Video: Thee mommy bloggers savings challenge held last May 16 at the Fort.

sign up and register at the Target One Million website:

I still recall my first car in 1980. It was a second hand red Mitsubishi Galant 1600 that my father sent over from Cebu to Manila . During those days, there was a fuel crisis. As a struggling employee, I needed to follow fuel saving tips. Some of the tips I learned about driving habits was: Drive smoothly ; Use higher gears and avoid over revving ; Conserve momentum and keep your distance ; Avoid excess idling ; Avoid high speeds ; Use air conditioning sparingly and keep windows closed.

I was pretty excited when Shell invited mom bloggers to participate in the Shell Fuel Save Mommy Savings challenge last May 16. Shell explained other tips to save on fuel such as vehicle maintenance and using the right fuel and lubricant. Fuel economy can be improved through a combination of good driving habits and using the right fuel. When combined with the Shell FuelSave Tips, Shell fuels with Fuel Economy Formula (such as Shell FuelSave) can help reduce consumption and fuel costs by helping you get more out of every tank.

Another fuel saving tip is planning the journey. As moms, we know this all too well. We are school buses to our kids. Shopping or grocery needs are mostly done by mothers. The Mommy Savings Challenge piqued my curiosity. Our task : Each team is tasked to prepare for a birthday party good for 10 kids aged 8 years old. Oh no, the last birthday party I did was over 18 years ago. The last party I did was Lauren’s debut party. I was in Team D together with Carrine Emata.

Each team drove a frugal 1.6L A/T Ford Fiesta Sport Hatchback known for its fuel efficiency. Ford recommends a fuel with 93 RON such as Shell FuelSave Unleaded for the Fiesta.

It is important to plan the journey because the winner will be judged on value for money (25%), creativity (25%) , fuel economy (40%) and time (10%). Our shopping list included : party favors and materials for the games decorations, food and birthday cake for a budget of 3,000 pesos. The items must be bought from three pre-identified areas : Bonifacio High Street, Rockwell and Greenbelt. The teams decided where each item will be bought as long as all three locations are covered. I misinterpreted the last instruction. I thought we had to buy all items in all three locations.

Carrine drove the car while I navigated the road and planned our birthday party. I kept calling my 26 year old daughter on what kind of party to hold. We decided on BFF party all in pink and purple. We also planned on the shortest route possible and places to buy affordable party items. With 3,000 pesos, it could be quite a challenge to buy in high end shopping areas. We bought the birthday cake at Fortune bakeshop at Greenbelt 1 for less than 500 pesos. In National Bookstore in Greenbelt 1, we bought games, and some party favors. For food, it was Jollibee while we bought party supplies at the Powerplant Rustans’ supermarket. For our last stop, I told Carrine to wait for me while I bought a game prize at fully booked. I think we spent 2,800 pesos for a birthday party of 10 kids.

Too bad, our Team D was the last to arrive. Yes, we thought we should buy our stuff in all three shopping areas. Oh well, I presented our party theme, “BFF forever”, a sit-down birthday party where the games are all done on the table. Our birthday party theme is pretty in pink and purple. I jokingly said ” This is the 8th birthday party of my menopausal baby” which drew laughs from the audience.

Chats and Cooky came in third.

Michelle and Rowena came in second.

And the young mom bloggers are the winner. Well that’s okay. For our effort, I got a full tank as our consolation prize.

Our team got the shortest route but not necessarily fuel efficient since we traversed traffic areas.

Lessons learned from the “Shell FuelSave Mommy Savings Challenge” is planning the journey:

Plan trips carefully and avoid the rush hour – Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey. Plus, if you can travel outside of peak times, you’ll spend less time stuck in traffic and consume less fuel as a result.

Avoid carrying excess weight – You may be surprised, but every extra pound or kilogram matters and affects your fuel efficiency. So keep your boot and back seat clear of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle (e.g. golf clubs).

Take the roof rack off – If you’re not using your roof rack then remove it. They affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle and create drag, reducing fuel economy.

Shell launched the Target One Million, a Shell FuelSave campaign to help one million motorists across the globe learn how to save fuel. Please sign up and Target One Million website at

More tips:

Source: via Noemi on Pinterest

It has been a while. In my dreams, I wept that it woke me up still in tears. I forgot my dream now but I remember Luijoe, my beloved son was in it. Then it occurred to me, today is his 12th Angel year. It has been 12 long years. Imagine, I lived through those years. When my grief was so fresh, the wound was so deep , my heart so broken , I felt I fell into the deepest virtual pit in my mind.

It took me nearly five years before I emerged from that deep dark, cold pit . But now, when something triggers the memory of my son enough to make me cry, I find it comforting. It tells me that time is a measureless dimension in which my son and I are always part of each other.

