Showing posts with label Blogs & Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogs & Blogging. Show all posts

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Blood, books, boys, and my birthday: A busy life update!

Hello, my dear Loyal Readers! I disappeared! My last post here was early October and lookie here - it's almost December! What did we miss???

Well, I missed you, that's for sure. I've always enjoyed sharing my stories here on the blog because you share your stories, too! And then I don't feel so alone. Thank you! But since I've been quiet, we haven't been talking. And I miss you all!

So let me tell you what's been up with me. I'm sharing some posts from my Instagram because I do a few life updates there. So follow me @francesampersales! But I'll do a summary here as well. 

First, some of you emailed or DM'd to ask about my literally bloody predicament in my last life update (School, Sex, Blood & Books). Thanks for asking! I'm better now. Not bleeding anymore. Huge relief considering I was bleeding profusely from August to October. What hell! I had to have a D&C so that the gynecologist can rule out scary diseases. 

Thankfully, I'm just perimenopausal. My reproductive system is okay, just acting up because I'm an old woman. What a relief! But it was a truly stressful week worrying about cancer. I switched birth control and after a few weeks adjusting to the shot, I'm sooo happy. No more blood!

Then right after I got out of the hospital, I was busy supporting my husband and the launch of his novel, The End of All Skies. It's gotten good reviews on Goodreads, Instagram #TheEndOfAllSkies, and blogs.

We're happy fellow Southeast Asians love the book. I'm hoping it also finds an audience globally. Our mythology is very different from the West, which is familiar with East Asian stories. But Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, and the rest of the region? No. Even Moana was strange for many people in the West. We need to talk about our own stories because ours is so rich and wild and spectacular!  

Please buy a copy of Vince's novel! If you want a signed copy and a FREE copy of his first book, Children in Exile, order from me! It's P1,050 plus shipping. 

Send me an email - Now na! Thanks!

You can also get a copy from Amazon for $24.90 or download the ebook from Kindle for $13.99.

Anyway, it's not all happy news. My sons' hamsters died. It's been sad and sweet, saying good-bye to the cute critters that made the last 2 years so bearable. We thought we'd have one more year with them (tame hamsters can live up to 3 years), but apparently, their sole purpose was to keep my quarantined kids happy while the COVID-19 virus raged outside our home. And now that we're all vaccinated and better equipped to face the world, our hamsters went over the Rainbow Bridge, their task done.

Let me tell you that our hearts were so heavy the weeks we waited for the hamsters to pass away. They were old and slow, spending the days just sleeping. The kids were stressed, wondering, "Is this the day?" Finally, the dreaded days did arrive. My boys were so sad. I was sad, too, because I was the main caretaker of those hamsters! We comforted each other. And it's been 5 weeks but my youngest boy just told me as I'm blogging, "Mama, I miss Chocnut."

Gosh, we love you and miss you, Choccy and Spoody. Thanks for the joy! 

Then I turned 46!

I didn't do anything special. I was recovering from my health scare, neck-deep in homeschooling, trying to write my werewolf romance novel, looking for a job (which means no budget for any big celebrations!), and being a mom and wife. I was exhausted! 

But grateful. Always grateful. Thank you so much for the love! Maybe when I turn 47, I'll have pictures to share! 

Oh, another thing that I appreciate is I found out my blog turned up in these lists by Feedspot:

#26 in 80 Best Philippines Mom Blogs and Websites 

#32 in 100 Best Asian Mom Blogs and Websites

#22 in Top 80 Philippines Mom RSS Feed 

Thanks, Feedspot! I didn't even know I had an RSS feed. I'm kinda bewildered by this all since I was never on these lists when I was one of the top mom bloggers in the country way back from 2008 to 2016. Now that I'm hardly blogging and my stats have understandably gone down, my blog gets recognized. And on 3 lists, too!

I'm thankful. That tells me that despite the sporadic posts, I'm still writing good posts. 

