Thursday, December 5, 2013

Welcoming Christmas with a Full Heart

This may be super random as I sit alone in a hotel coffee shop watching the sunset. It is actually a funny surprise and an unplanned me time because I have been preparing all day for our Ingress for the Baby Expo we will be joining this weekend and we were a tad early as the truck carrying our module is still stuck in traffic, I decided to bring Gab to Gymboree here in Sofitel to kill some time. And so here I am working on my ipad and shocked to realize that "i don't have any pending work! no more emails to answer or inquiries etc." So I decided to make a blog post that probably is my last for the year 2013. I would just like to share with you how happy I am with my endeavors and turn ups for the past 12months.

Business is doing great I would say and I am happy to be able to make new connections and discover great friendships. We have a lot going on and crossing our fingers, My Baby Dragon is going to take a big leap on 2014. Of course everything we worked so hard for will not be possible withhout the great and overwhelming support of the mommy community! Big thanks and a super bear hug to all our clients, partners, suppliers and retailers. Let us tap ourselves on the back and do a jumping high five!

Gaby just got out of the hospital because of a fever that she had for 5 days on and off. We were quite worried as the cbc showed signs of dengue but I prayed and prayed that it's not. Thankfully it was just "tigdas hangin" that she must have gotten from a children's party we attended or maybe in school. I blamed myself and also thought that even though I am so persistent on breastfeeding her, why did she still catch the measles. The doctor then assured me that these things happen and it is not because her immne system is weak. You will see how good her immune system is by observing how fast she recovers from the disease. I am so proud of my daughter because it took her only 3 days and she is measles free again! In fact, even during her feverish times, she was still bubbly and laughing!

In light of the typhoon Yolanda, we have also been doing a lot of volunteer work with my brother's teAm of 4x4 enthusiasts who are very dedicated to helping the victimes rise from this calamity. I helped them gather donations and coordinated their trips to Tacloban and other affected areas. We are doing all we can even just for the efforts and time that we can contribute. We will soon have a team of architect from Australia that will help the communities build their lives back. This is a time when we can see how charitable the filipino spirit is and even though some of the people in the government are doing their corrupt jobs, we sincerely hope that private NGO organizations like ours will continue to help rebuild the affected areas.

Lastly, (as I have to cut this post short now) I would like to congratulate my sister who will soon be making a big announcement! I can't say yet but we are all very excited for next year!

Let's all welcome the Christmas with a full heart. A heart filled with satisfaction, appreciation and LOVE.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Z's Assorted Yayas

I was naive to think that Z will have that one perfect yaya that would take care of her until she is bigger than her yaya. Now after 7 months and going through 5 yayas, I know better.


Growing up I had my yaya Carmen who is the typical scary and grouchy yaya who I feared and loved at the same time. She would feed me with a clothes hanger joining us at the table which I never can recall her using it on me. She likes to fix my hair and sometimes it can hurt but I like how neatly done my braids are so I don't mind. (she taught us "tiis-ganda" at an early age) She sew the days of the week on my handkerchiefs and would pin it on my uniform. (They were so nice i never used them, they were like an accessory) And she makes the best beef-stew in the whole wide world!!! She also saved up money to watch the Michael Jackson concert in Manila. That's all I could remember of her and then after my 2nd year in Kindergarten, she left to take care of another newborn baby. I guess there are just those yayas who like to take care of babies and not rowdy kids. I forgave her after a year when she visited me on my birthday, made my favorite beef-stew, fixed my hair and brought a Red Ribbon cake... with candles! After that, years has passed and I never heard of her. I thought she might have had one of those heart attacks by avid Michael Jackson fans. At the age of maybe 8 or 10 or 12, I saw her taking care of a baby at Uni-mart. I didn't come up to greet her or anything. So maybe I haven't forgiven her then or maybe I feared that she won't be able to recognize me anymore. So I just told my mom that i saw yaya Carmen. When we went back to the spot, she wasn't there anymore, and that was the last sighting.

