I was too complacent during the years I grieved for the loss of my son. I left all the financial burden to my husband. Today, taking responsibility for our financial affairs improved my self-esteem and lessened my anxiety.

Each of us has a financial future. There are few future aspects of my life I can’t control, but one part I can play to assist our family’s future is setting goals. Now that my children are financially independent, our next goal is our retirement income. Not that I will retire anytime soon, but my husband and I need funds for our senior years. Aside from real estate investment, we placed some of our savings in mutual or equity funds in three financial institutions for long term investments.

Long Term investments

A vast majority of Filipinos are only aware of saving accounts in banks and time deposits and do not know that there are other vehicles which can best grow one’s money. I am not talking of those ““get-rich-quick” scheme that reportedly duped 15,000 people, including local government officials in the Visayas and Mindanao”.

The reality is, savings and time deposits earn 2.75% or less annually. With inflation currently at 3.6% as of September 2012, the purchasing power of your money will diminish over time.

There are many options to make your money grow. One is Philam Life’s Money Tree, a one-pay investment and life insurance plan that gives you the opportunity to invest in high-performing funds that take advantage of the Philippines’ booming economy. It also offers life insurance protection to secure your family’s future.

Benefits of Money Tree

What I liked about this long-term solution is the life insurance benefit in case something happens to me. Naturally, my beneficiaries are my two children. What benefits can you exactly derive from the Philam Life’s Money Tree?

1. Grow your money’s value over the long-term

Money in the bank actually loses its value and gets eroded by inflation. I just put enough for short term needs. Bank deposits only earn 0.375% p.a. for savings accounts while one-year time deposits earn 2.75% p.a. or less. This is not enough to beat the current inflation of 3.6% as of September 2012.

2. Ride on the growth of the Philippine economy

Gain access to an array of professionally-managed investment funds which allow you to participate in the growth sectors of the Philippine economy.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the Philippine growth in 2012 will be well in excess of 5%. And we are certainly looking forward to 2013 being in the range of 5% as well. Not only that, Philippines is now the fourth fastest economy in Asia, and is expected to be sixth fastest growing economy in the world by 2050. Philippine Stock Exchange reached multiple all-time highs this year and is expected to continue to further grow as our economy progresses further.

3. Gain from Professional Fund Management

Benefit from Philam Life’s expertise and experience in insurance and wealth management to help you grow your money over the long term.

4. Enjoy Guaranteed Life Insurance

One gets protection including your family with guaranteed life insurance benefit of at least 125% of your initial investment.

Each of us has our own individual needs and preferences and one should also undertake individual planning. Certain financial requirements may take priority over others. For younger families, a home might be a priority over retirement during the earlier years. No matter one’s stage in life, it is important to take a long-term perspective when it comes to investing. Maintaining this discipline allows investors to reap better returns and beat any uncertainties in market. The important thing to look at is to match your goals with proper investment tools. Short-term goals may require putting money in the bank but medium to long-term goals should not be funded by short-term savings.

What are your plans? Don’t let your money sleep. Consider long term investments like Philam Life’s Money Tree. Take control of your financial future today.

To know more about Philam Life’s Money Tree, call (02) 528-2000 or click here.
You can also visit Philam Life’s Facebook Fanpage at www.facebook.com/PhilamLifeAIA and learn tips on how to plan for your and your family’s future.

The smallest good deed is worth a thousand grand intentions.

My three siblings who are based in the US will celebrate Thanksgiving day next week. Hopefully one day I get to join them in their celebration. One thing I know is a lot of sales are happening such as Black Friday, and even Cyber Monday. Take note , for the first time, there is another celebration happening… the first day of its kind – #GivingTuesday!

There is a day of giving thanks and two days are meant for getting deals. This year #GivingTuesdayâ„¢ is the giving season’s opening day.

While the Philippines does not celebrate Thanksgiving day, the idea of a day of giving applies to anyone around the world.

What is Giving Tuesday?

