Updated: Includes curated tweets during a discussion last April 21, 2012

sex-education““I tell people —You don’t want to talk to your child about your kids’ sex education. Well therefore, your child will learn sex through billboards, through internet, through magazine, through exploitative media outlets. Good luck. I talk to my children about sex because I rather they hear it from me from anyone else”, Pia Cayetano told us in Blog Watch just before the elections.

Take note, our bishops say that sex education should be left to the parents but welcomes teaching about it in college. The bishops think that sex education in public elementary and high schools may encourage promiscuity and early sexuality outside the sacrament of matrimony. In the proposed Reproductive Health Bill , sex education has been amended ““Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education.”

Sex education starts when our children are young. A mother told me that she wished she had taught her pregnant 18 year old daughter about sex. Her daughter thought she would never get pregnant in her first sexual experience. Another mom expressed her frustration:

They are bombarded by sexual messages from all sides of their life, and parents have to take an even bigger role now to provide them with balance. I want my girls to see their sexuality in a healthier light than I did, without all the misconceptions and guilt that came with it. It’s hard finding a balance between wanting them to be able to enjoy their sexuality without being ashamed of it, but also accept and be accountable to the responsibility that comes with it.

Ang_mungo, a young father said in twitter that

Sex ed needs to be taught in the context of values, of relationships and love. Otherwise, it will just be another biology lesson.

The focus of sex ed must be on responsibility, on consequences, and on the happiness it can bring two people who love each other.

Read More →

“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals. Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the hollyhock.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Summer afternoon…oh the summer afternoon. I would rather have the summer heat than the winter cold.

It was the perfect time last April 7 to view the gorgeous and bold sunflowers at the UP Diliman campus, the place where my husband and I met 34 years ago ( You can read our love story.) I wore my pretty yellow sun hat to protect me from the scorching heat just so I won’t get a migraine.

Today, at the University of the Philippines, 3,998 graduates will be marching to receive their diplomas at the UP Diliman’s 101st general commencement exercises. They will pass through the “waysides on University Avenue as thousands of sunflowers—those huge, bright yellow blooms used to depict the sun—greet graduating students .” Graduation is not complete without the sunflowers.

The heat did not bother me that time. I recall Helen Keller quote about sunflowers. “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do. ”

The sunflowers with its bright yellow petals were stunning! It only blossoms on April just before the annual university graduation. Sunflowers spark hope for the new graduates. A subtle message seems to beckon graduates to look forward to a bright future.

I was fortunate enough to see the Sunflowers at its full bloom. Cars barely drove by the avenue. No security guards to bother us. The Sunflower heads gazed towards the oblation, as it worships the sun.

Light-enchanted sunflower, thou
Who gazest ever true and tender
On the sun’s revolving splendour.”
~ Pedro Calderon de la Barca

The bright, blooming sunflower heads , symbolic of the sun itself represents warmth, happiness and all things positive. The sunflower is the happiest flower of all and it gave such a cheerful atmosphere that sunny afternoon. It was a delight to just admire the scenery. I call out my husband to pose for me.

I discovered Sunflowers can be said to hold a very spiritual meaning. “The flowers appear to loyally and devoutly follow the course of the sun as it moves across the sky from the East to the West. In a spiritual sense, the sunflower is seen as a genuine follower of the sun. The sunflower will seek out the light, no matter how little light there is and hold their heads high in worship. Just like having a faith, these flowers are a symbol of constant, true and unswerving loyalty to something bigger and brighter than themselves.”

I like its symbolism of faith, loyalty and adoration. The idea that the sunflower follows the path of the sun all day means that it is seen as a symbol of unbending faith, loyalty and devoted love.

The sunflowers remind me of our love and devotion to each other. Yes, my husband just had to be in this photo he took of me.

sunflowers in UP Campus

Eagle of flowers! I see thee stand,
And on the sun’s noon-glory gaze:
With eye like his thy lids expand,
And fringe their disk with golden rays;
Though fix’d on earth, in darkness rooted there,
Light is thine element, thy dwelling air,
Thy prospect heaven.

