Mother and Daughter; Plus The Best Friendship in Between

Mama was a widow at her early forties. I was only seven then and being an only child, I think I made the initiative to mature a little faster as Mama raised me single-handedly. I have seen how she has mastered multi-tasking and positivism even it was really hard. She was prayerful, warm-hearted and friendly. Her energy is so beautiful – enough to gain customers that turned into friends who brought few more customers. I grew up selling different kinds of what Filipinos call merienda – banana-que, turon, lumpia, kamote fries, kikiam, fish balls, squid balls, pancit Bato and the famous halo-halo. Mama was a sewer and beautician too. She has too much in her hands but never short of being a mother and friend to me at the same time. 

When she sent me to her mother and sister’s care in Buhi, Camarines Sur, our love for each other deepened. We would exchange mails on ordinary days and special occasions. She would take me with her to our home in Quezon City during summer vacation and she would visit the province during my birthdays and Christmas too. That was our arrangement for three years during my primary school years. She took me back in when I was in 6th grade. That was the only time I asked her (without any regret) why she had to live alone. Her answer made me love her more. It was a sacrifice she bravely faced. Within those years, she has faced failure on her own – I was away to hug her and assure that it is okay and she can try again. Mama was suppose to work overseas (in Hong Kong) but it did not push through for many reasons even after her long wait. She was only able to work overseas when I was already in sophomore year in high school. Her sister who took care of me then came to live with me here in the metro. We were afar from each other for another three years. It was harder but the same years made our mother and daughter relationship stronger.

Our friendship became a hit when she arrived home, I was already in my first year in college. A number of my friends expressed their admiration of how sheis to me as a mother and best friend at the same time. She was even a confidant to some of my friends. Our relationship has evolved many times but it always end up better. Life trials – health-wise, finances, first heartache, college woes and part time job mishaps, made us love and support each other many notch higher. We have grown to respect and condone each other’s shortcomings. I can say that my failures and heartaches did not leave me deep scars because of her positive attitude towards life. She has showered me with great advises and has passed on me optimism, independence and sense of humor. This exactly is why my dedication to my daughters is a lot like hers, she is my role model after all.

                

Mama passed away two months after my younger daughter turned one. Our struggle during her sickness was not at all easy but her heart stopped beating right beside me with a smile in her lips. That was the most hurtful emotion I have felt but it seemed like I can not express it – I had to be stable and strong.

My elder daughter has a lot of memories and stories about Mama. She would normally tell stories to her sister, including the lessons she learned from her grandMama. Now that she is gone, as I watch my kids grow, I have come to discover what she would tell me when I was being stubborn during my younger years — that I will know the feeling when I become a mother myself. True enough, it is difficult for a mother to let go or just let loose the invisible string our children are attached to our heart. Letting go is definitely a hard phase to go through. But I am sure that Mama’s most important though challenging role (her favorite) is being a grandmother. She once told me that my daughters are like my substitute – she instantly became a new mother again. She enjoyed learning new things as she face that new role in this generation. The fact the we were hand-in-hand in both our roles made it more valuable and happier. If we can call and talk to her now in heaven, she would happily express that she would not trade that for any other role. We may have let go of her presence but she is in our hearts forever. My daughters brought so much unexplained joy in our life and I am so glad that Mama experienced that too. It is her birth anniversary today, so, we are sending her our love and many thank yous.

May 2018 FMS Photo A Day Challenge Prompt

I have once shared here that I got featured by Little Moments App on their Instagram account as part of the FMS Photo A Day Fab Four, March 14: Clouds prompt. Now, I am sharing the FatMumSlim’s prompt list for May 2018.

Got the image from FatMumSlim’s website. I’m quite excited to share my photos for this month as May brings a lot of memories to me, be it good and the not-so-good ones. May is both my parents’ birth month. Since they are both gone now, we only get to celebrate it by simply offering prayers, candles and flowers. It is also the month of “fiestas” that I really look forward to when I was a child. May 1st is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and this is celebrated in “Royal” (Barangay Apolonio Samson), where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. It is a chance for cousins and other relatives to get together and chit-chat over good food. May is also the month where in Buhi (Camarines Sur) town celebrates their fiesta. Buhi is my Mom’s provincial hometown where I studied 3 years of grade school. A number of beautiful cousins also celebrate their birthdays this month. Indeed a lot of celebrating to do, right? Great number of chances to capture a lot of photos that can be shared in Instagram – and include in the Photo A Day challenge.

