Growing old

October 13, 2014 – 9:39 am -

Time is passing by so quickly don’t you think?

I am starting to get scared whenever I look at our kids, they’ve grown so fast. Especially Marcus. I am just glad he doesn’t go out too often (compared to teens his age), but he’s starting to ask permission already. He has someone who he constantly talks to on the phone. Don’t worry I’m ok (kaya pa), just as long as he spends for his celphone load and he sleeps on time.  I don’t have problem with his grades anyway. Zach and Lia, though I can still tell them what to do, are no longer babies as well. Zach even tells me, “Ok, you don’t need to shout” whenever he talks a lot and do not listen to what I say.

One night Gary asked me, out of nowhere, if I really don’t want to have another child. Maybe, he misses a baby in the house. Or like me, he’s starting to feel scared because we can no longer deny the fact that our kids are big already. Btw, my answer to Gary is still no to having another child, I cannot go through the same process anymore. Also, I wanted to have more time with him. To take care of all his needs (his love language is service) that I cannot possibly provide now because I have 3 kids to attend to. I am planning to start having vacation for the two of us starting next year, or maybe sooner, who knows?

I also plan to make more vacations as a family. It doesn’t have to be out of the country all the time, but if only we can afford it we’ll do it. We can go to Baguio, Tagaytay or even in Nuvali where we can use the club house already. I want to create situations wherein my kids don’t have the choice but to spend time with their siblings and their (old, emo and senti) parents. lol

Like 2 weeks ago, we spent our long-weekend in Baguio. Btw, we usually stay at Azalea Residences Hotel because we love how spacious their rooms are and how convenient their location is. We just ate and slept the whole time. This time we tried 2 of the best restaurants in Baguio, Cafe by the Ruins and Forest House, on top of Hill Station which has always been part of our every Baguio trip.

 

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Here you can see the kids’ bed (where Marcus is currently lying down). Gary is watching TV (he prefers to stand when he’s tired of sitting down). Zach, Lia and I are on the dining table. I am having a bottle of beer, Zach is reading the Hotel’s Bible (kulang na lang basahan ako ng verse at i-pray over hehe) and Lia is playing puzzle. On our back is the kitchen where you can find the ref, stove, microwave, sink and cabinets of utensils. On Zach’s right is the bathroom and another room for Gary and myself (though Lia still prefers to sleep with us) which has another TV and bigger closet.

 

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Picture of our babies-no-more while buying vegetables and Baguio sweets at Strawberry Farm.

I hope we can make many more memories like this.


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Where did my bonus go?

October 9, 2014 – 7:33 am -

After months of anticipation, you then find yourself asking this question, “Where did my bonus go?”

Don’t look at me, look at those ”well-deserved” gifts you bought for yourself and/or your loved ones. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with it. You work hard to play hard right?

But don’t you think you deserve something better than all the material things you have now? Don’t you want to buy things much better than what you can afford? Won’t you be able to provide more to others if you have more to give? Don’t you want to be your own boss the soonest possible time?

Then why not be one-step ahead of where you were last year.

Invest your money. (You can invest for as low as 15k below)

Or save it so that when a business opportunity arrives, “I don’t have extra money to invest” excuse won’t be necessary.

Think about it.

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Where to next?

August 26, 2014 – 11:44 am -

I have so much to be thankful for this year. So much that I almost gave up my goal of seeing at least one country per year starting next year just because I thought I’ve had enough and I wouldn’t mind traveling again after a couple of years.

But circumstances made me realize that I should not give up on that goal. Of course it will always depend on the budget but I realized that the least thing I can do is to hold on to that dream. My family and I deserve that time alone. It won’t be long ’till our kids are all grown up and have their own life. I have to maximize the time that they are still dependent on us, that we can still bring them anywhere we go (whether they like it or not lol). And why would I give up on one of the things I love doing the most?

So where do I want to be next year? Honestly, I want to go back to Europe. But I would need a miracle to make it happen that soon. I dream of seeing other places in Italy. I want to go to Spain, Amsterdam and Greece.

It would be more realistic to see Malaysia or any countries in Asia.

Or maybe we can start considering Australia. :)

Also, I want to bring our employees to Cambodia, Vietnam and/or Thailand. I wouldn’t want to try countries with Visa yet. But yes, we hope we can provide another travel incentive next year.

