Think about your guests when planning your wedding

A wedding is a happy ceremony celebrated between two families, as an event to cement one’s love for each other. Truth be told, a successful wedding is one where two people marry the persons of their dreams. No matter how much money was spent, what’s important is that you pick the right person to spend the rest of your life with.

Regardless, while the wedding is between the two families, I do believe that the bride and the groom also have to think about their guests when planning their wedding. During my wedding, while preparing for the reception, I remembered feeling an outpouring of love and care for us from our guests.

In a way, by thinking about your guests’ comforts and happiness, you have a smooth and happy wedding ceremony and reception. Happy guests clap more, cheer more, and eat more. Irritated guests leave earlier and talk about your wedding on your way home.

So to make a great wedding, here are a few things you have to particularly focus on before planning a wedding:

1. Think of your guests when deciding your venue. Avoid outdoor venues if you can.

I dislike beach weddings and garden weddings.

They’re hot, outdoors, prone to weather risks (What if it rains? What’s Plan B?), and inconvenient to people walking with heels.It’s difficult for guests to look pretty if they’re walking on uneven surfaces or sand.

What’s more, some guests may be allergic to wildlife. My husband suffered red eyes while I had red elbows because the wedding was outside. Guests who are irritated because of the heat, sweat, sand and allergy, are unhappy guests.

And while we don’t really care about guests who complain — as there will always be guests who will always complain no matter what — it’s better to think carefully and think on behalf of your guests when picking the venue.

Ask yourself if the venue may be too far? If it’s far, don’t hold your wedding from Monday to Saturday. Do it on a Sunday when it’s less traffic.

Ask yourself if the venue is comfortable to the guests.  Especially if you require that your attire be formal, do remember that if you hold your wedding in the open air, beautiful long gowns get dirty and it’s hard to walk when your heels are 3- to 4-inches high.

2. Think about your guests when deciding on a caterer.

First, you have to see what type of guests you’re inviting.

Depending on how high the level of VIP, plan your menu accordingly. Do NOT serve cheap food if you have Erap Estrada as a ninong. As they’re accustomed to good food, they will know if the food is cheap and tinipid lang. 

I always see the food you serve in the wedding as your gift back to your guests for taking the time off their busy schedule to come and celebrate with you. It’s a wedding after all and they’re expecting a delicious feast especially after suffering several inconveniences just to come to your wedding.

And for goodness sakes, if you’re inviting more than 300 guests, serve the food plated or on a round table. It’s more than enough to come dress in long gowns and high heels. We hope that once the program starts, we can enjoy our food in peace without falling in long lines just so we cannot starve.

Make sure that guests are well-fed and aren’t starving. Tell the caterer to serve enough appetizers and canapes before dinner if you’re starting late, and please keep the drinks flowing. On my wedding, I made sure there were unlimited alcoholic drinks as liquor makes for happy guests.

3. Think about your guests when starting the reception. Hungry guests = unhappy guests

On my wedding, we started at 4pm sharp. After the wedding, we made sure that cocktails and canapes were immediately served, and our only order was to keep the drinks flowing.

We started dinner at exactly 7pm. By hook or by crook, we were going to adjust to our guests and not vice versa. We made sure our caterer knew this, and rushed the first course after we started the program between 7pm and 7:15pm by the opening prayer.

There were no relatives singing bad songs. There were no long games about “How do you know your groom/bride?” Just a handful of good speeches made by people who meant something to us to accentuate that the day is a celebration of love justween the both of us.

We were done with our reception by 9:30pm. People went home early that day, which they appreciated.

4. Think about your guests when taking photos. Have your photographer be ready and by your side wherever you go.

My greatest wedding regret was that we only took photos of half of our guests. My husband suffered a little emergency after the first dance and we had to take a 30-minute breather just to correct it.

Consequently, we ran out of time and couldn’t take photo with all of our guests table-by-table. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to remember who took their time to come to your wedding. Likewise, it’s important to remember guests who didn’t bother to show up despite RSVPing.

At the end of the day, as time goes on, you would want to have photos of those who attended your wedding to look back to. So do tell your photographer this is your wish so they can make it happen.

5. Lastly, think about your guests even after the wedding.

To end, while it’s great you’re happy after finishing such a tiring event, you still have to take the time to show appreciation to your guests. To be honest, I spent the next 3 days texting and thanking each guest we went for their presence and for taking the trouble for attending the wedding.

In a way, it’s like the cookie test. You don’t have to give cookies, but people do appreciate a token of appreciation now and then.

Say thank you for them attending your wedding. If you already know what gifts they gave, do send them a note that you’ve received the gift to show appreciation.

Do this for every guests no matter how many they are. A guest list of 300 or 1,700 does not differ. These people took the time to celebrate with you, and it’s crucial that you thank them for their efforts.

Once again, think about your guests when preparing your wedding. And while this day is between you and your partner, you can never go wrong by thinking of your guests too.

 

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To save your marriage, love your MIL… even if it kills you

My staff has recently married after a short engagement. When I asked her about her marriage, she commented that she feels embarrassed when her mother-in-law (MIL) does her laundry.

Her MIL is a housewife and used to do her husband’s laundry when he was a bachelor. The MIL has opined, “They are working and since I’m alone in the house. So, it’s better for me to do the laundry just so I have something better to do.” 

My staff is embarrassed to let her MIL literally launder her dirty laundry. In their household, she does the laundry for herself. To be honest, for many households, many women still choose to launder their own undies, bra and lingerie.

To be honest, I hate doing the laundry. I’m okay with cooking, cleaning up and doing the dishes, but ever since, I’ve always disliked doing the laundry and cleaning the toilet.

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In fact, I hate it so much that I can tolerate not doing the laundry for 3 months or not cleaning the bathroom for a year.

True story.

To be honest, every guy I’ve dated could not tolerate my pigsty habits and have volunteered to launder my clothes every week.

And I let them.

But I digress.

Actually, now that I’m married, I still don’t do the laundry. My MIL does the laundry for us (gasp!). And while this information is enough to make my own mother cower in shame for not training her own daughter better, I still feel that it’s okay.

Why?

Because I know that I’d pay for my MIL doing the laundry in the future… and I am happy to be at service when she needs me.

For other people, it’s laundry. “What?!” they exclaim. “You let her do your laundry?! How shameful!”

For me, it’s strategy and a long-term play.

I know it’s not just about doing laundry. It’s in fact a long-term play for my MIL to show her affections for me, so that I will treat her and her son better.

It’s the same way of my mom cooking lunch for us every day even though we live in a different house. Every morning, she has our driver bring us lunch, and it usually contains my husband’s favorite foods like steak, shrimp and crab.

When our parents or parents-in-law does these acts of kindness, we don’t deny them the appreciation. We don’t tell them, “No, thank you. I can do it myself.” Instead, we accept these kind acts for what they are — favors that will be repaid in the future.

My mother-in-law knows that I will do whatever she asks of me. This is our silent understanding. Even if it’s something my husband would hate to do, she has my unwavering support.

This is my cost of doing laundry.

My mother knows that when she needs to ask a favor from my husband, he can never say no to her. For example, she borrowed a car from him. There’s no way he will say no to her after all the steak and shrimp he ate.

This is the real cost of in-laws being nice to us. And given that we are aware of such transactional dynamics, and understand how important it is to honor and respect parents, I look forward to payback time when it happens.

So fellow wives and mothers, it’s NOT about the laundry.

After marriage, we are constantly campaigning for our in-law’s affections. If you’re not, you should be. The Bible says to honor your parents, and even after you’re married, you should honor your spouse’s parents as well.

A lot of wives and mothers complain about their MILs. Many marriages become strained because they hate their in-laws.

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They bitch and complain about their in-laws, and are surprised when their in-laws don’t like them too and try to sabotage their marriage!

I am aware how powerful in-laws can be, and how important support can be.

I know of people whose parents helped them get an annulment. Do you think that would happen if the wife worked to make their in-laws like them like a daughter?

No.

Ladies, we need our mother-in-laws support. We need to love them like we do our own mothers. If we hate them, we do so at our own risk.

Because when we fight with their sons, you need a mother in law who would beat the shit out of her son for hurting “the only good woman you can ever have.”

We don’t want a mother-in-law who would volunteer in helping their son get a lawyer so he can divorce your ass.

Again, it’s a long-term game and we should be campaigning for our MIL’s affections. And not pit their son against them.

And if you chose to ignore my advice, do so at your own risk.

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, children, Conflicts, Family Drama, Marriage, Mom's advice, Motherhood, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mommy Review: Gymboree Magnolia

Like many mothers, I have enrolled my baby on both Gymboree and Kindermusik. For Kindermusik, my baby has finished a semester and one unit in two of their branches. For Gymboree, we have only availed of their Php 600 trial class in their branch at Robinsons Magnolia.

What Gymboree Magnolia Looks Like

Here’s what Gymboree Magnolia looks like — padded floors and materials, with wooden and plastic slides. Despite its “safe” environment, you still have to supervise and watch your child especially as they can always bock their head if they fall.

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As you can see, there are still some hard corners a child can hit himself/herself with if you’re not careful. It will not kill your child, but it’s enough to give them a bruise.

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Given that it’s inside the mall, the area is lighted with fluorescent and can be a bit dark. There’s no natural light pouring in, which is one limitation of a mall area that cannot be helped.

The area is clean though and well maintained. It just doesn’t look bright and brand new, but heck, that’s not what we’re there for.

The price can be a bit confusing.

Instead of charging the parents per class or per semester, Gymboree charges an annual membership fee of Php 2,000 before you can enroll your child to a class.

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There’s a lifetime membership of Php 4,000 which you can use most likely until your child is 5 years old. After which, I don’t think Gymboree will hold their attention any longer.

The class rates are cheaper when you enroll to more classes. If you enroll your child to Gymboree 4x a day for 48 weeks for example, class is almost half the price at Php 500 + the 1-time annual fee of Php 2,000.

For simplicity sake, I made this chart so you can understand the price per class better. I don’t like confusing marketing so this chart will help you decide which classes are for you:

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Being a member, you can avail of the gym free play schedule, a sample of which is as follows. As you can see, despite paying for the annual membership fee, you still cannot come and play whenever you want. Instead, you follow the schedule given by the branch.

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As you can see, prices are NOT that cheap for an hour’s worth of play. I will talk about the program later on so you can see if it’s worth it for you or not. But in comparison, the price I pay for Kidzoona with 1 baby child is only Php 450, so a Gymboree class is almost equivalent to what you pay for in Kidzoona free play.

A Kindermusik class is Php 875 for the same hour (but with no annual fee), so technically, a Kindermusik class is slightly cheaper than Gymboree for the same amount of time your son or daughter spends in class.

Thankfully, Gymboree is one of those programs where you can try first before you enroll. Trial class was Php 600 for my child. That way, you can see if this class is meant for you before you part with your hard-earned money.

There are several classes available for Gymboree depending on age

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Since my daughter is still less than 18 months old, we availed of the free trial class for Gymboree Play & Learn 3. After her class, we also checked out the Play & Learn 4 class, and it’s mighty similar to Play & Learn 3 except that the children are more active, and there’s a small up in terms of difficulty.

At first, the class begins with the child and their caretaker embarking in a brief sing-along, sang acapella by the teachers. This was followed by the first activity where the child, with some support, is asked to:

  1. Crossing a makeshift bridge with pillows,
  2. Climbing a wooden slide
  3. Walking across the plank
  4. Getting the colored pillows and
  5. Placing them in a plastic box at the end of the plank before
  6. Coming down the steps facing backwards

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Yes, it’s that complicated. I think the 1-year old children finish the activity with TONS of help from their adult companions. For children who are older, they can do the activities with a lot more ease, but it’s still almost the same steps.

Thankfully, given that there were only 4 kids in the class, the teacher-student ratio was terrific.

For this session, there were two teachers and one assistant for a group of 4 students.So even though that some of the kids couldn’t even walk, everyone still managed to finish the activity in 10 minutes or so time. There’s a lot children can do with adults’ help!

After this activity, they had to climb another slide, push down pillowed shapes down the holes, before rolling two balls after reaching the top, and then sliding down.

Another activity was climbing up the stairs with assistance, moving across the pillowed tube before sliding down after reaching the end:

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Another activity was sitting on a circle, singing songs, playing with some toys, and then appreciating the blowing bubbles song.

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The class lasted 1 hour 15 minutes. As a whole, there was singing, a lot of movement and activity, and some free play.

My Thoughts on Gymboree

I can only talk about the trial class we experienced last week so do take my advice with a grain of salt.

Personally, Gymboree is a great program for you to plunk your child in if you want them to be occupied by an hour or two per day. After Gymboree, you can enjoy some merienda as a family in the foodcourt outside.

However, if you are operating on a limited budget and can only pick one class, I would suggest you sign up for Kindermusik instead. I say this with much caution especially since I know that a lot of mothers are big fans of Gymboree, but analyzing the two programs as a whole, I feel that Kindermusik is more cohesive, more professionally ran, and honestly speaking a better program than Gymboree.

Not that Gymboree is bad, but it’s just that the quality of Kindermusik Philippines is simply above average. From what I’ve heard, Teacher Jeannie of Cubao and BGC Chapter is one of the best Kindermusik teachers in the world. Now, how rare is that?

Kindermusik’s pricing scheme is also more straightforward than Gymboree. You can pay per class, or for a semester, and the prices don’t really vary too much.

And effect wise, while my daughter was tired after Gymboree, I felt that she enjoyed Kindermusik a lot more. The songs are catchier and are more ingrained to her brain. For example, if she pulls a tantrum, all I have to do is to sing to her and she immediately breaks into a smile.

Regardless, given that these two programs have trial classes available, you can go and see for yourself which program is better for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Gymboree directly. Details are as follows:

Website: http://www.gymboree-ph.com/
Phone Customer Service: (632) 817-0951 local 251
Customer Service Hours: 9am to 5pm
Email Customer Service: tellgymbo@gymboree-ph.com

 

 

 

 

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Make the Right Decisions Before You Get Married

It’s a week before my brother’s wedding, and his greatest problem yesterday was what type of Tempur bed to purchase.

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Apparently, there’s three types of Tempur Beds — hard, soft, and softest.

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My husband and I have the standard Tempur bed bought on sale almost three years ago. My husband deems it as one of the greatest life-changing things he received when he got married.

Men are so easy to please: So long as they’re fed, get enough good sleep, and have some quiet time, they’re happy.

When I got married, I made sure we had a nice bed to sleep in and luscious pillows to place our heads in. Consequently, my husband is forever indebted to me in changing his sleeping habits forever.

But before I digress, my main point in making this blog post is that we devote more resources in researching for the right type of bed, the right type of tupperware and the right type of car than in picking the right type of spouse for us.

My brother and his fiance spent long hours every night poring over online reviews to pick the right hostel to stay in their one-month long honeymoon. While the time spent on premarital counseling was only 1-2 hours per week, for 5 weeks.

In the Philippines, only one session of pre-marital counseling is required by law before getting married.

People who are avid readers of my blog know that I wasn’t a big fan of my future sister-in-law. Much tears had been shed and fights had been made because my brother disliked my husband while I disliked his choice of partner. Here’s a post I made on the matter.

I’ve read so many complaints from fellow wives about red flags they spotted from their husbands when they were still dating. Given that they wanted to get married, they ignored these problems and had lived regrettably to tell the tale.

But when all things had been said and done, by God’s grace, I am glad that I had married my husband. All of my brother’s fears were unfounded. But I was very lucky and blessed.

Now as my brother will start his next phase of life, he will have to lie in the bed he picked in.

On the plus side, I am glad he’s making the right decision of his own. Given that it’s your life, only you can decide who you can marry.

And given how relatively smooth their wedding planning was, I am quite optimistic of their marriage. Truth be told, his soon-to-be wife was not as bitchy or as demanding as I thought she would be. She was able to playfully pull in the punches, and seems to be a great fit for my brother.

Nonetheless, it’s my brother’s choice. And marriage is forever. *gulp*

One more week to go before his wedding!  Yehey!

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Dad’s Words of Wisdom: Being Hands on in Business

When we got married, my husband’s father gave us a very small business to manage. It was supposed to be our “bread and butter.”

When he gave us the business, it wasn’t cashflow steady. It was not profitable and we were running at almost break-even, often times losing money.

But it was a great platform for us to learn the trade.

My husband’s dad emailed us the following to encourage u to be hands on in business. He wasn’t kidding. Today, I am the one who source and price the product, and manage sales and operations. It’s a tedious role, and sometimes, it hurts my head to see how my work is never-ending.

And yet, he was right with the pleasure that comes in managing your own business.

I am sharing this to you because words of wisdom from older, more experienced people, are always handy. Plus, I would like to document this well.

Hope you enjoy his words of wisdom:

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In business, you always hear the word “hands on”. There is no substitute to be a “hands on” in managing your own business. Because, by being “hands on”, you will know every phase, every in and out of your business.
 
This is very contrary to working for a big multinational organization or conglomerate. Because your job is what we call “de kahon”. You are literally confined in a box, both in your office table and duties & responsibilities.
 
Managing one own’s business give you the flexibility to unleash your own talent and making a go for it.If you work in a corporate setting, you are constrained or limited to do only what your boss told you to do.
 
I have decided to pull out (staff name) from (company name) after the transition period to give you and (husband) the flexibility of getting your own people. That being the case. I suggest that you should treat yourself as a “hands on” boss to janitor.
That means, you learn and can do everything yourself.
 
Once you know what you are doing and what needs to be done, you can then hire people to help you do particular tasks. You will then know whether the person you hire is up to par or not. From there, you can start building up your own organization.
 
It is difficult for a 40 years old servant to serve a 20 year old master (although there are exception) compare with a 20 year old servant to serve a 40 year old master.
 
History has more stories about the 20 year old servant who has been loyal and have serve his master well if they are treated well by the master. They remain loyal until the dead of his master.
 
I have make out a list of things that are to be done continuously non-stop. You should learn how to do this yourself. Because when push come to shove, and all your hire hand resign or desert you, you should see to it that you can still operate.

Otherwise, you are dead.
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Second Chances

A friend of mine told me that his son was sullen and depressed following a failed marriage. He married young at 21 years old, at a time his now wife was 3 months pregnant, much to the chagrin of everybody.

We warned him not to get married. Everyone told him it’s a bad idea,” the father muttered. “But he insisted. He wanted to do right with this woman.”

What followed this bad decision was two now teenage kids, at least 5 years of long distance relationship as the woman migrated to the USA to study and practice nursing, him and his family following suit, and then him returning back to the Philippines when he couldn’t take it anymore.

It’s been three years since he returned,” the dad said. “And it’s hard to be separated.”

My husband knows about separation. He has been married at 26 years old to another woman — no kids thank goodness — and had his marriage annulled after 6 months of marriage. Apparently, they were fighting all the time.

You know it’s a bad marriage when your wife becomes bridezilla and sulks in the wedding just because the wedding coordinator got the song incorrect,” he said. Apparently, the wife wanted with lyrics, instead of just getting the instrumental. She was also unhappy with the waterfall decor they ordered.

The first wife was a little hot tempered. In defense, my husband was no saint either, and given their relatively young age and their immaturity to refuse to compromise to each other, the marriage was kaputz as soon as it started.

Geez, so you asked your parents to help you get annulled,” I said.

Yup,” he said, apparently not as guilty that his parents paid for his wedding AND his annulment. “The worst decision I made was to get married at 26,” he said. “The best decision I made aside from marrying you was deciding to push through the annulment at 26.”

What I do know however was that following the demise of his marriage, my husband spent the next decade enjoying his bachelorhood. Of course it got old pretty fast, and he still moans of the money and time he spent in Reserve Ortigas trying to pick up random chicks.

At that time, I didn’t believe that any good girl would want me,” he said. “Random girls, sure. But good girls? Nah.”

Well, the Lord has been good.

We met in late 2013, got married in mid 2015, had our daughter in 2016 and now she’s 15 months and walking.

Who would have known?

So yes, I’m the second wife.

Booyah.

In my defense, we legally got married and everything. We had the CENOMAR, marriage license, tinghun and wedding reception, although his parents invited a different set of friends this time around. It’s kind of weird to be invited to a wedding with the same groom twice.

Do I feel this to be weird?

Not at all.

Apparently, love stories are complicated. The guy or girl you think you’d spend the rest of your life with may not be the partner you’ll end up with when you die.

A sales staff of ours was married to another man when she started with us. In the course of her employment, she met another man who was more responsible, moved out of her house, moved in with him and is now pregnant with her son.

My makeup artist was a single mother with a pre-teen child. She met her now husband later, they fell deeply in love, and now they have another baby boy.

There are second chances anywhere and everywhere. Life is funny that way. And despite the wrong decisions we may have made, time has a way to make us feel better and help us redeem ourselves.

My husband, given his past, has become a better wife and father because of his sad experience.

Yesterday, I was really tired and had to go to bed early. Daughter, like any toddler, refused to do so.

My husband spent an hour walking around the area with daughter to tire both of them out. I think they both slept at 2am, stinky and hot after the night excursion.

I doubt that my husband would have done so if I was his first and only wife. He would not think his life right now would be as precious without having experienced what life would be without his family.

So I am a firm believer of second chances.

Yes, we may make the wrong decisions and fail at life, but that doesn’t mean life is over just because we make mistakes.
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Let’s be the train that keeps on going, while we still can.

Have a good week everyone!

 

Posted in Advice, Boyfriend, Family Drama, First Days of Marriage, Husband, lovelife, Marriage, Updates | Leave a comment

My List of Baby Essentials – Here’s my list from my own experience. What’s yours?

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How to Make Your Wife Happy

When my baby was born, I was caught up with babywearing, and hoarded carriers. My mom bought me an Ergobaby 360 before our daughter was born, and since it was too hot and bulky, we bought the Baby K’Tan for our newborn.

Unfortunately, while the Baby K’Tan is light and convenient, it’s also catered to the body size of the wearer. This means that given that I, my husband and our yaya have different body sizes, we had to get three Baby K’Tans for our family (XS, M, L).

When the Babywearing Philippines Facebook group started talking about the Love & Carry Air carrier, a lighter and cheaper alternative to the Ergobaby 360, I knew I had to get it. At Php 3,950 for a set with two free drool pads, it was for me a steal. So I bought.

Then, there was the Bitybean which was on sale at Php 2,800 at a baby fair. The lightest, safety certified carrier there is, the Bitybean was for “travel” since you can just roll it up and chuck it back in your bag for emergency use.

Yes, I’m a crazy hoarder, I know.

I always tell myself that I’d sell them one day, but so far, I haven’t. My husband knows not to argue with his unreasonable wife.

*In the background, my husband shakes his head in shame*

Now this month, while baby is 15 months old, I saw that the Lillebaby Complete Airflow combined all the features of the Love & Carry mesh and the Ergobaby’s front facing capability. Since it was made out of mesh, it was way lighter and airier than the Ergobaby 360.

I wanted to buy it. It was impractical but I wanted it and checked out the sites for the last two weeks.

It’s for our next trip,” I told husband. “I know that baby want to front-face and this is the safest carrier there is.”

“How much is it?”

“It’s Php 7499.75.” I answered as husband promptly fell off his chair.

You don’t need it,” was his curt answer.

I know… I know… after owning almost every single carrier in the book, I didn’t need another one.

Yesterday however, we were going around SM Department store, and as luck might have it, it was their March Wednesday sale. If you have an SM Prestige card, you get an extra 10% off.

I automatically headed over to the Lillebaby counter. Aha, it was on sale! And it was discounted!

I couldn’t help myself, I looked around for my husband but he wasn’t there. He was taking some of our shopping back to the car.

I felt guilty and tried it. I still wanted it but I knew husband didn’t approve. And we have talked about saving money.

So I decided to carry the Lillebaby Complete Airflow box around while I shopped for the item I really needed to buy, a plaid long-sleeve shirt for my daughter for her last day of school.

As I looked around, my husband found and called me, “Hey Bonita!”

I jumped in surprise, feeling a bit guilty for bringing the Lillebaby box around.

I wanted to buy this carrier but I know you won’t approve,” I said meekly.

He looked at me.

I was expecting to be sermoned, but it never came.

Then he broke to a smile and said, “Okay, if you want it, you can go and pay for it.”

I was floored and over the moon.

I proceeded to pay at the counter, and was very happy.

Then as I carried my precious package out, I remembered that this is what marriage is all about. It’s not fighting about winning or losing, but rather in giving the other person their way sometimes.

At a relatively cheap price of a Lillebaby Air, which by the way was at 10% off, my husband made me a very happy and appreciative wife for a night.

Happy-wife-happy-marriage-happy-life

Sometimes, each of us can be very irrational. And as rational human beings, we try to stop our partners when we want something unreasonable.

No, it’s not practical,” we’ll say. “You don’t need to buy it.”

It happens when my husband buys another Transformer toy (he’s a collector) at Toy Kingdom. “Why do you need another version of the Devastator?” I’d ask. “Transformers value do not appreciate the same way as Lego does.”

It happens when he spends most of the entire night painting his Gundam models.

It happens when he asks for the driver that afternoon to deliver one of his pet projects to a customer, and I’d have to Uber to and fro the pre-school to pick up our daughter.

But who am I to complain?

As the Lillebaby example has shown, I am irrational too.

I am irrational as I buy my nth baby carrier even though we already have too many carriers.

I am irrational as I purchase more books for my baby in Amazon, even though she still can’t read.

I am irrational as I think about enrolling my daughter to her second pre-school, while being enrolled already to one. I was a Montessori child, so I was thinking of having her go to Montessori in the morning, and her playschool in the afternoon. Please note that she is only 15 months old.

A happy marriage is a balance — sometimes, husband gets irrational. Sometimes, wife gets irrational. But regardless on who is irrational, it’s important to acknowledge that marriage is for the both of you. It’s not a zero sum game where one wins and one loses.

It’s about giving way and making each other happy from time to time, as long as your family can still budget and afford it, no matter how irrational it seems.

Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Baby Stuff, children, Family, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cookie Test

My husband tells me that he comes from a family that doesn’t say “Thank you” a lot. He chides my family for being overly polite and for saying thank you too often that it almost comes out as fake and meaningless.

My mother used to dislike the fact that every time she does something nice to my husband and to my husband’s family, they forget to say thank you.

I won’t do nice things for them anymore if they’re so unappreciative,” she’d huff and puff.

Personally, I think I’m mostly a kind and generous person. And I like helping out people whenever I can.

But I also do like some appreciation for the kindness that I do. And if people do not reciprocate, then I am discouraged to help them again next time.

Why help them if they don’t say thank you or show appreciation? It’s not as if I need to help them.

Again, my husband reminds me this thinking is wrong.

My husband tells me that when you want to be generous and giving, you shouldn’t expect anything in return. “It’s wrong to give just because you think your goodwill will be reciprocated. Then the good turn doesn’t come from the goodness of your heart.”

Well, I’m human and I don’t care.

If people don’t show appreciation, then I don’t need to help them next time.

This happens often as I donate my milk. As per my previous post, I have already donated more than 3000 oz of milk over the last 10 months.

Now, whenever I give milk, I don’t ask for anything in return. Some people offer to pay but I refuse. I do accept a token of appreciation now and then for milk bags — they cost around Php 10 a piece — or sometimes a box of brownies or cookies.

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I usually get some token of appreciation most of the time I donate. The best people who receive my baby’s breastmilk are those who:

  1. Pick up the breastmilk themselves, with or without the baby in tow
  2. Show personal appreciation on getting the milk
  3. Give a small token of appreciation such as some fruits or some brownies for the milk

When this happens, my heart grows bigger and I usually donate to them when they ask.

Sometimes however, there are some mothers who don’t know how to say appreciation. Like there was a mother who messaged me on Facebook for milk, asked her driver to pick it up, and never even said thank you.

B*tch.

There was another mother who asked for some milk, which I gave generously of. Her driver picked it up, and she did say thank you. But when she asked again the second time, her driver was 1.5 hours late, causing my girl to wait for him till 9pm overtime (since pickup was from our office).

Sorry! Should I give her something for overtime? Really sorry,” she messaged me.

Well, after waiting for more than an hour at night, I sent my girl home because she had a family to go home to. I went to the office to meet her driver to again give this mommy my milk.

Of course, it was just a normal driver with a huge cooler. It wasn’t even the mother who requested for milk twice. And no, there were no tokens of appreciation or cookies.

I gave the driver 125 oz. of milk and he left.

What is the lesson here?

I think the lesson is this, in society, it’s crucial to give and take. Sometimes, we help and sometimes we receive help. What’s most important when receiving help is to always say thank you and to show appreciation, hopefully with some sort of small token.

How much does it take to actually pick up the precious milk gold yourself so at least I know who I am donating to?

How much is a box of cookies? Php 75 or Php 80?

How much does it take to show people you really appreciate what they’re doing, instead of leaving them to feel that you’ve taken them for granted?

Again, it’s not the cookies that matters. But it’s how you react when someone is helpful to you that shows what type of person you are. On whether your parents have taught you the correct manners or not.

To be honest, I cannot wait for my daughter to grow up. I will teach her the cookie test. Even if my husband’s family is not a thank you saying family, I will teach my daughter to properly say thank you and please because it’s the good thing to do.

Never do I want anyone to feel they’ve been used or taken advantage of just because my child is not taught correctly how to show appreciation. It shows a lack of class and good manners.

So yes, saying thank you too much may run a risk of people seeing you as fake.

But failing the cookie test — such as not saying thank you or properly showing appreciation — is an even bigger abomination.

 

 

Posted in children, Family, Rants, Updates | 1 Comment

A Reason for Everything

I believe that there is a reason for everything. When things don’t go our way, there’s usually a hidden plan behind it.

I remembered when I was in Taiwan, I applied for a marketing position in DeBeers, one of the world’s leading diamond sourcing and retailing companies. I had the marketing education and the interest, but had difficulty in their exam where they asked me to translate an English article to Chinese.

At that time, I could speak fluent Mandarin, at least for a foreigner. But Chinese reading and writing were still my weaknesses and I failed miserably.

I remembered being very disappointed after not getting the job. Who wouldn’t right?

But what can a girl do?

I continued working for the company until I received another call from a headhunter. Apparently, a leading investment bank was looking for a coordinator, and my extra-curricular activities gave me the experience and background to do the job well.

After six months, I got the job… and it is still one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

I would not have gotten the plush job if I was accepted by DeBeers.

The same goes for my love life…

I dated several men from different cultures and nationalities. My first boyfriend was Japanese, the second was American-Born Chinese, and then an Irishman, before moving on to a Filipino-Chinese.

From the Japanese guy, I learned that it’s important to date a guy whom you share the same language with. Do you know how hard it is to express yourself when you’re mad when all you can say is, “Wo hen seng qi?” (I’m very angry) and “Wo bu gao xing!” (I am very unhappy).

Regardless on our initial attraction to each other, I couldn’t be Japanese enough and he couldn’t get that. He wanted me to know how to be polite and know how to be Japanese. Even though my directness was initially cute, it became tiring in the end.

We mutually agreed to end it after more than a year of dating.

For the American-born Chinese, when I met him, he was recently divorced, single and ready to mingle. He was great, don’t get me wrong. But he was still discovering himself after being in a long-term relationship with his wife.

Lesson learned: Don’t date a guy who recently got divorced. No matter how charming he is, wait for at least 2 years before dating him.

I think I was one of the first women he dated after his divorce. Then, he dated another lovely woman who was a year younger than I was. I think he left a lot of broken hearts in his wake because he was still finding his way.

That was selfish of him of course, but perfectly natural. Again, he wasn’t ready for any serious dating. He finally reconnected and re-married the real love of his life after he broke up with the younger woman.

But what I learned from this relationship was that dating divorced or separated men were okay. Despite the social stigma of dating divorced men in the Philippines, I remained unaffected.

That’s why, when I met my now husband who had been married and annulled his marriage 10 years ago, it was fine. Of course, my mom almost had a heart attack and we went through a gazillion couples counselling sessions, but the fact that I would be the second wife didn’t really faze me much.

I think it was because I dated divorced ABC that led me to being more accepting of my annulled single husband.

The third guy I dated taught me that I had to date physically and emotionally available men. Long distance was a bitch, and unless you can be public with a relationship, then it’s better not to proceed.

By the time I dated third boyfriend, I learned how to let go of men who weren’t really healthy for me. And while I have no regrets on dating him, as soon as I found out there was no future, I got out of the relationship as fast as I could.

As for fourth boyfriend, I realized how important it is that you and boyfie must share the same wavelength.

While fourth boyfriend finally shared the same culture/background since he was similarly Filipino-Chinese, was emotionally available and gave me all I wanted, and was completely single, we didn’t really share the same beliefs and principles.

For one, he wanted me to be a housewife like his mom. I would rather die than to cook, do the housework, and clean the toilet on a regular basis. That’s just not me.

He also wanted me to be subservient. I was the opposite of submissive. In fact, I was a complete b*tch to him.I guess that’s what happens when a guy is too nice to you. You sort of take advantage of that kindness.

I didn’t really get him too much. He found me to be too direct, tactless and aggressive. We were really not a good match.

We stayed for 2.5 years because I didn’t know anything better. Fortunately, he dumped me for another woman who was better suited for him, and I learned how important dating someone who “gets” you and can make you laugh.

It sucks when you date someone you don’t share too much in common with, and all you can do when you eat is stare at the food or your mobile phones:

Dating-Couple-CellPhones.jpg

I cried for 4 months after we broke up. I guess I was not used to rejection and it hurts to be replaced.

But I learned to trust the process and moved on. I kept an open mind and dated guys who I wouldn’t otherwise consider. I went on blind dates, group dates and tried online dating.

Then I met my now husband.

And suddenly everything made sense.

We shared the same background and culture, and grew up in the same type of household. His mother and father worked in their business together, and we lived 5 kms from each other. And unlike boyfriend four, he gets me.

So you snore…” he said after we got married.

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Yes…” I answered. To be honest, snoring is one of the habits I’m ashamed of. When I sleep, I sleep like a log. But apparently, I snore pretty loud for a girl.

Boyfriend #4 was a light sleeper so that was a problem. I remembered being ashamed that I snored and he couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.

“Well that’s fine,”  he said. “Our baby snores too.”

As for the laundry, he’s appalled that I don’t do any housework, cook or clean for him. His mother actually does it for us. Actually, for all of my relationships, all of my boyfriends did my laundry. I really hated doing the laundry.

Oh well, I’d rather you work and help me in business than cleaning our toilet,” he said.

Now that’s a relief. It’s great when someone accepts you for who you really are.

Point being, there’s always a reason for everything. 

For every disappointment or heartbreak comes a bright light. I don’t think there are any accidents in life. And I think that every little thing that happens to us opens us up to the next scenario, which would not have been possible if ever we did not go through the thing we did.

Sometimes, I wonder what life will bring. I’m a Christian so I do believe in God’s promise that He is in control, and everything will be okay (Jeremiah 29:11).

But as I look back in my life, I realize that everything brought me to these moments and I’m thankful.

How about you? Have you realized that your life is built in steps, and all the things that happened in the past opened you up to today? Let me know what you think.

Have a good Sunday!

Posted in Advice, Boyfriend, lovelife, Marriage, Updates | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Thoughts on Early Learning

I’m a big fan of early learning for my child.

