, there's also that undeniable feeling of floating on joy. How does one drown and float at the same time? Will I forever wonder about this? Will motherhood be ever just one state - joy - with no worry, fear, anger, guilt, shame mixed in? 

I'll update you when I'm 60. Or 70. Till then, God bless us, mamas and papas!

*Whenever I say this, my husband always says, "We were never in trouble. You think we were, but I knew we were going to be okay." 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Breaking news: I'm alive and well and ready for 2022!

Hello hello! Happy New Year, my dearest Loyal Readers!

Omigosh I have been gone from this blog for quite a while! I had been so excited for 2022 (and I still am) but it looked like 2022 was excited for me, too. It ushered me into a new year with COVID-19 finally finding my family. Yes, despite our precautions and protective measures, COVID decided that if we're not going to go out of our house, it will go in instead!

So the last couple of weeks were a bit... busy. I don't want to say I was stressed out or scared because I wasn't. Well-meaning people told me not to be scared. To be very honest, I wasn't scared at all. I may be a worrier, and I worried a lot about COVID, but I use that worry to prepare for many of the things I worry about. It's how I manage the anxiety. Then when what I worry about finally happens, well, I already have peace of mind. I prepared for it, I was ready for it, I imagined all sorts of scenarios in the dead of sleepless nights. In the face of the reality of my imagined horrors, I know no fear. Because I know what to do. It already played out in my head. And so I just tightened my ponytail and got to work. 

My Covid Care Kit was ready. I had all the equipment and medications we needed. I had the doctors' names and phone numbers. I had the charts and lists. There was nothing to panic about. I just had to follow the steps I laid out months and months ago. I had prayed so many times about this that when it finally happened, my heart and mind were just calm. All the months of preparation and prayer made me peaceful. "This is it! I'm ready to fight!" 

And thankfully, my husband and eldest boy came out all right. God is good!

We were all okay. The first one who got it was Vito so we quarantined him in the boys' room. My two littlest boys camped out on the living room rug. We took out their plushies and blankies and pillows and made a really comfy bed right in front of the TV. They had lots of fun watching shows and playing video games while being super comfy in their makeshift bed!

Six days later, Vince got it, too. We had been taking turns caring for Vito and Vince thinks he forgot to put on a mask when he gave Vito a sponge bath so anyway he got it and he quarantined in our bedroom next.

And this was the scenario I didn't see - bathroom use! I had always assumed we would have one bathroom for the sick and one bathroom for the well. But both bathrooms now were used by the 2 patients and so us well ones had to disinfect the common bathroom after every time Vito used it and then we counted 30 minutes before we entered the bathroom. This has resulted in hilarious situations when nature was suddenly calling. Honestly, while the last few weeks have been a serious matter, there have also been many cases when we laughed and prayed and truly thought about how wonderful our life is. Look at our bunso missing his Papa:

Anyway, life didn't stop! While I cared for my two patients, I also had to care for the two little boys, do homeschool, do work, clean the house, prepare the meals... Yep, it never ceases to amaze me how the world can be falling around your ears and you still have to get up and keep going. 

I've gone through a few life disasters to now appreciate our ability to keep going. I especially know now, as a mama, how resilience matters when people are counting on you to keep the world a safe and happy place. Today, while we prayed, my kids said they never worried about COVID at all when it was here at our home. Not even Vito, who had a fever high enough to become delirious. "It was actually fun, Mama! You made it fun."

Goodness me. Now that, I wasn't prepared for that! Thank You, God, for helping me through it all.

So I'm finally not too busy anymore! I can blog again! I was planning to blog every Monday this January. I was also planning a New Year Giveaway! Next week, I'll finally get to it. We are going to have a great 2022, everyone! Come what may, we will count our blessings and be grateful. 

See you here again soon!