My Mommyology

August 26, 2014
by mymommyology

“Mama I’m Proudly Filipino!”

While we’re still in the month of August… ;)

August in Manila is commonly known as Buwan ng WikaIt’s the month we Filipinos pay tribute to our native language and formally celebrate the culture and heritage of our country — at least in the school setting.

Sam’s school had it as an inherent part of their curriculum since Kinder.  And it was only up until last summer when she really began to like and love the little things that were taught to her.  And it was something she wanted to “bring” with us as we moved back to the states.  So I had to figure out how.

Speaking the Language.  Last summer Sam attended Filipino classes at the Learning Library.  They had just opened a center near us in Makati and we were looking for something for Sam to do in the morning while Jamie was in summer school.  Thankfully, Sam loves learning and considers it an adventure.  So there was no struggle in getting her to complete the Basic Filipino sessions held over the course of a month.

According to founder Vanie (who once upon a time interviewed me for a corporate post!), the children are assessed as to their comfort-level with using Filipino.  Sometimes even when it’s taught in school, it’s not reinforced as much at home because it’s not used as much as it used to be.  That’s why the goal of their Basic Filipino classes is to simply get the kids used to using common Filipino words and define them properly.  The teachers accept responses in English but try to teach the kids still in Filipino by continuously using it during the class.  The class is set up to start with a story, and it incorporates Filipino songs as well (music as we know is a great way to teach kids!).  Sometimes, there are guessing games of matching the Filipino word with its matching picture.  After which, the kids do their individual work that is based on their learning levels, still on the same topic.

At the end of 12 sessions, The Learning Library had Sam more confident in using specific words and phrases in her everyday sentences.  I was quite pleased.  She was bringing home books in Filipino too that we would read to try to learn more.  In fact I really think it helped her in the few weeks that she was at school, because she would always come home with some recognition from her 1st grade teacher.

Sam got a badge for "best in reading". Weee!

Sam got a badge for “best in reading”. Weee!

Most importantly though, we still continue to speak the language at home.  Sometimes I purposely point out what specific items are in the three languages she knows (English, Filipino and Spanish), and we teach Jamie as well.  Sometimes it’s a natural occurrence.  I’ll say something in Filipino to her and help her pick up the context clues so she can give me a practical response.  And we really wouldn’t have been able to jump-start this interest without the help of Learning Library.

Don’t forget to like them on Facebook: The Learning Library

Reading the Books.  Before moving back to Manila, I started off Sam with some simple Filipino books.  My friend Frances works at Tahanan Books, and happily gives the girls some of the new books for them to review.  The books that we have are so wonderfully drawn!  And Sam even has the Bugtong Bugtong books signed by the author himself.  Jamie loves their Ay Naku! that even if we got it for Ate, she’s the one that pulls it out and asks to read it before bedtime.  

Such a good first book to learn with!

Such a good first book to learn with!

One of their more recent titles is an interesting take on Filipino ghosts and folklore.

Get a copy!  I'd love to hear what you think.

Get a copy! I’d love to hear what you think.

From the standpoint of someone who’s never heard of any of these ghoulish creatures before (ie Sam), she actually thought it was amusing.  But the minute she talked to the older generation about it and mentioned the word Tikbalang for instance, she’d get gasps and shocked stares, as if she said something wrong.  My sister rationalized it’s because we were all taught about them in such a scary way (because really the history of Filipino folklore creatures is very dark), that seeing it in a child-friendly format will throw anyone off.  But at the very least, there’s a new way of learning about them in their purity, without having to instill the fear in them first.  Quite an interesting point of view, but most probably true.  After all, we brought the book along with us (along with other Filipino books) and occasionally inject it into our story time moments.  But I will admit I’m only brave enough to read it when the sun is up. ;)

Don’t forget to like them on Facebook: Tahanan Books

Wearing the Clothes.  Every year for school, the girls have to come in some traditional Filipiniana costume.

And Sam would wear this more often, even to school here if she could. I find though that the material and fabric may not hold up in a boisterous playground around active kids.  Plus, the safety pins I need to attach worry me.  The thing is, before Anthill and Mothering Earthlings came along, these Kultura finds seemed to be the only available options!