So would mine eagle-soul descry,
Beyond the path where planets run,
The light of immortality,
The splendour of creation’s sun;
Though sprung from earth, and hast’ning to the tomb
In hope a flower of paradise to bloom,
I took to heaven.
(A sunflower poem by James Montgomery)

Image credit : here

I believe it is really important to love ourselves first. To love others, we must first learn to love ourselves. For Women’s day, let’s devote it to ME first so I ‘d like to share some quotes on loving yourself first.

There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart. It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heats our soul, energizes our spirit, and supplies passion to our lives.”
– Elisabeth Kubler Ross

““Something inside you emerges.an innate, indwelling peace, stillness, aliveness. It is the unconditioned, who you are in your essence. It is what you had been looking for in the love object. It is yourself.”
– Eckhart Tolle

““Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.”
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

““Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.
– Louise L. Hay.

““You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
– Wayne Dyer

““If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.”
– Barbara De Angelis

““The way you treat yourself sets the standard for others.”
– Sonya Friedman

““A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.”
– Ken Keyes

““You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Buddha

So what are some things you can do to love yourself?

Gratitude is the first step to loving yourself. Start by thanking the people that mean a lot to you. But what things can you do today to take care of yourself?

1. My favorite is always going to the salon and pamper my feet with a rejuvenating pedicure or add eyelash extensions. I also enjoy the spa and having facials.

2. Indulge in a sweet treat like an ice cream bar (well perhaps once a month).

3. Buy a bouquet of flowers to brighten up your home.

4. Remember the special people in your life such as your friend from your youth. Have lunch with that person. The laughter and special memories are very uplifting.

5. Try something new. Start another blog. Take language lessons. Draw. Paint. Run.

6. Take a long nap. Enough rest works to improve problem-solving and creativity. Love your body by giving it the care it needs and it deserves.

And most of all, look at the mirror, smile and affirm that, that you are love and accept yourself as you are.

The only love you should be looking for is the one inside you.

Good grief. What am I doing here?

If I were seated here, watching this event 12 years ago, I will not be able to recognize myself.

My grief , the loss of my son brought me to where I am today. A whole new world. A blogger that talks about ““Touched by an Angel” at her blog, the aboutmyrecovery.com . A blogger that talks of Blog Watch, a citizen media endeavor.

From a homemaker to a whole new world as a blogger, citizen media and as features editor of an alternative online magazine, the Philippine Online Chronicles, I often wonder…what would I have been doing if I did not move on towards a positive resolution of my grief? Never did I conceive that the shy old me would land on TV, newspaper, radio, magazine as a resource person for grief, then later in blogging then social media for the elections. Blogging brought me new friends, reconnected with old friendships, brought me to travel places. It taught me to be more confident.

Not a day passes when I do not think of my loved ones who have gone on. I often still wonder how my life would have turned out if they were still with me. When the going gets rough in social media, I remember that the pain of losing my son is worst.

I am reminded of my friend Cathy when she wrote about The good from the grief. Eleanor Roosevelt said as she reflected upon her transition from first lady to private citizen after her husband died: ““Every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it, you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before.

““If you can live through that, you can live through anything. You gain courage, strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”

Watch #whatrocksmysocks video

What rocks my socks is being a blogger and evolving to cover a larger goal- to advocate social change .

My new normal as a blogger served me well: my role as a bereaved mother is no longer the first way I define who I am, but it is ever-present in my life and cannot be separated from all that I am . . . for the rest of my life.

I realized that Luijoe’s death gave me courage even if it took me five years to realize it. Courage to let life go on, to give myself a chance that new and good things will happen to me that will add JOY to my life. I felt he wanted me to carry on the comfort to others.

Working with my advocacy is also my way of keeping Luijoe’s memory alive in the next couple of years. I also know that every time I comfort a bereaved parent or sibling, my actions are a living tribute to my child.