Join us too and challenge yourself in bringing out creatives juices in you – and photography skills that you may already have but has yet to discover. The hashtags to use for these prompts are also posted in my Instagram account, @stef0930.

Daughter’s Love of Arts and BTS

My daughter K, @heyitskea on Instagram, installed AutoDesk Sketchbook and made herself busy with a few small artworks.

           

This one below took her a week if I’m not mistaken. She is a fan of BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan or Bulletproof Boy Scouts), specifically Kim Taehyung a.k.a. V. She must have thought of challenging herself to try a little more complicated image, thus chose this one. I just had to take a screenshot of both the reference and her accomplishment. Along the way, she got worried saying she can not do the teeth and hair parts as they seem too difficult. There was even an outline at first, but I had to ask her try without it instead to add to the already significant difficulty.

Also, I had to tell her that it is indeed difficult as she is obviously a beginner. It will go easy along the way. The “keep trying” and “never give up” advises worked for her. This was a chance for me to remind our daughter that “All things are difficult before they become easy.” And nothing will ever be accomplished if you just keep telling yourself that the situation or task is hard, you gotta face that fear, start and keep going to achieve success.

She posted her finished artworks in her Instagram account @heyitskea_. As a Mom, I can not help but be proud of her.  Oh! By the way, she made this using her mobile phone, no stylus used, just her bare fingers. With the satisfied look on her face after posting her “Taehyung” artwork, I know that she will be creating a few more, more of BTS. She has received email messages and direct messages too expressing their admiration of her works.

Her love of drawing and designing has made her decide to take Arts and Design Track, Visual Arts strand in Senior High. She even has another mobile phone app installed called Design Home (Crowdstar Inc) and I guess it helps her learn more about interior designing and sharpen her skills too. She has not completely decided yet if she will push for Architecture or Interior Design in college, and it may still change as she face the fun and challenges of senior high. For us her parents, she has our support and guidance – to anything that would make her happy and give her the feeling of fulfillment – all the way.

 

Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts: Spreading Autism Awareness, 1 Shirt at a Time

Autism is commonly heard, however, there are several speculations about Autism and of the people affected by it. In the Philippines, it is estimated that there are around 1 million people living with Autism, yet not everybody can understand what it it’s like. The Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition where a person who is diagnosed with it will not have the same experiences but are noticed by the core symptoms.

Meet Calel, he is a 6-year old who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) at the age of four. A year ago, he discovered his love for animals and drawing and once he starts on a sketch pad he just cannot stop – his mother Marie, started posting his artwork on Facebook, when a friend commented that if in the case the drawing is produced to be printed on a t-shirt – he definitely would buy. After a few months, Marie launched Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts for 3 reasons: to help with Calel’s therapy needs, to develop the business to eventually be taken over by Calel (when he gets older) and to spread Autism awareness.

Occupational and Speech therapy is costly. Also, there are limited specialists in the Philippines. Kids with ASD need to attend SPED (Special Education) classes which can cost up to Php60,000 a year. For every shirt purchased, this will help Calel’s parents to make sure he gets the special treatments he needs.Calel’s future is still unclear at the age of 6, he shows signs of progress but it is hard to tell if he will be able to live a normal life or yet alone become employed. If Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts becomes a success, this may become his own business to handle. With the first batch of t-shirts printed and distributed, people that ordered have started to ask about Calel and his condition. This helped Marie talk about Autism and educate people on what their family experience day-to-day including the highs and lows.There are so many designs to choose from Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts and each is unique which you will surely love. T-shirt’s come in kids, men and women’s sizes.
Calel’s Wacky Art Shirts are being offered at introductory prizes for the first 100 customers. Please visit their Instagram account for updates and designs: calelswackyartshirts
You may help Calel by purchasing a shirt through their Shopee account: mamaneesshop
They are also accepting donations for art materials like sketch pads, crayons, colored pencils and pens.

