Sunday, June 29, 2014

Project Scrapbook

For my daughter's English project, they were tasked to come up with a scrapbook about their lives. Titled The Book About Me, they were given almost two weeks to finish it. Being the crafty mom that I am, I took charge in choosing the photos and having them printed, but it was mostly Aliya who did the decorating, pasting and writing. Here are some of the pages of her scrapbook which of course, I made sure to take photos of before she submitted it today. :

That was the cover page.

The following are a couple of pages about our travels:

Another page dedicated to the stuff she likes:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Throwback with The Corrs

I was prepping up the supplies for my daughter's scrapbook project and I thought the house was so silent. My husband's at work, my child's in school, and the maid went to the internet shop to do some research for her school project. I thought I could make use of some music, and found myself singing to old favorites. But the one I enjoyed most was listening and singing along with The Corrs. Brings back memories of younger years.

Lovin my Laminator

A few years back, my husband gifted me with a Personal Laminator from CDR-King. Since I didn't have the time to familiarize myself with it, the said gift ended up stored in my shelf, waiting for me to at least unseal the box. The other day, my daughter came home from school and told me we have to come up with an improvised name plate while the ID cards from the school have yet to be produced. She said the teacher told them it would be nice if the name plates are glued to a cardboard to make them sturdier. Knowing that making one out of cardboard won't last for a week with my very active daughter, I thought I could have one laminated at the nearby school supplies store. Then I remembered I have my own laminator!

I was so excited to use it that I was able to make name plate in just 15 minutes. The cutting and pasting of my child's name took the first 13 minutes, then the laminating took only 2 minutes. I'm so proud. Babaw, but proud. Hehe. Glad these things go handy when I need them. And glad I didn't sell them at the garage sale. Hehe.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Top Ten Brands of Baby Stuff I Would Recommend

When my daughter was barely a year old, I was an almost clueless mom when it comes to brands I should patronize and buy for my baby. I remember being at the store, feeling overwhelmed with the choices available around me, bombarded even by suggestions and advice, both solicited and otherwise, from a lot of people. Looking back, I can say that the following products are the ones I have trie and tested and that I had somehow forged a loyal relationship with those products that I like. A loyalty that triggered me to jot down my top ten picks which might be of help to clueless moms out there.

10. Safety 1st Inflatable Bath Tub – bought this when my daughter Aliya was around 6 months old. I love this because she loves taking a bath in it. The sea lion prints are interesting to her and the hole underneath makes draining it as easy as 1-2-3.

9. Your Baby Can Read DVD – We invested in this when she was 3 months old, as a Christmas gift. A set of 5 dvds, it also comes with 5 books that your child can read when she is older. I highly recommend this because this helped a lot when Aliya was learning the names of her body parts and names of animals. She’s now almost 2 years old and she still loves participating to the prompts that Dr. Titzer, its creator, says.

8. Cycles Mild Laundry Detergent – mild and nice smelling.

7. Farlin Stove-top Sterilizer/Chicco Electric Sterilizer – very reliable. We sterilize everyday, but have not wonked out on us yet

6. Nivea Baby Shampoo/ Babyflo Baby Shampoo – mild and their sweet smell lingers for hours.

5. The Landmark, Ever Gotesco and SM Department Store - for very affordable baby wear. Ever Gotesco carries a line that sells pj’s, shorts, shirts and bibs that are around Php120.00 for three pieces already.

4. What to Expect the 1st Year, What To Expect the Toddler Years – being a fan of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, I also find these two books helpful and insightful. Kudos to authors Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, BSN.ome back to using this variety.

2. Desitin Diaper Rash Ointment – works wonders, really effective and fast-acting relief indeed!

1. Avent Feeding Bottles – more expensive than other brands, no doubt, but I really started appreciating Avent Bottles when Aliya’s fascination of dropping things from toys to bolsters to cellphones to feeding bottles began. Her low-end bottles cracked right after one throwing fit but Avent continues to withstand my little one’s enormous pleasure of the dropsies.

Checklist of Food to Bring as Pasalubong for Pinoy Relatives Abroad

Prepared Food
• canned tuna (afritada/mechado/bicol express etc)
• Goldilocks laing or dinuguan in foil pack
- Argentina bangus sisig
• packets of instant champorado, arroz caldo, ginataang mais
• dried mangos

flavor packs
• sinigang mix
• Mama Sita bbq marinade in foil packs
• Del Monte/Best Foods/UFC Pinoy-style or fast food style spaghetti sauce
• juice concentrate (melon/calamansi/poncan/melon

• Mang Tomas lechon sauce – foil pack
• UFC banana ketchup
• canned bagoong (check with customs if these are allowed, though)
• canned taba ng talangka
• atsara

• instant pansit (bihon/canton/palabok)
• instant noodle soup (sopas/sotanghon/La Paz batchoy/lomi)
• Maggi instant Pinoy spaghetti
- Lucky Me Instant Mac and Cheese

baked goods/other sweets
• Goldilocks/Sasmual special polvoron
• pastillas – ube, langka, de leche, queso
• Eng Bee Tin hopia (mongo/ube-queso/ube-langka)
• biscuits/cookies (pasencia/uraro/puto seko etc)
• sampaloc candy
• buko pandan/taro jelly with nata
• nata de coco/kaong

tsitsirya/other snack food
• Oishi Marty’s Chicharon: vegetarian chicharon with texture and taste that is reminiscent of the real thing; my sister loved it!
• Chippy/Clover/Piattos or any favorite from childhood
• Dingdong or Cornbits
• cornick

• Chocnut
• Ricoa flat tops

Checklist of Things to Bring When Going out of Town with A Toddler

Whether it's summertime or not, families always have an excuse to get away every once in a while for some relaxing time together. What with more and more parents getting caught up with work-related stress, or kids having to spend more hours in school, or small, cramped condominium units feeling stuffier and more crowded, it won't hurt if we sometimes get out of our way to bond with our kids in some quiet place like the beach, or a hotel room, or a nearby resort.

Packing for these trips may be a lot simpler for singles. But for moms like me, there are a thousand other things to include in the bag… ok, the bags… and mostly, these thousand other things are not even for me. They’re mostly for the baby

It’s a lot wiser if you draw up a list first before packing away. You wouldn’t want to spoil your family vacation just because you left your toddler’s diapers, or your infant’s can of formula.

For those of you planning to spend a few days away from the city, I hope this list helps!

Diapers. The number will depend on how many days you will be away. Better check/research if there are stores selling diapers nearby. But personally, I’d rather pack from home and not risk running out of diapers while on vacation. My one and a half-month old daughter consumes an average of 5 diapers a day. For a 3-day stay, I think I’d pack a total of 20 diapers to be safe.

Formula. Based on experience, the largest can of Gain Plus Advance (1.8kg) lasts only eleven days with my daughter. If you are exclusively breastfeeding however, make sure you bring along a Breastpump, Breastmilk Storage Bottles, Breastmilk Storage Bottle Liners, a Portable Cooler, or make sure you book a room with its own Refrigerator/Freezer.

Formula Dispenser. You wouldn’t want to dig into the large can everytime your child wants milk.

Water. If your baby is still using distilled bottled water like Wilkins or Nestle Pure Life, better bring along a 6L container. My child consumes 6 liters in 4 days. Unless you’re okay with boiled water.

Feeding Bottles. When my family went out of town for 4 days, we bought 10 of my baby’s bottles and sterilized every day.

Infant Cup. The one with the spout, or the one that comes with its own peak-a-boo straw.

Sterilizer. The Chicco Electric Sterilizer is a good choice because it’s very portable and slimmer than the stove-top variety.

Bottle Cleaner. Or anti-bacterial dishwashing liquid. Make sure you also bring the Bottle Brush.

Baby’s Plate, Fork and Spoon. Make sure to bring the one with the lid.

Baby Food. For infants who are yet to be introduced to table food, pre-chilled, mashed potatoes, carrots, bananas stored in tightly sealed containers will do. To avoid spoilage, place in tiny separate containers. Ice trays with covers are good ideas, too. Don’t forget their Cookies, Cereal Bars and Juice for snacks.

Toiletries. Baby lotion, powder against prickly heat, cologne, sunblock (my pediatrician recommends the one with very high SPF), baby wipes, baby soap and shampoo, cotton buds, cotton balls, hand sanitizer, off-lotion.\

Toothbrush/Silicone Finger Toothbrush and Toothpaste. For children who still do not know how not to swallow toothpaste, I recommend Sansflou.

