If you noticed, I have been tweeting a lot about ASEAN 2017 since January this year. This is my ASEAN story.

Social media lounge in Davao

Updated: April 23 , 2017

Everyone knows the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) when it comes to travel within the region. In fact I have traveled eight ASEAN member states except for Brunei and Myanmar.  I first got to know more about ASEAN when I got an email in 2011, to attend the 1st ASEAN Social Media Strategy Meeting in Jakarta.

Being there with other social media personalities in the ASEAN region was a learning experience. The sharing meant also an exchange of ideas that can be also replicated in my sphere of influence. What did I share? There is no secret to SOCIAL MEDIA except to listen, connect, share and engage and be passionate about the topics shared. The informal meeting also inspired me to consider writing more about the ASEAN instead of just concentrating about Philippine issues. The progress in ASEAN integration and the ongoing community building efforts is something that everyone should know. I gained a lot of basic understanding of what ASEAN meant as a region of opportunities.

Then 2013 came and I was once invited to a 2nd social media exchange in Bangkok and met my fellow ASEAN social media friends and other consultants.

Participants shared their knowledge and experiences with the ASEAN Secretariat to define possible strategies for ASEAN to engage citizen more effectively through the various Social Media platforms. The most important thing was to make the ASEAN brand , a people-oriented brand. I thought it was too associated with political topics that other benefits are not known to most ASEAN Citizens.  With the help of social media, a people-oriented ASEAN  can become a reality  as long as it opens up and listen to the citizenry.  The beauty of social media lies in the opportunity for citizens to get in touch with an organization that appears abstract to most of us at the present time.

Our participation in the 2011 and 2013 social media exchange  led to the ASEAN secretariat being more active on twitter and facebook. They even tied up with the organic ASEAN Community in facebook which is now known as the ASEAN Youth Organization (AYO).  I am impressed with this ASEAN community. Today, AYO has already registered as a legal body under Indonesian Law. There are 12 AYO Networks in all ASEAN Countries, plus Japan and Australia with more than 150 committee members in total. Their project tackle Youth Empowerment such as Training, Seminars and Workshop and collaboration with other Organization or Universities to do some projects.

And it is now 2017 .

And it is the Philippines turn to be the ASEAN chair. The Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship coincides with a historic, milestone event– the 50th anniversary of the founding of our Association. It will be an occasion for us to set the tone for the next 50 years.

I am happy to be involved with the year long activities of the ASEAN 2017 summit as Senior Consultant for ALL Media Engagement under the PCOO led Committee on Media Affairs and Strategic Communications (CMASC),  ASEAN National Organizing Council (NOC).

Together with fellow bloggers, Sonnie Santos and Juned Sonido, we attended the launch and covered the event as well. The venue even had a social media lounge together with exhibits , the history of ASEAN and the six thematic priorities of the Philippines as ASEAN Chair.

I am thrilled to be part of history as the ASEAN celebrates its 50th year.   Like the President said in his keynote address : “This is a golden opportunity for all to work for an ASEAN that has taken its firm and secure place in the community of nations: An ASEAN that has its own significant role in effecting positive change for our world.”

It is also my first time to see President Duterte now that he is the President. In his speech, it is reiterated that for an ASEAN citizen, the ASEAN community must provide opportunities for a truly better life.

This is a life that has broken the bonds of dependence and ignorance. This is a life that has given opportunities for self-improvement. This is a life that is provided by a society transformed and reformed.

ASEAN needs to make itself understandable with its messaging especially on how benefits can be derived .

“Now, more than ever, it is ASEAN’s spirit of community that will enable us to overcome challenges that we face as a region.” – President Duterte keynote speech during the kick-off rites of the ASEAN 2017 .

I have written before that there are potential benefits in a life of a secure environment, a better living standard , better job prospects, sufficient income and stable prices, a better education to our children, effective help in case of disaster and emergencies and the freedom to travel , work and settle.

I am very excited with the work ahead, to increase and enhance the awareness for ASEAN and the core message of the ASEAN 2017 summit. Expect me to talk more about ASEAN this year.  So far, I have attended school tours and roadshows all over the Philippines.