Instagram Feature By Little Moments App

I got so hyped when I learned that I have been picked and featured by Jen of @littlemomentsapp  in the theme “clouds” from @fatmumslim ‘s Photo A Day Challenge. The excitement was high I had to share the post by Jen @love_wednesday in my own IG account and in Facebook too. Pardon that excitement I mentioned as it was the first time I got featured. Haha!

Here is the Fab Four for the “clouds” theme last March 14. It would be great if you could also check out and follow the other three Instagrammers featured.

If I recall it correctly, I was a day late in posting my entry for the theme but maybe because the photo of my daughters is quite nice, I got in the Fab Four. I have been on and off in participating in the FMS Photo A Day Challenge in the past years but I am proud that this year, I have not skipped any theme yet… yes! Really hoping I could continue this no-skip streak for the entire year. Thanks to my daughter @iam_k23 as she helped me with a number of themes or prompts with her photos she allowed me to use. She was able to explore Manila during their class field trip and having a better phone camera of course, she took a lot of photos. I really mean a lot. Too many that when she shared it to me through Bluetooth, my phone’s memory got really occupied. I have to really curate all of the photos she shared though and also remembers to give her the credits whenever I use them in Instagram.

Having been able to be part of the Fab Four, I am but inspired to snap more hopefully-beautiful-photos and share it in my Instagram account, not to boast but to express and maybe inspire too.

Image credit: FatMumSlim

Up is the list of prompts and hashtags for the entire month of April. Join us this April in FatMumSlim’s Photo A Day Challenge. See how you can also challenge and express yourself through the photos you share in Instagram.

iFern Entrepreneurship

An Aunt who has the heart of an entrepreneur, just like my Mama, invited me in a small talk and presentation of the new business she ventured. Attendees were introduced to iFern. Tommanny Tan, President and CEO, is the man behind of it all. He is also a mentor or called “Kapatid” in the Go Negosyo and Department of Trade and Industry’s Kapatid: Mentor ME (Micro Entrepreneur) Program. iFern is FERN’s international Network Marketing wing is on the rise and has penetrated the network marketing industry with the launch of world-class quality products such as Fern-D and Fern Active.

Fern-D (Image from i-fern website)

Fern-D is a brand name for Vitamin D3 or the generic name Cholecalciferol. An affordable and clinically-proven Vitamin D supplement. Study shows that a person with enough or with high levels of vitamin D has lower risks on having diseases like muscle weakness, tuberculosis, diabetes and a few more.

Fern-Activ (Image from i-fern website)

Fern-Activ on the other hand is packed with B-vitamins and also contains non-acidic vitamin C for improved immunity, Zinc for energy and vitamin D for stronger muscles.

Personally, I was drawn into the health benefits of the said Fern-D and Fern Activ but big yes to the Aurora soap and lotion.

Aurora (Image from i-fern website)

Aurora beauty bar has three age-defying ingredients which are Argan Oil, Swiss Apple Stem Cell and Aloe Vera. It is so fragrant too and said to help prevent mosquito bites. Aurora Beauty Bar leaves skin whiter, smoother, lighter and moisturized. It also helps diminish age spots, hyper-pigmentation, Melasma and  the very common skin problem, acne.

My aunt, a senior citizen who doesn’t look like one in fact, is already a distributor since September last year and has personally proved the health benefits of Fern-D and Aurora Beauty Bar on her. Aside from the speaker, there were also other entrepreneurs my aunt has invited to give more details on the marketing side of the company. So, when I got home, I have Fern-D, Fern-Active, Aurora Beauty Bar and Aurora Hand and Body Lotion. I got invited too to venture in the iFern entrepreneurship opportunity they have but will have to test these products myself first and then decide if I have to also join or just help my Aunt in her business. After a month of usage, I will sure make another review post about these new products she introduced me to.

 

 

Our Super Blue Blood Moon Experience

Imagine the excitement of people world wide as they have anticipated this unusual phenomenon; A Super moon, Blue moon and a total lunar eclipse rolled into one – the Super Blue Blood Moon.

