I’m finally able to write about the movie “Zootopia”, which Arielle and I watched for the second time yesterday.  It was our mother-daughter prize for finally completing and submitting her portfolio to SCAD Hong Kong.  Of course, Arielle, our daughter who will pursue Animation, had to watch it again.  And I won’t be surprised if the second time won’t be the last time!

As always, Arielle had a different motivation and intention when she watched this Disney film.  She was looking forward to see the technical side of the animation plus the story.  I, on the other hand, decided to see it (after much convincing), as a break for me and for pure entertainment.  I had no idea what Zootopia was all about!

I will not give the plot summary of the movie.  You can find it here. What I’d like to share instead are the life lessons that I personally picked up from this beautifully animated film.  I have twelve:

1. Anyone can be anything.   

   No to stereotyping.  Just keep on trying.  As the movie said, be a TRYer, one who always tries.

2.  A positive attitude makes a big difference.

3.  Do your job or tasks well, no matter how small they may seem.  

     As St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Do small things with great love.”   Go an extra mile.

4.  Support and encourage your child in his/her dreams.  It matters a lot to them.

5.  Understand others.  They may have a past that needs to be understood.

6.  Everyone is different.  Everyone is unique.  

7.  There may come a time in your life that you just have to prove your worth.  Show them who you are and what you can do.  Show them what you’ve got. 

8.  You have to learn how to think and put pieces of information together.  Problem-solving is an important life skill.

9.  Prejudice, discrimination, racism, greed, over-confidence, and being a crook have no place in society and in this world.  It does not at all do any good.

10.  Let us all live in harmony and peace, respecting each other, and celebrating each other’s differences.

11.  We must protect the environment, God’s creation, in order to maintain its natural balance.

12.  Just as we need to protect human life, we need to protect animal life as well.


The movie is already on its second week and I hope you and your kids can make this a family movie date.  If you miss it, then I encourage you to watch out for the DVD copy and get one for a movie night at home.




Some of you may be wondering what we’ve been up to in our homeschooling and probably, if I’m still alive (LOL!).  Yes, I very much am!  It’s just that our homeschool life seems to have taken a different turn and things aren’t anymore like “This is our schedule for today” or “It’s time for me to sit down and teach Filipino to Kayla, and after this, it’s History for Arielle.”

Now that Arielle’s in her senior year in high school and Kayla is in 8th Grade, they’ve been pretty much on their own.  Yes, that’s how it’s been.  They’ve been independent.  They managed to come up with their own schedule that they feel would work best for them and where they will be most productive.  I thought my past method of making schedules for them every year (yes, every single year for the past seven years) would still work but apparently, I had to keep my hands off already in this area of our systems and routines.  This setup may not be totally perfect but it’s a learning curve that they must go through. Also, it’s another parenting lesson for me on letting go.  The fear and question that they might be missing out on a lot of things in terms of academics do haunt me so I still make it a point though to check up on them regularly so I know what they are doing and where they may be needing help on.  I also remind myself that I cannot and won’t be able to teach them E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, as Debra Bell had said in one of the homeschool conferences I’ve attended.  What’s more important is to teach them the skills on how to learn and how to be a lifelong learner.

So what’s been my role to them?  I can sum it up in two words:  a coach and a counselor.  I now wear different hats or let’s say, I now have new (or is “more” the more appropriate word?) hats to put on.  Here’s what it now looks like homeschooling our two teen girls.

With Arielle, Mike and I have been having a lot of discussions with her on the following:

  1. Responsibility and time management  –  Clearly knowing what is expected from her and when
  2. Identifying and setting priorities  –  Knowing what needs more of her time, attention, and efforts, and also the willingness to give up what shouldn’t be taking up much of her time
  3. Proper work habits and ethics  –  Learning how to handle and manage tasks and projects with diligence, persistence, patience, willingness, punctuality, responsibility, and maturity
  4. Dealing with different kinds of people and that includes difficult people in the “workplace”  – Since we’ve been exposing Arielle to (1) real-life professionals, mentors, teachers, speakers, trainors, who are older than her, and (2) kids of her age, via workshops, trainings, camps, and projects that she herself initiated or collaborated with other people, we’ve been telling her “facts of life” and realities that she is going to face in the real world when she goes to college or starts working.  This is a tough one to teach and impart wisdom on since we are talking about relationships and how to present herself to others and clearly communicate to them what she has to say, without appearing domineering, arrogant, or as someone who can be pushed around.
  5. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decision  –  Taking responsibility for the choices she made and ownership for her actions