Asean information kiosks in Boracay

Asean school tours in Iloilo City

Asean roadshow in Cebu

Asean socio cultural summit in Iloilo

Asean roadshow in Cebu

Asean social media lounge in Pampanga

I hope you can all join me as we both explore the benefits and challenges not only for us, Filipinos but for the ASEAN citizens as well. Use the hashtag #ASEAN2017 for our conversations on twitter, facebook or on instagram . Share your ASEAN story whether it is about travel, food, friendships, and photography or How has ASEAN helped my life and use #MyAseanStory along with the #ASEAN2017 hashtag.

Read my other articles on ASEAN:

“This is our future” – the school children at the ASEAN School Tour

Opportunities and challenges of women in the ASEAN

10 opportunities and benefits for the citizens in ASEAN

Opportunities for your children in the ASEAN

Sharing my social media experience at the 1st ASEAN Social Media Strategy Meeting

The Philippines as ASEAN Chair: Six thematic priorities

The ASEAN community 2025 vision: What is in it for me?

ASEAN, a region of opportunities for the citizens 

Beyond pleasure, there are several health benefits of making love. Studies suggest that making love on a regular basis is as good as pumping some iron in the gym.

making lovePeople often link a healthy lifestyle to boring and bland food, tough workouts, and sweet-deprived life. Contrary to the common beliefs, living a healthy lifestyle is not a punishment but a reward that you can give yourself.

Exercise plays an important role in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Married couples will be delighted to know that sex is considered as moderately intense exercise. Although sex is not something that can replace the treadmill, it still has the ability to boost both physical and mental health. According to WebMD, “sex uses about five calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV.”
Maintaining a healthy sex life is a good way to improve health. Here are some known health benefits of making love.

1. Boosts immune system – The immune system is your body’s first line of defense. Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD, a sexual health expert stated on WebMD that sexually active people are less prone to illness. People who engage in sex have higher levels of antibodies against germs, viruses, and other intruders. However, health experts still stress the importance of eating right, staying active, getting enough sleep, keeping up with vaccinations, and exercising safe sex to maintain good immune system and protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

Based on a study from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, people who make love one to two times a week have three times as much Immunoglobulin A (antibody) in their systems compared to those who do not engage in sex or have sex less than once a week.

2. Promotes positive emotional responses – Having sex brings physical pleasure but it also has a chemical effect that has been suggested to lift the mood and reduce depression. Making love is linked to a cheerful mood. During orgasm, the body releases serotonin and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). The former is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and promotes a happier and hopeful disposition while the latter has antidepressant effects.

Making love can improve a person’s overall well-being. According to CNN.com, the body releases cortisol-lowering oxytocin while getting a massage, hugging, holding hands, and making love. This hormone has been dubbed as the “love hormone”, “hug hormone”, “cuddle chemical”, and “bliss hormone”. Oxytocin acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain which promotes positive social behaviors and emotional responses that are linked to relaxation, trust and psychological stability. It is also known to reduce stress responses, such as anxiety.

3. Increases libido – If you want to bring the sizzle back to your sex life, it’s time to plan more date nights with your husband or wife to rekindle the romance. End the evening by going under the sheets and making love.

Lauren Streicher, MD says that making love regularly makes sex better and boosts your libido. The more you enjoy making love, the more you crave for it.

4. Makes your skin glow – Sex is a natural beauty enhancer. Health experts say that making love improves blood circulation and oxygenation of the blood. The skin is said to have a certain glow after sex or a temporary brighter complexion. During organism, endorphins and growth hormones are released, like DHEA which helps heal skin damage attributed to sun exposure, smoke and cortisol buildup.

Making love also helps get rid of toxins and give the lips a fuller look. Regular sex increases production of estrogen in women which results to shinier hair and more luminous skin. It also increases production of collagen which is responsible for making the skin appear supple and firm. When you feel good about your appearance, you feel more confident.

