“It is easy to distract ourselves with what’s going on in the body when we are moving a lot or doing a lot of things. But when we slow down, we begin to wake up, wake up to the truth of who we are and where are at the moment” – Dona Tumacder-Esteban, August 2014

The toughest journey in my life was learning to live after the loss of a son. Denial and distraction only numbed the pain .   I did not know what hit me  back in 2004  while I sat on the living room couch. Alone and frustrated, I prayed to God, and my beloved Luijoe on  what I could do to fix my family life. I felt everything was falling apart. Sitting still on the couch, I felt the answers flowing through my mind.  A touch of an angel…my angel Luijoe. I felt the comfort of my son’s love .  From that day on, I fixed my life, one baby step at a time. It is true that when we slow down, we begin to wake up.  It is waking  up to the truth of who we are and where we are at that moment. One of the first things I did in 2005 was to lose weight , which meant exercising at the gym. It felt great to lose all that fat. Ten years has passed me by,  and life is good. Living a  new normal  now,  meant  gaining new friends, knowledge and experience.  I am a work in progress and need to work on improving myself.

Photo via Jane Uymatiao

Photo via Jane Uymatiao

Jane Uymatiao, a dear friend and business partner is part of my new normal because we met when we ventured into blogging in 2006.  A certified Yin Yoga teacher herself, she  invited me to join “Wellbeing from the Yin-side” together with four resource persons and her Yin Yoga teacher , Victor Chng.  I don’t really know much about yoga except that I think the poses are challenging. Still, I came with an open mind.

victor ching

The four resource speakers were all amazing. “Waiting for the World to Change? A Holistic Look at Behavior Modification” was done by Ria Tirazona. Her talk explored what it is that holds us back from breaking free from our habitual patterns and what stops us from letting go of habits that limit our potential. Through building awareness about the relationship between behaviors and the perceptions or mental processes behind it, we can take the steps to modify behaviors, effect personal transformation, and carry this out to fruition.

well being from the yin side

Dinah Salonga talked about “Changing from within: Developing Emotional intelligence through mindfulness” . Learning a simple mindfulness practice, for as little as 2 minutes a day for 8 weeks, can change your life.  She also tacked the  neuroscience behind mindfulness and how it reprograms the brain so we can better regulate attention and emotional response.

creating useful mental habits1

The key takeaway she told us to remember  was to create useful mental habits when dealing with people and relationships : “Just like me” and “I wish for this person to be happy”.  I only wish good vibes to all my friends and loved ones, and even critics. In fact, I owe my critics for making me look deep into myself and see what needs to be improved. I wish them to be happy too.

creating useful mental habits

Dr Francisco Kit Navarro on ” Exercise: Why we don’t and What we can” talked from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine and taking a holistic look at exercise and the importance of cultivating our body for health, wellbeing and quality of life.

yoga benefit

An important topic on “Women’s Health Front and Center: Why Taking Care of Women is Taking Care of the Community” was tackled by Dona Tumacder-Esteban. When we examine the state of wellbeing of the family, one should take look at the health of the women who are nurturing them. This talk explored the crucial role of women in shaping community wellbeing, highlights important factors, and gives practical advice on where to start so we can shift towards a healthier community.

victor chng yin yoga1

So much food for thought out there that I was raring to start the Yin Yoga session . Yin Yoga is  a quiet and simple practice, but I discovered it was not that easy because my muscles were tight. I also had issues with my knees which were injured from a fall. I really love the principles that Victor Chng explained such as the principle of grounding , holding and relaxation.

Yin yoga targets our deepest tissues of the body, our connective tissues — ligaments, joints, bones, and the deep fascia networks of the body — rather than the muscles. I constantly work on my muscles at the gym but fail to work on the connective tissues. Yin Yoga is the answer. As newbie, the yin yoga is a great introduction .


yin yoga poses

Jane was telling me that athletes join Yin Yoga as it offers deep release on many levels, strengthening and lengthening the connective tissues in the body, healthy stressing of joints, increasing range of motion, opening and clearing energy channels and  ultimately giving a feeling of ease and lightness in the body.  These were just a few of the poses that Victor demonstrated. Jane explains more on What happens in Yin Yoga?

yin yoga with victor chng

This is just my first time in yoga and I know I will get better in time, with more patience and practice. Patience is Yin, right? Yes, beginners like me can definitely start a  yoga journey with Yin Yoga.  I have been through a lot in my grief journey and a yoga journey  will be different. It will surely be  more exciting but challenging .

