Friday, March 29, 2013

Why mom bloggers are liking Ferretti shoes

I normally don't attend events anymore, unless I can't resist the one who invited me. Either the brand or the person from the PR/brand. In this case, I couldn't say no to Liz Lanuzo of the beauty blog Project Vanity. She's one of the few bloggers I admire so when she said one of her clients, Ferretti, a local shoe brand, is inviting a few mom bloggers to check out their shoes, I showed up.
We all gathered first at Vanilla Cupcake Bakery at Glorietta 1. It was my first time there, but I've heard practically all of Manila gushing about the place like it's the most beautiful thing on this good earth. Well, it is a very pretty place. Not exactly my cup of tea but it was cozy and cute, a place little girls would love. I loved the dainty pots and tea cups. I even told Karrots of Live, Love, LOLz that I wish Vanilla Cupcake sold the pots and cups the way TWG does. Oh, in case you didn't know, Vince and I collect tea pots!  

Anyway! I'm rambling. Let's go back to Ferretti.

This is Cecille. She likes to call herself the daughter of the owners. She then regaled us with her parents' love story. Her mother's family owned the factory, her father was one of the workers. Theirs was a love story fit for telenovelas. All the mommies were thrilled to bits and asked for more details. But we were there to talk about shoes!

Ferretti is a Proudly Pinoy brand. The shoes are all designed by Cecille's mom. Then her dad is in charge of making them come to life. Sooo romantic! She dreams them up, he makes them come true! All the shoes are handmade in Marikina. Yes, handmade. You can even ask them to customize a pair for you, in case you wanted a design in a different material or other color or your left foot is bigger than your right. Even though the shoes are handmade, they're very affordable. They start at around P600! The mommies were happy again!

Here are some of the shoes I liked:
Yeah, all summery and flat and comfy. Yes, comfy! I was very surprised at how good they felt on my feet. We all remarked at how light the shoes are, too. You know how some shoes are so heavy, you stomp? Or you feel like your calf muscles are getting a workout? Ferretti shoes are light! They feel like air! All the moms were so happy!

There were other designs, by the way. The other moms were freaking out over the high heels and wedges and platforms but those styles belonged to my former life; my life now is all about chasing a toddler and carrying an almost-year-old baby! So I ended up choosing between these two:
I picked the sandals. I love them! They're just P795! They are so comfortable and they match many of my outfits—whether it's a dress, a top and shorts or jeans. I want to go back and get the black pair, too! Actually, I want more more more!

The nearest Ferretti shop to me is the Glorietta branch. But you can find Ferretti in Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall, Robinsons Place Bacolod, Robinsons Place CDO, Gaisano Davao and Gaisano Gensan. Visit their website for a complete list of styles and branches.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vaccinations let my kids do more!

This post is brought to you by GSK.

Someone once told me that he and his siblings attended chicken pox parties when they were kids. That was how their moms dealt with the virus—let the kids get it while they were still young so that there won't be horrible scarring in their teens. These days, you won't have to throw a chicken pox party. You can just get your kids vaccinated!

Mommies, let's educate ourselves about our kids' health. When Mommy Mundo, supported by GlaxoSmithKline, invited me and a few moms for an afternoon seminar on kids' health called P.L.A.Y. (Protection, Love and Activities for Young Kids), we hied off to Fun Ranch with our hubbies and babies pronto.
Here are the mommies having fun learning about diseases and how to prevent them. Yep, there were guessing games and puzzles and adventure hunts for moms and kiddies.

Since my babies were too young to participate, I stayed at the back with Vince. Here they are clambering all over me! I tried my darndest to listen to the lecture by Dr. Carmina Delos Reyes, a pediatrician whose expertise lies in pediatric infectious and tropical diseases. I got that little bit of info from The Filipino Doctor.

Dr. Delos Reyes talked about common childhood infections that we tend to ignore because, well, kids get sick. It happens. They die. They die??? Yes. Every year, Dr. Delos Reyes said, a million children die from pneumococcal diseases (PDs). PDs include meningitis, sepsis, bacteremia, pneumonia and acute otitis media (middle ear infection).

Our elders usually tell us when our kids get sick that as long as the child is still "makulit," there's nothing to worry about. Fever? Headache? Muscle pain? Colds? Cough? Every kid gets that! But we're the more informed generation now, right? And we don't sit back and let diseases ravage our kids! We fight!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Boy or girl?