A Super moon is said to be a full moon which has a closer distance to the Earth’s orbit which makes it appear a LOT larger. And since it is closer to the Earth, it illuminates brighter. The Blue moon on the other hand refers to the “second” full moon of the month.

When I learned from the news about this Super Blue Blood Moon phenomena, I decided to let the girls experience witnessing it a little special. I know our phones would definitely not give us the best capture of the moon, so a telescope viewing would be perfect. Glad that I have searched for places where we can have it experienced – see the moon a lot closer than from the Earth’s ground. Roey and I went to SM City North EDSA and met up K there. We arrived exactly when K’s class is dismissed. We saw the full moon, yes, but there was not much happening yet and so we decided to eat dinner at the Burger King first. And as soon as we are done, we joined the people at the Sky Gardens as they have formed lines and took turns in using several telescopes brought and set up by student volunteers from different universities in Metro Manila.

People exclaimed their delights as the eclipse started happening. We were then almost at the half of the line. K and I kept clicking our phone cameras to get a good shot we can compile and keep as remembrance of the event and, of course, our bonding. Roey too used her phone (that she only uses for Minecraft) to take photos of the moon – even if it has a very low quality, and gladly shared it to her classmates (using my phone’s data connection). The photo above is a screenshot of K’s captured images of the moon. The good ones are shots of her OPPO A71 phone through the telescope and the others are of the same phone directly from where we stood while waiting for our turn. I, too had few shots which one I have shared in my Instagram account already.

This is our photo as the lunar eclipse happened and as we finished our turn at the free telescope viewing. I am but glad to have experienced this with my girls. We all learned a lot too – about the phenomena, and about patience. Since their Dad is still on his way home from work, all we can do is relay to him our experience and how beautiful the moon was through the telescope. We had to meet him at the Trinoma past 9pm when the moon has fully changed its color. That, he got to witness.

Source: Wikipedia (Totality from California)

This photo clearly shows how the moon looked like last night as the Super Blue Blood Moon happened. And there were many other beautiful and captivating shots of the Super Blue Blood Moon all over the internet, from different parts of the world and in different social media platforms.

Miss Intercontinental 2017 1st Runner-up, Katarina Sonja Rodriguez

Katarina Sonja Rodriguez is a stunning 24 year old athlete-turned-model-turned-beauty queen. She finished Philosophy and Business Administration at the De La Salle University. Fans loved her when she represented the Philippines alongside Jodilly Pendre in the second season of Asia’s Next Top Model. She was a runner-up in the said reality show.

In an interview, she mentioned that she has decided to join Bb. Pilipinas as fans and friends would always ask her to enter the pageant world. It was a little later when she realized that she too has gained interest in it and realized that it could be a platform where she can campaign and continue on her advocacy in life. She took to her Instagram account the said advocacy on being healthy and fit which also pushes the #SaveSexy campaign that promotes HIV/AIDS awareness. She once said that “My family has taught me to work hard and well for everything I want and need, and once you have excess, they’d say, you extend a helping hand to those who have less. I have worked hard to have enough for myself and a little more to give back.”

After having been crowned as 2017 Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental, Katarina had to clear the confusion that she is not accepting her crown. She had asked the public to stop making assumptions and said it is not true and that she is sleeping with her Bb. Pilipinas Intercontinental crown. For which has led her to excelling in her training up to her representing the Philippines in the recently concluded Miss Intercontinental which was held at the SUNRISE Garden Beach Resort in Hurghada, Egypt.