Nothing is definite. I’m not even sure if we can afford another trip next year. But I made up my mind…

I am holding on to that DREAM.


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Why enrol your kids to different schools?

August 4, 2014 – 9:56 am -

I always get this question. And every time, there is a lag between the question and my answer. I struggle for words to explain that I look for school that would meet each of my child’s needs and not the other way around. I’ve learned my lesson already and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

My eldest son Marcus was diagnosed with mild ADHD. He doesn’t have learning disability, actually his IQ is above average and he is as normal as any normal child can be, except for one, he needs more attention. He would always get a bad remark for his behavior because of that. His psychologist recommended that I enrol him in a school with small class size (15 students or below) so that he can get the right attention that he needs. BUT because I didn’t want Marcus to feel that he has special needs, I still enrolled him in a traditional school. I tried to talk to the guidance councilor and adviser to make sure that his needs are addressed. They made promises that they were not able to keep. When these traditional schools gave up on Marcus, namely Don Bosco Makati and San Agustin, I was forced to look for another school. Blessing in disguise, Australian International School was referred to me.  Since Day 1, they did not disappoint me. Now, Marcus is always on the top 5 (among 15 kids with different nationalities), he has proven his leadership skills, getting (almost) straight As, varsity player in basketball and learning to play the piano and bass with minimum supervision. Opportunities that for sure won’t be presented to him from schools he came from.

My second child, Zach, goes to San Agustin. He fits the traditional school discipline. I honestly would want to pull him out from that school because the number of students there per class is so big already (almost 50), not to mention how they treated my eldest son. But so far Zach is doing well. He has good grades, speaks well and is confident of himself. I don’t want to stop his momentum by transferring him to another school. Maybe in highschool. So what I do now is I enrol him to other activities such as kumon and swimming. I also tell him to read books about important things not usually taught in school, like financial education.

My only daughter goes to Assumption College. She was enroled in a progressive school last year. There was great improvement in her in terms of social skills and independence but I transferred her this year because in terms of acads, they’re not much of a hurry. That scares me because I don’t want Lia to be left behind. Also I want her to get values and religious education. In Assumption, there are 16 students in her class (compared to 20+ in CSA for Kindergarten). I am still observing Lia’s progress, but so far so good. I will also enrol her to special class on top of Kumon.

There. I believe that I am in the best position to identify what my children’s needs are in terms of learning and development. I don’t want to force my kids in an environment which cannot provide my children’s best interest. So help me God.


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There are options

July 23, 2014 – 9:16 am -

I grew up believing that I need to finish school (with flying colors) to be employed by a company that could offer me a lucrative job. I guess there’s nothing wrong with that ONLY if it was presented to me together with other options. The scary part of my growing up years (I realized) is that it NEVER occurred to me that I can come up with my own business and be an employer years (even decades) before retirement age. I had a lot of misconceptions with regards to owning a business. I used to think that all you need is money to be able to start one. So you picture yourself getting your retirement fund and finally making your dream of being your own employer come true. Surprisingly, money is actually the least of your worries. Are you with me?

Let’s go back to the picture. So you consulted friends, relatives and successful business owners on what kind of business to invest on (missing the idea of even asking how did they actually became successful). You are eyeing the product/service, not the business system itself. If you’re lucky and the business is a hit (for now), you reached ROI in no time. Unfortunately, lack of entrepreneurial experience slowly dragged your business down. You then found yourself closing the business and saying goodbye to the last money you have.

What to do?

1. Know yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are you a visionary who loves to exploit new possibilities and has the passion for creating better future or an implementer who efficiently completes current work, solves immediate problem and into details? This is important so that you will know who to partner with or what type of people to hire eventually.

2. Have an investment fund where you can put money on a regular basis. If there is a need to make a loan, go for it. Just as long as financial feasibility has been established addressing cash flow and ROI.

3. Educate yourself through school, seminars, training and/or books.

4. Experience it. Don’t wait for retirement age, please! Don’t be scared to fail. And fail as many times as you can. Failing is worth all the money you lost. When you are losing during your salad days, you have all the time and energy to recuperate and try again (this time as a better business owner). My suggestion just to make the ball rolling? Join those networking businesses. Why? Because they offer FREE seminars and training on how to market and sell, you meet seasoned entrepreneurs and of course the hands-on training of trying to do it yourself.

