Kidstarter turns One! Journey of a Local Homeschool Resource during Covid-19 School Year

Who would have thought that in a span of 10 months, our Kidstarter Curious Curriculum would sell out?

Launched last September 2019, in Educating for Life (EFL)’s , No Place Like Home Philippine Homeschool Conference, the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum was put together to address a growing need among homeschooling families. And yes, the launch with the timing, the setting, and even the plenary topic assigned to me as a speaker, “Homeschooling: A Privilege, A Vocation, and A Calling ” was perfect. Only God (and with the brains of another set of 4 women behind EFL) could have pulled that off. After all, we, as Ephesians 2:10 clearly says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” were merely created and equipped to do what He prepared in advance for us.

Conceptualized in 2017 by 4 moms, the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum was a 2-year journey (with major life events within for all: raising an infant, homeschooling, running several businesses plus the major ups and downs of life) from day 1 to launch. It was a faith journey— with creativity bursting amidst the daily grind, daily ups and downs of life, even the “down-est” of life indeed.

We launched in September 7, 2019. That is why I am writing now. KCC turned One this month and we would like to give glory to the ONE who led and enabled us to create this program.

The place where God calls you is the plan where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger coincide.” -Frederick Buechner

I think from hereon, though we will still continue to have the BC/AD set in time, modern life now has PC, DC and PC for Pre-Covid19, During Covid19 and Post Covid19, respectively. Pre-Covid19, we knew that homeschooling in the early years was growing in leaps. As a founder of the biggest homeschooling network on Facebook and then president of HAPI, I had front row seats in seeing the homeschool community emerge, grow and diversify and that, though unintentional, was the purest and most organic market research.

We were so enthralled with the wide and warm acceptance of our product during the launch. However, we were a start-up and needed to take on the serious business of business– creating brand and product awareness and pushing sales!.

Then Covid-19 hit and everyone, including all preschoolers had to be taught at home. Kidstarter found its way to solve a problem for parents who were available, willing and committed to homeschool their preschoolers.

Led by our sales champion and solution finder, Angela Palanca, Kidstarter found ways to make the product available through ECQ and for as many users as possible all over the country. At the same time, she was toughing it out to make sure our reprints would be available in time.

From the Kidstarter book sets, we grabbed the chance to offer online enrichment classes for both parents and their children: How to Homeschool Your Preschoolers and Equipping Kasambahays for Homeschooling , and Art, Literacy, Music and Movement classes were offered.

In addition to this, three well-respected preschools jumped in and availed of Kidstarter as part of their 2020-2021 program for blended learning for home-based learners.

As we turned one, I put this collection of memories as a testament of God’s hand in all things. Click here if you want to see KCC’s first year journey!

Last September 5, 2020, KCC gathered over a hundred Kidstarter Curious Curriculum users online for its first ever online gathering! This was our way our way of celebrating God’s goodness and giving back to our growing Kidstarter Community.

Below are screenshots from our event with participants who took part in our KCC Connect Celebration of fun and learning with games with prizes from Happy Skin and jaw-dropping raffle prizes from National Book Store, and a highly equipping and inspiring session on Lesson Planning from Teacher Liana Lim-Cruz, M.A. Ed.

Clockwise: Janna Mendoza-Simpao (KS Marketing), Me (Content), Angela Palanca (Sales/Admin), and Liana Lim-Cruz(Content, our preschool expert!)
Liana helped our parent teachers on lesson and day-to-day planning of playful learning sessions. Do you want to learn more, go to !
Our dearest Angela, first time, full time preschool homeschool teacher to Rafa and online learning facilitator to Dani shares from the heart–on the ups and downs of her first month of homeschooling using Kidstarer!

The Kidstarter also collected the shared experiences (video/photo) of many KCC users and we compiled them here. See how fun indeed to do it the Kidstarter way! If you would like purchase a book set, order here.

Thank you from the bottom of Kidstarter’s heart!

As we move into the School Year 2020-21, believing that parent-teaching is an evolving and growing process, we are offering our parent classes once again, this time led by preschool expert, Teacher Liana Lim. See her personal invite here.

Hurry for we are offering this 12 parent set up: small group, evenly spaced sessions for reflection and application, and truly aligned with solid early childhood education principles –a must for all parent-teachers taking on the preschool years. Register here to grab a slot soon. I have conducted several batches of sessions in this format– where there is relationship building, lots of question and answer time, more relaxation and powerful equipping.

Though this pandemic has taken us all by storm, in varying degrees of painful losses and pauses, there are linings that can brim with silver if we find ways to learn, roll and ride along. Someone said, let us not let this crisis be put to waste and Kidstarter is here to bring sunshine during these uncertain days. Go Kidstarter families!

Galatians 6:9 Let us not grow weary in well-doing,
 for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give u.

Blogging Again: Slowing Down and Taking It All In

My last post was about our Kidstarter Curious Curriculum journey –shared shortly after the launch in Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschool Conference held in September 2019.

After taking a 2-week break with an unforgettable trip to Spain and Portugal, I was back, ushering the Christmas season, attending to the growing Kidstarter Curious Curriculum community, and leading both Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands and Homeschoolers of the Philippines Community.

The Courtyard of the Maidens in Alcazar, Seville, Spain

Then comes 2020.

2020 I said was going to be different as I start shifting from homeschool advocacy commitments to finding my path in the health/medical field. You see, despite really opening myself to the possibility of letting go of this passion and possible profession, the pull to still find my place in health service did not want to disappear. I have sought the counsel of my PGH batch mates, family members and friends. I have gone through a “Finding Your Purpose and Significance” retreat, more personal soul searching and read books of Simon Sinek (Starting and Find Your Why) —and could not seem to simply let go of the medical side of me.

The areas of Medicine that I was always drawn to ever since my UP College of Medicine days were Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Family Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology. I got married on my 2nd year of Medicine and knew that kids were eventually coming so I had to make adjustments. Soon after graduating Med School, I found myself expecting our first baby during my review for the Board Exams. Haha.. wondering if that is why my eldest is on his road to becoming a doctor too. Was he primed even prenatally?

Life did not go as expected. We were expatriated to London for my husband’s work and then 3 more kids came along. A rigorous residency program was truly out of the question—and I found myself so at home with motherhood and eventually homeschooling, I really had to put my hopes in furthering my Medical career on hold.

As I homeschooled our 4 children, and took on the teaching role seriously and passionately, more and more moments made me realize that I was indeed where I needed to be— a frontliner for my family taking 1st row seats in the unfolding of the growth and development of our children. I was there. Sometimes too much, at a fault– but I was there. And those days will never truly be a life on pause or on hold. They were LIFE itself and it was painfully beautiful. What made it even more special, I knew, I was in the center where God, my Creator, wanted me to be. Chin up, head held up high, you are where you are meant to be.

We released out last son to regular school in 2018, and that gave me more time to truly figure out what I wanted to do–to sort of pick up where I had left my Medical path. I was now coming into the full decision with a resume of 17 years of homeschooling, experiences in speaking/training other parents in home education, heading HAPI, herding a flock of 26,000 members of homeschooling support group on FB (which has now increased to 36,000) and simply being a passionate learner seeking and reading up on areas that I needed along that path of 17 years. Through those years, I also became more aware and open to a holistic approach to health— focusing on physical movement, incorporating rest and relaxation, utilizing non-medical forms of stress management, use of aromatherapy and healthy eating.