Teething Ointment, Teether. If applicable.

Hat/ Cap. Never a bonnet on the beach! Too hot!

Clothes. Lots and lots of shirts, shorts, skorts and sundresses for girls, onesies for infants, underwear, sleepwear (choice of shorts and pj’s especially if it either gets too warm or too cold at night), sweater or jacket (hooded ones preferably), a set or two of dressier outfits especially if you’re visiting some relatives or intend to eat in posh restaurants.

Footwear. Rubber slippers, or if your child is not used to the thong-type yet, sandals with Velcro. Socks and dressy shoes that go with the dressy outfit.

Swimwear. Two is ideal so he/she will always have a dry one.

Floaties. Rental rates in resorts are unbelievable. Better bring your own.

Beach Toys. Shovels, pails, sand toys, rubber ducky

Your child’s playthings. Toys, picture books, activity books, sketch pad, crayons (the fat ones because they don’t break easily), favorite teddy or doll or blankie or bolster/pillow, favorite DVDs.

Bling. Necklaces, bracelets, anklets, sunglasses. Except for the last two, I do not recommend necklaces and bracelets especially those made of beads as they pose choking hazards.

Towels. Of all sizes. Face towels, bath towels, beach towels, cover-ups, sweat wipes.

Baby Wipes.

Burp cloths and Bibs. Lots of them!

Medical Record and Daily Vitamins. Depends on what your pedia is giving your child. My daughter takes 5ml each of Appebon, Ferlin, Pedzinc, and .75ml of Infaflor.

A list of to-avoid food and drugs for your child, if applicable.

ID Bracelet. With your child’s name, address, person to contact and contact numbers. Water-proof highly recommended. You may also want to note food and drugs your child is allergic to.

First Aid Kit. Paracetamol, thermometer, nasal aspirator, diaper rash ointment, Salinase Nasal Drops, your child’s pediatrician’s contact information.

Comb, Hair Brush.

Hair Accessories, for girls

Citronella candles/incense. To ward off bugs

Fan. The pinoy abaniko is still the best.

Stroller, Changing Pad, Baby Sling or Carrier, Pacifier, if applicable.and most importantly, your child. Enjoy the summer everyone!

Checklist of Things to Buy for A New Baby

This was an article I wrote 6 years ago when I was preparing for the birth of my first baby.

The moment I realized I was pregnant, one of the things I was so excited to do was to shop for the baby. But it was only until I was 7 months pregnant that my husband and I made our first purchase for the baby – tie-side shirts. Being obsessed with lists, I asked family and friends for suggestions as to what to buy for the baby lest I get carried away and spend a fortune for things we don’t actually need.Here’s what I came up with:

Baby Book for records
Parenting Book (What to Expect the First Year)
Disposable Newborn Diapers – Prokids carry a line of newborn nappies
Cloth Diapers
Chino Pino - but ended up not using this at all
Rubber Mat for changing diapers/Changing Table
Diaper Rash Cream -Desitin
Petroleum Jelly
Cotton Balls
Cotton Buds
70% Isopropyl Alcohol
Baby Wipes
Diaper Pail
Receiving Blankets
Tie-side Shirts, Onesies - sleeveless, short-sleeved, long-sleeved
Mittens and Booties – ties preferably, not garterized ones
Caps – my baby didn’t like wearing caps, though
C-Shaped Pillow – for support while breastfeeding the baby
Pillow cases
Bolster and extra bolster cases
Bedsheets, Comforter
Bathing Net
Small Basin, Plastic Canisters, Small Basket/Carry-All
Nursing Bra – believe me, it’s close to impossible to breastfeed with an ordinary bra!
Breastpump – used the Pigeon Electric Pump
Breastpad – also by Pigeon. But it can get very expensive especially if your breasts are full. Others suggest cut-out panty liners or cotton hankies.
Breastmilk Bottle Liners –by Playtex
Adult Diapers/Sanitary Pads –for the first few days after pregnancy as the flow tends to be really heavy!
Nipple Guard
Sterilizer -electric or stove top
Feeding Bottles –Avent can be very expensive but it’s worth it!
Bottle and Nipple Brush
Baby Soap, Shampoo and Oil – we personally use Nivea and Johnson and Johnson’s.
Saline Nose Drops –Salinase
Nasal Aspirator – the old-fashioned, rubberized ones are more effective
Nail Clipper – by Safety 1st
Baby Brush and Comb –by Safety 1st
Night Light
Diaper Bag – the more compartments, the better.
Stroller/Umbroller – umbroller is more portable and a lot lighter.
Carseat – a must-have especially in the states.
Playpen/Crib/Bassinet –make sure you buy a really sturdy piece as babies can get really active once they’ve discovered what else they can do aside from lie in bed and sleep.
Rocker – though my baby only used this until she was 3 months old.
Baby Monitor – nice to have, but not necessary

Requirements in Applying for Marriage License in the Philippines

Whether you plan on having a civil or a church wedding, the Marriage License is a requirement in getting married in the Philippines. Application for the license can be secured at the local Civil Registry from the city, town or municipality where either the bride or groom resides. Your personal appearance is also a non-negotiable requirement in the said application. Philippine law prescribes a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the Application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license is valid for 120 days from date of issuance and may be used anywhere in the Philippines.

The following documents are also required alongside the application form:

Birth Certificate of each of the contracting parties. Some civil registrars honor only Certified True Copy issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO). Online application for birth and marriage certificates are now being accepted by NSO via the e-Census, a web facility aimed to provide Filipinos within and outside the country a faster means in applying. It also has a 24-7 hotline called the NSO Helpline Plus:telephone no. (632)-7371111. Their email address is
2. Parents'' Consent (for 18-21 years old) or Parent''s Advice (for 21-25 years old).
3. Certificate of Attendance in a pre-marital counseling and family planning seminar conducted by the Division of Maternal and Child Health at the Municipal/City Hall in the same municipality or city where the contracting parties applied for the marriage license.
4. Marriage Contract. This applies if the couple has already civilly married. It should be marked ''Certified True Copy'' and issued by the city/town Civil Registry Office where the wedding has been officiated. Whether you plan on having a civil or a church wedding, the Marriage License is a requirement in getting married in the Philippines. Application for the license can be secured at the local Civil Registry from the city, town or municipality where either the bride or groom resides. Your personal appearance is also a non-negotiable requirement in the said application. Philippine law prescribes a ten-day waiting period from the filing of the Application to the issuance of the marriage license. The license is valid for 120 days from date of issuance and may be used anywhere in the Philippines.

The following documents are also required alongside the application form:

1. Birth Certificate of each of the contracting parties. Some civil registrars honor only Certified True Copy issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO). Online application for birth and marriage certificates are now being accepted by NSO via the e-Census, a web facility aimed to provide Filipinos within and outside the country a faster means in applying. It also has a 24-7 hotline called the NSO Helpline Plus:telephone no. (632)-7371111. Their email address is
2. Parents'' Consent (for 18-21 years old) or Parent''s Advice (for 21-25 years old).
3. Certificate of Attendance in a pre-marital counseling and family planning seminar conducted by the Division of Maternal and Child Health at the Municipal/City Hall in the same municipality or city where the contracting parties applied for the marriage license.
4. Marriage Contract. This applies if the couple has already civilly married. It should be marked ''Certified True Copy'' and issued by the city/town Civil Registry Office where the wedding has been officiated.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Balik Bukid Experience

To wake up early on a Sunday is not something usual in our household. That’s why on the morning of Mother’s Day 2014, I was up more than an hour early for fear of oversleeping and not having enough time for our trip to Balik Bukid.

“Balik Bukid?” my 6 year-old daughter asked quizzically when I told her what our plans are for Mother’s Day. Actually, I only heard about the event from my online mommy group. It sounded interesting, plus I was craving for something different to do on Sunday. Nakakasawa na kasi mag-mall. Week in and week out, our automatic go-to place is the mall. So when I found out about this country fair in Cabuyao, Laguna, I started researching about it.

Hindi naging mahirap maghanap ng information about the said event. Turns out this year’s is actually the fifth year that the organizers Gippy and Hindy Tantoco are holding this country fair. Ginaganap ito sa Sta. Elena Fun Farm sa Laguna. Sa aking pagbabasa tungkol dito, mas lalo akong natuwa dahil kakaiba ito sa usual pasyalan naming mag-anak.