Indeed, death took away my beloved son. That’s all there is to it. But grief gives back. Looking back at the past 12 years , I was not simply eroded by pain. I became more attuned to my emotions.. more aware, more compassionate, and more able to help others.

Grief is powerful alchemy. It plunges us into sorrow and forces us to face the finiteness of life, the mightiness of death, and the meaning of our existence on this earth. It does more than enable us to change; it demands it.

The way we change is up to you, and it is possible to be forever bowed by grief. But it is also possible to be enlarged, to find new direction, and to allow the memory of the beloved person we have lost to live on within us, not as a monument to misery but as a source of strength, love, and inspiration. By acting on our grief, we can eventually find ourselves a place of peace and purposefulness.

It is my belief that all grievers, no matter how intense their pain, no matter how rough the terrain across which they must travel…can eventually find that place within their hearts.

Today, I am very much aware Luijoe lives in my heart

Our souls entwined

communicating everyday.

Everything I had with Luijoe when he was alive still lives in me. He lives in every word and action I do for the rest of my life.

““It’s not about the music, but about being yourself!” – Lady Gaga

Celebrating love, life and experience in the midst of protest against Lady Gaga concert.

“Tonight is all about togetherness. In our differences, we are all the same.”- Lady Gaga

I half-expected her to show up in a semi-naked attire or something but more than 50 percent of the time , she was in a long dress or short skirt. In fact, I spotted two attires that were Filipiniana-inspired because of the sleeves. This Filipiana in yellow color makes her want to be one with the Filipinos.

The most controversial among her songs is “Judas” but she explained it this way.

““Judas is a metaphor and an analogy about forgiveness and betrayal, and things that haunt you in your life, and how I believe that it’s the darkness in your life that ultimately shines and illuminates the greater light that you have upon you.”

I read the lyrics and they are indeed provocative but you have to read it deeper to understand the metaphors. I don’t believe it is anti-Christian. Here are some photos I took last night with some of her quotable quotes:

“Some people say I stand for things that are bad, the truth is, I want the best for every single one of you” -Lady Gaga

Jane and I carpooled together and arrived at SM Arena at about 7:00 PM. Strangely there was no traffic on the way there . No hassle at all.

I actually expected the worst from Lady Gaga considering how the protesters trashed her but she was fun, entertaining that I even danced, and jumped around. I can also see the expression in her face as she sang the songs with slower tempo.

The set reminds me of a Cathedral-Palace with Crosses all around.

Before she sang Judas she called out “I am not an alien. I am not a woman. I am not a man. I am not a creature of your government, Manila”

Mother Monster says, “I want the best for you. I love all of you guys!

Singing and playing the piano in a motorbike with the Philippine flag at the back is the most provocative of all.

Spreading her legs brought cheers from the crowd. I didn’t hear any lewd remarks.

Then @ladygaga asks “I hope you guys are having fun tonight.” *crowd cheers* “But if you’re not, I don’t give a fuck.” *even louder cheers*

Listening to “Judas” didn’t turn me to a demon as much as Listening to “Ave Maria” will make me a saint.

“You guys taught me to never give up on myself.” Lady Gaga chimes in as she begins Marry the Night.

So what was that fuss all about? I never had so much fun in a concert that would make me dance along with the music. For the first time in my life, I didn’t suffer ear problems or my heart beating like crazy because of the loud amplifier .

Lady Gaga is an artist and music is her way of expressing it. What seems anti-Christian is not what Christians think it is. I admit it is provocative and full of metaphors. If you are a parent of young kids or teens, it is important to discuss the metaphors Lady Gaga use (or similar artists) and the music lyrics. As @jingdalagan , a Twitter follower told me ” any person has a sense of right and wrong, even children – it’s just that if they don’t understand something, you need to be there to explain things to them. and as parents, we need to explain to them the things they see, Lady Gaga included.”

It is a fact that there are some who have problems with their faith. Each of us protest something be it the Lady Gaga concert, some religious doctrines, the government or our family . She admits she is a rebel and and it shows in her music. It is how you use that protest for something good. As Adolfo Mortera , a facebook friend adds ” The anti-Lady Gaga sentiment to me is a fad, for people who ride on causes they know little about. I like best what writer Ben Lumbera said, that Lady Gaga songs are her own cultural belief which she should be allowed to express freely. If one doesn’t like her and her songs, then don’t listen to it.”

She sheds tears as she played the piano . “You guys taught me to never give up on myself.”

Find ways to celebrate your life, love and experience.

Here are some reactions of the crowd. They had as much fun as I had

Updated May 17 , 2012– I recently appeared on Talkback with Tina Palma on Bullying. This is my updated post on Bullying in Philippine Schools and added the latest Department of Education policy on bullying.