That also tells me to blog again! 

I know everyone's on Tiktok now. Apparently, people don't read anymore and just want to watch people dancing and pointing to floating words while smiling and shaking their heads. But that shouldn't stop me from blogging because I'm writing for the ones who do still read. And you are my favorite people. The best kind of all - readers!

I have sooo many stories. Plus, some of you suggested topics or sent questions about my life and marriage so there - more stuff to blog about! So I'll get to that.

Hey, thank you for sticking around. There are so many other blogs and vlogs and social media accounts to follow, yet here you are. Thanks for caring. It means the world to me. You mean the world to me! I love you all! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

16 sweet years

Oh hey, I just realized today, May 24, is the 16th anniversary of Topaz Horizon. Here's a photo from that year. That's me with our bunny wabbits, Galadriel and Gandalf.

I was bored in 2006, so I started a nonsense blog where I dumped all my silly thoughts about being a managing editor of a magazine, shopping for second-hand everything on eBay, taking care of rabbits, and being in love. Remember when blogs were just brain dumps with dark, grainy photos like that above? The olden days.

My blog's changed a lot since. I got engaged, got married, moved into a new home, got a plum career, lost it later, the bunnies died, my mother died, I had babies, I became part of this slick new world of influencers then I tired of its vanity quickly, then I had writing/editing/PR jobs here and there, lost myself, found myself, my father died, I wrote a book, I'm now writing a new one, my kids are growing up, my marriage is still doing great (even better!)... Wow, crammed the last 16 years in one sentence. 

Last week, I was going through this blog and let me tell you that I cringed at my early posts. I was young, I was shallow, I was selfish. Of course, middle-aged me would cringe. But I would never tell the younger me to change. Because even in my youth and selfishness, I also had nuggets of wisdom there. But I was so honest, I was cruel. The years have taught me to be compassionate and kind, especially when I'm right.

And maybe that's why I haven't been blogging so much anymore. I like to keep stuff to myself. So much of our lives are shared online now. I always shared my thoughts but carefully chose what parts of my life to share. Even 16 years ago, in the infancy of social media, I instinctively knew I had to keep huge parts of myself to myself. And though I believe everyone should say what they want to say, I also now know that we shouldn't.

The world has changed so much since 2006. Everyone has a platform and to my dismay, everyone uses their platform for hate or self-love. I don't know if this is the world I want to move in. Retreat, retreat.

But I still want to blog. I love it too much. And I will miss you so. You have been such good friends, growing up with me. Thank you always for your kindness, understanding, advice, and correction. I wouldn't know where I'd be without my Dear Loyal Readers. If you've stayed all these 16 years, my goodness, God bless you! I know some of you have left (especially when I decided not to be a mommy blogger anymore) and that's okay. I have never wanted people to stay when they think it's time to move on. I don't like dragging out relationships. But for the times you were here, I delighted in it. Thank you! Some of you are new and so you know the mommy me or the kind me or the wise me. I hope you don't read the early posts of this blog then haha. 

Anyway, 16 years is a long time. I never thought I'd be blogging this long. And maybe I won't for a while. I have three not-so-little boys whose needs may not be so urgent anymore but they need me just the same. I have a marriage that I savor so much, it's so much better now than ever and I just want to spend more time with my husband (we're so busy with work and school and home that we have to snatch our moments together!). And I want to write more books! My Not Invisible book gave me so much joy. I want to feel that always. Thank you to everyone who bought my book! I love you all!

I'm getting sentimental. I'm 45. We met when I was turning 30. Imagine that! Thank you. You are the friends I always wanted. Such a gift to me who always had a hard time making friends. I will count each of you a blessing and may the love you gave me and my family come back to you a hundred times forever.  

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

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!

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Pre-order your Not Invisible Experience Kit!

This month, Topaz Horizon is 15 years old. FIFTEEN YEARS OLD! Imagine that!

