It takes two to make a relationship work. It is easy to blame the other partner if something fails in a relationship. I used to blame my husband for every little thing without even checking if I too had my faults. When I took away the focus from my husband and turned to myself, wonderful things happened to me, my family and my life, in general.

love yourself first

What did I do?

Loving myself unconditionally!

It means loving myself into health and a good life of my own. It meant loving myself into all that I have always wanted. Yes, love myself into peace, happiness, success, joy and contentment.

So how do I love myself?

It wasn’t easy at first. I had to force myself to and even “faked” it. By “acting as if“. To practice the positive, I act as if. It’s a positive form of pretending. It’s a useful tool to use to get ourselves unstuck.

Here is what I did.

1. Embrace and love all of myself including past, present and future. I forgave myself and as often as necessary, I talk to myself and list down my good points.

2. If negative thoughts entered my mind, I get them out in the open quickly and replace those beliefs with positive and uplifting ones.

3. I gently pat myself when necessary. I discipline myself and even ask for help when needed.

4. I give treats to myself. I don’t allow myself to work like a carabao, pushing and driving myself to stressful levels. I learned to be good to myself.

5. I stopped explaining and justifying myself. When I make a mistake, I let it go. I learn, I grow and learn some more and despite it all, I love myself.

I constantly work at loving myself. One day, I looked up at myself in the mirror and loved what I saw. I saw a new and lovely me. Loving myself had become habitual.


Loving ourselves sounds like an alien concept and even foolish at times. Some may accuse us of being selfish. But do we have to believe them? People who love themselves are truly able to love others and let others love them. People who love themselves and hold themselves in high esteem are those who give the most, contribute the most and love the most.

Self-love will take hold and become a guiding force in our life.

Remember, you are lovable and capable of giving and receiving love.

I heard a voice so close to my ears “Are you tweeting??. I turn around to my husband and smiled, “Yes” then promptly closed my macbook.

What my husband really means is “I’m lonely here, give me some loving hugs”. You know, sometimes I can get really engrossed with my online activities that my husband has to remind me with these subtle hints. Being together for the past 35 years, I developed a fifth sense- the ability to be sensitive to his feelings and, to read his mind.

It took a lot of years for me to finally understand his “language”. My husband is the type to “beat around the bush” before getting to the crux of the matter. For example,

If Butch wants me to do the grocery, he doesn’t request me to do it. He asks “I didn’t finish the grocery today. Do you think you have time to do the grocery tomorrow?” which I know really means “Do it for me, please”.

If that were me, I’d be more direct. I’d actually request it: “I don’t have time to do the grocery, can you do it for me?”

My directness brought me a lot of marital rifts in the past maybe because I did not say it gently. With time, I learned to use his indirect language when I know it calls for “beating around the bush”. Perhaps his beating around the bush is his gentle truth. It really drives me crazy to beat around the bush but that’s how he works.

I grew up with a family that was very open with our communication. If we didn’t like something, we said what was on our mind. However, direct statements can hurt. I learned a technique that does not make my family members defensive whenever I utter an opinion. I start the sentence with “I feel _______” statements. With varied emotions, I can say…

I feel worried if you go home late at night, Lauren which is far better than “You should be home by midnight or else….you’re grounded”

I feel sad that you yelled at me” after an argument which works far better “You are such a loud-mouth! Shut up”.

Feelings are never wrong because you own it. It is okay to have and feel our feelings—all of them. Maybe in the past I shut down the emotional part of myself to survive certain situations. Sometimes we shut down the part of us that feels anger, sadness, fear, joy and love. Many of us lived in systems with people who refused to tolerate our emotions. In the past, I felt shamed or even reprimanded for expressing feelings, and these are by people who were taught to repress their own feelings.

Times have changed now. It is okay now for me to acknowledge and accept my emotions. I don’t allow emotions to control me and ruin my day, neither do I need to rigidly repress my feelings.

I feel safe around direct and honest people. They speak their minds and I know where I stand with them. Like I said, that was not the case in the early parts of my marriage as my husband beats around the bush in expressing his feelings. Indirect people, people who are afraid to say who they are, what they want and what they’re feeling is not a comfortable feeling. They will somehow act their truth even though they do not speak it. And it may catch everyone by surprise.

I do not need to be judgmental, tactless, blaming, or cruel when I speak my truths. I can say what we need to say. I can gently, but assertively, speak my mind.

Freedom is just a few words away.

