Prom 

Today, she attends her first prom, excited and totally resolved to make it one of the best nights of her high school life. I know there will be more prom nights or dates to come but this one is quite special because this is the first time I’ve seen her literally glowing like a princess. There’s hardly any trace of the pain and discomfort she’s been through the past years, only a beautiful sparkle coming from her very own brilliant light.  
Eversince her daddy died, I’ve been working so hard to raise her into this independent, well rounded, and self-assured person, who is compassionate towards others and passionate about her love for the Lord. But truth to tell, this work is not really meant to be done by a single parent alone. It does take a village to raise a child. Luckily, I have a strong community of family and friends co-parenting with me, making sure Bianca is well taken cared off and does not miss out on anything. Tonight I share this special moment with my close friends, BCBP family, and Bianca’s lolos and lolas, titos and titas, godmothers, “fairy godmothers,” and doctors. We’ve done a good job so far. Thank you very very much for always stepping in to help. 
To the boy who took my Bianca to her first (prom) date tonight. I’ve been praying for you for years. Believe me, I pray for these things too and the Lord didn’t disappoint once again. He sent someone who isn’t promising her the moon and the stars, just the possibility of a beautiful friendship. Like what I’ve always prayed Bianca’s first (prom) date to be. Thank you for being every inch a gentleman. Your parents have indeed raised you well. You are exactly what I’ve been hoping you to be, a heaven sent. 

Mindful Mom Retreat: Find Your Flow

Last Saturday, January 28, I attended the fifth Mindful Mom Retreat at Earth Kitchen in Bonifacio Global City. I personally think this is a good way to jumpstart 2017 that is why I made sure not to miss this one.

An offline version of Mommy Mundo’s award winning Mom Manisfesto Campaign, the Mindful Mom Retreat uses modules to guide moms to uncover and (re)discover their purpose and passion so they could live better, fuller lives, and parent more intentionally. It is especially designed to equip moms with tools that would help them be more mindful and conscious of their thoughts and actions.

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This retreat is facilitated by Michele “Ichel” Alignay, Registered Family Psychologist and co-founder of the Mom Manifesto Campaign. An expert when it comes to creating an open and inviting atmosphere, Ichel always manages to keep things light and fun. Main reason why moms who attend this retreat are never shy to share and participate in the well crafted activities and insightful discussions that have become the trademark of Mommy Mundo Parenting Events. Since participants receive a lot of support and encouragement in this retreat, they always come home re-fresh, re-energize, and re-centered to their mommy mission.

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And true enough, after sitting for three delightful hours listening to Ichel lead and facilitate the discussion on finding one’s flow (your strength) instead of one’s flaws (your limitations), of focusing and harnessing one’s strengths instead of one’s weaknesses as a woman, I felt truly empowered and affirmed. I must admit, I spent a significant part of my life as a mother trying to overcome, to no avail, my weaknesses until I simply just quit trying because truth to tell, I don’t really have the knack for them baking, cooking, Math, and even breastfeeding. Ichel’s fresh take on self-improvement made me feel truly good inside. It drove away any guilt feelings I have for delegating such tasks to the other members of the household and made me stop feeling like a total failure in the motherhood department also. It made see that if I just take the time to acknowledge the skills and talents that I have, I would realize just how much I can (still) share and give despite my limitations. It completely drove this point straight to my heart as well: I do not really need to be a perfect mom, just a mindful mom who deliberately and consistently work on improving myself for the better through constant and mindful reflection (self-check, visioning, goal-setting) and action.

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There is definitely a lot to learn from this retreat. But perhaps the most valuable lesson I got from this Mindful Mom gathering is this, to live a life of meaning and purpose, one must always take the time to recharge, reflect, and re-center. The Mindful Mom Retreat I tell you, is the perfect venue for that.

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In case you are interested to catch its May run this year, simply follow Mommy Mundo to get heads up on its latest schedule. Hope to see you there.😊

Photo credit: Mommy Mundo

This 2017…

I pray that you will have a blessed, wonderful year ahead. May you continue to dream big with the Lord and allow His mighty presence to fill your hearts and home with joy this new year. May you grow and bloom in faith and be filled with a burning passion to do good and be better than you once were.