I first learned about Anthill Fabrics through Rone of Mothering Earthlings.  She and Anya (of Anthill) had a tie-up for Tayum and La Paz reversible skirts.

Photo Credit:  Mothering Earthlings

Photo Credit: Mothering Earthlings

I learned more about Anya and the social enterprise behind Anthill when I met her for a separate project.  I must say, I love everything about Anthill.  It’s a modern take on woven indigenous fabrics, and it’s all for a worthwhile cause.  When I visited their pop-up a few weeks ago, I bought some unique fashion pieces as gifts for family here.  And of course, I got a little something for myself too! ;)  After all, who says only the kids need to wear Philippine-made clothes?

Finds at the Anthill pop-up (Including THE Tita K!).

Finds at the Anthill pop-up (Including THE Tita K!).

You can also find Anthill on Facebook:  Anthill Fabric Gallery

Loving everything Filipino-made. It’s not hard really — to love everything that’s made in the Philippines by Filipinos.  A lot of the items are of good quality.  And the girls see it first hand because of Two Tots.  At Two Tots, we source Filipino materials (like solid Philippine Mahogany wood, and rattan crates) for all our furniture and accessories.  Our hand painted range of items are done by local artists.  It may not look indigenous, but they’re all built and made to last.  That’s why we made sure to bring all our Two Tots furniture pieces here to our new home. :)

At Two Tots we say, Mom-designed, Child-approved!

At Two Tots we say, Mom-designed, Child-approved!

Of course, Two Tots is also on Facebook: Two Tots Home Accessories Inc.

Sam takes great pride in being a Filipino.  She talks and acts like a little American kid (with her unmistakable American accent), but she loves that other side to her that she can share with all her other friends.  A lot of her new friends are multicultural too .  So we continue these little lessons informally to enriches her contribution to the class.  More importantly, it instills a deeper appreciation for her heritage and our roots.  I hope this helps ground her no matter where life takes us.

August 24, 2014
by mymommyology

A Fresh Start

Who could’ve guessed, that this big “life changing move” would take a toll on my gadgets.

First it was my iPhone.  Two weeks before our actual date of departure, I dropped it face down on the cement floor of our parking garage.  I was getting Jamie out of the car that bright and early that morning and didn’t bother storing my iPhone in my pocket before doing so.  This was the nth fall in the last four years, and probably all it could take..  The inside of it cracked and the blue liquid leaked all over.

It looked something like this...

It looked something like this…

I was in a bit of a dilemma then, knowing that I was leaving in a couple of weeks (When it happened, I didn’t know the exact date), and I knew that my husband had an iPhone waiting for me here with my new line.  So it was quite the decision:  do I get a new iPhone in Manila or not?  According to the Apple Care person I approached in Manila, unless I had backed up or used iCloud, then there was no guarantee they could get the data on my phone back.

By the time Powerplant Mall closed that same evening, I was holding this:

Hello there new iPhone 5S.

Hello there new iPhone 5S.

I decided to keep my Manila line, and with the loyalty scheme came a low-monthly cash out for a 16GB iPhone.  It was a down-grade from my 32GB memory, but I figured it would do.  Better than nothing right?  Fortunately, I had somehow synced the phone to the Mac and to iCloud and so I was able to retrieve contacts, photos and purchased Apps.  Whew!

It was only then when I realized that I really couldn’t live without an iPhone, even if it was just for a few weeks.  Amazing how Apple has penetrated our lives, no?  I couldn’t even settle for a different smart phone, because all of my back up systems were linked to some Mac product.  The saying still holds true: once on a Mac, you can’t go back.

Then the day after we arrive in our new home, my Macbook Pro decides to crash.  Crash.  CRASH!

These blue vertical lines gave me a heart attack.

These blue vertical lines gave me a heart attack.