Kids know best on what parents need to parent about. Running out of topic ideas, I went to my daughter’s room asking her for suggestions. Without hesitation she squealed ““bullying”. Oh, how she knows this topic so well. My heart goes out to my two girls who had to deal with the school bully. I teach my kids to be good girls but how to deal with a bully? I didn’t want them to be the bully nor wanted them to be bullied. I engaged in role playing where I pretended to be a bully and I taught the girls to be gently firm with their bully. Such tips included but were not limited to ignoring the bully and walking away, not showing anger nor hitting back. Along with these, I continued to develop their confidence by honing their skills in music and to open communication lines.

Role-playing was easier said than done because it needed the cooperation of school authorities. My daughter who was then in Grade 1 once wrote me a note that she felt terrible in class and if a street mouse had the same feelings. Now that she is an adult, she articulates these feelings. ““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.”

stop bullying

What about the bully? Bullying is violence, and it often leads to more violent behavior as the bully grows up. My daughter reflects back on these unpleasant experiences. As a bully victim, her story doesn’t sound particularly traumatizing to an outsider. One doesn’t have to get beaten up in the playground to develop emotional scars that stay on for the rest of your child’s life – especially when the damage is psychological, which is what female bullying is about.

Knowing the bullying tactics that victimized my sweet and gentle daughter just broke my heart. During the nineties, talking with the teachers and guidance counselors were futile. All they could muster to say is ““your daughter has 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. Today, schools are more enlightened to embark on anti-bullying programs to lessen the instances of bullying on campus by creating a supportive school community of students, teachers, and parents. Some of these schools are not cheap but it doesn’t mean parents are helpless. Home schooling is an option but it is not for everyone.

DepEd issued the Child Protection Policy guidelines May last year in partnership “with civil society groups, teachers’ groups, private and public school representatives, and international agencies. Bullies will receive a warning and reprimand for the first and second offense, respectively, and one0week suspension for the third offense.”

Schools should already implement a safe school program that includes fighting against bullying. Through the persistence of the parents, a comprehensive, school-wide framework was developed for the prevention of bullying or any form of discrimination or harassment can be done. My sister initiated one in her son’s school. She told me the goal of their program is ““to use interventions at the levels of the student, parents, and school to ensure that all concerned are given a consistent, coordinated, and strong message that bullying will not be tolerated and that it can be prevented if everyone works together.”


Just like real-life situations, knowledge on parenting in a digital world is crucial for monitoring cyber-bullying. No one wants to see their children hurt and become helpless in the process. If parents do nothing, nothing will happen. The bullying won’t stop. ““What kind of lesson will be passed on to our children if their elders shrug off bullying as something totally normal?” That is the question that my daughter imparted to me. Our young kids need to know that we are speaking out for them when their voices are left unheard in school. It is time for parents to speak up and fight against bullying.

Whenever something bothers me, I keep reminding myself that we cannot control people’s actions, attitudes and even events. I label it as the Three P’s (People, Places and the Past). The only thing we can control is our attitude. But it isn’t that easy. One of the choices in recovery is choosing what we want to think and using our mental energy in a positive way.

Positive thinking can be extremely difficult in stressful situations. Positive thinking does not mean thinking in an unrealistic matter or reverting to denial. If I don’t like something, I respect my own opinion. If a problem hits me, I am honest about it. If something isn’t working out, I accept reality. I don’t have to dwell on the negative portions of my experience. So here I am affirming what is good in my life.


One way to empower the good is through affirmation. They are simple positive statements we make to ourselves:

1. I am my own unique self – special, creative and wonderful.

2. My life is a joy filled with love, fun and friendship all I need do is stop all criticism, forgive, relax and be open.

3. I’m glad I am alive today.

4. I give out Love and it is returned to me multiplied.

5. Loving myself heals my life. I nourish my mind, body and soul

6. I have a wonderful husband and we are both happy and at peace.

7. I choose to make positive healthy choices for myself.

8. I choose love, joy and freedom, open my heart and allow wonderful things to flow into my life.

9. I attract only healthy relationships

10. I prosper wherever I turn and I know that I deserve prosperity of all kinds

So when you think the world is against you, just say this:

Today, I will empower the good in myself, others and life. I’m willing to release, or let go of, negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones. I will choose what I want to affirm, and I will make it good.

What positive statement do you say about yourself everyday? Please share.

It is said that music soothes the soul.

Chances are you have sung a song to your little one whenever they feel bad or get sick. Perhaps as a child, you’ve been lulled to sleep in the arms of your parents . You will most likely remember faintly one endearing song your parents would always sing for you. I know my girls did. It’s every parent’s instinct, even for somebody who can’t carry a tune, to sing to their child as a form of therapy. But is there truth to music therapy?

music therapy 1

My daughter suffered asthma attacks almost 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.

baroque music

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.

