Showing posts with label Reviews & Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews & Recommendations. Show all posts

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Review: Seeds of Hope by Tiny Buds

I got a Tiny Buds press kit last week. Inside the box, I found three baby-care products, a growing kit (pot, soil, seeds), and a book to read to the kiddos. Honestly, when I saw the cover, I didn't think much of the book. "Oh, just another baby book, not for my school-aged kids." But my youngest boy wanted to read it anyway, and he read it aloud, and we LOVED it! That's why today, I'm going to do a book review of Seeds of Hope by Tiny Buds.

Seeds of Hope tells the story of three tiny seeds that are happy and cozy in the soft, warm earth. After my son read the book, he instantly grasped the metaphor. "Mama, the three seeds are just like me and my brothers. And the earth is our home!"

Now if you think it's all happy-happy-joy-joy, nope. In fact, the seeds experienced many hardships. To the point that two of them said that it's better to just stay deep in the earth, safe and warm forever. But one of them insisted that they should have hope and still go out and learn to face their challenges. The world may be a harsh place but this little seed needs to grow and eventually adapt to or overcome the difficulties.

After he read the story, my boy said, "Mama, that's like you saying you're teaching us many things now because we need to be ready for life later!"

I'm telling you this Seeds of Hope book by Tiny Buds is really good! It's short, easy to read and understand, and teaches important lessons on resilience, courage, determination, and - of course - hope. I highly recommend it for you to get for your kids!

How to get? It's FREE! Together with the Tiny Grow Kit Set, the Seeds of Hope book is a FREE GIFT from Tiny Buds when you buy a minimum order of P1,111 on 11.11 (Nov. 11). That's today! This promotion is happening on the Tiny Buds official Lazada, Shopee, and Edamama stores.

If you still have babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, I'm sure it's easy for you to rack up P1,111 worth of Tiny Buds products hehe They have soooo many great quality products for your kid and for mommy, too.

To be honest, since my kids are big na, I don't buy Tiny Buds anymore. But I will say that until now, I buy the After Bites Natural Soothing Gel and the Natural Baby Fabric Softener. After Bites is my favorite. It really works! Kawawa my kids when they get bug bites and I've tried a ton of creams, oils, and whatever. Tiny Buds After Bites is the one that made the itch and the swelling go away fast. Best! 

As for the fabric softener, actually, Downy user ako forever but last year, I tried the Tiny Buds Natural Baby Fabric Softener for our undies. I love it. I love it super. Gentle and hindi matapang ang amoy (lakas ng amoy ng Downy kasi). So this is my recommended fabcon not just for baby clothes but also for the delicates of the whole family.

Okay, that's my book review and product recommendation for today! Do get the Seeds of Hope book by Tiny Buds, mommies. It's super nice. We really loved it as a family. You will, too!

Follow @tinybudsbaby on Instagram, @tinybuds on Facebook, and through its official flagship stores on Lazada and Shopee. You may also join the “Tiny Buds Family” Facebook Community to learn more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Review: "Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus" by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag

Our first year of homeschooling is finally done. It was most definitely not a walk in the park. I think we had some days when we yearned for "school school", you know, real school with real teachers who have real education degrees. That said, I'm happy to report that the kids enjoyed homeschooling more than I did. So that's a credit to me, right? Sigh. Let me tell you I may have made their homeschooling experience great but I truly had a hard time enjoying it. I'll tell you more about my conflicting feelings about homeschooling another day. For today, we'll do a book review of Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag. 

Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus is a 31-day devotional for homeschooling moms. If you're a dad, you'll appreciate it, too. In fact, since all of us are homeschooling anyway (hello, parents of online distance learning kids!), you will need this book. Every day for a month, you get a Bible verse, a little story of encouragement, questions to reflect on, a short prayer, and then a page of worksheet to write down your concerns and what you're grateful for. It's as simple as that!