I finally found myself attending a certification course in Functional Medicine in 2019. At the end of the course, I was more convinced that IFM’s approach was resonating so much more with my view of health.

With my new friends from Life Science and Christ Commission Fellowship with one of our AFMCP2019 speakers
With my UP College of Medicine-PGH batchamte, Dr. Cristina Sioson-Magat, a dermatologist who also practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. She was my seat mate for 5 days. Her presence was such a booster to do this for 5 days, and yes, to pursue this non-conventional approach of health together.

I came to a conclusion that my space in the medical field will not be as a system or organ specialist but in truly rekindling my love for health in—holistic prevention and health education, and in finding ways to make it practical, doable and sustainable for every client/patient.

So in February 2020, I enrolled in the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s Integrative Nutrition Coach 6-month accelerated coaching course( I thought to myself, “I was going to step down from HAPI and would definitely have all the time to study“).

Then life again did not go as expected again, life for all of the planet went awry.

Covid-19 became global and reached our shores. Oh yes, that was after Taal Volcano erupted, affecting the entire South Luzon.

HAPI was even able to have a HAPI homeschool leaders meeting last Jan 18, 2020 in Fully Booked and we were so excited for a series of meet ups for 2020. Then the National Homeschool Day in March 3, 2020.

In a matter of two weeks from then, the world was on lockdown with all families needing both homeschooling support and health/medical services in the form of online consults, public health protocols, one-to-one consults, village wide health initiatives—- No wonder I never got to log-in to blog again. And that was on top of 6-month accelerated cause, I couldn’t back out from.

With a supportive family and household staff, I pressed on from wrapping up my 6 remaining months as HAPI President (June 2018- June 2020), providing information to various news/media/educational outlets needing help to spread the word about homeschooling to attending to the the demands on preschool homeschooling through our program called Kidstarter and even starting my own youtube channel to create short videos about homeschooling (that was actually to help address the recurrent questions sent to me/ posted online).

We’ve seen a lot of the capabilities of people on a lockdown, and my, my, we are truly amazing and creative members of humankind!

Let me, as my own personal checklist, write down what I have had to learn to be able to accomplish what COVID-19 was demanding me to do:

  • Conduct a live “How to Homeschool” seminar via FB Live with Bryan and Mico Sadorra of Soli Deo Events Management.
  • Participate in a local and global homeschool conference!
  • Do live and pre-recorded talks in various platforms; Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, Zoom!
  • Conduct small and big group webinars with children as my assistants!
  • Record self for on-demand online seminars
  • Do simple tricks with images, animations for presentations
  • Create better google and jotforms
  • Use Quick Time to screen record and create a audio file (a podcast!)
  • Edit audio and video files using I-Movie and Splice
  • Create a Youtube channel
  • Create live talks on our closed group in Homeschooler of the Philippines
  • Create Covid-19 Call to Action videos and health protocols for villages.
  • Use Streamyard, Beelive
  • Collaborate with BusinessWorks Inc and Anthony Pangilinan Group for more exciting, interactive and high impact webinars!
  • Attend some health webinars to keep updated on Covid-19 and to earn CPD units.
  • Organize a fund raiser for frontliners and for Visions of Hope Foundation
  • Dye my own hair! Do group exercises using Zoom, have a 50th bday on Zoom!
  • Clear and declutter, attack our attic and all rooms of the house! (this was part of self-care! haha)

The list above is not meant to boast. It is a collection to help me appreciate what Covid-19 forced me to learn (skill wise).

Regarding my Nutrition program, I would watch/ listen to my course modules during exercising and during breaks in between meetings, or on Sunday mornings when everyone was still asleep.

Yesterday, I opened my email and received my digital certificate as a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach! What I loved about this course is how it presents Health and Nutrition in a very practical and personalized manner. Though my medical training has given me the knowledge and skills to engage and help “patients,” the approach of integrative nutrition and health coaching has equipped me to look at patients/clients as a individuals, and that their health decisions on a daily basis are function of many dimensions as they live out their lives and their roles. Coupled with my training in Functional Medicine, I have now a different outlook and approach in seeing people who need help with health concerns, it so much more empowering, intuitive and “healing.”

Certified, Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach! Batch 2020!

When I signed up for this certification course, I was thinking of scientific health period. As I progressed, I realized that the psychology of coaching and practical tips are all applicable in other areas behavior modification such as parenting and homeschooling. I was surprising myself when I could here IIN coaching principles being voiced out as I conducted webinars or joined panel discussions on home education.

Last August 13, 2020, I joined a round table discussion organized by Asian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Rizalino S. Navarro’s Policy Awareness Center for Competitiveness on Education During and After Covid-19 where various education stakeholders (government, private schools, our state university, NGOs and yes, a homeschooler!) gathered to discuss the educational challenges and opportunities presented by Covid19. Here is the policy paper drawn out from this discussion, Let me share the conclusion:

“The roundtable discussion offered an opportunity for different stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers, school administrators, representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organization, and the Department of Education, to discuss the responses being done to address the challenges faced by the education sector at large while mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
At the micro-level, the experiences of parents, students, teachers, and school administrators were shared in order to have a glimpse of the situation on-ground. At the macro level, the responses of the Department of Education, non-governmental organizations, and private school associations representing bodies were shared to give a broader view of the challenges faced by the education sector and how they are being addressed. The Department of Education and its partner organizations remain resilient and highly motivated to cope with the challenges presented by the crisis.

COVID-19 has forced a seismic shift in the Philippine education landscape. The role of parents in education is much more significant and more emphasized. However, one of the challenges is making the home environment conducive to learning. Additionally, the socialization of students is hampered by the limited interaction with their peers and teachers, but their interaction with family members can substitute it. Parents will be close collaborators and partners of teachers in the learning process of their children. The delivery of education in terms of curriculum and instruction has to focus on what is essential.
A holistic approach to address the issues in the education sector has to be implemented. The challenge now is for different stakeholders to take an active part in order to contribute to the solution and to support each other. As the country restarts the economy and ensures that public health is a priority, it must also ensure that learning continues. While there is a call for the country to heal as one, it is also equally important that students learn as one, and make sure that no teachers and students get left behind.

Policy Forum Note No. 2020-04, AIM Rizalino S. Navarro Policy Center for Competiveness

As we closed, moderator and AIM Professor Jamil “Jammu” Paolo Francisco, Ph.D encouraged all to go back to essentials of education in a macro and micro level, to seize the moment and start doing what we should been have done education-wise to support all kinds of learners in various situations so we could have been better prepared for this grand scale learning disruption, and reminded all (with his economist mindset) that in any disruption, there are losers and winners, and now more than ever, there is an urgent call/challenge, for “winners” to support the “losers” to spring back to action. For winners, to come to the rescue. Let us not put a good crisis to waste.

So there. Long post but I felt I needed to touch base due to this blog’s silence. On the family front, 2 sons graduated from highschool (Level 12 and middle school (level 8) and we now have 2 college students, my husband started a new job, and our pet Boo turned 3 years old.

Really hoping from here, I can come back to some rhythm of writing regularly!

Now, let us see where the Lord takes me I continue to press on in His Service. I know HE is and will be faithful.