This post is brought to you by Anmum.

Before you think this is about what gender I'd want my next baby to be, it's actually about pregnancy myths. Haha. Akala niyo buntis na naman ako, no? Hehe.

Anyway, I'm subscribed to the Anmum Mommy Circle Facebook group (like their page, too!) and many times I see a lot of moms posting questions on the wall. Questions on pregnancy symptoms are common, and how to handle meddling in-laws, too, tee hee. I sometimes answer because I'm very helpful like that but sometimes I'm alarmed at how some questions are really from another time, as in, hindi-pa-uso-ang-science time.

Second pregnancy: I was huge!
When I was pregnant with my second baby Iñigo, my former yaya did this stupid pencil-on-a-thread thing on me. She stuck a needle and thread into a pencil eraser then suspended that pencil above my wrist. She said that if the pencil goes side-to-side, I'll have a girl. If the pencil goes back and forth, I'll have a boy. The pencil went back and forth ("See? Lalaki panganay mo—si Vito!") then the pencil started going side-to-side ("Bebe! Yung pangalawa mo babae!"). When the ultrasound showed that Wiggle was a boy, she wouldn't believe it. Pencil over ultrasound pa rin!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

God bless mothers

I saw this over at Facebook and cried over it because it is all so true. All of it. It's credited to author Dale Hanson Bourke, from her book, Everyday Miracles: Glimpses of Grace in a Mother's Day.

For all Mothers
(including soon-to-be mothers)

We are sitting at lunch one day when my friend casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a surey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my friend, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable.

I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mum!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five-year-old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor.

My friend's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my friend could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my friend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike.

I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time.

I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My friend's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reached across the table, squeezed my friend's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

God bless mothers!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Quick announcement! I'll be on TV!

If you're an early riser, turn on the TV at around 8am later today and look for UNTV. The breakfast show, Rise & Shine, will be on. I'll be there! The topic is working mom... from home! You'll finally get to see how maarte I am when I talk and hear my awful squeaky voice! Try not to hate me haha. Yes, it's that awful!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Family fun with Shell Journeys: Our quick Tagaytay adventure!

This post is brought to you by Pilipinas Shell.

It's definitely summer. The heat is crazy. My electricity bill is insane! So when Pilipinas Shell invited my family to go on a road trip on their tab, you betcha we jumped at their offer asap! Our destination: Tagaytay and its brisk weather!

On the road again!
Thanks so much for the gas, Shell! Since we were going to do a lot of driving on long stretches of road, Shell recommended we use their most premium gasoline, the Shell V-Power Nitro+ Racing gas. It's the gas Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa uses in his race car! Well, not quite. It's 99% similar so yun na rin yun in my book!

When we were gassing up, Vince said he wasn't expecting any difference. Gas is gas is gas. But as soon as we turned on the ignition, our cute little Mazda 2 roared! Kalurkey! Plus, you know that part on Sta. Rosa, as you're climbing up the hills on those tiny roads and you get stuck behind trucks and slow cars and you want to tear your hair out because it's sooo hard to overtake? With the Shell V-Power Nitro+ Racing gas, we were zipping in and out! We were here, we were there! Overtaking is so easy kasi our little car is now so fast and quick to respond!

In no time at all, we were at Tagaytay, enjoying the cool breeze and this gorgeous view of the volcano.
There's our toy car, Zoom Zoom! It's the cute little blue thing. Who'd have thunk that little car can go fast? Racing fuel. Every car must have it!

We stayed at Summit Ridge Hotel. We wanted a hotel that offers a 2-bedroom suite and is near the sites we planned to visit. Summit Ridge fit the bill! It's not a fantastic hotel. Maybe 3 stars at best (my husband and I are spoiled brats when it comes to hotels). But it was nice and clean, the service was good and hot water really came out of the shower and the faucets (unlike in Discovery Country Suites sadly, but I still like Country Suites best!).
Not very big suite but it was designed well—it felt spacious. And it felt quite homey.
There's a seating area, a desk, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a small dining table.
One bedroom has two single beds. It was where my brother and his wife, Theodore and Rose, stayed.
Oh, and Vito spent a lot of time in there, too. At night, Theodore just pushed the beds together.
The other bedroom has a king-sized bed. It was quite comfy.
The room also has its own TV and balcony.
Little Iñigo was supplied with his own playpen, complete with adorable beddings. He enjoyed it! 
After we settled in, we had a little nap then we went to the mini mall adjacent to Summit Ridge. That's another thing I liked about the hotel—they had convenience in mind for their guests. I think families will like this hotel (we did) better than honeymooners or old people.