5. Improves female bladder control – Sex can help minimize incontinence. Regular sex is a good exercise for the pelvic floor muscles. When a woman reaches climax during sex, the muscles contract which strengthens them.

intimacy6. Promotes better sleeping habit – Regular sex is a good remedy for people who are having trouble sleeping due to anxiety or stress. After making love, the body releases the hormone prolactin which has a relaxing effect and the hormone oxytocin which promotes sleep.

7. Lessens aches and pains – A wave of oxyticin rushes through the body just before reaching an orgasm. Fitness Magazine claims that during this time, the body releases endorphins with pain relief effect. Sex has the ability to offer fast relief from aches and pains such as leg pain, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and headaches.

8. Lowers blood pressure – Some studies show that making love lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number that appears on your blood pressure test). The hormone oxytocin which is released during orgasm also helps lower blood pressure.

9. Decreases risk of heart attack – “Sex is a good aerobic exercise, and aerobic exercise is good for heart health,” says Dr. Nukta, medical director of interventional cardiology at Fairview Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic Hospital.

Making love regularly is good for the heart. It raises heart rate and balances estrogen and testosterone levels. WebMD cites a study where “men who had sex at least twice a week were considered half as likely to die of heart disease as men who had sex rarely.”

10. Lowers risk of prostate cancer – WebMD also stated that sex, nocturnal emmision and masturbation can lower the risk of prostate cancer.

11. Strengthens relationship – Making love can enhance the intimacy between a couple and strengthen relationship. After engaging in sex, a couple often feels the desire to cuddle and hold each other. The release of oxytocin promotes the feeling of closeness which fulfills the need for loving physical contact.

Written by Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco as originally posted on the Philippine Online Chronicles

Photo1 c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved; Photo2 c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a chocolate lover, full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.

Forgiveness sets you free from resentment’s confines; it breaks down the walls that anger builds and negativity reinforces.

I was struck by a facebook post from a friend. She shared the simple Act of Contrition taught to her in grade school to her own daughter. Here it is

O God, I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive me. I know you love me and I want to love you, and be good to everyone. Help me make up for my sins, I will try to do better from now on. Amen

I was also taught about the act of contrition in a Catholic School but that was over 40 years ago. All I remember is “Forgive me, Father for I have sinned…these are my sins…blah blah”. The act of contrition is a Christian prayer genre that expresses sorrow for sins. I don’t need to rattle off my sins to a priest because I have done this privately many times.  I believe God is everywhere.

The truth is I have sinned for acts that I did as a wife and mother. Though I have said sorry and seeked forgiveness from God and from family members as well, I think one must also forgive oneself and never do it again. Apologize and make amends for one’s bad action or words are the steps to healing and preventing resentment in relationships.

It’s never too late to apologize

Why should I apologize? I have learned that as long as I am sincere in my apology, saying sorry lifts that the burden off my chest as instant relief washes over me. I certainly don’t want to prolong any bad blood.  A proper apology will straighten everything out. According to psychologist Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid, “An effective apology doesn’t just heal the wound for the other person. It’ll dissolve your guilt, too.”

Basically, whenever an apology is given, one has to truly mean it—and strive to change one’s behavior so that  mistakes won’t happen again.

Twelve  years ago, my husband and I had our own share of marital conflicts. He would do something I found objectionable and then very quickly say sorry. I told him I  more interested in seeing his  behavior change.  It’s easy to say sorry; it’s harder to spend the time to understand why you’ve hurt someone and to work on not hurting them again.

Practice forgiveness

Through the years, my husband has shown through his actions that he wanted  to change. After truly being sorry, forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we gave each other.

Forgiveness sets you free from resentment’s confines; it breaks down the walls that anger builds and negativity reinforces.

When we forgive, we stop letting our pasts dictate our presents. We acknowledge we want the very best for ourselves; accepting that our past makes us the person we are today, and embracing that.

Letting go of resentment doesn’t necessarily lead to forgiveness, but when you embrace forgiveness, resentment ceases to exist.

I know that I cannot control what other people do including family members, but I can control how I react. When I practice truthful living, self-expression, and forgiveness, resentment simply has no place or power in my life.

