Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes or No to Trick-or-Treat?


It's that time of year when a lot of parents are faced with the oddly serious dilemma of choosing a costume for their little ones, when candy sales are probably at its peak and when hanging a headless man in your front gate doesn't look all that scary. 

When I was young, Halloween and trick-or-treating is not even heard of. November 1 or All Soul's Day is simply a time when we as a family would go to the cemetery and remember our departed love ones.

While it has been a common practice in countries like the US since the 1930's, it has only been made popular in the Philippines in the early 2000 and only practiced in the urban areas of Metro Manila. 

With the proliferation of malls in the Metro, it is no surprise that Halloween and Trick-or-Treating has become quite a norm and made into an occasion. Here in the Philippines, it all began as marketing stunt. And we all fell for it... tsk.. tsk... 

If you don't believe me, then give me another reason why malls and restaurants are busiest on Valentine's Day. Not to mention Mother's, Father's, Grandparents and even Siblings Day. (I wonder what occasion will be invented next.)

Personally, I don't like the ghoulish aspect of Halloween. 

Mounting a mock up coffin and an image of kamatayan, ghost or zombie in your front lawn is just pointless. I mean...what for? To make your place look creepy? Intentionally scare away kids? To be in the spirit of Halloween?  

Such things can stir up fear, questions and misconceptions in the young minds of our children.  While evil spirits and the works of Satan are real. They are not to be taken lightly, much so "celebrated."

The world has already garbled a lot of things all in the name of commercialism. And it is our job as parents to teach our children what is right and what is wrong, what is real and unreal, what is true and what is false.  

When it comes to trick-or-treat, admittedly, that's something I fell for as a new parent. When I was a kid, I didn't really understand why we had to go to the cemetery, but my parents made us all go. I missed the experience of dressing up in costumes and walking from house-to-house for candies and goodies.

These are the things that appealed to me about trick-or-treat. After all, this is the only time of the year that kids can get to dress up like their favorite character. Last year, Caleb dressed up like a soldier and this year, he gets to be a pirate as inspired by Disney's Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Dressing up our child in a ghastly or frightening costume is something that we will never even consider.

There's much about Halloween that gets over sensationalized. It is your choice whether you will let your kids go trick-or-treating or not. You don't have to be pressured just because everyone is doing it. 

As for me, I will just let my kid be a kid and let him enjoy the simple joys of trick-or-treat. 

Someday, he will be embarrassed to be in a costume and take candy loots and goodies from neighbors. He will also have more serious questions about death and the reality of evil. When that day comes, me and his dad will be prepared to give him straight answers.

But in the meantime, we'll let him go on a sugar overload, dance in parties with other kids, laugh, have a good time and savor the moment of just being a kid. 



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why You Need To Have Your Air-Conditioners Cleaned Regularly

Morning sniffles... not a pretty way to welcome a new day.

For the past week, I've been waking up with clogged nose and sore, itchy throat. My 3-year old son also started having runny nose.  He coughed occasionally but his coughing and runny nose did not lead to a full-blown cold. 

I noticed that after I turn off our air-conditioner and allow fresh air to circulate in the room, I'd feel a lot better. That being said, guess, what the culprit for our allergy was? 

It had only been a year since our air conditioners were cleaned. I know that I should have scheduled it way earlier since we have been using the unit everyday. But yeah, I've been postponing it. Guilty as charged. And now, it's taking its toll on our health.  

Fortunately, I was able to purchase discount vouchers for aircon cleaning services in Ensogo last month from the same service provider who cleaned our units before, Wiseman Aircon Cleaning Services. They did a pretty good job in cleaning our units so it's a bonus that I chanced upon the discount just in time.

Their service guys came over last Monday. Before they removed the units, they first checked if they are working properly.  

Since we live in a condo, they used our living area balcony as their cleaning station. As expected, they did everything quite systematically. One guy worked on the main unit and the other worked on cleaning the other external parts.

The base of our master's bedroom aircon was super filthy!
And we've been inhaling that dirt!

After they're done with the first unit, they proceeded with the air-conditioner in my son's room. Before taking it down, the service guy called my attention and said that the evaporator coil is starting to build up ice.  He then explained to me that this is caused by improper circulation of freon. 