Anyway, we ate merienda at Razon's and then Vito ran around the plaza while his Ninong Theodore chased him around. We then planned to go watch the sunset at Calaruega but as we were driving, we saw the newly opened Sky Ranch. It's just a minute from Summit Ridge and right beside Taal Vista Hotel. Mommies and daddies, you have to bring the kiddies there!

I don't have photos but Vince does so click here to see them. Or you can read on after the jump...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pia Guanio-Mago on Smart Parenting

Hello, mommies! I'm a regular contributor to Smart Parenting but I'm especially happy with this month's issue. I interviewed new mommy Pia Guanio-Mago! It was truly the most fun interview I've had with a star.

I like her honesty. She's no holds barred when it came to answering my questions. For example:

I’m going to confirm. You married Steve Mago December 2011. Yeah. Yes. December? No, October.
October! Kasi someone said December, someone said October. Did you get married twice? Actually, we did get married twice so I’m just as confused as you are. We got married, the first time around... December ba? I think... Wait nga (dials phone, laughing). We had a renewal of vows. It was the craziest thing, a year later, because the first one was a very simple ceremony, it was just with our family. 
(On the phone with Steve) Babe, the first time we got married was December? December! Was it December? Don’t kill me. October 10, diba? Ah, October 1. And then the next one was October 20. Because we have October 1, we have October 10, which is our anniversary, tama? O see? So 1 talaga ang o-obey natin? O sige (laughs). Because Frances said wasn’t it in December and parang my whole world became... 
...December. Then I read October... (To Steve) October 10. Ah, October 1. 10 is our anniversary as a couple. Ang dami kasing October dates. October 1 (laughs)! 
Funny girl! That was just the start of the hour-long interview. You can imagine how silly we got as we progressed. It wasn't all silly, however. Pia was serious, too. She talked about the shock of motherhood, how it wasn't what she expected, how a crying baby reduced her to tears too, how breastfeeding is so frakkin' painful but that she's still pushing through with it because it's the one thing she can share exclusively with Scarlet. 

She also talks about prioritizing marriage and family over career and getting back her sexy body. What I really found refreshing is how Pia said she never planned on having kids but when she had her baby, she just dove into motherhood and loved it. Sounds like me!

Here's a little peek at the cover shoot. If you want to see better photos and read my fun story on Pia, grab the March issue of Smart Parenting now!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My problems with the Kasambahay Law

I was told that my opinions expressed here are irresponsible because I'm a writer and should've consulted a lawyer first before writing about this matter. So please know that I wrote this blog post as a confused mommy, not as a professional writer. Please read the law yourself and shape your own opinions about it. You have been warned!!!

UPDATE: Here's a great article so you can fully understand the Kasambahay Law (click here!)

* * * * * * *

Hi mommies and actually anyone who has household help! Are you following the Kasambahay Law? Do you even know there is a Kasambahay Law (hehe)? What do you think about it?

I recently sat down with my household staff to discuss the law with them. After a long talk, here's what we think of it:

Mabigat siya financially sa employer because of the many benefits—SSS, Philhealth and Pag-IBIG (Article IV, Sec. 30). The total is a minimum of P791 per maid. I'm actually okay with giving benefits, kahit na aaminin ko na masakit ang extra P1,600 sa monthly budget. To affluent families, P800 a maid is negligible but if you're struggling to make ends meet and need a yaya for your kid, that money could buy milk and eggs and bread!

Pampabigat siya sa schedule ng employer kasi kailangan mong asikasuhin buwan-buwan ang benefits. Plus, you need to register your household help with your barangay (Article III, Sec. 17). Okay lang kung sa opisina kasi may HR, may admin staff, may messenger. Sa bahay ko, it's me and me alone! At least ako, housewife na so I actually can devote one day a month to this. Paano if may trabaho ka? "Boss, leave po ako bukas kasi kailangan ko pumunta sa bank, sa Philhealth at sa Pag-IBIG para bayaran yung benefits ng yaya ng anak ko. Next month din po and every month after, one day leave po ako." Nyek.