Pilipinas! Alam ko na nahihirapan tayo sa pagboto para sa akin pero huwag po sana kayong mawalan ng pag-asa sa akin at sa Miss Intercontinental organization. Naniniwala ako na kung tayo ay magkakaisa sa panalangin sa ating Panginoon, maiuuwi natin ang minimithing panalo na ang rason kung bakit ako nandito para makuha ang korona ng Miss Intercontinental. Alam ko po na maraming nagnanais bumoto para sa akin ngunit nahihirapan dahil hindi makaboto pero lagi po nating tatandaan na sa pananalig natin sa Papa Jesus, kahit gaano man ka-negatibo ang ating nararamdaman, malalampasan natin ito at mapagtagumpayan. Sama-sama po tayong magdasal at gagawin ko lahat ng aking makakaya para makuha ang korona para sa inyo, para sa ating bansa at para kay God. Marami pong salamat sa inyong walang sawang suporta at pagmamahal at sana manatili po tayong positibo. Sa lahat po ng natatanggap kong suporta sa inyo aking mga kababayan, MARAMING SALAMAT PO. ?????? Philippines! I know that the voting has not been working and for me specifically, but please do not give up hope on me or Miss Intercontinental. Instead just pray to Papa Jesus that I win what I came here for, the crown. I know everyone wants to vote and is frustrated that they cannot vote, but let us remember by grace through faith and that being negative no matter how heavy a feeling we have will help us triumph. Please pray with me and I will do my best here to perform for you, our country and God. Thank you so much for your passion, but let us keep positive. With all the gratitude in this universe, thank you. ?? ??? #MissIntercontinental #MissIntercontinental2017 #MIO2017 #TheMostBeautifulWomenOfAllContinents #Egypt #SUNRISEResorts #SUNRISECrystalBay #SUNRISEMeetsBeauty #KatareynaMIO2017

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During the pageant’s finals night, Katarina Rodriguez was declared as Miss Intercontinental Asia and Oceania as she placed third in the online voting of the pageant. So, her plea for support in the photo above that she posted in Instagram resulted positively.


During the Q&A, Katarina was asked as to what is the most important thing she learned in joining Miss Intercontinental. Her answer was “The most important thing that I have learned in joining Miss Intercontinental is an Arabic word named after one of the Sunrise Resorts and that is Meraki. It means to do all things with passion, soul, and creativity. When I heard this word and its definition, it resonated with me until now and I think it will for the rest of my life. Therefore, that is the most important thing I learned while participating at Miss Intercontinental. That is to do all things with soul, passion, and creativity.”

Here is the EXACT moment where I turned FULLY into a woman. Congratulations to Miss Mexico @veritosalasvallejo the new Miss Intercontinental 2017! You are a vision, truly. I came to Egypt for one thing and one thing only: the Miss Intercontinental crown. This crown to me represented my becoming a real woman. Myself, and DOZENS of people behind me dedicated so much time and effort to ensure I would win. I cannot say I would have done anything differently because I was very aware from the moment I stepped into the NAIA airport of every action and word I produced. I can tell you that after rewatching the coronation last night I can confidently say I was FLAWLESS. Never had I been more ready for anything in my life. I had hundreds of thousands of people right behind me and each of you were the gas to my fire. It was not about me anymore it was about YOU. Here is the thing though, a queen does not necessarily have to be flawless. The Intercontinental crown did fall off Miss Mexico’s head when she was crowned and YES, I did have to pick it up and hand it to her. How could I not say it was such a painful thing for me to do? But when giving the crown to her I swear to you there was this energy that went through her and straight to me and this is where I knew I am no longer a child but a woman. Seeing her beautiful face while handing it back to her, well, I felt PROUD for her, and no pain at all. It was the lightest feeling I have felt in weeks. That crown was never mine and somehow always her’s. I don’t want to read any comments talking superstitions or anything hurtful especially from my Filipinos. Vero is a queen and she is MY queen, MY Miss Intercontinental 2017. She is a sweetheart and very much deserving. She taught me grace by her energy and warmth in a matter of seconds and only a true queen could empower another woman in such a manner. Let us keep that grace Philippines, for this is only the beginning. Viva Mexico, Viva Pilipinas. ?????

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Katarina gracefully accepted ending the pageant as 1st runner-up. I personally think that the experiences, friendships and learning she gained by representing the Philippines has changed her and in her words, she “turned FULLY into a woman”. She actually has a beautiful message of love and congratulations she also posted in her Instagram account for the newly crowned Miss Intercontinental Veronica Salas Vallejo of Mexico.

We can definitely say that Katarina Rodriguez has represented our country so well and although we all wanted her to take home the crown and be the first Filipina to win the title, she is still a queen.

