stjohn.jpgWhen a child dies, it’s not the natural order of things. For many years, I struggled to find the meaning of my son’s death. Five years and a lot of pain later, I finally found the answers. It all started with an email to Cathy after I invited her to join as co-founder for the Compassionate Friends Philippines.I have to mention that this support group is not around anymore,  but I continue to offer comfort in my blog.

Listen to my podcast:

She replied and readily agreed to join. What struck me was her statement:

I now know that we are called to serve in different ways because we have different missions. Setting up Compassionate Friends in the Philippines is clearly yours as Migi’s Corner and Grief counselling and death education are mine.

How could that be? If I wanted a mission, a foundation seems a more noble idea. “The Compassionate Friends” is not an original idea. So there I was thinking, Alma, Cathy and Pia initiated foundations all in the memory of their children. I don’t have any memorial or foundation in Luijoe’s name. I felt a bit sad, but Cathy’s words stuck in my mind for many days until I remembered a conversation with my son during Holy Week.

The actual picture that Luijoe pointed out in his prayerbook

This is what I wrote in Luijoe’s memorial site almost 21 years ago:

Then one night while we had our usual prayers before bedtime, he pointed to the picture of St. John the Apostle which was found in his Rosary Prayer book. I explained that Jesus told John to take care and comfort his mother when he dies. Luijoe seemed to be touched by St. John and the following nights, he kept repeating the same question and this time he was asking how John was related to Mother Mary. I found that to be a very deep question, and I just said he was one of Jesus’ apostle.

Now I realized the meaning. It was like Luijoe was making sure I would remember John. I did remember our conversation during the wake .It touched my heart that my son was worried about my grief.

I realized Luijoe wanted me to carry on the comfort to others. The St. John symbolizes compassion. By working with The Compassionate Friends, I would act like a “St. John” to other bereaved parents. This memory brought tears of joy and nostalgia. Even if I am no longer around in this mortal world, this grief support group will still continue on. Truly, God works in mysterious ways and He uses our children to help us find and shape our ministries. It is our children who remind us of the bigger work that God has set out for us in this world.

I wrote this post a long time ago when I was still active with “The Compassionate Friends”. But I continue to talk to parents who have lost a child through my blog and sharing this podcast. My son never let me forget that there are many “St. Johns” in my life. Today, Good Friday reminds me Luijoe is never entirely gone

Luijoe is never entirely gone.

Luijoe’s favorite prayer book

Technology brings so much ease in running the household in this day and age but modernity has its downside. Both parents usually work to support the family’s needs and they are left with two choices in dealing with kids: leave them with a relative or yaya.  With the latter option, it is tough enough to leave their dear offsprings to a total stranger but even harder to make sure Yaya is honest. How do parents detect a major fib?

ARE THE KIDS EATING PROPERLY?  Responsible parents can almost ensure their children eat right by leaving healthy foods in the fridge and cupboard and instructing Yaya which to chow for meals and snacks. Question is, are they actually being fed? Children have different eating styles. Some easily take whatever is spoon-fed but the more independent ones flatly refuse and need more coaxing. Nannies are different characters, too. Some are very patient in feeding youngsters and some just give up easily.

A doctor-friend Doc Don was alarmed when he noticed his daughter getting thin. She was not exhibiting any signs of sickness and Yaya assured him the baby had a good appetite. The weight loss remained a puzzle until a neighbor tipped that Yaya had the habit of chatting away with the subdivision security guards. Since his wife could not take a leave of absence, he sacrificed a great chunk of his professional life to make sure his youngest recovered from malnourishment. He discovered that his little girl ate so little and hardly finished four ounces of formula milk. The tot was more than a year old and should be consuming at least 6 ounces per feeding. After confirming the neighbor’s report of the nanny’s neglect, he fired the negligent Yaya.

ARE THE KIDS SAFE AT HOME? Parents cannot help but be paranoid with all the news about children being kidnapped. It is one thing for a stranger to abduct a minor but it is scarier if Yaya exposes your child to this kind of danger.

Little Mickey is a usually messy eater and an active toddler so Mommy Mia got wary when her son’s clothes piled up in the hamper without much smudge and dust. Yaya happily reported how her charge is handling the spoon better now. Yaya even boasted about her extra care to keep Little Mickey from getting dirty. Mia was not convinced so she decided to spot-check. She usually sent text messages to Yaya to know how Little Mickey is doing. Once, she decided to make a random call. Voila! Mia caught the ambient sounds of cars speeding by from her cell phone. It turned out Yaya was a regular window shopper of the nearby town center mall tagging along Little Mickey. Yaya was given ample warning. Thankfully, she tried to stay indoors afterwards and just contented herself with the family’s weekend visits to the mall.

ARE THE KIDS WELL TAKEN CARE OF? Mark is a contractor and stays home most of the time unless there were client calls. He and his wife Lily just needed some assistance in caring for the kids so they hired a nanny on-call.

The children were old enough to tell their parents if there was something wrong so Mark and Lily were quite at ease when they were both away. But the clever yaya sneaked out during naptime to do her own laundry and chores at her place. The kids were totally unaware of her trips.

Yaya reasoned that she makes sure the kids were fed well and their needs were taken care of when they are awake so it is okay to steal some of her paid working hours for her own family’s needs.

Good thing, a concerned neighbor who runs a store sees yaya leave every afternoon and quietly return after a few hours. The old lady lectured yaya on the need to be around even as the kids doze off. It was her responsibility to keep guard. Yaya would not hear any of it so the kindly granny opted to tell Mark and Lily about it. The couple did not have second thoughts parting with the yaya and took an old relative to take over.

ARE THE KIDS HURT? Kathy and Gilbert had the scare of their lives when their 3-year old started running a fever and throwing up. Pushed to confess, Yaya admitted that her ward fell off the third step of the stairs the night before and hit her head on the cemented landing. The husband-and-wife lost no time in rushing their unica hija to the hospital. Much to their relief, the cause of their little girl’s vomits was not brain damage. She over-ate popcorn. It was too much for her tiny tummy to process.