Wow, this was fun. Missed blogging !

Genesis 31:49

It was also called Mizpah, because he said, “May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.”

The Kidstarter® Curious Curriculum Journey

Homeschool and family life during the preschool years will always have a special place in my (mommy-teacher)heart and mind.  Oh, yes,  the years can be the most physically draining and patience-stretching but there is something magical about young children. Think of all those endless questions, the innocence, the “out-of-the-of mouth of babes” comments, the mess, the chubby hands and feet, and just the overflowing adoration and clinginess of our little ones. And hey, I had all that and more 4x over. Indeed, my cup overfloweth!

My youngest Gino at 2 years old:)
Preschool Homeschool Classmates and Siblings, Raya & Gino!

Now a trip down memory lane:

2002, I began homeschooling (2-3x a week only) our eldest when he was 3 years old. I co-taught with the help of the The Bridge School who allowed a 3x a week morning program for my eldest son, Vince.   I had a chance to work with some of the best preschool teachers and learn how they did things in a regular preschool.  That homeschooling journey eventually lasted for 17 years as more preschoolers in the form of 3 more children, and as we homeschooled till, one by one, each child reached 13 years old and it was time to go to “big school.”  As mentioned in previous posts, homeschooling in our home officially ended in 2018.

There are so many reasons why the preschool season is the best time to start homeschooling.  Well, the most important perhaps is the very fact that the 0-5 years old period is the only time for foundation building. If a human being is likened to a building, the period of the early years is when the foundation — the ground preparation and skeletal framework are set.  Without a strong foundation, you can never construct a strong building. The investment of “love” (in the currency of time, energy and parent-teacher character trait and skills) during this season is probably the most guaranteed investment ever!  At the core of foundation building is development of a strong emotional bond between the child and the caring parent/parents/caregiver, and this bond further strengthens the ground which can further support and facilitate future learning in all areas of life.

As more and more interest in homeschooling grew, I found myself running workshops on homeschooling, including preschool homeschooling. Running a workshop may be fun but it is very tiring.  I travelled all over Metro Manila and yes even to Cebu and Davao (and yes, there are more requests to visit other cities as the movement grows indeed).  I then began thinking of how to empower and assist parents in a more doable and sustainable way. Around  the same time in 2016, my sister Ms. Janna Mendoza-Simpao, the Editor-in-Chief of Bride and Breakfast,and I found ourselves talking about how we can help other families try out homeschooling.

In 2017, Janna introduced me to  her friends, Angela Palanca and Teacher Liana Lim Cruz… and that was the beginning of the Kidstarter team:)

After being in the homeschool community for 17 years, setting up and moderating the Homeschoolers of Philippines Facebook Group (which only began with 30 or so FB friends in 2013 and eventually grew to nearly 20K members) and leading the Homeschool Association of the Philippines, I had come to the realization that, with the growing Filipino Homeschool Community, there was a need to begin creating local resources for homeschoolers: material, curricula, and the like. I also realized that such material, if possible, must a attempt to include Filipino values, culture and language.

As I ran homeschool workshops  and continued to observe the needs of our members in our homeschooling community on Facebook, I surmised that we needed to begin at the foundational level: a preschool guide for Filipino families.  Filipino families would include those who were up to the challenge to try preschool homeschooling or those who just wanted to create learning experiences at home or during school breaks for their children enrolled in day care or preschool set ups.

Liana Lim-Cruz became my co-writer BFF as we met week after week to create the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC). Armed with her Master’s degree on Early Childhood Education from The Bank Street College of Education in New York and her 10 years worth of work experience from the leading progressive preschool Explorations in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, we created the first complete preschool guide that utilizes play and exploration for learning and presents activities to introduce and celebrate our Filipino culture and language. It is then a program with solid foundation of emerging approaches of Early Childhood Education: homeschooling and progressive education!  I see the KCC as a material that seeks to work  on  both mindset and skillset as it equips parents, parent teachers and teachers (yes, preschool teachers have been inquiring about KCC too!).

In our desire to make this program Filipino-friendly, we reached out to Ani Almario of Adarna House and Bambi Mañosa-Tanjutco of Museo Pambata as we included the use of Filipino storybooks and a visit to Museo Pambata as part of our activities.

With Ani Almario, Adarna House’s Vice President for Product Development
With Museo Pambata’s President and CEO, Bambi Mańosa-Tanjutco, a dear family friend and a champion for Filipino Culture
With Museo Pambata’s Programs Director Noreen Parafina and her team

But Liana and I may  have poured our hearts over the program’s content,  we needed all the help necessary to present the whole package as beautiful, practical, and user/parent-friendly and that was made possible with the expertise of  Janna Mendoza-Simpao and Angela Perez Rubio-Palanca.

On third quarter of 2019, it call came together!

This material was born out of a lot of brainstorming, meet ups, emails, viber calls while “Little Nadi” was napping,  and carving out time from our busy mommy lives!  So you can imagine why we were smiling from ear to ear as we held the first copy off the printer! See Nadi, Liana’s almost 3 year old adorable daughter who is currently being homeschooled the Kidstarter way!
Thank you to Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and Joanna Nicolas-Na for all the help as our editors:)

On September 7, 2019, the Kidstarter® Curious Curriculum was launched via the Educating for Life’s Philippine Homeschool Conference 2019 at the SMX Aura. (Thank you to Educating for Life’s Michelle Padrelanan, Rosanne Unson, Mariel Uyquiengco and Tina Rodriguez for allowing us launch with you!) 

I was one of the plenary speakers who spoke on “Homeschooling as A Calling, A Vocation and A Privilege.” At the end of my talk, I was able to present the KCC to all attendees!

I just had to include this photo with the 4 “kids who started it all!” Photo by Papa Gilbert Simpao.

For more photos of  this launch and videos regarding the Kidstarter Curious Curriculum (KCC), head to the Kidstarter FB page.

When I hold the KCC set (I am sure my Kidstarter partners would agree with the shared emotion), I can still feel a whole flush of gratitude and overwhelming appreciation for being allowed to be part of this project. It truly takes a village (and the village has grown!) to create something worthwhile that brings a potential for a solid start in another person’s life and at the same time, offering experiences to strengthen family bonds.

As I close this post, the Kidstarter team  is filled with thanksgiving for our Lord God, the True One who started it all and The One who wants to support all Kidstarter families! From the valuable persons and companies mentioned in the “Acknowledgment” page of the Teacher’s Guide (Book 1), the supporters now have included educational experts, developmental paediatricians, early childhood education advocates and  new parent teacher users!

Here are just a few of our new “Kidstarter villagers.” Thank you for your trust in KCC!

Let me end with this favorite line from Gabriel Mistral from the book called Their Name is Today.  My sister, a fellow children’s advocate, Maricel Pangilinan-Arenas shared this book with me and gave me this bookmark!

“Many things can wait. Children cannot……”


Proverbs 22:6 Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it. (New Living Translation)


If you would like to know more about the Kidstarter® Curriculum and/or purchase a set, head to https:/, follow us on Instagram and Facebook at @Kidstarter.

Navigating Homescool’s Resources: The Posts Arranged to Spark Joy :)

In my recent blog post, I had mentioned that I was sort of back, writing again.  So I took a quick review of what have been posted so far in this blog . Riding on the the decluttering and  organising  that swept the Netflix world, I decided to create a post that identifies each article written by category.  I am still assessing and weighing things regarding “revamping” this blog and make it more user friendly.  Since that will take a lot of time and yes, funding, for now, this will have to do.