Last year, when we all thought the quarantine would only be for 30 days, I had planned to celebrate by holding a little party with 15 of my most Loyal Readers. But more than one year later, we're still prevented by the pandemic to see each other. It is what it is and we have to celebrate every day we're alive and healthy... and turning one year older!

Happy birthday, Topaz Horizon! 

So, for this blog's 15th birthday, instead of a party, I just chose to commemorate it by publishing my first ever book, Not Invisible, a collection of the best posts from this blog and from my now-hidden mommy blog Topaz Mommy. Thank you so much to the hundreds of people who enthusiastically supported my debut book! 

I shared on my social the special gift box I created for the media. As a PR professional, I figured it would be a good idea to enlist bloggers and press to amplify my book and blog. Instead of a press kit, I called it an Experience Kit because reading my blog and my book is an experience! Everything in my kit enhances that experience. I was so happy when the mommy bloggers unboxed their kits and loved it!

So many of you asked if the Experience Kit was for sale. Some suggested that it can be my blog anniversary celebratory event. And you know what? I think you guys have the best ideas! So let's make the Topaz Horizon x Not Invisible Experience Kit available to you, my Loyal Readers!


The Experience Kit is just P750! Each box includes one book, one Topaz Horizon scented candle, a nap dress, and a golden bookmark. 

There's a little guide on how to make the contents of the kit enhance your reading pleasure.

I really thought over the contents of this kit super carefully. At first, I wanted to ask my blog sponsors to stock it but then I realized that I wanted everything in it to be just about you, me, and reading. 

The candle smells soooo good! Even unlit, the sweet and feminine scent wafts everywhere. I tried many scents but my husband and kids said that this particular fragrance reminds them of me best. 

The daster, a.k.a. nap dress para sosyal haha, is super soft and comfy. Perfect for settling down in your bed or favorite chair to read my book or my blog! The dress design in each box will be random but they will all have shades of orange.

The Topaz Horizon x Not Invisible Experience Kit is so simple but I lovingly created it for you! So I hope you order a kit! Just fill out this form

Please don't forget to check the box and indicate how many kits you want to preorder! 

I'm accepting orders from now till Sunday, May 9, 2021. So I know how many books to reserve and dresses to order! The Experience Kits will ship out on my blog's 15th anniversary, May 24.

And on that anniversary week, I'll also be inviting everyone who bought my book and the Experience Kit to a virtual book launch where we can talk about the experience of invisibility and how we can deal with it in a constructive manner. I'll email the link to you a few days before the launch.

I'll also have a little Facebook Live on May 24, 9 pm, just to say hello and thank you to all of you in my squeaky voice, and do a giveaway, too! 

Happy 15th birthday to Topaz Horizon - to me and to you! We made all this happen but it's really you who kept me going. Thank you for loving my stories and my family all these years. God bless you! 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

5 ways my blog made my dreams come true

In a few weeks, I'll be celebrating the 15th anniversary of Topaz Horizon. I've been blogging for almost 15 years! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be my longest and most fulfilling career. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine blogging would bring me the joy, love, friendship, and community I've longed for all my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little hobby would make 5 of my most cherished dreams come true, too!

Dream #1: Tell stories.

When I started blogging in 2006, all I ever wanted to do was tell stories. I had a lot of stories to tell. I was brimming with them. As a writer, I never really run out of stories. The problem is I'm not very good at telling them face-to-face. I don't really talk. That's why I write.

Back then, the only ones lucky enough to tell their stories to an audience are those who got themselves published in books and magazines. In 2005, I was working in a magazine and have had the great luck to be published. But greedy me, these weren't enough. Mostly because the stories I wrote for these titles weren't mine; they were other people's stories. I longed to tell my own.

Then a friend told me about this strange new platform called blogging. So I tried it. My world exploded. I was telling stories—silly, stupid, funny, sad, angry—and people were reading them! Blogging made my storytelling dream come true!