Janine just gave birth to their second baby when her husband Rudy got an alarming call from his sister-in-law. It turned out their toddler was in her walker when Yaya rushed outside to get the laundry as it started to rain. She made sure the door was shut but the baby somehow managed to pry it open and tumbled on to the front lawn head first. The in-laws live in the nearby house and rushed to the rescue when they heard their niece’s painful cries. Her face was full of scratches after landing on the gravel walkway. Although scared, Yaya spewed out the whole story and profusely apologized. Janine warned Rudy beforehand not to lose his temper despite the unnerving incident.  She knew how dependable Yaya was and it could have been equally unsettling for her. Upon the doctor’s advice, the tiny tyke was observed for symptoms of a head injury. Thankfully, she did not vomit, run a fever or become weak and was active as ever.

ARE THE KIDS “OVER-DISCIPLINED”? There are numerous horror stories of caregivers getting too physical when kids get rowdy. It is easier if the kids are a bit older since they could always tell Mommy and Daddy if Yaya is abusing her authority but newborns and toddlers are totally helpless. Parents have no choice but to be vigilant of telltale signs like unexplained bruises or scratches and the child’s sudden loss of appetite, inactiveness or changes in behavior.

LESSEN THE LIES. Three common denominators arise from the cases cited to promote honesty among nannies. (1) Be good to your neighbors and their genuine concern will naturally crop up especially in looking after your children. (2) Be observant of your kids’ well-being. There are always detectable physical traces of abuse. (3) Fear of being scolded or fired are major reasons for a cover-up. Learn to deal with them gently in small faults to encourage nannies to tell the truth when it really matters.

Photo: “Maddox” by Tracey, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

First published at the Philippine Online Chronicles

The first thing that comes to mind, when children are bored, is that they have to do something, and that would most certainly involve spending money – buying food, clothes, gaming consoles; or spending time with friends out of town Let us try to take the hard-earned peso out of the equation, because that brings out creativity and imagination. Mothers are best fit for this task, because they operate on a budget, and we shall try our best to seek solutions that best represent their elegant point of view.

Summer Job
Human dignity wouldn’t be expunged by taking on a summer job at the municipal office, a BPO, or the fastfood chain. It will help the children appreciate the real value of money, and that they will learn early on that it comes from hard work (and not as reward from people who owe you favors).

If, as a parent, you don’t want them taking on such big responsibility (or abuse. But productive abuse.), they could just go into a summer business for themselves. One husband-and-wife team, according to the Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho show, turned Php20 to more than a million, just by selling ice candies. It’s one thing to have a mini-stand, and another to talk to various sari-sari stores, getting them to agree to a concession. If you can teach your kids, the skill of landing clients, they would breeze through the K-to-12 program, whose think tanks may have taken the ‘lifelong learning’ clause a bit too seriously.

Woodworking and Scooter Making
A mom friend is skilled in the craft of wood furniture making – tables (and not the sissy ones either – twelve seaters), and shelves. We won’t be expecting toddlers who can barely keep their balance while walking to erect a shelf on their own, or teenagers to drive a nail straight home in one hammering (although my friend knows how to construct without need for nails). Simple light apprentice work, like gathering wood shavings for the kids, and teaching the teenagers to shave wood, with the proper precautionary reminders and gear, would do them much good.

Still too much? Back then (after World War II), children made their own toys. With bamboo sticks and plastic bags, plus sewing thread on spools, we can fashion kites. Yes, there was a time when kites weren’t bought in the malls. If you go to your province, you still might still get to see this dying culture of Pinoy toys for the Filipino children.

That, and kiddie scooters. Just wood panels, ball bearings, and nails – the reason why woodworking is a requisite in this section. Wood with 1 x 1 dimension gets sculpted into a cylinder, for two stainless ball bearings to fit each side. The ball bearings are the most costly here. The wood, you can get por kilo. You can go to your friendly junk shop, but maybe not such a good idea if you’re going to leave your kids unsupervised with a scooter they made on their own.

Another is the wacky wheel. The simplistic version is you get a worn down bicycle wheel rubber, a yardstick, and use the stick to drive the wheel. A more creative one is you get the round flat lid of an infant milk can, a yardstick, one-inch nail, and flatten a bottlecap as guard for when you nail the lid onto one end of your yardstick. The kids made their own toys, they’re proud of themselves, they run around the yard, and are asleep faster than you can say Wacky Wheel. The mommy’s joy is complete.

As with crafting the wooden scooter, the scrapbook, unknown to some, is mainly an outdoor activity. Leaves, flowers, weird-shaped stalks, weeds, and pollen stalks plucked from vacant yards and the neighbors’ then dried in between newspaper pages for a week are great for designing photo scrapbooks.

A scrapbook can be a journal. It can be as manly and as girly as your children want it to be. Went to a beach and had some cute shells as souvenir? Use that on your scrapbook. Fond of collecting stamps, recycling packaging of your favorite grocery items? Use that on your scrapbook. Nuts and bolts and metal clamps and the rocker wallet chain and padlocks for a manly feel? Right on.

Door-to-door Selling
Into baking? Love merienda after siesta? Not satisfied with the usual halo-halo? Setup a table in front of the gate, and sell your own. Take your kids along when you talk to the neighbors, or other sari-sari stores for business opportunities. In approval and denial, discuss with them what you have learned, and why what you are doing is important. That shall be your chance to talk to them about money matters, and to teach them to fend for themselves – no matter what happens to them – or to you. You remember the Wacky Wheel? Have your kid sell that to his or her playmates for, say, Php10-20 each. Or the wooden scooter, for Php100-150 each, depending on the price of ball bearings.

The kids learn to fend for themselves, they learn to be responsible, they get self respect from a job well done.

When general cleaning, give them cloths to wipe the tables and chairs with. Teach them to sweep the floors, wash the dishes, fry hotdogs (this will help them appreciate the use, dangers, and learn to control the fire of the gas range), and keep the house in spit shine.

Cooking pastries, finger foods, and local viands will help them, with your guidance, know more about the nutritional value of real food cooked at home, compared to the taste and price of fastfood that by now, they’ve grown accustomed to. This could be a springboard for frontyard business ventures, which will benefit them long after you are gone.