Never in my life did I think that possible.  I was filling out some forms on the web when the screen flickered and died.  After that, I couldn’t open it again.  My Apple Care had expired at this point too (just my luck ey?), and so I had to pay tech support to try and fix it on the phone.  After two hours, they concluded that it wasn’t a software issue, but a hardware one.  So the next day I trekked on over to the nearest Apple store, and the Genius tells me it’s my video card that crashed.  It was of course attached to the computer’s logic board, so they needed to send it back to the main repair center.

In my jet lagged state, we assessed the situation:  Is it better to buy a new Mac altogether or to try and salvage this one?  The thing was that either way, he wouldn’t be able to guarantee if they could save all or any of my current data.  He said he hoped I was one of those people who backed up (After what happened to my iPhone, I did back-up, but it had been a few weeks.  Can you blame me, I was packing up the house!).  In the end I decided it was cheaper to have this one fixed than get a new one.  Besides, I really didn’t have a new Mac in my budget to begin with!

I’ve been a week without a computer.  And I only got it back today.  Guess what — it’s a clean slate.

Nothing. Was. Saved.

And there it was.  A totally 'new' computer.

And there it was. A totally ‘new’ computer.

I had some files that I was working on, but they’re all gone.  Even the most recent presentations for some of my clients:  gone.  The girls’ most recent pictures and our album I was preparing to print from the Disney Cruise:  gone.  For the last week I’d been preparing myself for this possibility.  And given what had happened to my iPhone a few weeks earlier, I figured that it was the universe conspiring to send me a message.

Change isn’t one of my strong suits.  Yet in the last six years, I’ve made three big moves and had two kids.  I realized that while I was definitely excited, there was always a part of me that was nervous or worried about what was to come.  I don’t like not knowing exactly what to expect — which is in fact impossible.

An implosion always happens and I think this time, subconsciously it released itself upon my phone and Mac.  They were after all, the two items I couldn’t live without (next to my kids of course).  In the weeks leading up to our departure, they were under the most duress.  My Mac and my iPhone contain everything:  lists, contacts, notes, reminders, to do’s… everything I needed, and everything to drive me crazy and up the wall.

For once in my life, I felt lighter.  Instead of hanging on to the past and its data, I just… let it go (literally)!  Instead of trying to pre-determine the where and what and how, I’m left with just going with the flow and taking things as they come one day at a time.  Figuratively and literally speaking, the past after all, will always be there (thank GOD for back-ups), and they are memories of good times and good experiences, but they need not all be carried through into the present and the near future.  And knowing this I know that as I move forward, there’s less anxiety and more excitement.

That’s the nice thing about a clean slate right?  It’s a fresh start.  You get to do everything for the first time — again.

August 12, 2014
by mymommyology

A Father’s Love

The last month and a half have been crazy busy, to say the least!  And here’s why:

Boxes and boxes and boxes... again!

Boxes and boxes and boxes… again!

As some of you may already know (or may have guessed), we’re moving.  Again!  It hasn’t even been two years since we set foot in Manila once again, and yes, here we are, uprooting once more.

Many people ask why.  In fact almost everyone knew we came home because my husband wanted to be close to family.  So why the big move only after 22 months into our supposedly “home for good move”?

Well.  It really boils down to Jamie.

Remember I mentioned Jamie’s skin allergies?  Over the course of 20 months, we’ve come to prove that the cause was the ever-humid and unpredictable weather and highly polluted environment of Manila.  As the months passed, her allergies went from bad to worse.  It got to the point where I wasn’t getting any rest because I’d wake up to keep her from scratching and re-apply all kinds of topical steroids and lotions on her.  The next morning, it was always a game of “where did this blood come from?” or “what will Jamie’s mood be today?” knowing that she didn’t get a good night’s rest.

(I feel like) I’ve tried everything, including non-traditional ways that worked for other moms.  All the solutions would provide temporarily relief, but after a while Jamie would desensitize and everything would flare up again.  Thank God for our constants, Aquasana and Mustela’s Stelatopia; for without them I fear it would be worse.

We’d gotten to that point where I felt I was raising a drug addict, because the allergists had told me to give my then two-year old 10mL of antihisthamine daily, everyday, for 3 months straight (on top of the topical ointments).  For her tiny body, it was too much.  It affected Jamie’s demeanor and behavior.  She was always cranky and sleepy and totally uncomfortable.