I am personally, mind, body, spirit, with family,  and yes technologically, trying to declutter, simplify and live with less and more (there will be so many ways to view that last phrase, and I leave you my dear reader to put the many meanings to that!)

It may have began with  my reading of the many Proverbs 31 Woman of God (wife and mother) type of books my Emily Barnes and Emily George early on in my life. Remember, “A place for everything, and everything in its place? ” phrase?  Then there was this regular decluttering series by our pastor’s wife, Ms. Cindy Soriano  in our church.  (And yes, CCF Alabang is presenting the workshop again. Head to Facebook CCF Alabang to know more about this event). Then the books of Marie Kondo arrived and became  easy best sellers. Then the  Minimalism documentary with their cool musical soundtrack! And let us not forget,  of course, the whole Save the Planet  movement with the 3Rs,.. Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and now the “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series on Netflix.  The message is clear I guess.

So here. I pretended to be a first homeschooler checking out this blog and with that in mind, I created a simple summarised list of topics that can be of help to every homeschooler out there:) Hope this list helps.  Don’t get overwhelmed. Read one or two per session and see what applies in your homeschool set up. Have fun!

Preparations for Homeschooling/ Setting Up Your Foundation

Faith & Homeschooling

Practical Essentials of Homeschooling:

Home Classroom Set Up

Daily Lessons/Schedule/ Curriculum

Relationships and Homeschooling

Subject Guide 

Teaching Art/ Creativity/Sewing

Language Arts/ Reading/ Spelling/Writing

Making Science Fun

Comedy and Fun Moments

Seeing the Bigger Picture

Homeschool Materials and Good Finds

Extraordinary Projects/ Unit Studies

Multilevel Children

Self Care for Parents

Sports and other topics


Happy Learning!


Psalm 14:40

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.




Blogging Again: Random Thoughts on Life after Homeschooling

I took a  long break from writing.   I guess there was this pressure to write a “perfect” post with the perfect photo and all, to officially end our 17 year homeschool journey. So just like every daunting task, you somehow find ways to put it aside.  I never found the chance to come up with a grand ending of sorts, I guess.

The first day of regular  school of my youngest son last July 2018 was really uneventful. He had a lot of fun, I remember. Did I cry? No. Did I have mixed emotions? Not really. How was it?  I don’t even remember much. I just knew all kids were in school for the very  first time!  Our eldest  began to live away on weekdays for college  and  the  younger three in high school  were out from 7am  to 4 PM from Monday to Friday,  and I was left with our pet pug called, Boo. So what’s next?

I had told myself that I was going to give myself a chance to rest and yes, discover thyself.  The non stop life of a  homeschooling mother of 4 kids for the past  17 years is a huge part of who I have become.  So I do have to pause and re-think and weigh a whole  lot as I close this season and begin a new one.

And so I decided to put myself on a GAP YEAR mode.   We’ve heard  about “gap years” from foreign students who take a break to travel, to join an advocacy or simply rest shortly after their high school graduation. I met a few of my son’s friends who have done it… and so I told myself, why can’t  a mom like me, set a gap year too.  A year or so of rest, rediscovery, and reconnection.

And so that is where I am.  I have begun to attend a few medical seminars or conferences to somehow figure out if going back to some health practice in the future is an option. I recently went away for bucket list experience.  I am picking up my pens, my pots and plants,  and knitting needles again for some craft and  gardening work and… here, I am writing again. And hey, finally cooking new dishes again!  Also, I have begun to read my own fiction  (not the children’s reading requirements in homeschool). Though some homeschool events and seminars are lined up, I am taking them slowly as I take this all in and give myself: mind, body, spirit and heart to rest and heal (remember I said a whole lot of life, (yes!!! the ugly,  the painful things and yes the beautiful and life stopping things too)  happen as you homeschool) and listen to my Creator as to  to know Him  more and know  where He wants me to go.

The mad rush of homeschool mornings, the endless guilt of not being able to accomplish enough, the unticked homeschool to do list,  the 1,000,000 ideas of how to teach a concept in multi subjects to multi level children, the loads of bonding time through lessons  and discussion have all gone.

Truly thankful for the new rhythm, new set up (and yes my new office too as seen above)  and new opportunities out there.  Life never stops when one homeschools so through it all, we manage our other areas of our lives……and so without homeschooling,  my relationship with God, my spouse, my other family members, even my own relationship with myself  and my passions have begun to exist and bloom in a different light and yes, it is a refreshing time.  And hey, there is a whole new world of connecting to our once homeschooled children/ students and I have a new role and I am trying to learn this new role and enjoy it too.

I recently completed the  Truth Matters conference of my home church Christ’s Commission Fellowship last January 2019.  In relation to home education and the season I am in, I can truly testify to the beauty and amazing potential of relationship building through homeschooling.

By faith, I believe that we can pass on the truth to our children and help them build their own faith in a context of a strong, open, loving and affirming relationship with our children, made possible by the quality and quantity of bonding time that homeschooling provides.  But then, I am careful to say that homeschooling is no way a guarantee in securing your child’s future or his/her own journey as an adult .  Life is a mystery, isn’t it.  Parents can only do what they deem is best as they receive guidance and instruction in parenting in this very dark world.  The children we will  eventually release will make their own choices and carve our their own path as they move on. And by faith and through prayer, we release them in peace.

And that is one thing I wish to write more about in probably my next post on “More Random Thoughts on Life After Homeschooling.”  Hehe… to be continued….. 

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:2-3

All I Ever Needed to Learn I Learned in Homeschooling: Wrapping Up Thoughts As We End a 16 Year Journey

A line from my Dad’s favorite song …… “and now the end is near”….. is playing on my head.  As my eldest son and only daughter graduate from high school and middle school respectively this month, Teacher Mommy Donna and youngest son also graduate from homeschool,  Wait, Teacher Mommy Donna graduates too?

Yes, there are no more children to home educate.  I get joked nowadays that I may take it on and homeschool our adorable pug, Boo.   Yes, the end is near, in a couple of weeks,  I will be laying down my homeschool hat, apron and Teacher ID.

16 years. That’s as old as my 2nd son. ( Haha, I didn’t want to use my age as basis obviously!)

I still remember clearly, my wise sister’s words when she encouraged me to try homeschooling for our then 3 year old son Vince. I still  recall receiving our first homeschool preschool kit from Sing Spell Read and Write, and all the balikbayan boxes, year in and year out as more and more children came and more and more students joined our homeschool lessons.

Oh, there are so many days to share, so many experiences to ponder on but for now, I will just summarize this journey  with my take home lessons which  I will forever take with me  wherever I go.

  1. It is okay to have fun.

Learning can be fun. Fun will spell the big difference in the longevity of your homeschool:) Find the “fun” in your everyday and pursue that.  And get rid of the guilt of having fun while learning, or having fun for the sake of fun itself. Chill!

2.  Delegate what can be delegated.

Stop thinking of being a one woman show, or trying to be a martyr.   Do what you do best. Focus on what you’re good at. Delegate what can be delegated so you can save your time, effort and energy on what you do best. I clearly remember an advise of  parenting expert, James Dobson on what to do with extra funds, he said,” Get hired help. ”  Provide ways to support the main teacher of your children so she can focus on teaching and bonding with the children.