Mending inseams, and learning crochet, cross-stitching will teach them patience and finesse. They can even become interested to sew dresses for their dolls. Php50 for a t-shirt or shorts at the local bazaar. Easiest money they ever made – because they enjoyed themselves.

The secondary school children, and the college ones could take summer jobs, or learn vocational ones, even before their lessons are taught in school. In detailing, help them notice that the local carwash will not clean the car as meticulously as you or they will. So when they enter a business, they will have a competition headstart, because they believe in quality detailed work.

Welding is a great hobby, which can be used to start their own steel gate-fabricating business, or with enough artistry, they will start iron sculpting. Sculpture would be best for inhabitants of Pila, Laguna, or other such artistic hubs. Enroll your kids in art workshops – graphic arts, performing arts, and the like.

Furniture (design) and art go hand in hand.

Play with Other Kids
What’s the fun in having all the nice toys when you don’t have anybody to share them with? Not to turn the kids into braggarts, but individuals who know the spiritual value of sharing, and the tremendous joy it brings. Even without toys, you, your kids, and their friends can go jogging, biking, hiking, playing basketball or the summer pastime specialized for mommies and girls, of course – zumba.

Overall Hygiene and Personal Grooming
How can a person respect himself if he doesn’t look good? Good grooming starts in childhood. If a child pinches boogers into flickable balls in public, most likely that will continue well into adulthood. Show them how to iron their clothes, and let them know how the flat iron works, so they won’t fear it. Teach them classic ways to maintain their hair, with buns and gels, to always have hankies (or wet wipes) and bamboo fans handy when going out for when they ride public transportation. Erect posture, and the power poses for confidence, and to always always respect themselves. Reading books go hand-in-hand with this section.

Read books
Read books to your children, or if they’re old enough, have them read on their own and have a round-table discussion on the summary, and the parts that spoke most to them. There is such a thing as “deep reading” or how a person is able to glean from the books various lessons that shape their morals profoundly. Reading is for the soul. What you read to your children and what you let them read will fill their spirit, and so the classics are advised. Shel Silverstein, Narnia, Tom Sawyer, and for the very intellectual, Florante at Laura, Noli me Tangere, and El Filibusterismo.

Wait for the Rakhin refugees to break land, or better yet, go to the church nearest you, find the ones whose cheekbones cling to the skin, ask them if they are hungry, and feed them. You can organize feeding programs on your own (What does it take to feed somebody anyway? If you have food and utensils, you’re good to go. Don’t think too much into it.), or join a reputable organization where you have a friend. This way, when you take your kids, they wake up to the realities of life, and it empowers them, and tells them that they can always do something good, in whatever situation.

Play a Peter Pan game
Let your kids know that all the abovementioned that they’ve learned are for one and one end purpose alone – to be able to play, and play with sheer joy the air in betweeen their ears pop at the mere thought of it.

Bring out the enchanted cardboard boxes of old and tell them to use all the imagination they’ve got. It could be a merchant ship sailing out to new territories and they’re hijacked by pirates with water stink bombs, water guns – bamboozlers who know nothing of door-to-door selling and making an honest living, much less oral hygiene and personal grooming.

You were left marooned with the crew on an island with nothing but your scrapbook and a plunger – which you had to fight for to keep, in fact. And since it was evident that you were the only one with a weapon strong enough to gross out the feral inhabitants of the island (and because the Captain chose to become a pirate), you were promoted as the leader of the pack. You were renamed by the aboriginal member of the crew to “Mario Barraders” or in English, “King Stick-it-to-’em.”

You turn the plunger into a short spear (the scrapbook is to remind you of the beauty within – equally important as the plunger), and hunt for wild boar, but seeing none up and about, and not really knowing what would happen if the boar snatches that spear from you, you content yourself for the meantime with wild fruits from your neighbor’s backyard, and the aratilis berries from the vacant yard overrun by dinosaurs (bayawak), dragons (dragonflies) and man-eating vegetation (prickly weeds and shrubs).

A wild boar turns up, attempts to flee, but being the King (FPJ?), you chase it good, bring it down, and the scrapbook opens by itself, the seashells, sequins, and other glittery stuff shining a bright ray of light on your face, reminding you that you are a beautiful person, prevent you from becoming a complete animal, and just stick your spear to the ground as the boar slobbers you.

As it turns out, the boar was really your sister bewitched by the pirates’ all-smelling (foul-smelling; and not all-seeing) witch – sent to the island from your farm home to deplete your supply of fruits and berries, and finish off where the pirates started.

In the end, the boar, I mean, your sister helps you to harvest more berries since she brought with her (always) a spoon, that you were able to tie to the end of your plunger-spear, you are rescued by the Navy Seals before noon. Baby Sister recently had her birthday, and mum gave her a celphone – so she wouldn’t get bored. Fancy that.

Photo: From, some rights reserved

By Anna Manila as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles

“Whether or not you realize it, you’re setting up a digital trail for your children that can last through their lifetime, and you’re doing it without your permission”

Psychological implications of growing up without anonymity

oversharentingCutesy photos may be harmless now, but they might pose a problem in years to come. This is why experts strongly recommend making sure that whatever images or anecdotes parents post are things their children will feel comfortable with later in life.

“Whether or not you realize it, you’re setting up a digital trail for your children that can last through their lifetime, and you’re doing it without your permission,” Greenberg says.

Kathryn Tuggle of Main Street explains that children can also be very sensitive about their appearance during their tween years. “If you post photos of your child during an ‘ugly duckling’ phase, you could be setting them up for self-esteem issues in the future.”

Another danger is “branding” your child. If you continually post pictures of them crying or clinging to you with captions like, “He’s so cranky,” or “She’s so shy,” it’s also possible you could be shaping your children’s perception of themselves. Hence, think about what’s best for your child, not you, the next time you log on to social media.

To read more about privacy setting pluses and the problems with privacy settings, click here.