Sometime this year, I hope you commit to a scary goal and with the boldest of courage, dare to achieve it. When things do not go as planned, may you discover and realize how beautifully mysterious and amazing God’s plan is, and with blind faith and trust learn to fully embrace it. Wherever you may find yourself this year, may it be at the peak of happiness and success or at the depth of grief, despair, or sorrow, may this thought always remain with you: no matter what happens, life is good. God is good. He loves you.😊🙏🏻

Proudly Woodrose

A former student once asked me, what makes you stay in Woodrose? I’ve but one answer, family. Woodrose is where I found my family and family, it isn’t always blood.

Families take care of their own, I have witnessed this many times in this institution. I remember when my husband was rushed to the ER following a massive heart attack, it was Mrs. Tina Elloso, then Level Coordinator for Administration and present Grade School Principal of Woodrose, who readily accompanied me to the hospital. As traumatic and heartbreaking it must’ve been for her to see a fellow wife lose herself in grief, she remained by my side in that moment of deep sorrow to provide the strength I needed at that time. On the eve of Bianca’s surgery, it was Mrs. Au Sergio Katindoy, former Grade School Principal and now Head of Administration of Woodrose, who sent me comforting words thru text. The thoughful way she checked on us that midnight before Bianca went under the knife meant a lot because it made Bianca and I feel less alone. When things took a turn for the worse, it was Mrs. Luz Illagan, Director for Finance and Administration of Woodrose, who reassured me right away that she will always extend whatever assistance I need in the best of her capacity, and to this day, she remains true to her word. Bianca’s first visitor at home after she was discharged from the hospital was surprisingly Dra. Severina Villegas, Paref Woodrose’s Executive Director. Like the others, she took time to travel all the way to Cavite to show Bianca how much she cares. “To lead is to serve” is not something that we just simply recite in Woodrose, it is what everyone does in Woodrose wholeheartedly.

I will always be grateful to Woodrose because this where I have grown professionally and spiritually, and true to its familial nature, it still continues to nurture me. Under the expert hands of Mrs. Santos Ca, I’m slowly turning into the kind of teacher I’ve always wanted to be, and given the spiritual guidance of Mrs. Anne Adizon, I’m also growing into the kind of person the Lord wants me to become.

I have been blessed with life long friends from the day I started working in Woodrose. Friends who I know will continue to be with me through the best and worst of times. Friends who treat each of my life’s journey, struggles, and triumphs as their own. These past couple of years I have been called inspiring many times, what others do not know really is behind this woman you call inspiring is a strong community of prayerful women in Woodrose who never gets tired of celebrating the goodness of the Lord. I am just simply following their lead.

A prophet once said seek the treasure that the Lord has prepared for you, and there you shall find your heart. My treasure has always been my family. Woodrose is my family. This is where my heart will always be. Others who have left said the grass is greener on the other side, well I say from where I’m standing in Woodrose, the grass has never looked this greener and more beautiful.

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Thank you Woodrose for the 10 wonderful years. I look forward to more. To everyone who have been part of my 10 years in Woodrose, thank you. To the parents I’ve worked with and who have done more for me, thank you for the genuine care, respect, and trust. To my present and former students and mentees, thank you for bringing so much love and joy in my life. You make me proud to be Woodrose’s “Mrs. Dela Cruz.”

Too much exposure to mobile phone heat, not good for the skin 

I am sure most of you will agree with me when I say, cellphone is that one thing that we can’t live without nowadays. Our whole life practically depends on it. Okay, maybe I am exaggerating here a bit but lets admit it, there’s some truth to what I am saying. To prove my point, what’s the first and last thing you do everyday?! Of course, check your cellphone. See. 

While cellphone was created primarily for communication, it didn’t take long before they added applications and other features that allow us to do more with it. Now we don’t just use it for calls, we use it to get information, run our businesses, and even entertain ourselves.