Replacing yaya Carmen was Malou. Just Malou, because we didn't call her yaya. maybe because I felt I was mature enough not to have one but she acted as my yaya anyway. She came to join our household when she was 17 and left us at 32. She didn't know anything at all and I remember that she didn't know how to open a car door (whispering- I laughed at her so hard it embarrassed her). Anyway, my mom trained her really well and she even had cooking lessons with our yaya Carmen. She's an all around house help and yaya. She would wake me up to go to school and I used to kick her off. She got wiser by the day and drag me to the shower (sleeping) and open the shower on me. Sometimes she would put ice on my shirt or if all else fails, she would just shout "SER AYAW NI TEPAY GUMESENG SER!" That would spring me up from a laying down to a standing position. I loved Malou, though she wasn't able to copy yaya Carmen's beef-stew, she made the best adobo in the whole wide world! And then she left and run off with the guard. I was in high school. Thank God I didn't need another yaya then.



Yes it is really spelled like that. You can even search her on FB heheheh she has an FB account too. Looking for the best yaya for Gaby, we searched and interviewed numerous applicants and when I was 8 months pregnant, I found her. She has so much experience in taking care of newborn babies and she's so bibo and organized and a perfectionist. Just the characteristics I was looking for to take care of my baby. We had her checked for basic medical and she also presented NBI and baranggay clearance. We also called to check her previous employers whom were very happy with her service to them. And oh! We even have the same surname and birth date! So like a little kid in the bakery looking at the yummiest chocolate cake, I took her home. She fixed Gaby's nursery checking for the best spot for the crib. (not by the door, not by the window, not on the corner as the A/C would all go down to Gaby according to yaya Cecel) She took care of my food when I was still pregnant and prepared everything for Gaby's arrival. At the hospital, after I delivered my hairy daughter, she was there to take care of her and support us with our breastfeeding challenges. She was there when the life drama erupted and every one left me in my hospital room. Me, G and yaya. I cried all night as I clutched my baby not knowing what to do or where I would go. Yaya Cecel was there to console me saying "Wag ka magalala, babalik sila, at kahit kanino ka sumama, sasama ako sainyo." And true enough, in God's will, everything was alright. Yaya took care of Gaby and I during those first few months when I had to go through the Chinese tradition of post-natal "po-ge-lai". She prepared all the medicines and required food for me while also taking care of a newborn baby. I love yaya Cecel then she was diagnosed with Leukemia or I think it was just a very critical low-blood. She was unfit to work so she left us.

She is just a sad sad person. I would hear her whispering to Gaby "eat na" or "sleep na" in a sad sad tone. She would play with her and it looked like a silent movie. After a few days Gaby started to show signs of "sadness". She was grumpy as ever and she wasn't teething yet. Yaya Divine is also the slowest slow poke. Being raised in an impatient family, it was painful to see her drag her feet to get the lampin. I would often just over-take her to give her an idea that she is too slow. But it didn't work! She kept her slow pace and she had to go. We made an excuse that she has plans of going abroad and we're afraid she won't stay long with us. Without any reactions she just packed and left... Without even saying goodbye to Gaby. That's when all my hesitations walked out the door with her. Sad, sad, saaaad...

And then there's Yaya Joy!!! She's the tall pretty one. Well all Gaby's Yayas are kind off pretty anyway but this one is really tall and fair. She didn't know s*^!t about being a yaya. She seemed ok during the interview but when we got home she panicked when I asked her to sterilize the pump parts showing her the parts of the pump one by one. She didn't know what onesies, rompers, botties are. It's okay if I had the time to train her, but I didn't, so I was looking for someone that had more experience, someone I could consult with even. So after 2 days, she had to go.

In terms of how well she took care of Gaby, hands down, Yaya Janet was the best so far. You could rarely hear Gaby cry. She was so well educated in all things baby since she used to work with a very well-off family. She even took care of a special needs child from newborn to toddlerhood. Gaby loved her and we dis too. But there was a catch, she could sometimes be a scatter brain and that she didn't know how to come back on time when she had her days off and she kept on borrowing money from us and from our house helpers. We treated all our yay's very well and even sent out relief goods to her family during one of the bad storms. One time she had to go home because of an emergency and we couldn't reach her anymore, we couldn't wait so we looked for another yaya.