GivingTuesday.org states the mission statement of #GivingTuesdayâ„¢ as a “campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.” On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals in America are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

It’s a simple idea. Find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

““As a society, we’re more connected than ever before. With digital tools and resources, we are better positioned to effect real world change as a community. I got involved with #GivingTuesday because I saw the amazing potential for a powerful social good movement during the holiday season.” says Sharon Feder, chief operating officer, Mashable.com

Colleen Giles Timms the co-creator, #GivingTuesday adds that “”“#GivingTuesday is a wonderful opportunity for the giving community to come together under one ““umbrella” just as the retail world does on Black Friday. I think it’s a fun and important challenge to show what a difference a day makes. It is especially exciting to see the creative and dynamic initiatives taking shape all over the US.”

Ideas to get involved in #GivingTuesday

Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back? There are many ways to get involved. Businesses, non-profit organizations, families and even individuals share some thoughts to get your imaginations going.

One idea for the family is “talk about causes that are important to you, perhaps one that has had an impact on your family. Research to find a walk, bike ride, or run supporting that cause and join in as a team. Get your family, friends, and neighbors to support you. Set a goal and raise it for your cause.”

One cause I want to pass my blessing to is World Vision Philippines’ Noche Buena campaign.

For only Php 1,000 (roughly $25) , a sponsored child receives a Noche Buena gift pack which consists of essential food items and a special hand-picked present of your choice (optional) which he/she can enjoy with the family, or even the whole community in the coming Christmas Eve! For more information you may log on to www.worldvision.org.ph or call hotline +632- 372-7777.

I spent an afternoon with the Aeta children last Saturday and I could see the World Vision Noche Buena Campaign is worth it. Last year, more than 35,000 children delightfully received their Noche Buena gifts. Passing on your blessings to this Noche Buena campaign can spread the love and cheers to more children in 14 identified poor communities this year.

Soon the holidays will come and the frenzy Christmas shopping can be quite stressful. It is important to focus on the reasons for giving. “If you focus on why you’re giving – to make another person happy – it really can make you feel better and there are physical changes that underpin that.” Sydney positive psychology expert Dr Tony Grant adds that “knowing we’ve done something to improve the life of others not only boosts our self esteem and gives us a sense of purpose, it also shifts our attention away from our own stresses and worries”.

There are many other ideas in getting involved on #givingtuesday. I hope #GivingTuesday will soon be a part of family traditions not only in the US but all over the world.

For only Php 1,000, a sponsored child receives a Noche Buena gift pack which consists of essential food items and a special hand-picked present of your choice (optional) which he/she can enjoy with the family, or even the whole community in the coming Christmas Eve! For more information you may log on to www.worldvision.org.ph or call hotline (02) 372-7777.

The smallest good deed is worth a thousand grand intentions.

Molina, a small Aeta girl with beautiful brown skin and curly afro-like textured hair seemed shy at first . She lowered her eyes as I smiled at her. As a nine year old girl many moons ago, I can’t blame her. I was just as shy. I wracked my mommy knowledge bank to see if I can make her smile. It’s been years since I hovered around young children and decades since I was a little girl. What did I do back then? So I asked her about the games she played at home. “Did you play bahay-bahayan? , I asked in Tagalog. Her eyes lit up when we talked of our make-believe house. I recalled that kids like seeing their photos so we played around with the camera. Among the photos taken , she liked this photo below because she smiled.

It was easy from then on as Molina warmed up to the activities for the day. So what was I doing here? World Vision Philippines invited me and other bloggers like Ferdz to interact with their sponsored kids at a Zambales community . This was a prelude to World Vision’s annual Christmas event for children where each of their 35,000 sponsored children will be given a noche buena pack for the family and a gift of their choice.

The community was a 5-hour ride from Manila but it was so worth it. I have always wanted to visit a World Vision community and the added bonus was visiting an Aeta community that I have only read in my Social Studies book. The Aetas here were relocated after Mt. Pinatubo erupted. World Vision has been helping out with the community development and educating the children for the past 16 years. Eventually, the community will become sustainable enough for them to thrive on their own.

Molina, my assigned kid and I started with bonding activities for the afternoon. One activity was to illustrate the meaning of Christmas which they would share to everyone. I asked Molina what Christmas meant to her. She looked up at me and without hesitation answered “family”. That warmed my heart because family means a lot to me too. Molina did not waste any more time and started to draw.

Her artwork were symbolisms like thought bubbles that showed the Christmas lanterns, the Christmas tree,a gift , the dinner table and love.