Sharing too much information about one’s kids online has become too commonplace that according to Time, a term has already been coined for this: oversharenting. It is understandable that parents would want to share the growth and development of their children, but there’s also a fine line between posting family pictures and cutesy photos of baby’s first bath. You never know where your kid’s pictures might end up someday.

“Anytime you post anything on social media, you’re losing a little bit of control over what happens to that image,” says clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg through Main Street. “There are people out there who are bad. There are stalkers and malicious people who can take your pictures and put them on sites where heads end up on other people’s bodies… Socially isolated people who spend all day on Facebook stalking people, who get turned on by children,” Greenberg adds, emphasizing how as parents, we have to think about how much we’re going to post.

Joining the bandwagon is never a good reason to post something. “There may be pressure to show off your baby, but you don’t have to join that club. It’s always your decision.”

What you can do

Some parents go to extreme measures of literally posting nothing about their kids at all, but for those who still want to share photos or videos of their beautiful brood to some extent online, here are some tips that might be helpful:

  • If you shall decide to keep your child off social media, cull your friend list and let them know about your intention of doing so.
  • You may also use a pet name, rather than your child’s real name, to afford him/her some protection against companies or individuals who might be interested in your child’s personal data.
  • Avoid tagging your child’s photos on Facebook lest you want to the facial recognition tool to work on him/her.
  • Lock down your privacy settings to prevent strangers from viewing your pictures and posts.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, use the internet consciously and in a way that is effective and positive for your life.


Here are other interesting and worthwhile reads on sharing about your child on social media:

*“Mother and Child Reflected” by William Pitcher, courtesy of Flickr. 


written by Edel Cayetano as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles


Homeschooling or traditional education

Our eldest daughter just turned three last March but she was already showing signs of interest for school as early as age 2. Her grandmother’s house is right in front of a public school and our own neighborhood is near three schools so it is understandable that her excitement builds up every time the academic year starts as uniformed youngsters dragging along their bags and lunch boxes are fetched by school buses.

But a lot of things are making my husband and me think twice about taking the traditional route to learning. Money-wise, a good pre-school demands tuition fees as high as universities so I started kidding about saving up for college by home schooling our kids now. What started as a joke took a serious turn when a friend bewailed about the stress her son went through as they scouted for a pre-school.

At the age of 4, he was already expected to know how to identify the alphabets and colors, count one to ten, read simple words and write his name. My friend was confident her son would breeze through all the pre-acceptance tests with all the home-training she did with the yaya and he almost did. There were practices that scared the wits out of the little boy. One school made him enter an empty room without proper orientation so when the time came for a teacher to appraise his skills, he made an excuse to see his mother. He said he pooped and had to go to the toilet but actually, all he wanted was to run to the comfort of his mom and convince her to go home. Another school did not like the child’s confidence and branded him disobedient. He was told to count one to ten but he proudly insisted on counting one to twenty. My friend was asked to bring her son back for debriefing to teach him to follow rules. Something is amiss here. A child’s learning has endless possibilities. Why clip his wings before he could even learn to fly?

There goes the dilemma. How do I explain to my excited tyke that school will be home and not in a big building just like where the rest of the kids go? Will we deprive her of the excitement of trudging with her backpack and lunch bag in tow? How will she develop social skills if we take her away from the classroom set-up?

But then again, we see that our daughter is smart for her age (modesty aside) and has great potential for advanced learning. What if conventional school does not meet her needs and limits her enthusiasm to explore? Think with me as the search begins.

Requirements for the parent. The ideal set-up is for one parent to work for sustenance while the other focuses on the tutelage. It could be more challenging for single parents or couples who are employed since she or he has to juggle work with the child’s education. The key is focus and dedication. There are even academies that assist Overseas Filipino Workers to home school their children on line. Dedicating two to three hours of quality time daily is a good start. It becomes easier if the child learns to self-study as she/he grows older.

The Department of Education requires home schooling parents to be college graduates. If the parent feels ill-equipped, guidance for teaching difficult subjects could be drawn from parent support groups, teachers and academic consultants of schools that offer home schooling. In fact, many parents who do not have teaching experiences successfully home school their kids.

Check out learning institutions that offer home school programs accredited by the Department of Education and study their approaches and curriculum to see if it fits your family. Enrolment dates may vary for every school. Before the child is enrolled in the home school program, parents are required to attend the orientation to prepare them for the task.

Home schooling may start when the child reaches 3 ½ years old. For the first grade, the child should be at least 6 years old. Initially the child is assessed by the home schooling academy to enter the Grade 1+ level.

Upon assessment of the child, an academic consultant recommends an appropriate curriculum for the year which will be used as basis for buying materials. Parents may provide another option subject to approval of the academic consultant.

The curriculum will then be furnished by the school. The schedule and place of teaching and creativity in handling the lessons is up to the parent. Preacher Bro. Bo Sanchez capitalized on his son’s passion for horses. From there, lessons on anatomy, arts, culture and even business sprang.

Children are tested annually through a standardized achievement test which serves as a basis on how the kids are faring compared to their peers. The test could also be used as diagnostic tool for the child’s next level. The achievement test measures the child’s proficiency in language, arts, science, math and social studies. Aside from this, there is the regular portfolio review with the academic consultant to monitor their progress.

Dep Ed requires records from Preparatory School to High School. These are usually honoured in conventional academies and universities before accepting the home-schooled child provided he/she passes the entrance examination.

Most of the apprehensions about home schooling are based on the fear that children will be deprived of opportunities for socialization. This is a fallacy. The best socialization happens at home where the child builds his self-confidence on the feeling of security around his family. Home schooling academies also offer opportunities to relate with their contemporaries through weekly meet-ups, summer camps, retreats, field trips, clubs and on-line organizations.

Less Expense. Although parents who decide to teach their kids at home have to spend for curriculum materials, field trips and out-of-town excursions, the expense for home schooling is way lower than the tuition fees, miscellaneous fees, transportation and daily allowances.

More peace of mind. With all the headlines on crimes committed against children and bullying occurring in schools, we could not help but be more wary and protective of our little girls. Home schooling seems a better option to shield them from the exploitations of the world and unnecessary bad experiences that may scar them for life.