Thank you IMMAP for the opportunity to share my story.

Read RECAP: THE IMMAP OPEN MIC NIGHT 2 from Carlo Ople and check out more photos here.

Thank you Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), TV5 and The Peninsula Manila and others such as Yehey!, Wunderman, 1DMG, Leo Burnett & Arc Worldwide, LoudWhistle, Ripple 100, GoMotion, TV5, Peachtree SEO and eLearning Edge. Media partners: Adobo Magazine, Inquirer, and Rappler.com. Official beverage partner for the night: Casa Noble

#Whatrocksmysocks speakers aside from myself:

-Ivy Almario, Interior Designer
-Marthyn Cuan, CIO at Meralco
-Manny Osmena, Cebu’s top winemaker, Manny O
-Glenmarc Antonio, Famous cosplayer

Photo credits: Some photos from Jane Uymatiao, Jaypee David , Carlo Ople and Jules Mariano. Thanks a lot

mother-in-law1.jpg Looks like a few readers are interested in the upcoming, unwritten book on “How to Please Your Mother-in-law without losing your identity“. It’s not an impossible book. Based on practical tips from successful daughter-in-laws (like myself, I would hope so) who get along with their mother-in-laws, here are some:

1. Live as far apart from your mother-in-law. If she is based in Manila, move to South Africa. The farther you are, the fonder her heart will be towards you.

2. Give her a round trip ticket for a two to three weeks stay but make sure the ticket cannot be rebooked. How she will love you for your generosity. Repeat this practice every two to three years.

3. Praise her on how wonderful her son is and how her parenting style truly molded his character.

4. Take cooking, baking, sewing, crafts, gardening and household lessons. Not only will you benefit from the lessons but your mother in law will be impressed. Of course you didn’t do it to impress her.

5. Pray everyday. You know that she will never change her ways. Pray to get strength to go through another day and that your marriage will not be affected in a negative light.

Now this is nothing new but it works.

Here is something too funny not to share:

““To bring up a child in the way he should go, travel that way yourself once in a while.”
– Josh Billings

I was excited despite the short notice. Russel C Patalinghog invited me to be the guest speaker at the 8th Leadership Awards of Eton International School . They were launching their new 3D based curriculum using technology from Eureka and thought I’d speak on the advantages of using new technology to help kids today learn more. He also asked me to share my insights on parenting in the new digital age.

It excited me because for the first time my talk is about parenting. Usually I am invited to talk about blogging, grief, or social media. I wanted to share my experience as a parent who provided computers in 1994 and internet use in 1995 . When the internet came to the life of my children, no one knew if it would be helpful. Some people who were ignorant of the internet often questioned me why I allowed my children to use the internet. As one of the pioneering parents to use internet, I had to rely on common sense and instincts.

Before I prepared my talk, I asked my eldest daughter Lauren on ideas as I always do whenever I write about parenting articles. My children have taught me a lot about parenting. Yes , they raised me well. My children would know if internet and new technology gave them valuable lessons in life but that is another story I will share in the future.

For now, let me share my keynote speech with some inputs from my daughters .

L was 9 years old while M was 8 years old when I had an internet connection at home. Between the 2 girls, Lauren used the internet a lot more than M. My internet service provider in 1995 was Virtual Asia. For 500 pesos a month, I had 15 internet hours. Geesh, it was terribly expensive to get wired during those days.

striking a balance for the wonders of internet accountability, self-discipline and safety

The internet at home was mainly used for email purposes as I wanted to save my precious internet hours. One summer day in 1996 , nine year old Lauren got bored and demanded to go online to search for penpals. I foresaw the need to strike a balance for the wonders of the internet with the responsibility for accountability, self-discipline, and safety. The best defense I had was to make exploring the online world a family affair.

Allow me share with you my thoughts on parenting in this new digital world before I speak on using new technology in the classroom.

Today, there are a varied array of new technologies such as the iPad. I see many kids using iPad. The question is “who needs a babysitter, now there is the iPad?”