We went to several pediatric dermatologists and allergists, who all said that she would “eventually outgrow it (or as they say “control it).”  And I believed them, having gone through it myself for half my life.  It became my default solution too.

But my husband wouldn’t — couldn’t — stand for it.  He just couldn’t bear to see his baby girl in that state all the time.  And he insisted that there should be a better solution than just waiting for her to adapt.

We had proven that it wasn’t food, or anything in our laundry, or even the usual culprits like stuffed toys (hence, Bunny was allowed to stay).  In fact, during our trips to Anvaya, Boracay and Bohol, a dip in the salt water would instantly clear Jamie’s skin up.

The clincher was when we went on our family vacation and Jamie’s eczema cleared up the day after we arrived.  It stayed clear up until the day we flew home.  I came home with full tubes of medicine and lotion because I used them 5x less than I’d normally use them when in Manila.

And so in a matter of months — weeks — from what was initially “just speculation”, became reality.  My husband told his employer that he had to re-consider opportunities in the US, because he wanted Jamie to have a better quality of life.  And it was a big thing since he was the one who wanted to move us home, and because he was (is) doing so well career-wise too.

As luck or fate or a combination of both would have it, his company decided to keep him to handle the operations in North America.  And just like that, the contract was signed and I was back in the motions of packing up.

Many people say it was a very bold thing to do – uproot the whole family when we’re just starting to settle in and get our bearings (They say it takes 2 years to finally feel “okay” after a big move with kids — and it’s true I was JUST getting that feeling!).  Not many would really make that huge a move.  But as my husband points out – it was her health.  And Jamie in her current state was no way to live.

And that’s really what struck me when I saw this slide during our post-Father’s day #BetterMe session with Coach Pia at Seda Hotel (in BGC).

Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!

Thank you Jen for making these wonderful pinboards from our session!

My language of love is words.  And I’m very good at expressing myself and how I feel.  My husband is quite the opposite.  But you can see it in his actions.  Like this big move of ours.  Thankfully the career aspect of it worked in our favor, but if it didn’t, it wouldn’t have stopped him from exploring it and making it happen.  And after all, that’s what father’s are good at — making things happen.

Somehow the girls know that’s how he loves them.  Jamie clearly knows and is looking forward to “making the owies go away.”  And Sam — she understood.  In one of her emotional moments she caught me by surprise when she said, “I’m sad we’re moving but I know it’s better for Jamie.  So that’s why.”  (Of course I cried).  Somehow she knew that we’d all make that kind of sacrifice for her if she needed it most, and that no matter what, we put our family’s needs first.  Something they also learned from her dad.

Credit:  Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.

Photo Credit: Jen of @next9 and Attached at the Hip.

A very belated Father’s Day — but also a Happy Anniversary!  – to my husband, the Daddy of our family.  We can’t wait to start this new adventure with you. :) 



See you in a few. ;)

A big thank you as well to The One Core, Coach Pia, and Seda Hotels, our sponsors for this #BetterMe session!  Use the hashtag #betterme and #somoms on Instagram and Facebook to discover and gain insights on the topics we’ve learned thus far about becoming the best versions of ourselves.  I sincerely hope that you gain something from them too!

The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC.  Great for staycations too!

The beautiful rooms at Seda BGC. Great for staycations too!

July 4, 2014
by mymommyology
1 Comment

Raising Children with Strong Values and Character

I picked up Sam from school yesterday and we had our usual conversation in the car about how her day went.  It was all pretty normal, until Sam said, “Mom, my classmate got sent to the time out chair today.”  I thought she was just relaying an event at school, but as I probed deeper, I found out this little girl was sort of a bully to my sweet Sam.  “She pushes and pulls me a little too roughly.  And she says she won’t be my friend because she has enough friends,” were some of the things that came out of her mouth. “She also says bad words.”

