Being a mother to young children in the mid-1990s, I witnessed how the internet could be a powerful tool for my children to connect, explore, learn and engage in creative and empowering ways. The United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child in General Comment 25, adopted in 2021, emphasized the importance of the digital environment to children’s lives and rights. Spending time online, as stressed in the General Comment, brings unacceptable risks and threats of harm, some of which children also come across in other environments and some of which are unique to the online situation.

In 2020, about 2 million children in the Philippines were exposed to content that was inappropriate. The report “Disrupting harm in the Philippines: Evidence on online child sexual exploitation and abuse” indicated that 1 in 5 children in the Philippines ages 12 to 17 encountered child sexual abuse material while using the internet.

According to Disrupting Harm household survey data, 20 percent of internet-using children ages 12 to 17 in the Philippines were victims of grave instances of online sexual exploitation and abuse. Such abuse consists of being “blackmailed to engage in sexual activities, someone sharing their sexual images without permission, or being coerced to engage in sexual activities through promises of money or gifts.” Children were most commonly subjected to Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children via social media. Online child sexual exploitation and abuse (Ocsea) “refers to situations involving digital, internet and communication technologies at some point during the continuum of abuse or exploitation. Ocsea could occur fully online or through a mix of online and in-person interactions between offenders and children.”

Several promising awareness-raising initiatives in the Philippines touch on Ocsea, such as #BeCyberSafe by the Department of Education; the Child Protection Seminar initiative with internet café and computer shop owners, or the annual Safer Internet Day, among others. The report added that “these initiatives reflect a commitment by the Philippines Government and other stakeholders to improve the visibility of these crimes against children.

However, comprehensive evaluations of these campaigns are needed to measure their effectiveness.” One stakeholder is the partnership of Palo Alto Networks (Nasdaq: PANW), the global cybersecurity leader, with PLDT Inc. and its wireless unit, Smart Communications Inc. The objective is to strengthen the two telcos’ Child Protection Platform and enable a safer online experience for children. Over 1 billion attempts to access URLs with child sexual abuse material (CSAM) have been blocked by the platform since November 2021. Their Child Protection Platform is a cybersecurity solution developed to address the CSAM problems by blocking illegal traffic at the content level, which then restricts access to CSAMs that have found their way into legitimate domains. Palo Alto Network Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFWs) and Cloud-Delivered Security Services including Threat Prevention, Advanced URL Filtering and WildFire scrutinize the content and convert URLs for redirection if CSAM-related traffic is found.

PLDT and Smart have also joined peers and other stakeholders from the private and government sectors in calling for the immediate passage of the Anti-OSAEC bill. The proposed law would institutionalize the taking down of websites that stream or host CSAM, as well as impose stiffer penalties against parties involved in child abuse cases.

Meanwhile, caregivers, teachers and social support services should be proactive. Understand what their children are doing both online and offline. Among children who experienced Ocsea on social media, the most common platforms took place on Facebook or Facebook Messenger, accounting for over 90 percent of cases. To a much lesser degree, other platforms cited were TikTok, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Among the insights presented, is to foster safe and ongoing communication between children and trusted adults about their lives online. Another is to ensure that responses to disclosures of Ocsea always convey that it is never the child’s fault, whatever choices they have made. Most of all, children should be informed about their right to be protected from all forms of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and exploitation.

The report “Disrupting harm in the Philippines: Evidence on online child sexual exploitation and abuse,” published by the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Ecpat, Interpol and Unicef (2022), can be downloaded from

First published at theo. August 7, 2022

“Being an 80s child & why today’s youth never had it so good” brings back sweet memories of my youth. Hence, I’ve come up with my own version of the 70’s child. (yes I am that old. High School in 1970 and college in 1974).

seventies child

We didn’t have Oculus Virtual Reality headsets, PlayStation, Nintendo 64, X boxes, video games, cable TV with over 100 channels, VCR’s, surround sound, cellular phones, computers, online chatrooms.

Instead we had…

1. Dance parties that started at 4:00 PM because martial law imposed a curfew at 12:00 midnight. A permit was required whenever there were more than 5 guests.

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2. Portable typewriter instead of a laptop. When you made a typing error, you had to use a correction fluid . No delete buttons. And you had to have your content ready before typing.

3. Four TV channels: Channel 3, Channel 7 and Channel 9 and Channel 13.

4. No call waiting. No direct dialing. One time, I had the shock of my life when an operator rudely interrupted a telephone conversation with my suitor because of an incoming long distance call.