5. Be humble enough to admit that you need more than yourself to succeed.

Now that I have 3 growing children, I try to educate them financially as much as I can. I tell them that life is not all about winning, what’s important is being a better person after every failure.

More so, I am opening their eyes to a lot of BETTER options.


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Barre3 chika

June 18, 2014 – 10:32 am -

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I finally had the time (and courage) to do what I’ve been wanting to for years, i.e. to do yoga on a regular basis. What actually pushed me to do it sooner than expected was first my bulging stomach. Hindi sya yung tipong, “Ang laki ng tyan ko” pero pag tinignan mo wala ka nman makita or di naman obvious. I am speaking of “salbabida levelz” na kahit anong inhale ko eh ayaw na nya sumunod, may sariling mundo. Second, my husband found a hobby he liked, which is golf. He’s been convincing me to join him pero hindi ko talaga type. He bought second hand golf sets for both of us, yung akin si Marcus ang gumamit. Then one day, I learned that he bought NEW golf set from the USA. Sira na daw kasi yung luma at mas mura daw kasi dun. Tama nga naman, pero kahit mas mura dun mahal pa din ang golf set! I told myself why not enroll at Barre3 which we see every time we went to The Spa. Yung ipang-enrol ko annual dun, yun na ang equivalent ng golf set. (Hindi maka-get over lol).

Fast forward to last week, I learned that Barre3 is not just yoga but a combination of yoga, pilates and ballet. At dahil tinatamad na ako maghanap pa ng ibang yoga studio plus the fact that I don’t need to buy yoga mat, I thought I might as well try. I bought 3-day trial package for P1,500. Kamusta naman, ang sakit ng katawan ko. As in yung muscles na hindi mo inakalang meron ka sasakit hehe. But well, I liked it. Kahit gusto ko mamatay every after session, the challenge is making me go back. The last 3 sessions I had, walang routine na naulit. So everytime I went there, I was wondering what will they be asking us to do. It was both a challenging and humbling experience. Humbling because even those bigger and heavier than I am can do the 60-minute session non-stop (or minimal), eh ako di pa tapos ang 8-counts ngalay/ngarag na.

I’d be honest, I really want to lose weight (or fats) while doing this. I don’t want to reach the point where I can no longer see my feet when I look down. And diet isn’t working for me anymore, mahina talaga EQ ko pag pagkain na ang usapan. But I am taking this one step at a time. I want this to be part of my routine forever and not just a one-time-big-time project.

Btw, next time na ang pictures, kapag kaya ko na mag-selfie with my abs chos! Bka pag nag-picture ako ngayun with Barre3 as hashtag bka masira ang marketing strategy nila. hehe

I’ve enrolled myself for one quarter which costs P14k (inclusive of The Spa membership). Wish me luck!

 


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El Nido as a surprise

May 27, 2014 – 1:57 pm -

One of the many surprises that God gave me this year was the El Nido trip. I didn’t plan for any local trip this year as I was too focused making our Japan trip happen. Actually I was too focused on ticking off one country after another that I didn’t give room for any islands in the Philippines. What I and Gary have in mind though is to look for a place where we can hold our Company Outing.

Everything happened so fast. Even before we left for Japan last April, I was able to book all 17 of us for just Php1,200 each round trip (all inclusive) from Air Asia! Thanks to one of our employees who was at that time looking for promo fares to Puerto Princesa (PPS). He, and another staff who grew up in PPS, were the ones who helped me with the accommodation, food and transfers.

We arrived at PPS lunch time. We ate at a known restaurant called Ka Inato, in preparation for a 5-hour land travel from PPS to El Nido via rented van. We reached El Nido around 8pm. Our accommodation was a dormitory-like Inn fronting the beach. And since we were too tired traveling the whole day, we had a relaxing dinner of assorted seafoods by the bay. Island hopping, snorkeling, kayaking and of course swimming was scheduled on the next day.

 

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We went back to PPS on the third day where we had dinner at Ka Lui and company meeting/planning session.

All in all, I think we were able to maximize our trip. We were convinced of El Nido’s stunning views and we were able to tick off known restaurants at PPS. Definitely there’s so much more to explore in PPS (Underground river for one), but that just gives us a reason to go back. One shade darker and one size bigger, I can say that Palawan should definitely be on your bucket list.