To resolve this, he might need to check if there is leak in the refrigerant or plug in the filter. If there are no leaks or plugs, he might just need to add freon. 

I told him that we seldom use the unit because our son usually sleeps in our room. I later learned from him that not using your air-conditioner regularly can cause the freon to stuck up. He suggested that we try to use it at least twice a week to make sure the freon circulates properly.

Instead of giving a wrong/pre-mature diagnosis (which I might have easily fallen into), he said that he'll first observe if the problem persists after he cleans the unit. 

Look at that filthy water!

When they finished, they checked the air conditioner and the coil did not build up ice again. Whew! I'm saved from another unexpected household expense.

So why is it important to have your air conditioners cleaned regularly? 

Air conditioners are designed to have a specific quantity of air passing through its indoor coil surface. When air filters are not cleaned/replaced, it causes the air-conditioner to work inefficiently. You might end up having an overworked unit (translate: higher electric bill) and later on might affect the compressor (translate: cost for repair/ parts or unit replacement). Simply put, having it cleaned regularly will save you money.  

But the more important reason is your health. A dirty air-conditioner causes poor air circulation. Essentially, the dirt is not filtered and lingers in the air inside the room. And that is the air you breathe. If your air-conditioner has already accumulated mildew/ molds, you might be in for more serious trouble.  

You don't have to wait for summer to have your air-conditioner cleaned.  Get it done soon and don't compromise on your family's health.

Wiseman Aircon Services suggests cleaning and preventive maintenance every 3-4 months or every 2 months if you live in an area where air is "more polluted." For inquiries, call them at 562-7095. They service all areas in Metro Manila*.  Rate for window-type aircon cleaning is P500/ unit and P1,200 for split-type air-conditioners.

*(Additional charge may apply to certain areas.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Music Together Now in the Philippines

A couple of weeks ago, me and my three-year old son, Caleb attended a free demo class by Music Together at the Kensington Place (Playschool International) in Bonifacio Global City.    

Music Together is an internationally recognized music program for children from birth through age 7 and the grown-ups who love them.  It pioneered the concept of research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement. 

The program values the role of music in early childhood. By learning to "speak music" at a young age, children can develop a musical capacity that will give them enough music aptitude to play in a symphony orchestra as adults, if they choose. 

The core of the program is the idea that kids learn best from the powerful role models of parents/caregivers who are actively making music. It aims to create a friendly and supportive environment where families can come together, for children to learn how to sing in tune, keep a beat and confidently participate in the music of their culture. 

The program has been offered to the public since 1987 and has now more than 2,500 locations in 40 countries, but it was only recently that the program was brought to the Philippines by The Great Leap Academy.  


Music Together has chosen Playschool International as the venue for their classes in BGC Taguig City. Since the building is located along Burgos Circle, parking was quite convenient - a very important factor for me in choosing a class venue for my son. We got there quite early so Caleb was able to play with the toys available in the school while we waited for Teacher Rylie and his classmates. 

Before the class began, Teacher Rylie gave name tags to the kids and asked all the moms and caregivers to join and participate. She also assured us that older kids are free to roam around and play while class is going on.  One of the philosophies of Music Together is to create a friendly, no-pressure environment for the kids.

In the demo class we attended, there were only 2 toddlers and 3 babies below 1 year old. I was expecting that the class will be composed of toddlers/ pre-schoolers (not mixed aged) so I was worried with how my son will respond. 

But when she began to play the ukelele and sing the "Hello" song, I noticed that Caleb was easily drawn to the music.  He stopped playing, embraced me from behind and began swinging from side to side.  

In the succeeding songs that were played, Teacher Riley introduced various musical concepts to the parents and explained the idea behind each segment. During the class, she taught about micro and macro beats, rhythms and tonalities. 

Later on, she brought out different instruments - castanets, maracas, bells, egg shakers and tambourines.  We learned new songs and sang familiar ones with a slightly different melody.  Caleb had lots of fun dancing and playing the instruments. Seeing how my son respond made me appreciate the beauty of the program. Even when Caleb was younger, I already saw his natural interest in music. I think that Music Together will help build a good foundation for him to develop an inclination to music just like his dad who plays the saxophone and flute.