Music did pave the way for my kids to be calm and relaxed. 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. No one is too young or too old to enjoy relaxing baroque music. You can imagine the healing power of music.

children in music therapy

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets-physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual-to help clients to improve or maintain their health.

Medical practitioners around the world talk about the healing qualities of music. Barbara Crowe (past president of the National Association for Music Therapy) says “Music therapy can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort — between demoralization and dignity.” Dr. Oliver Sacks reports that patients with neurological disorders who cannot talk or move are often able to sing, and sometimes even dance, to music. Its advocates say music therapy also can help ease the trauma of grieving, lessen depression and provide an outlet for people who are otherwise withdrawn.

himig ng kalinga

I was impressed that GlaxoSmithKline Philippines, Inc. (““GSK”) instituted the Himig ng Kalinga program which is supported by doctor-recommended Paracetamol (Calpol) in partnership with key hospitals in GMA and Luzon. ). The use of music therapy in hospitals will surely help pave the way for the holistic wellness of every Filipino child.

music therapy from calpol

Dr. Jocelyn Eusebio , a Development pediatrician explained that music therapy is used on individuals of all ages for a variety of conditions, which include: psychiatric disorders, medical problems, physical handicaps, sensory impairments, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, communication disorders, interpersonal problems, and aging. When soothing music occupies the mind, it somehow allows the patient to ‘escape’ into ‘his or her own world’, also facilitating relaxation for the patient.

music therapy in hospitals

The program aims to bring appropriate and familiar nursery rhyme songs to in-hospital pediatric patients that will be performed by the program volunteers. An original song written by well-known song composer, Jimmy Antiporda, entitled ““Gagaling Ka Rin” will also be taught to the patients and parents to further uplift the spirits of these hospitalized children.

music therapy from calpol

Music is always familiar to children as they usually hear these wonderful sounds from home and school. It is something children are all touched by. Happy memories are associated with their favorite tunes. Nobody wants to be in a hospital, and the patients try to make the best of the situation and heal as fast as they can.

Remember music therapy is not just for the sick child. It is always good to sing lullabies to lull them to sleep or simply to relax them after a hyperactive day. Singing nursery rhymes with your child will surely get them off to a flying start. What is even better is singing with actions and encouraging your child to dance along to the beat of the music.

This is a touching speech of my sister, the Vice Mayor of a city in the US about life and survival of cancer . The speech was delivered during a fund raising event for Cancer patients: Relay for Life, (American Cancer Society) . My mother died of breast cancer when she was only 45 years old while my brother died of Leukemia at 40 years old. This is for all the survivors and the families of those who have succumbed to the ravages of Cancer

Relay for Life Speech, June 29, 2013

vice mayor

We are here today because we all have been touched by cancer. Whether we are survivors or we have witnessed a loved one succumb to the ravages of cancer. We are here today as a community because as the saying goes, ““When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.”

My mother died from breast cancer when I was sixteen. She was 45 years old.

My brother, Oscar, passed away after three years of struggling with leukemia in 1999. He was only 40 years old.

The beauty of cancer (if you can call it that) is that you have time to say goodbye.

What I remember most during the moments when my mother and brother realized the full impact that their lives would be ending soon was how they mourned for the things they could never experience. My mother wept as she said, ““I can never hold a grandchild in my arms.”

My brother, Oscar, mournfully said, ““What I fear most is that I will be forgotten.”

Oscar was lucky to have found a bone marrow match (our sister, Belen) and the stem cell transplant was done on Thanksgiving Day in 1998. I was there to hold his hand and tell him how much I loved him. I remember seeing the light of hope in his eyes as our sister’s stem cells flowed into his veins.

After the transplant, he said ““I know I will not live forever. Whether I die at 90 or if I die tomorrow, I am grateful for every moment, every day my life has been extended.”

He died 5 months later.

vice mayor 1

This is why we celebrate, remember, and fight back. We celebrate the healing and survivorship of those among us.

We remember and honor the memories of those who have passed on and treasure the moments we had shared with them.

But we will not sit in self-pity and despair. We, all of us here, are fighters. With American Cancer Society, we will fight back by raising funds in a fun day to help find a cure for cancer so that one day, we will be free at last from the C-word.

cancer survivors
Opening Ceremony of the Relay For Life with Cancer Survivors on stage