3. Find a system to deal with stress.

Stress is inevitable. It is part and parcel of every hour of our lives. It comes in all kinds of shapes and forms.  We have to have  a way to deal with them: prayer/ meditation, movement (sport/dance/exercise/hobby)  pockets of ways to express your creativity,  balanced nutrition/ supplements if necessary, regular BFF time,  reflection/journalling, aromatherapy!  Figure it out.  Determine your stress release regimen and do it regularly.   Find a way to set up a “stress meter” in your life and adjust accordingly.

4. It all boils down to preserving and nurturing relationships.

My favorite take home from our 16 year homeschooling — a good and steady relationship (and I’d like to believe a growing one with open communication )  with each child. Connect with others. You cannot homeschool alone.  I asked a dear psychiatrist friend one main advice for good mental health after almost 15 years of practice, her simple answer was, “Connect.”    Outside the home, I made the most amazing friendships and bonds with fellow homeschoolers!! Online, I have 11,400 plus homeschooling friends on FB!

5. Empathy goes a long, long way.

Empathy goes beyond sympathy (feeling for others). Empathy compels you to act after you “feel for others”; to do something to lessen someone’s pain or discomfort.  Empathy  is one important value I am hoping and praying was passed on to the our children.

6.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth.

That is a verse from Joshua 1:8. I will be forever grateful for the Bible, God’s Word.  It is my manual for life, my marriage,  for homeschooling, my work….   I  have read many books during  my 16 year homeschool journey, I can give away all those books on marriage,  parenting, on child education , on homeschooling  and just keep one book with me forever, God’s Word, the Bible. And it is my prayer that my children will also seriously take this Book  as their manual for life too:)

7. Forgiveness

Forgive oneself for not meeting  the steep expectations you set , forgive others for not measuring up, forgive your children and ask for forgiveness when you have wronged others .. yes including your little children when mommy loses her temper or says hurtful words.  We will all have our share of bad homeschool days,  of pain from trials, of  “get me out here” moments that seem to last forever. Forgive. Learn. Re-set. Repeat. Ask for forgiveness. Learn. Re-Set. Repeat. There is no other way.

8. Prayer

Prayer I have come to learn is simply dependence on God.  The more you pray, the more you declare your inability, your finiteness, and your need of God.  The more you pray, the more you give back to God.  The more you pray, the less you want to control how life comes your way. The more you pray, the more you let go.  St. Paul saw the importance of prayer, prompting him to say in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.” That is key to living any kind of life, really.

9.  Prepare & Plan

They say that “an ounce of prevention is  worth a pound of cure”.  In the homeschooling world, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of maximal learning.  Whether it be doing your own research regarding homeschooling or what makes a teacher effective, or giving 15 minutes to prepare your homeschool schedule or activities, it truly pays to prioritize “preparation and planning”.

10. Love. Love. Love.

Jesus put it simply. The greatest commandment revolves around Love. Love for God and love for thy neighbors.  Love is central in the lessons 1-9. To review:

  • Have fun in love.
  • Lovingly delegate
  • Love yourself and take care of yourself and manage your stress
  • Reach out and love others to nurture relationships
  • Love in action is empathy
  • Love God’s Word
  • Lovingly forgive.
  • When you pray, it is showing our love for God, His presence!
  • Love is more than a feeling, more than emotion. It is an act of will so you prepare and plan. Work is involved.

Love is the ingredient in all that you do that will spell the biggest difference. St. Paul says it again,  and  as let me paraphrase his words in 1 Corthinthians 13: 1,  “Without love, you are nothing but noise.”

Let me quote what was shared by my friend’s grandmother who dedicated her life to teaching and nurturing others, ” The best educator is the one who loves the learner.”

So there.  I can think of 10 more lessons as I give this topic much more thought. But hey ,they say, top of mind  answers sometimes are the best. And this restaurant I am in as I type away  is about to close. So I will leave it here  for now.

As I close,  I have 19 homeschool days left with our youngest.

My heart is full as we close this chapter.  I will be forever grateful for this awesome life changing experience. And wow, I have these life lessons, sealed in my heart, as I  move on to the next chapter of my life. Hallelujah indeed.  Sail away with me, Lord. Thank you indeed.

Psalm 37:4-5…Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way unto the  Lord and He will give you your hearts desire. 

WHY AM I INTO ESSENTIAL OILS? Let me count 10 reasons…..

In a few months, I would be going into my 2nd year of using essential oils.   Back in our medical training, we really did not have adequate lessons on Natural Health. We may have had a few units on Preventive Medicine but that’s it.   And truly during those years in mid 90s,  there was a resistance to non Western approaches to health and wellness.  Life, however,  evolves and we all have begun seeing various approaches that are able to complement traditional, mainstream, allopathic Medicine: diet and supplementation,  nutritional healing, herbal, spinal manipulation, yoga and relaxation strategies, traditional Chinese medicine  to name a few.   I consider Aromatherapy as one possible complementary approach ( complement- to be used side by side with traditional approaches) to dealing with health issues.

Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit (

You may read about essential oils here . You may add more information and read them about here too.  Online information is overwhelming and daunting, proceed with caution!

So here are my top reasons why I am into them:

  1. Scents matter.

I just love how some of my favorite oils smell. I am so relieved that I could easily extinguish any or anyone’s (hehe) smell that I am exposed to. Take that!  Fried fish smell, gym bag and used sneakers of 3 boys!!!! Help, where are my oils ? And they come to the rescue in an instant.  Your car smells like smoke, or someones shirt was dried in damp way,  shoo those foul odors away!!!

2. Scents affect mood and mental states!

Research ( I am putting together what I believe are credible and valid studies out there) is showing the powerful effect of aroma on mood and feelings.  Certain oils are now being used to address pain, anxiety and insomnia!

3. Natural complementary support for common health issues/conditions

Certain essential oils have been assessed and seen to have anti-inflammatory, anti-infective ( bacterial, fungal and viral), relaxing, restorative, immune boosting effects. I have seen them at work in our recurrent conditions at home such as breathing and allergy concern, infections, and stress and anxiety.

4. Touch therapy is more exciting with these pure and powerful oils.

Again, we have heard the power of touch ( haplos, reach out and touch somebody’s hand, hold me)! Remember the study of neonates in the ICU and the  difference of recovery for those who were held more?   So when,  my daughter who is now on an immobilizer due to a tibial fracture from a fall, comes home and says, her back/arms are tired from using crutches, Mama comes to the rescue with a blend of wintergreen, peppermint, lavender to sooth sore muscles and tired joints.  As we do this, we end up talking and bonding even more.  For immune support during periods of illness, this gives me a chance to also bond with our teen boys!   All our children are into sports , and thus, instead of going for over the counter medicines to relieve sprains and strains, we have an armamentarium of oil blends for sports issues!  My husband’s headaches and back pains are also helped with some  blend of anti-pain oils.  I may not have my own study to back this up, but I am 100 percent sure,  the oils with TOUCH therapy have a synergistic effect.

4. The limitless DIY options they provide.

Currently, I make our own light to heavy all purpose cleaner, make up remover, body and feet scrub,  throat soapy, cough and cold rubs, dry skin concoctions, puppy dog wipes, glass cleaner,  hand wash soap, facial soap!