Playing the castanets
Using the tambourine as a drum

I personally liked how Teacher Rylie conducted the class. She has a very soothing and clear singing voice. She led the class in singing songs, some of which are from different genres and cultures.  I thought that the folk aspect of the music brings a unique character to the program as it exposes children to a new kind of music - something that they don't usually hear. She said that in the actual class, we can play different kinds of music both familiar and unfamiliar and even incorporate contemporary songs for the kids and parents to sing.   

After the class, she entertained our questions about the program like how Music Together differs from Kindermusik and other music programs for children. One of the ways they differ is that in Kindermusik, the kids are grouped by developmental age, while Music Together's philosophy is that learning in an informal family style is best.   

Music Together Fall 2014 classes in BGC will start on October 9, 2014. Regular Rate is P8,500 for 1 term (3 months, once a week classes). Flexible payment terms and early bird rates are also available.  Upon enrollment, you will receive 2 professionally recorded CDs and an illustrated songbook with family activity suggestions.

Currently, Music Together is being offered in the following locations:

1.  The Great Leap Academy - Don Antonio, Quezon City
2.  Brewing Point Dance Studio - Tierra Pura, Quezon City
3.  Playschool Internation - Kensington Place, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig 

As much as I want to enroll, I am due to give birth by the first week of November so I will have to wait until the next term (January 2015). And because siblings below 8 months can attend the class for free, it got me even more excited! 

For inquiries on Music Together, visit their Facebook page or Website:

Music Together by The Great Leap Academy Facebook Page

Thursday, October 2, 2014

6 Ways to Parenting with Confidence: Lessons from the book "How to Win Your Child's Heart"

When I became a parent a few year back, a friend gave me the book, How to Win Your Child's Heart by Dr. Ruth Chang.  The book gave valuable insights and practical wisdom especially for a new parent like me. I recently read the book again and thought about sharing some of the things I've learned and how I was able to apply them so far.  

In the book, Dr. Chang begins by saying that many of us enter parenthood without knowing what real parenting is all about, much more set goals in raising our children in the right way. More often, we just copy what "more experienced" parents have been doing and have that mentality of going with the flow. 

In order for us to fulfill our role as parents effectively, we should turn to God because He is the one who has given us the privilege of becoming parents.

The Word of God clearly defines what that role is and that is far from raising rich, successful professionals. Our real success as parents is  determined by their becoming people of great character - for them to become people who love and honor God and who love and genuinely care for other people.

As it says in Deuteronomy  6: 4-9:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. 


Dr. Chang shared 6 essential parenting principles to raising our children the right way.  For her readers to easily remember the principles, she used the acronym:  P-A-R-E-N-T.  Let me share my take away on each principle and how we have been trying to apply them as parents:

1.  P- Praise

Positive feedback is the most important source in building our children's confidence and self-esteem. When our kids are young, it seems so natural to praise them. However, as they get older, parents often fall short on this area mainly because we don't know what to praise them for or how to praise them. 

One way that we can do this is to LISTEN to them and to acknowledge their feelings instead of being critical or negative. 

When we do praise them, we should also be sincere and not exaggerate. One way that we are trying to apply this is by being specific whenever we praise our son. 

Before applying this principle, Randy and I would normally praise our son by just saying, "Good Job!" Now, we're learning to be more specific in praising/giving our son a compliment. An example would be saying, "It really makes me happy every time you pack away your toys right away after mommy asks you to do it."

2.  A-Accept

Acceptance is showing our children that we love them unconditionally. We should be able to recognize the unique qualities of our children and not "push" them into certain social standards or stereotypes.

Spending quality time with each of children is one way that we can show acceptance. We should also give our full attention when our child is speaking to us and minimize having to say, "I am busy right now." 

Many of us are guilty of this, including me. I'm trying to change this by pausing for a while when our son needs a drink or just wants to show me what he made with his blocks.  When I'm in the middle of something very important and could not immediately attend to him, I try to explain that I will get back to him in a while and do as I say.