The government must make a way to make the administrative burden less for us. My sister-in-law says the SSS people give her a hard time every frakkin' month. Pipila ka na, ang daming ng forms, ang sungit pa nila sa iyo. Stress! Ugh. So government. I wouldn't mind paying for my help's benefits if everything's online and from one bank. Parang bills payment!

Actually, ang SSS may ganun na. Click here. Of course, if nag-resign si yaya or you fire her, you again must file papers to say that she's no longer with you or else babawasan ka pa rin buwan-buwan. Or you'll be penalized for not paying her contributions.

Yaya doesn't want day off. Yaya Juliet doesn't like going on day off kasi napapagastos lang siya. Her family kasi is nasa probinsya lahat so she doesn't have anyone here in Manila. She also actually likes working. She doesn't like being idle!

But according to the law, the yayas must have 24-hour day off every single week (Article IV, Sec. 21). I actually like days off kasi that means a day of privacy for my family. In fact, my previous maids used to come in Monday mornings and leave Friday afternoons. So they only slept here 4 nights a week and the weekends are blissfully private.

But si Yaya Juliet ayaw niya nga mag-day off. Okay lang before but when the Kasambahay Law took effect, sabi ko sa kanya, "Juliet, sorry ka na lang pero kailangan mo talaga umalis ng bahay ko once a week. Yun ang sabi ng batas." Sagot ni Juliet: "Yang batas na yan, sasagutin ba niya yung gastusin ko sa araw na day off ko?"

You can't just fire a yaya. (Article V) Dapat may "gross habitual neglect and inefficiency." So if nahuli mo siya na hinampas niya yung anak mo, wag paalisin—dapat warning muna. Habitual means paulit-ulit. So kung nahuli mo a second time, hindi pa habitual yun.

The law does say you can fire a yaya if there's willful disobedience, fraud, willful breach of trust, violation of terms of contract, and commission of a crime against you and your family. So what I'll do is I'll draft a contract that specifically lists all cases wherein I can fire her: saktan mo anak ko kahit isang beses, magnakaw ka, nag-chismis ka about my family, etc. I'm still thinking of all possible scenarios.

The law also says you can fire yaya if she has a contagious disease (Sec. 32, f). This is a relief to me kasi I had two yayas who had TB pala. Because I didn't want to be hardhearted, I paid for their initial treatment and even gave them 2 weeks' paid leave. Ano ginawa ng mga yaya? Naghanap ng ibang trabaho at hindi na bumalik. Sayang yung pera ko. So now I know I don't have to help them financially; I can just let them go.

So I like that there's a contract! The problem is this...

Yaya doesn't want to sign a contract. (Article III, Sec. 11) Juliet didn't get to finish high school and she is inherently suspicious of contracts. Mostly because she believes they are drafted against her. And if you read my above statement, yeah, I agree since a contract must protect me, too.

So if ayaw niya mag-sign ng contract, does that mean we're breaking the law? Does that mean she's not officially employed (and therefore no benefits)? And yung contract ba dapat pa-notarize? Kasi if papa-notaryo ko pa yun, dagdag lakad at gastos na naman yan!

The law has illogical terms. This is my favorite: It says if yaya wants to go to school, employer should adjust the family's schedule to accommodate (Article II, Sec. 9). Nyek. What if her classes are from 8am-5pm? Paano na?

Well, sabi naman ng law the education shouldn't hamper the services required by employer. But the law also says "employer shall afford the domestic worker the opportunity to finish basic education." May elementary and high school classes ba sa gabi? And if meron, yaya is also required to have 8 hours of rest (Article IV, sec. 20). Are her classes considered part of her rest period?

Yayas don't want a raise anymore. My yayas are happy with their salaries kasi they are much higher than what the law stipulates (Article IV, Sec. 24, a), which is just P2500 a month. They're even happier that under the law, ako ang magbabayad ng benefits nila in full, hindi kami hati. But when they found out that once their salary hits P5000 a month, split na kami sa contributions and they have to pay taxes.