I helped her with the artwork explanation and shared the similarity with my Christmas celebration. Christmas is about time spent with loved ones so dear. It is also the time of year that represents an amazing time of hope and redemption. Family is a predominant theme. Being together on this special day makes Christmas meaningful to them. One girl teared as she showed her artwork to us. She misses her father and mother wished they were around. Her grandmother takes care of her now but clarifies that she is well-loved. I can totally relate to her pain. Losing a son feels like our family is not complete. I have learned to live with that loss by embracing my son’s memory in my heart. How can one explain living with that pain? That I too am in that journey.

I believe art is therapeutic to the children. Let me share a couple of them here.

All about the family.

Amangpintor Lito Circa , a World Vision sponsored child many years ago helped the kids with some ideas.

While everyone was busy drawing, Lito used his hands to paint this poignant scenery that reminded him of his childhood days at the Pantabangan from “the 70s (time where the town of Pantabangan was submerged by the water) to the present with the style of creating image of Minggan on every painting that he made. ”


Just as beautiful are the artwork of each child. How can one not get touched with their drawings that come from the heart? They just want to celebrate Christmas with their family with a meal like a “Noche Buena” . What makes it even more special is the family gathers and eat together as they rejoice and feast on the Nativity of the birth of Christ.

Yes, Christmas is a time of hope. The hope that is, because of Jesus. He is the reason for this season. Christmas is about sharing, giving and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

World Vision’s Noche Buena Campaign

If you have been feeling blessed lately, perhaps you might pass on the blessings to others you know who would need them more. One to consider is the sponsored children of World Vision Philippines.

World Vision, in it’s seventh-year Christmas offering, re-launches the Noche Buena Gift campaign to give Filipinos the opportunity to share their blessings to poor families this meaningful season.

For only Php 1,000, a sponsored child receives a Noche Buena gift pack which consists of essential food items and a special hand-picked present of your choice (optional) which he/she can enjoy with the family, or even the whole community in the coming Christmas Eve!

For more information you may log on to www.worldvision.org.ph or call hotline (02) 372-7777.

Last year, more than 35,000 children delightfully received their Noche Buena gifts. With your help, we can spread the love and cheers to more children in 14 identified poor communities this year.

I believe in the saying that when “something good happens to us, let’s make something good to others. The more we share our blessings, the more that we are blessed.”

Sharing our blessings feels good because we’ve made someone else feel good.

christmas village

The lighted Christmas Village caught the attention of my daughter’s friend as he entered our dining room a few Christmas-es ago I can’t remember now what Lauren told me but from what I recall her friend imagined that lilting Pling pling pling pling pli-pli-pling music playing in the background as we eat dinner and babble in our fake British accents. The way Lauren said Pling pling pling pling pli-pli-pling sounded so much like Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”.


Haha I was laughing out loud because it is sort of true. I don’t play classical music but baroque music, a big difference of which I will explain later on. And no, we don’t play baroque music on dinner time alone. I play it any time of the day and have been playing it since the kids were little. I even hired Bagting Hangin, a string and wind ensemble to play it during Lauren’s 18th Birthday Party.

Before I get any further, let me explain the display of the English Village set. The Christmas Village set reminds me of Stratford-upon-Avon, a town I visited many years ago in the UK. The town is a popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace and deathbed of the playwright and poet William Shakespeare. My walks in the breathtaking village is so memorable, the scenery is just picture pretty and forever imprinted in my memories. When I saw this village set offered for sale by a friend, I just knew I wanted it to be displayed in my dining room. The village set is not a pretentious display of shallowness and hypocrisy but rather a collection of memories of visits to similar cottages in Stratford-upon-Avon. The ancient church replica reminds me of that time I visited the Holy Trinity Church, a moment of calm away from the bustle of the town. Both the courtyard and the churchyard itself are breathtakingly beautiful. Okay so now you know why that Christmas Village sits there.

Now on to the Pling pling pling pling pli-pli-pling music with two reasons:

First, the objective was to calm Lauren’s nerves.

Lauren was a sickly child often getting ill with asthma attacks every month. With visits to the emergency room every month, I had to do my share in making her calm and relaxed to ensure a faster recovery. I gave her “Visualizations for Mind Calming” of which the objective of the exercise is to gain practice in visualizing while at the same time soothing the mind. Calm and peaceful scenes from nature were quite helpful in erasing worries and distractions. I often said it out in a soft voice to imagine walking in a park, or in the woods, sitting by the lake, a walk on a hill or mountain, countryside or any spot that I though had a particularly soothing quality. Together with this mind-calming techniques, I added baroque music (specifically in largo beat) to get into slowed down body mind/body rhythms and manageable breathing.