More time for building relationships. My chum Tess confesses that home schooling her two boys could really be so physically taxing especially now that she is pregnant with their third child but the joy of deepening bonds with her sons is definitely priceless.

More edge. Studies show that home schooled children excel more since their learning is designed one-on-one and the parent adjusts to the readiness of the child to learn.

Some of the home schooled children are scientist Albert Einstein, most of the US presidents including Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, writer Mark Twain, nurse Florence Nightingale and the list goes on. Who knows? Your child may just be the next in the long line of achievers and shakers.

Photo: “Olivia working on homeschooling” by Ann, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved

by Jasmine Barrios

Our little ones are a bottomless wellspring of delight, no doubt. “A baby is a blessing. A gift from heaven above, a precious little angel to cherish and to love.”


To some they are like angels sent from above to bring joy and laughter; while to others, they are promises of immortality who will carry on the family’s name. Still to some, they are perceived to give purpose and direction to an otherwise meaningless life.

Adults marvel how babies manage to sleep peacefully, hence people say “Let him sleep, for when he wakes up, he will move mountains.” And really, there nothing more adorable than a baby sleeping … well … like a baby. CLICK!

“There’s nothing really quite so sweet like tiny little baby feet.” Tiny, pink and chubby toes are so cute one can play “This little pig…” rhymes while holding these toes one by one. CLICK!

Babies are a wonder because in just a year, as they celebrate their monthly birthdays, they grow from closed-eyed and needy infants to toddlers taking one step at a time while babbling their favorite syllables. CLICK!

“Babies smile in their sleep because they are listening to the whispering of angels.” Don’t we gush when a baby smiles while sleeping and even more so when she is awake and looking into our eyes? CLICK!

From just milk to nourish them all day long, they start to be given nutritious and delicious food. They even try to feed themselves and really, parents don’t mind the mess because their babies are growing up to be independent! CLICK!

Toothless smiles are really precious but when there’s a tooth or two, they even look cuter.. CLICK!

New clothes, toys, baby gadgets and other thingamajigs from thoughtful friends and relatives? CLICK!

A baby’s “firsts” are widely celebrated amidst proud announcements that she can now babble, feed herself, walk, navigate an electronic tablet, hold the bottle independently and so on and so forth. CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! CLICK!

CLICKS. You ask why so many clicks? I say “why not?”

Taking endless photos and videos are the things people do to record, remember and share baby milestones with family and friends. Photos and videos show babies’ developmental new tricks and other developmental progress.

People with social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram usually see these baby photos and videos posted by relatives and friends. Of course, there’s no denying that we love “oohing” and “aahing” these photos of the little ones.

On the other hand, there are times when it feels like there is over sharing and too much “exposure” for the baby.


“OH MY! Your baby is soooo cute and adorable!” These we read in the comments. But if it the same baby in her blissful sleep in an album with 59 photos taken within an hour or so, doesn’t it become “UMAY!” already?


All babies are cute, right? Yes, all babies are cute but some are just way cuter and more adorable and more cuddly than others. If someone posts an album of a baby that belongs to the “others” in the previous description, what would you say? Would you comment that the baby is cute, adorable and cuddly when in fact he doesn’t measure up to your personal standard of what is cute, adorable and cuddly?


We usually gush when we see something really great and say “Oh wow!” This could be for a video that shows your friend’s 10-month old baby taking his first steps. This could be for a photo of a baby who loves eating mashed peas.. We usually say “OA” when the taking the first steps videos are posted one after the other or like previously written, 50+ (or even more!) photos of the baby eating the mashed peas.

To post or not to post. This is one dilemma that parents need to consider when posting on their Social Media accounts. Below are a few reminders on what to post or what not to post about babies:

To post (but not the same photos in no more than 5-10 pictures):
• Baby’s milestones
• Baby’s firsts
• Baby’s monthly pre-birthday celebrations

Not to post:
• Babies without clothes on
• Babies taking a bath
• Babies with other parents’ children
• Baby’s geotagged daycare center place
• Photos with information about the baby
• Photos of baby while unwell

If you parents, however, feel that you need to share these photos and videos on your Social Media accounts, there is no stopping you.

Here are guidelines which may help you ensure you do not endanger the baby’s safety and privacy from exposure to social media:

1. Tinker with the privacy settings of the Social Media accounts to make sure photos are not shared indiscriminately.
2. Turn off geotagged photos which show locations.
3. Only share with people you really know.
4. Ask yourself if you want people you do not really know see the photos you are sharing.
5. Ask yourself if you are willing to take that risk to have your baby’s photos used in other sites without your knowledge and permission.
6. If still you want to share, put watermark on the photo or least blur the baby’s face a bit.
We should value our privacy now more than ever especially since social media accounts are vulnerable to having its contents used by people of bad intent. This has happened and is happening. At this very moment, who knows that photos of your little ones have already been posted elsewhere?


written by Julie Fuertes-Custodio, as originally published at the Philippines Online Chronicles


“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” – Paulo Coelho

learn from children

Children may not have a lot of experience and knowledge about the world but they have ideal qualities that many adults have long forgotten. Kids can help remind us of little things that matter most. They can give us a better perspective of life. Sometimes adults get lost in the sea of responsibilities that they forget how to open themselves to the sense of wonder and exploration. If you think about it, children are gurus of true happiness.

The journey to adulthood may have made us forget some of the essential things in life but it’s not too late. We can still relearn and embrace the life lessons from childhood.

1. That another day is a chance to start anew

Adults like to carry around negative emotions like excess baggage. When things go wrong, adults have a tendency to get mad, lay blame and hold grudges.

Children find it easy to let go and face the next day with optimism. When you are young, each day is like a fresh start. They open their doors to new opportunities and exciting experiences. Children leave past disappointments and failures behind and try again without doubt and hesitation.

Kids may fall several times but they always manage to get back up on their feet. When adults are bombarded with challenges, they tend to focus on the number of failures. The harder it is to recover, the more they lose sight of their goals.

Children can teach us to hang on and just keep on trying. Success is never far behind when you give your best. Patience and perseverance are keys to realizing your visions.