I began hoarding books when she was born, scouring pre-loved book depositories for bargains and ordering from Amazon.com the rest. Here’s one site where I get my second hand children’s books in the Philippines.

At seven months old, she attended her first Kindermusik class.

kinder

She came home so excited and despite her young age, will drum her hands whenever she hears us singing. Our baby really loved her Kindermusik classes. Here are some of the schedules for those who are curious about the classes.

Kindermusik classes are once a week, for an hour per time. It includes 15 minute free time and 45 minutes of continuous singing and parent/yaya participation.

I strongly recommend Kindermusik to any mother. I believe the class semester cost Php 18,500. We enrolled her to a monthly class that cost Php 3,500 (or Php 875 per class). If you can afford it, they’re well worth your time and money.

Afterwards, I enrolled my daughter to a pre-nursery class.

The pre-nursery kindergarten exposes children to reading at any early age. The earliest you can get in is 1 year old. Our baby started at 11 months old, the youngest possible age.

Classes is 5x a week, at 1.5 hours per day. The ratio of teacher to student is 1.5 teacher to 1 student. In my daughter’s class, there are 2 teachers and 1 assistant, so the program really focuses on your child.

I remembered her first day — there was some free time with music and toys, followed by some singing and book reading. The book on her first day was “Where is Spot?”  Afterwards, the teacher will teach them about phonetics.

Since parents are not allowed to come in anymore after the first week to allow children to be more independent, we aren’t privy to what’s going on in her class. However, I do see a slight uptick on her need to read books every evening.

When we get home and after she bathes, there’s reading time. She will toddle and get a book from her bookshelf for me to read out loud.

So I guess early learning classes work. As a working mother, I cannot babysit my daughter full-time, and I don’t want to leave her with the maid all the time. It’s good to have some formal teaching environment for her to socialize properly and to hopefully absorb some good information from trained teachers.

Some mothers laugh at me and chide me from being a tiger mom. “What if your baby gets scared of school because you expose her to formal schooling so early?”

That’s the issue — I honestly believe that babies are very resilient and adaptable creatures. The schools I enroll them in are actually playschools, where they mostly do play and all teachers are hired to ensure that learning becomes fun for them.

There are no grades or pressure to do well. There’s no honor roll or competition among babies. Instead, all they have to do is show up while a bunch of adults entertain them.

In a way, early schools teach kids that learning is FUN.

Instead of scaring kids, I think early schools show them that teachers are friends and schools can be fun places. And if that doesn’t set a positive tone early in their education, I don’t know what else to do.

How about you? Will you enroll your kids to a playschool while they’re very young? At what age do you think they should start schooling?

 

Posted in baby, Baby Stuff | Leave a comment

When Someone Betrays Your Trust

I found out two months ago that my assistant has been stealing money from the company. She’s been doing it since February 2016, and has gradually started siphoning money from the company account to her personal bank account.

When I discovered it, I couldn’t believe it.

This was a woman I entrusted money to. Whom I foolishly believed would NOT steal. Who I’ve worked with since I started with the company.

Here was a single mother of a 7-year old boy, whom we hired after she was ceremoniously dumped by her live-in partner for another woman. She was amicable and friendly, positive in thinking and work, and seemed adamant to do good for the future of her little boy.

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And yet she stole.

She stole for her son’s medications since he had asthma. And she stole to fund her sibling’s application to work in Saudi Arabia, and to be a sugar mommy to her uneducated and poorer driver boyfriend.

I found out last December and I was sad for a week. Here she was, lying to my face. My husband and I went to our lawyers and they convinced us that the best way to approach this is to bring this charge to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Unfortunately, that meant not confronting her as soon as we found out. “Cooler heads will prevail,” our lawyer said. This is not only a criminal case, but if done improperly can be an HR headache. “There must be due process,” he warned.

It is apparently not uncommon for fired employees who stole money to report to the Department of Labor to ask for their backpay for being unfairly fired.

So we waited till we built the case.

We spent two months observing her, first by removing her from a position where she can steal even more money, and to slowly but surely transition her work to another co-worker so that even if she ran away, the company operations would keep running. And we made sure that every single offense was properly documented to protect us from possible labor complaints labor on.

Of course, that meant giving her her 13th month pay, which is by the law, and continuing to employ her until she received her NBI subpoena. We even had to include her in our Christmas party where she gave a sweet speech on how good the company was to her.

Ha! If only people could see the hypocrisy of her words!

I am not a fake person, so it was a struggle for me to treat her fairly and nicely as if nothing happened. In the beginning it was hard. This was someone I trusted, and she has severely, blatantly and grossly betrayed this trust. At home, I was saddened and sickened on how she could do it.

But after awhile, I focused more on our business and our people, and things were a lot easier to bear.

Hence, when she was served her NBI subpoena this week, it was finally a sweet relief after months of waiting. The NBI was delivered to our office by courier, and was opened by her at her desk.

Then, we talked to her.

At first, she denied the allegations, saying that she will help find the money. “It’s just there, ma’m,” she countered as she flipped through our company passbook.

But when I told her that the money was NOT there, that I’ve checked, triple checked and checked again, and the money was still not there and only she had access to the money, she broke down and confessed to everything.

She confessed how she stole the money. How she slowly took money from the company account until the amount was too big for her to pay.

She confessed on where she spent the money. She spent it on her son, and her sibling’s application to Saudi, and on her boyfriend, among many other things. The money is now gone, and there’s no way she can recuperate the money.

She confessed how she stole our company ledger in the attempts to hide her crime.

And she confessed how she forged my signature in November 2016 to steal cash.

Basically, she confessed everything. I already know about everything and have sufficient proof to tie her to all of her illegal activities, but it was still nice to get some closure and an answer from her own words that she took it.

According to the Revised Penal Code  of the Philippines, Article 308 and 309, given her crime, she is liable to be jailed for 20 years:

“Article 308. Who are liable for theft: Theft is committed by any person who, with intent to gain but without violence against, or intimidation of persons nor force upon things, shall take personal property of another without the latter’s consent.”

You may file a complaint for theft against your housemate who took your cellphone before the Office of the Prosecutor of the place where your cellphone was stolen. To successfully prosecute her of the crime of theft, you must prove the following elements: 1) that there be taking of personal property; 2) that said property belongs to another; 3) that the taking be done with intent to gain; 4) that the taking be done without the consent of the owner; 5) that the taking be accomplished without the use of violence against or intimidation of persons or force upon things (Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code (Book Two), 14th Edition, page 686).

The penalty for the crime of theft shall depend upon the value of the thing stolen. Since the value of your cellphone is P18,000, the penalty to be meted out to the person liable to the theft is that which is provided in Article 309 par. 1 of the Revised Penal Code, to wit:

“Article 309. Penalties. – Any person guilty of theft shall be punished by:

1. The penalty of prision mayor in its minimum and medium periods, if the value of the thing stolen is more than P12,000 but does not exceed P22,000, but if the value of the thing stolen exceeds the latter amount the penalty shall be the maximum period of the one prescribed in this paragraph, and one year for each additional P10,000, but the total of the penalty which may be imposed shall not exceed twenty years. In such cases, and in connection with the accessory penalties which may be imposed and for the purpose of the other provisions of this Code, the penalty shall be termed prision mayor or reclusion temporal, as the case may be.”

Add forgery to the list of crimes and if caught, her son will be 27 years old when she gets out of jail.

She broke down and cried in front of us. She said how sorry she was, and how we haven’t really been bad employers but she was only forced because she needed the money.

Now before you feel bad for her, please know that I have other people under my employ who earns a lot less than her.

Her salary was high enough for a supervisory position and her bonus last year was probably more money than she’ll ever earn in a single month. This is a person with money, who foolishly became Mrs. Santa Claus to her relatives and boyfriend, stealing money from the company because she didn’t think she’ll get caught.

No, she didn’t need more money. She had more than enough. She was just stupid enough never to say no when her family and boyfriend asked for money and felt that the company bank account was a convenient ATM machine.

So I don’t feel bad for her. She stole money from ME. From the company. If she knows she will feel bad, then she shouldn’t have stolen money in the first place.

Good people do NOT steal. People who steal are THIEVES.

And if you steal, the law takes the case out of my hands and put you in jail.

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For her offense, that’s 20 years (excluding forgery) of jail.

Again, we have a very strong case. There’s nobody to blame but her, and the fact that she even forged documents to steal more money is damning.

But cool heads must prevail — I told her that because she stole the money, she must return the money in full.

The more you return, the shorter your sentence will be,” I told her. “But if you do not pay it back, there will be an arrest warrant for you this year and you WILL go to jail. And if you go to jail, who will take care of your son?”

People celebrate when a relative becomes Mrs. Santa Claus and give them financial assistance. But how many relatives and friends will actually be there for you and your family IF they know you are a criminal in jail?

Think about your child,” I implored. “Do the right thing.”

It’s obvious what will happen to her child if she doesn’t do the right thing. Multiple studies show how children of incarcerated people suffer. Some answers are here, here, and here.

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As a mother, I pity her child. I think a child must be innocent of her parents’ mistakes, and yet, it can be traumatic for any child to know that his/her mother is in jail for doing the wrong thing.

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Despite being a mother, I still believe that crime does not pay. I believe that the world must be balanced, and despite how I feel, crime should be corrected. The law must met out the correct punishment.

It’s all about the principle. For me, there is doing the right thing and the wrong thing. Always do the right thing. And if you do the wrong thing, the universe will come and bite you in the butt so hard you don’t know what hit you.

In fact, what I did is more than fair — the whole process in getting her arrested for jail will take 3-4 months. If she can come up and return the money in full, we will drop charges and she can chock this experience to one bad dream.

Given your experience with us, you can find a better job elsewhere,” I advised. “But if you don’t return the money, you will end up in jail. The police WILL find you. We will make sure they do their job. So do the right thing.”

I honestly don’t know if she will follow my advice. Most people don’t. That’s why they get into trouble. That’s why she stole money in the first place.

But I hope she doesn’t underestimate my act of kindness as a way to flee. As a mother with a child, you can’t flee too far. You can’t run away for years. Justice will still be served if not this year, but the next or the next.

70-30 she will flee. Let’s see if she will face her crimes. But at least, there’s a good preliminary conclusion to this investigation. Now, let’s see what happens in the next couple of months.

Any comments, please let me know.

 

Posted in entrepreneurship, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Philippines, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Have a Prenup?

My brother is marrying his girlfriend next month. While other men experience the 7-year itch, brother has chosen to forget the itch and actually put a ring on it.

And when two families get together, there are legalities both sides have to think about. Take for example, the concept of conjugal property. Apparently, there are 3 kinds of property regimes for married couples in the Philippines. They are:

  1. Absolute Community of Property (everything you both own before and during the marriage is conjugal),
  2. Conjugal Partnership of Gains (whatever you own before the marriage is yours alone but whatever you earn during the marriage is conjugal), and
  3. Complete Separation of Property

If no agreement was made at the time of the marriage, then the default regime is absolute community of property. That means, everything you own and everything he owns coming to the marriage are now mutually AND jointly owned by you.

This is great if you are marrying up.

Without any prior agreement before the marriage, a person marrying a richer spouse finds himself/herself co-owner of whatever asset her richer spouse have. Great, if you married a billionaire!

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It sucks though if you’re marrying down.

If you’re the richer of the two, all of a sudden, everything you own is now co-owned by your spouse, regardless on what happened in the marriage.

For example, there are many instances of spouses who lied, cheated and abused you, and yet, when it’s time for you to divvy up your assets, you find yourself still giving that lying cheating SOB most of your money.

Here are just a few examples.

That is why, before marriage, instead of thinking about just the love and happiness you share right now, you might have to wisely consider signing a pre-nuptial agreement.

*Everyone gasps*

But that’s cruel!” people will exclaim. “That means you will leave your (poorer) spouse in the dirt in case the marriage won’t work out!”

or

Are you accusing her of gold-digging?” they’ll say. “She’s not a gold-digger. She’s actually in it for true love.”

Uhmmm… here’s the clincher — If you really think hard about it, there are no risks to you in having your future spouse signing a pre-nup. Sure, he/she may be unhappy at the concept of complete separation of property if in case the marriage don’t work out. But if you think about it, you are actually protecting yourself against a future that MIGHT happen, and if they sign it, it really means that they’re only after you, and not after your money.

I’ve thought about it carefully and thoroughly.

Think about it, first, signing the pre-nup actually encourages the marriage to prosper. If it does not survive, then both of you cleanly keep your properties separate as if the marriage didn’t happen. Haing signed the pre-nup, it’s in everyone’s incentive to keep the marriage going.

Two, the prenup only kicks in IF the marriage doesn’t survive. Given that you’re so in love, why be afraid of a future that you think will not happen? If the marriage lives to an old age, don’t you think that the spouse will enjoy the lifestyle and its fruits while being married to the wealthier spouse?

For example, Melania Trump does not fly coach while President Donald Trump flies in his private jet. If Donald Trump flies in a private jet, Melania joins him too.

Three, the fact that a prenup is a point in contention might reveal that the poorer partners’ intention might not be as clean in the first place. If money is not truly a factor in the union, the prenup is no big deal.

That’s why, I believe it’s important to see your future spouse’s reaction when you ask them to sign the prenup.

If they understand the concept of it and signs it without too much pomp and fuss, then you might have a keeper. But, if the person picks a fight about it to you, then, you might have to be careful. The marriage may be about the money after all.

 

Here’s what most pre-nups indicate — That the assets and its fruits of both parties are kept separate throughout the marriage, though it’s possible that you may keep a joint account for your expenses. The assets of each spouse does not go to the other at the time of death. Instead, it goes to your heirs or children, which is where the money should go in the first place.

I’ve actually signed a pre-nup before marrying my husband.

In fact, it was his father’s idea.

To put it in context, his father has asked all his children’s future spouses to sign a prenup so it wasn’t a really big deal for me. I was expecting it since dating him.

When I read the prenup, I admittedly felt very comfortable. I was okay with the concept of his assets being passed on to his heir at the time of his death. But I was uncomfortable when I read that if he dies, I would not own any of his assets, as if the marriage didn’t take place. It was not a very romantic document to sign to.

But I understood its practicalities and signed it. No fuss, no complaints, no big drama. Just signed it, had it notarized, and each having a copy.

And because it’s Valentine’s, I’m happy to share with you the contents of my prenup in case you need it.

Save yourself the trouble and get yourself a prenup. I signed it. My husband signed it. And we are still happily married.

Don’t get stuck with your pants down just because you’re in love. Love might not be binding but a Prenuptial Agreement is.

Happy heart’s day!

======================================================

PRE-NUPTIAL AGREEMENT

                This Pre-Nuptial Agreement (“Agreement”) made and executed this ____ day of Month 20__ in ____________, Philippines, by and between:

Husband’s Name (hereinafter referred to as the (Husband-To-Be), or (“Husband”), with residence at Husband’s Address;

– and –

My Name (hereinafter referred to as the [Wife-To-Be], or (“Wife”), with residence at My Address;

(Each person will be called “Party” and collectively, “Parties”).

RECITALS:

WHEREAS, The Parties intend to get married in the near future after the signing of this document and have agreed to set forth their agreement insofar as the regime which will govern their property and financial relationship. The matters set forth herein are intended to remove any doubt and/or question by establishing the limits or eliminates the rights of a Spouse in and to the property and income of the other Spouse, according to the terms set forth herein.

The terms set forth herein constitute the agreement of the Parties, which may change the normal operation of law in the event of death or termination of the marriage during the lifetime of the Parties. Accordingly, each of the Parties hereby agrees to accept and carry out the terms of this Agreement in full and complete satisfaction and waiver of all his or her legal rights in and to the property and income of the other Spouse.

This Agreement shall become effective only upon the marriage of the Parties and shall be invalid, null and void in the event that the planned marriage of the Parties does not occur.

NOW, THEREFORE, IN CONSIDERATION OF the contemplated marriage of the Parties and the promises contained herein, the Parties agree as follows:

  1. Full Disclosure.

Each of the Parties understands that, for this Agreement to be valid and enforceable, it must be based on a full mutual disclosure of each Party’s financial status to the other Party. Each of the Parties has made a full, complete and fair disclosure of all his or her property, liabilities and income to the other Party by an itemized list delivered to the other Party which are attached to and made a part of this Agreement. All of Husband’s financial net worth and income is set forth in Exhibit A, which Husband verifies is true and accurate. All of Wife’s financial net worth and income is set forth in Exhibit B, which Wife verifies to be true and accurate.

Each of the Parties further states that he or she has fully reviewed the financial Exhibit of the other Party and has become familiar with the financial status, circumstances and condition of the other Party before signing this Agreement.

  1. 2. Separate Property.

As used in this Agreement, the term “Separate Property” means all rights, titles, and interests to property, whether real property, personal property, mixed including cash and investments/securities/bonds and similar financial instruments wherever located, invested or found, which is owned separately by either Party as contained in Exhibits “A” and “B” hereof. The term “Separate Property” shall also include the following:

  1. All income produced by or from any Separate Property, the rights to all appreciation or gain, the rights to all proceeds from the sale thereof and the exclusive right to manage, operate, dispose, invest and exercise absolute ownership over such property;
  2. Property obtained or acquired in the future after the date this Agreement is signed (“after-acquired” Separate Property) which is/are: (i) obtained through sale, trade, exchange, development or improvement of currently owned Separate Property; or (ii) Purchased from separately owned money or funds or through loans or credit separately obtained by one of the Parties; or (iii) Combination of (i) and (ii);
  3. Property and/or funds obtained or received by one of the Parties by way of gift or inheritance; and,
  4. Any and all successor businesses, including proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. In general, after acquired Separate Property of a Party usually comes from currently owned Separate Property, or separately obtained credit, or both.

Unless otherwise specified in this Agreement, neither Party shall have any right, title, or interest in, nor any claim against the Separate Property of the other Party, whether currently owned or after-acquired during the contemplated marriage or after its termination during lifetime or upon death. Accordingly, each Party shall have the exclusive right: (a) to dispose of or transfer any or all of his or her Separate Property by inter-vivos (lifetime) or testamentary (at death) including by will, trust, or gift, or by any other disposition, and, (b) Each Party shall have the right to mortgage, encumber, hypothecate, or pledge his or her Separate Property, at his or her sole discretion as if their contemplated marriage had not occurred.

The Parties understand that if they are married, it may be necessary for a Spouse dealing with his or her own Separate Property to obtain the other Spouse’s signature on certain documents in order to satisfy the requirements of lenders, title companies, applicable law, buyers, sellers or others. Therefore, each Party agrees that, when so requested by the other Party during the marriage, he or she will cooperate, join, and sign documents, including contracts, deeds, mortgages and gifts which transfer an apparent interest of the Spouse. However, the participation of the non-owner Spouse shall neither create any personal liability on him or her  or against the property of the non-owner Spouse nor shall it create any interest, right or claim to the owner-Spouse’s separate property. This notwithstanding, nothing herein shall prohibit either Party from leaving any of his or her Separate Property to the other Party by will, trust or other such method, but this provision shall not create any right or claim by the other Party.

  1. Jointly Owned Property, Accounts, Living Expenses and Obligations.

During the term of the marriage, the Parties may acquire jointly owned property. For all property other than their personal residence, such acquisitions may be made either from joint funds or through separate contributions by each Party. If made from separate contributions, the Parties may by separate agreement specify the interest of each Party therein. Further, in the absence of any separate agreement, each Party will be deemed to have an equal interest in such jointly acquired property.  The respective interest of the Parties shall be documented and reflected in the pertinent ownership/property documents.

For their living expenses and other joint needs, the Parties shall establish a jointly owned checking/saving account at a mutually agreed bank, savings and loan, or other similar institution. Each of the Parties shall make a mutually agreed contribution to that account. Living expenses and joint needs refer but are not limited to: ordinary living expenses and utilities, groceries and food, entertainment, home maintenance and repair, transportation, routine medical and health related expenses, general cost for running the household, and other related items as agreed upon by the Parties.  It is understood that any excess funds accumulated in such joint checking or savings accounts established by the Parties shall be deemed to be mutually owned by the Parties and titled in the form of “Ownership of Accounts”. Finally, in managing jointly owned property/ies, account/s and obligation/s, the Parties agree to keep the other Party informed of all financial and economic activities which a Party might do throughout the lifetime of the marriage.  However, in the event that either Spouse is found to have committed any act of infidelity, the he or she will not interpose any objection to the innocent spouse taking over the administration of the common property or fund/joint accounts.

  1. Separately Owned Bank Accounts, Debts & Liabilities.

Other than the special joint account referred to in Section 3 above and any other such joint cash accounts which the Parties may establish under the same terms and conditions, all other cash accounts will be maintained as the Separate Property of each Party. All such Separate Property accounts opened by either Party during the marriage may be designated under the owner Party’s name as “Separate Property of (Party’s name)” or as the “Sole and Separate Property of (Party’s name)”. It is understood that, even if the other Spouse’s name is added as an authorized signatory on any of the other Spouse’s Separate Property cash accounts for emergency situations, such accounts shall nonetheless be and remain as the Separate Property of the Spouse owning the account.

Except for any such arrangements for emergency purposes, each Separate Property account shall remain under the total and exclusive control of the owner who shall have the full and exclusive right to make all deposits to any such account of income produced from his or her Separate Property such as but not limited to: (a) wages, salary, or other earnings resulting from his or her labor, efforts, or contract rights; and, (b) any gifts or inheritances received separately by that Party. The owner of any such Separate Property account shall also have the full and exclusive right and control to make all withdrawals from such account, except for emergency withdrawal rights granted to the other spouse, if ever.

The interest earned on any such Separate Property accounts, together with accumulations or any other increases, shall be included as a part of the account as the Separate Property of the Spouse owning the separate account.

Any withdrawals from any such account, or purchases made with the proceeds of any separate account which are given to the non-owner Spouse shall be considered as a gift to the other Spouse, in the absence of any written agreement which specifies otherwise.

Nothing herein shall create any right, title, interest, or claim, or create any right of reimbursement on the part of the non-owner Spouse unless otherwise specified in a separate written agreement.

  1. Debts and Liabilities.

Unless otherwise specified herein, all debts, liabilities, liens or encumbrances which have been incurred or guaranteed by each Party before the contemplated marriage shall be the sole and exclusive responsibility of and to be paid by the Party who incurred them, and neither the other Party nor his or her property shall in any way be liable or obligated for the payment thereof.

Each Party agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the other Party from any and all debts or liabilities separately incurred by him or her, and each Party agrees that he or she will not seek any financial participation for debt reduction or satisfaction, unless otherwise specified herein.

  1. Divorce, Dissolution, or Separation.

During the lifetime of both Parties, in the event of annulment, dissolution, separate maintenance, or other such legal action, or a separation pursuant to court order or the written agreement of the Parties, or if the Parties do not live together for a period of six (6) continuous months and one of the Parties does not intend to end such separation (all of which are referred to collectively as “Annulment/ Separation”), then the Parties agree that this Pre-Nuptial Agreement shall be the basis for the financial and property settlement of Annulment/Separation, and each of the Parties agrees to request that the court follow the terms set forth herein.  In the event of an Annulment/Separation, the Parties further agree as follows:

Each Party shall retain their own Separate Property, subject to any debt or encumbrance thereon.

The Parties shall attempt to divide their jointly owned or community property and set forth their agreement in writing, or if they are unable to reach mutual agreement on such division, division, then all such joint or community property shall be divided and distributed pursuant to court order.

Each of the Parties agrees to request that if this entire Pre-Nuptial Agreement cannot be withdrawn from court proceedings before it would be filed as a part of public court records, that at least the Parties shall request the court’s permission to detach Exhibits of each Party’s property and financial condition before filing in court records, due to the personal and confidential nature of such Exhibits.

Each of the Parties agrees to execute any and all documents, and take all steps necessary to carry out the terms of this Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

  1. Death of Either or Both Spouses

In the event of death of either Spouse, the other Spouse shall have no rights in or to the estate or Separate Property of the other Spouse, just as if their marriage had not occurred. Each of the Spouses agrees to accept the terms of this Pre-nuptial Agreement instead of, and in full and complete satisfaction of all rights in and to the other Spouse’s estate which he or she would have had under law if this Agreement did not exist. Each Party agrees, after the marriage, to execute consent to the other’s will, and to execute any and all other documents necessary to carry out the terms of this Agreement.

At the death of either Spouse, all of his or her Separate Property shall pass to his or her respective heirs, beneficiaries, legatees, devisees, and assigns as provided in his or her respective will, trust or other disposition document or device; provided, however, nothing in this Agreement shall prevent either Spouse from making provision for the other Spouse in his or her will, trust, or other disposition document or device.

Neither Spouse shall contest the will or other testamentary disposition of the other Spouse’s estate. If necessary under applicable law to carry out the Parties’ intent expressed in this Agreement, the Separate Property of each Spouse shall not be counted as part of the elective share of a surviving Spouse.

Following the death of one of the Spouses, the surviving Spouse shall execute and deliver any and all documents necessary to carry out the terms of this Agreement.

In the event that both Spouses should die simultaneously, or in a common disaster, or if one of the Spouses does not survive for a period of at least thirty (30) days after the death of the first Spouse to die, it shall be deemed that each Spouse survived the other and as if the marriage never occurred.

  1. Sole and Exclusive Agreement; Amending; Binding on Heirs.

This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement of the Parties, and totally cancels and supersedes any and all other prior written or verbal agreements or arrangements between the Parties which address the subject matter of this Agreement. No representations or warranties have been made by either Party to the other, nor by anyone else, except as set forth herein, and neither Party is executing this Agreement upon reliance of any representation or warranty which is not expressly set forth herein.

This Agreement may be amended, modified, or revoked only in writing signed by both Parties and executed in the same manner and with the same formality as this Agreement.[1]

This Agreement and all its terms and provisions shall be binding on and insure to the benefit of the Parties, and their respective heirs, assigns, executors, administrators, and legal representatives.

  1. 9. Effective Date.

This Pre-Nuptial Agreement shall become effective upon the marriage of the Parties. If the proposed marriage of the Parties does not occur for any reason whatsoever, this Pre-Nuptial Agreement shall be null and void, and of no effect.

  1. 10. Severability.

The terms of this Agreement are severable. If any provisions herein are not valid or enforceable under applicable law, then all other provisions which are valid and enforceable shall remain in full force and effect.

  1. 11. Governing Law.

This Agreement shall be construed and interpreted under The Family Code and other laws of the Philippines, which is the country of residence of the Parties, which is deemed applicable to such case.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties have executed this Pre-Nuptial Agreement in two or more counterparts on the day and year first written above.

 

___________________________      ___________________________

signed in the presence of:

 ___________________________      ___________________________

 

   

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Republic of the Philippines)

_____________________ ) S.S.

Before me, a Notary Public for and in ____, this __ day of Month 20__, personally appeared the following:

Name Competent Evidence of Identity Date/Place Issued

known to me and to me known to be the same persons who executed the foregoing instrument, consisting of  seven (7) pages, including the page where this acknowledgment portion is found, and acknowledged to me that the same is their free and voluntary act and deed.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my notarial seal on the day and in the place above written.

 

 

Notary Public

Until 31 December 20 ____

 

Doc. No.  _______;

Page No. _______;

Book No. _______;

Series of  _______.

 

 

[1] No provision in the Family Code allows the revision of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

 

Posted in Advice, Conflicts, Family Drama, Husband, Marriage, Relationships, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When my kid gets older, I’d ask to her to work as a sales staff…

A sales staff in Manila earns minimum wage. Currently, the price is Php 491/day (USD 10.00), and the number goes up a little every year.

Its a thankless job — standing up for 8 hours straight with 3 breaks (one for lunch, and two for snacks), selling to random customers in the mall. Time-in is at 10:00am when the mall opens, and ends at 7:00pm if you’re in the opening shift. If you’re at the closing shift, working hours is at 12:00pm to 9:00 pm.

shopping.jpg

Work is usually 6 days a week, with rest days only from Mondays to Thursdays. There are no rest days during holidays or the weekend, since the malls are packed with people then. Hence, even during Christmas time when everyone has the day off to spend it with their families, you’re still in the mall, working and selling because Christmas is the peak selling season of the year.

Coca-cola got this correct when they released this ad last December 2016:

To be honest, aside from our Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs), I view retail sales staff as our country’s heroes.

They are the oil that greases the domestic market, and have relatively shielded our country from multiple global financial crises. Even when everything fails, there’s always the sweet air-conditioned mall to hang out in, enjoying the free air conditioning, and reveling at beautiful items you’ll eventually buy after paydays.

This makes a retail sales staff in the mall the perfect job for my daughter when she grows up.

For one, a job in the mall teaches my child about the value of money.

It’s easy for a child to feel entitled nowadays. Since both parents usually work, we overcompensate our absence by showering our children with gifts and nice things. Consequently, children never learn the value of money. They think money grow on trees, and money is easy to earn.

Numerous articles have come out on recent years on just how spoiled and arrogant children have become. And I honestly believe that merely giving your children money and not teaching them how to earn it, is one of the best ways to destroy the next generation.

Well, at minimum wages, children can learn the value of money.

They learn that Php 491/day does not get you too far. It’s enough for a movie ticket and a snack, but that’s it. It doesn’t buy you any nice toy, and if you buy a toy, then where else will you get money to eat or sleep?

By having them work in the mall, they realize that money is not easy to earn.

That Php 491.00 is equivalent to 8 hours of standing up, and multiple disappointments in selling. It’s shivering in the air-conditioned room as you watch people pass your storefront, while you call out repeatedly until one of them stops and actually looks at your item.

shopping2.jpg

Two, working at the mall teaches them humility.

Working in the front-line is a great equalizer. When you’re selling to a customer, they don’t care how big your house is, how impressive your car is, or how much money you have in the bank account.

They only care about how good is your product, and how well you can pitch your product to them. If you cannot sell your product at its own merits, and can’t do any sales talk, then they won’t buy from you.

At the end of the day, customers buy from the sales staff. Sure, they like the product, but the sales staff herself is a big part of the equation.

Unlike other jobs, you can’t brag what your position is, or how much money you have. In fact, the more arrogant a sales staff is, the more people won’t buy. Because who wants to buy from a bonafide asshole?

That’s why being a sales staff is a great equalizer. You have to go down to people’s level in order to sell to them. You have to be humble and let them have their way, in order for them to buy your stuff.

Remember, you’re the sales staff and they’re the customer, so you have to be humble and let customers be mostly right for them to make the sale.

Three, working in the mall teaches you about people. How to deal with them, and how to read them.

Being a retail staff, you cannot judge a book by its cover. You have to treat every customer whom you entertain well, regardless on how they look.

Because you can’t judge a book by its cover.

For example, some of our richest customers are those who are dressed simply, wear Crocs, and talk very courteously. They’re the ones whose wallet are filled with 1000 Php bills cash, or have Platinum credit cards.

There are also customers who look rich. They’re draped with the shiniest jewelry, wear the strongest perfumes and carry the most logo-laden designer bags.

But bewarned, do NOT be fooled to giving them credit because they have a huge amount of debt on their credit cards, and they’re living off from borrowing other people’s money to fund their excesses.

They may also be the baddest bitches on the planet. Meaning, it’s hard to sell to them. They make impossible demands, ask for the steepest discounts, and then lash out at you for the smallest mistakes.

So yes, working in the mall exposes you to all kinds of people. The good, the bad and they ugly. And given that you still have to sell, regardless on how bad customers can be, you still keep your charming smile on and carry on the day.

Four, you learn to have more personality. And to sell yourself and to talk better.

Working in retail sales, it helps if you’re pretty and tall. Multiple studies have shown that customers are more likely to buy from good-looking sales people than ugly ones.

That is the reason why medical representatives, car salesmen, bank representatives, lawyers, and insurance salespeople are usually good looking. Apparently, doctors are found to buy more from cute sales representatives.

My daughter is not particularly pretty. She’s cute because she’s only 14 months old, but she’s not beautiful in the most traditional sense of the word.

That is why she needs to build up her intelligence and her charm.

And the best place to do that is in sales.

Sales teaches you to look presentable.

No matter how bad you look, there’s always makeup to accentuate your features. Many of our sales staff looked like factory workers when they start with us, but look a lot more impressive after working with us.

That’s the power of makeup.

maxresdefault.jpg

What’s more, you have to develop a personality in sales. Because at the end of the day, customers buy from YOU, the sales staff.

How many people have bought just because the sales person was great? LOTS.

That’s why, as a sales staff, you need to be confident, polite, intelligent, flexible, and persuasive. You need to convince people to buy your product. You need to show them they need it. You need to demonstrate the products on its merits, let them try the product, and then help them make a good purchasing decision.

Now who wouldn’t want their kid to learn such positive traits?

Five, working as a retail staff teaches you about the beauty of monotonous work.

Thanks to technology and gadgets, which by the way make great alternative babysitters, our children are now more fidgety and are always on the lookout for exciting stimuli. For them, a day of doing nothing, is boring, and they’re in the search for adventure in the form of violent video games and colorful youtube videos.

I’m against the excessive use of technology in raising kids. I think technology brings out the worst in children, and left in their own devices (pun intended), our children become addicted to such digital heroin and grow up to be less functioning adults.

Working as a retail staff teaches about the beauty of being bored.

Because when you are standing there for 8 hours and waiting for the next customer, you can’t text or use Facebook. You have to be fixing your displays, updating your records, or filing your documents. And after doing so, you can be calling out for customers to stop and look at your products.

The work is admittedly monotonous and boring. But then again, most work is monotonous and boring.

My secretary updates our sales ledger and files office documents. In the afternoon, she falls in line and deposits checks during her bank run.

My office staff encodes data onto our inventory system the entire day.

My inventory girl helps me prepare goods for pricing and delivery. After which, she stores some of them in our vault for replenishment, which she encodes onto a delivery receipt to give to our area supervisor.

Work is and an be boring. But that’s what jobs are — no matter how exciting jobs are in the beginning, they later on become monotonous and boring. Because you’re already used to the grind and do things automatically.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think being good at what you do and doing repetitive but accurate work is a great way to get promoted.

Life is not about jumping from one exciting job to the next. It’s not about changing boyfriends as you change your underwear. The best things in life are often times the most comfortable of things.

And working at a retail sales job can teach my daughter just that — being content in the monotony and looking for the positives even when you are bored.

Lastly, working at a retail sales job teaches you how to be detail-oriented, and how to logically make and file all paperworks.

You can’t be careless if you’re a retail sales job. Once the item is delivered to the store, the inventory is now under your responsibility, and you are charged when anything gets lost.

Hence, you have to take care of inventory and make sure nothing goes missing, lest you be charged.

You also need to properly do your paperworks.

If you sold an item for Php 500, you better make sure your sales receipt reflects Php 500 lest you be accused of stealing. How many sales staff has been fired because they wrote down the wrong amounts in sales invoices?

You cannot be disorganized when you’re in sales. In fact, you have to be very organized. All your paperworks must be in order, your store front be neat and tidy, and your products displayed beautifully.

If you can’t be organized, you can’t be in sales.