The devotional is also part memoir since Teresa shares her own homeschooling journey in every entry. It's obvious that she is very happy with homeschooling (unlike me haha). Teresa is really an educator. Her job as a trainer, coach, and consultant is all about teaching so it's easy to see why homeschooling was the most natural decision for her. It was kinda sweet to see how excited she is about teaching her kids and how much joy she got out of that. I guess that's because she dedicated her homeschooling to God and relies on the Holy Spirit to give her wisdom and the right attitude, and she really is grateful for the privilege of being her kids' teacher. (Frances, take note!)

I got an advance copy of this book so I was able to go through a few days of devotions. Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus is a book I'd have appreciated way back in August last year when we chose to homeschool because of the pandemic. It really addresses the fears and worries of a new homeschooling parent and it may have helped me adjust my attitude. 

Then again, I didn't actually fear homeschooling. I used to be a teacher and I have helped my kids with their homework for years. Many times I explained the lessons better than their teachers ever did. So my ability to teach them was not a worry. I'll talk about my struggle with homeschooling in another post! 

What's so good about this devotional is the emphasis on encouragement and the counting of blessings. Because there truly were many wonderful things that happened because I was my kids' teacher. I saw how they think and process information (okay, this is both a good and a bad thing!), I saw what made them bored and interested and so I was able to adjust the lessons. We had fun for many days! But most of all, homeschooling kept us safe from the pandemic. We're healthy, alive, and learning. That's the most important part. The simple exercise of writing down everything great that happened every school day does wonders. That's the habit this devotional wants us parents to cultivate.

Homeschool Moms at the Feet of Jesus by Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag is available for download on Amazon Kindle for only USD 2.99. From now till tomorrow, July 1, it's FREE! It's also free on Kindle Unlimited. Download your copy now.

*photos courtesy of Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag.

Look back on the blog entries every Wednesday of this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! I'll try to do a review of a local author, a Filipino mom especially, every end of the month. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Review: "Abi Nako, or So I Thought" by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz

I can't stop thinking about Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz. Her memoir is so full of life and death, love and loss, horror and humor that I thought this more than once as I read her book, "This should be made into a movie!" But to say that seems like I'm reducing Joy's life into mere entertainment. It's not. It's profound and very sad. It's also very funny. It's a life so alive! It's a really good book!

Okay, I've gotten ahead of myself! This week's book review is Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Palanca awardee and creative writing professor Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz. Well, she'll always be Joy to me because I met her at the 1999 U.P. National Writers Workshop in Baguio, the same workshop where I met my husband. She is wildly funny and deeply serious all at the same time. But that was all I knew of Joy and nothing about her life until Facebook happened. And until Abi Nako. And oh wow what a life!

Abi Nako, or So I Thought is a collection of essays Joy wrote about love - her pursuit of love from men and women, her love for her children, her love for this country, her pained love story with her mother, her love for words and their meanings. It's a series of raw and brutally honest confessionals. It's quite the page-turner, but there were chapters that were so heavy and sad for me that I had to put it down. 

Yes, as with all of us, Joy suffered heartbreak many times over, but unlike most of us, Joy is so brave and relentless to wrestle with her demons and learn from them and then write about it with no fear of judgment. Joy writes about the Cebuano phrase "abi nako." In Tagalog, it means "akala ko", and diba there's a saying, "Maraming namamatay sa maling akala"? "Akala ko" is never a good thing. Joy writes, "The Binisaya dictionary tells us that 'abi' means 'to misconstrue, misread,' while 'nako' means 'mine.' In this language, my misconceptions are not only my own, I must also own them. Thus, I am not just misreading it; it is my own misreading."

Joy's book is all about her experiences of hoping for a better life and then getting her hopes dashed again and again. This is the man for me, or so I thought. Marriage will settle me, or so I thought. Moving to Davao for my lover is romantic, or so I thought. Abi. And then because Joy writes about all these hurts without whine or blame, she also takes responsibility for them. Nako

But it's not all gloom and doom. If there was bleakness to Joy's life story, it's swept away by her persistence to believe in new beginnings even if it means beginning again and again and again. It's her refusal to give up that makes this book so inspiring. It is full of hope. It is full of forgiveness. 

Please get a copy! The language is beautiful. I love words and this book was a love affair with words. 