Since the gates open at 8am, umalis kami ng bahay ng alas-7. It only took us around 1 hour and 10 minutes to get to the farm. We took SLEX, then the Cabuyao exit. From there, madali rin naman naming natagpuan ang aming destinasyon.

What’s nice about getting there is the free entrance. We were 5, plus the driver and we were able to get in without paying anything. However, may ilang activities na kailangang mag-bayad ng P350 para makasali. Napansin ko lang na turns out, hindi istrikto sa pag-check ng bracelet (proof that you paid P350) ang mga bantay sa animal feeding, horseback riding, etc. Actually, never may nag-check ng bracelets. Parang nanghinayang tuloy kami sa P700 (two entrance bracelets/pass) na binayad namin.

Anyway, maliban sa obserbasyong ito, natuwa naman kami sa aming naging karanasan sa Balik Bukid. Enjoying the outdoors is something my daughter misses, lalo na’t kapag summer ay mas gusto ko lang magkulong sa bahay dahil napakainit ng panahon. Sa Balik Bukid, my daughter got to run around the grassy areas, ride the swing and the see-saw, and bask in the sun.

Isa sa mga paborito naming activities doon ay ang animal feeding. The guinea pigs and bunnies were adorable, and really hungry. Or maybe they’re no longer hungry, dahil sa dami ba naman ng taong nagsusubo ng carrots sa kanila… maybe malakas lang talaga ang appetite nila. Nariyang mag-agawan sila sa iisang carrot stick, whereas nakailang beses na silang pinakain.

Our next stop was the Fishing Area. May kainitan lang sa lugar na ito due to the limited shady parts, but my kiddo didn’t stop until she was able to catch one tilapia. The smile on her face was priceless, as she couldn’t believe that she was, indeed able to catch a fish. My mom, who was also with us, was also able to catch a tilapia. Surprisingly, hindi pinansin ng anak ko ang boating area. She’d rather stay and see if she can catch another fish. Unfortunately, matatalino ang mga tilapia… kinukuha lang nila ang bulate pero hindi sila nagpapahuli.

We strolled further and we tried the swing made of rubber, rode the see-saw and tried the bamboo obstacle course. None of us dared to try the zipline, though. One factor was the scorching heat, we just wanted to proceed to the nearest faucet or washroom to wash our faces and change our shirts.

Alas-diyes pa lang ng umaga pero parang nakaramdam na kami agad ng gutom. So we opted to rest sa food area. Interesting ang lugar na ito, iba’t ibang klase ng pagkain, mostly organic and locally produced ang makikita mo. may kamahalan nga lang ang karamihan. May organic lechon, iba’t ibang klase ng salads, vegan food, at iba pa. We opted to try some empanadas, freshly buttered corn, sago’t gulaman and fruit shakes.

For the comfort of the visitors, they installed industrial fans and an ATM, and the washroom was well-stocked with paper towels and soap. Faucets were everywhere for those who want to freshen up every now and then. There was also a booth where families can borrow native mats that they can spread on the grass. Lounging around while parents watch their children run and play with new friends was a delightful sight, for this isn’t something we can normally do in the mall. Too bad they ran out of mats real fast. And because it was Mother’s Day, there was a huge board where love notes and greetings for moms can be scribbled on. I particularly love the garden sets they arranged by the trees. The idea was just awesome and the seats are just so tempting.

Pero ang pinakapaboritong bahagi ng anak ko ay ang Waldorf Activity Area. Isa itong malawak na tent kung saan naglagay sila ng malalaking banig. Inayos nila ito na mala-daycare complete with arts supplies and educational materials. May area din for pretend play. Dito ay nag-paint ang anak kong si Aliya ng abaniko, gumawa ng yarn art, at naglaro ng plato-platuhan/bahay-bahayan kasama ang mga bagong kaibigang doon lamang niya nakilala. The wooden play sets provided by Waldorf are interesting, as well as the rag dolls. Every little girl would surely love to have some of those at home.

Come lunch time and we bought chicken inasal, mais con hielo and ice cream. Pagkakain ay pumunta kami sa bazaar area kung saan maraming baguhang entrepreneurs ang nagbebenta ng mga interesting and mostly home-made products like perfume, soap, rag dolls, trinkets and jewelries. We went carabao-riding after and my daughter went back to fishing. As a souvenir, we bought a bubble making set woth P100. To end our day in Balik-Bukid, we listened to some ethnic music before heading home.

Sa kalahatan, naging masaya at kakaiba ang aming naging karanasan sa Balik Bukid. Sana’y mas dumalas pa ang ganitong mga events at maging mas accessible sa maraming pamilya. Sa panahon ngayon, nalilimitahan ang experiences ng batang Pinoy in the sense na hindi na sila halos nae-expose sa buhay sa bukid, kaunti na lang ang pagkakataong makihalubilo sa mga farm animals, at nasasanay na lamang sa paglalaro ng mga gadgets at panonood ng TV. Ang Balik-Bukid ay hindi lamang naging avenue for entrepreneurs to market their products, kundi isang napakagandang bonding activity para sa mga pamilya.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Family Fun In Singapore

Ayon sa, mayroon daw subtle difference between travel and vacation. Kalimitan, ang bakasyon ay nangangahulugan ng “escape,” samantalang “travel may offer the opportunity for total immersion to a different culture.” Sang-ayon ako sa nakasulat na ito, dahil sa tuwing kami ay bumabyahe, it’s not only about where we went and what we saw, kundi pati na rin ang kung ano ang natutunan namin sa byaheng iyon. At dahil sa nasa stage ang aking anak na hinuhubog namin ang kanyang people skills at confidence, travel provides learnings that she cannot get if her exposure is limited only to nearby shopping malls.

Kaya naman excited kami nang ma-book namin ang aming trip to Singapore, dahil isa uli itong pagkakataon upang mabuksan ang mata niya, at pati na rin naming mag-asawa sa isa na namang bagong kultura. As usual, I booked through my trusty travel agent, ang Scorpio Travel and Tours sa Ortigas. At dahil kampante na ako sa credibility nila, via email na lamang kami nag-coordinate ni Lyn Galon. Weeks before the flight, todo research na ako sa internet (especially sa ukol sa mga maaring puntahan. Number one on our list is Universal Studios at ang Sentosa. Dahil kakagaling lamang namin sa Hongkong the year before, particularly sa Ocean Park, we intentionally skipped the zoos, plus we observed that our daughter still cannot appreciate “the wild” nang magpunta kami sa Manila Zoo.

We stayed in Park Sovereign Hotel, walking distance from Bugis Junction. Happy ako dito dahil I love tiangges. Bugis Market has a lot of bargain stalls, food stalls kaya naman unang araw pa lamang namin sa Singapore ay nangalahati na ako sa pasalubong items na pinamili. Matuturing ko ring safe ang area na ito dahil kahit dis-oras ng gabi ay nakakapaglakad kaming mag-anak para mamili, kumain, at bumili ng bottled water sa 7-11.

Ilan sa mga good purchases naming sa Bugis ay ang foldable Singapore bags na nagkakahalagang S$100 for three pieces, ang Merlion chocolates with almonds which is also S$100 for three boxes (each box contains 12 Merlion-shaped chocolates), mga champoy, chips, pens, keychains at ref magnets.

Ang mga cold fruit drinks cost SG$1 each. Ilan sa mga natikman namin ay ang Wintermelon drink, Strawberry drink, at Avocado. Masarap na pampalamig sa mala-Pilipinas na klima sa Singapore. Na-enjoy din ng aking asawang si Romy ang mga sliced fruits na nabibili sa bungad ng Bugis Market. Very convenient dahil wala naman kaming baong kutsilyo kaya’t ang mga ready to eat durian, pakwan at kiwi solved the fruit trip we crave for. Isa pa sa maganda sa hotel kung where my travel agent booked us was there was a hawker’s center beside it, and a convenience store just outside it. Nagulat din kami dahil while we were ordering sa hawker’s center, nakita ng asawa ko ang isang family friend! Actually, during our 4 day stay there, tatlong kaibigan ni Romy ang nakita namin! Totoo ngang maliit lamang ang Singapore at napakaraming Pilipino doon!

