Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How to Have Safe Drinking Water at Less Cost

The UN has declared several years ago that "access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life". This declaration brings to light the fact that safe drinking water can be a scarce resource in some countries. Judging from the constant presence of the all-familiar blue water containers found in many Filipino households as well as the high sales of bottled water, the Philippines can be said to be one of those countries.

On the other hand, I am one of those mothers who are increasingly getting bothered by the dent being created by the need for safe drinking water on the household budget. There must be a better way to do this without sacrificing the health of my family. It is a good thing that I found Pureit Water Purifier but that is getting ahead of my story.

The Usual Scenario

For many years now since it was determined that the water coming out from faucets in many areas in the Philippines is not safe enough to drink, households were left with at least three choices. First is to buy bottled water from groceries or supermarkets. Second is to buy from water refilling stations. The third option is to use a water filtering gadget to filter the sediments.

However, each option presented its own challenges. Bottled water is fairly expensive for daily use. Water refilling stations are not created equal as not all are able to maintain the required standards for cleanliness and safety. Water filtering gadgets are not able to provide protection from viruses and bacteria.

Our Chosen Option

We have opted for the second option in our household. We have two blue containers and one clear container that is typically used in water dispensers. Several times in a week, we go to the nearest water refilling station and have them refilled at  PHP 40 per container. That was the lowest price we can find among the more decent-looking water stations in our area. 

The accumulated weekly cost was really getting burdensome. This is not to mention the occasional aggravation of finding out that we are out of drinking water when all water stations have closed for the day. We are personally not inclined for water delivery since we don't want to be using water containers other than ours. Thus, it was really quite an effort to drive to the water refilling station or very costly if we would opt to pay a tricycle driver to do the task. Tricycle fare is unbelievably high in our area.

Looking for a Better Option

It is certainly a good thing that I got to know of the Pureit Water Purifier from my sister-in-law, Levy. Reading through some materials she had about Pureit convinced me to try it. Of course, it helped a lot to know that the product is backed up by Unilever, one of the most reliable companies in the country.

I like it that Pureit does not use electricity. I like it that it is able to remove viruses, bacteria, and parasites. But most of all, I like the fact that my family is assured access to safe drinking water any time of the day as long as we take care to have Pureit stocked with water. It is the next best thing to the convenience of getting water straight from the faucet.

My Say

And so that is how my family got to have access to safe drinking water at less cost. There may be an initial investment of about PHP 5,000 but actual savings will manifest itself in a matter of months. There will also be a need to change the Germkill Kit which is responsible for ensuring safe drinking water, after some time but the overall cost is still much lower compared to buying water.

That said, Good health is really essential to living a quality life. With life already challenging as it is, I wouldn't want to be constantly worrying if the water we are drinking is safe or not. I've got better things to do with my family but we can only do them if such basic things as safe drinking water is taken cared of.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Amidst the Sea of Palms One Palm Sunday Morning

No, this wasn't planned at all, spending Palm Sunday morning in the busy and crowded Quiapo Church that is. I easily get nauseous in crowded places and I would happily settle having my palm blessed in a church where there are less people. Actually, I have been doing exactly that for so many years now until I found myself in Quiapo last Palm Sunday. So I did the unthinkable (for me) and dove straight into the sea of palms held by sweaty hands like mine, enduring the heat inside the church to perform one of the Lenten traditions that I have known all my life.

No Stranger to Quiapo

If you are one of my regular readers, you would know I am no stranger to Quiapo. In fact, I spent a lot of time here because of our family restaurant Ambos Mundos Restaurant. But back then, I had my mother to assist me when I felt faint due to the heat and the crowd. Part of my prayer that Palm Sunday morning was for me to survive the one hour mass without making a spectacle of myself by fainting and it was granted.

The Feeling of Oneness

It might be my sentimental side running on full gear again because I felt that unmistakable feeling of oneness with the faithful who were hearing the mass that morning. These are people I do not know and would probably never know. I felt everyone's need to unburden their troubles just like me and saw it on their faces with eyes closed shut, intent on prayer.

