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) 

Favorite Games/Activities for MultiLevel Children

Games are necessary if you have multilevel children!  You definitely need something to spice up your days.  But here is the challenge….  you have to think of games that are not skill or age based since the eldest child will always end up being the winner.   These games  may also be applied in your co-op or support groups if you lack participants.  So here are some of the games and activities.

  1. Obstacle Course –

You may set up in your street (if it is safe) , your garden, a clubhouse in your village, in the park or even in your home (room or hallway) .   What can you use?  A wooden plank for balancing, wheels for that jump in and out kind of run, a “tunnel” or barrel where they can crawl through, a stool to go around, a jump rope to maybe do 3-4 jumps and a flag to pick up. You may even put a basin of water to jump over. Be creative.

This was after an obstacle course !

2.  Relays 

Pillow Case Race!
Three Legged Race
Carry Me Race
Wheel barrow race
  • Sack race or pillow case race
  • Going to the market
  • Spoon with a pingpong ball relay
  • Putting straws on several soft drink bottles or juice pitchers
  • Two legged where you tie two pairs of legs (or calves) on the ankle part with a long scarf
  • Wheel barrow game
  • Google for more ideas!

3.  Treasure Hunt

We used this list one time as we ventured into the park and around the village!

This may need some preparation! But it will be worth it indeed.  You may use the plots of the books of your read-alouds, your children’s readers in describing clues and all!  Use adjectives, riddles, or figurative language in giving clues. You may provide word games like WORD FIND, unscramble, word play or even search for letters and make them into a word as your provide clues for the treasure hunt.

4. Brown Bag of Things that Begin with _____ .

This is usually for the toddler-preschooler kids where you let them trace a letter (upper and lowercase)  on a big brown bag and you let them find items around the house that begin with the sound that letter makes. For instance,  for letter Aa,   they can find apple, arrow,  airplane, avocado, airplane, ant, apron.  You can also reverse this by putting things ahead in the bag and letting the kids guess what are inside the bag.

5. Let’s Pretend

I wanted to teach the kids empathy and sensitivity.   I think we were reading “Helen Keller” and so I was trying to help them realize what it means to be blind.  You can for 10 minutes, blindfold all the children and try to go about  your plans for the day for 10-15 minutes without the sense of sight.  We took this activity further and wrote down a few of the senses and abilities in pieces of paper:  ability to talk, to walk, to use hands and to see.  We then drew lots and pretended what we drew (disability) for half an hour.  We tried to communicate by writing, move by inching with our bottoms, etc etc. We did this before bedtime. Though there were times we laughed as we struggled with our “assigned” abilities, it allowed us to think through the activity and imagine what it would be like if  we had this concern, not for half an hour in a simulated and timed game, but really for life! We then talked about the topic of “persons with disability” and what we can do to help or assist them.

Or you can just do dramatization!   If you read a lot of stories, why not assign roles and just let the script flow and evolve?

Re-enacted a Bible story about the poor widow and what she gave:)

Or be surgeons for the day!

One of my most favorite times was  acting like wandering nomads with the children. We all pretended to live like our “hunting and gathering” ancestors and just played out various scenarios and acted them all out. ” Ok, it’s your turn to keep watch for wild animals and to make sure the fire is burning while we get some sleep, okay? ”  packed with our tents and all our belongings tied in a blanket with a stick!

If you have helpers, you can decide for one meal or even half a day to reverse roles too! Let the children serve their helpers, let the children do some of the chores usually done by your helpers.

6. Sports 

With 4 kids,  we were able to play a whole lot of badminton, volleyball, swimming relays too.  We even did a  mini “Olympics” in line with out History lesson on the first Olympics, our  Math lesson on measurement and Science lesson on speed and distance.

There are so many possibilities in terms of activities and games with multilevel kids! So instead of saying, ” Oh my, there are so many children to look after and teach!”, just embrace this season and say, “Oh how exciting, we can do so many games and activities together, I don’t even know where to start!”,,,,,,,, let me make one suggestion, which all our children learned and mastered two weeks ago, teach them mahjong!   hahahha… and yes,  with all the culture and tradition that come with playing this game.  Our kids loved it and couldn’t stop playing !

Not even the beauty of sunny skies could lure these mahjong players out of the room !

And if you need help with teaching and bonding and yes, homeschooling multilevel children, we are having our 4th run!  First was Alabang, then Makati and Quezon City and finally in Ortigas Center!



Proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things from Japan City Store

It’s raining. And yes, that song is running on my head. “Raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens…” from the hit musical/movie, Sound of Music ( which by the way is coming soon to Manila. )

And yes, I had a chance to create a favorite list when I visited a big Japan City Store ( related to the Daiso/ Japan Home chain of Php 66-88 stores) in The Festival Mall in Alabang.  Well, let me clarify this list further, it is my homeschooler’s favorite list.

Check it out!

  1. Two Side Dry Erase Board 

One side is for free drawing, writing, doodling and even computing Math problems.


While the other side is for practice penmanship. I appreciate it that the font side if about more than one inch and so perfect fro preschool to maybe level 3. IMG_3460

My middle schooler still likes his Dry Erase Board.   For practice lettering when he was younger, to computing math problems: This has become a staple in our last 15 years of homeschooling. Now, it has become a reminder board when I have leave stuff for my homeschoolers to do. For smaller illustrations when I teach, this comes in handy. For 4 children, I used to have a giant white board !

2. Pack of Balloons


Whether for a Science experiment or DIY balloons for a birthday party, this pack will always come in handy. You may even use it for Art!

3. Orange Cones


You can use this in setting up an obstacle course, or a target for ball play like tennis or soccer.  It may be  guides for a winding path for running or biking.  These will come in handy for mini relays at home!

4. Lots of Magnets


For Science, of course!  But you may also use this for Art in making DIY refrigerator magnets.

5.   Colorful Clipboards


Outdoor activities may require recording or drawing observations.   You may decide to do Art in the park, and sketch a tree in the garden, or have some worksheets for field trips.  A clipboard will always be useful.

6. A Roll of Drawing Paper!


Paper offers limitless possibilities.  A roll of paper literally expands what can be done ! You could even make a DIY easel and use it.  You may use it to cover a young child’s table so he can draw away anytime! Using stamp art, or doodling, your child can turn this paper into a  his own signature gift wrapper!

7. Stickers, Reward Stickers

IMG_3480 IMG_3479

Every teacher loves her stickers.  Enough is said.  No, I have to say something!  Haha.  I am now using my planner – ala scrapbook and so I need stickers, more stickers ( said to the tune of the Count in Sesame Street).

8. Color Coded Pencil and Supplies Box for Multilevel Homeschoolers


These boxes  can hold a good number of supplies of various shapes: pencils,rulers, markers, scissors, glue stick, eraser.

9. Garden Tools/Accessories

IMG_3470Kids would be so thrilled to have their own, Yes, no need to share since it is so cheap if he has other siblings. Each one could have all the shoveling fun in sand or soil.

10.  A Box for Everything and Everything in its Box.

Organization is key in every  classroom !  It is more doable to use reasonably priced bins to keep all you supplies in your classroom. Label if necessary!


I hope you find these available in the branches near you! You can always take a trip to Alabang, and let’s meet for coffee???

P. S  It would have been ideal to have 10 Favorite Things so I am adding my 11th as a P.S.  Hehe….  Did you know that P.S comes from the Latin word post scriptum which means “written after”?

The 11th

Loose Practice Sheets

Long written texts may be easier for those with developing writing skills when they use a wider piece of paper vs a very narrow notebook. Again, the font size here is bigger than standard level  3 writing notebooks from local books store.  What I used to do with these loose sheets is put them under our students’ drawings so they can also write about them,  I then paste their written work in a “landscape” format under copy paper or  even use A3 size paper. These sheets are also perfect for portfolio material because you can punch holes in them or slip them in clear files or  page projectors if using a 3 hole binder ( Japan Home also has those binders and 3 holed page protectors, they got it all, like SM!)

IMG_3461 IMG_3462

So there. I close with the 1st stanza of the song ” My Favorite Things”, as I wrap this up on a rainy evening.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”

Genesis 9: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.


10 Simple Things That Can Make A Difference in Your Homeschooling Day

For this post, let me share a few simple habits or practices that can actually help bring some freshness or jazz up your homeschooling day.

  1. Look Good.

A common saying among the Filipino  children  born in the 1970s and 80s goes, ” If you can’t perform, Japorms. ”  “Porma ” seems to come from the Spanish term, “forma” which means “shape”.  Porma is locally known as  to dress,move or accessorize  in such a way to impress!  So, dress as if you are going to a meeting or to the office, why not?   While you’re at it, do the usual moisturize, sunblock your face and do the “no make up, make up” look. At least, groom your eyebrows, curl your eyelashes, put some concealer for those with dark under eyes and put light foundation and blush , and yes, top it with a nice nude lipstick or gloss!

Read more 10 Simple Things That Can Make A Difference in Your Homeschooling Day