The next day, there was a Dragon Dance at the lobby of our hotel. Kahit nuong elementary pa lang ako ay sanay na ako sa mga dragon dance dahil dinadala kami ng father ko sa Masangkay sa Binondo tuwing Chinese New Year, amazed pa rin ako tuwing may napapanood akong ganito. Lalo na’t at the time of our travel to Singapore, 7 months pa lamang na kauuwi ng father ko sa heaven. Kaya’t lalo ko siyang na-miss dahil alam kong lahat ng mga nakikita ko sa Singapore ay mga gusto niya ring makita. Halos lahat ng naroon sa Singapore ay nakakapagpaalala sa akin about him, dahil isang pure Chinese ang aking ama.

Pagkatapos ng Dragon Dance ay sinundo na kami ng private coach papuntang Universal Studios. Sa bungad pa lang ay damang-dama ko na ang excitement. Paano ba naman, dati ay nakikita ko lang sa litrato at mga pelikula ang malaking globe na siyang logo ng Universal Studios subalit ngayon ay kaharap na namin ito. Dahil rotating ang globe at may fog around it, paulit-ulit kaming kumuha ng shots para lang makakuha ng magandang anggulo, at para maging readable ang words na Universal Studios, hehe.

Ang Universal Studios ay nahahati sa seven zones, namely; Hollywood, New York, Sci-fi City, Ancient Egypt, Lost World, Far Far Away, at Madagascar. Tulad sa Disneland na may inaabangan na parade, dito ay mayroon din sila at tinatawag itong Hollywood Dreams Parade.

Ilan sa mga mascots na aming nakita at nakapag-photo op ay sina Woody Woodpecker, Poh of Kung Fu Panda, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Frankenstein, Puss in Boots at ang cast ng Madagascar. Bagama’t hindi familiar ang aming then 4 yr old daughter na si Aliya sa mga characters na ito, natuwa siya lalo na sa Madagascar. Once again, naging educational para sa kanya dahil hanggang ngayon, one of her memories of Universal Studios ay si Marilyn Monroe. To complete the Hollywood feel, a group of guys performing Beach Boys songs can be seen just outside a Hollywood-inspired diner.

The Madagascar cast also performs regularly and allows photo ops without much hurry. Isa sa mga highlights ng aming pagpunta dito ay ang Crate Adventure. Very entertaining both for kids and kids-at-heart. King Julien’s Beach Party Go-Round is another must-try for younger kids.

Another attraction we enjoyed a lot was in Far Far Away. Bagamat mahaba ang pila ay worth naman ang Shrek 4D Adventure at ang Donkey Live. Mayroon din ditong roller coaster na tinatawag na Enchanted Airways. Ang palasyo nina Fiona ay isa sa mga landmarks dito that you will surely want to have a picture in. Hindi nga lang nagpakita si Shrek at Fiona mascots when we were there kaya’t kay Puss in Boots na lamang kami nagpa-picture.

Isa sa personal kong paborito ay ang restaurant sa Lost World dahil ang ceiling nito reminds me of that scene in Jurassic Park kung saan dumaan ang dinosaur at nag-shake ang gelatin. Isa rin sa gusto ko sanang ma-experience ay ang Transformers the Ride subalit sa sobrang haba ng pila ay kailangang maghintay ng 1 hour 45 minutes for my turn. Nagkasya na lamang ako sa pakikinig sa tilian ng mga taong nasa ride na ito. Sa Ancient Egypt ay pinipilahan din ang Revenge of the Mummy, at talaga namang in character ang Army of Anubis at ang Egyptian army. Nakapagpa-litrato rin kami sa isang Brendan Fraser look alike, portraying The Mummy’s lead character, Richard “Rick” O’Connell.

On our third day, we were picked up by the tour bus very early for our half day city tour. Ilan sa mga pinuntahan namin ay ang Merlion, a couple of temples, The Singapore Gems and Metals Co., at ang National Orchids Garden. The nice thing about availing of private transfers, tour bus services and city tours is that you pay for it while in the Philippines, wala nang poproblemahin pang baka hindi magkasya ang pocket money. Pero ang disadvantage naman nito ay gahol na gahol ka sa oras. Tulad na lang sa first stop namin, which is the Merlion. As in 15 minutes lang ang allotted time for us to see the view, take pictures and visit the loo. To think that this is one of the landmarks of Singapore, bitin talaga ang feeling ko. Muli, nasenti na naman ako about my dad when we went to the gems factory and showroom. One of my dad’s hobbies was designing and making jewelries. Some of our heirloom pieces he handmade when I was a kid. Kung buhay lamang siya at malakas pa, masarap sanang ipasyal siya sa lugar na ito.

Sa National Orchid Garden ay nag-enjoy naman ang asawa kong mahilig sa mga halaman. He being the one who has a green thumb, happy siya sa lugar na ito, habang bored na bored naman si Aliya. Napakalawak ng garden na ito at kulang ang 40 minutes na binigay sa amin para maglibot. Talagang tumatak sa amin ang harassed state na ito kaya’t nang sumunod na bumyahe kami ay nag-DIY (do it yourself) tour na lang kami, lalo’t malaki na ang aming anak, mas malakas na ang loob naming maging mas adventurous.

We proceeded to Little India afterwards, but didn’t stay long here. Pagbalik sa hotel ay nag-swimming ang aking mag-ama sa pool doon habang ako ay pumuslit uli papuntang Bugis para mamili. Enjoy na enjoy si Aliya at ni hindi man lamang niya ako hinanap. Oh, and did I mention na pumasyal din kami sa Orchard Road pero dahil hindi kami mahilig sa branded na gamit (read: kuripot kaming mag-asawa, hehe), nag-window shopping lang kami doon.

Kinagabihan ay pumunta kami sa Sentosa. Napakalaking island ng Sentosa kaya’t hindi kayang libutin nang ilang oras lamang. Mula Vivo City ay kumuha kami ng ticket para sa sky train going to Sentosa. May apat na istasyon ito and for this particular trip, we were only able to drop by 2 stations. We watched the highly recommended Songs of the Sea, ate in a McDonalds there, and strolled at the shore.

We planned to stay at the hotel and do last minute shopping on our fourth day, but a good friend of Romy invited to bring us out before we head for the airport. Bimbo and his wife Evelyn and son Christian picked us up and brought us to Marina Bay Sands. They treated us to the Sky Park (Adult tickets at S$20 each while Child pass costs S$14 each) It was exhilarating to be up there. The website, says it stretches longer than the Eiffel Tower when laid down, or four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets. We took our time taking in the view, taking photos, and snacking up there. Hindi rin namin napigilan an gaming mga sarili na mag-avail ng framed photos na kuha ng kanilang inhouse staff.

Ayon sa Wikipedia, “The SkyPark is home to the world's longest elevated swimming pool,[36][37] with a 146-metre (478 ft) vanishing edge, perched 191 metres above the ground. The pools are made up of 422,000 pounds of stainless steel and can hold 376,500 gallons (1424 cubic metres) of water.” 

Muli, napatunayan namin kung gaano ka-generous at hospitable ng mga Pinoy. As if the tour to Marina Bay wasn’t enough, Bimbo and Evelyn even treated us to lunch. Kung hindi nga kami nagmamadaling pumunta na sa airport to catch our flight back home, kung saan-saan pa nila gustong magyaya.

All in all, our trip to Singapore was worth it. Bitin dahil marami pa kaming hindi napuntahan nung taong iyon, kaya naman we went back a year after. And as expected, we took a lot of pictures, bought a lot of keychains and ref magnets, and brought home lots of happy memories that we’ll cherish for a long long time.

Family Fun in Malaysia

September 2012 nang una kong nalaman sa isang kapwa mommy sa school ng anak ko na magbubukas na ang Hello Kitty Town sa Malaysia. Mula noon ay nagsimula na akong mag-reseach tungkol dito. Medyo at a loss ako nuong simula dahil wala pang masyadong tourist information at travellers’ reviews tungkol sa lugar na ito. Sa aking pagre-research, nalaman ko ring malapit lang ito sa Legoland. Kapwa sila nasa Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Para sa isang metikulosang byaherang gaya ko, tuwing may oras ay nagse-surf ako sa internet tungkol sa mga lugar na ito, at kung paano ang pinaka-convenient na pagpunta. Naghanap ako ng sagot sa mga tanong ko, tulad ng mas maigi bang via Singapore muna kami papunta sa Johor Bahru, o dapat via Kuala Lumpur ang kunin naming flight. Sa tulong ng aking yahoogroup, at mga sites tulad ng, unti-unting nagliliwanag ang mga plano.

