Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Friendships....lost and found


FLASHBACK: Eight years ago, circumstances left me groping in the dark. I was living in Cebu and killing time between work and home. I've lost all semblance of the social life I once had. My only light then was the love of my life (now my hubby).

From being the "darling" of everyone, I became a social pariah. I tried my best to stay under the radar - I resigned from the job I loved so much because life at the office was getting too heated up, I stayed away from the more popular hang out places to avoid stares and further talk.

Don't get me wrong, my love life was in the upswing then and I wouldn't have had it any other way. But I can't help but look back at the friendships I lost, the life I had to bid goodbye to. I was saying farewell to 3 years worth of memories and good times. Believe me, there were plenty of sleepless nights those days. There wasn't a day I didn't think about these people on the pictures - wondering how they were, were they alright?

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY: It is now 2008 and a lot has happened since. "All water under the bridge" as the popular saying goes. By the grace of God, I was able to rediscover lost friendships and rekindle all good memories. To say that our bond now is stronger would be an understatement. We've all been through hell and back and the depth of the relationship we share now reflect the strength and resilience of spirit that we all have.

We don't see each other as often as we used to but whenever we get the chance to be together, you'll feel a different kind of bond that was never there before. All of us entered the same roof at work, became colleagues, then friends, weathered differences and came out as a family.

Family....this is what we are now...a mother and her daughters - not by blood, but by love.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Get out and VOTE for the CUTIE CHILD!


Voting has commenced for the Search for the Cutie Child on vhiel's corner.


Please vote for either of my children...JARRED ANDREI or CAITLIN ALYSSA (1 computer, 1 vote only).

Click on any of the pictures below to go to the voting site.

cutiechildcontest
JARRED ANDREI

cutiechildcontest
CAITLIN ALYSSA

Thanks in advance!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cathee: Stage Mother 2008 and Jarred Andrei: BFCS A1 Child 2008


July is Nutrition Month in the Philippines. In celebration of this important event, BFCS, my son's school, held a presentation yesterday - The Search for A1 Child 2008. A month ago, I was informed that Jarred Andrei was chosen as the male representative of Kinder I for the Search for A1 Child (Preschool Level). Together with his female counterpart, Jarred Andrei would compete with 4 other preschoolers (from Nursery and Kinder II) for the title. The competition would include a Talent Competition and a Question & Answer portion.

The moment I was told about this, I felt privileged and honored that my son was chosen but I also experienced anxiety I never quite felt before. Ha ha ha! My "stage mother" cells are a-brewing! Thinking of what talent my son would most likely perform was a puzzle to me. I knew singing or dancing wouldn't be something he'd willingly do in front of a crowd. Upon consultation with his class adviser, she said that she'd be happy to see Jarred do a declamation piece or a poem.

You see, hubby and I take pride in having trained our son to speak in English, with American accent to boot. English is the very first language he learned and until recently, is the only language he knows. We thought of training our children in English at a very young age in order for it to become their foundation language since we knew they'd learn Tagalog or Visayan in school eventually. We wanted them to be natural English speakers regardless of what other dialect they may learn in the future. Making this a rule wasn't easy as we had to follow a strict language policy at home to make this effective. Even our househelp/yaya had to converse in English with our children. That is one important requirement we have. Anyone who would hear my son speak would always wonder if he grew up in the U.S. and they'd always utter surprise to find out he was born and bred in General Santos City.

Maybe the teacher thought it would be good to showcase my son's wonderful ability in the English language. As I was pondering on what piece he could do, I knew declamation would be out of the question as it might be too long and complicated for him to learn within a month. A short poem would be ideal but since it was for nutrition month, I tried looking for poems about nutrition. My search online wasn't so successful as I couldn't find any piece appropriate for a preschooler. At my wits end, I had no other choice but to compose an original poem for my son. Driven by pure adrenalin and anxiety, I was able to write a poem within an hour.

The original date of the competition was July 25 but due to some other activities in line at the school, it was moved one week early, July 18. With barely two weeks left to learn and rehearse the poem, I moved to another level of nervousness. Gosh! Would my son be able to learn the piece in time? Would he be able to memorize it well enough to perform it in front of a large audience? I was in a terrible nail biting frenzy at this time. Everyday, my son and I would find different opportunities to practice the poem - after reviewing daily school lessons, while taking a bath, in the car on the way to school and back and right before bedtime.