5. No Automated Teller machines. Since I resided at a dormitory in the UP campus, my allowance was sent through telegraphic transfer. Queuing at PNB for 30 minutes or so was not fun at all.

6. PONG . If you don’t know what PONG is it is a rudimentary side-view tennis game, the ball bounces off a long horizontal line at the bottom of the oscilloscope, and there is a small vertical line in the centre to represent the net.

7. No email. I wrote letters to my siblings with a pen, of course, and rode a jeepney to drop my letter at the post office. Often it takes a week for our letter to arrive. If we wanted instant messaging, we had to use the telegram such as RCPI.

8. No World Wide Web. Research had to be done in the library. And nope, there were no search engines. One needed to be proficient in the Dewey Decimal Classification System and use the card catalog to get the right book.

9. No bottled water. I drank water from the faucet or from a hose in the backyard.

10. No portable music player. No Napster. No. torrents. No MP3 ‘s. No IPod. No Spotify, Apple Music. No podcasts. Vinyl records and cassette tapes were so cool. I brought my friends over to the house to groove with the music and dance along with the music- 12 steps (not the 12-step program, duh), LA walk, the Swing.

TRS 80
11. No tablets or iPads. No macbooks . No IBM. No Microsoft. We had a TRS 80. And the RAM was either 4 or 16 kilobytes of RAM . Whaa?

12. No USB flash drives. No CD’s or floppy disk either. Instead, we used cassette tapes to store computer data. If the tape got torn, you splice it.

13. No computer schools. I did my own self-study on BASIC programming .

14. Groovy . Not astig.

(I will add more when I remember something. )

To the children of this decade: I hope you take advantage of the new technologies to enhance your God-given talents. You never had it so good.

Photo via

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me and my ex bf

I wrote this 13 years ago, but I thought I’d update it again because today is our couple anniversary. I like to look back at the good old days and dream about the future together. Here is our story:

I gaze at my two lovely daughters and smile. I realize they are much older than us.. when we, their parents, were just college sweethearts. My two daughters wailed and wondered when they will meet The One. Will they be as blessed as their parents who found their true love from each other? I have no ready answers. Love just happens when you least expect it. Who would have thought Butch and I would end up together for better and for worse? He became my boyfriend for the most shallow reasons, which was “I wanted a cute boyfriend”

Butch and I met through my college roommate at the University of the Philippines Shopping Center ‘ restaurant. It was not love at first sight for me. I think Butch was stricken by Cupid’s arrow that fateful night. To my great annoyance, he kept staring at me “You have beautiful eyes” all night long. He never let go of me since then. Though Butch was utterly charming and really cute, I wasn’t interested. First, he looked really wild as in “jeprox” (the slang word for punk during those days). Second, “mestizos” are not my type. Third, he was two years younger than me. I knew he was 18 years old, yet he lied that he was 20 years old.

butch78c.jpgHe was very persistent. Riding on his yellow motorcycle, he’d zoom past the dorm as if “by accident” and pretend to be surprised to see me. I liked the attention but felt he was too dangerous. But see, Butch had a way with words (think “bolero”) which would make any girl giggle. Fear engulfed me when I began to fall in love with him. His wild and dangerous looks were just too tempting. What was it with “bad boy image” that attracted me to him? For years, I poured over my books just to get excellent grades, but for what? College is supposed to be fun. I wanted to have fun. My motto that semester: be adventurous and grab a cute boyfriend. After all, graduation loomed the following semester. I decided I wanted to have a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend. He had to be a cute.

My greatest fear though was he’d seduce me. Butch looked really reckless and seductive. Heck. I threw caution to the wind and “went along with him” the night he announced to the world that I was his girlfriend.

I thought, “I am his girlfriend? How did that happen?”

Whispering sweet nothings to my ear, “I will marry you one day. I will be a lawyer. You just see.”

I was laughing inside and mused I would never marry this guy. He’s a bum. I won’t have a future with him. He is my boyfriend because I just want to have fun. I hate my boring student life.

True enough, the following month, I found out he didn’t meet the university requirements of passing 21 units, 60% passing of all subjects and to have a passing grade in at least 4 units. He scored a grand slam. The verdict was expulsion from the state university. I knew there was hope, so I dragged him to the college secretary for a reconsideration.

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“No, I don’t have hope. I will move to San Beda then take up Law after college” he moaned.