Meditation gives you an opportunity to come to know your invisible self. It allows you to empty yourself of the endless hyperactivity of your mind, and to attain calmness. It teaches you to be peaceful, to remove stress, to receive answers where confusion previously reigned. – Wayne Dyer


Right across our house is the parish church for over 5000 or more residents. A few years ago, we agonized over the wailing and chanting of “pabasa”. Fortunately, there is none this year.

I don’t know with you but I find the “pabasa” very irritating especially if the marathon chant is done right across your house. As you are all aware, the “pabasa” is a uniquely Filipino tradition of chanting or singing the pasyon, a book narrating the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some would say that I should make it a personal vow or panata during Holy Week. Really, it’s no use escaping the Pabasa’s wailing chants. It is like forcing me to reflect on its messages, and to relate to the suffering of Jesus.

Michael Tan in his article on. Pabasa on a Carabao, tells us more on the origins of the “Pabasa”

The Passion plays, and our Pabasa (sometimes also called Pasyon), are not just religious rituals. They are intended literally to indoctrinate the public, which is instilling doctrine. Given how central Christ’s Passion and death are to Christian doctrines, the Pabasa is there to hammer down the messages around Christ’s redemptive act.

Today is unlike the past. There are choices on how we choose to reflect on our spirituality.

The “pabasa” is really meditating but just done loudly. I prefer to meditate quietly. I recognize that Jesus is God so I talk directly to Him. Now, to meditate is a route to improving my conscious contact with God. Meditation means opening my mind and my spiritual energy to the God connection. I cannot connect to God in a noisy environment so I prefer to do so in peace and tranquility. I want to relax as best as I can and open my consciousness and subconscious mind to God.

Today being Holy Thursday is a quiet day. I have time to slow down, to stop what I am doing and take this kind of break. During normal days, my meditation and prayer comes to play when I am alone in the sanctuary of my room. It is during these times when answers, insight or inspiration hit me. Sometimes it might not be immediate but solutions are surely coming.

If I did my part on meditation and prayer, I then let the rest go. I allow my conscious contact with God improve so that my subconscious contact will too. I discovered that with time, I found myself in tune with God’s harmony and will for me. I find and maintain that soul connection, the God connection.

I know all of us take our own moments for meditation and prayer either the first thing in the morning, during a coffee break or in the evening. It is our choice.

Dr. Wayne Dyer’s Practical Guide to Meditation

“Connect to the divine Source with unconditional love. This principles creates an awareness of the significance of accepting your manifestations with absolute love.” Dr. Wayne Dyer

1.) “There’s no such thing as a bad meditation. Any time you spend time in silence is valuable, even if your inner voice is persistent and loud. Don’t judge it; just observe it. Simply observe yourself sitting there, and when a stray thought suddenly appears, just note it, and use its presence as a reminder to go back to the gap.”

2.) “With time, your inner dialogue will shut down. We all know that mastery is seldom achieved without practice. Meditation is no exception. Perhaps that’s why it’s called practice. With the passage of time, you’ll easily slip into the gap with joyous anticipation of reuniting with God.”

3.) “There’s no right or wrong time to meditate. Each of us finds our most comfortable time of day, so don’t try to do this on someone else’s schedule. You can slip into the gap frequently if you take advantage of a two minute stop at a traffic light, a pause in a meeting, a trip to the rest room, or the time you spend waiting for an appointment.”

4.) “There’s no correct mediation length. I find that approximately 20 minutes per session twice daily is optimal for me. However, even a few moments can be nurturing. I’ve also learned that a two or three hour flight is a grand opportunity for me to spend an extended period of time in the gap, and that the time passes in what seems like a few moments.”

5.) “There’s no correct posture or place for meditation. Find what makes you comfortable and trust it. Sitting, lying down, kneeling – whatever works for you is the perfect posture. Anyplace at all can serve as your location. Since I travel so much, I’m not particular about location, while some people I know use the same posture, the same chair, and the same time every day. Whatever ““floats your boat”, as my teenagers say, is fine.”

The ASEAN school tour is one of the many ways to raise awareness of what the ASEAN community means in the lives of our children.