In summary, there are a gazillion reason why I’d want my daughter to be in retail sales.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she has to do retail sales for the rest of her life. In fact, if all goes well, she may one day manage a retail brand or two when she gets older. But the fact of the matter is, it’s hard to manage if you yourself don’t know from the grassroots level what your customers want, how to sell your product carefully, and how to deal with your staff.

Working as a sales staff is the first step in learning all of that.

But mom! I’m your daughter!” she might wail. “Why can’t I be a manager or something?”

For one, your people have to respect you first before they work for you. They need to know you’re smart, experienced, and will do the right thing. When you manage people, you just don’t give them a livelihood. They entrust their future to you as well.

That is why it’s critical for my daughter to learn how to follow, before learning how to lead. She needs to earn my people’s respect first, before she can lead over them.

That’s still 18 or more years away, but a mother can wish. In the end, even if my business folds up, I’d still want my daughter to start in retail sales before venturing in anything else. The lessons she will learn are priceless and will be there for her for the rest of her life.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Posted in baby, Business, children, Education, entrepreneurship, Family, Favorite Posts, Kid Problems, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health is Wealth

I have a tummy ache ever since this morning. It must have been the McDonald’s Spaghetti I ate for my midnight snack last night.

To make it worse, I can’t drink any medicine since I’m breastfeeding.

So while my butt is stuck to the toilet for the entire day, and my tummy continues to ache, I am reminded once again how important health can be.

We may make all the money in the world, but once we get sick, everything stops and we have to take care of ourselves.

I am still blessed that my pain is not debilitating. It could be a lot worse than just having a tummy ache. And as I continue to go to the toilet once more, I am reminded that I must still rest and take care of me.

Have a good evening everyone!

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How does it feel to donate 3000 oz. of breast milk in 10 months?

My daughter is an exclusively breastfed baby.

Ever since she was born, she has received nourishment straight from the boob. Not for the lack of trying, we’ve tried to get her to take milk from the bottle, but she has stubbornly insisted to go boob or go hungry.

Consequently, I had to donate all the breast milk that I express. 

Sure, I can pump and dump, but they’re not called liquid gold for nothing. It would be a pity for all the breast milk to go to waste. Hence, I’m always in the lookout at mommy groups to see which moms are in need.

And they’ve been many.

Many mothers simply don’t have enough milk. They just don’t. Despite eating all the malunggay tablets and medicine, they sadly cannot provide enough milk for their children.

Other mothers are forced to pump and dump when they get sick. If they’re under medication, they have to feed their child another source of breastmilk.

Other mothers simply insist on feeding their child breastmilk. They refuse formula milk of any kind, and have a whole group of mothers who have milk to spare. Who can blame them anyway? Breastmilk is still the best.

Personally, I’ve just been very lucky to have a lot of milk. 

Yes, I’ve eaten malunggay tablets and subscribed to lactation cookies when I just gave birth, but honestly, I think I’m just very lucky that I can produce enough milk for my baby daughter and still have a lot of milk to spare for donation.

My schedule is this: In the morning when I wake up, I pump at around 9:30am-10:00am once. I get around 2.5 to 5.0 oz depending on how much my baby has fed during the night. At 5pm or so, I pump once again. I get around 6 to 8.5 oz given the long period where my baby does not feed.

So on a given day, I get a minimum of 10 oz. to store. Multiply this on a 30-day basis, I have around 300 oz. more or less to donate per month.

Now what am I going to do with 300 oz.? My refrigerator can only handle a specific number of bags, right?

So I donate.

And apparently, my baby and I have helped a lot of children. Because every time I donate, I record it on my daughter’s email address, now compiling all the donations we’ve done through the year, I was amazed that we reached 3000 oz.

breastmilk-donations-2

Here are the complete list of breast milk donations I’ve done over the last 10 months. I’ve also recorded the mothers’ names but in lieu of this public blog, have chosen to not reveal this fact:

breastmilk-donations

From May 26 to the Present, I’ve already donated 3,015.75 ounces to fellow mothers.

And I am still continuing to donate.

So how does it feel to be a mommy cow?

To be honest, I don’t feel accomplished or special. It’s just that every day, I will put out my Medela Pump in Style (PISA) pumper and do my thing. I do it before I get to work, and once while at work in the conference room.

Breastfeeding doesn’t hurt nor bother me. In fact, it’s as if I’m just typing this blog entry, except I’m close to the electrical socket.

My baby doesn’t seem to be bothered that she’s a breastmilk donor. Though I record how much I donate for posterity so she’ll know that even when she was young, she has already positively contributed to society.

There are no fanfares, or any awards.

Just me pumping, dumping my milk into bags, and then giving it away once my ref gets full.

What do I eat or drink?

Nothing. I just eat whatever I want, usually Ministop Fried Chicken or Jollibee Spaghetti, and pump away. And I guess, not being anxious about my milk supply helps me in getting enough milk supply for my baby.

In fact, she was obese when she was around 8-10 months old. Now, she’s thinner because she eats solid food and drink less of my milk. But it doesn’t change the way we live or act in any way.

So to all nursing mothers, don’t sweat breastfeeding. It only gets harder if you worry about it. Pump away!

 

Posted in Baby Stuff, Family, First Experiences, Motherhood, Parenthood, Pregnancy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Alleged Evils of Peppa Pig and the Importance of Censoring your Children’s Shows

Peppa Pig burst into existence last May 2004. Peppa spoke in a British English accent and the show revolves around her adventures with her family and friends.

peppa.jpg

But a lot of psychologists warn of the dangers of watching Peppa Pig without any parental guidance. Many mothers are becoming conscious of Peppa’s bad influence, and are slowly banning the show from their households.

According to a Harvard study, don’t let your children watch Peppa Pig as the show encourages the following negative traits.

  • Suffers from the syndrome of superiority;
  • Inappropriate behavior;
  • Imposes ideas regardless of others’ opinions;
  • Impolite;
  • Competitive (it does not how to lose);
  • Intolerant;
  • Disrespectful
  • Envious;
  • Arrogant;
  • Proud

The site shared:

According to experts, there is a proof that shows an increased inadversarial, snide, questioning, confrontating, and disrespectful behavior in children which results from watching cartoons such as Peppa Pig. Peppa is downright rude and her parents allow her get away with murder. There is an episode where Peppa and her brother George refused to tidy their room, but then their parents made it into a game. When they finished, the brats trashed the room again, laughing arrogantly.

My niece is 2.5 years old and loves Peppa Pig.

She watches Peppa Pig in two languages, English and Mandarin. She is also ill-mannered, answers back to her parents, and very adversarial. She hates sharing and almost tried to strangle my 1-year old daughter when we went together on vacation.

I wonder if Peppa Pig had anything to do with it?

To be honest, I have yet to watch the show.

For one, we have a relatively strict no-gadget policy and have yet to expose our daughter fully to the wonders of iPads and the Internet.

Hence, without exposure, our daughter is mostly ignorant of the evils of the Internet. She is only 13 months old after all, a bit too young for technology in my opinion.

In contrast, I have bought her a lot of books from the Internet. My husband shakes his head on his crazy wife who have bought complete books of the Berenstain Bears and Dr. Seuss. “She doesn’t even know how to read yet,” he said.

That’s okay,” I replied. “She’ll learn. And when she does, she’ll have books to read.”

Two, I do not want to expose my child to shows I have yet to censor.

I think it’s easy for parents to just give a tablet to a baby just to shut them up. For many of my friends, their kids started watching Youtube videos when they were merely a few months old. My nephew-in-law Saren will hem and haw until you give him an iPad while he eats. If he does not have an iPad, he will not sit down and eat.

For me, there is no replacement for face-to-face interaction. I honestly don’t think gadgets make the best mommies. In fact, I agree with this New York Post article that states that gadgets are digital heroin and make kids zombies.

But they keep my child quiet!” other parents insist. “I get to do my chores and leave them in peace. Anyway, they are watching educational videos.”

Have you ever taken away a gadget from a child?

Like seriously, have you seen how adversarial they become when you take away a phone or iPad? While their eyes are glued to the screen, they look like sweet little zombies. But once you remove their ipads, it’s as if they turn into Baby Hydes, wailing and lashing out as if the end is here.

Then what do you do? Return the iPad to them?

Three, I don’t feel comfortable exposing my child to any possible role model who answers back.

While I do believe that we should build our child’s confidence and encourage them to speak up, I also believe that there’s a line of a child speaking his mind and sharing his opinion and defying his/her parents.

 

It’s okay for a child to give his/her opinion. It’s okay for him/her to question his/her parents. But at the end of the day, they need to follow.

Case in point, a child is walking towards a busy street.

NO!” you shout at your child. Because you are afraid they might get into an accident. Because you can see the dangerous traffic, and you know it’s possible your child may get hit.

If your child is trained well, he/she will stop. Mommy’s rules are law, and today is no exception.

But if your child is used to defying you, he/she will ignore you and continue on. And he/she will get hurt in the process. And other people may also get hurt because of your child.

That’s the danger of giving a child free rein. They are children. You are still their parents. Not their friends. So it’s better to act like it.

I guess that’s why my dad refused to let me watch The Simpsons until I graduated college. Which is funny because The Simpsons became social satire which correctly predicted Trump’s win as POTUS.

But looking back, Bart was truly a bad influence.

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He disrespected his parents, fought with his sister, and created trouble wherever he went. His father Homer was a deadbeat who didn’t result to much. And while Lisa was a better role model, she wasn’t enough to save the show’s moral code.

After college, I did start to watch The Simpsons. The show was still funny and entertaining, but I am thankful that I started watching the show after I’ve reached a lever of maturity and intelligence. I think my parents saved themselves from a lot of pain by picking and choosing the shows that I watched before letting me watch them.

But that’s censorship!” other parents will say. “These shows have already been approved by experts before showing to kids. If they were evil, they would not show it?”

Oh really? They were properly vetted by the experts? Did you double check that these shows were studied carefully before they were aired?

I’m sorry — it’s my kid, and I want to make sure that what they are watching are truly healthy and good for them. And if that means watching the show beside your child as they watch it, then so be it.

And if that doesn’t make me a cool mom, then so be it.

I don’t need to be a cool mom in order to be a good mom.

How about you? How do you pick and choose the programs your children watch?

 

 

Posted in children, Education, Family, Personal opinion, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Liar Liar Pants on Fire

The 8th Commandment commands, “Thou shalt not lie.”  

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And yet, we continue to do so on a DAILY basis.

I am aghast on how easily and naturally people lie. They tell white lies to “avoid hurting your feelings.” They commit crimes of omission as if the half truth will make everything better. And they lie without any conscience or remorse.

As long as nobody gets hurt,” they justify their lies, “why is it wrong?”

My husband is the opposite. He mostly tells the truth. In fact, he gets himself into trouble because he always never hides behind a lie.

I don’t like your face,” he’d tell an annoying client.

You’re lazy,” he’ll opine to his friend when his friend shares with him all his problems at work. “If you can stop you-tubing and get more work done, your work won’t pile up.”

It’s all truth but society prefers that we hide behind lies because it makes everyone feel better.

But it doesn’t.

Lies are the disease that festers under everyone’s skin. They are there, gnawing at you and infecting, until the whole arm would have to be cut off just to save the body.

It destroys relationships, families and working environments.

Lying was included in the 10 Commandments because it is deceptively innocent. You think nobody is going to get hurt but you’re wrong. When you lie, everyone gets hurt.

One of our sales staff resigned yesterday because of a lie — a big FAT lie.

Specifically, she concocted an entire life story that was 100% false.

She told us that she was Muslim, and was supposed to get married last January 11 to a distance cousin because their families caught them kissing. Under the Muslim law, if you are caught in a scandalous relationship, which includes kissing someone you’re not married to, you get married to them.

She took 2 days off for her “marriage.” Of course, we wish her nothing but most happiness in her union.

After 2 weeks of marriage, her supervisor found her wailing and crying at her place of work. Apparently, she was jealous of her husband, who seemed to show interest to her friend, who was living with them from the time they got married.

This friend was prettier and sexier than she was. They were such good friends that she referred her to our company and is now working as a sales staff in another of our branches.

According to our sales staff, her newly minted husband would do the laundry of her friend, including her “undies.” My supervisor was aghast. Doing the laundry of somebody is one thing but asking the husband of your friend to launder your underwear is something else.

Her husband will also cook breakfast for them both, giving her rice and two eggs, while her friend gets an additional fried fish for lunch.

What’s worse, when she forgets her lunch, my husband would run after her to the bus stop to give her the packed meal!” said our sales staff as she cries even louder.

After dealing with this issue for an entire week and our store suffering in sales, my area supervisor found out that everything our sales staff was a COMPLETE LIE.

For one, the man she was living with was not her husband. They are boyfriend and girlfriend, and she was previously married to another man with whom she had 2 kids already.

When asked why she lied, the sales staff said she was embarrassed about her past and instead had a made-up story on what her life was.

What’s worse, her friend was not living with the sales staff and her husband. It was instead the other way around. They were living with the friend!

As per the accusation that her husband was lusting after her friend, that wasn’t really true. They were distant relatives if that made any sense.

And as a result of being caught in the lie, the two sales staff resigned. The first one for being embarrassed in being caught in a lie, and the second one for leaving when her friend was leaving.

When asked what merited them to both resign, and why honesty is so important in the workplace, given that nobody really got hurt, the most important thing is that when dealing with money and valuable inventory, it’s crucial that people are honest.

I’m a firm believer of living straight and letting people know how things really are. I don’t like to surround myself with people who lie to me and naturally lie as if they were simply breathing air.

So yes, this is what entrepreneurship is — dealing with all walks of life, including women who lie about their entire life story.

I don’t understand,” I complained to my husband. ” Am I just surrounded by the most f*cked up people you’ll ever meet, or other people have the samte experience but just don’t talk about it?”

“I think it’s the latter,” he consoled me. “It’s just that people just don’t talk about it.”

Do you think this is true?

Are people really this screwed up? Comments appreciated below.

Posted in Business, Ramblings, Work | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Work: You Snooze, You Lose

Our office needs a new accounting clerk so I’ve been holding interviews this week.

To be honest, it’s not easy to find good, capable, and willing employees nowadays. Many of the applications I received were from under-qualified candidates or from applicants who priced themselves too high versus their competency. There’s also the issue of fit — even if they are competent and reasonably priced, will they like our straight-talking office culture.

Last Wednesday, there was a candidate my husband and I liked.

Rosa was a failed CPA board tester. She took the test three times and failed, and has now given up her dreams of being a CPA and is looking for long-term employment. She has no kids or a husband, which makes her attractive from a baggage perspective. What’s more, she’s great at filing and according to her, she’s a hard worker.

We didn’t hire her right then and there. We still had a few candidates to interview on Saturday, and we wanted to see the other applicants before making a hiring decision.

Sounds prudent, right?

Well, on Saturday, after seeing all the candidates, we got back to her with a firm offer.

After two hours of waiting, we received the following text:

Good evening. Thank you for your offer. It’s a nice feeling that you chose me for the position. However, I had just signed a contract for a job today. Please do offer it to other qualified applicants that meet your merits. God bless.

DAMN!

After a mere two days, she was already employed!

I felt bad of course.

As I’ve said, good staff are not easy to find, and it’s annoying to be rejected. I asked myself whether we should have given her an offer after her impressive interview, and if so, would that have saved me the trouble of looking further for more help?

I then imagined what if she accepted the offer. If she would be one of our staff who can last decades with us. If she can pull us out of the muck and put our office in order.

My husband berates me.

No he didn’t say, “You Snooze, You Lose,” but for him, having a candidate reject you is not the end of the world. In fact, as a Christian, he believes that maybe there’s someone even better out there.

Maybe she’ll hurt our company if we hired her,” he said with a shrug. “It’s just not meant to be.”

Sure, maybe it’s similar to the story of The Fox and the Grapes where we justify not having the things we don’t have, but maybe there’s some wisdom in that.

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves.[4]

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Anyway, you snooze you lose. She’s not meant to be so that means we’ll just look again for a candidate better suited for our needs.

So I guess the moral of the story is, if you find someone you like, hire them immediately. If not, be ready to bear the risk that they may be employed elsewhere.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Posted in Advice, Finance, Life lessons, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Crime of Omission

What does the word, “Omission” mean?

o·mis·sion
əˈmiSH(ə)n,ōˈmiSH(ə)n/
1. Someone or something that has been left out or excluded.

“there are glaring omissions in the report”
2. The action of excluding or leaving out someone or something.

“the omission of recent publications from his bibliography”
3. A failure to do something, especially something that one has a moral or legal obligation to do.

“to pay compensation for a wrongful act or omission”
synonyms: exclusion, leaving out

My father-in-law warns me about the dangers of staff who regularly omit relevant information from their reports.

When you find your people, it’s important to find someone who can give you the ENTIRE story — the good, the bad, and most importantly, how they are responsible for the problem — so you can take the correct action as a manager. Otherwise, they are committing a crime of omission, which is very dangerous.”

I didn’t get that when he first said it. To be honest, it’s hard to deal with an issue that you personally have not encountered yet, which is common to many old people’s advice.

An example of this is a long-term staff who recently departed my father-in-law’s employ.

Gio (the staffers name) has an outstanding loan of Php 8,000 with the Legaspi office for 3 years already.

He kept silence of this when we ask him to do turnover and clearance.

I held the release of his last paycheck to answer for it.

If he sees you, ask him why he commit the sin of omission?

Sent from my iPhone

But I learned firsthand when I dealt with my own office staff:

My office staff came to me one day admitting to me that she has forgotten to compute the number of hours of a sales staff’s payroll from a certain time period. She thought that she has included it in the payroll but neglected to see her daily time record tucked somewhere else.

She told me that the agency did not want to cover such expense since it is negligence in our part. Hence, she went to me because the staff was creating a ruckus already for having her salary delayed.

I was surprised.

Staffers usually do get upset when back pay get delayed, but her anger was unnecessary. Our staff know we always fulfill our obligations and there’s no need to be angry for a simple mistake that is easily rectified by writing a check.

After further questioning, I found out the REAL reason why the staff was upset.

She wasn’t upset because her back pay was delayed. She was angry because it was delayed TWICE.

She was not included in an earlier payroll because of a careless mistake. When she reminded our HR, our HR promised they will amend it and her backpay will be included on the next payroll.

Then the HR forgot about her backpay AGAIN.

This meant that her back pay was delayed for an entire month!

The first one was folly, but the second time was total negligence.

Fearing for her job, our HR tried to ask the agency to cover up her mistake. When the agency said no, then the HR came to me for help in writing the check.

This my friends is a crime of omission — when someone tells you the story but covers up some relevant information because they look bad.

Be careful when a person commits the crime of omission. Anyone can do it — friends, family, staff members, government officials.

It’s not what they say.

IT’S WHAT THEY DO NOT SAY THAT SOMETIMES MATTER.

It’s the same as the cheating husband who tells you that he’s been hard at work the entire day, but neglect to inform you what he was doing for lunch.

It’s the same as the friend who tells you of an acquaintance who gossiped about you, but neglects to inform you her part in the equation. What was she doing there listening in the conversation anyway?

I can go on and on, but the most important thing is, if someone you know commits a crime of omission, be careful. Open your eyes. No matter what a person says, listen closely to what he/she does NOT say, instead of just what the person is telling you.

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I am learning this and hope this benefits you too. Have you ever been on a receiving end of someone committing a crime of omission?

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Advice, Things I Ponder About, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Love Open Work Spaces

My business has an open-office plan.

When you walk through a lean corridor, you see a slew of tables facing each other. Staff members work facing each other, and when people bark orders at each other, all they have to do is talk loudly across the table.

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A big reason why we have an open office plan is that it saves space.

Our office is only a humble 88-sqm (950 square feet), consisting of a safe/vault room to keep our inventory, a large conference room for training, and a general working area for all staff.

I have a big table in the center of the room (no corner office for me), but I usually sit in the conference room when there’s no training with the sliding doors open. The room temperature is comfortable for me, and I have the big wide conference table to work on. From inside the conference room, I can give out orders at random, and everyone can hear me.

Just imagine, if I have an office, not only will it eat whatever small space I have, but it also limits my presence as a leader. While I may have my privacy, I wouldn’t be able to see and hear what’s going outside as conveniently and I won’t be able to do my job well.

Two, it equalizes every staff member.

I always tell my staff that there is nobody superior to each other. This means that everyone has their own roles and responsibilities to fulfill and nobody is in charge of each other. Even our 21-year old cannot be bullied by a supervisor to buy them coffee or lunch. A supervisor should always buy her own lunch, thank you very much.

The golden rule is alive in our office, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.”

This allows open communication and less politicking amongst our small office. If people know that they have to please a superior, they might forgive that superior and hide their faults to me in fear of earning that superior’s wrath.

But if everyone is of equal rank and are given the obligation of reporting directly to me, the general manager, then they are more deadset in working FOR me and pleasing me, and hence, productivity increases.

I like it when there’s less politics in the office. More work gets done.

One of my supervisor who came from a highly political office shared with me that their general manager then used to invite and go out drinking with her subordinates in the evening. She will then carry out a grudge which flows over the work place if you do not join these drinking parties.

Now, that’s politics at its worst. I don’t want my company to be tarnished with too much drama and personal feelings. Work is work and I’d rather judge people by their own merits instead of how they can hold their drink.

Three, it gets a lot of work done easier.

People just have to pass papers across the table. They can just bark instructions. Everyone can hear and see each other.

If you’re working, I know you’re working. If you’re Facebooking and slacking off, I know this as well. No point to have CCTVs. All I have to do is to stick my neck out and I can already see what’s going on.

Of course, there’s less privacy but at least more work can be done.

Anyway, open work spaces is not for everyone. But that’s one thing about being a general manager and choosing what type of work environment you will have.

For me, almost all the offices I’ve worked in had open work spaces and we did just fine. Sure, the head of equities had his own room, but everyone else shared the same work spaces and there was more benefits than there were negatives.

So if you’re a new business and considering what type of work space layout to have, I’m all for open work spaces. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions!

 

Additional Reading:

Forbes: Is an Open Office Plan Healthy for your Staff? February 1, 2017, Melissa Thompson (Contributor)

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The Chinese Way of Teaching the Staff

I’ve previously shared my experience with a negligent staff in my blog.

Aside from the earlier listed offenses, she misplaced an important document, an aircon and ducting certification in one of our branches, which is crucial in getting back my construction bond.

I gave her a written memo informing her of her offense. As a reply to the incident report, she wrote back that she apologized for losing the document, knowing fully well she is responsible, and is willing to take whatever consequence of her mistake.

I gave her a deadline.

After that deadline has passed, she could still not produce any document.

Now, without the document, we would have to request another contractor to do another set of testing, which will cost us at least Php 5,000.00 and a lot of headaches. Left with no choice, I booked the contractor to do another round of testing for February 4.

Last January 31, I charged her the entire Php 5,000.00 to her payroll.

The day went by quickly, and it was only in the evening of January 31 that I received her text:

“Good evening Ma’m, I just inquired my salary from the ATM. What are my deductions? Thank you.”

The next day, she was sulking and crying in my office, asking why I did not inform her before I deducted from her salary the full amount.

I told her that for one, I have given her a written memo on her misplacing the document. On her reply, it is clear that she agrees that she is solely at fault in losing the document. Given that doing another round of testing to get another version of the document will cost Php 5,000.00, I am charging the full amount to her since she is the one responsible and she had indicated in her letter that she is ready for any consequence her negligence has caused.

She told me directly that I should have informed her before deducting the amount from her salary.

I apologized that her feelings were hurt, but I replied that as the general manager, the cost of the offense is solely linked to her. It is her negligence that incurred an extra Php 5,000 company expense, and it was my decision to charge it to her as a whole so that she can wake up from her negligent stupor and do a better job, knowing fully well that all her mistakes have a price.

It’s true — maybe out of decency, I should have informed her before charging her. But my intention is to surprise and wake her up. Deducting the Php 5,000 was to do just that.

She sulked and she cried.

I gave my explanation and made sure that everyone in the office understood where I was coming from. Mind you, this is not her first offense.

So far she has lost me my sales ledger, an original Contract of Lease for one of my branches, the aircon certification, and underpaid some of our sales staff because she “forgot” to count some of their days worked. She also did not collect Php 600,000 worth of outstanding checks because she forgot.

So trust me when I tell you that enough is enough. It’s not as if this is her first offense and I can just look away. This is already gross and habitual negligence.

As for you telling me, “Then why not just fire her?” The answer I will tell you in another blog post. This is not the last time you will hear about negligent employee.

Anyway, she’s still here and I charged her Php 5,000.00 from last January 31’s salary. Given that she is a breadwinner and a mother to a 7-year old son, I come off as an insensitive heartless b*tch who can’t give someone a break.

Php 5,000 is still Php 5,000 and goes a long way to support a lifestyle.

So I go on to my meetings outside. I visit one of my branches and talk to the mall manager regarding the status of our store.

When I come back in the evening, she is curt and unsmiling. But she tells me that after 2 months of looking for the document, she finds it.

 

 

 

AFTER BEING CHARGED PHP 5,000, SHE FOUND THE FREAKING DOCUMENT.

Months of stress and headache trying to get a replacement, and she finds it after being charged.

So the story ends happily ever after.

She finds the document and I get to return her the Php 5,000.00 tomorrow.

The head office learns an important lesson on doing their job well. Otherwise, the big bad boss will charge you.

And since I return the Php 5,000 tomorrow, technically, I don’t come off too much of a bad cop.

A lot of you may not agree with how I handled this. A lot of you may have your own opinions on how you could do things differently. I don’t blame you. As I’ve told you multiple times, it’s hard to manage people.

But this is how I handle things.

Love me or hate me, for Php 5,000, I was able to “wake up” a negligent person to realize there are real costs to her mistakes, and I get to teach my entire office to do their job better.

Not bad for a full day’s work.

 

 

 

Posted in entrepreneurship, Life lessons, Updates, Work | Leave a comment

I don’t mind that my baby is not “beautiful”

“(Our baby’s name) is not pretty, but at least she is kiao (smart),” my mother-in-law said. She says this often to anyone who will listen to her.

While many mothers may feel scandalous for their own babies are called ugly or not beautiful, I’m not like that. In fact, as I look at my baby, I’d have to admit the fact that she really is NOT beautiful in the purest sense of the word.

For one, her eyes are small and chinky. They look like flat almonds with none of the charm.

Her nose is a bit wide and flat. The holes are not cute and dainty. In fact, they’re quite big for a baby. My mother is shocked on how loud our baby snores. “She’s like YOU!” my mom would say as a joke.

Her hair is thin and unruly. There is no order to her hair. It brushes to the front and goes to all directions.

If she’s not wearing a pink dress, she looks like a boy. When we walk in the streets, people look at her and say, “Annyong” because she looks Korean.

My baby is only beautiful when she smiles. When she smiles, her eyes crinkle upwards and her mouth flashes the cutest smile you’ll ever see. Unfortunately, she doesn’t smile unless there’s reason to do so, so most people just get to see her b*tch face.

But my husband deems her cute.

At least she is a cute baby,” he would say as he showers her with kisses. “I know when a baby is cute or not, and thank goodness she’s cute.”

Honestly, I don’t get it.

I don’t think our baby is THAT cute. Not like her cousin who is half-white and half-Chinese. With her large eyes, fair skin, flushed cheeks, and pursed lips, Jessica is C-U-T-E. If there was a baby pageant, our own baby won’t even pass the preliminary rounds.

Then again, I was not cute as a baby. Relatives would kid me as the “Ugly Duckling” who never transformed into a beautiful swan until after puberty. Nobody at school chased after me, and as I buried myself in books, many of my prettier classmates busied themselves in turning down date offers from boys.

I’m glad I somehow turned out decent. As a child, I had no charm and none of the beauty. But I was a studious well-mannered kid, so it’s not as if my parents lost out.

I think my daughter and I will share the same fate.

She is not pretty, or beautiful.

But she is cute, and charming.

She smiles at strangers for no reason and obediently grabs your hand to pay her respects when asked. She waves at people hello and goodbye and will dutifully follow you wherever you go.

I have hoarded books from Amazon.com to gift her an early love for reading. I’ve enrolled her to a nursery that exposes her to the written word and songs. Even at 13 months old, she is curious, independent, and wonderful to be with. Adults huddle over her and coo.

So it’s fine that she’s not pretty or beautiful.

As the most recent Miss Universe competition has shown, beauty can only take you too far. After awhile, you need to back it up with some personality, heart or brains.

I don’t mind that my daughter is not pretty or beautiful.

I just want her to be kind-hearted and do the right thing.

I don’t mind if she doesn’t join beauty pageants or become a model.

I just want her to be normal, and healthy and happy.

I don’t mind if guys don’t chase after her until she becomes an adult.

At least, she can focus on school and herself, and become a better person regardless on what other men think of her. Besides, her daddy don’t want her married off easily anyway.

I don’t mind if her cousin is prettier than her.

If my daughter is smarter, then I’m happy.

And yes, I will tell my daughter all of this. I do it not to ruin her self-esteem but to boost it. I will tell her, “My daughter, you will not top beauty contests and guys will not beat your door. But you are much loved and are wonderful and it’s important that you let your personality and brains shine through. You need to know and embrace who you are, and you need to show the world what you an do, instead of just showing off what you look like.”

My daughter, your non-beauty is a gift as it allows you to enhance your other gifts. So work hard and do everything to deserve people’s acceptance and respect. Always do the right thing. I love you.”

And she will give me a sweet hug and go back to her books.

That’s my girl.

———————————-

On a related post, Dayanara Torres explains why Miss France won

miss-france-iris-mittenaere-miss-haiti-jacque-pellisier-and-miss.jpg

Torres added that all of the judges were looking for a different kind of beauty queen to represent the Miss Universe Organization, one with more personality rather than just physical beauty.

“When you arrive at an event where the Miss Universe is going to be, you want to find a person that’s accessible and not just a robot or with an attitude. You don’t want that,” she explained. “You want somebody that’s more human and who’s going to touch other people. Because when they talk, people are going to listen.”

She added that Mittenaere’s strength lies in her natural appeal and eagerness to help other people.

Posted in Parenthood, Updates | 1 Comment

The Price of Negligence

I have a 30+-year old assistant who has been with me for two Christmases. She is a single mother to a young boy, and was left by her boyfriend of 7-years who impregnated and soon married their ugly yet flirty neighbor.

When I hired her last November 2014, she was depressed given her love life. She was dark-skinned, a bit overweight and had low self-esteem. But I hired her because she seemed capable and had a high test score. So I figured, why not give her a try?

Over the last two years, she was able to pull herself up. She found a hunky man from OkCupid, who worked as a truck driver, and through her salary, was able to sustain her son who was now living with her mother in the province.

Unfortunately, my assistant had a tendency to be forgetful, and neglect to finish things that I’ve asked her to do. As low self-esteem is hard to remove no matter how hard we try, she found herself distracted and left many things undone.

The problem is, every position in my company held a scope of responsibility. Her job was to organize, record and file company documents, and to ensure a steady supply of applicants to man our branches.

The problem was, she was weak in filing and have a tendency to put documents all over, forgetting them until they are needed. Here were some of her worst offenses:

  1. She did not collect our accounts receivables for one year. This happens when she forgets to request many of the credit card payments from the bank, and hence, these remain uncollected for many months.
  2. She misplaced our sales ledger for two stores, which has their sales records for 4-6 months. Consequently, we are struggling to track on whether we’ve received all the money for the sales for the missing months.
  3. She did not followup with our store construction bond properly, leaving us with no leverage as we try to renegotiate our rents with a mall.
  4. She forgot to send an important email to apply for a government document. This documents take more than a month to process. As a result, we might be heavily penalized for the mistake. The penalty is heavy and is even more than 2 months my salary.

It troubles me to talk about this, as she’s nice and a loyal worker. She stays late, works without complaint, and gets along with many people in the office, having been one of the veterans. What’s more, she’s a breadwinner to her still dependent son.

However, as I rack up all her many mistakes, I wonder how much more can I bear before I have to let her go? The amount of uncollected checks came up to over USD 10,000. I am shaking my head how I can collect this amount when these amounts should have been collected more than a year ago.

It is possible that she stole money and misplaced the sales ledger. Without the sales ledger, it’s a struggle for us to check if we’ve received the monies from these transactions.

As I list down her mistakes, it becomes clearer to me that I’d have to inevitably let her go.

It breaks my heart that she is the breadwinner and I’d have to send her on her merry way. However, the amount of mistakes she makes is damning, and I don’t know what to do anymore in order to cover her up. It is true what my in-law said, “If you tolerate incompetent and negligent people in your organization, no matter how nice or how loyal you are, you will still lose long term. You do them no favors by keeping them.”

I hate it when my in-laws are right. But sometimes, being a leader means you have to sacrifice the few for the many, and if I do not let her go, I would have to let other people go. Other people would have to be punished to answer for her mistake.

It’s not easy managing a business. You sometimes have to make hard decisions. Good luck to me then!

Posted in Business, Personal opinion, Philippines, Ramblings, Updates, Work | 1 Comment

Parenting a Strong-Willed Daughter

My daughter had a very public meltdown in a Christmas bazaar yesterday.

She sucked her breath for a long time, to the point that her lips started turning purple, and then cried hard as loud as she could. To be honest, she looks like this:

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There was no consolation for our baby. When I tried to hug her, she still continued crying. And when I tried to get her to stand, her knees were like jelly, and she just wouldn’t hold.

Why did she cry?

She wanted to touch the items at the store, which is not allowed. And when I carried her out of the booth, she went bazooka.

I sat on the floor with my little angel turned hell-on-earth, suffering the annoyed looks of pretty shoppers, who thought it was my fault that my daughter is having a tantrum.

It came to a point that someone took a pity on me and gave me a plastic chair to sit on while I console my baby.

She was inconsolable for about 20 minutes.

It was then that I realized that I have a little hellion in my hands.

And she only turned 1 year old 10 days ago.

A one-year 10-day hellion.

My husband thinks it’s normal, but I wondered to myself where my sweet little baby went. The baby who smiled and cooed when I picked her up. The one who believed I was her savior in a loud, bright and chaotic world.

I think my daughter will be strong-willed and stubborn, just like her big mamma.

Why do I say that?

Well, my 1-year old daughter loves her independence. Since she learned how to walk unassisted at 11 months old, my baby loves to stroll around the mall and enter every store that caught her eye.

Sometimes, she likes to hold my hand. More often than not, she prefers to walk alone, nonchalantly entering the store and touching anything that keeps her fancy.

And when you try to carry her out of the store, another battle ensues. She starts sobbing until you bring her to another interesting store.

I look at the other mothers with clingy babies who never venture more than 2 feet away. Nope, my daughter’s not like that. She’s going to be a big traveler soon.

My stubborn baby also has her own mind. If she wants something, she really wants it. And if she doesn’t want it, nothing will convince her to try it.

And she can be very opinionated.

She’s opinionated with food, with her toys, with stuff that she wears.

She also doesn’t listen too much when I call her. She doesn’t come when I call her, and doesn’t follow my wishes for her.

And once again, she’s only 1 year old.

I think I have a problem in my hands. Most people talk about the Terrible Twos. She’s just one. This should be just the beginning, and wow, I think she’s a strong-willed girl.

Good luck to me.

Happy holidays!