“You are going to graduate AB Political Science from UP and proceed to the College of Law”, I convinced him to appeal.

Thanks to Dean Martin Gregorio, Butch was granted a reconsideration. Since we became steadies, he passed all his subjects and eventually studied Law.

butch78d.jpgDespite Butch wild streak, he never took advantage of me. Haha. I should give him credit for being a gentleman in that aspect. In fact, we enjoyed a clean and responsible relationship. Friends doubted that we practiced abstinence. True, Butch would suddenly wrap me in his arms and plant a kiss on my lips right in front of my horrified friends, but that was it. We were a romantic couple for 7 years. Locking our hands together, we sat by the sunken garden and watched the sunset as we wove dreams of being together forever and having babies one day. Amidst the Beegees “How Deep is Your Love”, time stood still for love struck us. Well, mostly his dreams. I wasn’t too sure if he would be a suitable husband.

Two years later…

Holding pizza and a dozen red roses , Butch took me by surprise as he knelt down and proposed marriage. How roooomaaaantic, I gushed .

My brain woke me up from fantasy land.

I said “God, No. You’re only 20. You don’t have a job. You haven’t graduated from college”

We married 7 years after we first met in college.

Our love story is quite long , romantic and crazy so I am not boring you to tears . But see, our love spans 42 years. We have two anniversary dates: March 7 when we first became college sweethearts and May 5 for our wedding day. And of course, celebrating the day we met on January 26, 1978. That sums up 38 years together as a couple who are still so madly in love with each other. You know it is true love when you have gone through the worse moments in marriage and yet managed to survive and make the love even stronger than it ever was.

It wasn’t all roses, sweet nothings, and icing on a cake type of relationship.

We nearly separated 16. years ago. Grief had overtaken us so much. Our marriage suffered during the first few years after my son died. My husband and I had different ways of coping with our grief. He wanted to talk about Luijoe’s death. I preferred to keep quiet and be by myself. This created a distance between us. Sometime in 2005, I packed my bags and muttered goodbye to a tearful Butch. I couldn’t stand him anymore. I wanted a new life without him. I made sure the girls were settled in their dormitories for me to make this great escape.

Alas, God destined me to stick it out with Butch.

fractureAs I moved in to my new pad, I lost my footing on the steps and fell to the ground. Were those firecrackers I heard? Oh dear, that awful popping sound came from my ankles. Holding on to the lifeless ankle, my ex-landlord helped me into a cab and brought myself to Medical City emergency room. Fuelled with pride, I refused to contact Butch but asked L to bring me clothes for my confinement. I suffered a fracture which required insertion of metal rods onto my right tibia and ankle bone. Butch got hold of my accident and drove to Medical City. He insisted on taking care of me.

I had no choice but to live with him and work things out. Truly God works in mysterious ways. It was as if God said, ” you can’t run away from your marriage. Try to fix it”. Eventually, with the help of a caring grief counsellor, we sorted out our problems and renewed our commitment to work on our marriage. The secret in the renewal of our marriage was reliving that first time we fell madly in love with each other.

For the next 6 months, I was confined to the wheelchair or crutches . Sounds like those cheesy Filipino scenes in a movie, huh?

Our love is best seen as devotion and action, not just an emotion. Our love during those college sweethearts ‘ days were based on shallow emotions towards each other. Today, our devotion to each other has truly led us to true love.

Yes, young love is possible, dear girls. Our love will always be a work in progress till death do us part

Often when the revival of Beegees “How Deep is Your love” plays in the airwaves, the meaning of the lyrics rings true then and now:

How deep is your love
I really need to learn
cause were living in a world of fools
Breaking us down
When they all should let us be
We belong to you and me

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You’re the light in my deepest darkest hour
You’re my saviour when I fall
And you may not think
I care for you
When you know down inside
That I really do

Epilogue- March 7, 2021

I took this picture on December 30, 2020 when my husband arrived home from a two-week hospitalization due to an asymptomatic case of Covid-19. This illness is so unpredictable that I thought the worst. Would he die? Would we both die? I don’t know how I survived those two weeks. Fortunately, my household staff and I tested negative for the coronavirus. But I prayed so hard that we survive this because we have so much to live for. Our coffee project is just starting. We still have to a meaningful life ahead of us. Despite all the hardships in our marriage, I would rather face them than live without the love of my life. Treasure each day with your loved ones. Celebrate life. 