This was my last blogging workshop, I think! I love meeting my readers and chatting with them!

Dream #2: Win friends and influence people.

No, I've never read the Dale Carnegie book but blogging's allowed me to do what his bestselling book said everyone should do: win friends and influence people! Two years after I published my first blog post here on Topaz Horizon, I was not only telling stories to a worldwide audience (mind-boggling!), I also started to have real friends online. I say "real" because they didn't feel real at first. No faces, sometimes no names even, which made them feel unreal, but their friendship, jokes, empathy, words of encouragement, and comfort were real. And suddenly I wasn't feeling lonely anymore. I had friends! There were people who understood me and my weirdness. There were people who also put me in my place when I was being cocky, mean, and stupid, but they were always constructive. Sure, there are haters. That can't be avoided when you share your thoughts and beliefs. But mostly, the online world's been kind to me, and for that I'm grateful.

The one thing I didn't expect from blogging was the influence part. When people think of how to be an "influencer," they think it's as simple as peddling products. It's more than that since sharing your life has the incredible power of compelling people to change their minds. I had to be convinced my platform can be used to sway people's opinions. In my mind, I'm just telling my stories. But many of you have written me telling me I've helped you decide on career, love life, marriage, friendship, motherhood, and household issues. From shallow to profound. That scared me. It still scares me. Every time I blog, I'm always mindful of my message. I'm also still in the process of editing, even deleting, blog posts from years and years ago because I know I'm different now. I have to be careful every time I tell a story. 

Met my friend and Lean In PH co-founder, Ginger Arboleda, because of blogging! She's the one who actually told me to use my influence to empower women, especially moms.

Dream #3: Work from home.

As my blogging world grew bigger, another impossible dream was realized - I can work from home! And to a new mom, that means the world! I could work and be with my kids 24/7. I never thought I'd be able to do this since I was (still is) in media and media people are notoriously married to their work. It was difficult for me to choose between my work and my babies back in 2010-2012. Then fate decided for me when I was laid off (internet killed magazines). I could've looked for another job but the most lucrative blog topics I featured here made it possible for me to just be a mom. I will always be grateful I chose to do this blogging business!

Dream #4: Become a businesswoman.

Yes, my blog was the reason I became a businesswoman! For this blog to work as my main source of income, I had to attract bigger clients and a big way to do that was go legit. I registered as a business offering writing and editing services. For a good long while, my business was just that. But in recent years, I've eased more and more to influencer marketing. I realized my professional experience as an editor, writer, and blogger made me especially good at managing influencers so that both brand and influencer are happy. I had insight from brand and agency side and from the influencer side, too. It's really been good for business and I'm so happy my blog made this possible.

My pre-pandemic life: bring kids to school, run around the city, work on my phone!

Dream #5: Publish a book.

Fifteen years after my first blog post, I have now given birth to a book. A real book with pages you can smell! This blog became a book and I still can't believe this last and biggest dream has come true. I remember praying about it in September and just one month later, a publisher emailed me saying they loved my blog and could I write a book for them. And so I did! Please email me at to grab a copy of Not Invisible!

Five dreams. Now all real. Time to dream new dreams then! And thank you - ALL OF YOU! - for making these dreams come true. God bless you, dearest Loyal Readers! Love you all!

*This post was made with links provided by Intellifluence. To learn more and sign up for paid campaigns, click here!

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

How to know if I'm sharing a sponsored post

I've been blogging for 15 years by May this year. And, boy, have things changed! Before 2010, bloggers just wrote about everything they fancied. That's why bloggers were so trusted. Reviews were always from personal experience and since these were paid for from our own pockets, readers knew we had every right to say whatever we wanted - positive or negative.