Posted in baby, Kid Problems, Motherhood, Parenting, Updates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Favorite Philippine-Based Sites For Children’s Christmas Gifts

Okay, I admit it.

I’m a shopaholic.

I love browsing through Zalora.com and Lazada.com, and since having a baby, I’m an active member of a handful of mommy blogs and shopping sites.

Consequently, I discover various shopping sites catered to price-conscious mommies like me. They sell a wide variety of items from baby’s clothes to toys and books at various price ranges.

And because it’s Christmas and it’s a season of giving, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite discoveries with you fellow mommies who live in the Philippines.

So here are my favorite list of places to buy stuff for my little one:

  1.  Mom and Milly Educational Toys Facebook Page (45,000 Facebook likes)

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What do they sell: They mostly sell wooden toys, musical instruments, pounding toys, lacing toys, educational items and books at very good prices.

When I first discovered Mom and Milly, I went haywire. I LOVED the selections! There were tons of educational wooden toys at super cheap prices. On my first buy, I probably bought more than 10 toys at less than Php 2,000.00.

Sure, many of their items are sourced from China. Sure, they may use paint that may be unhealthy for babies. But, my baby is still very much alive and I don’t really believe in shelling a lot of money for toys that will only be used for a few weeks.

To Buy: Message them on Facebook, and you can pay via bank deposit. Most often, they offer a freebie if you buy in volume. Fast service, fast delivery, no problems.

2. Kara Mia Educational Toys Facebook (17,000 Facebook Likes)

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What They Sell: Selections are similar to Mom and Milly, but with slightly different items. That’s why it’s great to browse through both sites and canvass for cheaper prices. I think in general, Mom and Milly is slightly cheaper but there may be some items that Kara Mia has that Mom and Milly doesn’t.

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Kara Mia accepts BDO, BPI, Palawan Express, Cebuana and other payment centers, and send their items via Xend.

Fun Tip: They are now offering a 5% to 10% discount on their educational toys, making them temporarily cheaper than Mom and Milly.

3. Oh Baby! Educational Toys (73,000 Facebook Likes), Instagram: OhBabyPH

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What They Sell: Your Baby Can Read Set (Php 3,850), which my baby by the way loved. We are just on the Starter DVD and she can now follow words such as “Hi,” “Wave,” “Arms Up/Down,” “Clap,” “Dog,” “Cat,” and 20 other words. When the DVD music starts, our baby starts to raise her arms up and down excitedly and seems to connect very well with the DVD to the point we call it, “Baby’s show.”

Our baby also loves the sliding double-sided word and photo cards. We’ve only purchased this recently and am so far loving the results.

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They also have educational DVD sets by Leapfrog, the complete episodes of Peppa Pig, and various 8×11″ books by popular children’s authors.

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To be fair, their prices are mid-range to high. Book collections cost around Php 580 to Php 980, and the DVD collections can reach up to Php 2,000, but if you think that these items can help your child grow smarter, then why not?

4. Urban Moms Store Facebook (16,000 Facebook Likes)

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What They Sell: I’m not a big fan of their nursing covers and baby girl dresses since I think you can source them way cheaper elsewhere, but I love their cloth books and cloth toys to death!

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Check the above quiet book which retails for only Php 650.00. Description as below:

My Quiet Book Stripes will surely keep your children busy while learning with 14 pages filled with buttons, zippers, buckles, snaps, shapes, velcros with pictures, pockets, laces and more! • Hand-washable • Enhances motor skills • Travel friendly • Age recommendation: 12 months and above • Dimension: 25 cm x 21 cm Available color: Red, Pink, Blue Price: 650

Now, isn’t this a great gift item for any mother, and is a perfect accessory for any family that loves traveling?

Even though my baby was less than a year old, the materials were durable and held steady despite her pulling, chewing and touching the item. What a great steal for Php 650.00!

Here are some loveable soft toys as well:

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There’s a doctor’s kit, a tool set, a fishing set, a princess and the castle set, Noah’s ark, and an Indian story set for parents who like to open their children’s imagination and creativity. And if you’re wondering about the prices, everything is less than Php 1,000.00!

5. BabyBabsStore Facebook (98,000 Facebook Likes)

I have a love-hate relationship with BabyBabsStore. What I love is their super wide selections ranging from children’s dresses from newborn and up, to baby accessories you’ve never even imagined.

What I don’t love is their relatively slow speed in replying to my messages. I had to message them several times to confirm my order, and it took a day or two delay before my items came (although they did come).

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It’s a great place to find anything and everything, and if I can’t find it on other sites, they usually have it at prices with a slight premium. Please note that they have stuff like electric fan covers, baby bath tubs, baby costumes, diaper bags, playpens, socks, teethers, baby bottles, and more.

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The most fun things I found were the toddler backpacks, toddler leases and potty training items. They have more than 490 items in their Baby Accessories folder, happy shopping and you’re welcome!

6. Bookery for Kids and Moms Facebook (1,690 Facebook Likes)

At a measely 1,690 Facebook Likes, Bookery for Kids and Mom is a relative newcomer in an otherwise crowded online shopping industry, but boy, do they make up with their wide variety of pre-loved books!

Check out their 677 available titles launched last November 8:

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Check out their Facebook site, they have even better selections for children of all ages!

I just went crazy browsing through their many titles. They were also very responsive to my queries, and processing my order. Fellow mommies, instead of buying brand new books at the bookstore, consider buying from Bookery instead.

The quality of the selections are great, and the books, while preloved, are still in excellent condition. The prices are even more wonderful since you can get books at a fraction of a price.

7. House of Madison Facebook and Instagram (3,281 Facebook Likes)

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What I Love: House of Madison sells hard-to-find durable wooden items such as girl’s dollhouses, kitchen sets, bookshelves, pianos and pretend play items.

Most of them require pre-ordering and waiting time is 3 weeks, but for the items you’re getting, and the smiles on your children’s faces when they get them, their toys are well worth the wait. If anything, they’re worth far more than similarly priced items from Toy Kingdom and Toys R Us.

The seller is friendly and responsive and I did get everything on time. Overall, quite happy with the service.

8.  Baby Save More Facebook (8,000 Facebook Likes)

Best Things to Buy: Brand-new on-hand walkers, plastic playhouses, Fisher-Price items like Jumperoos, plastic playpens, and Mamaroo.

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Prices are cheaper than that of department stores, and they do personally deliver the items to your door. My Fisher Price Cradle and Swing was such a godsend, and was delivered and installed by the lovely resellers of Baby Save More. I cannot recommend them enough!

9.  Mommy Says PH Facebook Page (394,000 Facebook Likes)

What to Buy: Brand-new baby bottles, Gracos Pack N’ Play, Strollers, Diaper Bags, Carters outfits, and more!

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I wish I knew about this site BEFORE I bought my Graco Pack ‘N Play from OLX.ph and SM Department Store. Their playard prices are cheaper than retail, and I should have bought from them. Sayang talaga! I could have saved more money than paying full price for these items.

10. MomSavers143 Facebook Page (33,000 Facebook Likes)

What to Buy: If you’re planning to buy a plastic playpen, playground, table, large toys, potty, strollers and other pre-loved items, AND live in the New Manila area, then this site is perfect for you.

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I think they mostly import these pre-loved items from the US and sell them cheaply. However, I’ve heard complaints that their Facebook moderator and actual store do not coordinate and it’s possible that items that may be reserved online are no longer available in the store.

To be safe, visit their shop. Address is located at 1st street, corner Broadway Avenue, beside E-games across Broadway Centrum Savemore near Gilmore Q.C.

Consolation Prizes:

  1. The Project Mommyger (3,500 Facebook Likes) – Baby-safe silicon plates that stick to the table. The price is not cheap, but hey, whatever that don’t cause much waste. Great for baby-led weaning moms. feed.jpg
  2. Smart King Strollers – a China-made knock off stroller of the more expensive Baby Yoyo Zen. Here’s how it works, and if you can see, it’s one of the best travel strollers out there. Trust me, I’ve checked out the many models in local retail shops and this is one of the better ones out there!

  3. Mommy’s Little Boss Facebook (55,000 Facebook Likes) – They sell nursing covers but what I love about them is they are the original source for Bitybean in the Philippines, one of the best SSC wraps out there.

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  4. Loving Carry Philippines Facebook (5,000 Facebook Likes) – Local source for Love & Carry Air and Love and Carry Dlite, two of the safe and approved carriers out there.
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    People who know me know I’m a big fan of great deals, and I’m a big fan of Love & Carry carriers as they cost less than Php 4,000 in a world of SSC carriers like Ergobaby, Tula and Lillebaby which are priced at Php 7,000 and up.

To be honest, if I can keep these sites a secret, I would!

But that would be a great disservice to fellow moms who like the best things for their children but don’t want to overspend. So yes, please take advantage of these wonderful sites and happy shopping!

Posted in entrepreneurship, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Lists, Mom's advice, Motherhood, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line

Today, I’d have a sales staff go home mid-day because she didn’t feel like going to work. She has a headache, and decided to just go home despite the store having no reliever for the day.

The action was intentional and malicious. She knew she was the only one manning the store and still, she did this with utter disregard of the consequences. Before she left, she said, “It’s up to you to decide what to do with what I did.”

As a result, the store today is closed.

Ever since I’ve started managing a business, closed stores are a rare occurrence. So far, this is the second time in three years this has happened.

Now to give more background about this sales staff, she is one of our best selling sales staff in the company. Over the last few months, she’s hit her quota consistently. And because my company pays a large commission for every sales a staff makes, this has resulted to a bigger salary.

Unfortunately, this has also resulted to a bigger ego.

With this sales staff, this is already the second time in 1.5 weeks that she didn’t come to work simply because she didn’t feel like it. Last week, she was also absent just because she didn’t like to be in the store assigned. And when she does show up, her sales are intentionally down.

Now, I know that big talents need to be cultivated, and their ego massaged. To be honest, I have her to thank for increasing the sales of one of our largest stores.

But there comes a time when I have to think about the good of the company, vs. the good of one self-centered, undependable sales staff.

At work, we value competence, good work ethics and reliability. What use is a talented sales staff if she doesn’t show up to work when she doesn’t feel like it? And if we keep it on, what damage can this do to the morale of the other remaining sales staff who follow the rules and don’t have such big an ego?

Business is all about making hard decisions. Sometimes, we have to make a hard decision for the good of the company even though short-term, it would hit my sales big time.

Given her departure, I’m sure my sales will dip. But if we keep her, my sales would dip some more, because of the damage caused to the morale of my other sales staff.

It’s a Catch-22. But the decision have to be made.

I would have to get rid of her.

May this be a lesson to everyone, no matter how good you are, there comes a time when enough is enough. If you’re really smart, you must not push your company to a breaking point that will make them decide to cut ties with you. Even though you’re not happy, leave in your terms and not in a way that would put you and the company in a difficult position.

If she didn’t walk out, maybe the business would still be tolerable. But she did, so we have no choice but to let her go.

Don’t make the same mistake, my friends.

Have a good week ahead!

Posted in Updates | Leave a comment

Being an Entrepreneur is NOT Fun

I interview a lot of job candidates who knock on my door after a failed business. Just yesterday, I interviewed an area supervisor wannabe who said she sold off her chicken feeds and dog food business because it was “too stressful.”

I didn’t know that I would have to do everything herself,” she lamented. “I was the one sourcing, pricing and manning the store. It was hard for me to find someone I can trust who can help me.”

In the end, the husband asked her to close down the store in order to take care of their children. Even though it made money, business was too cumbersome and took too much time.

I had to make money day in and day out,” she complained. “Even if I had sales, I still had to pay my overhead.”

Welcome to the real world, honey.

And you think that I’m very lucky to have a business, swimming in oodles of cash.

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Let me let you in on a secret: Most days, I am looking at my passbooks and wondering whether the balances are correct.

My thought, “They should be higher, right?” as I ask my assistants for checks they have yet to deposit or my supervisors for sales they have yet to make.

I always worry about money, especially on the 14th of every month where I have to pay rent and payroll. As these large expenses put a huge dent onto my bank account, I cannot help but worry. If I can’t find enough money to pay, I’ll be out of business!

Yes, I have staff to feed, and I have stores to manage. But at the end of the day, managing a business isn’t all fun and games.

For example, today, I am awoken by the text that one of our best sales staff somehow had a crazy idea on not showing up to work because she simply didn’t like to relieve in another store. “She has a migraine,” my supervisor said. “But she always has a migraine when she doesn’t want to be assigned to other stores.”

I had another sales staff go absent yesterday because she just didn’t feel like it. Her boyfriend apparently said he will financially support her. Today, they must have had a fight yesterday so she said she wanted to return to work.

I had to delay a store opening because I wasn’t able to get a Contract from the lessor. There are some red tape we have to finish before we can open the store. As you know, government rules and regulations are getting stricter nowadays.

So no, I am not wallowing in cash.

Instead, I mutter and complain as I deal with another frustrating HR problem, supplier problem, and payroll process.

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And the problems never end…

No matter what: The job still has to be done and there’s no one to do it but me. So I have to do my best to manage my time and get it done. Otherwise, I am the bottleneck and the wheels stop turning.

If I stop procuring and pricing stocks, we will run out of new items to release…

If I stop checking and paying the payroll, computations get awry and people won’t get paid…

If I stop pushing my staff for sales, revenues will go now and the business will explode…

If I don’t pay my suppliers, they’ll cut us off and I’ll have a problem doing business…

If I don’t balance my cash, we can easily run out of it…

In the end, it’s all up to my shoulders to manage the business.

So no, managing the business is all fun and games. It’s not being a gazillionaire. In fact, it’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And someone’s got to do it.

So let this be a warning for any aspiring entrepreneurs, think first before quitting your job. Check first if you have enough capital to subsist and the mental willpower to survive all the craziness that is entrepreneurship.

When you do entrepreneurship, you can’t quit mid-way. You have to finish the race all the way to get the returns.

So good luck you guys. And have a good weekend ahead!

 

Posted in Advice, Business, Finance, Updates, Work | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Grass is Greener from the other Side?

My friend lives in Corinthian Gardens, one of the most expensive addresses in Manila. And owns a heated pool.

His household expenses go above Php 100,000 (or USD 2,000) per month, which for me is a bit preposterous given that the collective salary of my husband and I do not even reach that amount.

Yes, being a businessman in an SME does not generate you that much income.

My cousin plans to send their son to International School, whose tuition reaches at least a million pesos per year.

Hubby and I plan to send our daughter to the local Christian school, my alma mater, where tuition is probably 5% to 10% of the total tuition paid by my cousin for her kid per year.

So yes, I can pay for 10 years of schooling for daughter in just 1 year of my cousin’s son tuition.

My parents’ friends are billionaires and grace Fortune magazine covers. Their children, the second generation, who are the same age as I am, manage thousands of employees and earn millions of pesos per day.

I struggle to pay overhead and the bills. Every 14th, during payday, I admittedly get depressed because that means, our company bank account suffers a hit.

Yes, we are comfortable but in no way are we gazillionaires.

We live in my husband’s parents condominium (which does have an unheated swimming pool), own second hand cars (bought at heavily discounted prices), and our baby’s clothes are from Divisoria and 168, where Filipinos buy the cheapest items.

Our luxuries?

Well, we can still afford a babysitter for our baby, and pay all of our utility bills. We can afford to have hot water and an aircon turned on for the entire evening. We can eat out in most restaurants we pick around the area, and if we need a loan, my husband’s parents can give us access to cash at 10% maximum interest.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have married someone richer.

A billionaire (I kid you not!) asked me out once or twice before, and I could only gape in awe as he talks about his billion-peso projects, and his ability to still play golf early in the morning. Marrying him would mean a life of hedonistic pleasure, and the ability of me buying whatever I want, whenever I want.

And as I manage our cah and struggle to pay our bills, I wonder — should I have married up?

Then I look at my adorable daughter, who looks very much like my husband and shares many of his mannerisms. I don’t think I would have her if I married Mr. Billionaire. Nor will I be as hands on as a mother as I am now.

Then I look at my husband, who doesn’t mind that I don’t do any housework, and dutifully prepares his own instant noodle midnight snack when he’s hungry, without pestering me too much.

Then I look at our fledgling business, which has grown two-fold over the last two years. Sure, we can’t afford to pay our people salaries similar to that of multinational companies, but at least these are good people, and loyal people, and it’s a pleasure for me to see them grow and build their lives around us.

Then I look at myself, who, despite our tight budget and relatively heavier workload, is forced to work hard and build “our own empire” with hubby. Maybe I wouldn’t have appreciated it more if everything was readily handed over to me. It would be better for me to actually work hard and deserve the wealth we slowly but surely make.

Yes, the grass is definitely greener in the other side.

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But the grass is also greener on my side of the fence.

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And I guess, despite not having a heated pool, I don’t really mind having it in this way. Our way.

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Talk is Cheap.

One of the most frustrating things I experience is being lied to.

People lie to me everyday.

Now when I say the word “lie,” I mean this in the strictest sense. A lie is a false statement. There is a deliberate intent to deceive.

And while I believe that many people lie every day, many do so with a clear conscience.

Why?

Maybe because they don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. The truth hurts so maybe they believe that they’d want to spare that person’s feelings so as to maintain a good relationship.

Maybe because they believe that it’s better to lie and to shrug off the issue, than to confront the other person of the truth. Because why pick a fight when you can just gloss things over?

Maybe it’s because they believe that a little white lie won’t hurt. So lying a small lie is the price to pay to not be hated.

There are a gazillion reasons to lie. Here are at least 13 of them. People do not think they are bad people for lying, as long as the intent is not malicious.

But for me, lying hurts. Lying deceives. And lying causes many problems in the long-run.

Personally, honesty for me is at the utmost priority.

I actually married my husband because he’s very direct and brutally honest, almost at a fault. He will say in your face that you are stupid if you ask stupid questions. He will say that you’re lazy if you didn’t get things done. And he has no qualms to say you’re a bad person if you indeed did something bad.

Sometimes, I get hurt too when he tells me things I don’t like to hear. Husband can be very tactless, and sometimes, I have to tell him to tone it down a bit.

But hey, overall, I cannot complain. I asked God for honesty, and He gave me honesty. And as much that the truth hurts, it’s better to be slapped with the truth than to delude yourselves with lies.

I carry the same standard over my life and business.

I like to surround myself with people who will simply answer my questions already and don’t mask their incompetence with lies.

Sure, it doesn’t mean that my people are never negligent or incompetent — because they are at times — but at least they do not delude themselves into thinking that they are so good, when they are not.

I prefer them to look at the mirror and see the naked truth. It is the only way they can change and improve.

So I tell myself and them, Talk is cheap. Tell me WHAT YOU HAVE DONE.

In life, it’s better to focus on what’s been done than to what the person is saying.

People can talk about their dreams. Their delusions. Their ambitions. And what they want to do.

Very few people actually do it.

I learned that it’s better to see what people are doing, than what they are saying. Here are a few quotes that I truly believe in.

So if someone tells me, sure, I’ll get it done. I tell them, “Okay, I’ll wait until you’ve almost finished because I believe you.”

If people say we can depend on him/her to do a good job, I pause first and wait and see what he does first before trusting the person.

Not everyone does what they say.

Talk is cheap.

But actions — you follow the actions.

A close relative for example is a man of many words. He can babble the entire day and the entire night. One of his dreams is to be an entrepreneur, and he talks about building and managing his own business so he can be rich.

The only problem is, after years of knowing him and listening to all of his business ideas, none of his business ideas seem to stick. Something, somewhere falls apart and he is left with a bruise ego, an irate and angry investor and a lot of failed dreams.

He still talks of his dreams and ambitions every day.

Personally, I think they are delusions… delusions until something concrete comes out from it.

Talk is cheap. What do you have to show for it anyway?

This close relative has expressed surprise on why I am so performance based. “Do you mean that if your daughter achieves nothing, you will feel she is nothing?” he asked.

Actually yes,” I answered. “To more is given, more is expected. And she has no excuse but to fail.” 

I think you have to walk the talk. You have to show something for your words. There must be concrete actions and consequent results.

Otherwise, everything’s just bullsh*t.

Yes, people lie everyday. Maybe we need to make ourselves feel better. Maybe we feel that we need to hide from the truth because we don’t want to admit we are incompetent losers who can’t get shit done.

But I’d rather be honest with other people, and with myself.

I am still far away from the success I want to be. To be honest, I still have a long way to go. But admitting it is not a sign of weakness. It’s the truth. And before I delude myself into thinking this is the best I can do, I would rather challenge myself to be better.

How about you? Do you walk the talk?

walk-the-talk.jpg

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My kid is starting school next month

 

A recent study reveals that a child’s intelligence is inherited from the mother. That means, if the mother is smart, usually the kid is also.

And while I don’t believe in it fully — there’s so much that genetics can do — I see evidence of this whenever I look around.

For example, my cousin-in-law’s two children are top students in ICA, one of Manila’s most prestigious Chinese schools. This is surprising considering that Tyrone failed grade school twice, and almost got kicked out of high school. Every one was surprised that he even graduated.

Tyrone was a great guy, but as a kid, he was never academically smart, causing his mother to pull her hair during every report card season.

His wife however was pretty and received top grades.

They were classmates and she was a performer, while he was at the other extreme of the sphere. They fell in love, got married, produced two kids and BAM, the children are as smart, or are even smarter than the mother!

My father for example graduated from Mapua, one of the premier engineering universities in Manila, but he was just an average student. He was more active in extra-curricular activities than my mom, and had his fair share of bad boy adventures.

My mom however was a bookworm. Specifically, she graduated with a degree in Mathematics and taught calculus for 10 years in another university. In other words, my mom was slightly smarter than my dad.

When I look at my cousins (from my dad’s side) and I, it seems that my family was more inclined to study. My little brother, who hated reading and studying, still graduated from university with honors. I graduated from a pretty good university and my dad never had a problem with me academically.

Compare this to my cousins from my father’s side, most of them did not even finish university. Many dropped out due to personal problems, and didn’t amount to much.

And while I’d like to think it’s because I was smarter and better than them, I would much rather give credit to my mom’s wish to immerse us in education and academics.

My mom gave me free credit to buy myself any book I wanted from National Bookstore.

She supported me in every school project, and tutored my little brother every evening.

I was tutored my Chinese subjects every single day up until 9 in the evening. And after coming home, I would study my English subjects.

We were expected to graduate from university. It wasn’t a choice.

I think that intelligence is more about the parents’ belief in myself and my brother. Of repeatedly exposing us to books and real-life experiences.

According to this other research, parents of high achieving kids have higher expectations for their children. What they believe, they subconsciously do, steering children to the direction that they wanted.

My father used to brainwash me all the time, “You need to be a businessman. It’s great to go corporate but you have to start your small business.”

Well, he never told me the downsides of having a business, but maybe all his brainwashing had fruit since we now have a small business to manage.

So don’t laugh at me when I share with you that I am investing early in my daughter’s education.

How early?

She’s been attending Kindermusik the last couple of months, teaching her the joys of music, and this November, at 11 months, she will go to pre-nursery school.

My Husband thinks I’m loco but I tell him to watch me as I mold my daughter to love studying and reading and socializing with other children.

But I’ve been right so far.

She’s hitting all her mental and physical milestones early, and hasn’t embarrassed us too much yet.

Sure, I might be wrong and my child may turn out to be an angsty, gloomy kid, but hey, I’d rather bet and do my darnest to ensure she turns out to be the opposite.

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Posted in Baby Stuff, School, Updates | Leave a comment

Why you should NOT come back to Manila?

Someone asked me in my blog what I regret the most coming back to Manila.

To be honest, I’m pretty lucky.

I got to spend one year with my father before he passed away from liver cancer, met a reformed troublemaker who was tall and cute enough for me to marry him, have an adorable kid, given a small-sized business to manage, and blessed enough to hire a handful of loyal, dedicated and competent staff.

But most aren’t so lucky.

1) Many of my friends who returned did not find their Prince/Princess Charming back home.

A lot of people came back to Manila around the same time as I did in the hopes of meeting Mr. or Mrs. Right, settle down and start a family.

They weren’t able to meet the Right One when they were overseas. Maybe it was because we were having too much fun. Or because we didn’t meet anyone who matched us culturally, mentally or emotionally. Or maybe because we were just unlucky.

So, they came back hoping that someone, somewhere will kai siao (introduce) them to Mr./Mrs. Right. If they couldn’t find it abroad, they surely can find them here.

THEY WERE WRONG.

For one, most of us who returned were already in our 30s. And to be honest, women here marry earlier… a lot earlier.

On average, women in the Philippines marry at the age of 26. Once you hit you’re 30s, you’re no longer as marriageable given your old eggs, or the fact that maybe there’s something wrong with you, which is why you’re still single.

As my father-in-law said when he met me and learned how old I was, “Woah, you’re no spring chicken any more!”

spring chicken.jpg

Back in Taiwan and Hong Kong, most of my friends lived life to the fullest and celebrated their singlehood until the age of 30. It was only after reaching 30 that most of them started sobering up and getting married.

I have no regrets staying single in my 20s.

Because I was single, I was able to travel my heart out. I was lucky enough to go to most of Asia and Europe because I had no baggage.

Because I was single, I was able to dance till 2am, go to KTV up until 6am, and then have breakfast early in the morning before crashing at 11am.

Because I was single, I was able to overnight at the beach, look at the stars and listen to the waves crashing, talking to my friends until it was sunrise.

Because I was single, I was able to focus on my career, culminating to me being transferred to Hong Kong at the height of the financial crisis.

Because I was single, my 20s were my best decade yet. And I cannot count the number of super fun days and nights.

I was too busy having fun to be in a stable, committed relationship.

And once I was able to snag a relatively decent man at the age of 28, I was quite the bitch to him because he was putting a damper to the fun I should be having.

Ironically, he did hit me back after he icily dumped me when he found his Ms. Right at his sister’s wedding, leaving me single at an old, “unmarriageable” age of 31. So yes, what goes around comes around.

But I digress…

So when I came back home to Manila, I was single and in my 30s, a recipe for disaster for most Chinese mothers who are itching for grandchildren.

Sure, I had a whole plethora of achievements: an MBA degree from a decent institution, a great resume which could get me hired to most places, and a luggage full of worldly experiences that would make me an envy of many of my local friends.

But I was still single. With no good candidate in sight. So there.

I was lucky I found my husband.

I really am.

But it wasn’t an easy effort.

I said yes to every single social event, didn’t shy away from any introduction, and tried out internet dating, where I ultimately met my husband.

It was easy because I was an extrovert. I LOVED meeting people, and I embraced new experiences. I didn’t mind meeting eligible bachelors whether they were short, fat and ugly. I loved meeting friends, even though they didn’t turn out to be Mr. Right.

My other late 30s friend who came back from Taiwan also shared the same mantra: She had more than 10 blind dates in the span of a year after coming back to Manila. She dated all the losers and had a belt-ful of laughable and disastrous blind dates that would last her a lifetime. But she did meet her Mr. Right on the second year of continuous and disastrous dating, and they happily married late last year — while she was at the ripe age of 38.

Many of our other single friends did not share the same fate. Most of them are still single up until now.

They were too picky. Closed to many new experiences. And were still pakipot despite their ticking biological clocks. Consequently, they’re still wishing and hoping for Mr. Right years after they came back home.

I wrote about this before: You need to be open and ready to find your Mr. or Mrs. Right. If you are open to new experiences, and didn’t mind to get embarrassed once in a while, you WILL find your Mr. Right.

But yes, if you’re hoping to find a mate back in Manila, you’ll be hugely disappointed. It’s not as if there will be a lot of eligible bachelors or bachelorettes lining up your door. You still have to go out and make an effort before even finding the right one for you.

2) Nothing compares to the money I used to make.

I kid you not. The salary I give myself from my small business is less than 10% than what I used to make back in Hong Kong.

To put it simply, my one month salary in Hong Kong is equivalent to almost a year’s salary here in Manila.

If that doesn’t make you bawl like a baby, it should. Because the income disparity is just so huge, it’s not even funny.

When I was in Hong Kong, I could buy anything I want. I could afford a new Chanel a month, travel to as far as Europe if I wanted, and still have spare change to afford my relatively exorbitant flat (since most units in Hong Kong are expensive) and my lifestyle.

I was getting paid a lot of money back then, and didn’t appreciate it. On hindsight, I should have saved more money and invested them in bonds.

Oh well, regrets… regrets…

But my point is, money in the Philippines is not as sweet and delicious as back abroad. It really isn’t. Even if I worked for a premium security house here in Manila, the money I will make here isn’t comparable to the money I used to make back in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

But you have a business?!” Some of you may ask. “Shouldn’t your business make you RICH?”

OR

Why not find a better paying job back in Manila instead of wasting your time in your small business?” 

Don’t be surprised my friends.

Yes, I have a business (yehey!) but in no way am I rich (boo!).

Monetary-wise, the money I make in my business, we reinvest back to the business.

A stable business requires good fiscal discipline, and it will be disastrous if I take the profits from the business and deposit it to my bank account. It’s one sure-fire way to bankrupt your business.

Money is power and you can buy many comforts and conveniences with money. And with less money, well, life is just a little bit harder.

Of course, I have a baby and a business but admittedly, I cannot travel or experience as much as before because I earn less money now.

And whenever I do travel, it’s not for leisure but for business.

So yes, earning less money is a complete b*tch.

And if you can handle earning less money for you to spend more time with family, then you’re welcome. But for most families where you are the breadwinner, you can’t afford that. And if you cannot handle the lackluster earnings you’ll get in Manila, then don’t come back home.

3) People here can be the worst. 

Staff simply not showing up to work without any notice (Absence Without Leave = AWOL) is VERY common here. I’ve never had people who simply don’t show up to work in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but here, employees just don’t show up for the most insane reasons.

One sales staff didn’t show up to work because no one will take care of their kids.

One sales staff didn’t show up to work because her dentures fell and she has no teeth.

One sales staff didn’t show up to work because she had tummy problems. But she has nothing to prove.

One sales staff didn’t show up because she didn’t have enough money to go to work.

One sales staff didn’t show up because she was ashamed of being an underperformer.

One sales staff didn’t show up because her husband asked her to.

People here don’t come to work for the most insane reasons.

So you think it’s easy to do business in the Philippines? That it’s so easy being rich here? Well think again.

Think again if the city hall delays your permit because you refuse to grease their palms with money…

Think again when your staff don’t show up when they’re supposed to… or they don’t perform when they’re supposed to… and then blames you for their shortcomings.

Think again when you see just how unprofessional people are here, and they’re poor with good reason. To be honest, there’s so many jobs out there but there’s not a lot of qualified or professional people to do it.

No, it’s NOT easy doing business in the Philippines.

Business is already difficult as it is but it’s the people management that make business even more impossible.

In summary, I think people want to come home because they believe that the grass is greener on the other side. When they come back here, they’re disillusioned because they realized that life overseas was a lot cherrier than coming back here. But after selling off their things, uprooting their lives, and moving back here, all they have are regrets and what could have beens.

Remember, once you move back here, it’s hard to go back overseas again.

Coming back is usually a serious, irreversible decision. You have to quit your job, pack your stuff and move everything back here to live here. Going back overseas would not be as easy.

So pray hard and discuss your options with your loved ones first before making that big leap.

There are many rewards to coming back here, but there are also costs, mostly financially and culturally. Think thoroughly all options before deciding.

And for those who are new to my blog and need counter reasons on why you should move back here, check this out: Why I went back to Manila after 10 years overseas?

Hope this helps and good luck!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Business, entrepreneurship, Family, Family Drama, Favorite Posts, Lists, Philippines, Updates, Work | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

August was a bad month for us…

My friend Carol posted the following on her Facebook page:

TROUBLE BY WARREN WIERSBE

Read Psalm 102:1-11

One day I phoned a friend of mine who is in the ministry and asked, “How’s it going?” His quiet reply was, “Well, I’m having one of those days.” The next time you’re having one of those days when everything seems to be going wrong–your plans are falling apart, you don’t feel well, there are problems and burdens, and it seems as if all of the forces of the enemy are against you–read this psalm. “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble” (vv. 1,2). What kind of a day was the psalmist having? A day of trouble. In fact, he compares himself to a lonely bird. “I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert…. I am like a sparrow alone upon the housetop” (vv. 6,7). That’s the way he feels–like a bird alone on a housetop. He wants to go into the house and enjoy some fellowship, but he’s alone.

The psalmist’s enemies were reproaching him (v. 8). But in a day of trouble and reproach, he says, “I’m going to change this by the grace of God.” And it becomes a day of prayer. He tells God how he feels and what he sees. He cries out, “God, You are the only one who can change things.” God can change things for you also. He may not change the circumstances on the outside, but He does change your feelings on the inside. Then the day of trouble becomes a day of triumph.

* * *
Everyone has days of trouble. When circumstances entrap you and trouble closes around you, pray to the Lord. He knows how to turn your trouble into triumph. Although He may not answer your prayers the way you expect, He will do what is best for you and for His glory.

The above was quite apt for the occasion.

August was a bad sales month for us. After doing so well this 2016, sales dropped 15%. My supervisors blamed it on the rainy season and “Ghost month.”  In their defense, it DID rain hard a few days last month.

But paranoid me wonders if our business is loosing its juice especially in light of new competitors popping up every month, harshly cutting their prices as if there’s no tomorrow.

In one of the malls, one competitor even slashed their prices to Php 200 per item. Honestly, it’s less than the cost of some of our items. I really wonder where they get their items given that you always get what you pay for.

Family-wise, our yaya left us. This type of news is bad for any household. Thank goodness we were able to find a replacement the same day!

Our baby is thankfully healthy and is now at 10 kilos at 8 months plus! This, despite not breastfeeding and eating often. She has been spared from bumps and bruises given that she adjusts and becomes more careful the more she falls.

But yes, I worry about my business.

I worry that the lowdown is permanent and we cannot get our ass off the ground. Sometimes, I look at my sales and wonder, “Where the heck do we get our sales from?!” 

This is followed by a simple word of prayer thanking God for His blessings. Honesty, if not for him, I don’t know where our sales come from. It’s a lot more than I, or anyone, expects.

As I pay my bills, I worry.

I look at my passbook and calculate my cash, and I worry.

I worry about the huge rent I have to pay every 15th of the month. This fixed overhead drives me nuts, and I worry I don’t have enough sales to cover it.

I worry when I have to borrow money from our personal account just to meet the payroll. I did this yesterday and it’s uncomfortable. I know I can pay it back this Friday when more money comes in, but still, I would prefer more of a buffer.

I look at the Philippines’ ultra-rich and I wonder if they worried like I do right now.

I look at my August sales and I bemoan that I didn’t make enough to buy more inventory. I have to get the money somewhere, and I am looking at where to get it.

I try not to worry, but it’s hard.

So to anyone who wants to go into business, know that you too will worry. You worry about your sales, your overhead, and the many people whose families depend on you.

You do this all the time!” my husband chides me. “Every beginning of the month, you worry!”

It’s true. I worry about money all the time, while my husband peacefully looks at me and trusts that I have everything handled.

But I know I have to trust. Trust in God that He will make everything right.

It’s now the Ber months. I hope He is right.

Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Baby Stuff, Family, Motherhood, Rants | Leave a comment

Yaya Left Us…

The good thing about raising in the Philippines is you can hire a stay-in babysitter who will take care of your children while you are at work. We call them Yayas.