I felt my temper flare up but somehow managed to bite my tongue and breathe.  Those #BetterMe sessions were hard at work before I realized it. ;)

I didn’t want Sam to shut down and I wanted to find out more .  How she felt, what she did, if she was hurt (physically or emotionally)… Sam was very matter-of-fact about it, but I could tell she couldn’t wrap her head around her seatmate rejecting her friendship and treating her that way for no apparent reason.

That night as the girls went to bed I chatted about it with my cousin who also sends her daughter to the same school.  Apparently my niece experienced a similar incident.  When she stood her ground with this “heavy-handed” classmate who was trying to bully her into something they were instructed not to do, my niece got accused of being mean and uncaring.  My cousin said her daughter felt bad after, but was reassured that she did the right thing.

These aren’t the first set of stories I’ve heard over the year about kids with “attitudes”, or kids acting like bullies to their classmates.  And often what follows are statements like, “What do the parents teach them?” or “Why are they (the kids) allowed to get away with such behavior?” 

Now I’ve been fondly “accused” by people close to me that I can be very protective of my children.  So much so that I’d shield them from anything “bad” even before it comes remotely close.  And because in reality I can’t do that, they come home with stories and thoughts similar to those I’ve just shared.  So yes, I’ve been guilty of similar thoughts and statements — judgements if you will — too.  And quite honestly if it hadn’t been for these last few #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia, I’d have done things differently.

About a month ago we had a session at the all-new Flair Towers on How to Raise Children with Strong Character and Values.  And the reason I bring it up is because it makes me wonder how you can guarantee spelling the difference between kids with a solid value compass and kids who “go astray”?  While I hope and pray that I’m doing something right with the girls, it’s still a thought that plagues me everyday.  After all I’m not the only influence they have in their lives anymore, and they can easily pick up and do things that are against what they’re taught.

Going back to the lessons of that #BetterMe session, one thing I felt that worked in my favor was this:

Two words.  A whole lotta meaning.

Two words. A whole lotta meaning.

The slide says it all but it’s NOT. EASY. TO DO.  I admit that my initial reaction when Sam told me would have been to shriek, “WHAT?!”  And I probably would have launched into a litany of how that was wrong versus right and what she should do or how she should fight back.  But I remembered this and instead, I asked questions.  I reserved my judgements for myself and tried to help Sam process how she felt.  There was no right or wrong, I let her say her piece and worked through what we could when I could inject my thoughts without the lecture.

The other part of the session that struck me (a month later no less!) as this was unfolding before my eyes and ears, was when Coach Pia said:



Unknowingly (and thankfully so, whew!), this is something I’ve been doing with the girls too.  I avoid the phrase, “because I said so”,  and I make it a point to explain the bigger reason behind the discipline.  Safety, respect, honesty, trust, openness.  I use them often and I try to say it in ways she’ll understand.

Somehow I think it stuck.  Sam had no qualms about opening up to me and saying exactly how she felt (I hope it stays that way always!).  I didn’t correct her strong words, because I knew she was saying it to me only and I acknowledged that.  I also appreciated her telling me that she didn’t retaliate because she knew it was wrong.  Despite looking like the weaker one of the two, somehow I hope I was able to reinforce that she actually was the stronger one.  And I affirmed her decision to not repeat the bad words she’d heard.

And so I go back to the judging statements about what the parents teach or don’t teach, and allow or don’t allow.  More and more, I’m beginning to think it’s not really that parents teach the wrong things or allow misbehavior to happen.  No parent in their right mind would purposely do that.  Rather, it might just be the amount of influence (or lack thereof) over their kids.  And as a disclaimer, it’s also not about quantity over quality time (because I know of parents who work full-time and have kids with strong values and characters), but as Coach Pia says, it’s really about being present.  It’s important to emphasize family time over friends time, especially as the kids get older.  The presence of parents should be felt 5x more to those of their peers.  Family influence will imbibe strong values, and will combat any other influence that peers will bring to the table.  And if all else fails, you go back to the first insight on resisting lecturing, so you are open to them and they are open to you.

Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.

Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.

I’ve to say this post has been in my drafts for quite sometime.  Life got in the way what can I say.  I’m glad it did; because yesterday’s incident helped me crystalize the lessons even more.  And while I know I’m the furthest thing from being the parent that knows it all, I’m all for learning and doing whatever it takes that will help make me a better one step at a time.