Abi Nako, or So I Thought by Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz is only P450 and may be ordered from It's also available in the UP Press shops on Shopee and Lazada.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Review: "Snippets of Sanity" by Kaycee Enerva

Hello, mamas! Feeling like you need to breathe in the middle of this busy week? Well, between juggling the household chores, the job(s), the bills, the friends, the husband, and the kids, we're always hoping for a break so that we don't break. 

That's why this week's book review feature is Snippets of Sanity: On Mental Health and Motherhood by Kaycee Enerva. This is a short book, only 5 chapters long. I finished it in one sitting, so if you're a busy mom, you can definitely find time to squeeze this book in.

Kaycee is the blogger behind The Macho Mom. If you follow her on social media, she posts about her life as a single mom, her fitness routines, and her mental health advocacy. She's very bold and honest and raw in everything she says. That's why I like her. She's real. No lies detected!

Her book, Snippets of Sanity, is all about how her bipolar disorder affects everything in her life - her work, her relationships, most especially how she mothers her only child, Geof. You don't have to be bipolar to relate to Kaycee. As mothers, we are responsible for way too much and do too many things. It's tough. 

Kaycee's book made me realize something, too. Because she's diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she's very aware of her behavior, her emotions, of what she can do. She has to or else she might succumb to her symptoms and everything in her life will be affected. Most of us moms, we're like trains. We chug along. Or, what's that positivity word? We POWER THROUGH. Even when we're exhausted, we don't acknowledge our state and our emotions. We don't ask for help. Everything's okay. And then we snap. Or break.  

Reading Snippets of Sanity showed me how it's totally okay to admit you can't do it all, that you have needs, that you make mistakes, that you should tell your kids you're a flawed human being, and to ask for help. Kaycee shows us it's okay to not be perfect, even though we all want to be perfect.

It's hard to raise a parent - the parent being us!

I think all of us - moms or not, mentally well or not - all of us can learn a thing or two from Kaycee and her book. My takeaways are: Be honest with yourself and with others. Be kind to yourself most of all.  

Snippets of Sanity: On Mental Health and Motherhood by Kaycee Enerva is only USD 2.99 on Amazon Kindle and USD 7 for the paperback. Find more stories by Kaycee on her blog The Macho Mom!

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

5 things I learned from "No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God" by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio

Since June is traditionally the month associated with weddings (in the Philippines, however, most weddings happen from October to February), we'll tackle a book on marriage this week. I picked No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio. Instead of a book review, I'll list down the 5 things I learned from the first book written by two of my childhood and church friends.

1. Woman was created by God to save man.

Haha! I'm half-joking. Actually, Jeff did mention in the book that Jen saved him from his foolish ways. So there's some truth there. God said it isn't good for anyone to be alone so He created a helper or a savior for each of us. No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God reiterates that that doesn't mean we should swoop in and change our spouses. We should still love and accept them for who they are.

Anyway, my takeaway from this is this helper-savior thing applies not just to man-woman, but to everyone. We need friends. We need others. I like to think God doesn't just magically rescue us from ourselves. He uses family and friends, even strangers, to help us out and lift us up with love. That's our mandate: love each other.  

2. You must be whole before you get married.

"You complete me" is a famous romantic line. I never fell for it, though. In fact, that scares me a little. I don't want a man who is incomplete and needs me to make him whole. That's an impossible task for anyone. You get married because you have so much love to give. Love - and life! - is for giving, not taking. No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God emphasizes that the wholeness of each distinct part of a marital union enhances the other. Marriage makes us better. When marriage makes us worse, that's because you were incomplete to begin with.

When I got married, it was after 8 years of dating. That's because I wanted to be sure of who I am. I was definitely sure Vince was The One for me, but I didn't want to saddle him with an insecure, frightened, whiny, immature, overcompensating girl. I waited until I was mature enough, confident enough, happy and completely in love with myself before I committed to loving him till death do us part. He was the same. In fact, he said he was glad we didn't get married when he first asked, a few weeks after we met. He said he was changing, too, and we're glad we did all those self-improvements and realizations while we were both unmarried. 