In Manila, there are yayas for newborn babies, and yayas for toddlers. The price for newborn babies are higher than that for toddlers. Many yayas prefer to take care of newborn babies as they are easier to manage and are less makulit (mischievous).

Kaya ko namang magpuyat,” one yaya told us. “Ayaw ko lang ng salbahe or malikot.” 

Translation: It’s fine for her to be awake at night, taking care of the baby. She just doesn’t want a well-mannered or hyperactive kid.

The great thing about yayas are they are helpers. Meaning, they assist us so our children are well taken care of and safe while we bring home the bacon.

The bad thing about yayas is, because of their position of taking care of our children, they can hold the parents hostage if the babies grow up to be too dependent on their caregivers.

Many of my friends leave their babies to the yayas. It is the yayas who spend the most time with the baby, from the time they wake up, to the time they go to bed at night. It is not uncommon for the babies to sleep with the yayas so that the parents can get a good night sleep.

Here is a Singaporean ad that highlights how maids have taken over our children’s lives:

It’s mostly the parents’ fault but given the time our maids spend with our kids, they are bound to know our children’s ins and outs more than us.

Personally, I never thought of myself as a good mother. There are more hands-on mothers out there who are way better than me.

But I count myself lucky to 1) be able to bring my baby with me to work, and 2) have a lazier yaya who doesn’t mind when I take care of my child. If I do the work, then she can twiddle on her phone and Facebook her friends.

Hence, even though we have a yaya, our baby looks for me instead of the yaya. We don’t have a problem when yaya goes on her day off (which is twice a month), and baby is happy being carried by myself and my husband.

Then again, our baby is exclusively breastfed and co-sleeps with me, which is why she has remained independent of yaya despite yaya’s best intentions to make baby dependent on her.

Other parents aren’t so lucky (or unlucky)…

Without yaya, they are in tatters. Baby cries when the mother holds him, and it’s really difficult for the parents when yaya goes on a day-off because yaya is the primary caregiver.

It’s very common for parents to fight with the yaya. Mothers get protective of their babies and don’t like that their babies love the yayas more than them.

But what can you do?

If you leave your baby mostly to yaya, the baby will think of yaya as the primary caregiver.

Personally, I like it that my baby isn’t too dependent on our yaya.

On the downside, I have to bring her with me ALL the time. Even on business trips, I have to bring her with me. And anyone who’s brought babies anywhere know just how hard it is.

On the upside, when yaya leaves, there are no painful adjustments or tearful goodbyes.

My yaya has been with us since baby was born, and announced one day off the blue that she had to leave this week because she has to go home to the province.

That’s the problem with yayas — when they want to leave, no matter how illogical the reason, they will just leave you without any notice.

She announced to us last Tuesday morning that she had to go. Her 28-year old son was sick and her husband asked her to bring her son to Davao, where they’re from.

Then she left to Valenzuela to find her son.

On Wednesday, she came back for her things.

Everything went by all so fast.

poof.jpg

Yaya was gone.

Good for us, baby didn’t care.

And even better for us, we have a full network of agencies we can call to find a replacement.

By Tuesday afternoon, we hired a new yaya. On Wednesday morning, when yaya came to get her things, she was surprised on how fast we were able to find a replacement.

No tears, no goodbyes — just a change in yaya.

Of course, baby is still adjusting to the new yaya. Every style is different and it’s not easy for her too. Sometimes, I feel that she’s looking at me asking me who this new caregiver is. Often times, she wants me to hug and comfort her out of the blue.

But I am glad she looks for me, and not the yaya.

So in the end, all has ended well. Yaya is gone but it’s not the end of the world.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Give and Take

There has been a lot of giving and taking after I got married.

Husband is out now with wannabe entrepreneur good friend as they tinker with toys that will hopefully make them millions.

I’m at home blogging, waiting for him to get home so I can brush my teeth, take a shower and go to bed. Yaya is on her day-off so it’s perilous to leave a sleeping child on the bed alone while you shower. 

It makes me want to call him up and tell him to come back home already. I guess that while time flies when you’re having fun, time inevitably slows down when you’re waiting for husband to get home. 

But I think I’ll let him have his fun for a few more minutes.

I remember he didn’t really fuss when I went on my girl’s night out before. Even after showering, taking care of the baby and the baby screaming herself to sleep, husband manned up and didn’t bother me until I got home, satiated from catching up with my best friends.

He does spoil me sometimes. Today, he didn’t really make a fuss when I bought a bag even though I already have a lot of bags. It wasn’t cheap but it was nice, and he lets me have nice stuff once in a while.

He doesn’t complain when I ask him to take care of baby so I can relax a little bit. I babysat my daughter today in church (while he was working), and instead of listening to the sermon, I spent the good hour chasing after my crawling daughter as she tried the push car, came out of push car, went to slide, attempted to go up of slide, chose to go up four stairs to bang on the wall, munched on the plastic ball, tried to eat the string of dinosaur, go to push car again and then munched on ball, and then up the slide.

I kid you not.

I think I might have accompanied her to the push car 4x, the slide 3x, the stairs 2x, the ball 2x, banging the wall 3x, the other push toy 1x and then following her as she crawl around the freaking room 3x.

So taking care of baby is not easy work. And she’s less than a year old who still can’t walk!

I hear they get even more makulit as they get older…

Anyway, I digress. Point being, married is about give and take.

He gets his boys night out, and when he gets home, he is happy. A happy husband makes me happy. 

Sure, I don’t always get what I want but since time with his good friend is important to him, I should respect that and let him do it since he’s happy when he’s free from fatherhood, even if it’s just a few hours. 

The world doesn’t revolve around me anyways. When you’re married, it should be about the two of you, keeping a balance of give and take.


Have a good week everyone! It’s almost Monday again. Love you!

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I have never been Ms. Popular

I am your typical firstborn: arrogant, bossy and a know-it-all. 

As the only child, I felt that the world revolved around me. That didn’t last long. When my sibling was born, I felt he was a pest and only existed for me to learn how to “share” things which were supposed to be only mine in the first place. 

We used to fight over the pettiest things. Such as who sits in front (of the car), who gets to play with the toy first and whose instructions had to be followed all the time.

As the oldest, I learned how to boss him and everyone else around me around. I learned at a young age that the more authoritative and confident you sounded, the more you can get your way. Why argue with me when it’s just easier to give way?

I was pretty independent as a kid. My parents were mostly out doing business so I was left on my own with the cook and our maid. Hence, I had to take the school bus on my own and study on my own. I was one of those kids who sat in front, took great notes, and studied on her own without prodding.


That made me one of the more unpopular kids in school. 

And while I wasn’t really a teacher’s pet — I had to work for every grade I got and never received any favors — kids just don’t like the kid with thick glasses who seemed eager to please and studied.

I think the more chill you are and the less you studied, the more popular you got. That and excelling in sports. That gave you a lot of brownie points.

Consequently, you learn not to care too much of what other people think.

It goes both ways, people not liking you either breaks you down and you fall into depression. 

Or, it just makes you shrug your shoulders and just focus on studying. Why care too much about what other people thought? There’s no pleasing them anyways.

Damn if you do… And damn if you don’t. 

So, I became comfortable dancing in my own internal beat. I didn’t have a lot of friends. Remember, I wasn’t a popular kid. But I did maintain a best friend or two who occupied much of my time.

And I was fine with that.

I buried my head with books, my best friend and doing my best in school.

Consequently, when you care less about what other people think, you talk mostly taking what you think into consideration. 

Yes yes yes, I hear what you’re saying but… Was a familiar thought process for me.

Other people’s opinions mattered but my opinions matters too.

And that was unfortunately a recipe for arrogance. Or at least perceived arrogance.

It wasn’t my intention to sound arrogant, but it’s hard not to when you think you have a point. 

So aside from being a bossy, I sounded a lot more arrogant. A know-it-all. I spoke as if I didn’t care too much about what other people thought.

A double whammy.

But at the end of the day, I am aware of who I am. 

I will never win a popularity contest. 

I’m too much of a try-hard, wannabe overachiever who sits in front of the class and tries to listen hard to what the teacher is saying. 

I am used to classmates being annoyed because I take school, work and life too seriously. Loosen up! They would say…

I am Hermione Granger, Anne Hathaway and Reese Winterspoon rolled into one.


Except I don’t have best friends as great as Harry Potter, I’m not rich and famous, and I’m not an Oscar winning actress.

I am just a normal girl, trying her best to make sense of the world, who attempts to make an impact in the lives of my staff, my daughter and my family.

So if I am not as well liked, well, welcome to my world. 

Again, I have never been the popular kid. I don’t think I will ever turn out to be a popular adult.

But at the same time, I never really aspired to be generally liked anyway. I have always been a niche market, loved by a few, respected by those who have actually interacted with me, and tossed aside by many.

And that’s just fine by me.

And as my daughter, my firstborn, grows up, I think it’s important to teach her that while it’s important to be well liked and to please people, it’s more important to be herself and to accept who she is, annoying quirks and all.

Only then can you experience full freedom. Because in truth, you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.

Love you guys! Happy weekend!

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I’ve become one of those moms…

Welcome to my worst nightmare.

I have become one of those moms who…

…Post constant and annoying updates about their offspring. 

It has come to this: Almost all of my status updates on Facebook and Instagram are about my daughter. 

Whaaatt?! I simply find her cute and I want to record the moment for posterity. 

But I acknowledge the updates can be annoying. It’s just that life is hard and boring, and babies don’t remain cute for long, so yeah, shoot me.

Who bring their kids to restaurants and sometime in the middle of the meal, the baby fusses and makes some noise…

I have to eat too, and since I exclusively breastfeed, baby comes with us. 

Only those with babies can sympathize when you have to calm a fussing baby midway through the meal.

But yeah, parents with crying babies are always annoying. Can’t they just keep them at home?

But now, I’m one of them. 


Sorry restaurant patrons. I will just try my best to ignore your annoyed look and eat my meal quickly so we can go and you can have your peace.

…Who talk and brag about their kid all the time…

And what’s not to brag? Little kiddo could somehow walk at four months! And says “Daddadadadahhhdahhh” at 8 months!

Sure, two months advanced in terms of milestones is not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but yeah, I’ve morphed into my greatest nightmare, a doting mom who falsely believes her baby is overly cute, smart and charming.

Yes, I am aware that she’s probably not going to be an Olympic athlete, a charmismatic popstar or a future Elon Musk or Albert Einstein. In all probability, she should come out average. But I join gazillion of mothers who believe her kid is one of THOSE. Those people who make a mark in the world.

One can hope right? 🙂

Who spends more shopping on her kids….

I got tons of useless junk.

Onesies of different colors, many of which she’s already outgrown.

Educational wooden toys she won’t likely touch till she’s over two.

A baby helmet which she hates. We laugh anyway whenever she wears it.

Noise cancelling headphones for infants, like Baby Phelp’s, so as to ensure a more peaceful afternoon nap.

Expensive baby toys she’ll probably forget about once she reaches one.

Hundreds of children’s books even though she still can’t talk, let even read.

Yes, mothers are one of the most gullible buyers in the world. And I’m not the worst of the lot. And still, look at all the junk I’ve bought.

*big sigh*

Who unprofessionally brings her kid to work…

Yes, I am aware she is a distraction. And I used to get more shit done before she was born. I was on fire then.

But I can’t just leave her at home with the maid. Husband and I made a quiet pact to bring our baby everywhere with us, so here we are — with a crying baby in the afternoons, with a staff who is good enough to understand where we are coming from.

But yes, I know how unprofessional it is, and I know I’m one of the lucky few who can get away with it.

Who Join Mommy Groups and Actively Comment as if I’m the most doting mother in the world.

Shhhh… Actually, there are tons of better mothers than I am.

I just birthed my daughter and feed it. It’s actually my husband who deserves the Great Daddy award, thanks to the fact that there are a gazillions of better, hands on mommies out there, while most husbands usually stay in the background and let the women handle the baby.

But hubby changes the diapers and bathes our child. He plays with her so I can have some peace and quiet with the iPad. And when I’m too tired and dozes off to sleep, he makes sure baby is still alive and somehow will doze later safely in between us. 

So admittedly, I’m not a great mother in a way that my husband is an amazing father. 

But I still comment on mommy blogs. 

I talk about my experience with Babywearing, hiring nannies, dealing with pesky in-laws and how to not kill your child.
It’s a great community. 

To be honest, I enjoy browsing through the threads too. You learn a lot of useless stuff that may be useful later on such as how to care for sick children, how to tell your maid she has bad odor and how to arrange birthday parties for cheap.

They can be the most annoying and the sweetest. 

And I’ve become one of them. Sigh.

Who lets her baby do whatever she wants. Even though it may not be 100% safe or hygienic and may cause her to be spoiled later on.

Baby grabs my PC. Here, have a Stabilo highlighter to chew on…

It hasn’t been sterilized yet or wiped with alcohol but hey, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger!

She drops her cookie on the floor. You pick it up and give it to her again. Germs are fine and I just did clean the floor last Sunday.

Husband gives her iced tea. She is not allowed iced tea. I let him do it because a few drops of sweet tea will not cause long-term damage. I hope she doesn’t become obese when she grows up.

She co-sleeps with us every night. She sleeps soundly and wakes up in the morning when we wake. So much for me bragging that we will have her sleep in the crib and sleep train her.
Who cannot bear seeing her baby cry.

Babies can be the most manipulative little people. 

She cries and I pick her up. 

She stops crying. 

Now she cries whenever she sees me. 

And she is extra naughty when I am there. 

She is better behaved when she’s just with Yaya.

Hmmm… I think I missed a memo on how to discipline my child. I am a softie after all. 

Who will probably die for her kid.

I told my husband that in the case of a sinking ship, he should save me first before our offspring.

And if he can only save one, to save me.

Save me first,”  I said. “We can make another kid anyway.”
This was before I gave birth.

Now, the answer is still the same. But I think realisitically, if our little baby was taken away from us, we will be crushed.

Logically, we’ll still be fine, but realistically, I will be hit harder than my husband.

No parent should ever see their kid be buried before them,” people always say. 

I used to laugh at that. 

But that’s right.

Now that we have our little pea in our arms, now that we see her smile and cry and interact with us, how can we bear it?

How can we bear to lose her?


So in the end of the day, I’ve turned into a sucker too. I’ve turned into my worst nightmare: a mother who makes her kid her world and (still) find it cute despite the many annoying things that it does.

Who would’ve known?

Have a great week everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

My Pregnancy Journey

My mother-in-law asked me to not get pregnant until after our USA trip in November 2014.

We’re going to Universal Studios (in Florida),” she advised, “It would be a pity not to get on many of the rides just because you’re pregnant.”

Needless to say, immediately after going on our last wild amusement ride, she said, “Now, you can get pregnant.”

Uhhhhh… okay…They’re very matter-of-fact, my family.

I got pregnant in January 2015 without a hitch. I bought a pregnancy test and when it came positive, I found a box, and placed the positive test onto it and placed a ribbon on top of the box.

My husband’s birthday was also in January so what better birthday gift was it than to announce the news that he’s going to be a father!

We had a luxurious dinner at Vask in BGC to celebrate his birthday. The decor was so simple, and the food was so-so and tasted like the sea. But husband was ecstatic about the news, so it all balanced out.

But to make the experience worse, I promptly experienced LBM afterwards in the evening.

Three days later, I started to bleed profusely.

I bled for four whole days.

Chunks of blood… I was using heavy-duty pads the whole time.

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At first, I couldn’t believe it. “Maybe it’s just spotting,” I thought. But when it bled even more, I knew we lost the baby.

Till this day, I don’t know if it’s because of the semi-fresh food we ate at Vask.

The baby was not supposed to live,” my husband consoled me. “I cannot cry over a baby who’s not physically viable. There’s no relationship yet.”

But women who experienced a miscarriage can understand — no matter how small the baby is in your womb, you still feel emptiness inside. It’s a hollow feeling.

A feeling of loss.

I was sad when I found out the baby was gone. Even if I wasn’t that maternal, I still felt bad we lost our baby.

I went to a famous OB and he declared that yes, we have indeed lost the baby. But given that the baby was so small, there was no need to scrape me out, and we could just produce another one without any issues.

Come back to me after 3 or 4 months if you’re not pregnant,” he said. “Try doing it the natural way first.”

God was so good that after that bleeding caused by my miscarriage on January 2015, I didn’t bleed again.

That meant that after the bleeding, my uterus was clean and I got pregnant afterwards through normal means.

We couldn’t believe it — how could I get pregnant so quickly after a miscarriage?

That is why I cannot answer doctors when they asked me when the baby was conceived. After the baby was lost, another baby took its place, and we have little clue when it was conceived.

That’s Little Pea’s ultrasound at 10 weeks 3 days. Doesn’t she look like a little hamster in this photo? 🙂

Little Pea.jpg

Even with the good news, I was deathly afraid of losing this little one once again. If we lost a baby once, we could lose this one again.

But praise God, this baby was so strong. And ensured that my pregnancy was as smooth as can be.

When I was pregnant, I experienced ZERO nausea, morning sickness, or food cravings. Everything was as if I was NOT pregnant.

I carried on work as if I wasn’t pregnant and even went through rigorous mall visits. Sure, my appetite did increase a little — from half rice, my appetite can now cover 1 cup of rice — but aside from that, nothing really changed.

Everyone was afraid for me. They held me while I was going down the stairs, and held my arms as I walked briskly on water puddles.

But the baby, our Little Pea, was such a trooper.

For one, she was normal and healthy — I had to hold my breath while they did our prenatal congenital scan. Given that I’m in my mid-30s, there was always the risk of Down Syndrome, but literally praise God that she was okay.

Two, she was so strong and healthy that not only didn’t she bother me, but she kept on strong and held on even after subjecting her to many tests. For example, when I was 7 months pregnant on my birthday, I insisted on going to Corregidor Island on a boat.

I didn’t know that pregnant women should NOT ride on boats at the risk of miscarriage. It was very very ignorant of me. To top it off, there was a storm that weekend, and we were stuck in Corregidor Island for 5 days.

Hence, the water was choppy, and my mother was screaming at me for subjecting the baby to unnecessary danger and bringing her to an island where hundred of thousands of soldiers DIED.

Okay, so I forgot about that — as a Christian, I don’t believe in ghosts. Also, I believe that the Lord was watching over us all the time.

In the end, all my mother’s fears were for naught, and we got home safe with the baby still intact.

As I’ve said, with this baby, everything went smoothly.

The only thing that bothered me was that I had to eat an extra snack in the afternoon, and some days of sleepiness when I just had to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon.

At the 6th month, my hands experienced some tingling and I felt my arms and hands cramped, especially on my right side.

On my 7th to 8th month, my feet started getting swollen and pimply and irritating. My feet ballooned and became really ugly. I had to wear my loose Crocs just to get anywhere.

Here’s an ugly photo of my feet for posterity — sorry about that.

ugly feet.jpg

But overall, I was very lucky.

Aside from my cramped hands and ugly feet, everything was normal and I was still working hard up to the day of my delivery in December 2016.

So it’s true what they say, “When God opens the door, He opens a window.”

Our first baby left us to some sorry, but I think he/she prepared the way for our Little Pea. If our first baby lived, he/she may have some sort of birth defect. It was that our first baby was not strong enough to survive.

But our Little Pea was such a trooper from Day 1. She truly is a blessing from God. And as we look at her today, more advanced than her age and hitting all her milestones correctly, we cannot help but praise the Lord for His great plans for us.

So as I go back to sleep, I thank Him. Thank Him for giving me more than what I deserve. For giving me my lovely husband and our little girl.

Even in tragedy, the Lord reveals His great plans to us. And for this, I am very grateful.

What more can a mom ask for?

Posted in Baby Stuff, Motherhood, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Don’t Get Pregnant When You’re Not Yet Ready

Since I’m in the topic of motherhood, I’d like to talk about the rampancy of unwed single mothers in the Philippines.

To place it in context, I work in a business that hires a lot of women. Since our products cater to women, we hire more women because they’re the best gender to sell to our target market.

I love hiring women — they are usually more detail-oriented, more serious at work, tolerant, and despite their issues, still serve mostly with a smile. They can also handle criticism better, and usually are less argumentative when it comes to work.

At the same time, women have more self-confidence issues. They think lower about themselves, and are victims of philandering husbands and live-in partners, or abusive boyfriends. They seem to grab on whatever small bone of happiness their partner throws at them, even though it’s less than what they deserve.

They are also more responsible and take on the issues of the family when their family members or partners fail. Many are breadwinners and carry the family’s financial burden. Which is a lot especially when you’re taking care of your parents, your siblings and a few of your children from various fathers.

What’s worse, they hold the burden of supporting sick family members.Since many of them have to check in their family members at public hospitals, they as the responsible ones are forced to be the ones to leave their jobs and care for the ill patient.

So there are pros and cons to hiring women in the Philippines.

Pros is that they are better suited for the job offered, mentally and physically. While the con is that, when family and money problem arise, it affects them and their work, and ultimately, force them to leave their jobs, causing my business a lot of cases of AWOL (Absence Without Leave)

And you have to give it to the women —

In 2008, 37% of the 1.8 million babies born in the Philippines were from unwed mothers according to the National Statistics Office. This is an increase of 12% from 2007.

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In a 2013 demographic survey, 10% of women from ages 15 to 19 are already pregnant with their FIRST child. Eight percent are already mothers while 2% are pregnant.

I for one only have to look at all the women who come in to interview. I listen to their stories and inwardly cry at their naivete and stupidity. Of allowing men to get them get pregnant without both being financially ready.

Personally, I don’t judge single mothers. My heart bleeds for them. As a mother who is lucky enough to have a helpful husband, I cannot imagine just how much harder it is to raise a kid on your own.

Case in point, two of my office staff are single mothers.

single mothers.jpg

My older supervisor is married with two beautiful daughters, but is separated from her husband who has a second family.

They all carry the burdens of raising their families, half expecting some half-hearted support from the fathers, but realistically paying for their and their kid’s daily needs from their own pockets.

Today, my supervisor told me that one of her staff Jenny was missing from the store for more than the allotted hour.

When asked where she went, she said that she had to fix some money issues because she’s already spent all of the money she received from her wages last Saturday (Today is Wednesday). And because she spent all of her money already, she couldn’t pay their utility bill and their electricity got cut off.

I told the supervisor to closely monitor the staff in the next few days. Her work has indeed been affected due to her personal problems and historically, staff who couldn’t budget and are constantly running out of money usually fall into the temptation of AWOL and theft. Because of her money problems, I doubt that Jenny will stay longer with us.

So why not increase their salaries then?

Some critics tell me that the easiest solution to help all these women is to increase their salaries. If you give them more, then they would need less, and you can pat yourself in the back knowing that you’ve helped.

Anyway, why not give more to your staff instead of enriching yourselves? Wouldn’t that be the more socially responsible thing to do?

I’m sorry, but people who use this reasoning, do not understand. They give many helpful advice without thinking the problem through, and understanding the consequences.

Business is all about balance — balance in paying your suppliers (for your goods), your people (for your operation), receiving money from your customers (as revenue), and rewarding yourself for the trouble and capital you put the money in.

You cannot overpay one at the risk of another, and if the trouble is too much for me, I’d rather just close shop and enjoy peace and quiet with my capital earning minimal cash in the bank, which is just fine.

And to debunk the argument of paying your people more, actually, that’s NOT TRUE.

Paying your people more is not the answer. It’s paying DESERVING people more.

That is the reason why our business operates in a basic pay + high commission, so as to spread the love and profits to staff who sell better and more consistently. And for our regular staff, we offer them a generous performance bonus that genuinely reflects the effort they’ve given the entire year.

It’s not about increasing people’s salaries. To do so is to invite lazy, ignorant and ungrateful staff into your fold. It’s about increasing people’s salaries IF THEY’VE EARNED IT.

That way, good staff comes to your fold. Because they know that if they work hard and perform well, they will be amply rewarded for their efforts.

And even if you increase salaries, it’s never enough. If a woman cannot budget her money, even doubling her salary is a mere temporary band-aid to the problem. She will still have money problems despite her salary increase.

Case in point, one of my supervisors who is no longer with us. Despite earning 50% more than her subordinates, she still borrows from them! Why? Because she is financially irresponsible, supporting a lazy husband, a teenage daughter with a baby, and a few more children.

So I don’t think it’s about raising the salaries. Instead, it’s about being responsible, and looking at the long-term.

And, it’s also about protecting yourselves from pregnancy and not having babies when you’re not ready for them!

Now I love babies. I have one so I have to love ’em. But they sure are expensive.

babies.jpg

It’s like a cash register — every day is a Ka-Ching!

When they were born, Ka-Ching on hospital bills!

When you take them home, Ka-Ching on diapers! Php 8-10 per piece and you have to change them 8x-10x per day! I think we finished more than four boxes already…

Ka-Ching on vaccinations!

Ka-Ching on Onesies, Swaddles, and Clothes!

Ka-Ching on their food! Thank goodness I breastfeed so I save up on milk expense, but seriously, Ka-Ching!

Ka-Ching on breastmilk pumping materials!

Ka-Ching, ka-ching, ka-ching…!

So babies are expensive. My baby is expensive. As a first-time mother, I spend more money on her, than for me.

And I will continue spending until she comes home for her first paycheck… when she’s around 21 years old!

Ka-Ching, ka-ching, ka-ching…!

And I’m one of the luckier ones.

I am in my mid-30s, married, with a relatively stable job and two supportive households who will be there to bail us out in case we run into money problems.

While we aren’t super rich, we have many of life’s comforts. I can buy my kid unnecessary toys just because I want to, and I don’t need to check my account to see if we can afford it or not.

With regards to the others… well, that’s a different story.

They are pregnant at a younger age, with multiple children when they reach their mid-20s, and don’t have the stable support of a husband. They are usually unmarried, and by the time they’re in their 30s, they may already have a different partner.

Which is why I am pro-contraceptive. Why I believe in protecting yourself in unwanted pregnancy.

If you’re going to do it, be safe and be protected. And not fall in the trap of raising a family earlier than necessary.

So that’s my thoughts on solving poverty — Have sex responsibly. Use protection. Don’t get pregnant unless you’re in a stable relationship, hopefully married, and have a stable job to raise your kid properly.

Rant over. Have a good week ahead!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Baby Stuff, Boyfriend, Family Drama, Filipino Men/Women, Updates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

One of the Most Tiring Things about Being a Mother…

…is to be the recipient of so many “helpful” advice.

I kid you not.

Ever since I became a mother, I had to wrap my head around well-meaning advice givers who seem to know better how to raise my child.

One well-wisher said it’s better to bathe the child at night so as to make her sleep better. “There has to be a nighttime routine,” she said. “So you bathe her, sing to her, then tuck her to bed.”

Bedtime-Routine

Another well-wisher said NOT to give the child a bathe in night. “Baka ma-pasma,” she said. Pasma is a Filipino term for exhaustion brought about by introducing water to a tired body.

One mother said not to vaccinate her kid. “I heard vaccinations is caused to autism,” she said.

Another mother said you MUST vaccinate your kid.

One well-wisher said that our caretaker/yaya must alcohol her hands and wear a face mask so as to ensure a clean living environment to our kid.

Another well-wisher said it’s best to expose our baby to germs early on as to build up her immunity.

My aunt says to ignore the child as she cries because it teaches her independence and stops her from being too spoiled.

Another mother said it’s best to hug the child and console it immediately upon crying so as to build her confidence and to show her she is loved.

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Seriously, to all parents who have children, how do you cope with all the know-it-alls in the world?!

To be honest, husband and I are bad parents.

Husband teases and abuses our baby like there’s no tomorrow, pinching her cheeks and kissing her hard, just because he can’t help herself.

When she falls down and cries, he laughs are her clumsiness. He finds humor in her hardship.

He has no qualms leaving her be, sometimes to her detriment, because she sometimes bump her head on the cabinet on the floor.

I’ve had many accidents when I was a baby and am still okay,” he defensively said. “It’s a kid. And they’re not as fragile as you think.”

I’m no better.

I for the other have never changed a soiled diaper yet. Nor have I ever bathed my own child. I leave that dirty job to my darling husband and the nanny.

And while I bring my baby to work and keep a watchful eye on her, I also work in the daytime, leaving my baby mostly to my nanny’s care. I only go to her when she’s really making a fuss and needs me.

To be honest, our daughter is a very considerate baby despite her parents’ weaknesses.

She knows that day time is work time and is usually quite docile, napping for short periods and playing with her toys. And at night, she sleeps through the night so as to ensure we all get a good night’s sleep.

And to many people’s shock and horror, we have a laissez-faire attitude in child rearing. Stuff that many mothers stop their babies from doing, we’re fine with it.

For example, we don’t sanitize everything that our daughter puts in her mouth. We tried initially, but there were too many things to sanitize. In the end, we thought, “A little germs won’t kill her.”

So just imagine what our daughter likes to put in her mouth — bottle caps, staplers, highlighters, and closed capped pens. She even likes to nibble on her Graco crib, which is not the most clean item in the world.

My husband also lets her play by herself while he takes a bath. He places her on a padded mat and let her explore. Sometimes she bumps her head, but we thank our lucky stars, the damage isn’t serious. Then baby gets smarter and becomes more careful.

We also have a relaxed attitude when it comes to feeding.

My husband feeds our baby iced tea as a reward, though we mostly stick to water. We give her congee, rice and pasta, but if we don’t follow the normal recipes other parents follow, it’s fine. Baby has breastmilk to fall back on anyway.

At the end of the baby, we remind ourselves that she is OUR baby anyway, and we do have the right to take care and raise her however we want.

This has served us very well.The trick is to NOT be bothered when people tell you how to best raise your kids.

Despite so many naysayers in the world, we realize that we can always accept the advice we like and ignore the rest.

For us, so long as you love your daughter and try to raise her the best way you can, even though you make a few mistakes here and there, the baby will still be fine.

And she is.

Baby is fat, cute and inline to hitting all of her milestones.

She smiles and reaches out to us when we go near her, which means she loves us and forgets about all the little mistakes we’ve done to her.

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She cries when she don’t see her mother, and there’s no better feeling in the world knowing that despite your many weaknesses, you’re still #1 in the heart of your child.

So to all naysayers, thank you for your advice. We appreciate it and accept it.

We will follow it when it makes sense, and forget about it when not.

And when it gets too irritating, I just look at my baby and smile.

You’re mine,” I would say. “And I will raise you in any way I want.”

And then hug her with love. 🙂

Have a good week everyone!

 

 

Posted in Baby Stuff, First Experiences, Parenthood, Updates | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Problem with Being a Former Expat in the Philippines

I’ve lived overseas for almost 10 years before coming back home.

There was a time I moved from Hong Kong to London, from London to Hong Kong then back to the Philippines in a span of four months, with luggage in tow.

Moving is depressing. It takes a lot of work, and there’s a sense of restlessness in knowing that the work’s not done until the last box/luggage has been unpacked and tidied up.

It’s very exciting though — the expat life.

Where you’re always the foreigner, and you can act like a foreigner because you’re not local. So some rules don’t relate to you and locals are kind enough to understand.

Where locals treat you like an oddity, and it’s so easy to make friends because you’re just so intriguing.

Where fellow expats find a sense of connection to you, and it’s great to wallow in that expat community where it’s all about parties, adventures, and fun fun fun.

Where you don’t think about tomorrow because today is already wonderful, and you’re busy living in the moment.

And where you feel that the world’s your oyster, and there are no boundaries to where you can go.

Now, with a baby and husband in tow, traveling now seems to be a luxury. But I remember when I was in Taipei, I would just call my travel agent, pick a region, book my tickets and just GO.

So a big problem of an ex-expat is nostalgia.

Where you remember the good ol’ days until your nice husband shakes you awake and tells you that was five years ago, and since we’re now living in the Philippines, I should focus on living and enjoying the Philippines.

Where you feel that the rules that you followed as an expat still applies to you back home. When you catch yourself saying, “That wouldn’t happen in (insert country where you lived here)!” and then remind yourself that you’re no longer in that country, and you just have to live with that.

Where you meet again friends who visit you in Manila, friends with whom you spent countless of hours having so much fun, only to find out that both of you have matured and no longer don the free life, and it’s no longer the same.

Where you remind yourself that being an ex-expat does NOT make you better than a local, and if ever you’re stupid enough to show your arrogant I’m-better-than-you-because-I’ve-lived-overseas, Filipinos will have no shame in reminding you that you’re just the same as them because NOW, you live in Manila with everything that comes with it.

Where you thought of all the money you used to make, money that you splurged on luxury bags and expensive far-off trips. And then you look at your current salary and then cry.

Yup, the biggest problem of being an ex-expat is NOSTALGIA.

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Where you remember the good ol’ days, and think of what could’ve been.

On how lovely it is to live in a developed country where everything JUST WORKS.

Then, you realize to yourself — there was a reason why you chose to leave. Why you chose to come back, and why you chose to stay.

Yes, at times, especially when I feel especially poor, I am nostalgic about the past.

But as I look at my family, and our small little business, and the people who entrust their livelihoods with us, even though I am poorer here than overseas, my heart swells and I feel blessed and lucky.

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And as I look around where I live, with all the traffic issues/corruption/disarray, I realize that no country is perfect but this is a country that I call home.

Because when I lived overseas, I was still the lao wai and the foreigner, and despite learning the language and adopting their habits, I am still different and I can never be “local” enough for the locals.

I think the problem of being an ex-expat lies on mind of the ex-expats.

It’s okay to miss the life that you’ve had… the life that could’ve been only if you did not leave.

But to regret is another thing.

I for one, thank the Lord, have no regrets.

I was able to spend time with my sick father before he passed away. It was a year, but I wouldn’t exchange that year for the world.

I was able to meet my husband, and changed his life for the better.

I am able to spend time with my healthy senior citizen mother while she is still alive. And to bring her joy via my child, who grows lovelier every day.

And I was able to find myself. I discovered what type of woman and wife I really was, and what type of boss I was.

I think if I stayed overseas, I would not have that. Because I would be so preoccupied with being an expat, I wouldn’t have much time to live as a local.

So yes, I am a former expat and proud of it. And I have made my choice and I am proud of it. And to those who are still deciding, good luck to you too!

But let this be an encouraging post to show that no matter what you choose, both are good choices.

Just make the choice you can live with.

Have a good week everyone!

 

 

Posted in Advice, Life lessons, Updates | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Motherhood Changed Me…

I remember going back from the hospital after giving birth to our baby girl.

It was such an overwhelming moment.

You feel awash with a sense of responsibility. That it’s no longer about you anymore. That it’s now about HER.

To be honest, parenthood does not change you as much as it actually reveals what you are more capable of.

For example, I didn’t know that I was capable of loving another person. Sorry but I will be the first to admit that I am innately selfish and for the first time, I am obliged to care for another person.

Case in point, even if she’s only a few months old, I am already worrying and planning for her future. Ever heard of Estate Planning? Even if Husband and I have little estate for the moment, I am already mentally readying our estate for her.

 

 

 

 

Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think motherhood changed me as much. I love my daughter a lot and I do miss her, and I have a fuzzy feeling whenever I think of her. But yeah, am not super duper maternal.