A pediatric occupational therapist Cris Rowan, Author of Virtual Child: The Terrifying Truth About What Technology is Doing to Children, and founder of Zone’in Programs Inc outlook on child technology “use is bleak and irreversible. They’re permanently altering the formation of their brain, and it’s not in a good way.” When asked how she foresaw children adapting or evolving if they were to continue at the level of usage seen today, Rowan responded, “Well, I see them dying.”

Watch this one year old child with the iPad and a magazine. The video shows how magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives. It shows real life clip of a 1-year old, growing among touch screens and print. And how the latter becomes irrelevant. Just watch.

The kid is restless with a magazine when it does not respond the way an iPad does. I find it disturbing because kids should be experiencing all the senses. There are health issues involved too. Your pediatrician can best explain this.

Two simple concepts: Clear limits and lead by example

I follow two parenting concepts that applies online and offline. Clear limits mean providing boundaries on our child’s activities and walking the talk on rules.

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” Jacqueline Kennedy

Books need to be given to young children not iPads. They need to feel and smell the book. Sure, ebook readers provide the visuals but it does not give the tactile experience.

Call me an old-fashioned parent, but I love holding a book, leafing through the crisp pages, experiencing the vivid graphics, and inhaling that wonderful book smell. Don’t you?

Whenever I buy a new book to my toddlers, I protected their books with plastic cover. Just before reading, I smell that wonderful book smell. That experience bonded me with my children and they will never forget it.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

Books are definitely a tactile experience for our children. The smell of new books always holds that promise of something new and exciting. Pass that on to your children. While I am not against iPads or other ebook readers, kids should own one when they are past 6 years old.

“We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching.” – Roy L. Smith

If you need to use these digital devices to your young children, cuddle them in your arms or sit them on your lap. The best way to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life is actually to embrace it as a family activity.

I also have an issue on prolonged use of devices. For children 2 yrs and above , American Academy of Pediatrics recommend 1 to 2 hours quality screen time per day. A finding from a Kaiser study in 2010 shows youth who spend more time with media report lower grades and lower levels of personal contentment.

Rowan references “a study that indicates technology overuse is not only changing brain chemistry, but also increasing the likelihood of children developing health issues. Human connection, eye contact and dialogue are paramount. Devices are hugely limiting this important exposure, Rowan says.”

As a result, therapists and clinicians are seeing an increase in attachment disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar, obsessive compulsive disorders, and ADHD all of which have been linked to technology overuse. “I’ve been working with kids for 25 years. I’ve never seen this,” she concludes. “This is something that’s epic. And we’re really just witnessing the tip of an iceberg.”

As a parent who didn’t know much of new technology in the mid-nineties, I’d rather children read a book, see play volleyball than spend time vegetating in front of the computer. But I thought maybe the internet can have a place at home. The school did not have internet back then. It can be perfectly safe, uplifting and wonderful parts of kids’ lives if used wisely, especially combined with other balanced and healthy daily activities.

Parenting Online

Parenting online isn’t much different than parenting your child when they aren’t in front of a keyboard.

1. Embrace technology

The best way to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life “is actually to embrace it, educate yourself about it and go hands-on with new devices, apps, social networks and services wherever possible. We don’t help our kids when we judge their lives through the lens of a non-digital world. It’s important for us to understand that our kids will spend their lives in a connected world where everyone participates in communication and creation.”

2. Teach kids the skills they need to use technology wisely and well.

It’s hard to gate-keep in a world with no fences. “Parents have lost control of the flow of information to our kids who see too much, too soon. We no longer hear conversations or see what our kids create and share with others. Since we cannot cover their eyes, or shadow them everywhere, we need to teach them how to see and how to behave responsibly.”

3. Match Technology with Reading Time or Outside Time

Make a deal in the house that for every hour of media, they must also spend an hour reading or outside. This makes sure kids keep a balance between technology and other activities.Most importantly, we must consider the media and technology use in the home so it does not become automatic, but deliberate and carefully implemented.