Why Baroque music and why the largo or slow tempo?

Researchers have found that certain music types ease the brainwaves into the relaxed ‘alpha state’ that is ideal for Superlearning. One form of this superlearning music is the adagio movements of many baroque composers.

The adagio movements are around 40 to 60 beats per minute. In many string concertos and other works, the adagio movements often encapsulate the quintessential thematic and emotional material. However it is their 40-60 beats per minute and slow rhythm that slow body and mind functions and allow an alpha state of mind. This enables one to excel in retention and recall of materials presented in 20 minute intervals. It is also great for relieving stress.

From Baroque Music for Contemplation

There is a huge difference between baroque and classical music. The baroque music composers are from the likes of J.S. Bach A. Corelli, G.F. Handel, G. Telemann and A. Vivaldi in the 1600 – 1760. The classical music is from the time period 1730 – 1820 and right after the Baroque period. So if you want to refer to that Mike Villar’s Pling pling pling pling pli-pli-pling, it’s actually called Baroque Music.

Secondly, playing baroque music was to enhance the creativity in my children.

As reported in Ostrander and Schrader’s Super Learning, research discovered that the ideal state for learning is when the brain is in a relaxed, but aware state. And when they say relaxed, they do not mean asleep, but relaxed, focused and aware. It is at this point the brainwaves run at about 8 to 12 cycles per seconds or hertz. This is called the alpha state. Alpha is simply a state when you are calm and relaxed, in a way similar to when you whistle a happy tune, or when you daydream.

Getting into the Alpha State can be achieved in a number of ways and most of us achieve it several times during most days. At this time the mind is clear, receptive to information, and rapidly making ‘connections’, realizations and joining up deep thoughts. Many an ‘AHA!’ moment comes when an individual is in “Alpha”.

Years ago when this research was beginning, scientists were startled to discover that a certain kind of music can put the brain into an accelerated-learning state. Listening to Baroque Music was the number one method of getting into “Alpha”. Again, the research shows that baroque music at 60 beats per minute causes your brain to produce more alpha [calmness] waves. This happens on both the left brain’s analytical hemisphere and right side’s creative spatial hemisphere. When both hemispheres are engaged, the brain is able receive more information. You can retrieve information quickly because the music acts as a carrier wave to long-term memory storage.

Not that I wanted my kids to be superlearners, I wanted them to be calm and relaxed and eager to learn to the best of their abilities. No one is too young or too old to enjoy relaxing baroque music. Let me show you a music list for baroque music. Mind you, it has to be the slow movements from Baroque instrumental music featuring string instruments that give the best results.

    Vivaldi, A.

  • Largo from “Winter” from the The Four Seasons
  • Largo from Concerto in D Major for Guitar and Strings
    From Baroque Guitar Concerti
  • Largo from Concerto in C Major for Mandolin, Strings and Harpsichord
  • Largo from Concerto in D Minor for Viola D’ Amore, Strings and Harpsichord
  • Largo from Concerto in F Major for Viola D’ Amore, Two Oboes, Bassoon, Tow Horns and Figured Bass
    From Vivaldi: Three Concertos for Viola D’Amore, Two Concertos for Mandolin
  • Largo from Flute Concerto No 4 in G Major
    Vivaldi: 6 Flute Concerti Opus 10
  • Bach, J.S.

  • Largo from Concerto in G Minor for Flute and Strings, BWV 1056 (2:53)
    Bach and Telemann Flute Concertos
  • Aria (or Sarabande) to The Goldberg Variations
  • Largo from Harpsichord Concerto in F Minor, BWV 1056
    Greatest Hits of 1720
  • Largo from Solo Harpsichord, Philharmonic Virtuosi of New York Columbia Records
  • Largo from Solo Harpsichord in G Minor, BWV 975
    6 Concerti after Vivaldi
  • Largo from Solo Harpsichord Concerto in C Major, BWV 976
    6 Concerti after Vivaldi
  • Largo from Solo Harpsichord Concerto in F Major
    6 Concerti after Vivaldi
  • Handel, G.F.