2. Pay attention to the little things in life

We are often so absorbed with our work and responsibilities at home that we neglect the beauty around us. Problems and worries of everyday life can easily weigh us down. Sometimes adults would rather bury themselves in their work so that they could temporarily forget their troubles.

Time can restrain us. Many adults are always in a hurry to beat deadlines and pay bills on a regular basis. We are not aware that life is passing us by.

Children can teach us to stop and smell the roses. Take time to slow down and appreciate the beauty that is all around us. Embracing the richness of life can help calm the mind and the senses. Finding peace can help us focus better. Sometimes a break is just what we need to boost our energy and concentration.

3. To face each day with courage and confidence

The young welcome each day with confidence and courage which allows them to enjoy life better than adults. Children are not afraid of taking risks. Their innocence makes them more open to new experiences.

As we grow older, fear becomes a result of what we have learned in the past. For instance, an adult knows better than to touch a burning candle because he knows he will get burned. In this context, fear prevents one from getting hurt.

Adults are often ruled by different fears. Many grown-ups are afraid of the unknown, being ridiculed, being rejected, being judged, and the uncertainty of what might happen next.

Balance is important in life. It’s alright to use past experiences to guide us in making better judgment but fear should not limit us from trying new things.

People can enjoy life more by setting aside fears of failure. How will we know unless we try?

4. Take time out and have fun

Play is not just for children. According to, play is a way to “fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.”

Many of us become slaves to our duties, commitments and responsibilities at the workplace and at home. We end up being so overwhelmed with tasks that we barely have time to relax and have fun. As we grow older, we dismiss the essence of play.

In this modern world, adults’ idea of fun is often watching movie marathons at home, engaging in online games, and browsing social media sites. Many of us have forgotten about energetic and carefree play that  gives us renewed vigor.

Find time away from your modern, serious and hectic lives to have pure fun. It can be as simple as riding your bike with your spouse, friend or child. How about blowing bubbles in the air or running around the lawn? Get a chalk and draw on the pavement. Better yet, use it to draw a good old “piko” (hopscotch) pattern on the ground and play with the whole family. Fly a kite, catch a Frisbee, play fetch with your dog, chase butterflies, and so on.

Keep in mind that play can relieve stress, stimulate the mind, inspire creativity, and improve relationships.

5. Learn to give without expecting anything in return

Most adults are open to helping, giving or sharing with others but they often expect something in return. In the journey of life, many of us have learned that a favor merits a return favor; perhaps not immediately but later on.

Children can show us how good it feels to give unconditionally. The young ones give without any hidden motives. Adults can re-discover how to give without expecting to get something out of it. The happiness of showing kindness and generosity to others can be its own reward.

Let kids remind us of how wonderful it is to extend a helping hand without strings attached. Meaningful contributions make both giving and receiving a heartwarming experience.

6. Open your heart to forgiveness

Children are the epitome of forgiving and forgetting. One minute kids can be fighting over a toy and the next minute, they are giving each other a tight hug.

Adults find it harder to forgive. Pride often gets in the way of reconciliation. When adults get hurt, they often become resentful. They carry a grudge that amplifies the pain.

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. When we forgive someone, we give that person another chance. The young can teach us that forgiveness can free us of further pain.


by Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco , as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles


Photo c/o Pixabay. Public domain.

“I want to be an architect. I want to build giant buildings that can touch the clouds,” Jonathan, a 4 year old boy told his mom about his ambition. Jessica encourages her son to dream about the future.

Setting age-appropriate and short term goals

It is never too early to teach kids about the value of setting goals and working their way towards achieving them. Goal setting can help provide children with a promising future.


It’s advisable to start young kids with short term goals that may take only a few days until a week to accomplish. This is a good way for kids to experience successful tasks before aspiring for more challenging and long-term goals.

Parents can help their children reach their full potential by encouraging them to set age-appropriate goals. Start them early to help them work their way towards their objectives. A goal could be as simple as finishing homework, completing a school project, memorizing a poem, practicing dance steps, or studying for a quiz.

Stephanie, 9 years old set a goal to finish a 200-jigsaw puzzle all by herself in a span of few days. Stephanie’s goal may sound trivial for an adult, but at her age, it’s a concrete goal that promotes critical thinking, independence, patience, and determination.

Never underestimate a child’s goal. Small goals can help shape a young one’s character. Every little goal promotes stages of development. It is the role of parents to be aware of their children’s hopes and dreams and teach them how to reach for their goals.

Kids need encouragement no matter how simple their goal is to inspire them to fulfill their objectives. It provides them a sense of purpose and direction. Just like adults, hopes and aspirations bring meaning to a young one’s life. It gives them something to look forward to. Little triumphs become stepping stone for kids to set new and more challenging goals.

When Stephanie finished her 200-jigsaw puzzle on her own, she felt a sense of joy and pride. Her parents showed her how proud they were of her accomplishment by having the puzzle framed. They displayed the puzzle on the living room wall for everyone to see. Stephanie’s mom and dad also rewarded their daughter by bringing her to Puzzle Mansion in Tagaytay to see the grand collection of jigsaw puzzles. Stephanie is excited to build her next jigsaw puzzle.

Children can benefit from fun goals. Little goals that kids enjoy doing can help them aspire for bigger goals in the future. Achieving a small goal can give a child a boost of confidence and energy.

we are all god's children papal visit

Freedom to choose

Parents always have the best interest of their children at heart but as much as you want your child to become successful in life, it’s also important to give them the freedom to choose their path.

Give kids the opportunity to create their own goals and decide what they want to achieve. Parents can guide their children but they should refrain from dictating what they want their kids to do.

Celso was a member of the university basketball team when he was in college. When his son was two years old, he bought him his first basketball. At age three, he bought his son a mini adjustable basketball hoop to develop his motor skills and coordination. Celso hoped that introducing his son to basketball at an early stage would encourage him to follow his footsteps. Despite Celso’s efforts, his son didn’t exhibit passion for basketball as he grew older. At age 7, his son expressed love for music and not sports. His son begged him to enroll him in guitar lessons. Even though Celso was disappointed deep inside, he did not show it. The last thing he wanted to do was discourage his child from what he loves. He did not push his son to follow the path that he wants. Celso supported his son’s love for music by buying him a guitar and enrolling him in guitar lessons. His son is now 12 years old and a member of the school band. Celso is very proud of his young man.