Oh, those were the days! Such freedom! I didn't do reviews, though. I couldn't because I was the editor in chief of a magazine. I once wrote a glowing review of Olay on my blog. Pond's, a major advertiser of my magazine, complained. I protested, "My blog is a personal hobby. It has nothing to do with my job!" But my bosses persisted and so I deleted the Olay post and avoided doing reviews thereafter. It's okay. Reviews are an expensive thing to do anyway! (But do it because people Google reviews all the time!)

Around the start of the decade, brands started taking note of the huge following of bloggers and so advertising budgets were shifted from print publications to blogs. But with bloggers now taking payment for featuring a product, a restaurant, a salon, or a hotel, readers began doubting their credibility. I avoided this by choosing to work only with brands I believe in. That meant not raking it in, however. Sometimes, I will admit, I wished I could just say yes to all the offers since who's to know anyway? Well, I would. My family, too. And eventually, my readers would, too. The loss of my integrity is the most costly of all so I can't do it. 

I wanted to be transparent so all my blog posts were marked at the beginning or at the end with a "This blog post is brought to you by [brand]." And they were also tagged as sponsored posts. On Instagram and Facebook, I used the hashtags #THx[Brand] and #thblogsp (Topaz Horizon Blog Sponsored Post) until the platforms added the Paid Partnership feature. 

Now, it's my 15th year in the blogging world, and I know from emails from my Loyal Readers that they don't like blogs and Instagram accounts that are all about products and services because they never can tell if what they're reading is paid for or not. Influencers usually don't like marking posts as sponsored because followers don't trust paid posts. While it would be nice for bloggers to never charge for anything, a blog isn't a cheap hobby. And for influencers with massive followings, it really makes sense to earn from their influence, right? 

I'm not a huge blogger but I've built enough credibility to be considered an influencer (or in agency speak, KOL - key opinion leader). Even though disclosing sponsorships usually means fewer likes and views, I'll still disclose anyway and hope you'll still support me by liking the IG/FB post and reading the blog feature. I'm making it easier for you all to know if what I'm sharing is a sponsored post or a press gift. Here's how to know:


Sponsored posts on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook will all have my face on it! That will differentiate it from the other products that I share. That way, you'll immediately know I'm endorsing it. And brands like it when people pose with their products. 

I want to make sponsored posts more special because a few years ago, a sponsor complained that I'm posting and writing about other brands for free. The brand felt gypped. Struck me as a little petty but I've thought about it and I'll do something about it. Hence this blog post!


This is actually tricky. Some press gifts are sooo nice or I really love them that I blog about them happily and people assume it's a paid post. I will always always always disclose if a post is sponsored. Always have, always will. But to differentiate them further, press gifts will not have my face on them when I share on social media. And they can be lumped together with other similar gifts in a thank you post or a blog feature. 

On the blog, however, I haven't decided. Some gifts need to be worn (clothes, makeup, jewelry) or experienced (a resort, a salon makeover, restaurant). I figured I'll present the gifts the best way I can on the blog even if that includes me with the product/service and then just disclose that it's a gift. But I'll only share the experience on IG Stories. Same goes for events.

Some bloggers advised that they share gifts and events on Instagram as a carousel, but the first photo will not have the brand in it at all. That seems like a good idea. 

Oh, and all gifts will be shared on my blog's Facebook page, in the Blogger Gifts album. If I extra love them, then they get an IG post and a blog feature, too! But as a thank you, every gift will be shared in this album.


One thing that I do that baffles people is I don't post events in real time. My reason is I don't want anyone to know where I am. I always post about an event hours or even days after it happened. Many brands ask that I post in real time. I never say yes. And they can't make me because I never charge for event attendance.

I don't think you should follow my example, though. Agencies and brands love influencers who post in real time and stay throughout the event. So if you want lots of campaigns, go to all the events! It really helps you become visible to brands and agencies so they think of you for campaigns. It's really a good idea to go to events, guys. However, brands don't like people who charge an attendance fee but if you want to, then do so. I know why other people charge. Parking, gas, Grab fare, outfits, the time spent in traffic - all of these cost money. 