  • Largo from Concerto no. 1 in F (brass)
    from Music for the Royal Fireworks
  • Largo from Concerto No. 3 in D (brass)
    from Music for the Royal Fireworks
  • Largo from Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major op. 3 (woodwinds and strings)
    Handel: Concerti Grossi op. 3
  • From Handel’s Twelve Concerti Grossi, Opus 6, any of the largo movements can be used
  • Corelli, A.

  • Sarabanda (Largo) from Concerto No. 7 in D Minor
    Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi op. 5

  • Preludio (largo) and Sarabanda (largo) from Concerto no. 8 in E Minor
    Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi op. 5
  • Preludio (largo) from Concerto no. 9 in A Major
    both from Corelli: 12 Concerti Grossi op. 5
    From Corelli’s Twelve Concerti Cgrossi, Opus 6, any of the largo movements can be used.

    Telemanm, G.

  • Largo from Double Fantasia in G Major for Harpsichord
    Telemann: 6 Fantasias for Harpsichord
  • Largo from Concerto in G Major for Viola and String Orchestra
    From Telemann

There you have it, Pling pling pling pling pli-pli-pling bringing you in “reverie” state of relaxation.

Wikipedia says the word “staycation” is a portmanteau of “stay” (meaning stay-at-home) and “vacation”. Staycation, another fancy word for spending time-off at home only made sense as our children got older.

A long time ago, being away from home meant time to be with my husband and that “pamper me day” away from the kids. It meant a time to have those lovey-dovey moments without the kids knocking on the door asking “what are you doing?” Oh yes, it was a time to be romantic without crying toddlers pounding at the door. It was also quite expensive to use hotels for these romantic tryst.

With adult kids, it gets harder and harder to invite them when we want to watch a movie or take a short vacation. It doesn’t hurt to ask though and I assure them that “no, you are not intruding into our privacy”.

Every opportunity to bring our children along with us is a bonus just like our recent staycation at Acacia Hotel Manila

Do you like staycations?

See my blog post on our recent staycation at Acacia Hotel Manila

I cannot imagine myself just staying at home doing household chores without any formal education or worse getting married at such a young age. Education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. The right to education is “denied to 61 million children of primary school age around the world.” It was heartbreaking to read the news that fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, was shot by the Taliban for supporting girls’ education.

Can you imagine your children not receiving any sort of formal education? Malala is the voice for thousands of girls in and out of Pakistan who clamor for education. All of us can help make her dream come true by calling on her government to roll out funding to encourage all Pakistani families to send their girls to school. Malala is indeed an inspiration not only for Pakistan’s young generation, but also for people across the world. Malala Yousufzai “de­feated her assailant who sought to silence her voice, which has been a source of inspiration not only for Pakistan’s young generation, but also for people across the world.”

Should her voice be forever silenced? Malala dedicated her childhood to championing education for girls like her in Pakistan. As she lies in a hospital bed, a tragic victim of Taliban gunmen, we can help make her dream come true.

We can all do something. On November 10th , let us celebrate ‘Malala Day,’ the day when the whole world honors the sacrifice of Malala Yousafzai.

Fortunately, Malala is starting on the “road to recovery and Malala Day, one month after Malala was left for dead by Taliban assassins, is an opportunity for people everywhere to come together to support the cause that Malala so valiantly represents: a girl’s right to education.”

Let’s turn our shock at the Taliban’s attack on a young girl into a viral wave of international pressure that forces Pakistan to address girls’ education.

Helping Malala can come in simple ways . Just let your voice be heard in support of Malala. Here is how you can help:

1. Sign the petition to call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all its children: http://educationenvoy.org/

2. Spread the word. Inform your audience of the #IamMalala campaign and invite them to sign the petition.

3. Spend November 10th in solidarity for Malala Day. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown – the UN Special Envoy for Global Education – and his wife Sarah will deliver this petition to the Pakistani president on this day.

Honoring Malala day on November 10 will also be helping millions around the world who are denied the basic freedom to learn every day. “Girls, boys, the marginalized, rural children, child laborers — the hopes of these 61 million are represented by the struggle and voice of Malala. November 10th is our opportunity to continue to speak out in support of Malala’s vision of every child in school, learning and reaching their full potential.”

Photo via Guardian.co.uk

Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of the causes of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.