yin yoga

If you are interested to explore more about Yin Yoga, just contact Jane on twitter @yogajane or at her blog yoginifrommanila.com

kidzania with cebu pacific

Something exciting will soon happen for kids in Manila. If I had young kids, I know they would be thrilled with KidZania , which is set to open at the Bonifacio Global City in 2015. Cebu Pacific announced it will launch its newest flights to the nation where kids rule- KidZania Manila. The journey of KidZania begins at an airport, the KidZania International Airport. Kids will check in at Cebu Pacific counters, get their boarding passes and enter KidZania Manila, a child-sized , interactive play city built just for them. This family educational entertainment center is designed as a real city to provide the ultimate role playing environment for kids 3-14 years old.

Role play is a fun, and a ‘playful’ activity for children and is also a key component of learning. It is such an effective learning tool as it encourages children to become active participants in their learning.  The KidZania Manila will be a hit for sure.

kidzania manila

Take a look at this KidZania in London:

Kidzania Tokyo Integrate Education and Entertainment

In KidZania Manila, children can role-play over 100 exciting careers, from pilots and doctors, engineers and bank tellers, to actors and artists. I wonder if there is a politician role playing or a mayor , perhaps? There will be an aviation academy, bank, fire station, hospital, television station, and a variety of other establishments that form the inner-working core of a real city.

kidzania airport

Inside the aviation academy, children can train to be a Cebu Pacific Pilot or flight attendant. With the help of Zupervisors, the pilots of KidZania can experience taking off and landing an aircraft using flight simulators. Kids earn in KidZos, the official KidZania currency , when they work at different establishments. They can choose to save or spend these KidZos during their visit. Oh, and adults are not allowed inside KidZania. I hope safety is ensured by the supervisors for concerned parents.

kidzania pilots
These are exciting times for kids as they explore myriad of roles so they can discover their talents and help create a better world.

kidzania with cebu pacific 1

“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” Helen Keller

flower-powerMy seventies teen life was filled with flower power .  Using flowers to express a  movement gets at the heart of hippie identity which I could relate to. As a teen, the flower power drawings were everywhere.  I even doodled flowers  with a smilie in my diary . Perhaps that Flower Power movement made such a huge impact to my psyche,  that to this day, I adorn  my home with flowers.

Flowers is one way to express love.

A long time ago, when my ex-boyfriend ( now my husband) and I had a little spat, we took a time out. One afternoon , I  heard my officemates shriek with delight.  Looking up from my work, I was surprised to see my boyfriend  looking sheepishly at the door,   with a dozen , long stemmed  red roses.  Ah the rose,  an iconic symbol of love caused  my heart to race like anything.  I was playing hard to get so  I appeared hesitant as I  held on to the bouquet of roses and said nothing.  I never underestimated the importance of a heart-felt apology, with or without flowers. After some time, I warmed up and teased him, “I ‘d love to receive flowers even if we don’t squabble”.

When we finally got married,  my husband would  surprise me with  a gorgeous bouquet of mums , carnations or roses  “just because” he wanted to. Who wouldn’t feel loved with the thought?

summer flowers

No distance is too far, no time too long and no other love can break me apart with my daughter who studied in Australia two years ago. She found ways to send me a Mother’s day bouquet of colorful chrysanthemums, roses, large lilies, gerberas and hydrangeas. Her bouquet just touched me so much that my eyes just welled up in tears. I am sure others feel the same love from a distance and buying Fresh Flowers online is an option.

flowers for my boy1One of the fondest memory of my son, Luijoe are the wild flowers he gathered from the park . With eyes twinkling as he held out the flowers, he scrambled up to my lap , gave me a hug and smacked a wet kiss on my cheek while uttering I love you so very much, Mama. It is my turn to give him fresh flowers at his resting place. Memories of my beloved Luijoe saying , “I love you so very much, mama” warms my heart. As I laid down the flowers for Luijoe, I whispered “You know how much I love you, don’t you?” As I gaze at the lovely flowers, I marvel at God’s creation on the beauty of life. I feel the love in my heart.