While its true that cellular phones have given us the power to do things with just a swipe or touch of our fingertips, did you know that the constant use of mobile phones especially for taking selfies, can cause our skin more harm than good. Studies show that the heat coming from mobile phones promote a number of antigens that could cause moderate to severe allergic reactions especially to those with long standing history of allergies. The heat from cellphones when combined with the metals, nickel and cobalt in the phone trimmings can cause the skin to turn red and itchy. When such skin irritation occur, acne and blemishes (may) soon follow. The dirt and bacteria that accumulate in our cellphone can also get in contact with our skin and mix with the sweat and oil in our face. Once they get trapped in our pores, they too can cause breakouts. 

Luckily, America’s #1 acne treatment, Proactiv Solution, has a 3-Step System that is dermatologically developed and designed to help clear existing acne and prevent future breakouts. Proactiv 3-Step System guarantees smooth, flawless skin that is always selfie-ready. Absolute no need for filters before posting it online (*wink*).

Proactiv’s 3-Step System starts with the application of the Renewing Cleanser which contains Benzoyl Peroxide that helps kill acne-causing bacteria. These ultra-fine, micro-crystal BPO penetrates pores fast while being gentle on the skin. These exfoliating beads also help unclog the pores of impurities such as excess sebum, keratin, and dead skin cells. The Proactiv Revitalizing Toner which refines and purifies pores through gentle exfoliation, on the other hand, contains soothing botanicals that gently remove excess oil for a more refreshed and clearer skin while the Repairing Lotion helps heal breakouts and prevent new ones from forming. 

Each Proactiv kit comes with a free Refining Mask that helps keep skin clear and acne-free. Formulated with sulfur, this proven acne-fighting ingredient, reaches deep into the pores where blemishes begin. It unclogs pores, pampers inflamed skin, and softens the skin’s texture.

Nothing beats natural remedies of course. Taking a break from long heat exposure from mobile phones will definitely improve our overall skin health. Trimming down hours of phone calls to a minimum, lessening the amount of time spent on playing games on the phone, and taking a few selfies in a day can go a long way in improving the condition of our skin. With these natural remedies plus Proactiv’s 3 Step-Systtem, we are guranteed a blemish free skin that is simply selfie perfect.

To know more about Proactiv Solution visit http://my.proactiv.com.ph/

Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016

  
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)—Standard Chartered Marathon, you clearly lived up to your reputation as one of the toughest international marathons around. You will go down in (my) history as the one that almost made me quit on myself, as a runner and a dreamer. Running your arduous course was truly a humbling experience. For the first in my life, failure and defeat stared me in the face, and I had to muster every bit of courage left in my body to hold my ground. You affirmed the truth that it is faith, it will always be faith, that would be my saving grace. 

I was one of the last remaining runners who crossed the finish line and I will never be ashamed to admit that. I will never forget this scene in my head, runners collapsing along the street due to heat, abandoning their dreams on the pavement due to fatigue, and me fighting really hard, really hard the desire and the urge to join them. Many times during the race, fear insisted I give up, self-doubt demanded I pull out, while faith strongly dictated I press forward. I pressed forward and just when I thought I had no energy left, I felt every fiber of my body sing with renewed strength as I chant Hail Marys and Glory Bes in my head. A celebrated runner once said, deep admiration should be afforded to runners who finished first in the race while deep respect, deep respect should be given to those who finished last because they struggled the most to fight the demons in their heads. I understand what that meant now. 

I will always remember how I fought back tears when I reached the last stretch that would bring me to the finish line not because it was finally over but because I made it to the pen only seconds before they closed the barricade that would separate me from the hundred others who weren’t allowed to continue. I made it to the qualifying time. The dream became mine. 

Truly, I am highly favored, deeply loved, and greatly blessed by the One above. Angels indeed carried me in their wings. More than the strategy and technique, pure grace brought me to finish. For this, I will always be grateful.

I carry you with me, I carry you in my heart.