I will charge if I'm asked to work at the event as the host, part of a panel, or as a speaker. So if you notice I'm posting about an event in real time, then you know I was hired to be there. But if I'm invited as a guest, then I go as a guest. That way, if I want to leave, I can leave and no one can stop me. And because I don't have an attendance fee, I only go to events I like. It has to be worth my time and money and what makes that worth it? If it's a brand I really like, if it's for a friend, or if my friends will be there. Events are a great place to catch up - there's free food, free drinks, and everyone's all dressed up! 

Again, don't do what I do. Events are a great way to build your brand and network. Attend as many relevant events as you can!  


I used to publish press releases on the blog on Press Release Tuesdays. I think that some announcements are interesting for my readers to know and it makes for additional content. But now I'm putting all press releases in my News to Know album. Mostly because news gets old fast and it's easier to post them on Facebook then delete after it's no longer relevant.

And that's it! That's what's you can expect this year on my blog and social media platforms! Okay, and just in case you're not following me yet, please like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram

Thanks so much!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

My most read blog posts this 2020

I've been blogging for 14 years and 7 months and I still don't understand what makes people go to my blog. Four of the top 10 read posts in 2020 were published in past years:

"Top mommy bloggers in the Philippines" was written last year and that one was intentionally written to get views. I know PR agencies and brands Google this topic all the time so I plan to update that post every year.

"Physiogel Calming Relief" is a review post from 2016. Beauty bloggers tell me that they get tons of hits because everyone's always looking for reviews before they buy products. But I've reviewed other beauty products and they don't appear on my top 10 list. 

The FERN-C post was published in 2016 and it did well only this year and I believe that's because parents got freaked out by the COVID-19 pandemic and researched for the best vitamins to boost their kids' immunity.

As for the BabyLove diaper pants 2018 post... I don't know what happened there. Maybe people are finally realizing BabyLove is a great diaper brand. Yes! I was a longtime Pampers mommy, even was a brand ambassador, but BabyLove changed my mind.

For this year's posts, three were about relationships. I noticed that a long time ago actually. Whenever I blog about my love story, the posts get thousands of views. Not my kids, not my work and money advice, not my sponsored posts - it's my marriage that people want to read about. I'd love to write about it more because I love my husband SO MUCH. But! But But! I happen to be married to a really private man who tolerates my oversharing because he knows I like oversharing. So since marriage is compromise, I scaled back on the marriage posts.

Here are the links to the other top posts, in case you're interested:

Koobits online math classes 

Morbid to-do list

Vince was serious about me

Advice for celebrity kabits

Mukhang pera

How to get in the mood for sex

So it's 2021 next week! And it's also the dawn of my 15th year as a blogger. WHAT! Fifteen years?! What do you want me to blog about more, dear Loyal Readers? What do you want me to do this new year? Tell me and let's see!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Why are my favorite influencers not taking a political stand?

I'm listening to songs from the 70s so I'm feeling pretty mellow while I blog today. So, nope, you're not going to see me say bad things in answer to the question in the title haha (well, let's see!)

Okay, so apparently my last post ("How I've been"), while not trying to be political in any way, was seen as political. A few readers sent me DMs thanking me for speaking up and "sana mas marami pang bloggers na tulad mo who make a stand." Well, I was really just talking about my health but, sure, everything's political so I won't disagree. 

Politics is a set of activities or strategies based on ideas or beliefs. So I'm Frances. I believe in truth, freedom, human rights, equal treatment, feminism, and God. So everything in my life - every decision I make - will be influenced and dictated by my beliefs. 

Do I like people who lie? No.
Do I think rape jokes are funny? No.
Will I support people who pass laws curtailing our rights? No.
Do I think it's okay for people to curse God? No.
Do I condemn people who speak up even if I don't agree with them? No. 