Surprisingly, Jarred managed to memorize the piece without much effort at all. Of course, he'd need some clue or body language to remember the next line but he could manage to recite the whole poem so beautifully. It made me remember that children at this age are so like sponges, they absorb things and lessons so well.

Yesterday, July 18, I woke up in such a jitter, you'd think I'd be the one performing on stage. Ha ha ha...ang stage mother nga naman. Seeing my son so cool and calm is a wonder to see. When it was time for him to parade onstage and do his introduction, I felt something pierce at my heart...and tears started to well at the corner of my eye. Wow! The feeling is indescribable and I'm sure the other parents could understand why I had tears in my eyes. My son, so confident and sure of himself, I wonder where he got it from...hubby and I weren't as brave when we were his age. Watch and listen as Jarred Andrei recites the original poem I wrote for him and aces the question & answer portion...
video video


As I was busily packing up my son's props and stuff backstage, one parent commented that these school performances were more nerve-wracking for the parents than their children. As I thought about it, indeed it was true...I had butterflies in my stomach all throughout the event. And I couldn't be more proud when the emcee announced that my son was Male A1 Child 2008 - Preschool Level. My heart was bursting with happiness and glee as I walked up the stage to pin his sash. It is during these times that hubby and I realize how rewarding parenting can be despite all the hardships and difficulties it entails.

So excuse the length of this post...it was my first experience as a stage mother.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MALNUTRITION: A Wake Up Call


I was so sleepy last night I could barely keep up with my student during my last English class for the night. When I finished my class, I was planning to go to bed already but I noticed the featured topic of the local documentary show, "The Correspondents" on the local ABS-CBN channel. On the tv screen were videos of children so severely malnourished, they were dubbed "Batang Kalansay" (Living Child Skeleton). All of a sudden, I forgot about getting my shuteye and got glued on the television. The show presented children aged 2-8 years old suffering from mild to severe malnutrition. These children certainly didn't look their age if you'd compare them to their healthier counterparts. In all of the cases featured, the children's malnutrition started from the time they were still in their mothers' womb. Due to extreme poverty, pregnant women can't have the proper nutrition and daily dose of needed vitamins and minerals. As a result, their fetuses suffer malnutrition from the moment of conception. Life is no better for these children after they're born. With no money for food, these children are lucky to even have one meal a day which would often consist of rice, flavored with a little salt or soy sauce. There are worse days when the families would go on throughout the day without a single meal in their stomachs. As a result of this, the children grow up with severe retardation in their growth, often not being able to walk or talk.

As the images move in front of me, I slowly transfer my gaze on my sleeping children and silently offer a prayer of thanks to God for blessing us with enough food to eat every single day. I realize how lucky my children are...and how lucky I am to have been brought up healthy and happy by my parents. I can't even begin to fathom how hard life really is for those people not so fortunate as I am. It made me forget every little problem I have...surely, no problem could be more serious than what these families must be going through every single day of their lives.

When the tv showed the effect of malnutrition to a child's brain, it came as no wonder why
majority of the children in the Philippines are having difficulty with school and would often fail in aptitude tests for high school or college. With severe malnutrition, the brain stem and surrounding areas would develop more mass of air compared to the brain of a healthy child. The malnourished child would lose focus at school and have difficulty understanding lessons and concepts. One child who was observed for 2 days in school, was already in his 3rd year of Grade 1, having failed the level twice already. He would often go to school on an empty stomach, thus feeling sleepy and lethargic as soon as he arrives in school. It would also be normal for him to come home to an empty table. The child is already 8 years old but his height and weight correspond to the normal measurement for a child who is 3 or 4 years old.

Watching the show has been an eye opener for me...firstly, to be extra thankful for the life I have, blessed that my children don't have to suffer the same fate. Secondly, it reinforced my belief that nutritious food need not be expensive at all. Maintaining a small garden consisting
of even just a malunggay tree, squash, sayote and kalabasa can provide a family all their nutrition needs. Feeding programs of the government are not the solution, they're only temporary bandages to a growing problem. As one resource person mentioned, what can turn this thing around is the behavior and attitude change of parents...they need not look for food that need to be bought, they can grow them in their own yard or small patch of land. It's so sad that one tearful parent said on the show that she feels so sorry that she wasn't able to train her children to eat simple vegetables and are now suffering this severe oversight. Because of this show, I am more inspired to let my children appreciate vegetables and learn to love eating them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

My Own Version of "Peso Pinching"