March 7, 1978
butch and me

7 Years Later

wedding anniversarywedding anniversary



25th anniversary shoot at the UP Campus, March 2010



butch and I


me and hubby




my husband and I


new year 2016





December 30, 2020 – The day my husband went home from the hospital where he was confined for two weeks because of asymptomatic covid-19


I am such a sucker for keeping a memory box of my children’s art work , writings, anecdotes or their milestones since they were toddlers. I bought a treasure box for each of my children to hold all of these memories. One of my favorites are the childhood anecdotes that I kept in my memory journal. Children say the cutest things ever. I love reading some of these anecdotes, just to smile and remember the good old days. They speak the most innocent and precious words that either warm our hearts or make us laugh with delight and simply saying ““awww…”

I’m sure you have your own collection of cute kid’s talk. Now to spare my adult children from being teased, I will not mention names . Let me refer to them as my Young man, Cute kid and Adorable kid.

3-year-old cute kid
One time, while watching TV , commercial breaks filled the TV screen. For instance Tide Bar is compared to Brand X, and the same goes for shampoos . Cute kid kept bugging me Mom, buy that every time a commercial came out. I explained to her that commercials intend to persuade us to buy their products . They also claim it is superior when in fact it’s not . Cute kid mused and thought for a moment on my meek explanations.

Then her eyes brightened I have an idea. Let’s buy BRAND X instead.

4-year-old adorable kid

Miriam College Pre-school is known for its environmental consciousness. They are taught early on the segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage. One afternoon, adorable kid played with her ball along the streets but the ball rolled to the drainage eventually gone forever. Noting her distraught face, I promised that I’d buy her another ball.

Her worried look touched me.

Mom, garbage that clogs the drainage can cause floods

I comforted her ““it’s okay, it’s just one ball. One ball won’t flood Manila.”

The following week, my girl played with the new ball I promised to buy her. Unfortunately, the ball rolled again to the drainage. She cried her heart out. I was wondering why she was inconsolable.

I hugged her ““It’s okay. I can buy another ball”

With tears pouring down her cheeks, ““Mom , two balls already fell to the drainage”. I continued to hug her ““That’s okay . It was an accident”.

Then she covered her face ““You don’t understand , mom. Manila will now get flooded because of me”

““Awww, no dear…” as I hugged her.

6-year-old Young Man

My family and I went up to the mountains for a vacation on my husband’s side. My son urged everyone to gather around the bonfire so we could talk. Sweet, I thought. As we huddled around the fire, he declared “let’s talk about love”.


3-year-old Cute kid

In the late 80’s women bangs are often puffed up with hair spray or fizz.
Cute kid watched me intently as I combed my bangs and finally setting it in place with a hair spray.
She looked triumphant with her impish grin.
That does it mom! No more cockroaches

Don’t you just love the funny things our children can come up with sometimes? Care to share them here?

My five-year-old nephew is so excited to see his classmates when school opens in less than three weeks, it doesn’t matter if he socializes with them on the screen of their tablets or laptops. Department of Education (DepEd) chief Leonor Briones confirmed that school year (SY) 2020-2021 would start on August 24, adopting blended/distance learning modalities.
Traditional face-to-face classes will not happen until January 2021, when limited physical classes might be allowed in low-risk areas.

Data from the Learner Enrollment and Survey Form showed that 8.8 million parents preferred modular while 3.9 million voted for blended learning, which combines different modalities: module, television and radio, and radio with online. To understand some challenges of the learning delivery modalities, I talked to three mothers about their kids’ education — home schooling was Mec’s choice, while Margot’s child uses the blending learning approach of a private school. Angeline, a farmer based in northern Benguet, had no choice but to adapt modular distance learning from DepEd.

Individualized instruction in modular distance learning is useful in remote areas with limited internet access such as mountains. Learners use self-learning modules in print or digital format. They may need home visits by teachers for learners’ remediation or assistance. If it is workable, students could reach their teacher via email, telephone, text message or instant messaging. Angeline told me the mothers with kids from kindergarten to Grade 3 worry that they might spend less time in their vegetable farms. Hiring teaching assistants or para-teachers to help parents who cannot monitor and guide their children is being considered by DepEd in the new-normal setup.ADVERTISING

The blended learning approach used by Margot’s son in Grade 1 uses synchronous and asynchronous sessions. His classes in his private school started this month from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Lessons for the day follow the synchronous sessions done online with their teacher and classmates. Around 20 to 30 minutes of the synchronous sessions followed by an asynchronous session with a guided independent study is his routine from Monday to Friday. They have tasks or seatwork that they have to do on their own. If her son has a question, he could easily reach his teacher in their Google Classroom setup. Her time is spent seated beside her son because he’s not too familiar with navigating the laptop, as most kids these days are more familiar with a tablet’s touch screen, which doesn’t deal with a mouse. It consumes too much of her time that she can’t do other chores. However, she gets a respite during the many breaks in between classes.