Sa madali’t sabi, naging interesting ang pag-usad ng aking research. Tinawagan ko na rin ang aking suking travel agency, ang Scorpio Travel and Tours sa Megaplaza sa Ortigas at nagpagawa ng quotation. Matapos ang email and phone correspondence namin ni Lyn ng nasabing travel agency, at matapos makuha ang opinion ng aking asawang si Romy, nagpa-book na ako at inanunsyo na sa aking 5 year old na chikiting na mamamasyal kami sa Malaysia. Dahil higit siyang nag-eenjoy sa mga previous travels naming pamilya kada taon, sobra siyang natuwa nang malamang aalis kaming muli.

Day 1:

We took the first flight ng Philippine Airlines papuntang Singapore. Pinili kong via Singapore ang rutang kukunin dahil mas mabilis ang byahe papuntang Johor Bahru mula dito. We arrived at the Changi Airport at half past nine. Travelling to Johor Bahru, Malaysia from Singapore was a breeze. Dalawang immigration o checkpoints ang dadaanan upang magpatatak ng passports. Wala pang alas-onse ng umaga ay nasa hotel na kami sa Malaysia. Dahil oras ng tanghalian, kailangan naming lumabas upang mag-lunch at magpapalit ng Malaysian Ringgit. Mabait naman ang staff sa hotel at itinawag kami ng taxi kahit wala pa kaming pambayad… I specified to her that the cab driver need to bring us first to a money changer para may maibayad kami sa taxi. One Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is equal to P13.00 and a few centavos.

Dahil na rin sa limitadong choices sa napuntahan naming lugar, nag-order na lang kami ng Chicken Rice, Fresh Buko at Siopao. Maraming hainanese-style chicken stalls dito. At sa affordable na halaga ay mabubusog ka naman.

Dahil free day ang unang araw, naisip naming pumunta na sa Hello Kitty Town. Ito ang information that I intentionally withheld from my daughter. My husband and I saw to it that we don’t mention anything about this place to Aliya until we’re already about to go. Kaya naman nang malaman niyang doon ang punta namin ng araw na iyon, she was super delighted! Ni hindi nga niya alam that there’s such a place… ang kilala lang niya ay Disneyland at Universal Studios, at ang sinabi lang naming papasyalan namin sa Malaysia ay ang Legoland. Kaya’t the thought of going to a place named Hello Kitty Town, hindi siya mapakali sa sobrang tuwa!

Sa mga nakakaraang byahe namin abroad, laging may private coach transfer sa package na ina-avail namin going to and from the theme parks. But I realized that maybe this time, we can be more adventurous kung magko-commute lang kami. Malaking halaga rin ang natipid namin sa travel agency nang pinatanggal ko ang private coach inclusion. Subalit nang nag-aabang na kami ng cab pagkatapos naming mag-lunch papunta sa Hello Kitty Town, nakaramdam ako ng kaba… paano kung hindi kami magkaintindihan ng cab driver? Paano kung maligaw kami? Paano kung hindi mabuting driver ang mapili namin?

May dumaang isang red cab sa harap namin. Sabi ko sa asawa ko, “Nakakatakot ang mukha. Wag ‘yan.” Pero ang isa pang dumaang taxi ay occupied na. We waited a little more, pero wala nang ibang dumadaang cabs. In short, napilitan kaming kunin ang cab na nakaparada a few meters away from us… yes, yung may “nakakatakot na mukha.” The whole trip, I was so nervous… paano ba naman ay napakalayo pala ng Hello Kitty Town sa hotel namin! Ni hindi nagsasalita ang driver at ni hindi namin alam kung tama ba itong tinatahak naming ruta. May mga nadadaanan kaming paunti-unting bahayan, mangilan-ngilang rows of stores, may dinaaanan pa kaming pagkahaba-haba-habang highway! I remember, sabi ng isa sa mga reviews na nabasa ko, wala daw talagang public transportation na dumadaan sa Hello Kitty Town. Kinabahan ako kung paano kami babalik sa hotel at the end of the day. Pero nang sa wakas ay nakakita na ako ng mga road signs na alam kong nabasa ko na sa aking pagre-research for the trip, mas nakahinga na ako ng maluwag… slight. To cut the long story, or should I say, the long cab drive short, nakarating din kami sa wakas a Puteri Harbour, kung saan naroon ang Hello Kitty Town. Umabot ng RM26.50 ang taxi meter namin. Nagbakasakali kami ng asawa ko at nag-request sa driver na balikan kami at 6PM. He nodded his head while drinking from his mineral water bottle, though at that point, we weren’t even sure if that meant yes.

Hello Kitty Town, Little Big Club

One thing nice about this place is that it’s indoors. Sa humid weather sa Malaysia, gugustuhin mo talagang magbabad sa isang mall na malakas ang airconditioning. As expected, punung-puno ng Hello Kitty stuff ang buong lugar. The ground floor houses the souvenir shop and the café. Sa first floor or sa upper ground ang Hello Kitty. Pagpasok pa lang namin, saktong may photo op na sina Hello Kitty at Dear Daniel. Dahil weekday ito, kaunti lang ang tao. Hindi tulad sa Disneyland na mauubos ang oras mo sa pila para makapagpa-picture kina Mickey at Minnie Mouse, we only waited less than a minute for our turn. The iconic Hello Kitty House is awesome. Parang bumalik ako sa pagkabata nang pumasok kami dito. Everything inside the house is Hello Kitty. Her dining table is something I’d want for my own home. The kitchen is to die for, the huge bath is so relaxing! Pero pinaka-paborito ko ay ang bedroom. Overload of cuteness talaga, pati ang closet niya! It was an advantage that we were there without the usual weekend crowd dahil nalibot namin ang Hello Kitty House nang hindi nagmamadali, at walang traffic sa picture taking sa bawat room.

Pagkalabas sa Hello Kitty house, matatapuan ang Wishful Studio. Dito ay maaring mag-manicure ang little girls (much to my Aliya’s excitement), mag-paint ng Hello Kitty shaped cookies that you can eat after, mag-design ng bracelet that’s yours as a souvenir, mag-dress up in Sanrio costumes and magpa-picture.

Ang highlight ng aming bisita dito ay ang Happy Carnival Parade. Maganda ang music at costumes ng mga dancers, pero overwhelming makita ang Sanrio characters! Uulitin ko, bumalik talaga ako sa pagkabata! Nakakatuwang makita nang live sina My Melody, yun nga lang ay wala sina Kiki at Lala ng Little Twin Stars. Sobra kong saya nang kunin nila palapit sa Purrrfect Stage ang mga kids, at makatabi’t makasayaw ni Aliya si My Melody. Sa sobrang saya niya, nahiya siyang ngumiti!

Maliit lamang ang Hello Kitty Town, kaya’t my oras pa kaming umakyat sa second floor kung saan naroon ang Little Big Club. Ibang klase ang feeling na mapunta sa mga lugar na napapanood lang namin sa DVD… dahil nandito ang igloo ni Pingu, ang ballet studio ni Angelina Ballerina, ang workshop ni Bob the Builder, ang bahay at play yard ni Barney. Sa studio ni Angelina Ballerina, may mga pink tutus and mouse ears na maaring isuot for picture taking purposes. Sa third floor naman ay matatagpuan ang Thomas and Friends. May mga rides na bagay sa kids 3 yrs old to around 9 yrs old. Talagang nag-enjoy si Aliya dito. Isa pa, sinasanay din kasi namin siyang maging matapang sa mga rides and these basic rides are a good place to start. We bought a few stuff sa souvenir shop and waited, hoped and fervently prayed na sana, balikan kami nung driver na nasakyan namin kanina, kahit malayo ito at posibleng wala siyang pasahero papunta dito.

Pero hala, we were outside before six and he wasn’t’ there yet. Medyo kinakabahan na kami dahil kung hindi siya babalik, iisang blue cab na lang ang naka-parada sa vicinity. I prayed to God that if our cab driver will indeed go back for us, let him come before another passenger gets this one and only remaining blue cab. By 6:10, we saw one red cab arriving… tiningnan ko agad ang plate number… siya nga! Binalikan nga niya kami! At ni hindi niya binaba ang metro, ni hindi niya kami kinontrata! Sobra talaga naming tuwa at pasalamat kami nang pasalamat sa kanya. Nagsimula lang ang metro nang makasakay na kami! Nagpahatid kami sa hotel and my husband had this brilliant idea to ask if he can pick us up again tomorrow for our Legoland Tour. Aba, pumayag nga at binigay pa ang pangalan at cellphone number niya! Sobra kaming convinced na provision talaga itong si Mr Rahmat ni God!