The limits I set for my children below 16 years old : only one hour computer use/internet a day. No TV during school days. Once the girls were in college, I set them free and allowed them to set their own rules.

4. Don’t be afraid.

Parents can’t afford to be technophobic. “Our kids adopt technologies faster than we do.That means they’re often way out in front of us. This fact upsets the parent/child relationship.So get in the game. Have your kids show you how to do something if you don’t know.”

5. Pass along your values.

Family values “are things that are many times passed down from generation to generation, and they play a monumental role in how your child learns and grows. Defining this time will help your family to understand what is important and what it means when you are talking about issues such as family time, play time, and other larger issues such as spirituality and the beliefs that you wish your child to grow up with.”

Using new technology in helping your kids learn more

I am not saying my parenting concept should be followed by all. The reason I am sharing this is because I have been there using new technology when my children were way older than 6 years old.

Technology is nothing new. Through the years, technology has evolved. Watch this video on “The history of technology in education”, and at how advancements in technology have impacted teaching and learning over time.

“Film strip projectors, copy machines, cassette players, television sets, VCR’s, CD players, DVD players, projectors and myriad of other tools are all forms of technology that have aided teachers and enhanced instruction in the past. I would also agree that when used in wrong hands, these can hinder true education.”

Using new technology and computers if abused will only take the students minds away from the actual information trying to be taught, and towards how cool and awesome the new gadgets are in the classroom.

Technology in the classroom is not a new idea.Technology has advanced, but the message is still relevant!! It shows how technology may transform delivery and create new opportunities but the process is not new. More importantly, it reinforces the need to guide the learner (with some good old note taking!). The use of new media and technology still have to be carefully thought out especially in targeting conceptual learning.”

From the old video shown in the 1950’s, it is still applicable today. New technology in the classroom should stimulate, motivate and educate with a goal in mind.

Stimulate, motivate and educate with a goal in mind

New technology in the classroom brings fun and excitement to learning, lessons are captivating and engaging, many abstract subjects become tangible for students . It can also cultivate mastery of lessons and shortened period of teaching.


1. Stimulate

Students require more than simple lectures to gain knowledge. “They instead need variety. Children must be immersed in different forms of learning. This is to ensure that all types of fact absorptions can be addressed (since some individuals master information through reading while others require visuals, and some may instead need to touch their assignments). Utilize computers, debates, the arts, Kinesthetic practices and more to allow all students to understand the material. Provide variety to ensure success.”

2. Motivate

One of the major keys to motivation is the active involvement of students in their own learning. “Standing in front of them and lecturing to them (at them?) is thus a relatively poor method of teaching. It is better to get students involved in activities, group problem solving exercises, helping to decide what to do and the best way to do it, helping the teacher, working with each other, or in some other way getting physically involved in the lesson. A lesson about nature, for example, would be more effective walking outdoors than looking at pictures.”

3. Educate

When you teach kids how to stimulate their mind while having fun kids systematically seek ways to educate themselves and enjoy lessons at school and education in general.

Hesitancy and fear of technology is not new

I used to have mixed feelings about using new technology in helping my kids learn more. Knowing that Eton International school will soon use a 3D curriculum in Science and math, I wish they were around in the nineties. My two girls often struggled with Mathematics. Imagine if the Math 3D curriculum was part of their Math classes. I am sure my girls would have appreciated Math more. I will write more about their 3D Based curriculum in another blog post.

For most parents, the hesitancy and fear of new technology is not new either. Usually we think of technology as machine-like equipment. Wasn’t it at one point, implementing paper and pencils into the classroom was the new ‘technology’ craze (as opposed to the slate board). Interesting perspective, isn’t it?

You know the good thing that happened when I embraced technology? I became a blogger in 2006 and today I use social media tools to advocate social change through Blog Watch.

“Technology is ruled by two types of people: those who manage what they do not understand, and those who understand what they do not manage.” Mike Trout