Attending the recent #WeAreBeautiful event brought out a lot of interesting statistics about how Filipina girls thought of themselves. In a locally-commissioned study by Dove on young Filipina adolesecent girls, the result reflected that 2 out of 3 girls feel pressured to look beautiful coming from external pressure from peers and friends. This does not stop the same girls from being hopeful about their future. What is interesting though is that 81% of the respondents still consider their mom as their role model, which is much higher than the global average of 55%.

we are beautiful

I used to have beauty anxiety when I was a young child up to my early teens. My uncles would often tease how dark I looked.  Perhaps the teasing came about because my mother was fair-skinned. I grew up feeling ugly until I reached 14 years old . Looking at the mirror, I smiled at my image said to myself,  “I am beautiful” . Well, I looked more beautiful if I smiled because my non-smiling face makes me look angry. The facts and figures surrounding beauty anxiety in young girls and the pressure to squeeze into rigid definitions is a cause of concern. It affects their self-esteem . I should know. During my elementary years, my grades were below average even failing Filipino or Sewing class. It was only in High School that I realized I was smart after all.

beauty legacy

Dove affirmed that mothers have the potential to be catalysts of change and create a future of empowered women. Dove added that every “Dove girl is a mother who taught her to believe in her own beauty”. The video “Dove Legacy” made me reflect about how moms felt about their bodies. In the video, the featured moms were asked how they felt about their bodies. The same question was posed to their respective daughters. The results were surprising. The insecurities of monthers were clearly mirrored by the insceurities that their children have developed. The same goes with what they are happiest about with their body.

The film emphasizes the role every mom plays in the formation of her daughter. Because daughters often mirror their mothers’ actions, moms wield the power to mold their children into confident, empowered women. I asked myself if I had somehow mirrored some of my actions to my daughters. Only my daughters can affirm this because I know I made mistakes that I have passed on to them. One thing I know for sure is I often complain of my body weight. Being fat is not just a beauty concern. It is a health issue so I keep checking myself for body mass index. I hope my daughters think it is not just being vain. Going to the gym for the past nine years is taking a pro-active approach to battle the bulge and being fit. I am glad my daughters also bring exercise in their lives by enrolling in gym class, dance class or yoga.

beauty legacy

As Lee Haney said “Parents must lead by example. Don’t use the cliche; do as I say and not as I do. We are our children’s first and most important role models.” If there is a beauty legacy I want to impart,  it is that I want my daughters  to love themselves first. To love yourself, you first need to know yourself, to realize and appreciate your unique, individual ways. A discovery late in life taught me that a loving relationship with myself works because it leads to a loving relationship with others . Loving yourself will eventually show in every action one takes. When we believe in ourselves, we shine with the confidence and vibe we exude.

Real Beauty, undeniably, comes from within.

Do you believe what your daughter feels about herself starts with you?

my children beauty legacy

Written by Edel Cayetano, originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Join-the-conspiracy-of-kindness“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

Kindness, perhaps, is the most important virtue. It encompasses all the other values people strive for – gratitude, honesty and generosity. If people were kinder, life would be a lot easier, and the world, a better place. There could never be enough kindness in the world if you ask me, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying to be a little nicer to others.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that there is such a thing as World Kindness Day every November 13. The idea for this heartwarming occasion came about when a collection of humanitarian groups came together this exact same day 17 years ago and made a “Declaration of Kindness.” Likewise, on Kindness Day, everyone is encouraged to make the same declaration, and act on it. Reflecting on the kindness one has received from others is also part of the celebration.

World Kindness Day is the perfect time go beyond boundaries, race and religion. Whether you choose to volunteer your time at a charitable institution, donate books to a local library or just hold the door open for a stranger – keep in mind that there is no big or small gesture. Kindness, just like happiness, has a snowballing effect, what matters is that you practice it.

Reasons to be kinder 

It’s not always easy to put the needs of others ahead of yours, but if you’re willing to make an effort, it can be done. But why strive to be kind when everyone seems to be the opposite?

  • When you are kinder to others, you tend to be kinder towards yourself. After all, how can you give what you do not have? Being kind to yourself is also a way to feed your creative soul, as Michael Nobbs of Sustainably Creative said, “if you’re someone with limited energy, then you’ll want to make the very best use of what creative energy you do have, and looking after it by feeding it well is really the best thing you can do.”

Nobbs also has a few ideas on how you can be kinder to yourself. Read about them here.

  • You get what you give. The power of attraction warrants that when you are kind to others, you inspire them to do the same. By being more thoughtful and nicer, you start waves of kindness that touch others and ultimately, come back to you.
  • It makes you happy. Not only do acts of kindness make the word a better place to live in, it also gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling that money can’t buy.
  • It is good for your health. “Improved psychological health and happiness comes from thinking more positively, and kindness is a positive mental state. While kindness is about giving and being open to others, it returns a sense of well-being and connectedness to us that improves our own mental state and health,” shares WikiHow. The ability to be kind is also a powerful self-esteem booster.