Children who experience freedom to set their own little goals can gain sense of purpose. This kind of freedom can contribute to self-confidence and self-belief. Kids who are guided with goals can enhance decision making and problem solving skills. It also motivates them to work harder to achieve success.

Laying out step by step actions

Kids who have personal goals are likely to do better in life than those who don’t know how to make plans. When you introduce your children to the significance of goal setting, make sure that you also teach them how to reach their goals. Support your child’s dreams by guiding them in planning their course of action.

For example, if your child’s goal is to qualify for the school’s swimming team for the next school year, you can help your child enhance his swimming skills by giving him an opportunity to practice swimming regularly. It’s great if you have your own pool at home or if there’s a nearby pool in your village that he can use. You can also choose to enroll him in advance swimming lessons after school or during weekends. Part of the action steps is investing time and effort to regularly perform swimming drills in order to improve stamina and swimming techniques. When your child is determined to reach his goal, he will work hard to swim better and faster in order to qualify for the team next school year. Your child may also have to learn to make certain sacrifices to achieve his goal. For instance, he may not be able to go to the mall during weekends because he needs to attend swimming lessons. Part of goal setting is learning to set priorities even at a young age.

Learning from mistakes

The road to success is not always smooth. Sometimes there are bumps or roadblocks along the way. Explain to your child that challenges are part of the learning process. It may take a few tries before your child can achieve his/her objectives. Tell your child that it’s normal to make mistakes along the way. The important thing to remember is not to give up. Teach your child how to learn from his/her mistakes and use his/her experiences to do better in the future.

Acknowledging effort

Make it a point to acknowledge your children’s efforts in goal setting and working their way towards achieving their objectives. Applaud their dedication and commitment to their goals, no matter how small it is.

Compliment your child for a job well done. Boost his confidence with praises such as, “I’m proud of you for doing your best. Keep it up!” or “I’m amazed by how focused you are in reaching your goal.”


Photo c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.
by Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco as originally published at Goal-setting for kids: Teaching them early


Me. I lovingly say soothing words with matching hugs and kisses when I wake the two younger children around 5am during school days. Twenty minutes after that, I yell at them “Baka dumating na ang service hindi pa kayo tapos, hindi pa nakakain ng breakfast. Dalian nyo na! Blah…blah…blah…” in the effort to hurry them up because they haven’t eaten breakfast yet and the school service is already waiting at the gate. Yes, I have done this, at 5:30am. Tsk.
BJ, a teenager. “I hate it when my mom yells. She makes me feel like I’m stupid. The more she yells, the more I want to do what she doesn’t want me to do. Talking to me and not yelling is better because the more she yells, the more I shut down my brain and stop listening to her.”
HK, a pre-teen. “Natatakot ako pag sumisigaw si Mama ko. Parang lagi na lang mali ang ginagawa ko. Baka sa galit niya pag sumisigaw siya, masaktan niya ako.”
YA, office worker. “Our boss is a yeller. He loses his temper quickly and does not hesitate to yell at anyone of us if we make a mistake. Sana kung ginagawa niya yun in private, eh hindi, sa harap pa ng mga officemates namin. We are not happy in the office anymore. We are thinking of a mass resignation, para matauhan siya.”

Why yell when you can perfectly say your piece in peace?

We have yelled for a thousand different reasons but first and foremost of these reasons would be because we want to assert that, yes, we are right and that the other person is wrong.

We yell because we want to prove a point and get our message across.
We yell because we want to be heard.
We yell because we feel superior to the one we are yelling at.
We yell because we are in a hurry and the others are slowing us down.
Why, we even yell virtually when we use ALL CAPS and end these with a lot of !!!!!
Sometimes we yell just because …

On the other hand, have you ever been yelled at?

Do you like the feeling of being yelled at, whether you made a mistake or not?

Do you feel small and want the ground to open up and swallow you to escape being yelled at?

Do you feel like yelling back? Do you want to hit the person yelling at you? Or do you just turn your back before you do something you’d regret later?

No matter what the circumstances are, being yelled at is not something we look forward to — not at the receiving end, ever.

Do you remember the last time you were yelled at?

How did you feel? Check all that applies below:

o Disrespected
o Ashamed
o Angry
o Misunderstood
o Afraid
o Lonely
o Rebellious
o Frustrated
o Hurt
o Guilty

Mothers who yell

Mothers are known to yell at their children, whether to ask them to hurry up, or to finish whatever tasks they are doing. More often than not, mothers yell to be heard and to stress a point especially if there is discord among the brood. Yelling for the children to brush their teeth is at times unavoidable but to add some words that demean them and hurt their feelings is definitely unnecessary.

To habitually yell at the children when there is no reason to will create a lot of negativity. At the end of the day, mothers who habitually yell feel guilty and sometimes fall all over themselves to correct what they have done.  However, since they are so used to yelling, the next day finds them back to the same yelling cycle.

Yelling makes children feel inferior and mentally anguished at not being able to live up to the expectations and standards that their mother (or father) has for them.  Children who are in the teenage years are as vulnerable to being yelled  at as much as the younger children. On the bridge to maturity, these teens will carry the burden of insecurity as they meet other teens outside the home setting. Yelling is detrimental to the sound development of teenagers.

Habitual yelling

Yelling, name-calling and swearing are not ways to solve conflicts. Habitual reactions that include yelling breaks down a person’s inhibitions and may draw out harmful tendencies that do not manifest when there is peace and quiet. Habits are patterns that are easy to repeat but difficult to break. Yelling breeds hostility that is harmful not just to others but to the person himself, alienating him from loved ones he may not have a real intention to hurt.

We feel guilty for yelling at others, especially if the reason is trivial and could have been talked through in a quiet manner.