Budget management is really getting to be more difficult nowadays given the weekly increase of fuel prices. I'm just so lucky to live in a city where the cost of utilities are slightly lower compared to most metropolitan areas. Here are some "corner-saving" tips I can share that can help stretch the peso:

  • LAUNDRY/IRONING - Washing of clothes are done once a week, ironing same thing but 2 days later; to save up on water, I've been using P&G's Downy 1Banlaw, the fabric conditioner requires you to rinse laundry once to get rid of all suds and detergent.
  • GROCERY SHOPPING/WET MARKET DAY - Close monitoring of my pantry is very useful because I can actually schedule grocery shopping and only do it when I need to replenish my stocks already. Short, frequent trips to the supermarket actually cost more in the long run since you need to spend for transport every time you go to the store and there's higher chance of impulse buying. Grocery shopping is done every 2 weeks, while wet market purchases are done weekly on market day - when there's more supply of seafood, meat and vegetables which would mean lower prices.
  • PRODUCTS I PATRONIZE - Although I'm really the type of person who goes for quality over price, I've discovered that there are some products that are actually of good or equal quality as the better known brands but don't cost as much. These are some of the products I use:
laundry detergent - SOLVE (from the makers of Wings Detergent)
fabric conditioner - DOWNY 1Banlaw (refill pouches)
liquid hand soap - Watson's on Buy 1 Take 1 deal
dishwashing liqu
id - PRIL (refill pouches)
vinegar - DATU PUTI (refill pouches with 20% more)
soy sauce - DATU PUTI (refill pouches with 20% more) or SILVER SWAN LAURIAT (refill pouches)
choco drink - MILO (refill pouch with 20 g more)
milk - ANCHOR FULL CREAM (refill pouch) & ALASKA (refill pouch)
coffee - NESCAFE (refill pouch or single-serve sticks)

juice - pouches for 1-liter serving
hotdogs - HAPPY BOOSTER (same taste as Purefoods TJ but much
cheaper)
tomato-based sau
ce/paste - CLARA OLE
pasta - SPIGADORO
catsup - DEL MONTE (refill pouches)
cooking oil - MONA/JOLLY Canola Oil
pancake mix - WHITE KING

  • CHANGING FOOD PREFERENCES - Both of my children are growing up preferring fish and chicken over pork or beef and they know how to eat their vegetables. This has been a huge help in maintaining our budget. We have fish, chicken and vegetables almost everyday, reserving maybe 2-3 days in a month where we enjoy pork or beef.
  • CONSERVING ENERGY - Although we can't get rid of our air-conditioning habit, we've maintained a strict time range when we use our air-conditioner. It's built-in timer helps in keeping our use to a minimum (5-6 hours at night). We also make a habit to turn off lights, appliances and plugs that are not in use.
These are just little things we can do everyday to stay afloat amidst the current economic crisis. Of course, we shouldn't forget the positive and powerful effect of prayer. Let's all pray that things will get better soon.

Cool Gadget: Food Fight Spoon from ZING


Remember your childhood days when you'd engage your siblings or friends to a food fight? Ha! We'd always get some solid scolding afterward but all we could think of was how good it felt. Of course now, food fight would be so much of a waste.

My website hopping led me to discover this cute little gadget, so perfect for food fights. Taking the cue from its predecessor, the "spork", the food fight spoon is a handy tool to use during lunch. But more than being just a spoon, spring it backwards and release...voila! You get the meanest food fight weapon.

The Zing Food Fight Spoon comes in several cool colors that would truly liven up your lunch kit.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

PARENTING is a CHOICE


A couple of weeks back, a question was posted on one of my yahoo groups - "Why do you want to have children?" It resulted to a treasure trove of ideas and sentiments spanning a wide range of opinions and experiences. Although a majority of those who responded were passionate about their decision to become parents and bring a child or children into this world, there was a minority group who were quite candid in sharing their reasons for either delaying parenthood or deciding not to have children at all.

I'm sure the sentiments of the minority group came as a shock to most who read them...after all, deciding to delay having children or not having them is an unusual ideology in our overpopulated society . You see, in Philippine society, it's quite typical for people to comment (mostly without tact) on the "childless" state of couples known to be married for sometime already. It's as if the ability to have children is a measure of one's worth as a man or a woman. Blame it on the strict Catholic upbringing of most or maybe the "machismo" thinking brought about by centuries of colonization. Thankfully, young couples of today are getting to be more vocal and candid about how they want to live their married lives. Gone are the days when couples were mere extensions or shadows of their parents'/grandparents' beliefs and practices. A point from the minority group that struck me the most was about the choice of being childFREE than childLESS - driving the point that even as a couple (husband and wife), they stand as a complete family unit already. Children don't need to complete their family unit since having each other already makes them complete. Deciding not to have children doesn't make any man or woman any less of who they are, nor does it show a void that needs to be filled, the couple simply wants to have a married life that doesn't have children in the equation.