This is a guest post by my daughter, Lauren. I’ve always wanted to tackle the topic of bullying for a long time now since I was so problematic about it during Lauren’s early years at school. The harrowing effects of bullying are best illustrated by the victim. In this case, Lauren tells her story.

Photo Credit:

I attended a private, all-girl schools from elementary up until high school and I can tell you – those were far from the best years of my life. I don’t know if it’s really in my nature to be shy and socially awkward or if my experiences in school turned me into that kind of person. One thing I do know is that a lot of the insecurities I have about myself is rooted in the fact that I got bullied a lot during my early elementary school years.

I can never forget my first bully. Her name is Kathleen and her family owned the school bus service I rode to school and back during my elementary years. We were both in grade one and for some strange reason, she took an instant dislike to me. I have no idea why – I’ve always been a quiet sort of kid who always stood out of other people’s way and I can’t remember doing or saying anything that would make her hate me. But hate me she did. She never beat me up or anything – oh no, girls are way more subtle and cruel than that. She had her own circle of friends and was somehow able to convince them to hate me as well, Going to school every morning and coming home in the late afternoon was a ritual I always dreaded. I got stuck in the worst seat, never got snacks passed my way, and pretty much had to beg the other girls to let me join their games whenever we’d get stuck in traffic.

There were many others after Kathleen – the girls who made fun of me for spending my lunch hours reading in the library, the girls who decided that I had a crush on this other girl and humiliated me about it every chance they got, even a teacher who spent an entire homeroom period picking on me because I got bored one day and felt like passing a survey in class asking if anyone else hates math as much as I do. I’m pretty sure there was more but I must have buried those memories in my subconscious somewhere. I do know that my grades went down drastically, I took to daydreaming and paying little or no attention in class, and wrote my mom a lot of notes about the “terrable days” I would have in school.

One of the many notes Lauren would write me from school.

Things didn’t get any better for me when I attended high school. I moved to a different school and made the mistake of speaking to my new classmates in English on the first day. For that reason, or whatever other reason, they decided I was weird and I spent the next four years trying and failing to fit in.

I know that my experiences as a bully victim don’t sound particularly traumatizing, but you don’t have to get beat up in the playground to develop emotional scars that stay with you for the rest of your life – especially when the damage is psychological, which is what female bullying is about. Think about it. You’re a little kid, and all you really want is to make friends with the kids you go to school with everyday. Then you find out that not only do your schoolmates reject your attempts at friendship – they also make fun of the most trivial things about you, like the way you speak. You start to wonder if maybe there’s something seriously wrong with you because nobody can seem to like you for the way you are. You start hating yourself and constantly doubting your abilities, and you find it difficult to open up to people and form deep friendships with anyone.

The sad part is that guidance counselors, teachers, and even some parents don’t think much of bullying. They pass it off as play, or maybe an early life lesson: the world can be a terrible place filled with people who will treat you with undeserved cruelty. I do understand that kids have to grow up and learn that hard lesson someday, but I think anyone under the age of ten is too young to deal with that much reality. At that age, it’s important for children to learn to accept or at least respect people for exactly who they are instead of making fun of their differences. What kind of lesson will be passed on to them if their elders shrug off bullying as something totally normal?

Notes from the Mother

No parent wants to see their child get hurt. But according to a recent US study, 77% of students are being bullied mentally, verbally, or physically by their peers. Filipino children are equally exposed to bullying, and are even more at risk since Filipino parents often mistake bullying as a painful, yet necessary, rite of passage. Children who are either bullied or bullies themselves—are suffering from deep emotional scars. Aside from being withdrawn and depressed, victimized children are more likely to drop out of school, take up vices, and get into fights.

Thank goodness, Lauren didn’t drop out of school. The effect on her was mediocre academic performance. I could see the drastic drop starting third grade till I pulled her out of that school in Grade 6. Though intelligent, she was not motivated enough to score high in her tests until she attended college. Only then did Lauren blossom, away from the ravages of shallow high school classmates and their bullying antics.

During her elementary years, I was helpless against the bullying that victimized my sweet and gentle daughter in her School. I talked to the school’s guidance counselor and all she could tell me is that “Lauren had to learn to live with these bullies”. Moving schools was an option but where? Anti-bullying campaign in Philippine Schools was not yet in place in the mid-nineties and even today.

Good news to parents. Be aware . There is now a Department of Education policy to protect children from bullying. A Child Protection Committee (CPC) will be established in all private and public elementary and secondary schools. The committee will be composed of school officials, teachers, parents, students, and a community representative.

(If you want to guest post in my blog, drop me a note with the suggested topic)

Other Resources

View my Batanes photo gallery.