Yaya Lucille had such a big and tactless mouth. She even said "child-abuse" when I wore Gaby in her baby carrier. Imagine my horror! Though she was good enough as a yaya, she liked to gossip and I didn't want Gaby to be around that kind of an environment. Another problem was that Gaby was so used to Yaya Janet that she cried alot with this new yaya. She just started getting picky about who carries her and prefers our old house helps over her new yaya. She cried non-stop when we tried to leave her with Yaya Lucille and I noticed her impatience right away. I couldn't go back to work obviously but I thought Gaby would eventually like her new yaya after a few days. But she didn't and Lucille gave up anyway. She made an excuse that she thinks she's pregnant and had to go.

Yaya Janet wanted to come back but my mother didn't approve of it. We accepted her anyway and Gaby was fine again. After a few weeks Yaya Janet had one of her new excuses to go home and never came back. We couldn't contact her for days and when we did, it was just to let her know that her stuff are all packed and she can come by anyte to pick it up.

I took care of Gaby for another few weeks. I had to bring her to the office everyday. It wasn't easy but it had to be done in order for me to catch up on work. Then I thought of contacting Yaya Cecel through FB. She was fine and well too and ready to go back to working with us. I grabbed the chance and sent her plane ticket right away!

Yaya Cecel is back with us now! Although the first 3-4 days, our house felt like a wild zoo! Since Gaby was so used to mommy taking care of her 24/7, she would cry everytime I was out of sight. No not cry, scream her lungs out rather! Yaya Cecel loved Gaby so much that she was so patient and persistent. After that initiation they were finally fine.


Yaya Cecel is okay. We like her and she would even help out in some household chores during her free time. She's so meticulous that she would reprimand our house helpers and cook! Good thing they are all nice and innocent that they allow yaya to "teach" them. I really hope they do get along fine. Fingers crossed.

I really hope we won't have to change her yaya again. It's so stressful for the baby to adjust to a new caregiver all the time!

Things to look out for in a yaya:
1. She should be physically and mentally healthy.
2. She should have enough knowledge in baby's stuff. If not, at least she is willing to learn and fast.
3. She should be pro-breastfeeding, baby-wearing and cloth diapering.
4. She should have an updated NBI and Baranggay Clearance.
4. She should be patient and cheerful.
5. She should be quick on her feet.
6. She should be willing to wash baby's clothes, clean baby's room and baby's bottles, teethers, toys, etc.
7. She should also be responsible in cooking and preparing baby's food.
8. She should listen to the parents and not impose her own ways with regards to taking care ofbthe child.
9. She should follow rules and schedules.
10. Should know how to read and sing.

Optional- should be pretty and knows how to take good pictures!

If she has all these traits then you're a lucky one! Know how to treat them well so that they will stay in your service for a long time. Good luck to us!

_____UPDATED AUGUST 1, 2013_____
So Yaya Cecel went MIA after 2 months. It was super unethical of her and I think she just used us to get a free ride to Manila. She went on her day-off and never returned. Some say she went and got married. haha. Lesson? Never ever put your trust or be dependent on your kid's yaya.

Good thing we just hired an all around help and Gab seemed to like her. We just decided that she can assist me for a while just until we found a new yaya. After a week, i taught her everything she needed to know and she even reads books about caring for babies. She was able to work as a yaya too before and now she is the longest running yaya of Gabgab with a record of 5 months and counting.

It Started With A Theme: Gab's 1st Birthday Preparations

It starts with a theme.

We were pushing and shoving our way through a busy street market in Hong Kong. It was Gab’s first out of the country trip and she just turned 8 months. We figured she’d be big enough to experience things and young enough to be carried and we didn’t yet have to chase her. 
Baby-wearing Gab at HK Disneyland

So there I was baby wearing her in a market full of exquisite finds… when suddenly a unique stall caught my eye. They have on display beautiful hair pieces like the ones you see in 168 but better designs and quality, they had “payonetas” with textured/uneven patterned gem stones, ones which you see being worn by donyas. They also had dainty bracelets with ribbons and laces that you slap on your arm for it to curl around your wrist. Oh wow, I feel like I’m in an old Hollywood studio full of props!