Panic sila. Ayaw daw nila mag-contribute at magbayad ng buwis (who does???). Since Juliet is about to hit the one-year mark, I told her she'll get a raise. Ayaw ni ate. Paano ito? So, hooray, this is great for me, right? But I'm scared she'll leave us if I don't give her a raise. So, no, it's not good for us at all.  

I am forced to choose the better-off yayas. I recently hired a new yaya for Iñigo. We love her! But I was choosing between her and another girl. They were both perfect for me but, because of the law, it was easy to choose. I chose Josie, the yaya who already had her complete documents. NBI clearance, medical  clearance, birth certificate, IDs, etc. Jenny, the other yaya, said she is very poor and cannot afford to get her documents. Now, according to the law, the employer is supposed to shoulder the pre-employment costs (Article 3, Sec 12). So I told Jenny ako na bahala. But then Josie showed up with all her documents.

Put yourself in my shoes: Josie means she can start right away and wala na ako gastos. Jenny means more gastos and a waiting period kasi I have to wait for her to get all her stuff. And nangyari na sa akin yung binayaran ko na lahat ng medical ng dalawang yaya before and we found out may TB at hypertension sila. So after all I spent and all the time I waited, I didn't get to hire them anyway. I needed a yaya ASAP so I got Josie.

One of the yayas' benefits: Meeting stars regularly! 

The law is not all bad. It's actually got some good parts like giving yayas a nice and safe place to sleep (my yayas said some of their friends sleep in the garage, beside the car!). The yayas and I have also compromised on some areas. For example, si Juliet, yung yaya na ayaw mag-day off, sabi ko I'll send her to cooking classes every weekend na lang. May day off na siya, may opportunity to learn pa! As for the raise, Juliet suggested kung pwede same salary pa rin and bigyan ko na lang siya ng "allowance" so she won't have to pay taxes. I haven't said yes to that yet since I want to ask a lawyer if that's legal.

Yes, I am actually going to talk to a lawyer about this (for a magazine article) and I hope our concerns can be cleared up. I like to think I'm a smart girl but I don't really understand legal stuff. So I really truly hope all our fears are unfounded.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Biggest accomplishment today!

I know I've been missing here for a while. My schedule is crazy, moms. I love it! It's a schedule that revolves around the husband and the kids. Every day, there's also work—photo shoot, interview, meeting, writing. I'm a busy working mommy and I love crossing out items on my to-do list. But of all the stuff I accomplished today, this is what I'm most proud of:

I filled up a 5 oz bottle with my breast milk all in one sitting! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mommy peg: Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba. Wife. Mother of two children. Businesswoman. Actress. Hot. Stylish.


I'm off the pill so I may or may not get preggers this year. But if I don't get pregnant, I want to look like Jessica by the time Iñigo turns 1 this May. Oh wait. That's just 2 months from now. Okay, let's rephrase. If I don't get pregnant, I want to look like Jessica by the time Vito turns 3 this August. Five months. More than reasonable, right?

Let's do this!

*image from Refinery29

Monday, March 4, 2013

Ask and it shall be given you (but ask specifically!)

I believe in prayer. I tell ya, when I pray for something, God gives it. Of course, you have to pray with the knowledge of who God is. For example, I know that God is my provider so to ask Him for financial blessings and food is okay.

As Matthew 7:11 says, "If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?" My goodness, my husband and I spoil our kids silly. That gave me a profound insight on who God is—He will shower me with blessings because I am His child. All I need to do is ask!

I once asked for makeup when I was still so very poor and God answered by making me win a L'Oreal contest. One year's worth of makeup, y'all! But when I asked for makeup, it was because I was starting out in my career and I wanted to look good and I just didn't have money for makeup or nice clothes. So I bared my heart to the Lord and asked.

I believe that if you ask with a humble heart—not a vain or proud or greedy heart—God will give you what you want. After all, didn't He say, "I am come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly," in John 10:10? Abundance! That doesn't mean simple life, all I need, just enough. It means overflowing with blessings! That means more than I need!

I do also believe that when you ask God for something, you have to be specific. I don't mean that God is obtuse and isn't smart enough to figure you out. But He does have a sense of humor. I'll let this little conversation with fashion blogger Tracy Ayson of Fashion Fangirl explain my point:

So believe in God's promises, know who He is, ask with no fear or hesitation, ask with a heart full of love and humility, but ask specifically! God bless you!