How to be kinder

I personally believe that kindness is innate in us, but we could also cultivate it by choice. Here are some ways to do so:

  1. Develop a kinder perspective. WikiHow explains this in a step-by-step guide which encourages people to:
  • Care for others genuinely.
  • Don’t be kind for the sake of getting what you want.
  • Learn kindness from others.
  • Be kind to everyone, not just people “in need” or those who make it easy to be kind to. Check out Tiny Buddha’s ‘4 Ways to be kind when you don’t feel like it.’
  1. Practice an attitude of gratitude. When you constantly think of the things you are grateful for, you tend to be in a much better mood and consequently, become much nicer to others. Happy people are often the kind bunch.
  2. Stop criticizing. When you judge others, you fail to see the beauty in them. Don’t resort to focusing on other people’s flaws to feel better about yourself. Not only is it a lose-lose situation, it also curbs productivity. Instead of being hard on others, try to be more encouraging instead.
  3. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. When you change your point of view, you can gain powerful insights about other people and about yourself.
  4. Make positive observations about people. Ditch your habit of spotting the things that annoy you about people and instead, try to see the good things about them and make sure to let them know.
  5. Be present. “The greatest gift of kindness to another person is to be in the moment in their presence – to be listening with care, and to be genuinely attentive to them.” Stop being too busy and change other people’s notion of you as the one who always rushes off. And stay away from your phone, please.
  6. Awash yourself in the positive memories of the times when you were kind. According to the Positivity Blog, being kind becomes easier and easier when you remind yourself how good it felt to lend a hand.
  7. Take the higher road. Choose your battles. Avoid unnecessary conflict and drama whenever you can because they only waste your time and energy.
  8. Be kind to yourself. How you treat others seeps back into how you treat yourself.

More ideas 

It doesn’t take much to show someone somewhere an act of kindness. Here are more ideas on how to be kinder, but of course, you are more than welcome to use your imagination.

  • Say ‘please,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ and actually mean it.
  • Compliment someone at work for a job well done.
  • Bring snacks for everyone on your next meeting. Brownies or cookies would be nice.
  • Organize a clothing or food drive on your neighborhood for a local shelter. (Just in time for Christmas.)
  • Express your gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life. Why not start with your parents?
  • Cheer up a loved one with a surprise gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s the thought that counts!
  • Stop complaining and be more conscious about the thoughts that you share with others. (Facebook is a good place to start.)

To get more inspired in striving for a culture of kindness and becoming a RAKtivist (Random Acts of Kindness Activist), visit the Random Acts of Kindness website.

Happy World Kindness Day!

*‘Join the conspiracy of kindness’ by Wade M courtesy of Flickr. Published under CC license. 


I once got Hepatitis B while I was pregnant with my second daughter. It turned out to be Acute Hepatitis . Fortunately, my daughter got protected from the infection but still she was immunized with immunoglobulin right after delivery.

Hepatitis infection can lead to liver cancer. As of 2010, there are about 1.4 million deaths from Hepatitis B and C infection, including acute infections and those that result in liver cancer.

Here is the story of Baltazar Lucas who I hope gets the help he needs.

baltazar lucas

Dr. Janus Ong, a transplant hepatologist and a Master of Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University said that an estimated 7.3 million Filipinos, or 16.7% of the adult population, are chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus. This alarming rate is much higher than in other countries in the Western Pacific Region.

Out of this number of hepatitis infections, between 1.1 and 1.9 million are expected to die prematurely of cirrhosis or liver cancer. 

“I have a 31 year-old patient with liver cancer caused by hepatitis B. He was diagnosed in November 2013 and had immediate surgery. Unfortunately the cancer came back shortly after. At this time, he urgently needs a liver transplant or his disease will progress. And – his wife is pregnant with their second child,” says Dr. Ong.

Dr. Ong added, “but the story doesn’t end there. This man’s youngest brother died of liver failure. A few months later, another of his brothers died of liver cancer. Then, another brother died of liver cancer. How can I not try to help him? His mother, who is herself infected with chronic hepatitis B, had four sons. Now she only has one. If there is a way to potentially cure her remaining son, I have to do it.” 

“The main concern of this young man is fighting disease,” he said. 