And so I checked my cash on hand and I blew them all on assorted trinkets because right then and there I told myself this will be Gaby’s theme, though I did not yet had a term for it but I said this is it! I’m buying these for the “DRESS ME UP” station!
4 months left and counting.
Do I look Hampton-like mommy? (see stage mom, reflection)
After that whirlwind of ideas, I knew what I wanted for her birthday but I just became too busy to continue with the preparation. Every now and then I would brain storm with my family about what we should do and who we should invite. We knew we wanted it to be simple but the grandma just can’t help making it another one of her “bonggang debuts” (she already had 4 by the way, which includes her own, my sister and mine plus my brother’s wedding) Gaby’s birthday is her new chance to throw a party! This means… DAMAGE a.k.a. expenses! The grandfather decided that we celebrate the party in Anvaya and I liked the idea since (honestly) it meant that I can invite those that we “should” invite and only those who are dear to us will be able to come and make that effort to go all the way to Bataan! It’s perfect!
Trying out the hairpieces on Gab

So we had a venue and Anvaya Club was supposedly the one to do all the catering, activities, setup, etc. But no… They initially said yes to us but since the date we wanted fell on a Lenten season, they had a lot of activities happening on that day. It means they won’t be able to accommodate our event and we didn’t want to be a bother so luckily, my ninong’s private resort just opened and it’s just 7 minutes away from Anvaya (yes we timed it). The place is perfect for our Hampton themed party (we decided to name the theme Hampton/Polo/Tea party). It has a big lawn and an infinity pool, a pavilion and a huge wooden plank that we envisioned to be the stage. The thing is, it is just a venue.
So we had a venue and a theme.
When I blinked, Gaby is 10 months old. 2 months to go before her big day. I said to myself, I used to work at this stuff and I didn’t want to hire any stylist or coordinator to do all the things I used to getting paid for in the first place. So I was stubborn, despite all my mother’s reactions about getting a professional that specializes in kiddie parties. I was intent in doing it all on my own. I thought that if I was going to have a baby once and my baby is turning 1 and getting Christened once I didn’t want to miss a single detail of it. WARNING: It is not cheaper to do this. But I thought it will be. Haha! I did my research and I compiled a lot of pegs for the look and color combinations that I want. You will want to narrow your theme down to a few pegs and really try to stick to it. 
What people should wear PEG

What people should wear PEG

Treats station PEG

Color combination PEG
Wooden signage
overall look and feel
So we chose a studio to do Gab’s shots for her invitation. I went with my friend’s advice and tried out The Little Angel’s studio. We were very happy when we met the sisters from The Little Angel’s studio and one of them turned out to be a choir member of mine back in elementary! So we had Gab’s photo shoot and the results were awesome that it fitted really well with our theme. We also got them for the event coverage and photo booth, plus we were given a great good deal!
After getting the high-res files from the shoot, I immediately designed the layout of the invites and had them proofed. I printed them on photo paper, cut, pasted them onto boards and inside envelopes they went. And I made Save-the-dates on paper magnets as well. I figured Gab and I could be side by side on people’s fridges because I also had those during my debut and people told me that my face is still on their fridge doors! We also had her gift registry at Rustan's and Hobbes & Landes and almost all her gifts came from the lists we had. People now are more understanding about gift registries as they want you to have things that you and your baby want and need so gift registries are done a month before the event and before the invitations are sent out.
We had a theme, a venue and we had invitations! So that’s probably 20% done or 10%?
We finalized all our list of invites and then we had a total of 130 guests to be invited. We tried really hard to cut them down but it just wasn’t possible. Good thing Gaby didn’t have a father side to add to the invitees! Teehee! Fast forward a total of 115 guests arrived to the party and so my party-expert mom was right that we should always expect 10% less of the invites to actually come. The invitations were distributed a month early because the venue is far and people had to be informed early so that they can fix their schedules.

I mapped all the stations and activities we wanted during the event. We wanted to have, a croquet station, shoot the ring, tea station, canapés, ice cream and ice cones, refreshments station, dress me up and egg painting (since the date is near easter and Peter rabbit seemed like a good addition to our tea party). I went to Divisoria once a week to buy all the supplies for the stations as well as for the centerpieces and decorations that I will be DIY-ing. I spent 5-10K for each time I visited Divi and I was being cheap, take note. I also bought a lot of different fabrics that we will be using on tables and tents. I also had my friends start doing paper puffs and lanterns. Thanks friends!
Kimono coasters from Taiwan

Pretty Parasol for the dress me up station from SM
Pretty cups from Paper Chic Studio, we also got the straws and milk bottles from them!
Printed tissues from Divi, 35 per pack of 20
Standee with clips for the centerpieces and station labels
PEARLS for the DRESS ME UP station