Alternatives to yelling

It is difficult not to yell especially when we feel pressed for time, tired and stressed. It takes a lot of will power to refrain from habitual yelling, but over time, it can be done. How?

o Cool off by staying physically away from the situation and assessing what needs to be said and done.
o Count to ten or even up to fifty.
o Breathe deeply before saying anything.
o Put a hand on your mouth to keep yourself from yelling.
o Think of how hurtful it is when being yelled at.
o Ask others to give you a heads up once they feel like you are about to yell.
o Plan ahead to avoid mishaps.

Breaking the yelling cycle is not easy

Life is too short to be spent in a continuous state of being upset. We should fill our hearts with joy and love and not hurt and pain. There will always be missing socks and spilled water but living in peace and harmony, in as much as we can try to achieve is more important.

Are we ready to take the challenge to yell less and love more?

Let’s save our voices for situations that need us to really yell like “Run!!!” or “Fire!!!”


Photo: from flickr, some rights reserved


As originally posted by Julie Fuertes on the Philippine Online Chronicles.


Familiarity breeds contempt. This is likely to happen in a marriage.


Day in, day out you wake up to the same man, drooling beside you in deep sleep while you can hardly take a wink with his deep resounding snore coupled with wheezes bugging you through the night. Then he wonders why your face is all wrinkled up with frowns as he wakes up and sees you in the morning. Hardly energized, you have to face the challenges of parenthood with children practically screaming for attention, go through the same old tiring chores before hitting the road and welcome another stressful day at work. Most of the time you are at your wit’s end and wish there was some kind of remote control to give you a breather.

Press STOP. That’s more like it. Silence helps us catch up with our breath and refocus. This is not exactly the happy scenario you saw in your mind as the church bells joyfully pealed over the exchange of I dos. Something went wrong somewhere and it turned into a nasty habit. The sweet-nothings of the honeymoon days turned into sour-graping. The high praises turned into put downs. The attentiveness turned into deadpan silence. With resentment piling up, big fights start with the slightest provocation.

It is so easy to get lost in the middle of a messy life where the objective of the day is to score a hurt towards your spouse or wallow in self-pity if you get to the losing end. Where do the children figure in all these? They get caught in the crossfire.

Rudy and Jelly had to come to terms with the ugly realities of their marriage. Rudy is an only child who was used to having his way. Jelly is a head strong activist whose feministic views fuelled the insistence on her right to equality. After the whirlwind romance, the honeymoon ended when it barely started. The head-on collision of opinions graduated to bitter arguments and nearly escalated to violence. This went on until their first child was born. Blinded by deep-seated resentments, they usually forgot the innocent baby’s presence. At first, the child’s troubled wails were merely drowned by her parents’ loud screaming matches. The couple got to their senses as their daughter learned to talk. They got into another verbal brawl when their barely two year-old daughter tearfully pulled her mommy’s shirt and said, “Sorry Mommy, Sorry Daddy” in between sobs. Shaken, the high pitched row suddenly stopped. The parents’ hearts melted at the thought of how their innocent toddler took the blame for their anger.

This could not go on, they both decided. Swallowing their pride, Rudy and Jelly sought forgiveness from each other and promised not to let the ugly fights happen again. Habits die hard so it was with hard work for Rudy and Jelly to at least be nice to each other.

the greatest gift...

START WITH KIND WORDS. Preacher in Blue Jeans, Bro. Bo Sanchez puts weight on what you say, ““If you want to change your life, change your words. I believe that if you change your vocabulary, you change your life story.”

This goes along with the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies. If you tell your child how hard-headed he is at every given opportunity, expect that he will grow up rebellious. The same principle applies with couples. If you hype up on your spouse’s insensitivity every day, expect him to be indifferent to your needs and worse, that of your child’s.

Reverse the process. If Rudy and Jelly were once quick to nitpick, they now bite their tongues when the temptation is strong. Jelly would take a deep breath and make a mental account of all her husband’s good qualities.

She would then decide to choose to see the better side of him and replace the unsaid disdain with a praise or two.

FOLLOW THROUGH WITH ACTIONS. Note the word “decide”. It is a conscious effort to be a better person so that your partner will be a better spouse. Rudy did not just agree to choose kind utterances in dealing with his wife, he also initiated a tradition for them to honor each other during their “monthsery” celebrations.

After the cozy dinner, both of them go through a list of ten things to be thankful about each other. This practice boosted Rudy and Jelly’s morale and strive to be a better husband and wife. As a consequence, they become better parents.

Deb HIrschham, PhD, of affirms the positive effects of making your partner feel good about himself/herself. “Although opposites do attract, the fundamental, deep-down attraction comes from a reflection of oneself. Not only is this person validating you, but his very being (because it’s so much like yours) validates you all the more.”

Dr. Hirschham adds that this is not an easy task but it could be done, “If you don’t see this, you do have to plumb the depths to find it. It is not on the surface. The surface includes a host of differences, but deep down you’ll find the sameness.)”

END EACH DAY WITH LOVE. In her singlehood, Jelly has grown accustomed to giving the silent treatment when mad at someone. She carried this into her marriage much to her husband’s disappointment.

Rudy, on the other hand, would pester his wife thinking that this would settle their differences. Instead, Rudy’s peskiness annoyed Jelly and the cold treatment would escalate into a full blown word war.

After agreeing to attend a couple’s spiritual renewal seminar, Rudy and Jelly adhered to the Christian teaching, “When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.” (Ephisians 4:26).

It was initially difficult for Jelly to practice this teaching but with Rudy’s more loving approach, opening up about deep hurts and settling differences came easier. They both have peaceful slumbers as differences are settled at the end of the day.

Seven years into their marriage, Rudy and Jelly’s relationship is going stronger. Yes, there are still lapses and angry outbursts (but this time not in the presence of the children). As they learn to deepen each other’s love with respect and sensitivity to each other’s needs, they become better spouses and parents. And their little tot? She is growing into a well adjusted child, knowing that her Daddy’s love towards Mommy ensures all the security she needs in the world.

Written by Jasmine Barrios as originally posted at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Photo: “Father and Child” by , c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved