Sunday, October 8, 2017

Johan's 7th Birthday Surprise

Prior to Johan's birthday, I asked him how he wanted to celebrate. Johan said he wanted a swimming party at the beach. I thought we could go to Boracay but told Johan that if we are to go to the beach, it will be just the four of us since it's going to cost too much if we are to bring mine and hubby's immediate families with us. Johan, who enjoys the company of our immediate families, then said that it's okay to just swim at a pool instead of the beach so we could invite his cousins to join us.

Then I thought I am going to surprise him. So, I came up with the idea of telling him that everybody had to go somewhere on the day of his birthday and we didn't save enough for a party. Now, usually most kids will throw a tantrum and insist on a party but not Johan. He told me it's okay if we won't have a party, that it's okay if we'll just go to SM, eat at McDonald's and let him and Jeron play in Kidzoona for two hours. Ang bait lang, di ba?

This is more of a surprise birthday for Johan but since the boys have the same birth month, we decided to celebrate Jeron's birthday as well. I had two cakes made for the boys, a Minecraft themed cake for Johan and a Superhero themed cake for Jeron. My sister made Chocolate covered Oreos with the same themes, decorated the venue with balloons, I made masks and C2 bottle covers and my bestfriend bought paper plates with Minecraft and Super hero designs.

Number 7 Minecraft cake

Number 3 Superhero cake

My DIY Superhero C2 bottles and my sister's Chocolate covered Oreos

The superhero masks that I did myself

Minecraft masks
Balloon decoration c/o my sister, brother and their families

On the day of the party, I had to make up a story to convince Johan that he needed to cover his eyes. So, I told him of this imaginary meeting that "I will be having with my boss" which is going to be held at a "top secret" place that he is not allowed to see so he needs to have his eyes covered or "I will lose my job".

He bought the story so off we went to Nicayeren Lakefront Resort, which looks awesome, by the way.

The resort

As we are nearing the resort, I instructed Johan to put on his eye cover. Since we arrived earlier than some of the guests, we had to keep Johan blindfolded inside a room while we waited for everybody else.

Me and Johan as we arrived at the resort

When all guests have arrived, I guided Johan out of the room and to the pavilion where the surprise will be held.

My immediate family wearing masks
Everybody was silent as I and Johan made our way to the pavilion. As soon as Johan was positioned in front of them, I told him to remove his blindfold.

The look of surprise on his face is priceless! Birthday surprise achieved! 

I am so grateful to everybody who made this possible - my sister Lhai for always, always doing the decorations and baked goodies for the kids' events, my bestfriend and her husband Bong for helping me book the resort and being our photographer of the day, my friend Lyn for baking the cakes and meeting up with me so early on a Saturday morning, my husband's brother and his family taking a leave off work to attend the party and the rest of my family for helping us out with the decors, meal pledges, food prep and clean up. 

Above everything else, thank you everybody for always being there for my boys, for spoiling them with the presents you know they both wanted to receive and for celebrating with us. Johan cannot stop talking about finally getting a Skateboard, a guitar so he can start learning and upload videos to YouTube, new shoes because his current ones are getting tight, a billiard table which he can play with Jeron when "he's a little bigger" and a remote controlled truck that he had always wanted. But more than the material things, he is also thankful for all the fun he had swimming and playing with everybody. This is core memory for him, so thank you so, so much!

Johan and Jeron with their presents

For inquiries on who took our great photos, who baked our awesome cakes and the beautiful place where we celebrated, here are the links:

Cakes: Gai Magdasoc
Photography: Imagine Limitless Photo Service
Venue:  Nicayeren Lakefront Resort

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our Kidzania Manila Experience

A year ago, my cousins and I planned a trip to Kidzania Manila. Everybody enjoyed the experience, even the adults so we planned another trip this year and hopefully it will be an annual bonding thing for the kids and us.

August 2016 - Their first Kidzania Trip

This year, my husband wasn't able to come since he had to stay home with Jeron, who is still too young for Kidzania. So, Johan and I rode a van to Alabang to meet up with my cousin's family and we all went together to Kidzania.

Johan while waiting

We agreed to meet with the rest of our relatives at 9 am so we could all have a heavy breakfast to energize us for an entire day of fun. The kids are getting pretty hyped up, so as soon as everybody's done with their meals, off we went to Kidzania.