From a bargain store in Subic, these are for the loose leaf tea
Bought these from 168, centerpieces

More "palamuti" for the treats spread

The events people at Anvaya also recommended for us to contact Jane and she is the go to person for events happening around Subic, Olongapo, Bataan area. Jane is the nicest and the sweetest person! She suggested a lot of nice things and had solutions to most of our dilemmas. We threw some responsibilities at her like the catering, sounds, flowers, balloons, fabricated tents out of bamboo and a lot of other miscellaneous stuff that will be more practical to be sourced locally and not coming from Manila. I also chose BAMBA to be our host. She is plump and happy as a teapot and we love her! She turned out to be my inaanak’s host for his birthday 2 years back! We had the food tasting and we were satisfied with the quality from Farfield Catering. Whew!
Only a month left and I am panicking. I am about 60% done and I only needed to get a host, make a map/passport for the guests, activities, etc. Work on favors, prizes, decorations, have the fabrics sewn to the right measurements, THE cake, pastries, and what nots, in short it is still a long way to go.
This was when I remembered my kinakapatid. She was the one who coordinated all our previous events. Her name is Christine Ong-Te, yes she owns the company that did Julia Montes’ debut and at first I didn’t want to bother her because she would just do it all for free! But I was panicking and she kinda slapped me because I didn’t ask for her help earlier. So we sat down and finalized and finalized everything. She had the idea to make the prizes redeemable like on an arcade where kids get to collect tokens from stations and activities and they get to choose prizes on a redemption booth at the end of the day! I suggest you all do it this way because the kids loved it. She also added the wishing tree station, balloon releasing activity and the fortune telling station (this is when people guess which item Gab will be crawling to and thus foretelling her future career, i.e. calculator, microphone, ball, mouse)
She made sure everything is organized and recorded and she took the liberty to bring Gaby’s cake which she just gave as a present in the end, which! Looked so much like the peg I gave her. Thanks to Sugarbox by the way! It looks so pretty!
The peg that we gave Sugarbox to copy (photo grabbed from the net)

She also wanted big letters GABY on the stage which I sourced out and had them made by Handicrafts atbp. We were very happy with the paper mache letters and even happier that it was so affordable.
Ms. Christine a.k.a Atchy Pooh also took care of the candy stations and her team helped us to execute and setup the venue on the day itself. They also did on-the-day coordination for us and had her team man most of the booths. Together with the local coordinator Jane, they used everything I bought from everywhere to design and setup the place. I’m so happy that I asked her to help and am so grateful with the work her team has done for Gaby’s birthday. She even did my make-up!
IKEA KALAS sets were used to set-up the kiddie tables
Paper Lanterns I bought from Divi, I got around 16 of these in different colors and sizes
Very affordable paper book that we used to make the banderitas. It's tear and water proof!

Weeks before the event, I had all my friends over to finish the puffs, banderitas, favors.
I love my friends!

Mini puffs for the tables

Big puffs for the tents and stations

In the end, we made about 50 of these

Round fans

Banderitas= cut fold tape and thread, 80 meters

Inside the favor bags were, a beach towel rolled and wraped in a kraft paper band, pulled together by a sticker printed with a birthay quote, a small towellette rolled and tied with a ribbon, a Victoria’s Secret body splash which we placed a sticker over to make it personalized for Gaby’s birthday, and the bag we used were brown eco-bags with the birthday quote printed on them.

They also used the bag to store all the giveaways they got on the day from the dress-me-up station and the redemption booth.
Now we prepared a total of 80 items for the prizes. Each categorized within 4 brackets with consisting token amounts to redeem. We included baby, kids, boys and girls, adult friendly items. We even had 6 rabbits.
Lastly I layouted labels for the tea, signages for the stations and made up rhymes for the station instructions. I had them all printed on sintra boards. I also confirmed with the local Church about the things we needed to bring and the time we should be present for the Christening. I chose the old church over the new and painted one since it felt more serene and spiritual for me. The pictures will speak for themselves, I will show them to you later! Moving on…
I thought, kiddie parties are harder to do than debuts and weddings since it didn’t have a clear template. But it is so much more fun because you can be imaginative and creative to make it unique and memorable. And don’t forget, it has to be picture perfect!