Expression of Gratitude

"Ay salamat, salamat" (thank you, thank you)...these are the exact words uttered by an elderly woman beside me after being showered by holy water while the palms were being blessed. It is as if what we just went through freed her from her earthly anxieties and troubles. Her face showed her genuine happiness and I wondered just how good it must feel to be that way.

My Say

It is without fail that the Quiapo Church will always beckon to me to come in, regardless of the purpose I may have for coming to the place. Maybe because my family has hurdled a lot of troubles through prayers uttered inside this church...maybe because God knows one of the heaviest burdens I carry is associated with this place...or maybe because I simply need to rest my tired mind and exhausted body.

That said, I know God knows.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Watching the Cenakulo with My Family

During the Lenten Season, most people would only be thinking of two things: spiritual enrichment and physical relaxation. Many plan out-of-town trips while others choose to stay close to home while observing traditions associated with the season. It has always been the latter for our family because we grew up believing that the days of the Holy Week are best spent rejuvenating spiritual and familial connections.

I spent Holy Tuesday night watching a modern cenakulo entitled "Bunga ng PagGAWA" with my family. It was actually a first for all of us in such setting. My husband and I had watched once in different places during our younger days but those were a long time ago. We could hardly remember the details but of course the universal message of Christ's supreme sacrifice remained with us. 

What is the Cenakulo?

A cenakulo is a Lenten play which depicts events related to the life, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ. Tradition has it that a cenakulo is presented for at least eight nights starting from Palm Sunday up to Easter Sunday. The modern version, like the one we watched, usually runs for an hour or two. 

It is usually performed on a stage with a telon serving as a backdrop. This allows for smoother scene transitions and movement of performers. It can also be performed in open spaces like streets.The one we watched had the Christ performer dragging his cross around the venue and I must say it had quite an effect on the audience especially to the children. This was especially so when the Roman soldier started whipping Christ and the wailing of the crying women was heard all over. 

What is the Message of the Cenakulo?

My daughter's innocent question as to what the real message of the cenakulo is, again led me to deeper thinking. I must admit I have often taken such depictions in their face value. I was taught that Christ went through Crucifixion to save mankind and that was that.

When my daughter asked if it was possible for Christ to have saved us without going through such suffering, I said of course. As I grappled for some more explanation to provide her, it slowly dawned on me that Christ's submission to this particular sacrifice was not a sign of weakness or being less godly but rather to show us the way in carrying our own crosses. The show effectively linked Christ's Passion with how we should be facing our own ordeals with courage and resoluteness.

My Say

The show was in every way successful and was made possible with the combined efforts of the church leaders and the parishioners. The parish priest said in his message that it was far easier not to do any preparation of such sort but poses the question as to what good doing nothing would do for all of us. It was a message well received and understood.

That said, there are many more Lenten activities lined up for the rest of the Holy Week and our family would try harder this year to participate more. We hope to do this not only to continue a long-standing tradition among Filipino families but also in the hope that our family will become even more close and united. This is our faith in motion.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How to Avoid the Flu

Every year before the end of the school year, my children's school never fails to send out communication about the availability of the flu vaccine. Every year, at about this time when summer starts, my two children get their shots. Getting the flu vaccine is considered essential in avoiding the flu.

Who Needs to Be Vaccinated?

Ideally, every member of the family including adults and children aged 6 months and up should get a flu vaccine. This is to ensure that family members will not be passing on the flu virus to each other when they get exposed. However, there are specific guidelines for this.

The following should get their flu vaccine:

1. Persons who are at increased risk of complications including
    a. people aged 50 years and above
    b. children aged 6 to 23 months
    c. adults and children with chronic health conditions
2. Persons working in chronic care facilities
3. Persons who have high potential of transmitting the virus such as health workers
4. Persons who want to be protected from the flu virus

The following should not get or delay getting their flu vaccine:

1. Children less than 6 months old
2. Persons who developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks after the last flu shot
3. Persons who are still recuperating from a serious illness
4. People with severe egg allergy

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has clarified that the egg protein contained in flu vaccines are very low and is therefore not expected to cause any allergic reactions. However, it would be wise to consult a doctor when in doubt. Also, there is now a flu vaccine with no egg content in it.