So yeah, am still the same person except for the fact we now have a baby and her yaya tagging along with us wherever I go since I’m exclusively breastfeeding.

However, I think fatherhood revealed a lot more to me about my husband.

He is a wonderful father, full stop.

I kid you not — from the time Pea was born, husband has taken over diaper duties, bath duties, and in many times the night, play duties.

It’s more than any woman/wife can ask.

I am not embarrassed to admit it: Since Pea was born, I have yet to change a SOILED diaper. I have changed a wet diaper, but never a soiled one. Husband always comes to the rescue.

Husband is super dad.

Super-Dad

And aside from being an awesome father, he still remains a great husband.

Yesterday for example, he bought us midnight snack from Jollibee — palabok and sour cream fries, my favorite.

So I think the lesson is: When you get married, find a man who can be a good father.

It makes life a lot easier, because babies truly is a big responsibility which is too heavy to carry if you’re alone.

So for me, I feel blessed and undeserving to have my lovely daughter and my amazing husband… and I feel in awe of the many single mothers who’s winging it and making life great for themselves and their kids.

They are way better than I am.

Sure, I can work and earn money, but hat’s off to them for being able to balance parenthood and making a living without help.

As for me, even though am Mrs. Tough Girl, motherhood revealed to me that I am weak without my husband. That he makes life easier for our family. That without him, I have to do everything, and wow… just wow.

He has been our rock —

So yeah, motherhood has changed me.

Before, I thought I can do anything.

But actually, I am not that tough after all.

And I realized that, only after having our baby.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in Baby Stuff, Parenthood, Relationships, Updates | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

All Failed Relationships Lead You to the Right One

The first guy I dated worked as a waiter, became a restaurant cook and ended up to be a holistic masseuse in Japan. He was a high school graduate who felt he was inferior against college graduates because they have a degree and he doesn’t.

Why didn’t you get a college degree?” I asked.

I wanted to work,” he said. “It made better sense for me to work and earn money than to waste more money going to university.”

He was what you called a failed soccer player. Back in high school, he was a good enough soccer player that they sent him to Brazil to train for soccer. Unfortunately, an injury put a quick end to that career.

So he was in Taiwan with me learning Mandarin. On the side, he was a waiter and helped out in the kitchen at a friend’s restaurant.

In other words, he was not very well off. But given that I was head over heels in love with him and 22 years old, that never really mattered to him. I comforted myself with the fact that I could be the family’s breadwinner because given my training and education, I can make money for us.

But men don’t like to be outshined by their partners and he was no different.

While he did look up to me, he also unconsciously put me down. Having a college degree was not important, and if we got married, education will also not be a priority with our children.

After awhile, the relationship ran its course and we broke up in our one-year anniversary.

We were different in many ways — culturally, socio-economically, and everything else. Only love kept us together, and when the love candle dwindled, we finally didn’t have many things in common.

I remember he would spend his rest days drinking sake with friends, making tambay.

That was not really me.

I loved to travel, discover new restaurants, talk to different people of various nationalities. In short, we were incompatible.

So of course, while I was hurt we broke up, I was glad as well. I realized that it was important to be with someone who shared the same background as you do. That while too many commonalities made someone boring (I mean, would you marry yourself), if you’re too different culturally and socio-economically, that’s a problem as well.

Relationships are hard enough already. Why complicate it further if you can choose it?

It was then I realized the value of choosing someone who has a similar background and culture as you. And language is also important – you must have the same mother tongue.

Do you know how hard it was to argue in Mandarin?

Yeah, I guessed. 

The second relationship I had was with a recent divorced man with whom I had a 18-year age gap.

I was 25, and he was 43 years old, but looked 35.

Nobody could imagine he was 43… not until they saw his ID.

He was American-born Chinese, mature in the ways of the world, and loved the finer things in life. He made me feel like a princess, and whisked me one time to Hong Kong just to eat at the Mandarin Grill.

After eating instant noodle with Guy#1 and saving money all the time, that was nice.

I realized that while love works, it was important to be comfortable, and you have to have enough money so as to NOT worry about money.

Again, relationships are hard enough as they are already, but if you have to fight about money, your relationship won’t even stand a chance.

And before you condemn me for going out with someone who’s old enough to be my dad, we did ultimately broke up.

Turned out despite his age, he was a sweet mommy’s boy and his mother didn’t approve of him dating someone who was 18 years younger than him (Then again, who can blame her). What’s worse, divorce does something to a man.

Because of that relationship, I had a new rule: DO NOT date any guy who just broke up with a serious long-term girlfriend/wife.

These men have issues, and you’re the sap who have to listen to him to sort out those issues.

Every moment, every instance, is a reminder of his ex.

So yeah, from that time on, I never dated anyone who broke up with a serious girlfriend… not until I know he’s 1000% over her. This usually takes 2 years of playing around.

From the next guy I dated, I learned the value of dating emotionally available men. If the guy is not that gung ho about you, NEXT!

I remember moving to Hong Kong, a new city for me at that time, and waiting for him to call. He was from Singapore and we were in a long-distance relationship. It was Christmas and cold and 2008 so people were getting sacked from their jobs. It was depressing and lonely for me.

No call — he called me in New Year’s and we broke up then.

Or shall we say, I broke up with him. I cried afterwards but it was empowering for me. If it’s not working, gather up the courage to break up than to drag a relationship nowhere.

As a result, I wasted only a few months. And learned a good lesson.

Worth it!

worthit.jpg

 

Given all the lessons I’ve learned through the years, my next boyfriend came from the same culture, had a good analytical job, was about the same age, did not break up with someone recently and was emotionally available.

In other words, in paper — I hit the jackpot! What’s not to like?

He was also very very nice to me.

He was sweet and given we were in a long-distance relationship, with him from Singapore and me in Hong Kong, we Skyped every day and saw each other every month. Thank goodness for cheap fair of AirAsia and other budget airlines.

But to be honest, he was so good to me that I found him to be boring. Regrettably, I was a bit of a bitch to him, because I wanted to see the extent on how patient he was.

I tested his patience and pushed his buttons. I was a brat. And deluded myself into thinking that I was worth it and hence, if he wanted me, he had to work to get me.

On that relationship, I learned not to be a bitch to your partner. And to give and take. If you take too much advantage, you will get dumped.

And I did get dumped. Rightfully so.

Although arguably, he dumped me because he already found a replacement (they officially announced they were a couple in Facebook exactly 30 days after we broke up, those creeps), it taught me to value my relationship and to treat my boyfriend as I wanted to be treated.

It also taught me the importance of finding someone you won’t be bored with.

I was so bored in my last relationship. He was boring. But he was nice, so I stuck around.

I remembered watching my brother with envy as he talked animatedly to his then new girlfriend. They talked about everything and anything. And they seemed to really enjoy their time together.

I looked at my relationship and felt empty. Our conversations were constrained and I couldn’t find in my heart the same animatedness that my brother had with his girlfriend. We talked the same language and loved the same things, but for some reason, didn’t enjoy each other’s company too much.

Sure, he was good in paper and I was good in paper but we were also not right for each other. If we got married, we would’ve settled for each other. And that’s not right.

I remembered looking at him as he arrived the Airport Express, and couldn’t muster the excitement to greet him. He was there sure, and that was nice… but that was it.

Nice.

bored.jpg

So I learned another lesson: When choosing a partner, choose someone who excites you. Someone you can’t wait to talk to. Someone you’d like to see everyday. Someone whom you will miss, and someone whom you can see tomorrow and forever with.

I honestly thought finding the right relationship was bullshit.

That love stories were concocted by lonely women who project their wants and dreams in paper. That rom-coms are there for us to make money for Hollywood executives. That true love is an impossibility. That it doesn’t exist. And so, why waste time in things that don’t exist? Just focus on being happy single.

And I was happily single.

Until I met my now husband.

I realized after I met him that all my other relationships — all my failed relationships — opened the pathway for me to realize that my husband was the One for me.

From my first relationship, I learned the importance of finding someone who is culturally and socio-economically suitable. And not to judge someone just because they wear shorts and t-shirts on a daily basis.

From my second relationship, I learned to give divorced guys a chance. That it was not a taboo as most people in the Philippines think it is. And to find someone who can feed you, because worrying about money is a bitch.

From my third relationship, I learned that the guy has to be emotionally available and ready for a relationship with you. With husband, I never had to chase after him and ask him to be mine. He did the right moves and made sure I knew he wanted something serious and long-term once he was ready. Which was before I was ready, so that’s good!

From my last relationship, I learned you have to enjoy your partner. His company, his stories, and the way he thinks. It’s important that you share the same beliefs and values, otherwise, you’d constantly ask yourself, “Why do you think that way?” You have to have the same mindset.

Oh, and I also learned not to be a bitch in a relationship.

Yes, that’s very important.

So it’s easy to say it now, but I will say it because I believe it is true — for me, every single one of my relationships readied me for the One for me.

Yes, they took years and many lessons were painful for me. My heart and ego took a beating but they transformed me to a better person who was ready for my now husband. When we met each other, I was a nicer, better girlfriend because of everything I went through. And because I was one of the more amazing women he’d ever met, he married me.

So it’s true — for those who are married, kudos to you. I hope you didn’t settle, and I hope you are happy with your choice.

And for those who are single, think about what I said. Look at your past relationships and see how much they’ve changed you. Thank the Lord for all the lessons and take them to heart.

Then open your eyes and never lose hope. My mistakes let me to my husband. I hope yours will also do the same.

So let me know what other lessons you’ve learned in your past relationships. Once agian, comments welcome below. 🙂

Posted in Advice, Boyfriend, Conflicts, Dates, Favorite Posts, Life lessons, lovelife, Marriage, Men, Personal opinion, Reflections, Relationships, Updates | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do you know you’ve found the Right One?

Answer: “You just know.”

And before you strangle me for giving you a typical B.S. answer, let me implore you to think more about how deep that answer is.

First, majority of people who’ve found The One say it, and say it often. They agree with this statement 1000%.

Everyone doubts when an answer is too simple. How can something as complicated as love be answered that simply?

But yes, it’s true — if it’s the One, there will come a point in that relationship when you just know.

My husband knew I was the One when I didn’t abandon him at his darkest moment.

He was sitting inside a jail cell crying his heart out thinking I would leave him for what he did, and I stuck around.

I knew Husband was the One after he quit porn and drinking.

This belief was further reinforced a week before our wedding day when he agreed to take care of the giveaways. There he was mechanically arranging our souvenirs while watching TV. That moment, I thought, “I’m glad I’m with someone who can handle things. “

A few days later, he helped me glue sparkly beads on my wedding dress.

That did it for me.

Sticking sparkly beads to a wedding dress may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but it was to me.

Just imagine the scenario, there I was regretting why I even started gluing sparkly things to my wedding dress. I’ve already started and I had to finish the whole darn thing, and I was only 20% done and the wedding was 5 days away.

It was very frustrating for me that I am still not even half-way done, and it has to be done, and nobody is helping me. And I cannot get anyone to help me because it was my dress, and I had to finish it on my own.

And since husband finished his job, which was taking care of the souvenirs, I couldn’t ask him to help me with MY job, which I wanted to do in the first place.

My now husband felt so sorry for me he took another stick of glue and helped me with my dress.

There we were at the living room, gluing stick beads to a big flowing wedding dress. Working together as a team.

Husband of course did most of the work. I was slower than him, or he had better glue. But the most important thing was, we finished it in 2 days.

That did it for me — that was the day, I knew Husband was the One.

3 days before the wedding.

And I never looked back ever since.

When you know.jpg

During my wedding day, all the doubts and fears were gone… only excitement. It was honestly one of the happier days in my life, and all I can feel was LOVE.

Love from my family, love from our friends, and of course, love from my husband. There was a lot of love that day.

I think it’s okay to have doubts in a relationship.

To tell you the truth, I doubted my relationship with now husband all throughout. I thought in many points of our relationship, we were going to break up. It was truly because of God’s grace and approval that we are here today.

When I said “Yes” to my husband’s proposal, I also had doubts. But I said yes anyway. Because it’s better to say yes when you are not sure, than to say no and then regret it.

But I can tell you for sure — on my wedding day, I was SURE.

I was 1000% sure that this is God’s BEST for me. That my husband was the right person for me. And I was so happy that I found him.

So to answer the question, How do you know if the man or woman you’re dating is the Right One?

My answer is, like many happily married couples out there is YOU JUST KNOW.

And while I agree that the timing differs with everyone – you’d never really know when knowing will hit you – I think everyone will agree that you have until your wedding day to figure it out.

As the door opens and you walk down the aisle, your heart must be at peace, and your eyes only for him.

017-bride-entering-church.jpg

There must be no doubt, no stress in your heart that the Right person is the one standing in front of you.

Otherwise, RUN.

Run my friend, RUN. Don’t get married just because he asked you.

Don’t get married if you do not know.

Marry the man/woman you know in your heart is the Right One.

And you have until your wedding day to be sure about it.

I was sure on my wedding day. Are you?

Comments below appreciated.

Posted in Advice, Favorite Posts, First Days of Marriage, Husband, lovelife, Marriage, Personal opinion, Reflections, Relationships, Updates | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Separation Anxiety

I think God made babies so cute and so helpless, so you have no choice but to take care of them.

My baby is now almost 7 months old, and is entering her separation anxiety stage.

separation_anxiety_solutions

According to BabyCentre, separation anxiety is a real thing:

Babies can show signs of separation anxiety as early as 6 or 7 months, but the crisis age for most babies peaks between 10 to 18 months. Most commonly, separation anxiety strikes when you – or your partner – leave your child to go to work or run an errand.

In actuality, that means that whenever we leave her, our baby makes a fuss and cries. She’s usually fine after we leave — we have good caretakers anyway — but there’s nothing more efficient in giving me mommy guilt than to have your child cry every time you leave.

Which makes it an issue when we do business.

As much as it’s fun and cute, it’s also embarrassing and unprofessional when you lug your baby along with you wherever you go.

And we do bring her along wherever we go.

Because we are in retail, I’ve brought our baby since she was 3 months old to store visits.

To date, she’s been in over 20 malls, even as far as Subic, Batangas and Cavite. When we do store visits, we would go to 6 malls in a span of a day. By the 5th or 6th mall, you can see she’s a bit tired, which is why I leave her in the car with yaya with the aircon opened.

But what about bacteria or illness?!” some mothers will criticize. “You don’t bring babies out until their 6th month because they’re not vaccinated yet.”

Well, tough. Our baby’s been out since she was a month old, and she’s fine.

Sure, there had been sniffles here and there, and sometimes, there’s that cold that wouldn’t go away, but so far, we’ve been blessed that our baby has been spared of the more serious sickness like fever.

We’ve also brought her along car shows and a toy convention and she’s come out unscathed by the entire experience.

To be honest, I think all that exposure has only made our baby stronger, healthier and more socialized. She’s okay with loud sounds and a LOT of people. And with regards to overstimulation, I think she’s been overstimulated since Month 1, and so far, she’s okay. In fact, the pedia tells us our baby is quite advance for her age.

But despite our best efforts, it’s still not enough.

Our business has slowed down because of baby.

Unlike before, we can’t just book our tickets at a drop of the hat and then go abroad to buy new inventory. Till now, we are still thinking how we’re going to get away to going to an International Trade Show in November in Hong Kong. Should we or should we not bring baby along with us? Hmmmm….

We can bring my mom to babysit,” I murmured.

Sigh, then we’d have to babysit YOUR mom too!” husband retorts.

It’s not easy. While baby has separation anxiety, we also have parental guilt of leaving her behind.

Last night, I left her at home to deliver something to hubby. I was gone for an hour, and for the time I was gone, she cried.

Sigh.

Yes, a baby makes for slower, less efficient days.

And honestly, our business has suffered from it. Last year, we opened around 8 branches. This year, we’ve only opened one, and closing another.

But what can we do?

A baby will really slow you down. You have to take into account what your baby needs and slow down.

You can’t speed along like before.

You have to make sure her diaper bag is prepared, she’s well rested and everything is convenient before you go go go. Unlike before where I can take a public bus to the store, I have to book a driver for store visits if baby comes along.

It is worth it though.

And when I look at my baby’s eyes when I nurse her at night, I tell her thank you. Thank you for tolerating mommy’s crazy schedule. For going to work with mommy. For being a trooper for it.

And then I tell myself, I’m doing my best. And I’m doing a great job as a mother.

Foolish words? Maybe. But again, what can I do?

A baby changes your life. A baby changes you.

So the best you can do as a mother, and as a parent, is to do your best and carry on.

Have a good week ahead!

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When you’re pissed and you know it, write a post

Someone set an appointment for which I had to go to Makati for.

Anyone who understands the traffic condition in Manila knows that to get anywhere, you have to allocate at least two hours of travel time.

Consequently, I had to cancel my morning meetings to accommodate this request.

The person didn’t show up.

And shot me a last minute email about it.

No text, no apologies, no nothing.

At first, I was pissed.


Decent people do not do that. If you have an appointment, you keep it. If you can’t make it, then inform us earlier.

But I realize not everyone is like me. And it’s difficult for me to project my values to everyone. Doing so welcomes disappointment. Because people don’t act the way I expect them to.

So breathe it and out. Relax. Don’t be too mad and carry on.

Anyway, life is too short as it is. Getting mad helps no one. It’s just a waste of energy.

That’s why, I am writing this post. If I cannot scream and shout and be pissed, at least I have another outlet to release those negative energies on.

Thank you blog. And thank you readers for being my outlet.

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Updates: I am NOT HIV Positive

Sorry, I had to place it as a title to get the facts correct.

Husband and I took the test again, and the tests came out NEGATIVE. Basis was a home-test which we ordered from the USA.

We again subjected ourselves to the Department of Health’s more thorough testing and the results are still negative.

So I guess that’s that: We don’t have HIV.

But I have to say that was the most scared three days we’ve ever been in our lives.

And apologies if I have to curse the testing center that erroneously gave us a false positive: *#$(@&38#$^&#)@#

The testing center said maybe it was because I was pregnant. So my hormones were out of whack.

Sorry, but the other results were clear as day: the numbers do not lie. I am not HIV positive.

So baby is now being exclusively breastfed and she is fat and healthy. She’s almost 7 months old now and we couldn’t be happier.

More posts coming soon now I have my blog back. WordPress was acting up and I couldn’t update. Now I can so welcome back! More posts coming!

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Being HIV Reactive

I have been debating whether I should share this to all of you.

A few weeks ago, my OB asked me to take a few prenatal tests to determine the baby’s general health. Part of it was the usual blood sugar, urinary tests and blood tests.

I requested for home service via a medical testing clinic in Quezon City to come in early August. The guy took my urine sample and drew my blood, and told me to pick up the results 2-3 days later at the clinic.

When I went to the clinic to pick it up, the clinic told me that they have to hold onto my HIV test for re-checking with the Department of Health.

My blood ran cold.

Why do you have to re-check my blood for HIV?” I asked.

The tests turned out to be HIV-Reactive,” the woman explained.

What the fuck is HIV reactive?” I asked as I googled it on my phone. This is what came out:

HIV Reactive

Omigod. As in, OMIGOSH.

An HIV reactive result is a preliminary confirmation for the presence of HIV antibodies. Hence, there is actually a chance I am HIV positive.

Does this mean I am HIV positive?” I asked her.

It doesn’t mean that you are HIV positive,” the woman explained. “You are reactive, so it means that you MIGHT be HIV positive.”

Uhhhh… doesn’t that mean the same thing?

A gazillion thoughts went into my head at once. What does it mean? Where did I get HIV? How did I get HIV? What about my freaking baby?!

I gave husband a call.

Guess what?” I said. “I might be HIV-positive. But they need further tests to reconfirm it.” 

For once, my husband was silent on the phone.

How the hell did that happen?” he finally answered. “Usually, when you are HIV positive, you are infected either by STD or blood transfusion?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “All I know is that I am supposed to be HIV reactive. Meaning, they found HIV antibodies on my blood. There is a big chance I am HIV positive, and if that’s the case, so are you since you’re the only guy I’ve been sleeping with.”

I agreed to take a second round of blood tests to determine whether the prognosis is real or not. The nurse was not very optimistic. I think she double gloved herself in fear of being infected.

HIV in the Philippines

The official number of HIV positive cases reported to the Philippines’ Department of Health only numbered 23,709 as of 2015. There have been 1,149 deaths reported. Out of the 17 deaths among people with HIV in February 2015, about 15 are men, citing the prevalence of gay men encounters.

My husband and I believe this number is greater. According to new research, there are 21 new HIV cases in the Philippines every day.

For one, not all HIV cases are reported to the DOH. Given the stigma attached to HIV, IF you do find out you have HIV, you keep it quiet. You don’t tell anyone, and you want to operate in anonymity.

People still see patients with HIV as those with death sentences — for them, HIV which later turns to AIDs is highly lethal and highly infectious. My husband and I for example do not know anyone living here in Manila personally who have HIV. However, it doesn’t mean that HIV is not endemic. It just means people like to keep quiet about their HIV status.

Another reason for the lower reported statistic is because most people are completely unaware that they have HIV. An HIV test still has to be specifically requested and must be done with the patient’s consent. An HIV test is generally not covered in general blood exams. Hence, you can have HIV and not know you have HIV.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that HIV is not infectious. In fact, it is more dangerous given that most people don’t know they have it. Consequently, they continue to live promiscuous or sexually dangerous lives, having sex with multiple partners without the use of condoms.

The First Day

I found my husband at home, lying in bed, with the lights closed. It was 6pm, and there is still light coming from between the curtains.

He had been researching about HIV and AID like crazy for the last hour, and for once, we didn’t do anything but wrap our arms around each other in the dry hopes of comfort.

There is no comfort to be had.

What comfort is there when someone tells you — even preliminarily, that you have HIV antibodies in your body? Put it this way, if you don’t have HIV, there is ZERO chance you will have HIV antibodies. If you have HIV antibodies, there is a high likelihood, you have HIV.

Couple

So what about him? What about me? And worse of all, what about Baby Pea?

To be Continued…

Posted in Baby Stuff, Family Drama, First Experiences, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Baby Stuff: Stuff I swear by and can’t live without (From Sister-in-Law)

Update: I’m already on my 23rd week and entering my sixth month. Whereas my jeans and shorts still fit me two weeks ago, they now don’t. I officially start looking pregnant and from what I’ve heard, I will look even more pregnant for months to come.

For now, I am taking it easy. No pressure, no hassle.

I refuse to succumb to the pressure of many would-be moms who would research motherhood and read gazillions of websites. My sister-in-law was well-prepared for her daughter when she came. I simply don’t have time.

Thankfully, my sister-in-law sent me a helpful list of things to buy and NOT buy. Happy to share:

———————————

Stuff I swear by and can’t live without

  1. Out and about

a.) A Baby carrier !!!!!

– For example: Mamaway ring sling, Baby K-tran are great for newborns; ring sling good until at least 3-4

kt-001_2z

– Structured carriers like Baby Bjorn and Ergo baby are ok, but I find all the bits and pieces a little annoying

b.) Diaper bag

c) Stroller – I don’t really use stroller since I love the sling, but if you get one, make sure it’s lightweight and easy to fold and maneuver; you may also want to get a model that has built-in car seat since you guys have a car

  1. Keeping clean

a.) Newborn/toddler 2 in 1 bathtub

b.) Shampoo/soap

c.) Baby towel with hood – I gave you 2 already

d.) Baby lotion

e.) Baby grooming kit

f.) Rubber changing mat

g.) Baby wipes – for wiping off most of the poo

h.) Cotton balls – dip in warm water and clean up the leftover poo

i.) Butt cream – I still use Mustela

j.) Diapers – I have a whole stack of newborn size diapers someone gave me and Jess never used bec she was too big, it’s still in 14A den, should fit pea

  1. Feeding

a.) Breastfeeding-friendly tops and bras!!!! – I have no issues nursing in public but feeding friendly tops and bras make a huge difference!

b.) Good feeding cover – not available in Manila at all! Allows you to see baby while baby feeding. Great for feeding in public. Word of warning – the cover is easy to use for small babies but as they grow they play with the cover and try to yank it off. I’ve given up using mine because creates more problems for me now that daughter is a toddler – I can pass this on to you

c.) Bottle warmer

d.) Baby bottles – for breastfed babies the advice is generally to buy wide-neck bottles since it’s supposed to make them feed more similar to breastfeeding, but Jess used standard bottles and is fine

e.) Bottle cleaner

f.) Bottle brush

g.) Sterilizer – I like the 2 in 1 sterilizer and dryer units, HATE the steam sterilizer only since it takes forever for the parts to dry. Since I only use a few bottles a day I got a small unit that fits 5 bottles.

Michelle bought a giant kitchen model in SM appliances. Depends on how much stuff you have to sterilize at the end of the day

h.) Breast pump – I would go for the Medela Pump in Style, it’s the best unit for getting the most milk out; Freestyle is portable but not ideal for serious working moms, it’s intended for use by moms who only occasionally need to bottle their baby

g.) Extra breast pump parts and bottles – I can give you 2 extra pump/bottle sets (I have 4); when baby is small you could be pumping 2-3 times during working hours 9-5, you will go nuts washing the parts after every use if you don’t have extras; I use the extras and wash everything together at night when I get home, saves time

i.) Breast milk storage bags – I get mine on Taobao for 25 RMB for 30 bags. The branded ones for sale in Manila (Lanisoh, Medela) are super expensive it’s not funny!

j.) insulated carrier bag and/or freezer blocks for transporting breastmilk

k.) Hands-free pumping bra – I use this so I can pump and work at the same time, allows me to pump, hold concall, and type on laptop all at the same time

Also I told brother that I don’t like the bulb syringe nasal aspirator to suck snot out of baby’s nose, it’s really hard to use. So I got an electric snot sucker that does the job a lot faster. I don’t think you’ll need it while pea is a newborn, but once she’s more mobile 6+months and above this one is also a sanity saver.

bulb

  1. Keep baby quiet

a.) Pacifier – not to be introduced until at least 6-8 weeks but may not work – daughter didn’t like pacifier and never used one

b.) Swaddle wraps – never used this either since daughter didn’t like it but most babies like being swaddled

  1. Sleep

a.) Sleep sacks – I sent you 2 already, babies wiggle a lot and can dislodge blankets

b.) Bedsheets ONLY

c.) Crib/cosleeper – depends on what you want to do with pea and yaya. It’s much easier to breastfeed if pea is right next to you at night so my personal choice is a cosleeper. Babies love to sleep next to adults so most hate cribs (can’t blame them).

crib

Don’t waste your money

  1. Changing table – any flat surface and rubber mat will do
  1. Baby closet – useless furniture
  1. Crib decor – anything aside from a mattress and bedsheet is useless, just looks cute, plus suffocation risk
  1. Nursery decor – waste of money, just looks cute
  1. Anything “organizer” – diaper organizer, bottle organizer, bottle rack
  1. Sealed diaper bin – useless piece of equipment, just take the diaper out to the trash
  1. Baby mitts – just trim the nails and baby will be fine, mitts are hot
  1. “Special” crib pillows – anti colic, cosleeper pillow, all useless
  1. Moses basket – easier to carry baby in arms or sling than lugging heavy basket
  1. Portable bottle carrier/warmer – I personally don’t see the point in bringing milk and bottle out if pea is also coming with you, but that’s because I have no problems nursing in public. But some moms may not feel comfortable and would rather have yaya feed baby using the bottle while they go off to pump. But mind you pea may have her own opinion and refuse the bottle if she knows mommy and the boob is readily available (Jess does this).
  1. Modern cloth diapers (peapod, etc) – I tried this, didn’t work for us. Much easier to use disposables even though we contribute to environmental disaster
  1. White noise machine, blackout curtains, any “sleeping aid” product – US websites are just so full of this sleep training stuff. None of this worked for daughter and can even backfire. One mom wrote that her kids were so well trained to sleep well because of white noise machine (to block out other noise) and blackout curtains (no light in the room) that she had to bring the machine, scotch tape, and curtain material to every single trip and hotel they stayed in for years! Baby will sleep when baby will sleep.
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When God gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Poor Little Pea. 😦

The Lord has put a lot of trials in front of us the last week. It has been stressful for us.

Fortunately, all these trials are work-related. In one week alone, we had to deal with four different malls.

One mall had already approved our lease, and then told us after a week that the head office has rejected our request and we cannot enter the mall anymore.

Another mall pre-terminated our lease contract two months after signing, and had asked us to vacate within the next month. Then, to top it off, they asked us to remove our other branch due to a change in head office policy.

The third mall asked us to move to the second floor instead of the promised first floor.

And the fourth mall did not renew our contracts for another year, and hence, we are forced to cease operations on July 3.

The trials were hard for us because these are issues that are way beyond our control. When it comes to the mall’s head office policy, who are we to change them? If they want to make changes to our leasing agreements, what are we to do than to cry? We are merely tenants and have to subject ourselves to our mall partners’ rules and regulations.

Such issues will always arise in business. Sometimes, when it rains, it really pours. And there’s really nothing you can do about it than to be sad, weep, and then dry up your tears and fight another day.

when-it-rains-it-pours

After getting all this negative news IN A SINGLE WEEK, we cannot help but wonder, “Why is God putting all trials in front of us? Haven’t we been good Christians following His path? Why can he not give us a break? Help us succeed?”

I think it’s often times easy to blame God for our problems.

When we received all these hard negative mall decisions, hubby and I fell asleep without any solution.

It is honestly frustrating.

And for go-getters like us, we wonder how the hell are we going to get out of these mess when it is really beyond your control?

I spent the entire last week going to all these malls to see if we can find a happy win-win concession. Accepting all these decisions without talking to the malls are folly, and it shows that we are okay to accept bad decisions without putting up at least a small fight. Tenant relation officers are actually quite nice and reasonable so long as you talk to them in a civil manner.

So last week, I went around the malls to talk to them. I think I went to 6 different malls from North to South. I met with the tenant officers, and their regional bosses. Even this week, we have set two more meetings to talk to the mall.

After going through these exercise, I finally understood that God placed all these trials in front of me with good reason.

For one, I got to meet mall’s regional officers. Together, we were able to find a concession that was acceptable for both parties. It was good for me to finally place a face to the name.

Two, I went to see four new malls where we can possibly open new stores. I would have never visited these malls if we did not receive these pre-termination notices. Maybe there is more business to be made there. I received two new lease offers last week because of the entire exercise.

Three, the trials made me understand more on how mall relations work. I used to think that mall relations is about paying the rent and managing the store. NO! Mall relations are all about relationships, and it is important that you also spend time growing these relationships especially if we want to grow bigger.

Lastly, we understood that the Lord is still in control. Despite the headaches, we know that He will never give us anything we cannot handle. And what better way to deal with mall management than the time when our mentors, my husband’s parents are still there to guide us through these headwinds. Because of these issues, my in-laws shared with us their long-term contact, which may help us expand in the future.

In the end, business is all about ups and downs.

After having a good month in May, the Lord allowed us to be challenged. Maybe to humble us and to remind us that He still is God. That He is still in control.

BTDL_AnythingICantHandle

So you still want to be in business? 🙂

Haha, when people see us, all they see are our stores, our people, our brand and our sales. They don’t see that life can also be challenging and frustrating. Business is like this. Sometimes up and sometimes down, and often times, we just do our best to survive.

Hope you all have a great week ahead!

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Getting Married > Being Happy

My friend asked me why it’s so hard to find a lasting relationship.

She is already 38 years old, and have just broken up with her Korean-American boyfriend of 9 months. They have had a long distance relationship.

Her ultimate dream is to be happily married.

I honestly saw doom and gloom in her relationship from February 2015. It was Valentine’s Day and she has yet to receive any hoopla from her significant other. No gifts sent over from abroad. No flowers ordered online. Not even a meager “Happy Valentine’s” message in Viber. And yes, they were exclusively dating at that time.

I remember her crying to me the evening before.

They’ve just had a fight, one of what will become a regularity. He has asked her for a break — note, not a breakup, but a break from her — because he felt pressured to keep the relationship given the challenges of being unhappy with his current job, his divorcing mother, and his balding scalp.

When it’s a break,” I said, “It doesn’t spell good news for the relationship. Don’t you find it inconvenient when he tries to break with you on Valentine’s Day? What an asshole way to do so!”

Admittedly, I don’t like the guy. Never met him. Only heard stuff about him from my bestie, but from what I’ve heard, he sounds like a selfish bastard who’s most likely single at 44 years old for a reason.

His profile: The youngest and the only son born to a needy mother. Successful in his career and now works at Booz Consulting. Has experiences in the US and in Asia. Good in paper.

Stuff you don’t see: His selfishness and inability to handle pressure. He finds it difficult to continue a long-distance relationship. His insensitivity of breaking up with you at opportune times. For example, he broke up with Bestie the day before her birthday. See a pattern here?

I think most women remain single for a reason: They, for some reason or the other, seem to accept crap from ass-holic men. And then become a martyr and make excuses for them.

I am not like that. In fact, I often times can be more guarded and selfish in a relationship. For me, I like to mirror my relationships.

Meaning, I give whatever I take. And it has served me well. I don’t give too much nor do I give too little.

My bestie waited 9 months with a guy. She feels she don’t have enough time even though her relationship was stacked against her. For example:

  • They were in a long-distance relationship. Statistics for any long distance relationship is not that great. It can work, but it takes a special relationship to do so. What’s worse, they operate in two timezones: she’s in Asia while he’s in the US. Good luck trying to find time to Skype and visit each other. Have a fight? Just turn your phone off. Good riddance!

lDR

  • They are a multi-racial couple. He is still strongly Korean despite his American roots, and she is Taiwanese. Given my interactions with close Korean friends, they have whispered that many Korean parents still dream that their kids marry fellow Koreans. This is not weird and is the same as Chinese parents wanting their kids to marry Chinese. Taiwanese is NOT Korean.

    Yes, it is very racist but the fact remains that in-laws usually give their foreign daughter-in-law a hard time if they don’t understand their husband’s language and culture. It’s not impossible, and multiple multi-racial couples show that it is possible, but it’s still a deterrent.

  • He doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get married. She is. That’s the problem when women hit a certain age. We cannot help but worry. Unfortunately, worrying is not sexy. Pressuring guys to marry us just because we are getting older is NOT sexy.

    Boyfie is at the point of his life when he just moved back to the US, started a new job, and adjusting to a new life. Bestie just wants to be married soon. A man doesn’t need to get married. His sperm has no expiry date. Her uterus is another story. So it’s an issue when she tries to open up alarming conversations like, “Where is this relationship heading? Are you open to getting married?” when it’s not something he’s still thinking about at the moment.

  • Admittedly, he hates conflict and doesn’t seem to handle conflict very well. When he is stressed, his hair falls off. He cannot sleep and avoids conflict. After every fight, he disappears a few days. Like completely disappears. A man who always disappears when things get hot is not really the type of guy you should dream of marrying. He might even leave you at the altar!

It’s a relationship that seems to be doomed from the start. And yet, she hopes. Then cries when it doesn’t work out.

At least I gave it my best shot,” she said.

Well, time is wasted when you listen to your heart too much and not your head. 9 months to be exact…

I feel sad for my friend. I want to see her happily married. I hope she will meet the guy of her dreams. Her Prince Charming.