For oils that are  considered and approved as safe for ingestion,  you can add  a drop  of lemon oil to your water,  or peppermint to your hot chocolate. Rosemary for your chicken? Basil for your pasta? Cinnamon for your tea?  Jade Lemon to your G &T?  The options are endless. (Note:  Make sure oils added to food and drink must always be safe for ingestion.)

For  high quality carrier oils, oily recipe tools and ingredients, aromatherapy books and accessories, check out 365 essential oil supplies !            

5.  The replacement phenomenon

I no longer purchase many beauty and skincare products, tons of its ingredients, I cannot  even pronounce, much less decipher!   I have lessened the toxic cleaners in our household and medications for symptom relief in general.

6. Essential oils are multitaskers

I haven’t even really scratched the surface in unearthing the gazillion ways oils can be used. Indeed we have such an awesome GOD in creating plants and trees with these miracle workers.

7. I have issues with my body’s immunity system.

Diagnosed a decade ago, I have low Complement 3, proteins that are important for immune function. Thus prevention and immune boosting are essential to maintain good health.  Friends from way back know how terrible my respiratory infections were ( and how they sounded!), and how I get stress blisters on my lips and under the eye.  Proper diet, mindful supplementation, sleep protection,  regular exercise and relaxation have helped a great deal and I have found essential oils truly helpful in my preventive regimen!   With diffusing here, inhaling there, rubbing this and spraying that  my anti respiratory infection oily habits), I have seen how I am able to nip impending infections at the onset, thus reducing the length and severity of an illness.  Runny nose, congestion and itchy throat abated and that means a whole lot for someone who used to struggle with nasty and progressive cough that can linger to 3-4 weeks!

8. It is fun!

Spot the Oils!!!

We do Science experiments for homeschool. My 12th grade son in regular school did a study of essential oils effect on E. coli

Our homeschool projects have included the use of essential oils: potpourri out of dried herbs and drops of essential oils , skin care and household cleaning products!

I was exposed to essential oils through a friend, BFF Cielo Vilchez  and a cousin, Angelica Cayzer, owner of Lemongrass House Philippines.  I have gained more friends through the sharing and evolving of its use and place in our lives and our homes.  Along with aromatherapy, I am a beginning to learn more about supplementation, herbal therapies and basic nutrition!  I have been able to travel with friends to learn more about these powerful oils!  Singapore, Malaysia,…. am excited to know where these oils will take me, maybe a course in Medical Aromatherapy abroad!

Essential oils and their products are so fun to use. They usually go where you go!

9. I am able to help others too!

Just ask my own family, our helpers, my siblings and nephews and nieces… Tita Oilbularyo is Tita Donna!  (Thank you to @gerigil for that “oilbularyo” term)

My prescriptions  and free samples  now are quite different. See! Samples from Mother Earth and not Pharmaceutical Companies!

10.  And I think one of deeper reasons why is this:

Oils have been utilized again and again from Ancient Times.    Doesn’t it make you wonder why two of the most well sought, powerful and expensive oils , frankincense and myrrh  were the ones given by the wise men to Jesus ? Jesus and Christian heroes of the faith have used them for healing and blessing, and I’d like to experience and see  more of this awesome blessing of God through nature!

Happy Oiling !

Email me for oily concerns:)

Matthew 2:11

11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

*** Featured photo  is an Essential Oil/Aromatics Workstation from Sifr Cosmetics in Singapore.   Photo was taken during my visit to the store.

Enriching your Homeschool Experience with Technology: Join Us This Saturday #phc2017

As I begin to write this post,  the biggest mass shooting in the history of the United States (Las Vegas Strip) has begun to unfold.  I’ve been glued to CNN since last night.  Oh wow,  there are no words to sufficiently describe this tragedy.  CNN has just began identifying some of the victims and I just close my eyes as I listen to back stories and pray.

It was a Music Festival much like the many outdoor concerts we have in the Mall of Arena or BGC grounds.  I remember watching Cold Play last April and yes, there were buildings beside us  with people catching the concert from their top floor offices. Security was tight on the ground, but who would have thought that the risks would come  from above?

I recently shared a robbery incident to my son as we talked about the different forms of theft (online, armed robbery, break-in and all) . An incident involving a supermarket here in Alabang had armed robbers digging a tunnel to the office from where the cash was stored. Who would think that evil can come from below?

I face this day with these thoughts early this morning. I have to continue to believe that there is still so much love and goodness around, above and below , around, within, that can conquer such unthinkable acts of hate, terror and evil.   I am now thinking of the family of the 60 of those who died and the 400 injured, many of whom may be in critical condition, fighting for their lives, and I can only pray.

I face this day, preparing for the upcoming “Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017 ,  Educating for the  World of Tomorrow #homeschooltothefuture. I will be handling a break out session on Homeschooling and Technology.

I cannot help but think of “what future” really lies ahead and what future do we prepare ourselves and our children for.  It makes no sense to me to  I dig into using and maximizing  educational technology as we parent and homeschool our children and see this tragic event unfold, a  massacre using other forms of technology.

Oh, Technology! Technology??  There are so many sides to you. Why can’t we all just use you to make this world a better place indeed?  Why can  you  amazingly aid my children in their  education  (mine too!) and experience of this world but at the same time, also have the potential  to create the avenue to bully them and corrupt their minds and  souls?

For now, my answer is because Technology is just  a TOOL.  For now (my kids and i just had a quite interesting discussion if technology/artificial intelligence will eventually have a “mind” of its own, separate from the control of human brains/ boundaries), it is just a tool.  And I can only hope and pray and do what is within my control, to make it a positive, edifying and enriching tool.

I have to rest on that so I can move on and yes, prepare for his weekend’s homeschool conference. Join us, and yes, if you’re interested to know how it can enrich your homeschool experience, drop by in our session about Homeschooling and Technology.

This is what we seek to tackle: “Technology is the bane and boon of this generation of students. What exactly are the pros and cons of using technology in the homeschool? How can you utilize the online resources available to you while maintaining a balance with offline learning? How can teacher parents make use of technology to make homeschooling easier? Homeschooling mom Donna Pangilinan-Simpao talks about this as she shares her favorite tech resources, which she used in more than 10 years of homeschooling.”

Come, and listen to my favorite Senator! Kuya Kiko Pangilinan!

Efren Penaflorida and Marissa Leinart will join  Kuya Kiko as Keynote Speakers!

3:00-5:10 for these sessions!

Please make sure to stay till the end for exciting raffle prizes.

New Living Translation
1 Corinthians 10:23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.



Every Child Needs A Champion: The Visions of Hope Foundation Story in Malungon, Sarangani (Part 1 of 3)

I remember a blog post where I shared about God’s answer to my prayer many years back about expanding the four walls of our classroom.   Indeed God truly  continues to expand as He has brought me to various heights in merely passing what I have learned in our 16 years of non-stop homeschooling journey. From mentoring mini classes of homeschooling parents, to workshops for larger parent groups; from moderating a dynamic homeschool community of almost 9000 members to speaking in homeschooling conferences, it has been a truly an unforgettable journey of learning and passing on. It could be as simple as a FB message, a comment on a post or a call, or an email, God has been allowing His grace and encouragement to overflow from one home to another. I am truly blessed to part of this cycle of blessing.