Thank you #LysolPH!

Thank you #LysolPH!

Thank you to Lysol for sponsoring this #BetterMe Session with The One Core.  Visit their Facebook page: Lysol Philippines for the latest products that can help make your home and hands germ-free. :)


June 20, 2014
by mymommyology

See You At Ponti!

Back in the day, Il Ponticello, more commonly known as Ponti, was a staple hangout and one of them “old reliables” indeed.  With good music and reasonably priced drinks it was always part of our list of meet up places.  The thing is after a while, you had to be young and willing to shout and sweat and come out with a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hanging over you to want to go back there repeatedly.  Personally, I got too old for it.  I was never a fan of the second-hand cigarette smoke sticking to my towels and sheets, even AFTER I’ve showered.  Twice!

Now, PK (“post-kids”), when I see my friends I like to sit and talk.  These moments are few and far between (and in Manila there’s always much to talk about) and because I know I STILL have to get up the next morning and have my faculties in check to care for said offspring, I need it to be a relaxing yet entertaining ambiance.  With alcohol of course! ;)  But really, we want to be able to hear each other and enjoy our food and drinks and have enough personal space around at all points in time.

The nice thing about it is, it seems like Ponti has grown up with us too.  The place was closed for a while due to a transfer of ownership — and let me tell ya, the new owners fixed it up GOOD.

It's back!  And it's better!

It’s back! And it’s better!

The owners are of different business and artistic backgrounds, all experts in their fields.  From restaurant management to marketing, to interior design and food quality… they’ve actually got it all! ;)  You know you’re in good hands, and you know that every last detail has been thought through to perfection.

When you enter, this greets you. :)

When you enter, this greets you. :)

It’s now better lit and it gives off a more sophisticated vibe.  The smoking section is enclosed (so those who don’t want to smell like smoke won’t come out smelling like smoke) but also so nicely done that you’d still want to sit there and have your drink.  If you wanted to have a lunch meeting or an early cocktail (or mocktail), then it’s a good place to do it in.

The table setting.  Ooh, wine glasses!  It's a sign. ;)

The table setting. Ooh, wine glasses! It’s a sign. ;)

And best of all — there’s food! Really good Italian food too (I love Italian food!).

Yummy in my tummy!

Yummy in my tummy!

I honestly don’t remember the old Ponti having food, though my sister-in-law tells me it did.  The head chef (can I say Master Chef?!) comes from Genoa, Italy and has cooked up some awesome stuff, from appetizers all the way down to the desserts.  You MUST save space for dessert!

Pannacotta Cheesecake is a MUST!  The other dessert is nutella in creme puff with ice cream.  Yummm.

Panna cotta Cheesecake is a MUST! The other dessert is Nutella in creme puff with ice cream. Yummm.

My husband who’s in the restaurant business is very particular about the price (well, who isn’t really?), the presentation and the “portioning”.  He’s quite satisfied when we go to Ponti and eats quite a bit.  The staff is very attentive and friendly and have been trained to provide excellent customer service.  And the managers are always present and very hands on,  so if there’s anything you need they can personally attend to you.

Everyone that I’ve spoken to who’s been to the new and improved Ponti has nothing but good things to say about it.  And it’s nice to drop in with friends, because everyone and anyone has some memory of Ponti at one point in time.  It’s fun to reminisce and see just how much it’s changedand matured — alongside all of us.

Come to think of it…  it’s Friday today. It’s that kind of week and I really feel like I need — deserve — a drink.  Or maybe two.  Maybe it’s time to round-up the gang and hit them “old reliables”.

The Ponti Spritz.  Pretty refreshing!

The Ponti Spritz. Pretty refreshing!

So… see you at Ponti? ;)


Follow Il Ponticello on Facebook: IlPonticelloMakati  and on Instagram: @ilpontimakati

Make your reservations for lunch and/or dinner at (02) 553 9971.  Email them at

Open Mondays – Saturdays from 11:00am – 2:30pm and 6:30pm – 2:00am.

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