That's not to say you can't change and improve anymore when married, okay! As long as we're alive, change is inevitable. But it's easier to go through those changes together when you're both a whole person on your own. 

In my case, what really made me whole was my faith in God. His love for me was really the source of my confidence and peace. My marriage is not perfect (whose is???) but one thing that doesn't trouble us is insecurity. We know ourselves and each other so well that there is peace. Because we are both whole persons, there is no fear, no distrust, no doubt. And in any relationship, that is vital.

3. Husbands should also submit to their wives.

I loved that it was Jeff who wrote this section. It comes from a place of complete humility and - as mentioned - wholeness. He isn't afraid to say he, as the man, submits to his wife. For the world, that means she wears the pants but anyone in a happy marriage knows that a good marriage is one of equality. There is respect and admiration for each other, there is a willingness to serve each other.

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior." Ephesians 5:22-23. These verses have caused so much grief to millions of wives because people have interpreted it to mean unquestioning obedience. But as my husband always reminds me, we must always take Bible verses into context. Why did Paul the Apostle tell wives to submit to their husbands anyway? Actually, the first thing he said was in verse 21: "Submit to one another." The second was the admonition for wives to submit to their husbands which he follows up with the third command in verses 25-33: "Husbands. love your wives!!!" 

Yes, one verse telling us to submit to one another. Three verses telling wives to submit to their husbands, and a whopping NINE VERSES telling husbands to love their wives because she is the best thing that ever and will ever happen to him. Periodt! But seriously, it is more important for a man to value his wife because when he loves her completely, she will submit to him completely, too. No need to assert your dominance. Wives naturally respond to love. See, context. I am so happy No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God reminds us all of the context! Partnership and mutual submission. That's marriage.   

Many women have asked me how I can be feminist and also be submissive to my husband. You know, people misunderstand feminism so much. To be feminist means to have a choice. Women shouldn't be forced or prevented from choosing what's best for them. Before I submitted to my husband, I chose him. Of all the men in the world, he was the only one I deemed to be worthy of my love and trust. Because I know he is a good man and he loves me, I can let him be my partner in life. I can let him lead our family. Important words: "I let him." He lives up to that trust. You should know that I support divorce. When a man abuses his wife and kids in any way, then he is no longer a good leader and I believe a wife should withdraw her choice. (Note: The Aspacios don't support divorce.) 

(UPDATE: Jen corrected me and said that divorce is Biblical. "Divorce sometimes is inevitable. Even the Lord allowed divorce, because of man's stubbornness. I still believe that nothing is impossible when it comes to working out a marriage, if both are up to it, but if it is bringing harm to the well-being of either husband, wife, even kids, and everything's [been] done, divorce is the way to go. Divorce protects the spouse and children, and it doesn't nullify the union. Alimony also takes care of the children's needs. Annulment is not very strong in this, if there is at all a clause similiar to alimony. I'm not familiar with our PH law on this. But I am for divorce.")  

In the same way, Vince also knows that he can depend on me for everything, he can tell me anything, he can be what he wants to be and I won't mock him or scold him or dismiss him. He is confident to serve me and our kids because I am the holder and guardian of his peace and security. I am keenly aware that this man trusts me and depends on me with his whole being. I should never do anything to betray him. If I do, I risk losing him - and he should leave a wife like that! (Note: Vince doesn't support divorce.) 

4. Wives are precious.

"Husbands, in the same way, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers." I Peter 3:7. Another verse that has caused trouble to women everywhere because people claimed that the Bible said that women are weak.

I love the etymology of the term "weaker" that No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God presents. It transforms a hurtful word into one that honors women.

5. To love your spouse is to love yourself.

Many people have a hard time with this. How can you put yourself first if you serve your spouse? How can you love your spouse if you love yourself? Ephesians 5:28-30 explains it: "In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body."

Again, it's a wholeness thing. You shouldn't depend on another person to make you happy. But the most marvelous thing happens when you love your spouse and make every effort for their happiness - your spouse will do the same! So you're both making each other happy and that's so much fun, so satisfactory! It's a mutual pleasure exercise!