Editors at a POC Editorial meeting in October with Baltazar Lucas

Editors at a POC Editorial meeting in October with Baltazar Lucas

Helping a brave soul

Dr. Ong’s patient is 31-year old Baltazar ‘Vhal’ Lucas. He is the eldest and the only living survivor in a brood of four. In a fateful twist of luck, Vhal’s younger brothers all succumbed to liver cancer.

His youngest brother, Mark, contracted tuberculosis in 2008. During medication, Mark’s condition worsened and their family learned that he has Hepatitis B. Mark died of liver failure that same year. The doctor advised the family to take tests for Hepatitis B. It was then that Vhal and his brothers discovered that they also have chronic Hepatitis B like their mother.

In the summer of 2013, the second eldest, Aristotle, felt pain in his stomach that was accompanied with constant fatigue. He thought that his condition was only due to the very hot weather. After a series of medical tests, Aristotle was diagnosed with late stage liver cancer. He died in September 2013.

During the wake, Joseph, felt pain in his right stomach. His family had him checked after Aristotle’s funeral. It was discovered that Joseph already had stage 3 liver cancer and that it had spread to his lungs. He died after two months of battling with the disease. The unfortunate turn of events severely saddened the Lucas family.

At the time of Joseph’s wake, Vhal had himself tested. He is afflicted with liver cancer, now on third stage. In December 2013, Vhal underwent surgery to have a 10-centimeter tumor removed from his liver. But his cancer came back shortly after.

While the cancer cells have not spread to his other organs, he was advised by doctors to undergo liver transplant because his liver is no longer healthy due to scarring caused by cirrhosis.

Despite his illness, Vhal still goes to work as a computer programmer to support his medication and his family’s needs. He is now raising funds for his liver transplant operation that could cost more than P4.5-million. He has already approached various medical and government institutions for assistance. He needs to have the operation as soon as possible. Vhal has a young daughter and his wife is now pregnant with their second child.

He wants to continue living and he is appealing for help — financial assistance and prayers. He is fighting hard to reclaim his life from the fatal disease that took the life of his brothers.

To know more about Vhal’s brave battle against liver cancer, watch the video below:

To donate for Vhal’s liver transplant operation, go to his GoFund site.

It is not always possible to prevent liver cancer but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and self-care measures can help. Vaccines for hepatitis B are commonly available for children and adults. If you are at risk for hepatitis B or C infection, consider undergoing a screening test.

Images: Screengrabbed from Youtube.com. With permission from Baltazar Lucas. Some rights reserved.

Parts of this post was originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

ordinary people

““Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.”

This TV commercial is based on a real story and it touches a chord in each one of us who lost a loved one, be it a spouse, a parent, a sibling or a child. A group of old men decide to revisit their motorcycling youth after one of their own passes away. I know the feeling all too well .

TC Bank’s television commercial by Taiwan’s Ogilvy & Mather creative team have created a three-minute ad for a Taiwan bank that asks the question, “What do people live for?”

Have you ever felt you lost a dream? and thought to live it in some other way?

Dreams shattered, one wonders if life is worth living at all. Most bereaved pose that question : “What is there to live for?” despite the fact they may still have loved ones left. I cannot begin to imagine those that have lost whole families.

How does one even begin to live after a loss? I cannot begin to imagine the loss of lives that struck families in Yolanda-affected provinces even if I lost my precious child 14 years ago.

Do not live for the expectations of people around you
I did not pick up the pieces right away. I believe I had to go through the pain to get through it. And just one day five years after the death of my son, in a moment of silence and solitude, I got my answer. It is true that “No one ever finds life worth living – one has to make it worth living”.

It is simply a choice. As I have written in my first blog post , I chose joy over a lifetime of sadness. It is said that grief is inevitable but misery is optional. I realized that it did no good to sit in my misery pit. It does no good for the loss of my son to lead to the loss of two (me and my son).

It was a decision to lead the second part of my life differently and better than I would have imagined .

I wanted to live a new life, the best possible life . I wanted a meaningful life: to live with honor, integrity, courage, compassion, etc. I know being a homemaker for many years left me shy and unexposed to the outside world. This new life had to be outside my comfort zone to reach out to others like me. Along the way, things fell into place, a baby step at a time. I continue to live my dreams everyday, to make an impact, to go beyond my normal routine as a homemaker , to enjoy life, to keep on loving even when loving is hard to do.

I leave you with thoughts to focus on …

““Whatever the tasks, do them slowly
with ease,
in mindfulness,
so not do any tasks with the goal
of getting them over with.
Resolve to each job in a relaxed way,
with all your attention.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master