Each wedding anniversary that my husband and I face every year deserves to be celebrated in any memorable way.

Every celebration symbolizes our annual renewal of our vows to each other —

“to have and to hold
from this day forward;
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish,
till death do us part”

windswept hair atop one of the rolling hills in Racuh A Payaman also known as Marlboro country

So when Andrea invited me to a media tour of the chartered flights from Batanes Cultural Travel Agency (BCTA) I couldn’t say no. When SEAIR invited me in 2008, I kept putting Batanes on hold for some reason. This time , I had a reason to say “YES Batanes, I want to celebrate our love there”… but asked Andres if I could pay for my husband’s fare just so we could celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary in Batanes. Good thing she allowed me to bring Butch along.

Mount Carmel Chapel in Tukon modeled after the traditional Ivatan stone houses.

Spending our 27th wedding anniversary in romantic Batanes is one gift we gave to ourselves. Being close to such a beautiful and peaceful place gave us the time to reflect and be thankful for all the blessings in our life. If you know us personally, you will know that our married life was filled with drama for most of our 27 years. It is only recently (perhaps 2005) that we reaffirmed our commitment to each other. Like many marriages perhaps, it was a rough journey.. but then as my friend , Bernie reminds me “marriage is always a work in progress and that is what keeps it going.”

I can’t begin to describe Batanes. You will have to discover the beauty yourself. I will write more about Batanes in separate articles. Enjoy just some photos that show the happiness in our faces as we discovered the landscape of Batanes which is unique from other Philippine provinces due to the steep cliffs, rolling hills, deep canyons and boulder-lined shores.

The photo before this was taken by our tour guide so it doesn’t show the beauty of the chapel.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.” Les Miserables

On the ceilings are different municipal saints of Batanes painted by Ivatan artists trained at the Pacita Abad Center for the Arts.

“Our anniversary is a time to look back at the good times and a time to look ahead to live our dreams together.”

hedgerows “liveng” serve as boundaries of plantation / agricultural crops and boundary of ownership.

The difficulty with married life is that we fall in love with a personality, but must live with a character.

home studio of artist Pacita Abad is now a boutique hotel is the most luxurious accommodation on Batanes Island

“There is no feeling more comforting and consoling than knowing you are right next to your loved one.”

Vayang Rolling Hills

Side by side – Year by year.

The boulder beach with lots of large stones came from a volcanic eruption from Mt. Iraya in 400 AD.

“A marriage anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.”

Basco Lighthouse alomg the lush green hills and the open sea provide a beautiful backdrop for the lighthouse.

““A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” Paul Sweeney

Butch taking a photo of me

Close up view though pixelated

“Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. : – Mark Twain

Chawa View Deck, Mahatao

“For you wake one day, look around and say, somebody wonderful married me”. Fred Ebb

Enjoying the view at Chawa Cliffs

“Married couples who love each other tell each other a thousand things without talking.”- Chinese Proverb

Still at Cliffs of Chawa

“The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret”. Henry Youngman

“Love is not blind – It sees more and not less, but because it sees more it is willing to see less.” Will Moss

View of Racuh A Payaman is spectacular. Watch the video below for the sound of the wind

“Marriage is a partnership in which each inspire the other, and brings fruition to both of you.” Millicent Carey McIntosh

Mahatao Church which is a National Cultural Treasure.

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage”. Martin Luther

writing the story of our love in Book 505. “MayWang A Libro Du Vatan” (Batanes Blank Book archive) a grant from the Asian Public Intellectuals Fellowship, The Nippon Foundation

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years”. Simone Signoret

Book 505 from the Batanes Blank book archive. When we return to Batanes, we continue our love story and write it down in Book 505.

Are we not like two volumes of single book ?

“The goal of our life should not be to find joy in marriage, but to bring more love and truth into the world.”

– Leo Tolstoy

For more photos, view my Batanes photo gallery.

I will write more about Batanes.

If you have not been me when I say everywhere in Batanes is picture-perfect. From the lighthouse in Naidi Hills, to the beautiful communal grazing area of Racuh a’ Payaman (or Marlboro country), and the rocky beach in Valuga.

You can fly to Batanes via BCTA chartered flights (Manila-Basco-Manila) at promotional price of 6,200 pesos one way using a British-made aircraft BAE-146. They have started accepting bookings on March 01. Flights will be Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays starting on March 15. The flight is only one hour and ten minutes, in the comfort of a 94-seater jet. For reservations please call the following hotlines: (02) 635-4810 / 546-1197 / 998-4303 / 475-5267 / 475-5260 / 0917-8112282 / 0999-8894106 / 0908-2309419 / 0922-8213717. or visit for more details