16 years ago, I remember walking down the aisle towards this man I promised to love forever. He stood there waiting anxiously at the altar for me and when our eyes met, I clearly remember how we both smiled at each other in great relief. We thought we’d never make it. This lives in my memory. If there is a moment between my dream and waking up, a moment I want to stay frozen in time, this is one of them. Today, I remember and I guess for the rest of my life I’ll always remember how on this day, many moons ago, I married a guy who spent a significant part of his lifetime showing me how deeply adored, cherished, and loved I am. For this, I am eternally grateful.

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To my dear sweetheart, I hope my love and prayers, and not my grief and sorrow, reach you tonight for I want nothing more than for you to be truly happy there in heaven. The best years of my life are still the ones I spent with you. Know that wherever this life takes me, I’ll carry your heart with me, I’ll carry it in my heart. Happy wedding anniversary. 😌

Never forget. Marcos is not a hero.

A while ago in class today, our topic was historical events and places in NCR, and very timely the discussion focused on the EDSA Revolution and the different circumstances that led to that life changing event. My students had a lot of questions about the dark years in Philippine history. As an educator, I adressed them as developmentally appropriate and as objectively as possible.

Before closing the lesson, I showed a video of the EDSA People Power Revolution. As the song, “Magkaisa,” played in the background, and as scenes from the martial law years flooded the screen, I felt yet again that strong, familiar stirring of emotions. In fact, I had to clear my throat a couple of times before addressing the class. When I turned on the lights as the video comes to an end, I was even more surprised to see some of my students with tears in their eyes. As the last notes of the song faded into the background, the class fell silent, clearly absorbing everything before slowly breaking into a heartfelt clap. It was deeply moving. Deeply moving.

Nine year olds…what do they know about martial law, about Ferdinand Marcos, or about history. Nothing except what we tell them. But then, how we tell them matters as much as what we tell them. So, lets explain history and what is happening right now in the light of faith and reason because this is the only way we can raise critical thinkers, sound decision makers, and upright leaders of the furture. Our roles as storytellers and witnesses of the past and present times matter. They matter a lot to our children so lets take these roles seriously.

It is a sad day for the Filipinos, I agree but this does not dictate how our future will be like. Before I even knew of the Supreme Court’s decision on Marcos burial today, a student raised this question just before we ended the class, “Should we allow Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?” After an exchange of opinions and ideas, I let them decide. My 26 nine year old students made a stand. They based their decision on what they know about what makes a hero, in plain and simple truth. 24 out of my 26 students voted against it. Judging from the way my students made their choice, I see a “bright” future for the Philippines. 🙏🏼😌

Happy Teacher’s Day

The other day, I saw my Grade 2 student whose been notorious for screaming and throwing tantrums in class when things don’t go her way, head to the bathroom. She’s been adamantly excusing herself often in class lately to sort of like take “little breaks.” When I saw her locked herself in, I sneakily followed her and slipped inside the other cubicle and in my best imitation of a deep booming voice, I said her name twice. I heard a shuffle and a quickly reply, “Who’s that? Who are you! I am not afraid of you.” I continued, “I am your guardian angel, gooooo back to the classssrooooom…go back to the classssrooom.” In all sassiness, she shot back , “No you’re not. Who are you? I’m not afraid of you…What are you doing in there…angel, what angel…” But then, I heard her hurriedly go out of the cubicle, mumble a few words, and do a hasty exit. When I was certain that the coast was clear, I went out to wash my hands in the sink. When I looked up, I almost fell to my knees laughing because I saw her hiding behind the door, whispering to herself, “Who are you? I am not afraid of you.” and when she carefully peeked and saw me, she triumphantly shouted, “I kneeeew it! I knew it!!! Ha!” with matching slap on the wall. She returned back to the classroom skipping, obviously in high spirits, while I stood there laughing till my sides hurt. 
In my 14 years of teaching and handling preschool and primary kids, this is what I learned: to truly survive in teaching, you have to learn not to take yourself or your students TOO seriously. You have to allow more room for humor because humor/laughter is always the best way to (especially) a (difficult) student’s heart. Always. Happy teacher’s day to my fellow teachers.

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