Never did I think that God would enlarge the borders even further and really allow me to even cross continents to learn about  best practices in working with  poor children/ families in Guatemala  in an exposure trip last year.  And God opened the doors to eventually help oversee the educating of 160 children from the indigenous groups of B’laan and Tagakaolo in the Visions of Hope Christian School in  a province of Sarangani, the southernmost  tip of Mindanao Island.

Only God could have orchestrated it all.   With the help of good friend Steph De Los Santos who invited me to be part of the Visions of Hope Foundation and my now BFF in ministry, Arlene Sy, the homeschooling experience would prove to be a gold mine in “helping” home educate the many children who  need to live in boarding facilities in the school since their homes were just too far (2-3 hour walk, one way!)  Aligned with our mission/vision, we are now test running a curriculum that seeks to be a Christ centered, holistic, practical, relevant and indigenous culture sensitive. One that will celebrate the beautiful community of the B’laans and Tagakaolos  and help them as well end the cycle of poverty by helping raise productive citizens that will one day give back to their municipality, their province. And by careful crafting, we hope and pray that our graduates will be able to meet th needs of this community in the future. We truly seek to promote culture identity and preservation through lessons and activities.  Indeed a daunting task  but one the Lord never designed to be addressed by one group or individual. God indeed uses a multitude to  lovingly raise His little ones.

Sarangani is one of the poorest provinces in our country.  According to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 2015,  Sarangani is the 3rd poorest province with a poverty incidence of 61.7% meaning 6 out of 10 families do not earn enough to provide for basic food and non food needs.  With poverty, education  becomes a non-priority as the children are expected to help add to the family income . Some opt to let their children marry early (early teens) so as to pass the burden of care for others.  Armed with  our mother organization, Center for Community Transformation‘s call to work in the poorest of the poor,  we knew Visions of Hope Foundation needed to provide better access to quality and relevant education for our indigenous children.

So after many meetings and several visits to Mindanao, it is  with the deepest gratitude for  Our Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord , our Provider) and greatest joy that I would like to share the photos of our recent Thanksgiving and Inauguration Ceremony  last September 13, 2017 as our new school building was turned over to us by our generous donor, the Security Bank Foundation as they continue to roll out their commitment in their  “Build a School. Build a Nation: Classrooms Project!”

Let me share our journey as we saw this day unfold and as we marvel in  witnessing God’s faithfulness to His children through these photos:

During my initial visit,  I met the students and teachers of Visions of Hope Christian School in both Malungon, Sarangani and General Santos.

With Teacher Carol:) Our B’laan music and dance teacher. She is also an ALS teacher ( Alternative Learning System)

With Teacher Lei, our Social Studies teacher.

Construction workers from partner ministry, Kaibigan Ministry

I had a chance to meet our Visions of Hope Christian Preschool teachers, students and parents in General Santos. The school here is constructing new facilities as well and will need our help!

Sunday Worship with Malungon Church in Malungon Retreat and Training Center


Photo courtesy of Malungon Retreat and Training Center FB Page

I had the chance to stay over at the beautiful Malungon Retreat and Training Center (MRTC) run by CCT (Center for Community Transformation).  

Check out FB page of Malungon Retreat and Training Center

Set in a hilly and sloping property in Malungon, the training center has mini buildings with a meeting hall and several rooms for lodging.  A highlight of this center is the Bamboo Worship/School Structure !

i really love this “palace”!

Look at this beautiful “bamboo palace” at night.

Photo courtesy of Malungon Retreat and Training Center FB page

Situated on a hill, with many coconut trees surrounding the Visions of Hope Christian School in Sitio Lao, Nagpan, Sarangani Province was donated by the ever generous SB (Security Bank) Foundation. Here is the the 6 classroom 2- story building in its early stages of construction.

I toured the grounds to see the current classrooms being used for preschool up to level 7 . They all were in bad shape, needing major repairs.  But  really, I loved the native feel of the materials in these rooms/cottages. Hopefully, we can add a bit of natural feel into the new school building that had to meet design requirements of our donor, Security Bank Foundation.

I  also had a chance to witness the B’laan way of weaving as I visited  the Lamiflew Living Museum and School of Living Traditions.

I met the wonderful teachers of our school. I spent time with them sharing what it means to be a creative teacher and how to inspire creativity.

With Alternative Learning System Consultant (ALS)  “Ate” Ms. Flonette de Castro

At the core of making this all happen are two of the most dedicated workers I have ever met and worked with. Meet Ms. Arlene Sy, the Visions of Hope Foundation Executive Director  and our every so young, multitalented and gracious program developer and researcher, Ms. Abi Limpin.

With Professor Romeo, Arlene Sy and Abi Limpin as we met in creating a curriculum that promotes and preserves indigenous culture.

We are also to privileged to have Professor Romeo Dela Cruz to be on board in curriculum development.   Prof Romeo or Kuya Toto to  others is a former assistant professor of CAS-DH (College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Humanities) University of the Philippines, Los Banos and former commissioner at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

On my next visit, our building was taking shape.

I had more time with the teachers as we discussed how to use Unit Studies in their lessons.

Please say a prayer for our teachers, our battle front liners!

I was also able to spend early morning devotions with the teachers 🙂

Professor Romeo had a very productive workshop with our teachers in culture identity and preservation!

Last Wednesday, was a big day for all of us.  It was a perfect day. Not hot, not rainy, cloudy with just enough cool wind and see how the day went:

The newly built building is behind us. That’s Ressel and Gina, students of Visions of Hope Christian School, Malungon.

More of the children! I had a great time talking about their passions and interests. Praying for their hearts’ desires,,, I am believing that I talked to future teachers, chefs, engineers, doctors, artists, pilots, architects.

A simple program featured short messages from  Malungon Mayor Tessa Constantino, Security Bank Foundation Chairperson, Mr Rafael Simpao, Jr (yes that’s Papa!), and Visions of Hope Foundation Chairperson Ms. Stephanie De Los Santos.  It was a delight to see the gathering of other committed partners from CCT,  Security Bank, and local government.  I even had a nice chat with a friend, quite close to my father in law,  Ms. Anastasia  Dy, executive director of Security Bank Corporation and President of Security Bank Foundation (Papa’s Boss!) .

From Left to Right: Ms. Anastasia Dy, Papa Rafael F. Simpao, Ms. Stephanie de los Santos and yours truly!

A favorite part of the event was being to share this entire experience with my last homeschooled son, Gino, who had an out of this world “school” exposure trip.

Here is Gino with “Papa” Babes whom my children call as  “Daddy” because 1) Gilbert is Papa and 2) there was resistance to be called Lolo many years back 🙂 It was priceless to have Gino see Lolo  “Daddy Babes” and “Mama Donna” in action. Truly an unforgettable experience  for us all!

The kids presented an indigenous dance number.

Please include of all these committed and loving teachers in your prayers. The new curriculum is not easy to execute, we are challenging to go beyond what they have been used and to try new things.

Mayor Tessa Constantino made sure to attend our inauguration ceremony and donated giant story books for our children. It is truly heartwarming to have an ally in government, Thank you, Mayor Tessa. L-R  Melchi Uyasan ( Save the Children), Mayor Tessa,  Steph de los Santos (VOH) , Arlene Sy (VOH) and Lalaine Naquita (CCT’s Executive Director for Tribal Ministries.