These areas are enough to drain me mentally and sometimes, emotionally, after a lengthy conversation and processing of thoughts and emotions with her.   I believe this is where most of my energy goes.  In the P-R-O-C-E-S-S-I-N-G, which is ultimately character-building.   I cannot emphasize enough how parenting teens can really be challenging and quite exhausting.

With Kayla,  parenting her these days is different since she has just entered the teen stage.  I cannot say that it’s easier the second time around since Arielle has been through this early teen stage already.  As we all know, every child is different.  Every child has unique needs.  Every child has a different love language.  Every child calls for a specific parenting style.  So for her, our conversations and discussions often revolve around these:

  1. Time management  –  Learning to identify what’s important and what must be done first
  2. Decision-making and facing consequences of her own decisions  –  Learning to make her own decisions and owning them
  3. Making and choosing friends with good moral character  –  Being conscious of her own and other people’s behaviour, character, virtues, and manners
  4. Money management  –  Need vs. want;  That money is a resource that must be used wisely and with care
  5. Identifying her God-given strengths and interests  –  Making her aware of her talents, gifts, capabilities and things that she can do naturally and with much potential, and believing that she is as unique as her Ate Arielle


It’s a new chapter in our homeschooling life and I myself am learning and being trained new skills as a parent.  It is sometimes so easy and tempting to just fall into the trap of just following what everyone does but I am constantly reminded by God that Arielle and Kayla were wonderfully and fearfully made by Him.  As the saying goes, they were born not to fit in but to stand out.  Now that’s where my parenting challenge lies.  To make sure that I am raising and molding them into the persons that God designed and purposed them to be.  I am hoping and praying that my efforts in doing so are close enough!

What homeschooling challenges are you faced with right now?  I can probably learn a few things from you.


Now that Christmas is just a few days away, parties and gift-giving have already begun for some of us. Amidst the merriment and abundance around us, here are just a few reminders for kids and adults alike on how to “properly behave” this season to make Santa Claus Jesus Christ happy:

1.  Always remember to say “THANK YOU” to the giver of your gifts. Expressing it verbally, via text message, email, chat or private message, or writing a short note would be appropriate.

2.  Appreciate your gift, no matter how simple, meaningless or useless it may seem to you. It could be the 5th coffee mug you’ve received this year or that a pair of socks has become a gift you receive year after year from the same person.  No matter what it is, just be thankful that someone actually took the time to get you a gift and wait in line. It also probably was a last-minute errand for him or her to do or he or she only had a few pesos in his/her budget.  Remember that you were remembered.

3.  Say a prayer for all the persons who remembered you this Christmas and most especially, for those who do not have enough or are not able to celebrate the Holidays with their loved ones.

4.  Focus on the thoughtfulness and not on the pricey-ness of the gift.  A sincere greeting or a time spent with friends at a cafe or restaurant for a fun get-together or simply to catch up on each other’s lives will most likely be remembered more than the presents.  Presence vs. presents.

5.  If your gift is share-able, then by all means, do so!  Cookies, candies, cake, brownies, food for the gods, ensaymadas, fruits, pies, suman, lechon, leche flan, spaghetti, fruit salad…these are all for sharing and not meant for us to transform into a Grinch or Scrooge (unless your goal for 2014 is to gain 10-20 pounds more!)

6.  Last but not least, this may sound cliche.  Remember and focus on the REASON for this SEASON.  Not the presents, not the glitter and lights, not the food, booze, and wine.  But our Savior Lord Jesus Christ! 