3.  R-Respect

Respect is essentially treating our children with kindness and dignity. Showing respect to our children is necessary so that they will trust adults later on and not be rebellious.

To show them respect, we should practice using courteous words at home like "Please," "Thank You," "Excuse Me," and "I appreciate it"  even while they are still young. My husband and I are very particular in teaching Caleb how to be respectful and courteous so we make sure that we model it correctly to him.

Another way to show respect is to solicit our children's ideas and involve them when making some decisions at home like in setting up family rules and consequences for misbehavior. 

4. E- Empathize

Empathy is the means to developing a strong bond with our children.  It is being sensitive, understanding and responsive to their needs.    

To truly empathize to our children, we must be attentive to both verbal and non verbal cues. Oftentimes, this will also require us to suspend our policewoman role and not be quick to judge or correct them. 

I used to commit the mistake of telling our son to stop crying when something is wrong. Now, I'm learning to be more sensitive to him by asking, "What's wrong, sweetheart? What are you upset about?" At 3 years old, he may not be able to fully verbalize his feelings but usually, just hearing me ask him why he's upset is already enough to calm him down.

5.  N- Nurture

As parents, we need to nurture our children in all areas of their lives - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

This is one role that I have been practicing as a parent from day one. 

To nurture him physically, we teach our son to eat right - eat vegetables and fruits. Because we don't want him to indulge on what's "bawal," when we are not around, we don't deprive him with "enjoyable" food like sweets and chips. Instead, we teach him to eat these kinds of food in moderation and learn how to eat healthy and balanced meals.

To nurture him mentally, I enrolled him to several classes in music and gymnastics at an early age. I also feel privileged to be able to homeschool him since he was 2 years old. Everyday, I make sure that Caleb engages himself in some form of learning activity, may it be arts, music or numbers. Reading to him is one habit that he always looks forward to and because of this, he is learning to be a good story-teller. I am also always on the lookout for new programs and classes that will stimulate his mind and challenge him to learn new skills.

To nurture him emotionally, we always have "gigil time" with him where we just cuddle, tickle, kiss, hug and tell stories in bed. Our son always love gigil time and he drops anything that he's doing every time I say, "C'mon, Caleb it's gigil time!"

To nurture him spiritually, we make it a point to pray always - upon waking up, before meals and before bedtime. We would read bible stories together during school time and I also teach him to memorize bible verses. We also love to sing bible story songs together. Every time we would request him to sing, it's not a surprise that his default song is "Jesus Loves Me" because I've been singing that song to him since he was still in my belly.

6.  T-Train

Training our children entails instruction, correction and modelling by our example. To train them effectively and not be succumb to frustration, we need wisdom from God.

To instruct our children, we should set well-defined boundaries that still make them feel loved. It is an ongoing process of teaching our children to do what is right. Correction on the other hand is our means of changing a wrong/ inappropriate behavior.

Recently, we have been finding it hard to correct our son's complaining attitude. We were surprised to see him exhibit tenacity and deliberately choose to disobey even when he knows the right thing to do. We never tolerated his tantrums that is why we were taken aback to see this attitude surface.  

Randy and I are have tried various approaches - giving punishment and consequences which sometimes work and sometimes do not.  I am glad I revisited the book because I picked up a new concept which is, ignoring wrong behavior and rewarding appropriate behavior. 

Randy and I have discussed a reward system for our son which I would definitely share in my future blog post after we have implemented it.

Last but not the least, modelling by our own example is the most powerful tool. No matter what we tell our children, they will still pick up what they see us do. Personally, I think this is the most humbling aspect of parenting since we are not perfect and we are also prone to committing mistakes. However, what is important is admitting your mistakes and being transparent to your children.   


Parenting is never easy. In fact, it is the most challenging responsibility one could ever have. Our words, actions, choices, basically everything we do will make an impact in the lives of children. And yes, that's scary!

That is why we need wisdom and guidance from our God the Father Himself. Overwhelming as it may seem, children are a blessing from the Lord!  He has given us the privilege of raising children so we should always be conscious of our actions and continuously strive to learn and improve our parenting skills.