Mec, who has been homeschooling her two kids for the past eight years, didn’t doubt her ability to teach, but faced challenges in the discipline of having a system to facilitate instruction. In the time of pandemic, the approach changed because classes that are taken outside the home, such as robotics or music, are now done online. Enrolled with Homeschool Global in their Touch Program, Mec teaches everything unless she outsources materials. Even if her sons take online programs in math, English, science, computer and physical education, Mec reviews their progress and integrates it into other subjects. Attending workshops helps since she meets other families in a similar situation. I know some parents will start with the homeschooling system instead of the of the blended learning approach.

Parents working from home will now have additional work — providing tech support or guidance in their schoolwork. It is difficult adjusting meetings and other tasks with online classes. And considering that at most times, several kids in one family could use only one computer. Both teachers and parents will need additional workshops in the conduct of online classes. For farmers with young kids, they need teaching support, either from DepEd or their community. Private groups and individuals, along with the two big telecommunications companies in the Philippines, are helping students acquire gadgets and affordable internet connection, but this is not crucial for modular distance learning. While these challenges are still being addressed, parents and caregivers can look forward to this new arrangement as an opportunity to be a partner in raising kids with the school in teaching them necessary life skills.

First published at Sunday Business & IT

christmas carolsSinging Christmas Carols has been a treasured family tradition. I remember the last Christmas I had with my mom. I was 18 years old then. All the 7 siblings gathered around the Yamaha organ as my late brother, Oscar played festive carols. Sometimes it was mom who accompanied the songs in the piano. Mom was an excellent pianist with a beautiful soprano voice trained at the UP Music conservatory. Each child was required to sing or play a Christmas piece in the piano. I can’t remember now if this was an imposition or else Santa Claus won’t bring a present. I just remembered it was a fun and festive family time. When I look back to that last Christmas when our family was still complete , a tinge of sadness overcomes me. I had such a loving family. I miss those times. There really is no comfort that I can have except those wonderful memories and the knowledge that I gained so much in the time spent with my siblings and my parents.

I know my mother continues to live in my heart . And as we know, death might have taken our loved ones away but their memories remain alive in our heart. I brought mom’s gift of music to my own children. Unfortunately , I don’t have the voice . The only musical talent I probably got is an ear for music. I can tell when someone is off-key, pitchy or just tone dead. I can play the piano , guitar and the organ . That’s about it. In the seventies, the Yamaha organ was the most groovy way to play music aside from the guitar. I think these days, one calls it the keyboard.

I discovered at an early age that L and M could carry a tune. Their first songs were Christmas carols which I taped and lately converted to CD format . Without sounding like a bragging mom, I think L and M sang beautifully at ages 4 and 3 respectively. I play their Christmas carols during the Christmas season but L begged that I never let anyone listen to it. “It’s only for your listening pleasure which should be confined to your bedroom.” L begged. I teased L, “But you sing so well at the age of 4 !”. Much as I want to let you hear their cute little voices, I’d rather not incur their wrath.

Instead, here are 3 Christmas Carol (in mp3 format) sung by L when she was 12 and M at 11 years old with another girl and 2 boys from the Manila Children Choir. The choir conductor chose only 5 children for this recording but with recent technology, it sounds like they are a big group of kids.

1. Hark The Herald Angel Sing (Click here to download– 2.9 MB) – Charles Wesley/Felix Mendelssohn , adapted by Jack North , Arranged by Jack North/John Wilson
2. Christmas in Our Hearts (Click here to download– 3.0 MB)- Jose Mari Chan , arranged by Carmina R. Cuya
3. Pasko Na Sinta Ko (Click here to download– 4.8 MB)- Aurelio Estanislao/Francis Dandan , Arranged by Bernadette de Leon

Christmas carols and hymns are one aspect of the holiday season that never fail to lift the spirits – and require no baking, no tree stands, and no extension cords. There is something about Christmas carols sang by children. Their innocence and eager spirit shows the true meaning of the Christmas season. It has been said that music can open a window to the soul. To a bereaved person music may either drive a knife into an already festering wound, or it my begin to soothe and bring comfort to a shattered and broken spirit. Christmas Carols sang by my children keeps me happy even if my other child is no longer with us.