When is the Best Time to Get Vaccinated?

The best time is the start of summer which is several months before the flu season coinciding with the rainy season. The months of February to June are considered ideal. Flu vaccines have to be given yearly because of the change in prevalent virus strains each and every year.

What are the Forms of Flu Vaccine?

1. By Injection
    The flu shot is usually injected into the upper arm. There is also an option for intradermal
    shots which only penetrates the top skin's top layer. Possible side effects include low-grade
    fever and achiness lasting for 1-2 days. 
2. By Spraying into Nose
    The nasal flu vaccine is sprayed into the nose. Its obvious advantage over the traditional
    injected vaccine is the absence of pain while administering it. There are concerns however
    that is it less effective in certain age groups particularly the elderly.

My Say

In our desire to offer our children the best protection we can provide them, my husband and I make it a point that they get their yearly flu shots in time. Even when some questions are being raised about the safety of using specific vaccines, we are continually hoping that the risks involved would be zero since the well-being of our children is the primary reason why we go through this every year. 

That said, it should be noted that it would take about two weeks before the protection offered by the flu vaccine takes effect that is why it makes sense to be vaccinated several months before flu season starts.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Teaching Children to Take Care of Long Hair

My nine-year old daughter has tail-bone length hair and refuses to have it cut. Every summer, I try to convince her to have it trimmed pointing to the extreme heat during the season, but to no avail. Not that I don't want her to achieve her idea of "long,flowing hair" but I am more concerned about it getting tangled somewhere and putting her in some kind or risk. I knew I have to teach her how to take care of her hair since that is a responsibility that comes with deciding to keep her hair growing longer and longer...

So here are some points we have touched on so far:

Keeping Hair Clean

I told my daughter that she has to give time to wash her hair properly. It needs to be shampooed and conditioned and washed thoroughly to remove all residue. I have noticed that she tends to rush it especially when her playmates are already calling her. The only solution here is for her to take a bath earlier so she will have enough time to wash her hair properly and comb it afterwards. I didn't have to tell her what to do with her hair when she is doing her toilet business. She automatically puts her hair on one side and keeps it there until she's done.

Keeping Hair Lice-Free

Lice infestation became a real challenge to us last year. Her hair got damaged by the repeated treatments of over the counter lice shampoos. Although having short hair does not guarantee a 100% lice-free hair, it does make hair management a lot easier. I asked her to observe the preventive measures I taught her like not sharing combs with her schoolmates more seriously. I explained to her that we might end up cutting her hair whether she likes it or not if this problem persists. Fortunately, she heeded my advice.

Keeping Hair Tied for Certain Activities

Long hair can get in the way of children's play and certain other activities. To lessen the risk of having hair tangled with some object while playing, we have agreed that her hair must be tied securely. Upon my advice, she always has at least one hair-tie in her pocket, just in case it would be needed. My daughter usually has her hair down with some clips to keep it off her face during schooldays. For the PE day however, her hair is tied pony-style or in pigtails.

My Say

I really don't know what particular reason my daughter has in sporting very long hair. I can only guess that it makes her feel like a princess as most young girls tend to think. She also has her own notion that long hair makes girls more feminine. If you know my daughter, you'd know that she is for everything "girly".

That said, I decided to make this hair issue an opportunity to teach my daughter about responsibility. If she wants it that way, she must do what is needed to maintain it right. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Optimize Your Homes With These Useful Items

Convenience is king in many homes, especially for those people with increasingly busy lives. Between work, school, and play, most people need a break from everyday stressors once stepping foot into their respective castles. Fortunately, there are a range of great items that make everyday living a breeze. From having a rolling step stool in places like the kitchen to closet organizers for compact areas, the following items will make your home a relaxing place to live.

Image Source: flickr.com/photos/jenosaur/

Haul Heavy Items Without Breaking a Sweat

People sometimes need a little assistance hauling heavy items, especially for work around the house. A great solution to home hauling problems is a hand truck. These easy-to-use devices can take the burden of heavy or bulky items and make moving things around the house a breeze. Hand trucks are often able to be folded for easier storage when not in use, which makes them highly convenient for traveling as well.