What future can our children look forward to? Of course, there is the future of the Philippines and then there is the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), our community, our future. The ASEAN is at the heart of Asia and feels so close to home.

READ: Opportunities for your children in the ASEAN

As part of my work in the ASEAN 2017 awareness campaign, I get to cover ASEAN School tours. So far , I have covered Iloilo , Mandaue and Cebu City. I really enjoy being with the school children.  Everywhere I go, the children are so eager to learn more about ASEAN. There is so much energy as they raise their flag and sing “The Asean way”. The kids sing the ASEAN anthem after the National Anthem. It is a beautiful song.

Raise our flag high, sky high
Embrace the pride in our heart
ASEAN we are bonded as one
Look-in out-ward to the world.
For peace, our goal from the very start
And prosperity to last.
We dare to dream we care to share.
Together for ASEAN
we dare to dream,
We care to share,
For it’s the way of ASEAN

The ASEAN Way is the official anthem of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It has  a poignant tone to it especially if sung by the children. Listen to the video below that I took at the Mandaue City Central School.

 The ASEAN Anthem is an expression of ASEAN unity. It also strengthens the sense of ASEAN identity and belonging among the peoples of the region so singing it brings a sense of community.

Let me share what happens at a school tour.

In every school tour, you will catch the children raise their flags with glee. I ask the kids if they knew the 10 countries by heart . Oh yes, they do.

Asean school tour in Iloilo City

There is Kuya Karl to the kids. He is the energetic host of the ASEAN fun games where he teaches the kids  how to say “Thank You” in 10 different languages of the ASEAN member states and other fun trivia.

Kuya Karl of PCOO – ASEAN hosts the fun trivia games

It is a joy to watch the kids follow Kuya Karl as he pronounces some of the tongue twisting “Thank yous”. I am learning too.

How to say thank you in the 10 languages in ASEAN?

Tell me , do you know how to say ‘Thank you” in Vietnamese? Well, I learned it is Cam on[kárm ern] or saying “thank you” in Burmese?

Its “kyaayyjuutainpartaal”. Can you even pronounce that? You can ask Kuya Karl to help you with that. After these school tours, I will master all the “thank yous” with the right accent.

Asean school tour in Cebu City Sports Complex with 1200 students

You can see the kids are never bored. All ears are focused on the engaging ways to learn about Asean.

Ana  (not her real name) takes down notes from the lessons she picked up from the trivia game.

Where are the 10 countries in ASEAN ?

The children mastered their geography by identifying the countries on the map. They also learned the three pillars of the ASEAN Community comprised of three pillars: the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community and the ASEAN 2017 theme (Partnering for Change, Engaging the World) in this multiple choice game.

READ: 10 opportunities and benefits for the citizens in ASEAN

The school tour is also one way for the children to feel this dream of an ASEAN community.

“Together for ASEAN
we dare to dream,
We care to share,
For it’s the way of ASEAN”.

YES, they said it well: “This is our future”.

READ: The Philippines as ASEAN Chair: Six thematic priorities


Participating schools at the school tour in Cebu City Sports complex were: Apas National High School, City Central Elementary and High School, Mabolo Elementary and High School, Zapatera Elementary, Don Vicente Rama Elementary and High School, Abellana National High School, Asian College of Technology, Cebu Normal University, Cebu Institute of Technology-University, University of Cebu, University of San Carlos and University of Southern Philippines Foundation.

Located at the 28th floor of Centuria Medical Makati, Pinnacle Performance delivers athletic development for professional and amateur athletes, and recreational fitness enthusiasts alike.

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver” says Mahatma Gandhi . I try to lead a healthy lifestyle ever since I encountered a coronary issue in 2004 due to my borderline obesity.

Pinnacle Performance

Thirteen years later, I achieved my weight loss goal but I discovered that hitting the gym and losing weight is not the ultimate goal. I sorely lack balance. See, fitness training balances five elements of good health. I have to make  sure my routine includes aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, flexibility and stretching.