We then proceeded to our new school building for ribbon  cutting and turning over ceremony.

Here together with other partners! I was so thrilled to have co Board of Directors of Visions of Hope Foundation Atty Weena Mendoza with us. She brought her colleagues, Rob and Therese from Wholistic Transformation Resource Center (WTRC).

L-R Ann Dy (SB Foundation), Rafael Simpao (SB Foundation), Steph de los Santos (VOH), Joy Limen ( Principal, VOHCS, Malungon) with 2 students

The uphill climb to our new building. Photo courtesy of Ms. Arlene Sy. More photos to follow on our building in my next post.

I shall end and take a pause here.  I was able to take a school tour and observe a typical school day and will create a part 2 post for that. Part 3 will be about how to help if you’d like to join us in becoming a champion for the kids.  I will cite different options where your talents and resources may be of use in blessing our school .

As I close, let me share a photo of our teachers having a light moment here.  Photo was posted by Teacher Jen Bag-o Pido on  her FB page.   The challenge is truly enormous but these teachers are simply empowered and encouraged by God to press on. Their faith and commitment blesses me tremendously.

Like the weaving masterpieces of cloth seen in the skirts of our teachers, I can’t help but feel the warmth of  God’s “woven” work among His people. Different threads, different colors coming together to create a beautiful work of art that will be showcased again and again.  We all need partners as we fight for children at risk indeed, and I thank you all, all the threads coming together for this worthy, God given endeavor.
Indeed, God loves His children. (We are all His children, remember??!!)  The experiences shared here show just that.  We are all part of His labor of Love. We are doers and at the same time recipients of that love. That thought just blows me away.
1 Corinthians 12; 12, 20
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.
Psalm 127: 3 Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.

Slow Down, Stop and Yes, Look at the Birds, Listen to them and Smell the Flowers

It has been a long while since my last post. And I think, it is mainly because I had to learn to slow down, to say, “No” and breathe. Some others think it is because  of the many homeschool seminars we’ve been running, not really.  Or, that I have become too busy. I have maybe an average of  2 half day runs per month and that’s really not so bad.  We actually have one this afternoon but instead of fussing about, I am now listening to the birds outside my  window and blogging away.

Yes, everyone needs to slow down and find that pace in life that isn’t too slow, lethargic and unproductive, yet is not too hectic, unhealthy and stressful (full!) .  The online world and social media aren’t really helping in this quest for the right pace. At one end, it can push you to sluggishness, consuming every content out there, but it can also lead to feeling the “super invincible woman” who can multitask and attend to so many demands with your smartphone and all the apps that make life simpler. Does it really?

Well, all I know is that I have slowed down.  For one, I have, without guilt, caught up with a TV mini series my husband was into and it has opened a world of conversation and connection for us.  Guess which series???

I have found time to reconnect with grade school, high school and college and even Medicine batch mates in the last several months. Trips to Quezon City no longer daunt and haunt me.  Remember the Danish proverb??? “The road to a friend’s house is never long.”

With Maryknoll Grade School Classmates Rina Puno Avecilla and Mian Alentajan! Despite a 3 hour trip, this bonding was sure worth it.

My UP College of Medicine Batchmates! We welcomed a few classmates from the US.

My precious Anatomy group mates: Hazel, Miko and Jep ( not in photo: Amelen and Liza!)

Highschool/College/ Med School BFF Dr. Nanette Lizardo-Lajo. Twinning here!

And yes finally, finally, I had time to bond with sisters on a joint or one on one dates, short ones or even overnight in the beach or in a farm.

Yehey for bonding in Anilao!

I was reminded of this need to slow down just a few days ago…  I  put this on a desk at home and one family member said, “It’s nice. What photo will you put into it? ”

Maybe, the image wasn’t worthy to display.  But then how about the message?  It was sure worth it for me. When I saw this card from  Floral Atelier in Tiong Bahru area in  Singapore, I just knew I had to get it… and thought of a nice silver frame for it, but I ended up with this acrylic frame, on sale, from Crate and Barrel in Makati.  But some can miss it really.

Slow down and read. Slow down and appreciate.

One weekend ago, I just decided to say “Yes” without much ado  and be the “malaking hadlang” (MH, one who blocks or one makes two, a crowd, by joining!)  to my sister and her hubby.   It has been tough gathering and uniting schedules of Gilbert and 4 kids for a beach trip so when there was a chance, I grabbed it. For myself.  I said I can go.  I figured my family can do without me for a one night and two full days.

Lovely time with the Coates family at Kawayan Cove !!!! Nenette , my sister is beside me.

And yes, I had tea with an English man and a German! Thank you Lori and Becca for that awesome tea!

We then decided to visit brother Kiko’s Sweet Spring Farm in Alfonso after a day in the beach in Nasugbu and I learned a whole lot from brother in law, Boogi.

Boogi: Do you see the ostrich up there? (Oh we need to stop and see indeed!)

Boogi pointed me to this nest on the ground. It has been one of my wishes to be able to take home a “discarded nest.” Sorry, Mama Bird if you still wanted to use this ( I doubt it though since it was on the ground already near many predators) . I took it home, I sprayed some lacquer into it and it is my reminder for God’s awesome creation and yes, to slow down indeed.

They always say “Look Up” . But in a farm??? You do need to look down. We found many amazing stuff!

Thank you, Kuya Boogi for teaching me to slow down and take time to look at life! Boogi Zipperich is my German brother in law married to Ate Nenette. They have an awesome shop called Boogi in Arnaiz St and LRI Plaza, both in Makati.

We grew up in our Antipolo farm house with lots of fruit trees and had santol, guava, star apple, balimbing as snacks! And just like the good old days, one would pull the branch down, and one would pick the fruits. We did that last week. Ate Nenette and I. Oh memories!

Our loot! Made some guava jam after!

Indeed, I took time to really stare at the flowing water in this sweet spring!

And finally, my BFFS bond with my sister Felichi! That’s not very often, and it was really heartwarming to see such bonding.

With BFFs in my tennis team, Joyce and Candy, and ate Felichi! Love it!

And a highlight of this month was seeing good friends from our days in London! Here with Jon and Arly ( my son Marco’s godmother) and Angeli. Jon and Arly came from a brief visit. Outside the window, my children were bonding with theirs! Take time, take time…

Indeed, we all need to slow down. Slow down doesn’t always mean doing less but I guess, slowing down  to know what really matters and focusing on those. And yes, we all need that. In this world of non stop calls for our attention, and distraction, we need to slow down.

What will this mean for you? Think it through and make the adjustments. It could be as simple as turning off the phone, limiting social media or simplifying some things like meals (my sister would have  sandwich nights when dinner preparations were tough to handle). For me, one of the best ways to slow down is to start your day early and slowly, when many concerns and people are still asleep (hehe) and listen to music, meditate, read God’s word and pray!

I need to sign off for now. Off to Quezon City for a seminar. It’s August 26 and let me take this chance to greet my ate (mommy) Angeli, Happy Birthday dearest sister!  I’ll see you later!

The blessings of 4 sisters. I need to slow down today to spend time with them and celebrate love and life, Happy Birthday Ate Angeli:)

Jeremiah 2:25 “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?
    Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? (The Message)