Reach High Places With Ease

Items stored in high places can be a pain to reach for many members of a family. That’s why it’s important to keep things like stools and ladders in one’s home. For quick job, a rolling step stool is a great way to access those hard to reach shelves and cabinets. This item is perfect for a number of rooms in a home, from kitchen to office and everywhere in between. Many stools are available with a convenient locking mechanism, which is a must for added safety when trying to reach those hard to get to places.

Dry Dishes Without the Mess

No one actually enjoys doing dishes, but like most other household chores it must be done. When hand-washing dishes, a rack that allows for air-drying is a great investment. These racks will keep items separated, allowing for dishes to drip dry without the mess and fuss normally associated. Some racks even come with a spigot mechanism that allows run off water to be filtered back into the sink. This will save the time and headache typically associated with doing dishes.

Keep the Home Office Humming

Working from home can be incredibly convenient, provided one is working within a well-organized space. Fortunately, there are number of great items that can keep any office running smoothly. Mobile carts are a great way to ensure useful items are always on hand, no matter where one might be working. This is especially true of those involved in a lot of home projects, which can require a number of different tools at a moment's notice.

Get Organized in Style

Most people would probably lament the current state of their closets. However, even the messiest of closets can be salvaged with a little bit of help. Thanks to the numerous shelving options and adjustable height and width, an expandable closet organizer can be the perfect choice for just about every home in need of some sprucing up. Shelving works great for shoes and other items, and with the ability to fully customize a unit, worrying about closet space is sure to become a thing of the past.

My Say

A well-organized home is often a happy home, and the above items can play a role in ensuring one's home is both a relaxing and efficient place to be.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Bare Facts of SingTel mRemit: How to Remit Money from Singapore Using Your Mobile Phone

With the large number of Filipinos working in Singapore, safe remittance of hard-earned money to their loved-ones at home has become a major concern. Traditional means of sending money include sending through banks, remittance centers, and the old-fashioned way of sending money through friends or co-workers going back home for vacation or permanently. SingTel, the leading telecommunications company in Singapore provides an easy but safe option - the SingTel mRemit.

Watch this video to know how easy it is to remit money from Singapore using your mobile phone.

Just to make sure you got it right, here are the Bare Facts of SingTel mRemit:

Bare Fact 1 - No more queues

Falling in line is always shall a hassle especially if there are so many in line. Every second is important to working people. You can do you transaction anywhere you are in Singapore using your mobile phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bare Fact 2 - How to Get Money into Your Phone

You will need to register with mCash for you to be able to send your money through your phone. Simply go to any of the more than 1,000 top-up locations in Singapore to do this. These locations include convenience stores and any AXS machine.

Bare Fact 3 - Low remittance fee

Remittance fee is as low as $ 2.40. SingTel's aim is to keep the fees capped low. Lower remittance fee is of course advantageous to working Filipinos in Singapore.

Bare Fact 4 - Open to all mobile operators

The SingTel mRemit service is open to all regardless of their mobile operator. Of course, SingTel offers its loyal clients added benefits for using the service. 

How to Start

1. Visit an mRemit store to register.

2. Provide mobile phone number and required documents including original passport, NRIC/ Work permit/ S Pass/ E Pass, as well as the recipient's details.

3. Register your mCash account. Remember that your mCash account contains your money which you will be remitting to your home country.

4. You can send money through your mobile phone using the mWallet app or through SMS.

5. Watch the video above to guide you.

My Say

The SingTel mRemit is one of the more convenient options of sending money offered to Filipinos working in Singapore. Even with the existence of the more traditional means of sending money, there is always room for improved ones to catch up with the very mobile lifestyle of people today.