I am actually starting to slow myself down these days in order for me to really appreciate all the blessings I have received this year and the many others that continue to come my way this season, before another year begins.  I would just like to wish you and your family a


Let us not forget to celebrate Christmas with character 🙂 


As you and the whole world already know by now, the Philippines has recently been stricken by tragedies one after the other. First, it was the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Bohol and Cebu which literally brought structures down to the ground and into pieces. Then, just last Friday, we were hit by supertyphoon Yolanda (international name “Haiyan”) which again devastated towns, especially in Leyte.  These affected areas are all nearby each other in the Visayas and the earthquake victims haven’t even recovered yet from their tragedy and then, came,  I would say, an even more destructive force of nature.  See map here (for the earthquake) and here (for the supertyphoon).

Even before these natural calamities came, Sew Easy For Kids was already planning and preparing for their upcoming bazaar on Nov. 23-24 by Woodrose School.  We were all excited and looking forward to this fun and new, learning experience for the kids.  After all, all we needed was SCRAP FABRIC and extra time to sew! A first for many, if not all of us.  When the earthquake happened, we then collectively decided to donate proceeds of our sales to the earthquake victims.  A BIG portion of it!  

The kids have been extra busy SEWING MORE and MORE so that we could GIVE MORE! Not only to the earthquake victims but now, to the supertyphoon victims, too!  Needless to say, the kids have been SEWING with their HANDS and HEARTS!  

We are grateful and blessed to have been given this opportunity to share whatever and however we can to our fellow Filipinos in dire need.  If you think that you cannot help much or don’t know how to help, think again.  YOU CAN HELP!  YOU CAN!  

Sewing with their hands and hearts!

Sewing with their hands and hearts!


Sewing with our hands and hearts

Photo courtesy of
Anne del Rosario of
Sew Easy For Kids


Sewing with our hands and hearts

Photo courtesy of
Anne del Rosario of
Sew Easy For Kids Manila


Sewing with our hands and hearts


Litrato mula sa:


Ang isa sa mga ugaling Pilipino na gustung-gusto kong ibalik at muling isabuhay nina Arielle at Kayla ay ang PAGMAMANO SA MATATANDA O NAKATATANDA sa kanila.   Marunong naman sila kaya lang, siguro, dahil sa iba’t ibang klaseng tao ang nakilala at patuloy na nakikilala nila na may iba’t ibang pamumuhay, mas madalas silang humalik bilang pagbati o paggalang kaysa magmano.  Eto rin kasi ang nakikita nila sa kanilang mga kaibigan.

Pinaalalahanan ko sila nung minsan, pagkatapos namin magmisa, na gusto kong MAGMANO sila sa amin ng Papa nila, PAGKATAPOS NG MISA at TUWING HAPON.   Nung sinabi ko ito sa kanila, parang naalala nga nila na hindi na nila ito nagagawa.  

Ngayon, dahan-dahan naming ibinabalik ang pagmamano sa aming tahanan at buhay.  Mas maganda lang kasi at mas nararamdaman ko ang respeto o paggalang, MALIBAN SA PAGGAMIT NG “PO” AT “OPO.”   Sa sobrang makabago at mabilis na pag-ikot ng ating mundo ngayon, naniniwala ako na may mga bagay pa rin…makaluma, tradisyon, at nakaugalian na…na dapat panatilihing buhay sa ating mga Pilipino.

Maidagdag ko lang.   Medyo tama o akma rin pala itong “post” ko sa aking or aming goals para sa taong 2013…na magpakita ng pagkamamamayan at maging mas makabayan o maka-Pilipino.



Photo Source:


I started my day today with my daily devotional on Loyola Press.  I always try to make it a morning habit when we’re  normally at home and not on the go.  The The 3-Minute Retreat is just perfect for me to have a short quiet time to receive God’s word and have some reflection.  Short but enough to feed my spirit and faith.  It’s a good way for me to start my day with the right frame of mind and attitude.

Today’s reading (Click on ‘Continue’ to begin the retreat) is taken from Matthew 6:14 –

If you forgive others their transgressions, 

your heavenly Father will forgive you.

Forgiveness.  The Catholic in me says I know this passage already, but wouldn’t it be nice and right to start the new year with it?  What really touched me the most was this:

To be forgiven, we must first forgive. 

This is not a suggestion; it is a condition 

for being in right relation 

with God and others.