Again, it's a wholeness thing! If only one of you is whole, then the other will just take and take. But you can never truly fill up an incomplete person. You can try. And many husbands and wives do. But it is exhausting and frustrating. That's no way to spend the rest of your life so choose well. 

That said, and even though I said I believe in divorce, I also believe in not giving up on your marriage. Marriage can be tough. Jen wrote that it "should not be a place of struggle" but many times it can be. My own marriage went through some hard times, too (Vince denies this hahaha and says I make up my own problems when we have always been strong). Love and commitment save a marriage. So love each other. And commit! 

These are the 5 things I learned from No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God by Jeffrey and Jennifer Aspacio. Their book tackles many other topics, such as parenting and how to survive infidelity (from their personal experience bravely detailed in their book). You can definitely learn a lot more! Here are the many ways to get your copy:

For Kindle and international orders, buy from Amazon.

For Philippine readers, buy from Shopee.

To learn more about No Perfect Marriage, Only a Perfect God, follow their Facebook page.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Review: "I Am Happy" by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists


June is when we celebrate our independence from foreign powers. Now that it's being threatened again, I think it's important we teach our kids the beauty of our country and our culture so that they grow up proud of being Filipino and fiercely protective of our sovereignty.

One way to do that is through books! So book review time! Today's literary feature is a small but mighty book called I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and various Filipino artists. 

I Am Happy is part of a series of books created for our Pinoy kids. The words are all about gratitude. It's really very simple. "I'm happy about this, I'm grateful for that." It doesn't lay on the patriotism too thick. It's just a happy list of things around us that we should appreciate - food, fun, sea and sky, family and friends. 

But the gorgeous illustrations on every page - each one illustrated by a Filipino artist - is a joyful exhibition of our country and culture! Nakakatuwa siya. So while you read to your child the words that hardly talk about the country itself, the pictures exploding with color and beauty will make you want to point out every beautiful thing about our country. Ipagyayabang mo talaga sa anak mo ang kulturang Pilipino - pawikan at parol, fiesta at saranggola, lechon at iba pa!    

Plus, every page encourages your child to think about what he is grateful for. It doesn't have to be about the country, of course. So the book, while short, is big on many things - gratitude for our blessings, love for country, and art and culture.

Highly recommend this book, mamas! Do buy a copy!

To learn more about I Am Happy by Kim Espartero and how to buy, check out Let's Be Super on Facebook.

*Visit the blog every Wednesday night this June for my reviews of books written by Filipino mommies! Support mommies! Support literature! Support local! 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Brittle nails, falling hair? Wolvit Biotin to the rescue!

I am so excited to tell you about my latest find: Wolvit biotin supplements! This is going to be a long post because I need to explain my hair and nail problems, what biotin is, and then give my Wolvit biotin review. So I hope you have a bit of time to read through! 

I started taking Wolvit in the first week of February. Just before that, I was desperately looking for a solution to my thinning hair and brittle nails. The Project Vanity Facebook group recommended taking biotin supplements for those exact same problems. So imagine my delight when Wolvit - by sheer coincidence! - sent me Wolvit Biotin pills to review!

My hair and nail issues

To be honest, I was skeptical. I've tried everything - shampoos and topical solutions on my scalp, extra soft brushes and wide-toothed combs, hair masks; then cuticle creams and fortified polishes that promised to strengthen my nails. Nothing worked!

I know the exact date my nails started peeling. It was September 27, 2008. It was the day my Mama died and I was standing in the parking lot of the funeral home, staring down at my shaking hands. It was then I noticed my thumbnail was split at the edge. I thought it was just an accident. I must've hit my nail on something and I didn't notice it during the terror of the day. But in the following days and weeks, I noticed further that my nails kept breaking and splitting. Finally, I just cut them short. I haven't grown my nails long since then. I have big nails anyway so there was still plenty of space for nail polish. Still, the state of my nails was worrying. I worried it was a sign of poor health.