Pinnacle Performance

When the opportunity to visit Pinnacle Performance came, I was excited to learn more.  Well, I am sure you want to know more about  athletic development for professional and amateur athletes, and recreational fitness enthusiasts like myself.  I am very impressed with the way Pinnacle Performance delivers an environment geared to empower clients to achieve every level of performance.

Pinnacle Performance

Pinnacle Performance

Led by owner and Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Tom Summers, who holds vast experience carefully creating the complete athletic development of elite sports men and women, the members-only facility combines world-class facilities and instruction, with cutting edge technology and methodology, to ensure every member has all the tools required to reach their desired performance goals.

Pinnacle Performance

Using the unique Pinnacle Global Rating (PGR), a member’s speed, power are agility, strength, body composition, and energy system’s capacity, measured and tracked to provide an objective picture of progress.

Pinnacle Performance

Pinnacle also offers members access to physiotherapy services (ProHealth Sports & Spinal Philippines), such as treatment of spinal pain and dysfunction, running assessments, and injury prevention — ensuring all aspects of physical development are covered. The secret to Pinnacle’s success is in their 3-part customized mission:

1. PLAN – Whether to simply get back into shape, or to train for a triathlon, and everything in between, Pinnacle builds a program structured around a member’s goal. – The Pinnacle Global Rating (PGR) is used to profile and measure a member’s baseline.

2. PURSUE – Specific sessions are then designed for individual training, strength and power, metabolic loading, and mobility, among others. – A member’s PGR will be tracked per session in order to easily provide an objective picture of progress.

3. PERFORM – Pinnacle promises that at the end of every program, a member will be able to perform at the level initially targeted during the planning stage. – A member’s program changes every four weeks, with individual and complete reviews of every members’ previous month of training.

You might want to get the  Full memberships starting at P6,995, with Youth Memberships beginning at P4,995. Members are provided full access to Unique Program Tracking, and the facility’s Athletic Track, Performance Suite, Conditioning Equipment, and the Suspension and Body Weight Area.

ProHealth Sports & Spinal Philippines

Like I told you earlier, Pinnacle Performance also has physiotherapy services through ProHealth Sports & Spinal Philippines on the same floor.  Partnered with Pinnacle Performance, both high-level professional athletes and recreational fitness enthusiasts alike, can make use of the  physiotherapy clinic for injury recovery and prevention, for muscle function and flexibility improvement, and for spinal manipulation and rehabilitation.

ProHealth utilizes vast experience with professional and international sports teams to ensure cutting edge care is provided to all its clients, regardless whether engaged in high level competition or not.

The spacious facility on the 28th floor of Centuria Medical Makati is armed with physio gyms with reformers, seven physio rooms, shower areas, a pantry, and a lounge area. The clinic also boasts of real-time ultrasound to better assess and treat patients.  Owned and operated by Prohealth Asia Ltd objectively measured progress in its one-one-one sessions.

Physiotherapists are willing to conduct 45-minute assessments of new patients so check out if you need any of the specialization that  ProHealth Sports & Spinal offers.

  1. Manual Therapy
  2. Sports Physiotherapy
  3.  Muscle Therapy
  4. Spinal Manipulation
  5. Spinal Rehabilitation
  6. Post-Operative Rehabilitation
  7. Endurance Sports Injury
  8. Exercise Prescription
  9. Sports Physiotherapy
  10. Sports Medicine Management

I love how there is physiotherapy services within the same floor of the Pinnacle Performance. Sometimes after a rough workout, there are all these aches and pains which need to be checked on . One time, I think I used the weights at my gym wrongly and for months, I had a frozen arm. Therapy could have fixed it right away.

Do check it out especially those of you who live close to Pinnacle Performance at Centuria Medical Makati.

Contact information :

Pinnacle Performance
28th floor of Centuria Medical Makati, Century City
Kalayaan Ave. cor. Salamanca St.
Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City
website: www.PinnaclePerformance.ph.
email: [email protected]
Phone: 02-793-8763.

ProHealth Sports & Spinal Philippines
28th floor of Centuria Medical Makati, Century City
Kalayaan Ave. cor. Salamanca St.
Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City
website: www.sportsandspinal.ph
Phone: 02- 793-8762