I’m not going to write a sermon or give a personal sharing on this one.  I really just wanted to share it, hoping it would also touch you the way it did to me.  We all have our shares of hurts and pains.  Our big and loving God know every ounce of it.

Forgiveness.  Let go and let God.


Photo Source:  http://devotionalchristian.com/bible-verses-forgiveness/





Ever since we started to homeschool, Character is one subject I’ve always prioritized.  Actually, it IS one of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool.  To be able to bring up our children with good character traits, and not just “become like everybody else because everybody does it (whatever that IT may be).” 

For this second quarter, I chose three traits to focus on: Cooperation, Habit, Fighting/Peace.  We already started the discussion on Cooperation and just started on Habit.  As I type this, I’m reminded of the song by Hall & Oates (goes to show my age!) “Hard Habit to Break”.  Then, I also remembered this quote which powerfully tells us how we end up becoming who are.

Matthew 15:11 says ” What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”  It all begins with our thoughts; with how we think; with how we perceive; with how we make judgments and decisions. 

Come to think of it, who are those people who have led great lives inspiring millions?  Aren’t they those who have brilliant minds and upright character?  On the other hand, who are those whose notorious actions or immoral lives have made it in the headlines or international news causing shock and disbelief to many of us? Isn’t character almost always traced as the cause of one’s actions and behavior?

As we take the responsibility to teach and educate our children (our families, including ourselves!), let us not just focus on and worry about the academics. Let us teach and learn Character first because once these traits have become ingrained in us, in our children, they will be reflected in our and our children’s behavior, and consequentially, in our work and their academic performance.

Character first.  Academics will follow. 🙂



Our morning routine always begins with devotional reading and today, Arielle wrote a touching reflection on her Camp Rock audition.  Everything she wrote is so true…about herself being so full of energy all the time.  That is truly a distinct mark of her, that makes her unique and different.  Sometimes, it does make me wonder where she gets all her energy and how she can be so happy and positive even when things go wrong.

I must admit, that’s one thing God has taught me to learn from her and to appreciate in her.

Here’s her reflection for today’s reading:

August 15, 2012:


Psalm 51:12 – Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous spirit.


My reflection:  As the website says, “Real lasting joy comes from the Lord Jesus.”  Sometimes, I find it weird that most of my friends are moping around and thinking that their lives aren’t going to get any better even though we teenagers are still starting our journey into the real world.  I choose to be positive and see the beauty in EVERYTHING the Lord has given me.  I choose to enjoy every step of this journey because I know God has a bigger plan for me in the future.  Like my Camp Rock audition, for example.  I may not have made it to the shorlist but I’m still glad that God gave me the opportunity to impress Tito Audie & Tita Menchu. I’m sure that there will be other productions in the future and that God is just paving the way for me.  I guess this is why I’m happy and full of energy all the time.  I like my life even though things may go wrong, because God surrounds me with so much, I learn to appreciate them everyday. 

I am just happy that things happened the way they did 🙂

The demise of The Comedy King, Dolphy, had me switching local tv channels yesterday to catch the latest update on this man.  I was one of those “John & Marsha” babies and now that Dolphy’s gone, I feel that part of my childhood is also laid to rest.

So many things were said about Dolphy. All nice and good things!!! I’m not surprised. Isn’t it what death does to all?  But last night, as I was watching and listening to the eulogies, I realized that this man gained a very important thing from all these people, whom he knew personally or are just mere fans or followers from afar.

They repeatedly praised and honored him for being:  hard-working, loving, generous, down-to-earth, humble, a hero, a king, a national artist.  But what struck me most is this.   He was a RESPECTABLE man.  People from all walks of life RESPECTed him.  RESPECT was in his aura, wherever he went.

Now what has this got to do with our homeschooling, you may ask? 🙂  We are now learning the character trait RESPECT.  Our book gives these meanings of the trait:

RESPECT – 1. v. To admire and have a high opinion of someone.  2. n. A feeling of admiration or consideration for someone that makes you take the person seriously.

I believe Dolphy is a very good example of what RESPECT is. He is RESPECT personified.  He breathed it.  He earned it.  He deserved it.