I hope my children continue to preserve our family tradition of Christmas carols and hymns.

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


A few years ago, my younger sister told me to watch the movie “Disconnect” which tackles the issues surrounding the internet from Webcam sex shows, identity theft, and cyber-bullying. Only Robinson Galleria was showing the movie. As an advocate for kids’ web safety, I thought of watching it to see if there is anything new. I won’t write any reviews but the movie can be summed up this way.

Disconnect is three stories, with each plot a dire warning about this new-fangled Internet technology. One story is about a local TV reporter (Andrea Riseborough) and her relationship with a young man (Max Thieriot) who does sex-cam shows. Another follows a married couple (Alexander Skarsgard and Paula Patton) who have their identity stolen, and are plunged further into debt. The third tale revolves around two high school kids (Colin Ford and Aviad Bernstein) who pretend to be a teenage girl on Facebook so they can play a cruel prank on their shy classmate (Jonah Bobo).

There is really nothing new with the movie. ““Disconnect” is best summed up by the words of the cyber detective, ““If you’re going to [expletive] with someone, do it to their face.” While identity theft, cyber-bullying, and underage sex performers are a reality, these do not define the communications in the Internet age. As a mother with kids during the early years of the internet in the mid nineties, I have always followed the golden rule that parenting online isn’t much different than parenting your child when they aren’t in front of a keyboard.

For our kids, social networking is an exciting way to stay informed, grow relationships and have fun.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

pew internet parent survey

The fact is “teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past.” Although there are no studies done in the Philippines, results of a PEW survey of 802 teens that examines teens’ privacy management on social media sites is disturbing (You can read the full report here). Teens are sharing more information about themselves on social media sites than they did in the past such as the following:

91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.
71% post their school name, up from 49%.
71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%.
53% post their email address, up from 29%.
20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%.

Knowing that these information may land in the wrong hands is worrisome. I also believe that teens should become more proactive with their safety . They need to be part of the solution. Steps to safeguard them starts when they are younger, way before they are teens.

Parents need to educate them about staying safer and more secure on the internet. If you allow your kids to use social media, safety is knowing the right settings and supervising them . It has to be said again.

1. Educate your kids on the dangers of sharing too much information.

2. Make sure your computer has adequate virus protection to prevent trojans in the computer.

3 . Keep the computer in a social area of the house so it is easy to monitor who your children are interacting with.

Disconnect 1

Caring for our children’s digital footprints


My two girls used a screen moniker when they were pre-teens using the world wide web. There were no social networks before except chat rooms and the comment section of blogs. Safety was my number one concern. Since I cannot cover their eyes, or shadow them everywhere, I needed to teach them how to see and how to behave responsibly. I started them early.

These days, a lot of teens probably don’t know that every time they post publicly, they are leaving their digital footprint. A digital footprint is the data trail one leaves with everything our kids do online. Data is being stored from their smartphone to the Internet and social networks. Parents can gently remind their teens on caring about their digital footprint through this article, Teenagers: Why You Should Care About Your Digital Footprint :

1. Information travels fast and is often taken out of context.

Depending on what it is that you see, take a moment to find out if it’s true. Call your friend or check other news sources,. If you’re not sure, wait

2. Don’t be impulsive.

If you do want an outlet to further explain your thoughts and feelings, think about blogging! Blogging is a more appropriate space for some topics we think about posting on Facebook. If you do decide to blog, be mindful of what you say, how it can be interpreted and what it says about you. It’s still a digital place where your body language can’t be seen.

3. If you wouldn’t say it face to face, don’t say it in the social space.

‘Treat others as you want to be treated’, still applies online.

4. Not everything is personal

Just take a second, breathe and reread a post before responding. Even better, if you’re not sure, privately message your friend and ask them about it.

5. You are not as anonymous as you think

Assume that there is no such thing as privacy. Blogs, emails, websites and comments can be tracked back to you. This shouldn’t scare you, but will help you reconsider your potential online actions.