Throughout my 30s, my hair also started falling. Experts say we lose a hundred strands of hair every day. That's normal. But I was losing A LOT. Like "I need to clean up my brush and bathroom floor every time I brush my hair" a lot. I just brushed my hair once a day and also washed my hair after 2-3 days so that I won't have to brush it out so much. Still, the hair kept falling. It's very sad! I was only in my 30s! I was worried again that it was another sign of poor health.

A dozen years later, I learned that my splitting nails and falling hair are probably due to a vitamin deficiency. At a Wolvit biotin bloggers conference, I learned about biotin, a vitamin in the B-complex family that helps your body convert food into energy. When your body has enough biotin, it manifests as healthy hair, glowing skin, and strong nails. Signs of a biotin deficiency? Hair loss, scaly red skin, rashes, or bristled nails. Oh my!

So you can bet I was excited to try Wolvit biotin supplements. This is my review!

What is Wolvit?

Wolvit is an over-the-counter biotin supplement. I take one tablet, or 5,000 micrograms (5 mg), every day. You can actually take more than one tablet if your diet is really biotin-deficient (usually happens when you're on a plant-based diet). It's safe since any extra biotin just gets peed out! 

What are the benefits of Wolvit biotin?

1. It hydrates skin from within.
2. It strengthens the hair shaft. 
3. It restores hair texture.
4. It helps thicken nail cuticles.
5. It strengthens nails to prevent breakage.

My review:


After just 2 weeks of taking Wolvit biotin, I noticed that my nails were stronger. Usually, if they grow about 2 millimeters, they already start peeling. But I didn't see any peeling, splitting or breaking so I decided to let my nails grow longer. 

As my nails got longer, I also noticed they were harder. Before taking Wolvit Biotin, my nails easily bent at the slightest pressure. They were that soft! Now, they didn't bend no matter how much I pressed them. I also tried cutting plastic and opening canned soda with my nails. They didn't break!!!

Now, look at how long my nails are! They haven't been this long in 12 years!

The nails of my thumb and pointing finger are shorter because I sliced them when I was cutting onions.

I feel so vain about my nails! I think they make my hands look feminine again! Too bad we're all still in quarantine. I haven't been to a nail salon for more than a year. It would be soooo nice to have my new strong and healthy nails professionally groomed!


So I've been taking Wolvit biotin for 2 months now. As for my hair, well, I haven't seen any new extra growth. But my hair feels thicker. That's because my hair isn't falling so much anymore. I literally don't need to clean up my brush and bathroom floor every day anymore. My hair stays put on my head! 

I also learned from the Project Vanity community that when they take biotin over a long period, their hair grows thicker and faster. A friend says her lashes are longer and thicker after 6 months of taking biotin. That's all I need to know! I'm taking Wolvit forever!!! 

I highly recommend Wolvit biotin supplements. It's a safe vitamin pill to take every day. You and your husband can take it, although if your hubby is going through male pattern baldness, best to see a dermatologist for that concern.

You can buy Wolvit biotin at Mercury Drug, Watsons, Southstar Drug, St. Joseph, Curamed, St Joseph, All Day Rx, Sure Rx, and other leading drugstores nationwide. Since we have a pandemic, do stay home and have Wolvit biotin delivered to you! You can buy from the online shops of: Watsons (promo price of just P186 for a box of 30 tablets!), Mercury Drug Gamot PadalaSouthstar Drug online delivery  (P225 for a box of 30 tablets), Lazada and Shopee.

I hope my Wolvit biotin review makes you want to try it, too! I'll update this review after 6 months. So excited to see if my lashes will grow!

*This post is brought to you by Wolvit Biotin 5mg.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: "At the School Gate" by Sandra Nicole Roldan

I bought At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan a couple of months ago. I met Sandra at the 1999 U.P. National Writers Workshop in Baguio, the same workshop where I met my husband, Vince. Sandra also met her husband, Paul de Guzman, there. We were all fellows in possibly the most romantic writers workshop ever. So join workshops if you're looking for your soul mate! Joking aside, Vince and I like supporting local literature, especially the work created by our fellows. At the School Gate is Sandra's first book.