But it’s hard to be with Prince Charming if you keep your standards low and accept whoever comes your way just because he’s there.

Marriage is serious business, and can really enhance or destroy your life. Unfortunately, so many women are blinded by their dream to get married that they are willing to compromise for just a guy who’s willing to put a ring on it.

Getting married is easy. Staying married is not.

I am still very lucky to have found my husband. He’s not perfect, but he’s a lot more giving than bestie’s ex. He pampers for me and cares for me. He just doesn’t say that he loves me. He actually shows it.

I hope more women would open their eyes and not be blinded by the smoke just because they want to finally be with someone.

40 may be a long time to start settling with someone, but just imagine, if you live up to 80, you’re just at half of your life.

Good luck in finding the man of your dreams. May he really prove himself to be the man you are looking for!

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Updates: Sick but Alive

It is a pain to be pregnant and be sick.

You are always extra careful on the type of medications you can consume. For example, for headaches, I cannot take Advil, and must go to the drugstore and buy Tylenol instead.

For my dry cough, Dimetapp is a no-no. Robitussin is a safer option.

For my sniffles, there’s only the allergic medicine, Claritin, instead of the usual Solmux.

I have spent two evenings waking up, coughing my heart out, and drinking water to parch my dry throat. It makes me worry that Little Pea is not getting enough sleep, constantly waking up because of his Mommy’s cold.

The good news is, we have passed our first trimester.

Little Pea

Yes, Little Pea is still alive and kicking!

After a disastrous miscarriage last January, we are extra careful in announcing the pregnancy. We don’t want to disappoint the in-laws, especially my mom who’s just thoroughly bored and is waiting for something to occupy her time.

Business-wise, we are in a constant state of flux.

It’s hard to find good people, and while we have increased our number of stores, we have also lost a lot of people, both good and bad.

But it’s all for the best. Anyway, as the Lord promised in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”

I think it just entails a lot of trust — for me, it’s how to be a good mother. For the life of me, I cannot see myself as a doting mom. In fact, I am readying my husband that I’ll probably like my authoritarian dad and I hope that he’s okay with that.

We don’t need a happy baby,” I declared. “We just need a smart baby.”

His face when I make these silly declarations:

doubt

Anyway, at least all is well. Baby is still alive, and I have no food cravings or morning sickness whatsoever, which is a good thing. God is truly good.

Hope that this peaceful and happy state lasts for awhile…

Have a good week ahead!

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Who said women were practical?

Hon, I want to buy a cashmere scarf,” I cooed to my husband after joining my friend RBF to a high-class party.

Okay, how much is the scarf?” asked husband.

Oh, it’s cheap,” I said. “It used to be Php 58,000 but since the Euro depreciated, the price is now at a more affordable Php 50,000 (USD1,250).”

hermes

“Php 50,000 for a freaking scarf?!” half-yelled Hubby. “You gotta be kidding me!!!”

“I can get it from my own money,” I reminded him. “You know I have savings from before we were married.”

Poor hubby.

I know he wants to please me. One thing great about my husband is that he always wants to make me happy. But I also know he thinks spending that much money on a cashmere scarf is ridiculous. There is no other explanation for it — I want it, and then I want to buy it.

It’s the same as my former bag addiction.

But with Baby Pea on the way, he knows we need to start becoming more practical. A normal delivery costs Php 100,000 in a nice hospital; Double that amount for a Caesarean.

I think when people get married, there has to be some compromise. It cannot be just about me, me me. Honestly, that blue, pink and purple scarf is more of a want, than a need.

Sigh, women have many wants. Whereas men want to style up their car, women desire to carry the next best IT bag.

At least, I don’t want a crocodile Hermes bag,” I consoled him.

How much is that bag?” he asked.

According to RBF, a croco bag will cost you Php 1.8-2.2 million,” I answered. “I will not buy that expensive a bag even if I have a millions.”

Husband almost went bananas. “A Montero Sport will only cost you Php 1.6 million! Why would you spend more than that on a stupid bag?!”

“No no no, I don’t want an Hermes bag,” I said. “I would like to buy the more affordable Hermes cashmere shawl.”

In the end, I know husband is right. Affordable is one thing, practical is another. I thought I would find a supportive friend from my mother, but alas, she shared the same idea with husband.

Bonita, it is really silly to spend that much money on the scarf,” she advised. “Plus, the Philippines is a hot country. When will you wear that scarf aside from the times we go out for movies? You don’t go to flashy socialite events anyway…”

What’s more, she warned me not only of the impracticalities of buying a pricey scarf, but she also shared with me the kind of wrong impression I would give my in-laws.

How can they entrust anything to you if their daughter in law seems like the type who spends money like water?” she added. “It’s good to spend on nice things, but you are still too young for it. You guys are still catching up and building your business. You should focus on adding the revenue instead of the expense.”

Big sigh again. They are both right. So with that, I hang my cashmere shawl idea to the wall.

Husband and I eat at the SM Food Court yesterday. Our total meal was Php 250.00. In the evening, we splurged on some cheap crepes at Café Breton. The price is nowhere the price of the Hermes scarf.

And so is our life — we are not rich people by any means. And yes, we have silly wants to just like the Hermes cashmere shawl I wanted. But joy comes in packages that don’t need to be very expensive. Peace comes in knowing you already have everything you need, and the ambition that you are always working towards something you want.

Have a great week ahead everyone!

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I’m Pregnant!

After suffering a miscarriage last January, I am happy to announce that I am once again pregnant.

We are keeping it a secret yet from our folks because we don’t want to share the happy news, and again suffer another disappointing miscarriage. Studies have shown that the chances of miscarriage increases during the first trimester, and I am about 10 weeks and 5 days and counting y’all.

How is this different from normal?

1) For one, I feel fat and bloated. While I have maintained the same amount of weight, Lord forbid, I now have a tummy bump — also known as a salbabida — even though I eat about the same.

When you hold my stomach, I now have two bumps. Whereas I had a flat tummy before, thanks to my vanity which I learned in Taiwan/Hong Kong, my little bump exists, and it’s growing quickly.

bump

My clothes now feel tight especially around the chest, especially when I breathe. There are certain things I cannot wear because they are uncomfortable, and I’m just in my first trimester!!!

2) I get more tired easily. Over the last week, I was already exhausted from 9pm. Two evenings ago, I slept at 10pm, and woke up at 9am! For someone who is used to at most 6 hours of sleep, this tiredness is ridiculous. As if I am super busy the whole day.

Yesterday, after the doctor’s check up, I was once again tired. Maybe it was all of the groping, but I was snoring by 10pm.

Sigh.

Who knew that being pregnant drains your energy? Or maybe that’s just my body’s excuse that I am working too hard and haven’t gotten a lot of sleep.

3) I love being pampered and getting what I want. My husband spoils me. With little pea coming, he spoils me a lot more. He lets me pick what to eat in the evening, and is sweeter than ever, if that’s even possible.

He was nice enough to go with me to the Ob-Gyn yesterday even though the line was long. We arrived at 1:30 pm, and waited till 3:00pm just to see the doctor. Then, we had an ultrasound and some tests. At Php 5,500.00 poorer, we were done by 6:00 pm!

clinic

The whole afternoon gone just to check up on Little Pea!

I think there will be a lot of physical, emotional and mental changes up ahead. For one, I am not feeling especially maternal yet.

I think I will be a bad mother,” I confessed to husband.

While other parents just want their kid to be healthy and happy, I already have ambitions to enroll my kid in Math class at a tender age of 3, and learn chess by 4. If I have my way, he/she would be reading company annual reports and doing discounted cash flows (DCF) by high school.

Let the kid be a kid,” my husband implored after hearing of my plans to give the yaya a Php 2,000 bonus if she can teach our Little Pea to walk before it reached 1 year old, and to talk before the age of 10 months.

He/she will be a kid. But he/she will be a successful kid,” I answered.

Like I said, I will be a terrible mother.

Honestly, I don’t know how to raise a child… I only know how to manage a business. But nobody taught me how to raise a child, and a screaming baby at that.

You’ll be fine,” my husband consoled.

Let me be first to get it out there. I don’t know how to be a mother, and I envy those who can be great mothers. My sister-in-law pampers and showers her daughter with love, and Lord knows how I wonder why she is spoiling her child like that.

My dad raised me with a lot of control and discipline, and I turned out okay.

Anyway, let’s wait and see if Little Pea survives the first trimester. Then whether I can survive the birth.

This will be an interesting journey, and Lord knows I really need a lot of prayers on how to raise our child, because I know I really need all the help I can get. 🙂

Have a great week ahead!

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Date Nights

I haven’t gotten laid for days!” I grumbled to my husband as we got ready for another new day.

But we were sick… and exhausted!” he defended himself. “You were zonked out the other day because you were so tired!”

I still need to get laid you know,” I reminded him. “We’re like an old couple whose passion has already fizzled out. And we haven’t even been married a year!”

It’s true — after settling to married bliss, other priorities took front seat.

For example, managing your own business requires a lot of time and effort. I wonder how working parents can even manage to raise children. We’re tired enough already by taking care of our business!

I cannot even remember the last time we made love. Maybe it was interspersed between watching downloaded Scandal episodes or doing the payroll. Should’ve been sometime last week.

Wow, has it been that long?

That is why it’s important to have dates. To keep the passion alive. To remind yourself why you’re still hot for each other.

We’re going tonight. Hehe.

Maybe I’m going to get laid tonight… 🙂

Have a great weekend!

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What Type of Girl Finds Boyfriends Easily

I’ve noticed that there are some women who will simply end up with a man.

While there are some with prolonged dry spells and are single even in their late 30s.

I noticed one characteristic that many women who actually have boyfriends have — it’s open-mindedness.

What do I mean when I say, “open-mindedness?”

Open-mindedness means that she is open to dating men who do not fit her standards. You see, women’s standards can be pretty high.

We all want a tall, handsome, suave, single man with no children, who have the intelligence, breeding and good manners to sweep us away from our feet, and who will remain loyal and devoted to us to our dying day.

Now, in my experience, if the guy is single, he is usually single with good reason.

If he is cute or good-looking, he may not be as loyal to you given the myriads of women that flirt and throw themselves at his feet.

If he is too intelligent, then he is socially inept.

If he has no baggage, he is probably too boring and simple to keep us interested.

And even if he has all these characteristics, we may either not find him attractive. Or worse, he may not find us attractive!

That is why, I say, “Phooey” to keeping strict standards. It’s okay for them to be high, but only if you recognize that love is a negotiation, and sometimes, you have to pick and choose your need-to-haves and your nice-to-haves if you want to have someone by your side.

What’s worse, while we are very critical of other people, how about being more critical about ourselves?

I am for example, not perfect.

I can be a bitch sometimes, and my husband has seen me melt down too many times when I don’t get my way.

I am opinionated, and cannot keep my mouth shut. My opinions are stated as law, even though in reality, they are not.

I am overconfident and can be critical of others. Sometimes, this gets me in a lot of trouble.

My forehead is too big and my nose is too wide. Pretty I can be, but beautiful is really pushing it. Even when growing up, guys didn’t line up just to get my attention.

But one thing I have is that I was open-minded.

When I met my husband, he fit a bit of my checklist.

He was tall, Chinese, and I found him quite attractive. Looks don’t have to be good for everyone. But at least, I must find him cute.

He came from a good Chinese family, but for some reason, had to learn a bit of breeding and good manners. He likes to wear tee-shirts and shorts. Thankfully, he leaves his flip-flops at home.

He had a lot of baggage and was a young Christian. He drank too much and swore like a soldier. He was surrounded by cars, booze and girls — a clear recipe for trouble.

If I was close-minded, I would’ve crossed him off as a chickboy who’s only out to get me off my skirt. “Just another conquest,” I would’ve said as I would hear once again another one of his over-confident tirades.

But my curiosity, attraction and growing feelings for him kept me by his side.

And thank God I was patient!

Otherwise, I would never have married him! Nor would I realize that beneath his rough loud exterior, my husband was a sweetie who will always be there for me.

I was also open to online dating.

One single friend was moaning the fact that she felt so alone given her single blessedness. When my husband and I suggested online dating, she huffed and declared, “No, online dating is only for the desperates and the losers.”

My husband and I looked at each other — we met in http://www.eharmony.com, an online dating site.

If we didn’t sign up and registered, we probably wouldn’t have met each other!

As we left her, we shook our heads.

Girls want to find themselves a man. And they complain to everyone who would hear that they are still single. AND YET, THEY REFUSE TO DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO FIND A GUY.

Not as attractive? Well, do your best with your God-given looks and personality. Make yourself look better by applying a bit of makeup and dress less dowdily.

Not as accessible to men? Well, join clubs and organizations? There are tons of organizations to choose from if you’d only take the time to look?

No time to date? Well, if you have no time to date, then you really won’t find yourself a man!

Lastly, no good guys out there? Well, no wonder you cannot find a man. You don’t give them enough a chance to show you they’re good guys after all!

I think women have to be open to men and dating if they want to find a man. Dating can be a fun experience if you don’t pressure yourself too much.

So the next time someone invites you out, go!

Who knows what will happen so long as you simply give yourself a chance!

Posted in Advice, Boyfriend, Dates, Husband, lovelife, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Couple Envy

There is what you call, “Business envy.”

Business envy is when you wish you are in another business because you are envious of the profits and success that business entails.

I have a little bit what you call, “Couple envy.”

It is when I see that other couples have more glamorous lives than we do. As they say, it’s always green on the other side.

couples2

When I looked at other couples who got married last year, there is one couple which caught my attention.

The woman is a professional dentist who has her own clinic on the jazzy side of town. Her hair is always perfectly made up, her outfits impeccable, and she likes to socialize in popular business organizations, joining media-filled events in the arm of her older but suave-looking businessman husband.

When we got married, it was a quaint relatively small family affair filled with loved ones. I am very proud that most of the people invited to the wedding, we personally knew.

Compare it to their wedding when theatrics abound, complete with a room-length LED screen that regaled guests on their prenup photos that were taken in an exotic location in China. Ours was in a more modest Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife.

She had a bridal shower, I didn’t. Her bridal shower was featured in blogs and magazines, while I was too busy to even attend to my own.

And now, she is pregnant with a baby boy and popping out soon!

How can one have it all? 🙂

As I look at my own married life, I cannot help but compare.

My husband for example, would only wait for a very special occasion — cough, like our wedding — to wear a nice suit. On regular days, he is as comfortable wearing a shop tee-shirt and Uniqlo shorts. His only vanity is Safeguard soap in the morning. No perfumes, lotions or any beauty product for my devil-may-care husband.

Since we got married, we have been working our asses off.

Compared to the couple I am a little envious of, we do not really allocate a lot of time socializing.

Socializing meant hobnobbing with people whom we may or may not like, and wearing expensive outfits that would cost a quarter of my monthly salary. Evenings are spent over-timing at work, or doing accounting at home, if not watching a movie with my dear sweet mother. We have a very small group of friends we hang out with at least once every quarter or half a year, and the last time I introduced myself to a new acquaintance, it was purely for business reaons.

Our lives are pretty simple. Our only luxuries are semi-frequent business trips where we go abroad wither together or with family. And the little celebrations such as Valentine’s and soon, anniversaries.

And yet, as I look at another glamorous photo of the woman I am envious about — a glamour maternity photo this time — I cannot help but count my lucky stars I married my husband. 🙂

For one, we are both in love and happy with each other. As you can see in my previous posts, unhappy couples seem to be more than a norm.

Last night, when I zonked off to bed, my husband tucked me in. He placed a pillow underneath my feet, and then put the blankets around me. Then he kissed me goodnight, not knowing that all this moving jarred me half-conscious.

bed

In the evening, he massages my feet after we get home. This is our daily habit ever since we get home. Sometimes, he sniffs it and gags. It’s kinda both sweet and disgusting when he does it.

pregnant-woman-foot-rub

He gets me water when I ask for it.

Kisses and hugs are abundant as long as I say so.

And when I am late in going off with my friends, he would pick me up from the mall after dinner in his boxers and shorts with nary a complaint.

Honestly, he may not be the debonair 007 like the dashing husband in the pairing I am envious of, but he is definitely the love of my life AND my Prince Charming.

Sure, I may be envious of other couples. It’s hard not to, especially since they look so darn perfect! Their lives seem to be rich and full of order!

However, I also realize that my relationship is also the envy of others.

We may not be as rich, or as glamorous. But we do have one thing — we both love and appreciate each other. And I think, that’s God’s best gift to us.

Each other.

Hope you’re having a great week ahead! Cheerio!

Posted in Conflicts, First Days of Marriage, Friendship, Husband, newlywed life, Reflections, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 5 Reasons Why Couples Divorce Very Quickly

It is every girl’s dream to be married.

From the time they were young, they dream of wearing the perfect dress, walking down the aisle to a song they’ve picked from high school, looking to the crying eyes of her Prince Charming.

wedding

And they lived ever after,” women would sigh as they start scouring for the best venue, caterer, and dress for what should be the best day of their lives.

That is why, the first people women would usually call after getting engaged are their parents and their girl best friends.

Together, they would scream and shout as they gushed on how big the stones on their engagement rings are, while the men would wink and joke to the guy that this unfortunately is the beginning of the end.

Hence, it is a shock to many women that marriage is not what it promised to be.

Maybe it’s our high, unrealistic expectations, or maybe it’s because nobody really told us women how married women are like — that it would be a lot of sacrifice than happiness — but I observed that so many women regret getting married, especially during the adjustment married.

When Marriage Becomes Unbearable

In the last two years I’ve been here, I’ve seen more than a handful of women getting married. At least half of that are unhappy in their marriage and are thinking if their marriage is “worthwhile.”

It’s only been two years,” I told my unhappy friend during one sob fest. “And you have a lovely baby girl. Why would you think of giving up? You just got married!”

After talking to many girl friends who seem to regret getting married, I have compiled a short list on why these women regret getting married to their spouses. May this be a warning to my fellow girl friends who want to get married but actually don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

1) When you get married, you separate from your family. This is HARD.

This was an immediate lesson for me when I first got married — You cleave yourself from your family and join his.

During the first two weeks of my marriage, my mom and I had a hard time settling on a comfortable dynamic.

You see, before my marriage, I was with my mom 24/7.

We would go out together. I would accompany her to her errands and even join her to her senior retreat. We even shared the same bed after my dad passed away. My mom was very makulit but I loved being with her. She spoiled me, and  always made life for me very comfortable.

So after marriage, it was tough staying away from each other.

Imagine, my mom even dropped by our hotel the day after our wedding to give us some stuff! She would call me consistently on different times those first few weeks just to tell me what’s going on with her life. And being the good daughter that I am, of course, I was happy to hear from her and regale her with stories on how life is as a newlywed.

Husband was not very happy.

If a woman wanted to be with her mom all the time,” he once said, “Then she shouldn’t get married.”

I insisted that my mom was merely trying to be sweet and concerned. But I knew he was right. Boundaries had to be made.

In the end, we settled on spending every Saturday together.

She would cook us a delicious lunch at her house, and I would spend the afternoon with her while my husband goes to work. Then after work, my husband picks us up and we have dinner and a movie together.

It keeps us in close contact but at a consistency that my husband is comfortable with. Problem solved.

However, not a lot of couples are as lucky. My friend for example still couldn’t cleave herself away from her family. “They need me,” she insisted. “I am very good at organizing and they need my help in organizing their wedding.”

Unfortunately, she had four other siblings and three were getting married, one per year. That means, she has to drag herself to supplier meetings and was at her family’s beck and call. She would take their calls for even the minutest details much to the chagrin of her husband, who wants her to make him and their baby a priority.

This is a problem of leaving and cleaving. If a woman cannot let go and be firm of her family’s boundaries, she will have a problem with her husband. It will cause unnecessary tension in her family.

In Genesis 2: 24, the Bible states, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Filipino celebrity Richard Poon shares his thoughts about leaving and cleaving here. His wife Maricar Reyes Poon gives her insight here.

2)  When you get married, you marry his entire family, quirks and all.

Woe is to the woman who dislikes any of her husband’s family member(s).

sisters-fighting

Trust me, this feeling would most likely NOT go away.

And if you don’t like them, chances are, they don’t like you too.

And that’s a terrible feeling to have.

One of my husband’s cousins is getting married this June. Unfortunately, his parents do not like the girl and insists on boycotting the wedding. The girl’s parents feel slighted and pridefully insists that the two of them get married with the girl’s family footing the entire wedding bill.

Every week, there is news of more bickering fueling the clan’s eager gossip fodder. The woman is adamant that no guy’s family will stop her happiness, while the cousin is miserable at being caught in between. It is an awful situation to be in. What’s even sadder is that the couple is entering in a thorny marriage that is already full of mutual hatred, strife and hurt.

Do you think that the conditions would improve after they get married?

No, I think not.

Families are supposed to be one of the greatest supporters of your marriage. When times are tough, it is usually a family member who will shake some sense to the stubborn spouse and try to save the marriage.

My mom is a good example. When my husband complains to my mom, when he is no longer in earshot, my mom would tell me that I was wrong in this situation and I should treat my husband better. She would then teach me what she would do in my situation. Usually, that requires the woman to be more open, considerate and (gulp!) submissive.

Imagine if my mom was anti-husband? Then everything she would say would merely poison our marriage!

I think one of the reasons why my brother hasn’t married his long-time girlfriend is because I still have reservations about her, and am quite open about it.

I honestly think she lacks discipline, is just working because my brother would not marry her otherwise, and will not be an asset to him as my mom was to my dad. In other words, she is not “gao,” or is someone you can rely on. She will maybe make a decent mother to their children. But she will not in any way be spectacular, and someone who can help him in his business.

Now, do you think I would be super supportive if my brother would ask for my opinion about him marrying his long-time girlfriend? Honestly, I would be okay with him marrying her, but would warn him that he may have problems in the future if he has high expectations of her capabilities.

Being someone who wants to be sure in what he’s getting himself into, my brother would also share the same reservations. Which is probably why he is still mulling over whether to marry her or not even though her parents are already pressuring them.

Trust me when I say this, FAMILY MATTERS.

There are many marriage that breaks apart because the wife cannot get along with her husband’s family and vice-versa. Open your eyes and consider whether you want to get married to your boyfriend is any of his family members do not like you! If any of them like you, they will make life harder for you. I’m serious, this spells trouble in the future.

When I got married to my husband, I also got married to his family. That is why, I try my best to endear myself to his family.

They are not joining my family. I am joining theirs! And it is to my best interest if they like me. Because life just becomes a lot better if your in-laws like you!

3) When your husband falls short of your expectations, the woman do not know how to communicate her needs properly in the way that men can accept and understand. So the fights escalates.

When we were dating, my husband and I would go out every night, pick a decent restaurant, watch a movie and then make out a little bit before sending me home before midnight.

After marriage, my husband and I would overtime at work. Then, we would grab food either at my in-law’s house or eat at a local turo-turo. If we’re lucky, we can still watch House of Cards before sleeping. We would be too tired to make out, much less to nookie. Then the grueling day starts once again.

Talk about a demotion in the romantic scale!

Where’s the romance?” I would ask my husband. “When was the last night we had date night?!”

“But I’m tired,” my husband would reply. “Romance is hard to find in the most mundane of things. You don’t demand it as much if you know you have it.”

Big sigh.

Yes, romance deteriorates after you get married. It takes effort to keep the romance especially after family and financial pressures.

When you get married, you save up for the future. What’s worse, when the baby comes, kiss your love life goodbye. From the first year, all you have time for is your work and your baby. Husband be damned.

Many women still demand the same level of romance, love and care from their husbands. “You’ve changed,” they would accuse their husbands. “You didn’t use to act this way!”

Now ladies, one thing you should NOT do is to tell your husband he is not giving you enough. Men hate this. They want to make you happy. And knowing that they’ve done all they can and you’re still unhappy are sure fire ways of having that one big fight.

In return, men would get defensive. Most guys would ignore you, which would make you even madder and provoke a fight just to get a reaction from him.

Bad move — guys have pride. They will refuse to give you what you want if you play hardball. On the other hand, women will also not want to give way. Hence, we will start to nag and insist our way, which will make things worse.

Trust me when I say this, when married couple fight, one has to give way. If both stand their ground, that marriage crumbles. Words get exchanged and feelings get hurt. After awhile, people forget why they are fighting and just remember the hurt they feel.

I am very lucky in this regard.

My husband is not as stubborn as other men. Because he has been married before, he knew what being stubborn can get you. They were already starting their annulment procedures after a mere six months of marriage.

It is better to be married than to be right,” he would say. Then he would try to understand what I am so pissed about.

Two, we are direct communicators. If I am unhappy, I tell him specifically why I am unhappy, and what he needs to do to make him happy.

My wife tells me that her ex can understand what she’s feeling without her telling him,” my guy best friend complained. “I had to hold my tongue from telling her that she should’ve married her ex then!”

I am not a mind reader,” another guy friend moaned. “Why can’t she just tell me what she wants instead of crying and telling me I should ‘get’ it if I love her? What does me knowing what she is thinking have to do with loving her? If I didn’t love her, I wouldn’t have married her!”

Ladies, if you expect your men to be mind readers and don’t tell them what the hell you want, then there would be hell in your marriage. Men cannot help you if you don’t tell them specifically what you want them to do.

One of our biggest fights as a young couple has to do with technology. I hated the fact that my husband was always on the phone, texting his customers and answering messages. I hate the fact that he does this as soon as he wakes up, and until he goes to bed. When we were in Disneyland Florida, it irked me that he was Flipboarding instead of spending time with me.

Here is my complete post on how technology is evil for marriages.

In the end, we resolved to save our marriage and keep technology on certain times. For example, no cellphones during meal times. That means, as soon as we get inside the restaurants, he would have to put his cellphone away.

He falters from time to time, and gets irritated when I remind him, but clear instruction has made our married life better.

Compare this to a friend of mine who shares the same problem with her hubby. The issue is, she keeps on telling him to put the phone away but there is no conditions involved except that she doesn’t like him on the phone all the time.

Ladies, please explain clearly why he should put it away. Don’t ask him to do so just because you told him to. This is the best way for him to disobey you. Men don’t like to be ordered around. They want to be convinced. Convince him and then set certain conditions when he can play on his cellphone.

4) When you delude yourself in thinking that your differences before marriage was acceptable, only to find out they were deal breakers after marriage.

This is a really stupid reason why marriages fall apart.

You marry someone thinking you can accept your differences, then one of you realizes too late that you can’t take it anymore.

By then, you are stuck in an unhappy marriage.

Common differences include the following:

  • Difference in religion. For example, you are Christian while he’s a Muslim. What if his parents encourage him to take another wife?
  • Differences in personalities. What if you like joining business associations while your husband would like to keep to his close circle of friends? So do you start doing different things together? What are the chances you will meet somebody else who share the same interests? Would you start thinking you married the wrong man?
  • Differences in career expectations. What if he wants you to stay at home and bear his children, while you want to have your own career? On the flipside, what if he wants you to help out in his family business but you only want to stay at home? His family is unhappy on how selfish you are and makes life harder for you?
  • Differences in wanting a kid. You want children. He doesn’t. Uh-oh.
  • Differences in home habits. He wants you to be domestic. You’ve never touched a cooking utensil in your wife. He starts comparing you to his friend’s spouses who can cook. You feel unfairly judged because you thought he already knew you were not domestic.
  • Differences in raising a kid. You want to raise your kid your way. He and his family has other ideas.
  • Differences in deciding how much freedom a woman can have in their family. You want the freedom of being able to do what you want. He and his family thinks you should be more controlled in what you do because you now represent their family. This is very common in very rich families.
  • Differences in thinking how important you are to their family. You want to be seen as an important part of their family. But since your in-laws do not like you, they show favoritism to other members of their family. You hate that feeling but cannot do anything about it.

The list goes on and on… now, would you still want to be married?

5) Lastly, you married for the wrong reasons. You felt that you were forced into the marriage.

This is quite sad. Marriage should be a decision made by the two parties, and no one else. Unfortunately, other factors come to play.

For example, many people get married if the girl gets pregnant.

Or if they’ve been dating for a long time, and it would look bad to both sides of the family if they break up.

Or if the guy/girl is pressured to marry someone their family wants in order to please their parents. This usually happens with Chinese families where a guy/girl likes a Filipino but marries a Chinese kai shiao due to family pressure.

Or if the woman is afraid of being single for life and marries the next guy who asks, even if they are not really compatible.

No! No! No!

You should only get married if you want to marry him, and he wants to marry you!

There should not be any pressure. Don’t say yes just because he asked. Or because it’s time. That’s bullshit. Do not get yourself in a pile of crap because you are afraid of being alone.

Why?

Because marriage can be heaven or hell depending on who you marry. And when shit hits the fan, it’s better to be married to someone you chose, instead of someone who was simply pushed down your throat.

There is no worse feeling than to be “stuck” in a marriage. It’s like a decaying disease that will never get better. What’s worse, the longer you are in that marriage, the more restless and depressed you get.

Marry for the right reasons! Don’t just jump into marriage because you’re afraid to be single! See here a first-person account on how much it is a hassle to escape a marriage wrongly entered.

What’s worse than being single is to be married and miserable. Trust me on this!

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There you go. My Top 5 Reasons Why Couples Divorce Very Quickly. If you have any additions, please feel free to share in the comment below.

Happy Easter!

Posted in Advice, Boyfriend, Conflicts, Family, Family Drama, Favorite Posts, First Days of Marriage, First Experiences, Husband, Life lessons, Lists, lovelife, Marriage, Men, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Share: Useful Video Links of Taiwan Tour

If you are not joining a guided tour, here are a few videos you can watch beforehand about Taiwan for your reference! All these are based from the six-day itinerary I wrote the last time at post:

To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary


Things you have to know before visiting Taiwan

Taiwan travel tips

Taiwan vacation travel guide. Note: This video is owned by Expedia.

Guide to Taroko Gorge

Guide to Jiufen

Yehliu Geopark Travel Guide

Maokong Night Market in Jeelung

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Exciting Ximending Shopping

Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall

Taipei 101

National Palace Museum

Comparing Two Palace Museums

A Tour of the Shilin Night Market

Danshui

Beitou Hot Springs Guide

Amazing what Youtube has on offer, right? Good luck!

Posted in Family, Favorite Posts, Fun activities in Taiwan, Lists, repost, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary

My family is planning a 6-day trip to Taiwan and they’ve asked me to prepare a customized schedule for them. Their tour agency suggested that they visit Sun Moon Lake and Alishan but I personally feel there’s more than enough to see just in Taipei alone. If they want to go outside Taipei, I suggested they go for Hualien and spend the rest of the days in Taipei.

Taipei is all about delicious and reasonably-priced food, a clean environment, convenient transportation and a mix of Japanese and Taiwanese cultures.

WARNING: People here speak Mandarin so it can be a bit hard to go around Taiwan if you don’t speak Chinese. But at the same time, they’re also very friendly and are willing to help. And if they don’t, it’s only because they’re shy.

Otherwise, below is the itinerary I sent them. The hotels I picked were not as expensive, and the food is still okay. I removed Ding Dai Fong because I felt that you can eat good xiao long bao anywhere since the restaurant already have branches globally, and replaced them with some good BBQ and hotpot buffets. I also removed Mitsui Taipei since my mom is paying for most of the dinner and each person was NTD 2000 a pop.

Overall, my family will come away exhausted. This is a jump-packed schedule!!! But they will have a good feeling of Taiwan’s true “essence” in just 6 days, and will understand why I love the country so much.

And if you readers would want to do 7 days, I would suggest visiting the a) Taipei Zoo and having tea at Maokong in the evening, or b) traveling to Wulai and visiting the Wulai Aboriginal Village. You can also do a day trip to Yang Ming Shan Park.

Enjoy!
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To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary

Day 1: MANILA – TAIPEI – HUALIEN (Book Tour)

7:40 am: Depart Manila to Taipei via PR896

9:50 am: Arrival in Taipei. Tour guide will meet you at the airport to transfer to train station going to Hualien. The tour guide should already buy TPE-Hualien-TPE tickets for group’s behalf

Lunch: Buy and eat Taiwanese bento box (around NTD 100) inside the train.

bento

Check-in: CLASSIC HOTEL CITY RESORT (
店) **Hotel is only a 5-10 min walk from train station**
Address: No. 139, Guolian 5th Road, Hualien City, Hualien (970
花蓮市國聯五路139號)
Tel: 03-835 9966

Dinner: Taxi to Zhiqiang Night Market (自强夜市) in Hualian

Must have: The First BBQ Store and Guan Zai Fan (蔣記花蓮式棺材板)

Guan Zai Fan sells French toast with your choice of filling. In Chinese, it means “Coffin Sandwiches.” Its popular flavor is black pepper beef but try the other flavors. The meal comes with free milk tea/red tea.

bento

The First BBQ Stall (第一家烤肉串). Because lines are long, just choose whatever you want them hand it to the stall owner at the end of the queue and pay for them. They will mark your sticks and send them for grilling and proceed with giving you a queue number.

Since waiting can be as long as 1 hour on weekends, head to this stall and choose your food first, go and try other food and then return to collect your BBQ treats.

bbq
On Fuxing Street (復興路), there are 2 stalls selling the same snack – yup, only one snack – that everyone is willing to come early / queue to buy. It’s the spring onion pancake with an egg! What makes this unique is that the egg yolk is still soft and oozy – the whole egg is added into the hot oil (yes, unhealthy deep-fried egg) together with the pancake dough and deep-fried such that the egg sticks to the dough. It is then scooped out and brushed with a soy-sauce-concoction and chili sauce before serving.
egg
Then walk to the Hualien Golden Triangle (花蓮金三角商) for shopping.

egg

Day 2: HUALIEN – TAIPEI (Book Tour)

Check-out: Classic Hotel City Resort. Leave luggage in concierge for pickup later

8:00 am: Tour guide picks group up from hotel

TOUR: Taroko National Park. Taroko Gorge is an exceptionally beautiful, narrow raving road created by a river which has cut deep into the mountains of solid marble. A road cared into sheer walls of rock snakes its way past forested peaks and cliffs towering thousands of feet above it, while hundreds of feet below a river roars past gigantic marble boulders.

tar

Stops will be made at Evergreen Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Nine Turns of Tunnel (pass by), Marble Bridge and Tienshiang.

Simple lunch at Buluoge Visitor Center.

Finish the tour in the afternoon. Then get luggage from Classic Hotel City and catch train to Taipei

Upon arrival to Taipei, take a taxi to Sunworld Hotel. Taipei taxis are generally clean and safe. They will take you to the right direction using the car meter.

Check-in at SUNWORLD DYNASTY HOTEL TAIPEI (王朝大酒店)
Address:
105 台北市敦化北路100 (No. 100 Dun Hua North Road, Taipei)
Tel:
+886-2-2719-7199 / Closest MRT: Nanjing East Road

add

DAY 3: TAIPEI – JIUFEN (九份)– YEHLIU – KEELUNG NIGHT MARKET (Book Tour)

9:00 am: Pickup from Sunworld Hotel. Coach to North coast of Taipei. Travel time: 40 minutes

TOUR: Jiufen Old Street. Once  a prosperous town famous for its gold mining industry, Jiufen was abandoned in the 1970s and nearby forgotten. Now, it’s a mecca for artists and writers, as well as inspiration for films like A City of Sadness and Spirited Away.