 

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How to make that fantasy trip a reality

May 26, 2014 – 8:53 am -

I haven’t met any person who told me he never wanted to travel. Each of us, I believe, has this dream destination in mind. Be it local or international, via land, air or sea, there is at least one location we wanted to see in our lifetime. In my case, I wanted to go somewhere I’ve never been before. I have my list, yes, but I am open to any opportunity that comes along. You might ask, how do I make it happen (tagging my husband and three kids along)? Is money not an object to me, hell NO! Quoting Michael Jordan, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” In my case, I ask God to help me make it happen. How do I do it? Here’s a list on how to tick off items from your bucket list one by one.

Be specific

Assuming that you really wanted these trips for yourself (being half-hearted won’t bring you anywhere), you have to be specific. Don’t just say I wanted to travel, because it almost always end there. “I want to ride a gondola in Venice,” is way better. Make a bucket list of locations you really want to see or things you want to do. You may extend a little further and make an explanation why you wanted them so badly. Don’t limit that list based on what you can afford now or you foresee in the near future. It’s like limiting yourself on what God can provide for you. This list will help you decide where to go first when the opportunity comes. Here’s mine: See the World.

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 (picture taken from the internet)

Plan for it

By this time you should have the list ready;

1. Make a timeline. Like in the next two-five years, which of those on the list are the most realistic place to reach or you wanted to see as soon as possible. Reminder though, having this list is just a guide. God has surprised me so many times by providing trips I’ve not included on my bucket list but ended up loving.

2. Save. Having no budget to travel is not an excuse for you to stop dreaming. Believe me, it took a lot of patience from me to wait for the right time for me and my family to have the chance to travel. Going back, have a ‘travel account’ where you can put any amount each payday. This will definitely fill the gap between where you are now and where you wanted to be. Another thing, when you have the budget specifically for travel, you wouldn’t have to think twice if you’re going to get that discounted airfare or not. Planning has saved me a couple of bucks already from purchasing plane tickets to booking accommodations months before the actual trip.

3. Be informed. On your leisure time, educate yourself about travel (destination, budget, safety, security, visa, language, means of transportation, culture, tourist spots, food, do’s and don’ts etc). There are so many things to consider when you travel (especially as a family). Read articles/books, subscribe to airlines that offer discounted fares, check sites that offer lower accommodation rates.

4. Ask for it. Pray for it and keep the faith. You’ll be amazed how God can transform those dreams into reality, usually far better than you can imagine.

 

Go

Ask yourself, “When was the last time I did something (or went somewhere) for the first time?” Whatever’s stopping you from going now won’t matter in the future. Just as long as you have sufficient resources to make it happen, then do it.

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 (picture taken from the internet)


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Universal Studios Japan

May 21, 2014 – 9:09 am -

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Second day, we woke up an hour earlier than the previous day, in short late pa rin! I was not in a hurry though because I am not fond of rides (sorry kids!). I thought we’ll reach Universal Studios before lunch but Gary decided to book our trip to Tokyo via Shinkansen (bullet train) first. Good thing that Universal Studios is just two quick train rides away. What I like about most first world countries, they made sure that train stations would stop exactly where tourist spots are. So literally, pag baba namin, Universal Studios na. We don’t have a family picture though because I find it time consuming to wait for the set-up of tripod.

 

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We were not able to maximize the trip because waiting time was sooooo long. The roller coaster (Hollywood Dream – The Ride) alone made Marcus wait for 3 hours! Lia rode the carousel and Elmo’s little drive while Zach rode the Sesame’s big drive plus watched 4D Spiderman with Gary. As for me, I was forced to ride Snoopy’s Great race (roller coaster) because Marcus convinced Lia to try it. It was Lia’s first time to ride a roller coaster.

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Highlight of the day was when Lia saw Hello Kitty. Star struck ang lola. She didn’t want to leave Hello Kitty while the boys were tagging me to move on. Wala sila magawa kasi all out support ang stage father.

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Before we left, we watched the Magical Starlight parade. Verdict, the experience would have been better if the waiting time was cut short. Even if you go there early, you’ll get tired of long queues eventually. Or better yet, we would have bought express tickets.

Weather was hot in the afternoon but come 6pm it started to get really cold with light rain fall.


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