Since my readers are mostly mommies, I figured I'd do a book review because At the School Gate is a children's book. At just 40 pages, all fully illustrated by Nina Martinez, it appears to be a simple little story about a teenaged girl's adventures outside her school. And it is, except that the story is dark and scary because the girl's father is hunted down by real monsters.

This is the story of Ella Cortez, a child of an activist against Martial Law. In the 1970s, activists who criticized Marcos were arrested and jailed without evidence. Many were tortured, many were killed. My parents were Marcos Loyalists and they told me this was a lie. And I was a Marcos fan, too, until I met the survivors - my professor Marra Lanot, my mentor Jo-Ann Maglipon, and my colleague Pete Lacaba. I was so embarrassed to declare one time that Marcos was an amazing President in front of Sir Pete. He looked at me and smiled sadly. That was when another colleague told me about his activism. Then I had to confront the fact that my parents were the ones who lied.   

The book follows Ella's story as she is fetched from school by her auntie at the school gate. Ella is not living in Martial Law times anymore. She is 15 years old so this is 1991. The country is under the Aquino administration, supposedly the golden era of democracy, a safe time. Her father is now an NGO worker, making documentaries. But Ella finds out from her aunt that the government captured and tortured her father again. The whole family must now stay together to keep her safe. It didn't feel safe. There is malevolence and fear haunting every page. Ella realizes quickly that even though it's her father the government is after, the threatening presence of a henchman shadows her every move. Will she be afraid or will she be brave just like her father?

At the School Gate is an important book, especially and frighteningly relevant in these dark times. Many would argue that recent events of red-tagging schools is a good thing. The government is just trying to protect students from communists sweeping through the halls and recruiting gullible young girls and boys to go against the government. But my argument to that is this: What's the overwhelming proof that state universities are churning out communists? You'd think there are thousands upon thousands of students joining the New People's Army every year. But there hardly are any. Not one person can come up with a verified list of even just a hundred students who joined the NPA in the last year. 

I don't even understand why the government is threatening the universities when there are no physical classes. The campuses are ghost towns in the nearly year-long quarantine. There's no one there to recruit, and therefore this issue is illogical. Yet we are haunted and threatened by it. 

Student activism shouldn't be a priority, especially while there is a global pandemic. Yet it seems to be an issue that won't go away. What's the oft-used phrase of this administration and its defenders? Kung walang masamang ginagawa, walang dapat katakutan. Something like that. Why are all our administrations so afraid of students and activists then? 

At the School Gate shows us that activists just want a better life for their children, except that in their fight for a better world, their families suffer. Is it worth it to sacrifice your family, your life, on the altar of democracy and freedom? It's a question I'd have said yes to when I didn't have children. But I'm ashamed to say motherhood has made me a coward. That's what this book made me realize.  

And that's why this book must be included in every Filipino home. It opens our eyes to the truth that democracy is a tenuous thing. We must not take it for granted. Some people risk their safety, happiness, and their lives fighting for it. Will At the School Gate ever be required reading? Sad to say, as long as we have leaders who are corrupt and hungry for power, this book will be dangerous material. 

To be honest, I haven't read this book to my kids yet because it's too raw and scary. It shouldn't be. Martial Law was three decades ago. But it's all still happening, especially today. I thought I'd be able to tell the boys, "And that was a dark time but these brave men and women saved us from a dictator and now we're free! There's nothing to worry about anymore. We are all safe." But I can't say that. Not yet. I hope, in 2022, I will.

At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan is available on Shopee for just P195.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Who's the best match for Daphne Bridgerton: Duke of Hastings, Prince of Prussia, or Baron Berbrooke?

Sorry sorry! I know I have a 30-Day Blogging Challenge but I was derailed by Netflix's Bridgerton. Who's watching??? 

Such a fun show. It's like Gossip Girl. I hear it's right down Downton Abbey alley, too, but I haven't watched that show so I won't know. I love the modern touches. The Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish songs in 19th century settings. The obviously modern high heels with sumptuous gowns. 