Labs Kita, Okey Ka Lang: Hit with the Millennials

Late last Sunday night, the digitally restored version of one of the most memorable Pinoy hugot movies was aired. Both my girls know Jolina Magdangal as the Momshie they get to see hosting Magandang Buhay on weekday mornings and that made them a lot more interested with the movie. Again, it was aired past midnight already so I only allowed them to see the first few scenes. But does not include this scene recorded by my elder daughter’s friend…

Bujoy: Yes kaibigan mo ko … kaibigan mo LANG ako! And that’s all I ever was to you Ned – your best friend. Takbuhan mo kapag may problema ka. Taga sunod, taga bigay ng advice, taga enroll… taga-gawa ng assignment. Taga pagpatawa sa iyo kapag nalulungkot ka, taga-tanggap ng kahit na ano. And I’m so stupid for making the biggest mistake of falling in love with my best friend! Dahil kahit kailan hindi mo naman ako makikita eh. Kahit kailan hindi mo ako kayang mahalin na higit pa sa isang kaibigan.”

Ned: “Bujoy … Bujoy..”

Bujoy: Ngayong alam mo na, I think you can get out of my life!”

Ned: Bujoy, mahal kita! Mahal kita Bujoy! Mahal na mahal kita kaya siguro duwag ako. Kung magka-relasyon tayo, paano kung masaktan kita? Baka yung Bujoy na kaibigan ko mawala pa. Bujoy, hindi ko kayang mawala ka sa buhay ko.”

Apparently, it was not just my daughters who actually wanted to stay up that late to see the movie. Jolina and Marvin’s movie was a hit during our teenage years in 1998 and it is still because of the relatable story. Bujoy (Jolina Magdangal) and Ned (Marvin Agustin) are childhood best friends who really treated each other like a family. It was only until they started to date other people when Ned realized he loves Bujoy who has long kept her love for her childhood friend. The realization then led to that particular scene above.

Millennials were shookt! Those who were “Friendzoned” sometime in their lives, especially! A lot were able to relate their own stories to other scenes too if not this one. Famous lines, photos and video clips from the movie has somehow trended in Twitter and on Instagram. Someone from IG even said: “2018 na pero yung kilig feels 1998 pa rin.” Instagram user “fkwlf2_ (I honestly like this best) posted a photo of a scene and captioned:

“Yung feeling na isang linggo ko itong inabangan and yes natapos ko siya and worth it! Huhuhu Nakakakilig na nakakaiyak, worth it ang puyat. Worth to watch! Yung hihilingin mo na lang na sana nabuhay ka na sa panahon na yan. Sheemmmsss yung walang internet walang gadgets, yung aamin yung crush mo sayo ng harapan at hindi sa messenger. Pinakadabest na panahon to para sa akin kahit di pa ko buhay niyan at thank God napanuod ko itong napakagandang movie na ito at feeling ko tuloy batang 90s ako. Sarap ulit ulitin!!”

And a lot others expressed their hopes for a sequel. Perhaps what happened after 20 years?

*video credit: eveanecy

Disciplined Saving for the Future Starts Now

One great mistake that individuals can make is to delay on beginning an investment fund. This is most pertinent to young people who depend on their folks for monetary help. Mostly Millennials who are keeping up with the Y.O.L.O. attitude. Indeed, even the individuals who are as of now ready to take a shot along the edge do as such to have cash for particular spending needs instead of to have somewhat more cash to spare. We always hear people say that it is best to practice the “save before you spend” attitude. This can be practiced by students too. As soon as they get their allowance from their folks, they would already be able to set aside a little sum for their funds. Through time, the little amount they consistently spare will gather to a greater sum. This definitely take considerable measure of discipline to effectively pull off. These ought to be minor worries that ought to effortlessly be dismissed when the significance of setting up a reserve fund support is realized and achieved.

Little kids can start saving with spare coins. Older kids can already set up a bank savings account and practice saving up on a monthly basis. Cash gifts during birthdays and Christmas could be added to the savings as well. Disciplined savings should start at an early age until such time it turns into a habit…a good one in fact. I often hear my Mom when I was young saying that “Every cent is important as you will never have a hundred if you do not start with a peso.”

Financial needs today and in the future is something of certainty but its availability is not. Time is in favor for the Millennials, so while healthy and able, save for whatever financial need might come… NOW!