This is how we prepared for Gaby’s birthday and Christening.
Actual event notes and photos soon! Good luck on prepping for your kid’s parties!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On Human Trafficking, Alagwa

I was priviledged to be invited to the premiere of the indie film ALAGWA directed by Ian Loreños, starring Jericho Rosales and child-star Bugoy. I meant to write a review about it a month ago but only when I read a personal account on FB about her boy being drugged and abducted in Rockwell mall that urged me to write about the issue now.

Being a part of the production crew of direk Ian's first film The Leaving, I was impressed and proud after watching his 2nd film ALAGWA. It was raw, full of intent and had a personal treatment to it. In a bottle, the story is about a boy and his dad living a semi under priviledged life, going by life a day at a time. Story peaks when his boy went missing starting his mad search for his boy leading him to see different horriffic revelations. This is when we are taken to this reality that human trafficking is real, it has been happening before and it is still happening now. Casting was well thought of. Jericho played true to his character as though he read his part a hundred times. Bugoy has surprised me with his acting skills and resonance. I really recomend all my mommy friends to watch the movie. Not to share my threatened state but just to be aware and be careful with regards to trusting our surroundings.

This is really happening
A movie, though made truthfully and realistically is just a movie. As direk Ian tweeted me "it was made to create awareness and not scare". But watching it indeed scared me and probably of anyone who has a child, more for those who have little ones. We hear about human trafficking here and there but never really from a person's own account. It has been happening for years. In fact I still remember my pops telling me as a child that if I wander off on my own, someone will kidnap me and pluck my eyes out and turn me into a beggar somewhere in India. But what is the government doing about it? What are we doing about it?

It can happen to anyone
As I wrote earlier, a boy was taken in Rockwell. Where else of all malls could you feel that your child is safe? And who is exempted from this threat? I know it can happen to me, to us, but after this eye opener, I will not let it. First thought I had was, what in evil's name do these people involved took or drank to be able to do these horrors to a child? To their families? To the people who love them? Do they have children as well? So never ever let your child out of sight, out of an arms reach when going out public places even in villages and places that you are very familiar with. Never trust your caregivers even though they have been in your service for years. They might not be in on it but they are still vulnerable.

What we can do
There are several NGOs that are fighting human trafficking but I know of the Visayan Forum Foundation that actively participates in the fight against human trafficking. You can find them here

Please spread the word, let your family and friends know that this is happening and we might be able to make a difference by saving our children from this heinous crime.

For movie screenings

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Lamb and Veggies Baby Recipe

I got this Baby Gourmet cook book from Fully Booked and found it hard to find some ingredients here in the Philippines so I searched online for substitutes that you can easily find in the grocery. The portions isn't measured but I just estimated them.

I also placed Z in her seat and let her watch me cook from afar. She seems to like watching mommy walk here and there... and Mugen too (dog).

What you'll need:
(buy only a few and you'll be able to make baby food good for a week)

Lamb (leg part) around 100 grams, cut to small cubes

French beans

Fromage fraiche
Cream frais
(both can be substituted by sour cream or all purpose cream 2 teaspoons)

sunflower oil

Prepare the veggies. Cut the turnips, brocolli, sigarilyas and zuchinni to small pieces. Make sure you clean the veggies. I used the Chicco multi-purpose disinfectant but veggie wash is also acceptable)

Top and tail the french beans. You can just use your hands to pull off a small part of both ends.

Heat a saucepan and put some sunflower oil. Brown the lamb pieces and add the brocolli and turnips, half cover with water.

Cover the saucepan and leave at med heat for 15 mins.

Add all the other veggies and cover, leave for another 10 mins.

Turn off the heat and add the cream. Mix and strain, leaving just a little liquid for blending.

Put everything in the blender and blend until your desired consistency.

Place contents in small portioned storage containers with lids. Or you can also put it in a lidded ice tray.

And that's it!

Just put it in the freezer and take only what you need per meal.

Remember not to microwave the baby food as this leaves some hot spots so you can just a put the container in warm water to thaw.

Don't worry about variation since it is recomended to feed baby a type pf food for 3-5 days to check for allergies.

This recipe is good for 6m onwards!

Now for the taste tester my connoisseur baby, and Mugen.

You can prepare other types of baby food next time and alternate them for variations.

Next up? Salmon/Sole with Spinach!