That said, if you are a Filipino working in Singapore or knows someone who does, you can look into the SingTel mRemit option if it will fit your remittance needs.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Mind Museum: Wide-Eyed Wanderer's Exploration

It's Mind Museum's second year anniversary and our family was invited to join a mind-blowing celebration for wanderers of all ages. Of course, the most excited among us was our youngest in the family. It didn't matter that she had been previously there because of a school field-trip. When we arrived there, it was as if she was seeing everything for the first time and so our family's exploration began.

Filling Up the Passport

Each family or group was given a passport to complete for a prize. Getting all the stickers needed to fill it required us to go through the 5 interconnected galleries in the museum. These include the Atom Gallery, the Earth Gallery, the Universe Gallery, the Life Gallery, and the Technology Gallery. We we were only short of one sticker when the winner was announced but this did not dampen our enthusiasm a bit. We continued our exploration in a much relaxed pace.


We were also able to watch 2 shows while we were there: "Back to the Moon for Good" at the museum's custom built planetarium called the Space Shell and "BirthPlace" at the 3D mini-theater called the Nature's Hourglass. Explorers can choose to grab a bite at the Mind Cafe near the Technology Gallery. Souvenirs can also be bought from the The Mind Museum Store.


There are several venues for lease that can be used for board meetings, birthday parties, and product launches. Outside the museum, visitors can still get to enjoy the wonder of nature through the Science in the Park. Retail stores and food outlets can also be found outside the museum.

Super Summer Science Treat

Summer day passes were made available starting March 16 which allows whole day access to visitors of The Mind Museum for the special price of PHP 450. These passes can be used from Tuesdays to Sundays. Purchase of 2 summer day passes for a weekday schedule entitles the visitor to 1 FREE summer day pass. Regular rates are PHP 600 for adults and PHP 450 for children for a regular 3-hour tour.

Entrance fee for public school students up to college as well as teachers is PHP 150. This is partly subsidized by the ticket purchases and donations. Regular operating hours from Tuesday to Sunday are 9am -12nn, 12nn-3 pm, and 3 pm-6 pm. Additonal slot is provided at 6 pm-9 pm every Saturday.

The Mind Museum will also be offering summer Programs from April to May. These would be for CSI 101, Marine Science Camp, Junior Mind Mover, and Soccer Science. It certainly lives up to its claim as a hands-on and minds-on museum where science comes alive.

My Say

So what did we get at the end of the exploration? Valuable bonding time and practical learning for the whole family, that's what. It is not every day we get the chance to be together in this kind of playful yet educational environment.

That said, I have observed that adult explorers were no less wide-eyed in the journey of discovery we all made in The Mind Museum. Science is indeed alive here and I certainly wouldn't mind coming back for I know there will always be something new to discover and go back to. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Famous Women Authors

Female authors have made many important contributions to literature over the years. Some receive immediate praise and reap significant financial rewards, while others are not recognized for their accomplishments until after they have passed away.

Image Source: morguefile.com/creative/taliesin

Jane Austen

Jane Austen is one the most beloved female authors of all time. In a span of five years, beginning in 1811, she wrote four of the most well-known books in English literature; “Sense and Sensibility”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Emma”, and “Mansfield Park”. Three of these novels have been made into major motion pictures. The genius of Austen’s writing did not begin to become appreciated until almost 100 years after her death, which was in 1817. Recently, an almost cult-like following has developed among her fans, particularly those who live in the United States. They call themselves “Janeites.” Two examples of their devotion are the Jane Austen Society of North America which has 4,500 members and Jane Austen conventions where devotees dress up in period costumes and discuss their own sequels to some of Austen’s stories. English writer Charles Colton’s famous quote “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” applies in spades to Jane Austen.

Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott was a 19th century American author. Her most well-known title is “Little Women” which was published in 1868. It is still a favorite today, particularly with adolescent girls. The novel is semi-autobiographical; it is about a family of four girls, just like Alcott’s. The follow-up novels to “Little Women”; “Good Wives”, “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys,” were also well-received. Alcott associated with some of the brightest scholars of her time including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. She is buried close to the three of them in Concord, Massachusetts cemetery on a hill referred to as “Authors Ridge.”