Day 2:

The next day, lolo Rahmat (as we dearly call him), was there at the hotel entrance to pick us up. Sabi ko talaga sa husband ko, blessing talaga itong taong ito. Ni hindi namin akalaing magkakaroon kami ng instant personal driver in a foreign land as this… plus point pa na hindi niya kami kinokontrata, hindi kami sinisingil on top of iyong presyong nasa metro at hindi humihingi ng tip!


We got to Legoland at 10:30, around 20 minutes after leaving the hotel.
Now this is another dream come true. Just a few months ago I was browsing the net for pictures and reviews about this themepark, and being here finally is wonderful. We came prepared for the hot weather – extra shirts, towels, umbrellas, sneakers, drinking water, wet wipes, fans. The rides were fun and talagang pambata. Hindi scary at all. Again, dahil we were here on a Friday, there wasn’t any crowd. Pinakamatagal na naming pagpila para sa aming turn sa rides is 5 minutes.

Paborito ni Aliya ang Wave Racers, dahil added fun sa ride is that fact that we get wet. She also loved the Beetle Bounce. As Aliya put it while trying to stop laughing, “Parang kinikiliti ang tummy ko!” There are also rides na pwedeng mag-isa lang ang bata tulad ng sa Royal Joust at Junior Driving School. May nagtataasan at complicated na roller coaster rides din tulad ng Project X, but we opted not to try it. I guess pinakamalaking area ang occupied ng Miniland. Mga miniature models ng different parts of Asia na puro gawa sa Lego! Dito makikita ang Petronas Tower ng Kuala Lumpur, ang Merlion ng Singapore, ang Wat Arun ng Thailand, ang Taj Mahal sa India, Hoi An ng Vietnam, Angkor Wat ng Cambodia, at ang Bolinao Pangasinan ng Pilipinas. It’s amazing looking at all these works of art. Nakakamanghang isipin na may mga Lego artists na matyagang kinopya ang tunay na itsura ng mga lugar na ito at ginawan ng mini versions all made of Lego!

Dahil sa init ng panahon at laki ng lugar, the big lunch we had was well-deserved. The watermelon fruit cup that came with the combo meal was delicious. All the staff were also very friendly and accommodating. Because we still had time, though we hadn’t tried all the rides yet and entered all the attractions particularly the 4d shows, Aliya wanted to go back for the Wave Racers. All in all, she rode it 4 times. The Legoland experience won’t be enough without buying a few souvenirs. Dahil there’s a bit of walking from Legoland through Mall of Medini para makarating sa loading/unloading area, I was praying the whole time habang ako ay naglalakad na sana, babalik nga si Mr. Rahmat. Though part of me was confident he’d be there. Indeed, he was already there, happily chatting with the other drivers! Again, we profusely thanked him and gave him a tip for being an unexpected blessing.

He brought us to City Square Mall. We again thanked him and said we’re happy to have met him. As he drove away, teary-eyed talaga ako habang palayo na ang minamaneho niyang cab. We prayed for him habang palayo na siya, including his family, his job and his health. Actually, up to now I still say short prayers for him.

In a nutshell, our Malaysia trip was fun-filled and exciting. Aliya’s smile and laughter were priceless, the bonding we had as a family was precious. The memories linger long after we’ve travelled back to Singapore, and back to the Philippines two days after.


Kiddie Party Planning 101

Sinong bata ang hindi nae-excite sa birthday parties? At sinong magulang ang hindi ginustong bigyan ng party ang kanyang anak sa kaarawan nito? Subalit dahil sa iba’t ibang factors na humahadlang, a number of parents find it daunting to even prepare for a party. Nariyan ang financial constraints, indecisiveness, lack of time or being intimidated by the extent of preparations needed.

But party planning need not be perceived as like treading some alien territory. To get one started, here are some steps and tips that I want to share, based on my personal experience sa paghahanda sa taunang selebrasyon ng kaarawan ng aking chikiting.

Set the date. If your child’s birthday falls on a school day, decide whether to hold the party on the day itself, or on the weekend nearest to her birthday. Inquire from your child’s school about their policies on birthday parties. When my daughter was in Kinder, we booked a resto-café for a Saturday party. But this year, we’d be celebrating it inside the classroom.

Try to check, too, if another classmate is celebrating on the same day. Maaring pagsabayin na lang ang party (pwedeng hati rin sa gastos), or move yours to another date.

Book a venue. In my experience, pinakamadali nang mag-party sa mga kilalang food chains tulad ng Jollibee at Shakey’s dahil sa proximity nito sa karamihan at dahil gamay na gamay na sila pagdating sa birthday packages.

Sakaling nais ninyo o ng inyong anak na sa class hours ganapin ang pagsasalo, do not expect to be given ample time for the party. In my daughter’s school, only the last 30 minutes is being allotted to parties.

Other suggestions for party venues are mall-based such as Tom’s World, resto-cafés with enough space for kiddie games, clubhouse ng inyong village kung saan may kiddie pool for swimming, o di kaya’y sa sarili ninyong bakuran. Dahil malapit lamang ang Stacy’s Mark Café (now Café Lounge in Village East Cainta) sa amin, dito namin ginanap ang Hi-5 themed party ng aming prinsesa.

Factors to consider are the cost of venue rental, proximity to guests, space, accredited caterers, membership policies, among others.

Food and Beverages. Kung sa Jollibee ang inyong napiling party, kailangan lamang pumili sa kanilang menu at sila na ang bahala dito. They’d even customize food combinations according to your budget. Otherwise, you will need to research for caterers, check their price/pax, schedule a food tasting. Para sa akin, isa ito sa pinakamahalagang bahagi ng party planning dahil kung hindi masarap ang pagkain ng mga bisita, kahit anong ganda ng dekorasyon ng venue, ay mababale-wala kung ang babauning alaala ng mga guests ay ang malabsang pasta, matigas na barbecue at hilaw na kanin.

Siguraduhin din na overflowing ang drinks. May napuntahan akong party noon na tipid na tipid ang iced tea at tubig kahit ang usapan sa caterer ay “unlimited drinks.” May mga waiter din na ilang beses nang humingi ng softdrinks ang guests ay nandededma lamang hangga’t matuyuan na sa pagkauhaw ang mga bisita.

The easiest way to come up with a shortlist of caterers is through friends and online reviews. I used to write supplier ratings and post them online dahil alam kong makakatulong ito sa mga susunod na maghahanda para sa kani-kanilang parties.

Maaring nais ninyo ring magdagdag ng food booths like tacos, fries, scramble, milk tea, coffee, mixed balls (fish balls, squid balls at kikiam), ice cream, churros. Most food booths serve a minimum of 100 servings. Also, you might want to speak to the venue manager regarding their policy sa on location cooking, tulad ng sa French fries, hotdogs at mixed balls.

Invites. Kung marunong ka o isang kakilala na mag-layout, I’d suggest you do the lay-out of the invite and just have them printed. Most invitation suppliers charge a lay-out fee na maari namang libre kung miyembro ng pamilya mo na lang ang gagawa nito. For the past three years, I just contact a mommy-friend of mine na ang hobby ay mag-lay out at magprint ng invitations. I save on shipping cost dahil malapit lang ang bahay niya, at di-hamak na mas mura ang charge niya for printing.

Kung type ninyo ang more creative invitations, may mga pop-up designs, o di-kaya’y 3d tulad ng paper dollhouses, pamaypay at iba pa.

Photographer/Videographer. I always say that if there’s one supplier you should invest in, it should be the one who’s in charge of preserving the memories of the day. May ilang nagha-hire ng back-up photographer dahil sa mga horror stories na nababalitaan na kesyo nawala ng photographer ang lahat ng litrato nuong kasal nila, o na-corrupt ang video file nuong first birthday ng anak niya. If you can, ask the photographer to give you a copy of the photos (in USB) by the end of the party, even before he goes home to do the lay-out for the album.

To this day, one of the wedding suppliers we will never regret striking a deal with was our main photo/video Paul Vincent of He was so easy to deal with, very professional, got to the venue on time and was amazingly talented and attentive to details.