Anyway! This isn't going to be a review haha. I'm an absolute royalty nerd so I was a little annoyed at one thing. The issue of peerage. 

Just a note on peerage. There was a scene where Lady Gossip Girl said Daphne traded up by choosing the Prince from Prussia vs the Duke of Hastings. Not quite.

A duke is a title just under king. The peerage goes like so:

1. King or Queen

2. Duke or Duchess

3. Marquess or Marchioness

4. Earl or Countess

5. Viscount or Viscountess

6. Baron or Baroness

A prince, meanwhile, is a title that simply means the son of a king. So unless Prince from Prussia is the heir to the throne, he's basically just a rich brat with no future and no real money of his own (think Prince Harry, Andrew, Edward). If you're a prince, you want to be a duke! That's why on their wedding day,  Queen Elizabeth II gifted William the Duke of Cambridge title and Harry the Duke of Sussex title. Before their dukedoms, they were literally just COOs or "child of the owner".

So again, the only prince who matters is the heir to the throne. And since Prince of Prussia said he planned to stay in London to raise his family, he is obviously not the heir.

Also, side note on Daphne's brother, Anthony, marrying her off to Nigel Berbrooke. That made no sense at all. Anthony is Viscount Bridgerton. Berbrooke is just a baron, a title lower than theirs. It's a terrible match because Daphne would've married below their status. So ridiculous. 

Which means the Duke of Hastings is the best choice. He has the better title, his own land, his own money, and - with no siblings - absolutely no one else to share all that fortune with. And if the Queen in the show has no children (and it doesn't look like she does), Hastings has a chance at the throne. Well, all the dukes in the kingdom will, er, duke it out first but he definitely has a chance. Which means Daphne has a chance to be Queen. So Hastings is the right choice.

That's all! 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Review: Silouex compression leggings

I'm just going to start this review with my conclusion: I have found leggings that I love! Ladies, meet Silouex compression leggings. It's not a new brand. I think it's been around for a couple of years. I've definitely seen the brand featured on women's lifestyle websites but I only got a pair myself a few months ago. And I love it!

Exercising and lounging at home in my favorite leggings! 

Here are all the reasons why:

1. It's thick. 
You may think that's a bad thing in a tropical country but I am just tired of leggings that rip at the bum, split at the seams, and when you're out under the sun, kita na kaluluwa mo sa nipis. Yuck. The Silouex leggings are thick. sturdy, but not hot. Definitely warmer than your regular leggings but better warm than embarrassed!

2. It's easy to put on and take off. 
I have had battles with other kinds of leggings. Pulling them up can leave me breathless, taking them off can be a nightmare (especially when you need to pee!). Silouex leggings are no trouble at all!

3. It can be worn outside your house. 
Like I said, it's thick. Some leggings are so thin, people can see your camel toe. Not chic at all. Silouex leggings protect my modesty while showing off my legs, too!
I can twist and stretch and my leggings won't split, roll down, or reveal my butt! 

4. It's high-waisted. 
You know what that means? They keep my tummy in and they don't roll down! Ladies with big bellies know what I mean!

5. It separates my ass cheeks. 
Yes! Not only does my butt get a nice lift from the compression, there's also a seam in the butt part of the leggings that makes my ass look like two round buns instead of one flat piece of meat.

6. It holds me together. 
Did I mention Silouex is a pair of compression leggings? That means all my jiggly parts are contained! It's shape wear disguised as leggings!

7. It's comfortable. 
At the end of the day, we ladies use leggings because we want to be comfy. Silouex is soooo comfy.

8. It's affordable. 
A pair is P2,300. Is that a good and reasonable price for leggings? Yes. Why? It's really shape wear, and shape wear is expensive. But super affordable nga actually their price compared to the ones you buy from foreign brands.

Once the quarantine is over, I'm definitely wearing my Silouex leggings to the gym, on the streets, to the mall, while hiking, etc etc. Check out some of these OOTDs I got:

Nice! Anyway, if you're on the lookout for really good leggings, buy Silouex! I super recommend it!