Tony Morrison

Tony Morrison was born in 1931. She is one of the most acclaimed authors of her time, and writes primarily about the black experience in America. She has won both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is most prestigious civilian award that can be bestowed, in 2012. Some of her most famous novels include “Song of Solomon,” which won the 1993 Nobel Prize in literature, “The Bluest Eye,” and “Beloved,” which was made into a feature film starring Oprah Winfrey.

J. K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is a British writer and the author of the Harry Potter series. Her books have sold over 400 million copies. The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997, and the seven book series is the best-selling one in history. The books were all made into movies. There is also a Harry Potter theme park in Orlando, Florida. The success of all these endeavors made Rowling a billionaire. She was recently downgraded by Forbes from a billionaire to millionaire due to her $160 million dollars in charitable contributions. She has been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees and awards including the Order of the British Empire, British Children’s Book of the Year, and Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award.  

My Say

These four female writers have all made important contributions. From books set in 19th century England’s to modern day wizards on broomsticks, they have all enriched the literary landscape. 

That said, I expect many more women will make their mark as authors in the years to come.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to Encourage the Special Interests of Our Children

The photo below can hardly be called an exceptional image but to me, it is. This is for the simple reason that this photo was taken by my 9-year old daughter using our outdated camera which she discovered inside one of our drawers. I have observed for some time how she likes to take pictures especially of animals and so I let her be. I suppose we parents can do no wrong when we encourage the special interests of our children, specifically those that can potentially develop skills. Even those engaged in purely for clean fun, help our children have a more positive and healthy outlook in life.

Allow Children to Discover Their Own Interests

It is but normal for parents to encourage children to participate in activities they think can help in holistic development. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this except probably when children are forced to do it. Since we are talking about special interests here, the activity should be something which a child really wants to do. Otherwise, it becomes just another chore to get over with.

Provide Support

It would be wise for parents to observe and then provide just the right push when a child shows preference for a specific activity. The participation of parents in developing a child's special interest will be needed particularly when some formal training would be required. Some equipment or gears may be needed as well. Aside from the financial support, guidance and encouragement from parents will go a long way in a child's effort to do good or excel.

Give Time and Space

Parents must give time and space to their children to allow them to discover how far they can take their special interest. Children must have the time to indulge in the activity and have a place in which to freely engage in it. If the child's interest is in arts and crafts, then allotting a small space at home for it can be done with some adjustment.  Bringing a child to a community field for sports would require time from parents but the benefits for the "sacrifice" are unlimited.

Show Appreciation for Results

Most children are encouraged to do better when their efforts are praised. A word of caution though against leading them on to unrealistic expectations as it might be counter-productive. There is no need for children to be champions or leaders in everything they do. Often, there is a very fine line that separates constructive encouragement and outright lying. Then again, even parents cannot say with absolute authority that their children will have no future in an interest they have set their hearts on if they try hard enough. This leads us back to the default function of parents for their children which is providing moral support.

Allow for Change of Plans

Since children are children, they can change their minds more often than not when it comes to their special interests. It is a good idea to wait a while on investing on expensive equipment and gears until such time it would appear that the child is seriously pursuing the interest. Parents should constantly be talking with their children to gauge for themselves how their children are getting along. This will be an opportune time to offer some advice and pointers.

My Say

I was quite fortunate that my parents allowed me to engage in several extra-curricular activities in school. They supported me, patiently waited for me during practice sessions, watched my performances without fail, and even enrolled me in all possible dancing lessons trending during my time except for ballet. I was a member of the Dance Club, Glee Club, Library Club, a club where we get to teach pre-school kids, and the list goes on and on.

That said, The freedom of having the choice to pursue what I wanted is probably the reason why I remember my childhood as a happy one. There was only one that was kind of "forced" on me which was studying to play the organ. Playing it was not the problem but playing it in front of my parents' friends surely was. You know how parents are in "promoting" their children's talents at every opportunity, I used to cringe on that.

Looking back now, I am thankful even for that because I learned - a lot. I hope I can provide my own children the support they need to develop their special interests. Whether my daughter seriously pursues photography or some other interest, I just wish I can give her all the opportunities to do it. The same wish goes for my teenage son.

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