So for example, I think many people should shut up but because I believe in the fundamental human right to free speech, I respect their right to speak. Up to the line when that freedom becomes a crime, of course. These are my politics and I try very hard to stand on my beliefs. So, yeah, I hate to admit this, I sometimes think some people shouldn't be allowed to talk or vote, but I won't stop them from doing so because it is their right. Whether the issue is big or small (which is the harder one, you know?), I try very hard to live according to my beliefs because how can I make anyone trust me if I have no integrity?

I think everyone should write down what they believe in and have the integrity to align all that they say and do with their beliefs.

So influencers. Isn't it such a waste that they have this huge platform and they don't use it for politics?

Well, it's not as simple as that. Here are the reasons why your favorite influencers aren't making any political statements:

1. They have a contract not to say anything.

As a blogger, I get proposals from brands. But I always clarify this clause in my contract: "Blogger will not engage in any controversial activities that may affect her reputation or the brand." So I lay it out: "Hi, I like to speak my mind and comment on political issues, sometimes I say bad words, sometimes I talk about sex. Is this going to be a problem?" If they say it's going to be a problem, then no partnership.

I can do that because usually maliit lang naman ang proposed bayad haha But what if hundreds of thousands or even millions ang ibabayad sa iyo? Hirap to say no, diba? So I don't blame influencers who agree to that clause.

Am I saying my silence can be bought if the price is right? I'd like to think no. Like I said, I try to live with integrity. But if there's anything 2016 onwards showed me it's really very easy these days to have cognitive dissonance. 

2. They have to take care of their mental health.

Another thing 2016 onwards showed me? How hateful people can be. You want to know what hell is like? Just visit the comments section! Like I said, some people talaga shouldn't be allowed to say anything. But it's their right so what can we do?

Influencers have a very public profile. That's necessary for them to amass a following. So if they say anything people don't agree with, they invite hate. Many people can handle it. They're usually politicians (unless your name sounds like a drum "bong bong bong" LOL). You'd think that public figures like influencers would also be able to handle trolls but influencers live on social media (politicians don't) so they're exposed to the hate. There's no barrier, no cushion, no filter. That's going to do lots of bad things to your brain, your psyche, your health. 

Remember: Influencers are on social media for the fans, the likes, the love, and admiration. They will not do anything that will invite hate.

3. They don't understand real life.

I love this saying, "If you don't have a leg to stand on, you can't put your foot down." For anyone to have a firm conviction, they need to have thought about the issues first. You can't have an opinion if you don't have facts. At least, that's how it should be. So many people now have an opinion and they don't even have the facts or they deny the facts!

Many influencers just keep quiet because they really don't understand what's going on. Sometimes it's because they're in their lovely bubble. For example, why will they comment on hunger if busog sila? On jobless Pinoys if their one IG post is worth P200,000? 

Or maybe they're just not smart. They try to think about the issues but hindi kaya ng brain nila. So they won't say anything na lang. Is that wrong? I don't know. I think we should always inform ourselves but that's just me.

4. They're already helping in other ways.

Some influencers aren't very good with words. Kaya nga nag-Instagram sila kasi mas magaling sila sa mga picture-picture haha. Joking aside, many influencers are good at supporting causes on the down-low. They donate. They raise funds. They make silly videos na pa-daplis comment on the situation pero babaw lang, happy lang. So we don't know everything about a person's life so we shouldn't judge, right? Baka mas malaki pa naitulong nila kesa sa atin.

5. They don't care.

Yep. They just don't care! And you can't accept it because these are people you look up to. You think because you admire them, they're better than you and they reflect your ideals or represent your goals. And if they're not making a stand (or worse, they're making an evil stand), then what does that say about you?

Believe me, I've been crushed by disappointment these past few years. It spans from the near and dear to public personas. People I looked up to for being devoted to the God of love, truth, and life supported a presidential candidate who spewed hate, lies, and death. A politician I admired for her gentleness voted for defunding of the Commission on Human Rights and pushed for the Anti-Terror Law. Doesn't anyone have integrity anymore?