Children shouldn't be seen or regarded as factors that complete a family but rather as gifts that give married life a whole new dimension. The fact remains that parents are only God's stewards in helping bring up children. In the end, they will live their own lives and make decisions for themselves and all that's left would be the couple. The man and woman begin their lives together as one and also end that life as one. Whatever that comes between can be regarded as the "confetti" of their lives...good until the children leave the nest.

I'll say the same thing I did on my post at the yahoo group: parenting is a choice. The decision to have or not to have children, how many and how often is solely up to the couple. It is their life, after all and they do not have to answer to anyone else except to themselves and their God.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Four Things (My 1st Meme)


I read about memes every time I go bloghopping and never got the chance to do one on my blog. This is the first time I'll be posting a meme here. Thanks to Mary for this.


Four jobs I've had
- telephone manager
- assistant manager, rewards program
- training and development officer
- online English tutor

Four movies I can watch over and over
- Pretty Woman
- Independence Day
- Jerry Maguire
- Ever After

Four places I've lived
- Quezon City, Philippines
- Cebu City, Philippines
- General Santos City, Philippines
- Butuan City, Philippines

Four TV shows I love
- Oprah
- The Amazing Race/The Amazing Race Asia
- CSI
- Barefoot Contessa

Four places I've vacationed
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Los Angeles, California
- Hong Kong
- Singapore

Four of my favorite dishes
- Chicken and Pork Adobo
- Sukiyaki
- Greek Gyros
- Mongolian Barbecue

Four sites I visit daily
- Pinoy Cook
- Market Manila
- Our Awesome Planet
- The Not SO Talented Mr. Montano

Four places I would rather be right now
- relaxing on the shores of Boracay Island
- visiting my Mom, my sister and her family in Vancouver, Canada
- visiting my Dad and brother in Quezon City
- enjoying the sights at Sentosa Island in Singapore

People I tag
- CherryTF of Cherry's Chakra
- Brian of The Not SO Talented Mr. Montano
- Mec of Crazy, Happy Arevalos
- Jane of Milk Station
- Vhiel of Vhiel's Corner
- Jacque of We are Family!
- Faye of Liking the Big Apple
- Jeng of jengspeaks

If you do this meme, send me an email or leave a comment, I'll add your blog link to my post! Please link to me in your post as well! Think of it as free blogertisement.

When I blog hop...

Since I've begun blogging back in 2005, there have been several blogs that warrant my attention almost on a daily basis. Yes, they're that good!

These blogs are a hodgepodge of my many interests: food, marriage, family, parenting, cooking/baking, home management, travel and blogging...

Take a peak at my e-neighborhood:

A Suburban Dream Home
Dessert Comes First
eBlog Templates
Fresh Mess
Market Manila
Mary's Madness
Pinoy Cook
Our Awesome Planet
Touched By An Angel
Wifely Steps

C'mon! Go bloghopping with me!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Search for the Cutie Child

A camera is a must for families with children. I remember taking shots of my son the minute he was born - pictures featuring all angles and activities. I must've taken hundreds of digital images of him already. Same story happened when my daughter was born almost 4 years later. Photographs are wonderful ways to capture special moments in our lives.

Thanks to www.mysweetlife.info and www.vhielscorner.com, proud parents like me can now show off our children in their cutest and most adoring photo shots.

Vhiel of Vhiel's Corner has come up with a search for the Cutie Child on her website. Just submit the cutest photo of your child together with a short description and you can join in the online voting for the Cutie Child.

Prizes at stake are as follows:


First Place
$10.00 (pay through paypal)
Ad space on Can of Thoughts

Second Place:
$5.00 (pay through paypal)
Blog review to be posted at Vhiel's Corner

Top 5
Link on the main page of Vhiel's Corner

The search is ongoing until July 31st but the deadline for submission of entries is on July 19, so hurry Mommies and Daddies, show off your little ones!