6. Your online actions could make or break you

College recruiters, potential employers and colleagues will look at your digital footprint. If you wouldn’t say it or show it to your grandma, it probably shouldn’t go online. From photos to status remarks, you should always portray yourself in a positive light.

7.Stop Before You Hit Submit

Consider the reactions of those who see your content. Before you post, think:
Does anyone really care?
Is this really something I want to share or am I just venting?
How would I feel if I was the one receiving or reading that?
Could this hurt someone I know?

While the issues of “Disconnect”, the movie is painfully real, it is not as morbid as it should be. The story of a family disconnected through technology can happen but it is the parent who can keep the family together. There is no need to disconnect from the reality that this is wired generation. Parents should connect with their kids at an early age. Online privacy, cyber-bullying and your digital footprint is a serious matter. We need to remind our children to take of themselves, their reputation and look out for their friends.

I have always stated that family values need to be passed along. Family values passed along to every generation play a monumental role in how our child learns and grows. Defining this time will help our family to understand what is important and what it means when one is talking about issues such as family time, play time, and other larger issues such as spirituality and the beliefs that we wish our child to grow up with.

This is the connection that needs to be defined with our children.

Photo of digital footprint from

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

Technology inside the classroom is not a new idea. Even though technology progresses, the message is relevant. I came in an era of filmstrip projectors, copy machines, tape recorders, cassette players and television sets. Then VCRs, CD players, DVD players and a myriad of other tools came along. These are forms of technology that have aided teachers and enhanced instruction in the past. Today, Virtual reality (VR) is the future of education. Students will enjoy VR-enabled textbooks and virtual classrooms soon.

The skepticism of VR on our kids is a concern. I dealt with the same apprehension when I first introduced my children to the internet in 1995. The decision to make technology a healthy and positive part of family life was to embrace it. I learned to educate myself about it and go hands-on with new devices, apps, social networks and services wherever accessible.

virtual reality classrooms

Image from Some rights reserved.

A Common Sense research in 2018, titled “Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR,” helps bring clarity by summing up the existing body of studies. The report was co-authored with researchers at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Virtual Reality 101 “explores the potential positive and negative effects of VR experiences on kids’ cognitive, social, and physical well-being and its potential to shape young people’s perspectives.” It pays to understand the risks and benefits of VR. Key findings of the paper show:

1. VR is likely to have powerful effects on children because it can provoke a response to virtual experiences similar to a response to actual experiences.

2. The long-term effects of children’s use of immersive VR on their still-developing brains and health are unknown, but most parents are concerned, and experts advocate moderation and supervision.

3. Only one in five US parents (21 percent) today report living in a household with VR, and the majority (65 percent) are not planning to purchase VR hardware. However, the interest levels of US children are high, while parent interest is mixed.

4. Characters in VR may be influential on young children, even more so than characters on TV or computers. This can be good or bad depending on the influence.

5. Students often feel more enthusiasm for learning while using VR, but they do not necessarily learn more through VR than through video or computer games.

6. VR can potentially be an effective tool for encouraging empathy among children, though most parents are skeptical.

7. When choosing VR content, parents should consider whether they would want their children to have the same experience in the real world.

virtual reality classrooms

Image via

VR is evolving and schools and households will embrace this technology in the coming years. It is critical for parents and educators to understand VR’s dynamic effects, as there are not enough studies on how this immersive medium affects a child’s developing brain. More than half of the parents surveyed in this report said they are at least “somewhat concerned” that their children will experience negative health effects while using VR. There is a need for caution with its usage by young children. VR manufacturers have been careful to recognize that the effects of VR on toddlers and the risks are unknown. Except for VR devices targeted toward child users, most companies suggest that children below 12 years old should not use them. The study recommends that adult participants use VR for only 20 minutes at a time without a break. When the lab studies young kids, they are in VR for five minutes or less at any one time to avoid simulator sickness.

As a parent confronted with the internet and personal computers in the mid-nineties, I prefer that my children read a book, or play volleyball than vegetate in front of the computer. Internet and computers were not available in the classrooms. But I thought the internet can have a place at home and I took the risk of exposing them to this technology before it got introduced in their classrooms. Though I don’t have young kids at home. I continue to immerse in new technologies even buying a standalone virtual reality headset to understand the risks and benefits to children. It can be safe, uplifting and a wonderful part of kids’ lives if spent wisely, together with other balanced and healthy daily activities.

You can download the full report “Virtual Reality 101: What You Need to Know About Kids and VR,” at Common Sense is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.