So you see, just because influencers have tons of admirers doesn't mean they're perfect or that they represent who you are. We can't demand for them to make statements because what if they're contractually obligated to not say anything? What if they don't want the attacks that come with making a stand? What if they aren't really smart enough to understand the issues? What if they're really just evil?

My husband likes to tell me about the movie, The Remains of the Day. It's the story of a butler, James Stevens, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who is devoted to his master, Lord Darlington. He serves him because he thinks his Lord is better than him. In the end, he finds out his master is a Nazi sympathizer and that destroys him. James says, "[Lord Darlington] chose a certain path in life, it proved to be a misguided one, but there, he chose it, he can say that at least. As for myself, I cannot even claim that. You see, I trusted. I trusted in his lordship's wisdom. All those years I served him, I trusted I was doing something worthwhile. I can't even say I made my own mistakes. Really - one has to ask oneself - what dignity is there in that?”

My politics dictate that I believe in freedom of choice. If influencers (or people you love) don't want to say anything, let's respect their decision. The way I see it, people who want others to speak up should be the ones doing the speaking up. Let's be the one to think and speak out. Let's all do what WE can to change the world for the better. Maybe we'd inspire others to do the same.

P.S. Oh wow, this blog post got quoted a lot in The Manila Times!

Friday, June 26, 2020

How to tell stories that win the hearts of people

Everyone loves a good story. And everyone has a story to tell. Some people want to share their stories with the world, shouting out loud on blogs, vlogs, and social media. Some people, however, don’t want to be so public so they use anonymous blog sites to share their stories with others online.

Sharing stories that win the hearts of people (a.k.a. viral content) is a talent. If you feel you don't have the talent for this, don't feel bad. You can learn how to tell stories that people will love by honing certain skills. Once you learn these skills, you'll be confident enough to share your stories with your online readers. In today's guest post, you'll find a few tips to gain the best skills to win the hearts of people with your stories.

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GUEST POST - Are you someone who tells stories for other people anonymously? That's called ghostwriting where the stories are shared through the strength of the person or brand you wrote for. But what if you want to tell your own stories but don't want to reveal who you are? How can you make people be interested in your story without making them interested in knowing you? 

Knowing how to tell your story anonymously is a tough deal. Your story must stand on its own. When you’re making an anonymous blog, you need to learn about all the tactics of storytelling to win your reader's heart. Here are some beneficial tips to tell stories that win the hearts of people. 

1. Talk about real things. 

Readers want authenticity. If you cook up a fake story, it will sound false and unrelatable. Only your real stories can make you win the hearts of people. People start developing a feeling of trust and empathy when reading someone’s true story. Don’t make your readers lose trust in your stories. 

2. Don't miss the suspense element. 

What’s the main thing which keeps you engaged in a story? Suspense. It doesn't need to sound like a murder thriller but the secret to keeping your readers engaged enough to read until the last line is to feed them little details throughout. Don't reveal everything. Build up the story before delivering the final statement.

3. Add a human touch to your simple story. 

Whether your story is simple or thrilling, you need to make people feel your experience is relevant to them. You want to make them feel they're not alone. For instance, you can talk about some past experiences which helped you gather confidence to move ahead in life. Your story may be about an ordinary day in your simple life but adding inspiring elements will make it special.

4. Use proper story structure. 

You may have a great story but if you can't tell it properly, people will lose interest and scroll past it. You need to have the basics—good grammar and correct spelling. A good storyteller writing anything from a blog post to a sales pitch knows how to use tone, relatable characters, build conflict, and impart an unforgettable message. 

5. Always have a message. 

Every storyteller knows that the best stories have a lesson. From fairy tales to parables, all the most memorable stories had a profound message. If your story doesn’t have a moral or a message for the readers, then why are you even telling a story! If you want people to remember your story, then it has to have a powerful message they can take away with them.

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