Another tip, if you’re on a tight budget, you may just hire a photographer for “labor only.” Mas makakamura ka sa ganitong set-up dahil maaring ikaw na ang bahala sa lay-outing and printing ng mga litratong napili mo. Sa ganitong deal, the photographer just saves the unlimited photos in DVD. For my daughter’s Jollibee party, my friend Mike Villar of Productions made the memories last through his unlimited shots and nicely-edited video.

Siguro ay maari ka ring mag-assign ng isang family member o kaibigan na shutter-happy na kung maari ay damihan ang kinukunang litrato at/o videos.

Venue Styling. Ito ang mga dekorasyon sa venue, at nagdedepende sa theme na gusto mo at ng anak mo. For my daughter’s first birthday, the theme was “active fun” kaya naman may mga inflatables, slides, plastic balloons, a small billiards table at foosball for the adult guests. Dahil very colorful na ang mga cushioned walls and drapes sa venue (, I just had white balloons added on the ceilings.

My daughter’s 5th party theme was inspired by the Australia-based children’s show, Hi-5 so we had Hi-5 styrofoams all over the place created by another friend of mine, Jacque Tan of PARTY BOOSTERS (they have a facebook page), a Hi-5 cake made by Jacque’s sister in law; thank you tags and name plates I did myself that are, of course, hand-shaped.

Isa sa mga memorable parties we’ve been to was this Finding Nemo-themed party. The color orange was everywhere, the centerpieces were like mini aquariums, and styro seaweeds welcome the guests at the entrance.

Try to veer away from the common themes like Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, Mickey Mouse and try themes like dinosaurs, pirates, Dr. Seuss, or Mad Hatter tea party. Yun nga lang, the less common the theme, the more difficult it is to find ready to use décor and give-aways in the malls or even in Divisoria. Dito papasok ang mga party organizers, event stylists, suppliers who customize, o kaya ang mag-DIY na lamang.

Cake. What is a birthday party without the birthday cake. Others opt for cupcake tower aside from the cake, while some parties we’ve been to have let go of the traditional cake. Maari, tatanungin ninyo, saan nilalagay ang candle for blowing kung walang cake? Uso na ngayon ang giant cupcake! Yep, hugis cupcake ito pero sing-laki at sing-tangkad ng isang two to three-layer cake!

At dahil karamihan sa mga Pinoy ang mahilig magpa-picture sa harap o tabi ng cake, it would be nice to make sure your child’s cake is pictorial-worthy.

Give-Aways/Loot Bags. This is my favorite part of any party – whether it be baptism, birthday, or even a wedding reception. I like souvenirs and I like preparing loot bags. Pero karamihan sa mga lootbags na naiuuwi mula sa children’s party nowadays contain hard candies, lollipops, chocolates, chips and marshmallows. I must admit, inuunahan ko ang anak ko kapag nakakakuha siya ng ganito dahil tinatago ko agad ang mga laman at nagtitira lamang ako ng ilang piraso. Kung may mga stickers, erasers o crayons sa lootbags, ito lamang ang tinitira ko. Aside from nakakawala ng appetite sa pagkain ang sweets at chips, alam naman nating unhealthy ang mga ito.

I suggest fill the goody bags with school supplies, coloring books, notepads, arts and crafts materials or healthy treats like trail mix, raisins, small packs of cereals, dried fruits.

May mga party na rin ngayon na may craft-making before or during the program. Sa kasong ito, maaring ang mga crafts na ginawa ng mga bata ay iuwi na nila at ito na ang magsisilbing souvenirs nila. Examples are cupcake making, apron designing, tote bag painting, ceramic painting at bead bracelet designing.

Iba pang suggestions for give-aways are personalized pillows, shirts, o di kaya’y bean bags, umbrellas, stuffed toys, among others.

Entertainment. Common inclusions are the party host (to act as game master), mascot and magician. Popular forms of entertainment are the bubble show, ventriloquist and balloon twisting. Nice additions are the Kiddie salon, photo booth, piñata, at face painting.

Take note that not all kids, especially those who are 2 years old and below are happy at the sight of mascots. Try to limit the appearance and performance of the mascot to 30 minutes max. Jollibee parties include Jollibee’s dance number and a short chika-chika with the guests, amounting to half an hour.

Outfit. Syempre, ang celebrant, ano ang isusuot? Even if we are tempted to doll her up in a bonggang gown, kung ayaw naman niyang suotin dahil nangangati siya, sayang lang ang pinambayad mo sa pagpapatahi nito. I suggest let her wear something comfortable, something made of cotton. Or if you must really have her wear a gown or a costume, let her try wearing it and playing with it a few days before the event.

Take into consideration din ang venue. Kung malamig ang aircon sa venue, iwasan ang mga sleeveless at outfits na bukas na bukas sa likod. Kung outdoors naman and you expect a lot of sunshine, iwasan ang mga layering at makakapal na tela.

Ang mga nabanggit sa itaas ay ang mga basic na kailangan sa isang pagsasalu-salo. But take note na sa influx ng mga party suppliers and party planners ngayon, dumarami na rin ang mga nice-to-haves. But then, hindi mahalaga na bongga ang salo-salong iyong inihanda, ang mas mahalaga ay masaya ang iyong birthday girl o birthday boy sa kung paano idinaos ang napakaespesyal na araw na ito.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cablelink or Sky Cable?

We were Sky Cable subscribers for many many years when we realized we're tired of seeing the "no signal" notice every now and then. Since I don't have the patience to make a rundown of the many times this provider has disappointed me, I will just say we moved to Cablelink since January of this year and so far, we're happy with the decision. Loving Discovery Kids the most, too.

Books I'm Reading Now

1. The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian - this one is always at my bedside table and I pray it regularly, even re-reading and praying them as the spirit leads, and according to the present situation we're at.

2. Today Matters by John Maxwell - very insightful. gives me the inspiration I need to make everyday count. to decide with the
future in mind. to treat my family, my talents, my time and my treasure as gold.

3. 100 Years from Now by Steve Murrel - one of the clearest writers I know. Book about discipleship and investing in the next generation.

4. Under Cover by John Bevere - one of the most life-changing books I've ever read. Very straight forward. it's about total obedience to God inspite of life's trials, unfair treatment from superiors, etc.

Oh, Nanny!

The past couple of days have been very stressful for me (as if my life recently isn't filled with enough stress) because our househelp has been mentioning about going back to the province. First she said her father is always sick and wants her around, the next reason was that her parents both prefer she study in Leyte and stop working altogether. She also mentioned something about her older sister's employer needing additional help and that she's thinking of moving there.

I know it would be less expenses for us if she leaves because that'd mean nobody to give salary to, but I'm also thinking of my daughter who loves her already, what with six years of working with us already. I don't know if I should talk to her again, because I already did last Saturday, and then again this morning.

She's far from perfect, but having her leave would mean a lot of adjustments in our household. I am not blind to the advantages, but I can also see the disadvantages. We have survived not having a maid around and we did fine, but what I'm really concerned about is how my daughter will adjust and feel. Sigh. Heavy sigh.

Will post update soon. I'm praying for the best to happen. The best, in Jesus' Name. Amen!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's a Friday and as a reward for my daughter's cooperation in sleeping on time at night and getting out of bed without much fuss, and studying well for her quiz, I'm bringing her to McDo today together with her BFF Simone and her mom, my friend Jacque. Yehey!

Trying to beautify here...

Added gadgets and changed a few lay-outs... a lot of trial and error for a non-technical person like me. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Signs and Symptoms of Head Lice

Since school has begun and gradeschoolers, especially the girls, have a tendency to borrow each other's combs, parents should remind their children to use their own combs, hairbrush, hair accessories and hats. However, if, in case it's too late and your daughter had caught her classmate's headlice, here are the symptoms to watch out for and what we can do to cure them: How will I know if my child has headlice? - there is intense itching on the scalp and even the neck. - you find red bite marks on the scalp as well as the neck. - there are eggs of lice (ew!) on the hair. You won't miss them as they look like dandruff! - the lymph behind the child's ear is swollen Ok, calm down mommy... it's not the end of the world and this is what you can do: - use medicated shampoo that's meant to cure lice - make sure you thoroughly wash combs, hairdbrush and hair accessories. How soak them in alcohol or lice shampoo for many hours! (being an OC, I'd soak them overnight!) - wash all used pillows, pillowcases, towels in hot (not lukewarm, ok) water - this one sounds exhausting, but you have to clean ALL mattresses, carpets, rugs and upholstered furnitures on a regular basis. - if there are discharges or boils on the scalp, better go see a doctor.