**To do: Walk through Jiufen Old Street. Try the different snacks along the street, and buy souvenirs at own pace. No need for proper lunch as you’ll be full by the time you’ll reach the end of the street**

Lunch: IF you are still hungry, have tea in one of nearby teashop. You can try Jiufen Tea House (No. 142 Jishan Street, Tel: +886-2-2496 9056). The tea house was once a meeting place for many great Taiwanese writers and artists. You can eat at a quiet table at the lower levels or sit outside the back entrance in good weather. Choose your favourite tea and snacks from the menu. Sit as long as you like.

Afternoon: Drive to Yehliu Geopark.

Travel time: 50 minutes

Opening Hours: 8am-5pm, Entrance: NTD 50 for adults/NTD 25 for children below 115 cm. Allocate 3 hours for leisurely walk.

Wear a light jacket. It will be windy and cold. The park is divided into 3 areas: there are mushroom rocks, ginger rocks, candle rocks, slipper rocks, and even a queen’s head.

jiu

Make sure you have snacks and water for the trip because food is not as accessible inside the park. Upon arrival, treat yourself to the short English film at the visitor center. Then, follow the path for amazing views.

The Queen’s head resembles the head of an Egyptian Queen. From her narrow delicate neck to the imposing head dress. It is said that the Queen’s Head will break from natural wear and tear within 50 years. On the other side of the park, notice the statue of Lin Tien Jen, a man who sacrificed his life by jumping in the water to save some drowning children. After saving the children, he couldn’t pull himself back in. He left behind a wife and children, and a statue was built dedicated to this unsung hero.

Evening: After the park, drive to Keelung City.

Travel time: 30 minutes

Dinner: Eat at the famous Keelung Miaokou Food Street and Night market.
Must try: This light seafood noodle soup (similar to La Paz Bachoy), Mayonnaise Sandwich

soup

and Thick Crab Soup (Stall #5)

soup

After touring, ride back to rest in hotel in Taipei. Travel time: 35 minutes

DAY 4: TAIPEI (DIY)

Buy breakfast at 7-11 Convenient Store. Better yet, if you can wake up early enough, go for traditional Taiwanese breakfast at the famous Yonghe Dou Jiang (102, Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2, Taipei).

MRT to Da-An Station (Blue line). It’s 24 hours, 7 days a week.

soup

A definite must order?

The fantuan (饭团), a rice roll filled with a crushed youtiao (油条, translated as ‘grease stick’), pork floss, and some diced fried radish.  Fantuan is basically the ideal combination of sweet-savory (pork floss), chewy (rice), crunch (youtiao and radish), and greasy (all of it). I also like Dan Ping (Egg pancake) with soy milk drink, but many people order the salty soy milk with you tiao.

soup

If you choose the Taiwanese breakfast, you must finish by 9:30 am to make it to church. Church service starts at 10:00 am and ends at 11:10 am.

For church, taxi to Grace Baptist Church (基督教浸信會懷恩堂)

Service: 10am-11:10am at Sanctuary, 2/F Grace Baptist Church
Address: No. 9, Xinsheng South Road Sec. 3, Daan District, Taipei City (台北市新生南路三段90號)
Tel: +886-2-2362 5321 / Website: http://www.gbc.org.tw
Closest MRT: 5-10 mins walk from Gongguan MRT Station, Red church right beside NTU

soup

LUNCH:                Yongkang Beef Noodles
Address: No. 17, Lane 31, Sec. 2, Jishan South Road, Daan District, Taipei
Tel: +886-2-2351 1051, Hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-8pm

Directions: Take taxi or MRT. For MRT, Gongguan is on green line so must transfer to the red line for Dong Men MRT station Exit 4

soup
Must-try: Beef tendon noodle soup (a little spicy) and “fen zheng pai gu” (yam and pork ribs). Yongkang Beef Noodle is an institution and has been there since 1963 serving Taiwan’s most famous dish. Their broth is made out of tasty and beef and soybean based stock. Add pickled vegetables generously.

Then take MRT from Dongmen MRT Station to Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT Station. They are one stop from each other. Both are in the red line.

TOUR: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT: Chang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall showcases two buildings facing each other — the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall — right inside the gated Liberty Square. The CKS Hall lies at the center and situates a large Chiang Kai-Shek statue. Inside the hall, you can see much of what Chiang Kai-Shek’s life was like. From his bulletproof Cadillac to the clothing he wore, and the chair he sat on. A wall clock has needles set to 11:50pm, the time of his death.

Check out the bullet holes of Chiang’s car at the left rear part, and count the number of steps from the ground to the second floor. There are 89 steps to be exact, equivalent to President’s Chiang age. He lived for 89 years. The back of the bronze says, “Ethics, Democracy, Science.” This is the essence of the Three People’s Principles — To practice nationalism by ethics, by democracy, and by science.

Must do: Wait for guards to change. It happens on the hour from 10am to 4pm. Wednesdays are from 10am to 6pm. The army, navy and air force takes turns to be the guards every four months. How do you know who is which? The army wears the green uniform, the navy wears the black uniform in summer and white in winter, while the air force wears blue.

Then take MRT from CKS Memorial Hall to Ximending. Use the GREEN line.

Called as the “Harajuku” or “Shibuya” of Taipei, I personally think of Ximending as the place where the young people hang out. Currently, it’s a decent place to see Taiwan young fashion and Japanese culture. The shopping area is the first pedestrian shopping area built in Taipei, and is the largest in Taiwan.

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Must do: Shop a little and eat some snacks. Pass by the red house close to the MRT entrance.

 Note that the closest MRT to go anywhere is the Ximending MRT Station. So no matter how deep you go in, you still have to go back where you come from at the MRT station.

Longshan Temple

To get there: take the Longshan Temple MRT station. It’s one stop from Blue line from Ximending.

Longshan Temple is Taipei’s oldest, most popular temple, dating back to the 18th century, when it was first established by settlers from mainland China. In the meantime, it’s expanded and contracted in times of war and peace, very much integrated into city life, while offering an oasis of reflection and contemplation within its heart.

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Visitors are usually moved by the amazingly ornate carvings and other decorative elements in display. The ceremonial gateways, elegant pagoda roofs, and heady incense burners associated with traditional Chinese temples are found here. Also typically Chinese is the mix of faiths: Longshan is associated with Buddhism, Taoism and other local gods.

Longshan Temple is found in central Taipei and is served by its own MRT station. It’s open until 10am so you can consider an evening visit when the temple is at its atmospheric, perhaps before or after dinner at the nearby Huaxi Street Market. Admission: Free.

If you are hungry, go and eat snack at the Snake Alley, which is very close to the Longshan Temple.

Huaxi Night Market (or Snake Alley) announces itself with a ceremonial gateway with charming Chinese lanterns providing decoration and more powerful lights illuminating the area to near-daylight levels.

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Most visitors are drawn to Huaxi Street by the stalls collectively known as “Snake Alley.” Vendors attract far more onlookers than those willing to test the potency and vigor that comes from eating snake soup and other serpent derivatives. For the less adventurous, there is a huge range of dining options in the surrounding streets encompassing noodles, oyster omelets, chicken skewers, cuttlefish soup, traditional custard pastries, and local delicacies include stinky tofu.

If you don’t like to try the snake delicacy, suggest you skip this part altogether.

Then take MRT from Longshan Temple (or Ximending if you skip Longshan Temple) and travel to Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Blue line)

The National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

A memorial dedicated to the Father of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, this Memorial Hall was completed on 1972. The total building area covers 29,464 square meters (7.3 acres) with an open space of 115,000 square meters. It contains displays of Sun’s life and he revolution he led, and is currently a multi-purpose social, educational, and cultural center for the public.

Walk towards Taipei 101. Drop by Taipei Eslite Bookstore, the largest retail bookstore in Taiwan, and pass by Mitsukoshi Mall. Go around the higher-class area. This is where rich people go and shop.

If you don’t like to walk, Taipei 101 is accessible via MRT to the stop “Taipei 101/World Trade Center” station.

Taipei 101

Taiwan’s largest skyscraper, Taipei 101, enjoyed the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 up until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was completed in 2010. It remains as the world’s largest and tallest green building, standing at 1,667 feet and consisting of 101 aboveground floors, five underground floors, and houses a mix of offices, a multi-level shopping complex, food court and restaurants.

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Most impressive than the total building height is its structural integrity. Taipei 101 is designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoon-level winds thanks to a massive damper sphere, the largest in the world. The building’s exterior is meant to resemble bamboo, a symbol of longevity.

Ride the world’s fastest elevator to the eighty-ninth floor of the observatory. Take a self-guided audio tour in the indoor observatory before climbing to the outer deck to take in the bird’s eye view of Taipei.

Hours: 9:00am-10:00pm, daily. Last ticket entry: 9:15 pm.
Admission: NTD 450 for adults

8:00 pm DINNER: 2-Hour Eat-all-you-can BBQ at Gyu-Kaku  (牛角日式炭火燒肉)
No. 309, Fuxing North Road, Song Shan District, Taipei (台北市大安區忠孝東路四段177號2樓(忠孝東路 敦化南路口)
Tel: +886-2-2514 7070 (http://www.gyu-kaku/com.tw/all-you-can-eat)
Average price: NTD 599-899/pax

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After Dinner: Dessert at Dong Qu Fen Yen (Walkable from Din Dai Fung. Closest MRT is Zhongxiao Dunhua).

Walk to Dong Qu Fen Yuen near Chungxiao Dunhua.

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Dong Qu Fen Yuen
No. 38, 216 Alley, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-2777 2057)

Closest landmarks would be the Ming Yao Shopping Center and is close to Ding Tai Feng. The shop will be packed and you can choose all your favorite ingredients. Choose from the tofu, red bean and grass jelly sweet soup, fill up with crushed ice and select up to 3 toppings for only NTD 25. Toppings include yams, green beans, red beans, soft peanut, passion fruit, strawberry jam, gingko, pumpkin balls, almonds and pearls. The QQ balls glistens with the ice and is sweet, soft and very chewy.

Closest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua

DAY 5: TAIPEI (DIY)    

11:30am-1:30pm: Tasty Steak. There’s a close one near your hotel.
Address: 2/F, N. 11, Sec. 2, Nanjing East Road, Zhong Shan District, Taipei City) OR Taipei Fuxing South Road Branch (3/F, No. 152, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Road, Daan District)

Travel via MRT To National Palace Museum. Drop at Shilin MRT Station (Red Line). Then:

  1. a) From Shilin MRT Station, take bus R30 (Red 30), 255, 304, 815, Minibus 18 or Minibus 19 to plaza in front of National Taiwan Museum). Ask for directions on MRT personnel, or
    b) Take taxi

    Arrive at National Palace Museum by 2:45 pm

    3pm: Take English-guided tour at 3pm. Apply online and register to join tour. You need passport number, contact number and email address. Be at audio reception desk 15 minutes before.

After the Museum, take the bus back to the Shilin Station. Go to Shilin Night Market in the area. 10 minute walking distance.

Note: The closest MRT station to Shilin Station is Jiantan Station, NOT Shilin Station.

The Shilin Night Market (士林) is one of the most well-organized, most popular night markets in Taipei. One section covers the streets surrounding the traditional Yangming Theatre and stretching to the Chicheng Temple on Danan Road. The other sector is a centralized food court serving a wide variety of snacks that attract large crowds.

Must haves at the Shilin Night Market:

  • Chili Wantons (Stall #1), NTD 45
  • Hot Star Fried Chicken, NTD 60 (Stall#50?). It’s to the left of Chili Wantons, blue sign
  • Giant sausages, NTD 60
  • Frog eggs drink (青蛙下蛋). I usually order Aiyu (愛玉) with tapioca pearls (粉圓) and milk. Tastes better than milk tea.

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  • Fried oyster cake and oyster misua soup
  • Large Taiwanese sausages
  • Cold Layers milk dessert (Stall # 250)
  • Lou Rou Fan (Stewed meat in rice)
  • Teppanyaki, ~NTD 100
  • Sizzling giant steak with spaghetti and egg, NTD 120

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  • Pan-fried bun (生煎包) with sesame seed, NTD Like the fluffiness of cake and the crunchiness of potato chips? The pan-fried bun gives you the best of both worlds. The buns are made with spongy white Chinese bread that is pan-fried on the bottom. Break one open to reveal the moist porky filling. A Shanghainese staple, the Taiwanese version differs in two ways: it’s slightly bigger in size and it hits the pan upside-down.

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  • Cold La mian, NTD 50
  • Toilet restaurant for photo ops and desserts (Address: 2F, No 7, Lane 50, Xi-Ning South Road, Taipei Taiwan / Tel: 02-2311 8822) It’s at the very end of the Shilin Night Market
    http://www.moderntoilet.com.tw/en/store.asp)

Here’s how to find Modern Toilet
1. If you are coming from the metro, get out of Ximending station exit 6.
2. Head to the right side of Eslite mall. That street is called Emei street. Just go straight until you reach the end of the road which is called Kunmimg Street.
3. Turn right as soon as you see the parking lot.
4. Turn right once again. Walk a few steps. Modern Toilet is to your left and located on the second floor.

Day 6: TAIPEI – MANILA (Book Tour)

Check-out from Sunworld Dynasty Hotel. Bring your luggage.

8:30 am Depart from Hotel for Danshui

Danshui: Fisherman’s Wharf and GongMing Street

Upon arrival at Danshui, head to Fisherman’s Wharf by taking the R26 bus from Danshui MRT station. Go to the Lover’s Bridge, an infamous bridge born on Valentine’s Day and is the reason for its inspired name. Watching the sunset off this bridge is one of the most breathtaking moments.

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11:30am – 1:30 pm: Lunch at Man Tang Hung (滿堂紅), Danshui Branch
Address: No. 8, Zhongshan Road, Danshui District, Taipei (11/F, Meitou Department Store / Tel: +886-2 2775 3738)
Website:  http://www.mantanghung.com.tw/en

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Then, head back to Danshui’s GongMing Street, a street full of unique Taiwanese eats to enjoy some local food. Shops generally open at 10:30am. A mere 5-minute walk from the Danshui Main Station, try the following eats:

  • Ice cream shop that sells 6 different flavors — all at arm’s length: vanilla/chocolate, green tea/mango, taro/strawberry. Taste-wise, it doesn’t have the same creamy consistency and is more of a sorbet. But it sure is refreshing. Price: NTD 10
  • Freshly grilled squid with bonito flakes and onion garnish. The squid is usually moist and the texture is neither pasty nor chewy. The taste is a little sweet. Price: NTD 60
  • Ah-Gei (NTD: 30): Fried tofu stuffed with cellophane noodle and sealed with fish paste. It’s steamed and topped with special ketchup sauce.
  • Take home some souvenirs include iron eggs, almond tae and nougat (Flavors: Green tea, almond, chocolate). The iron eggs are stewed in a variety of spices and air dried, giving them a chewy consistency.

Travel to Beitou Hot SpringsA good source of information can be found here. Note that all photos from Beitou part is taken from this website.

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Visit the:

  1. Beitou Park (北投公園): Coming out from the Xin Beitou station, you will see the Beitou Park across the street on the right hand corner. The entrance is marked by a water fountain that perform shows on the hour, every hour during the day. Inside you will find pleasant trails, streams and popular sights such as the Beitou Library and Beitou Hot Springs Museum

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2. Beitou Hot Springs Museum. This is an old Western building constructed by the Japanese in 1913. This was the main public bath in the area during the Japanese Era. This historic building was restored and re-opened in 1998, allowing visitors to view into the former lifestyles of the Japanese. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering and change to slippers provided by the museum. There are 12 rooms including 1 tatami mat performance area, and the original public bath in the basement.

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3. Beitou Garden Spa (北投親水公園露天溫泉浴池 or Millenium Hot Springs). Up the road is the Beitou Garden Spa It is a modern day public bath located outdoors next to a river and among green trees. This is a mixed public bath, requiring bathing suits. Admission price: NTD40.

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4. Plum Garden. Beside the outdoor hot springs is another historical building called the Plum Garden, a summer house of the former Control Yuan president and calligraphy master Yu You-ren. The building only opened to the public in 2010 and displays Japanese colonial wood architecture and a number of calligraphy works by Yu You-Ren. Stroll through the manicured garden or sit down and relax inside the quiet house. Closed on Monday. Admission: FREE

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5. Beitou Thermal Valley: Go to the Beitou Thermal Valley (aka Hell’s Valley) You will see steam rising as high as 100 meters above the geothermal pools. The area is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. Admission is free.

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6. Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch. Once you are warm and relaxed, walk a little further down the road and arrive at the modern Taipei Public Library.

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WARNING: Both Xin Peitou and Danshui takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to your hotel. Please time your schedule accordingly.

6:45 pm:  Leave Taipei for the airport
9:20 pm: Departure from Taipei to Manila via PR 899
11:40 pm: Arrival in Manila.

               

Posted in Family, Favorite Posts, Lists, Tours and Travels | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Keep Sane — Prioritize Only 3 Things!

Why does it seem as if time flies?” I asked my husband during lunch today. “I really wish that there are more than 24 hours in a day.”

After I got married, I found myself short on time.

Time-is-so-costly

But I am always gasping for time. Even right now, I have a huge backlog of things to do!

For some reason, the days pass by quickly and before I know it, it’s already midnight and I still have to do some accounting.

Some days, I get lazy and sleep immediately after twiddling on my iPad. Other days, I just zonk myself out to sleep.

After thinking a bit about time and the challenges on how to manage time, I find that in order to be peaceful and content, you have to prioritize three things in life.

Why?

If you take on too much, you’ll be stretched too thin, stressed and exhausted.

time-management

But if you take in too little, and you’ll be bored and frustrated. That’s why we say that many people are walang magawa (have nothing to do).

Here are my list of the biggest time-munchers — feel free to add more if you think of any:

  1. Taking care of your spouse or if you’re single, finding a husband/wife
  2. Your parents – worse if they demand a lot from you
  3. Your siblings
  4. Your work/job/career
  5. Your child(ren)
  6. Your friends
  7. Church activities or volunteer work
  8. PR work or business associations (e.g., Lion’s Club, Rotary, Jaycees International, Federation, etc.)
  9. Yourself and your own interests
  10. Your studies (e.g., studying for an undergrad, masters, an advancement program, etc.)

A friend of mine complained to me once that her husband was not so happy with her.

He wants me to help him out in the family business,” she said. “But how can I squeeze time into that? He is complaining that I am lagging in my work.”

Well, what takes a lot of your time?” I asked.

Well, I am helping my sibling to plan his wedding,” she answered. My friend by the way is an amazing event organizer. Even though she does it pro-bono, if my friend helps you out in your wedding, you’re pretty much in good hands.

Unfortunately, she has five siblings. Each of whom have been marrying once per year.

In addition, she is super close to her family.

A self-professed daddy’s girl, my friend cannot help but meddle in family affairs. My husband for example limits my family affairs to once a week and on special holidays or birthdays. My friend spends a lot more time than that.

Some friends find it hard to leave and cleave. But as my husband says, “If you guys want to spend a lot of time with your family, then why did you even bother to get married?”

What’s more, she has a one-year old daughter and a husband who hopes she spends more time with him.

So in terms of priority, she wants to fit the following into her schedule: 1) her husband, 2) her daughter, 3) her parents, 4) her siblings, and 5) their family business.

Her husband also wants her to take care of the household. She likes to cook and take care of the household issues so that also takes a lot of her time!

Result = Chaos and time pressure!!!

In other words, what she is doing is INSANE.

Personally, my priorities are only as follows — my husband, our business, and my mom.

In that order.

While our family business takes up most of my time — for example, I do the sourcing, pricing, balancing the books, sales and marketing — I know I should drop everything to be there for my husband.

For example, just two days ago, he wanted me to go with him to his friend’s birthday party. Even if I’ve spent the whole day going around our stores, I still mustered enough energy to go with him since I knew how important it was for him to spend a bit of time with his business associates.

The business can wait for an evening. It should survive.

As for my mom, she has been there for me ever since. So even if we are busy, I always try to spend one day per week with her, which she thankfully appreciates. She also bribes us with love, gifts and attention, which make time with her very enjoyable.

That’s it.

I think life will be much harder to balance once (if) I have kids. If I have kids, I would have to take out some time from the business, the hubby or my mom to take care of him/her. Thankfully, I think my mom would love to co-parent my kid with us, so there is really no conflict of interest.

But adding friends to the mix, my gosh.

Once a week or every two weeks is doable.

But if I have to spend time with a friend every day, I don’t think I can handle that anymore.

So think about your life. How do you manage your time? Do you agree that you can only do so much?

As usual, your comments below are appreciated.

Posted in entrepreneurship, Family, Husband, Ramblings, Reflections, Relationships, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 5 Qualities I Look for in an Employee

The key to a good business is finding the right people.

finding

When you have the right people in your team, you can rest easier knowing that your business is in good hands.

That’s the advantage of my parents-in-law’s 20-year business: They can take a vacation. Leave the country for 2 weeks, and come back still having their business intact.

Last year, we didn’t really focus on our business, and yet, we still managed to make more money in 2014 than in 2013,” says my father-in-law. “The business runs in auto-mode.”

I personally think that this is because his team are made up of veterans who’s been with them with an average of 18 years.

I look at my own team: My oldest veteran is an area supervisor who’s been with me for a little over a year. Everyone else is still new. I just regularized my second employee a month ago.

Big sigh — still a long way to go before we can leave the country in peace and not worry about our business. In fact, there is no such thing as a relaxing vacation.

Case in point, when we went to Balesin last weekend, I was still calling, texting and emailing my people just to ensure that we’re on top of things.

Up till the time I find veterans of our own, the company will be a revolving door of people. Just yesterday, I fired our sales coordinator for gross and habitual lates and absences, an offense serious enough because we just hired her the beginning of February!

You have to find better people, Bonita!” my father-in-law once chided me. “You have to be better in the interview process!”

Here’s the problem dad,” my mother-in-law countered in defense. “You’ll never really know what type of people you’ll hire unless they’ve started working.”

I found the latter statement to be true.

While experience teaches you to be better in filtering people during the interview, there is no better way to see if people are good or not than actually having them start working for you.

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The worst case I’ve had so far was an area supervisor who came for a one-day training then left citing personal reasons! That was really bad. See my entire rant here in my entry, “Disappointed with the Philippine workforce.

After awhile of managing a business here in the Philippines, I’ve now grown immune to people crying, asking for pity and begging. You never know if it’s a truth or a lie!

I’d like to think I get better when interviewing as time goes on. Now, I no longer accept every Tom, Dick and Harry who walks in the door. I used to, with disastrous results.

Anyway, to make life easier, here are the five (5) qualities I look for when I interview an employee:

  1. Available: The employee must be willing to show up at the times you need them.


    My business is in retail. That means, when the mall is open, we are open. The only days we are closed in Maundy Thursday and New Year’s. Seriously.

    Hence, whereas construction companies enjoy long vacations especially during Christmas, our office is still open up till 4pm on Christmas eve. Then we take one day off on Christmas day and then resume work on December 26 onwards.

    On regular days, we are open from Mondays to Saturdays, 9am till 7pm. And my people don’t go home until they finish their work.

    The first requirement is that potential job candidates have to accept the long-hours and our tedious schedule. If they want a 9:00am-5:00pm job, or they want to take long vacations on Christmas, they are knocking at the wrong door.

    We might be a great company, but we’re not a good company for their needs. NEXT!

  2. Competence: The employee must be able to do the job at the deadline you require.


    This is an important question to ask yourself when interviewing: Can this person do this job?

    So many employers are swayed because they “like” a person during an interview.

    “I can always train him,” you tell yourself.

    Or “He’s a friend and he needs a job. Why should I not take him on?”

    Sorry.

    I don’t care if the person is nice, or if I like his personality.

    But if the person cannot do the job, I will not hire him.

    What’s more, I personally prefer employees who are already competent and can do the job. If the candidate requires training, at least, the training would be minimal and they can more or less do the work I require right off the bat.

    Anyway, I didn’t hire this person to train him/her. I hired him/her to work. That’s what I am paying them for.

    Competence is very important.

    Competent employees make managing a business a lot easier.

    You hire people who can help you because they can lighten up your load. 

    On the other hand, hiring a person who is incompetent adds to this load.

    Case in point, one of our staff who is family is like that.

    He is always the first to come and the last to leave. And yet, because he often forgets things and does tasks inefficiently, which always pisses off my mother-in-law.

    Now, because he is family, we have to tolerate him. We can’t really fire him.

    But instead of helping out in the office, he makes it harder for us to manage the business. Most afternoons for example are filled with my mother-in-law sermoning him once again due to a boo-boo.

  3. Trustworthiness and integrity: The employee is someone who you can trust, who live their lives with integrity, and are actually good people in words and in deeds.


    Ever heard of the saying, “When the cat is away, the mouse will play?”

    fadeeva-mice-dancing

    Most people are like that. Many employees work only when their boss checks up on them. But turn away, and they do things you dislike.

    For example, yesterday, we did a surprise visit to our stores. We do this at least once or twice a month when we have time.

    Imagine our surprise when our store in Pasig was found unmanned! We found the sales staff in another store, sitting on the floor and texting.

    Big sigh.

    Nope, we don’t like employees who are like that. They require constant supervision, and cannot be left alone.

    These are employees whom you are always playing cat and mouse games with. You have to install CCTVs to monitor them while you’re away. You need to call them constantly because you don’t trust that they are where they should be.

    I didn’t build a business to serve my employees. I did not hire them so I will be stressed about what they are doing.

    So if I find employees who violate my trust — and do things that they shouldn’t do — no matter how much I like them, I cannot keep them. Somehow, somewhere, I would have to get rid of them.

    In short, we have zero tolerance for those who are not trustworthy.

    We built out business so it can be filled with people who are good people. Those who do not lie, cheat and steal. It makes working and building a business more fun, don’t you think?

  4. Has initiative and is trainable: In Filipino, we call it, “Hindi namimili ng trabaho.” This means that the candidate is flexible and does not pick and choose tasks assigned to him.

    I once argued with an employee because she refused to pick up an item for the office. The item was a medium-sized easel used for promotions and was situated in a location 10 minutes away by foot.

    Ma’m, I can’t do it because it’s too far and I cannot carry the item myself,” she said. “I need a taxi just to bring it back.”

    I got pissed: “If I am only not busy, I would get it myself. Bakit ka namimili ng trabaho?” (Why are you picking and choosing your job).

    My employees know that one of the things that pisses me off is someone who says, “I’m sorry. That is not part of my job description.”

    As I myself wear many hats — for example, I am the one who manages the finances, the merchandising, and the sales of our company — I thoroughly dislike people who like to limit themselves to a single role.

    I’m sorry – There is no work divas in my office.

    I like surrounding myself with people like me. People who like and take initiative to learn. People who are willing to take on new challenges even if it is not part of their job description.

    For example, our company’s messenger boy.

    While he is just our messenger boy, he has managed to take on additional roles such as applying for our company’s business/mayor’s permit, and repairing and engraving items.

    This makes him very valuable. It shows he is not satisfied in just being a messenger boy, and is happy to prove to us that he is worth more than his salary.

    I look forward to the day we promote him and give him a bonus. 🙂

  5. Loyalty and staying power: When people believe in and are loyal to the company, they will help you. When they are loyal to you, your company will survive through thick and thin.

    A company is only as good as its people.

    If you have people who are loyal to you, then your company has a good chance of making it. That is by the way what my parents in law enjoy in their two-decade old business.

    Admittedly, I am envious of their team. I personally am still picking and choosing my own team. Truth be told, it’s not easy to find good people.Many candidates are only there because it is what is available at that time. Long-term wise, they have no plans to stay.

    Come a higher offer and they jump ship.

    At the first sign of trouble, they leave you at a critical time.

    Personally, while times are good, I am looking for employees who can stay a long time.

    Low staff turnover can only be good for the company. I like dealing with people I know I can count on. It keeps employees who already have the experience to do their jobs well, and already have a shared history with the company.

    That’s why I also reward people not only for their performance and competence, but also for their tenure and loyalty.

    It’s hard to find good people, and even harder to find people who believe in and are loyal to you.

There we go — the five qualities I look for in an employee. Do you agree or have anything more to add?

As usual, comments appreciated below.

Have a great week ahead!

Posted in Advice, Business, Conflicts, entrepreneurship, Favorite Posts, Filipino Men/Women, Finance, Interests, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is Wrong with Working for Someone Else?

Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur,

I’ve always found you to be very admirable.

For one, you are very optimistic.

Being optimistic despite the odds is a very good trait. It shows you have resilience, and have the ability to keep on smiling even when things seem to be against you.

Look at the odds of being an entrepreneur — it’s not as high as people think. And yet, you dream of still having your own business:

will-I-succeed-with-my-startup-infographic (1)

Yup, the odds are really not at your favor.

So yes, it would be logical to assume that being an entrepreneur means that you are optimistic. Because you believe in yourself enough to succeed when others do not.

Personally, I am an entrepreneur.

I’m living the dream.

Our small business consists of seven regular employees and more than a handful of distribution channels. If you go around the mall, you might see one of our stores and buy one of our items.

But while I am an optimist, my business forces me to be a realist.

If I am positive all the time, I will hope for better sales tomorrow without doing anything today.

This is a trap. A deadly one.

Because as a businesswoman, I know I have to act today to change my fate tomorrow.

Ma’m, we have to think positive,” my area supervisor reminded me. 

Thinking positive — ahhh, if you have a business, thinking positive is not enough.

So I told her, “Yes, I have to think positive that’s why I’m in business. But you have to wake yourself up to reality if you want your business to last.”

The reality is harsh for a person who is in business.

Rain or shine, I still have to pay my bills. Unlike working for other people, I still have to worry about my company’s income and expenses on a regular basis.

Honest to goodness, I spent the better part of yesterday questioning myself and wondering if we can generate enough revenue to pay our bills.

As we are in retail, more than half of my expenses are fixed costs and in mall rents. I have to pay my people’s salary every 15th and 30th even if business is not doing well.

Compared it to the time I was working for a bank. Wow, at that time, though life can be as stressful, when it comes to paying the bills, I never really had to care for a thing.

Honestly, I cared only for my  own work.

I cared about coming to work on time, doing a great job and wait for my salary to be deposited to my bank account.

Those were the good ol’ days.

But as an entrepreneur, these worry-free days — at least when it comes to being personally responsible for paying for all the bills — are over.

People often admire entrepreneurs for their success.

Do you know why we can be successful?

Because we are afraid.

We are afraid that if we don’t push ourselves, our company will go out of business. Because if we cannot balance our revenues and expenses, we cannot pay the people who depend on us. And we are afraid to tell other people that we failed.

That is why, as an optimistic realist, I will spend the rest of the month pushing my people to sell more instead of leaving it up to my people the hope of an even better day.

There is no luck in business,” I would always tell my people. “Only action to change your fate.”

Two, it is not completely true that being an entrepreneur would mean more freedom to spend your time however you want.

A lot of people are envious of entrepreneurs because they get to leave work whatever time they want.

This is partly true —- For example, I managed to visit a sick ninong at the hospital at 5pm yesterday without asking approval from my boss. I wouldn’t have the same type of luxury if I worked for someone else.

My people can’t leave to buy snacks without informing others first.

So yes, it is partially true that you have the freedom to choose how you spend your time if you worked for yourself.

However, it is not true that these “escapes” don’t come at a cost.

There are no back-ups as the entrepreneur. There are still many things that you yourself would still have to finish.

Hence, because I was gone for the afternoon, I have to finish my backlog of balancing the checkbook later that evening. Someone still has to do it, and that someone is me.

Taking work off does not mean that you can afford for the work to be unfinished. Instead, it only means that the work gets delayed and would invade my personal time.

That is why, when we watched 50 Shades of Gray, I was nudging my husband about the unrealistic portrayal of a 27-year old billionaire who still manages to free up his schedule to see Ms. Anastasia Steele!

Christian-and-Anastasia-christian-grey-and-anastasia-steele-37287318-610-400

Uhhhh… how does he even have the time to leave his business?” I asked my husband.

Actually, I was more jealous that Christian Grey could leave his business for a good while without the business self-imploding than the good sex that Anastasia Steele was having.

Ahhhhh…. the things you never read from Entrepreneur magazine. 🙂

This Friday for example, we would be taking off for an overnight in Balesin resort. My husband’s sister is in town and the family creeds us to join them (family orders).

Don’t get me wrong —- I would love the chance for a nice R&R. Goodness knows, we deserve it.

But while the old me would jump at a chance for a free vacation, the new entrepreneur me groans that the vacation would cause us to stay away from our business for 2 days. 😦

That would mean that I would be in calls with our people throughout our vacation,” I said. “And I would be worried about sales throughout the weekend.”

Such is the life of an entrepreneur.

Compare it to my Shanghainese friend who is here for Chinese New Year.

“How many days off do you have?” I meekly asked her. She currently works in corporate strategy for a large pharmaceutical company in Shanghai.

Oh, I only have 15 days,” she said. “Not that much.”

My husband who works for a Finnish company has 25 days off per year,” she added.

Shit. 😦

Nope aspiring entrepreneur, 25 days off away from your business is still a luxury you most likely cannot afford until your team is in place and your business is stable.

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Bye bye long vacations.

For us, that would probably come in a few years time. Le sigh…

Lastly, I actually get little respect from peers.

Blame it on my friends having great jobs in huge companies. Most of my friends work in World Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, BOA Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, McKinsey, Amazon, LinkedIn, Unilever, P&G, Johnson&Johnson, and other leading companies.

Compared to the companies they worked for, my company… well, nothing much to brag about right?

When I first heard of my husband’s company, I cannot help but give him a blank stare. Seriously, I’ve never even heard of it!

When I heard of my parents-in-law company, I scratched my head. Never heard of it either!

Such is the life of an entrepreneur.

Most of the time, nobody’s heard yet of your company!

So when I meet people, they will politely nod their head after asking me what I did. And then they would change the topic.

Aiyo…

It can be a bit deflating to the ego that people have never even heard of your company.

Sure, that probably means that you need to do more marketing, and yes we are actually working on that part, but hell, it’s still a bit depressing when people are not as excited as you are about your company and your products!

Compare it to telling people that you work for McKinsey Consulting. Eyes would light up, and the immediate respect would be there. If you worked for McKinsey, that means you have the skills and the intellect to make it to their rigorous selection process.

Yes my friends, there is a difference.

Regardless, after bashing entrepreneurship — and yes, I can courageously do so because I am an entrepreneur — I cannot imagine myself being anywhere else.

Why?

Because for one, this is my fate.

I married into an entrepreneurship lifestyle. The business is ours by marriage. And if I want to continue to be happily married to my husband, this is the life I would have to live.

Plus it doesn’t help that I’ve been raised by two optimistic entrepreneurs who brainwashed me into thinking that there is no better option than managing your own business.

Two, because at the end of the day, this realist is still the ultimate optimist.

In the end, I still believe in our business. I believe in our products, and I believe in our strategy. We feel that we can grow our business through sheer force of will, and there is a future in our business. And yes, we are willing to put our money where our mouth is.

And lastly, I like to make a difference.

Whenever I hire someone new, I feel I am making a d