Here are the entries of my two babies:Jarred Andrei

Caitlin Alyssa

To find out more about the search, visit Vhiel's post at Vhiel's Corner.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cool Gadget: The perfect gift for the man in your life


Are you having difficulty thinking of the perfect gift to give your father/husband/boyfriend on his next birthday? Check out the ingenuity of this handy cutlery cum tool set. Dual purpose, each cutlery piece is paired with a handy tool that can assist your man in doing his all-around handyman tasks at home or at work. Perfectly disguised as a set of spoon, fork and knife, mealtimes at the office or at home will surely be more lively as the set can be quite a conversation piece. The set comes in a sturdy tool case, handy enough to stash inside a lunch kit or briefcase. Hmmm...I just might get hubby one of these for his birthday in September.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

On Debts and Loans

Sleepless nights, unrelenting calls from the bank, interests piling up on top of the other, law suits filed and families breaking up… How tragic can it be? But this is how most of us are living now, right? We work until we drop and by the time we get our paycheck, about 50% of it goes to payment of loans or other forms of debts. And despite the availability of thousands, if not millions, of advises on the web or award winning books published about the matter, where probably a lot of people were even able to profit from, most of us, in one way or another, end up in the same rut. I had my fair share and the way I see it, even if you get out, there is still that tendency to go back, as if it is some kind of fixation.

I bet you that the chances for a newly hired going the same route is a lot higher compared to him ending up in a well managed financial situation. So how do you defeat an unseen nemesis? Is this part of the grand design of living in this world? Does it mean that even before this generation’s workforce is born, their fate has already been sealed? That they will soon be joining the bandwagon, living on a paycheck to paycheck basis trying to make ends meet?

How does it really work? I mean, why do most of us end up in this situation? Is it really because our pay is not enough for our basic needs? Is it because of rising prices on almost anything? Or is this deeply rooted on some buying parody? How does one’s visit to the store get stimulated? We all know that on a daily basis, advertisements bombard our lives and they come in various media, i.e., television, radio, internet, short message system, newspaper, you name it and they are there. Indeed, succumbing to the advertisers’ hypnotic power if you may call it, becomes the end of financial freedom for most of us. Add to this the artificial purchasing power that credit cards give, it becomes a perfect concoction of financial disaster.

Some would say that it just requires a certain degree of discipline to overcome this but while we strive to curb our buying habits, is it not but appropriate too that advertisers become a little more discriminating in their propaganda? While I agree that these mechanisms are meant to further improve their business and which later will translate to more jobs for us, I think that there is really an imbalance on how these advertisements affect us as consumers vis-à-vis its effect on us as a workforce.

In the final analysis, we must do two fundamental things that are within our grasp and these are, to acknowledge the fact that as part of the working sector, we have limited financial resource therefore, we have to keep a tight rein on our artificial needs, if it is not possible to do away with it; and finally, we must be vigilant in scrutinizing the commercials that we allow our kids to watch so that they will not grow up getting fond of buying everything they see on television.

*** hubby's on a roll...thanks Ga!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tourism in the Philippines

Our nation is abound with vast areas yet to be touched by humanity, teeming with sights and sounds that the average Filipino may not be able to see in his lifetime. A smorgasbord of sorts, from the northernmost tip capped by the Aparri region featuring Pagudpud, Banawe rice terraces and Sagada to cite a few, destinations that not only depict the very roots of our Filipino heritage but also provide inspiration for artists who would endeavor to capture its splendor or perhaps a perfect sabbatical for the soul searching urban rat.

Somewhere in the middle of this tourism-rich archipelago lies a haven for beach lovers. Need I say that Boracay in Panay or Amanpulo in Palawan are just some of the better known resorts. Of course there’s Mactan or Malapascua in Cebu that boast of equally picturesque shorelines.

Heading down south, you will be drooling in awe at the mystic of Mindanao. Feast your eyes with the colors of Vintas in Zamboanga, or the grace of the Muslim dancer in Marawi or the War dance of the T’boli in South Cotabato. If you are however the typical adventure lover, the City of Golden Friendship that is Cagayan de Oro City can test your mettle with its famous rapids. Moving further east, brace yourself for more water adventures like world class surfing in Siargao Island, dubbed the Surfing Capital of the Philippines.

These are however just some of the known tourist destinations in the country but like I said, there’s more to discover like the Yohoho Islands in Surigao del Norte or Glan in the Province of Sarangani which a lot of foreigners have learned to love.

So think twice before you decide to treat yourself to an Asian cruise, European tour or a sojourn of the Mediterranean. You don’t have to look far to be amazed.

*** thanks to hubby for this write up