Dissapointed With the Deflector

Last March 9, we bought this car cover from Handyman Robinson's Galleria for our newly-bought Innova. The salesman was, in fairness very helpful. Though looking back, he had this desperate air to make a sale. He convinced, and was successful, us to choose the Deflector Car Cover which is worth P3,500. My husband and I thought for a while and after a brief discussion, decided we'd opt for this one instead of the cheaper brands. The salesman told us the advantage of the deflector triangle and the two-color design as it is more durable, more beneficial for all-weather conditions, so on and so forth. We went home with the said brand of car cover and after cleaning the car, we dressed her up with it. Goodness, our car looked like it was wearing an oversized gown. The salesman said it fits the Innova and pointed out the list of vehicles mean for that size and model. We wanted to return the item but that night it rained and the car cover was soaked both in rain water and mud from the ground... it caught the mud because as I told you, it was like a long gown for our car. So we doubted if they'd still accept this for return, as it is already muddy. three days after we saw a triangle-shaped tear in front of the cover. And we were told this material is difficult to tear?! Weeks passed and everytime we remove the car cover, we always discover additional tears, mostly on the yellow part of the cover. Ugh! It's only been 3 months since we bought this cover and the tears are all over, thus, our SUV's exterior still gets wet whenever it rains. In a nutshell, my review for the Deflector Car Cover would be NOT EVEN CLOSE TO ONE STAR. NOT EVEN CLOSE TO ONE STAR: 0 ONE STAR: 1 MAJOR FAILURE TWO STARS: 2 LOW THREE STARS: 3 PASSING GRADE FOUR STARS: 4 HIGH FIVE STARS: 5 being the HIGHEST.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Granny Goose Pops N Chips

Chanced upon this new snack at the grocery yesterday and it's called Granny Goose Pops N Chips so I decided to try a pack. There's only one flavor available and it's Please please Jalapeno and Cheese Please. Hmmm, it looks and feels like Healthy Options' baked popcorn and it's a lot cheaper. I hope they come up with other flavors, too, unless the grocery where I bought it just isn't carrying them.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


ACAPULCO - treatment for ringworm, athlete's foot, scabies, an-an AMPALAYA - treatment for diabeter mellitus BAYABAS - as wash for wounds, swollen gums, mouth infection and toothache BAWANG - to lower cholesterol level LAGUNDI - treatment for cough, asthma, fever NIYUG-NIYUGAN - treatment for intestinal worms SAMBONG - treatment for edema, anti-urolithiases TSAANG GUBAT -treatment for stomache ULASIMANG BATO - for arthritis, gout and to regulate uric acid YERBA BUENA - for body pain
The following is taken from the Department of Education's Fit for School Manual for Teachers for the Implementation of the Essential health Care Program in Schools: GUIDELINE FOR DAILY HANDWASHING 1. Wet hands with running water 2. Apply soap, create lather and rub all surfaces for 20 seconds 3. Rub right hand over left and vice versa. 4. Rub palms together with fingers interlaced. 5. Rub the backs of fingers against the opposite palm. 6. Grasp thumb and rub with a twisting motion. Repeat for the other thumb. 7. Rub left palm against the back of the right hand and vice versa. 8. Rinse hands with running water. 9. Dry hands in the air. Tip: Don't use a towel! Towels become a source of infection after the first use.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Focus on the Positive

The past few months have been very trying and challenging for our household. A show I was supposed to be working on for at least half of this year didn't push through due to various reasons I cannot control. Thus, my income was dramatically affected. It cost me so many sleepless nights and crying sessions and so much stress. I am guilty of being negative and sometimes hopeless. I am guilty of being frustrated and so depressed that I would rather stay in bed and cry all day... thank God that never happened. But since me and my husband had been through financial difficulties already especially some years ago, I knew the Lord will not let us go dirt poor. The trials of the past years have shaped us and molded us and taught us a lot that this time, though it's still isn't easy, we tend to be more positive and hopeful. I always tell myself, at least now we have savings that we can withdraw from. At least now my husband isn't jobless as when we were in deep financial hardship in 2007. Another benefit that I can see was I am able to spend quantity and quality time for and with my daughter the whole summer. I am able to plan activities for her and we are able to do some homeschooling in preparation for her first year as a gradeschooler. I also started jotting down little blessings and miracles that God sends our way everyday. Indeed, it is very easy to go moping around when times are tough. It takes effort to see the benefits, because sometimes there seem to be just totally nothing. But if we only try to open our eyes and our hearts more, we'd be able to see that in these times of waiting, God still doesn't leave us. He's working behind the scenes and orchestrating things, situations and minds of people in our favor. So as for me and my house, we surrender our lives to the Lord. He will provide and will pour blessings that we ourselves wont be able to contain.

Mommy Thinks: Should I Let My 6 Year old Child Watch Maleficent?

It was an ordinary Thursday and I knew my 6 year old was bored at home. So I told her we’d go watch Maleficent. I thought the announcement will delight her, but instead, she told me she’d rather stay home and just watch the Disney channel. I was surprised, as I thought she’d been looking forward to seeing this movie. She said, “It’s just about the witch called Maleficent. Princess Aurora will just sleep the entire movie, and then wake up towards the end.” I was amused at her wit and practicality. Oo nga naman. Since I was curious and she gave me the permission to watch it alone, I left her with the yaya and off I went to see Maleficent. I was there early, thus, was able to see and observe the families trickling inside the movie house – most are with their kids. Half of these kids are my daughter’s age. Part of me felt guilty for not bringing her along. Part of me felt bad for her for missing this movie event. The lights went off and the trailers for upcoming movies started. Violence after violence flashed onscreen and I thought to myself, if Aliya was here with me, I’d be covering her eyes 80% of the time. Then the main feature began… the visual feast at the first 5 minutes of the story made me feel even guiltier. I know my baby will love to see these awesome scenes. I thought, I should’ve convinced her that it was worth the trip. However, when the friendship between the young Maleficent and the ordinary-looking Stephan began, and infatuation set in, and the kissing and falling in love part took place, I knew I made the right decision of not insisting we make this a mother and daughter date. You see, I am not a prude when it comes to crushes and attraction, I myself had my first crush when I was in Prep school. But indulge me and believe me when I say, and I say this without bragging, that my daughter has been and is the common crush of 50% of the boys in her class. It started in Nursery (her first year in school, goodness!) and she was only 3 and a half years old, when a classmate said he wants her to be his girlfriend. A few months after, another classmate admitted to having a crush on her, too. Come Kinder year and Prep year, name after name of boy classmates are being mentioned to me by teachers, co-mommies, yayas, to be crushing on my daughter! It was amusing and flattering at first, for it tells how pretty my girl is. But having so many boys getting attracted to her and being teased whenever she’s around isn’t cute anymore. Another huge factor why I’m trying to veer her away from these topics, is when I started noticing how often she mentions this boy’s name from Kids Church. Being her mom, I know something was up. It took only a few days before she admitted, without any prodding from me, that she, indeed is crushing on this boy from Kids Church. I tried to act nonchalant and told her I wasn’t surprised, for I want her to know that first, she can’t keep secrets from mommy, second, that mommy always knows, and third, that there’s nothing wrong about having a crush and that she can always tell me anything. During the same conversation, she admitted to having a crush on this boy from Prep class, too. That one took me by surprise because I only was aware that this particular boy was attracted to her, and that was it. I didn’t know she was attracted to him, too. That made me feel a bit awkward and nervous because come school days and she’d be seeing this boy everyday again. Oh shucks! In fact, I didn’t tell her that this boy’s mommy messaged me if they can visit us at home that weekend. I just didn’t want to entertain any malice, even if they’re only 6 and 7 years old! Anyway, with Maleficent’s story starting with childhood love and attraction, I knew it was very good of me not to bring her with me that day. We could always schedule another mommy-baby date, and we could always pick a movie with a more age-appropriate and innocent but educational theme. So there. If you’d ask me what I think of the movie, well it wasn’t perfect but the entertainment value was excellent. I was never bored and I don’t regret braving the outdoor heat to get to the mall. But when it comes to whether I should bring my daughter along, it was best that I didn’t. A DVD will always be available for when she’s ready and more matured already. 