2nd and 3rd generations of Barangay Tan

We went on a Sunday, September 17, 2017. The lines to the check in counters were not that long when we went in. We were immediately assisted to a counter where everybody were given RFID bracelets. Each child and his/her guardian will be given matching RFID bracelets and Kidzania will not allow a child to leave the premises without the registered guardian.

RFID bracelets

Kidzania is really huge and it's so easy to get lost so I suggest you get a map and familiarize yourself with all the attractions and their locations. Johan could not decide which attraction to do first.

He's better at map reading than I am

He already experienced how to be a Fireman and a Pilot the first time that we went there so those two were off his list this time. We went up the stairs and passed by the Clean Energy Conservation. He got so interested with all the knobs and buttons that he decided to make it his first activity.

On the job trainee for Energy Conservation

There are a lot of attractions in Kidzania where the kids will learn food preparation. Johan and his cousins already tried Goldilocks last year where they personalized some Mamons, his cousins were able to try Yellowcab this year and they all got the pizzas that they made. Johan was not interested in making pizza so we skipped that. But he and his cousin, Jared went to Magnolia to learn how ice cream is made.

Listening intently

Johan and Jared enjoying their ice cream

It was so hard keeping up with everybody because the kids have different interests! There were a few times that we bumped with the rest of our group but most times it was just me and Johan walking around until we find an activity that interests him. The driving area at the Shell Gas Station is always a hit with the kids, there will always be a line to this attraction and Johan patiently waited in line to try this again.

Driving at the Shell Station

He experienced being a painter last year so for this trip he decided to try how to be a builder instead. For this activity they were given foam bricks to put up.

Another great attraction is the Oishi station. I think these two enjoyed it mostly because of the free taste of Oishi products! According to Johan, they were asked to come up with a new Oishi product and they have to present it the staff for approval before they launch the new product.


Presenting their own Oishi product

I would have wanted him to do this with his cousins but they were nowhere in sight. So, Johan and some other kids formed a band and recorded a song. I was even given a free CD of their recording!

My drummer

We've been going back and forth the Milo Clinic attraction to catch the Basketball training but every time we went there it was either we missed it or we were too early. Finally, we were able to catch the last Basketball schedule of the day. It was Johan's last activity for but definitely the most memorable one because their team won!

This Kidzania trip was tiring but seeing the kids having fun while learning makes the the entire day of walking so worth it. I hope we could all commit to making this an annual bonding activity for the kids and the younger cousins can come join the older ones next time.

Here are more happy pictures from that day:

If you are planning a Kidzania trip, let me share some tips:
  1. Check Kidzania Manila's Facebook page or their website for current promos. We were able to avail of their August promo of Buy Two, Take Two. This promo allows you to pay for just two kid tickets and two companions come in for free. For our trip, we saved P4,620 worth of adult tickets because of this promo.
  2. Go there all days of the week except Saturdays. Why not Saturday? This is because on Saturdays, there are two shifts in Kidzania: 9am-2pm and 3pm-8pm, so you only have 5 hours to tour Kidzania on Saturdays whereas during the rest of the week there is only one shift so you  get to enjoy Kidzania for 7 hours!
  3. Leave your water bottles, selfie sticks and snacks at home. Kidzania will not allow you to bring in these items anyway. There are food concessionaires inside Kidzania where you can buy snacks, beverages and meals. 
  4. Make your kids and yourself wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You will be walking a lot while inside and bear in mind that some activities will require kids to wear sports shoes with laces, knee length or ankle length pants. Better read up on each activity requirements on the Kidzania Manila website prior to your visit.
  5. Avail of a Kidzania Pazzport as soon as you come in. The pazzport will make your kids Naturalized Citizens. Naturalized CitiZens receive a stamp on their PaZZport for each activity they complete, earn additional 2 kidZos for each salaried activity, pay less 5 kidZos when they redeem items at the Department Store, and enjoy 5% off at the National Store.
  6. Finally, have a Zaz time at Kidzania! 

For more information visit the following:

We are definitely coming back!

 Z-U again next time, Kidzania!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

On Teaching Kids What to Do

Earlier this week, I experienced one of the greatest fears of parenthood. A stranger tried to convince Johan to go with him.

It was on Tuesday night as we were preparing for bed when Johan said he needed to tell me something. He then proceeded to say that there is this one tricycle driver who is so annoying and kept talking to him in school. Our conversation went like this:

Johan: Mom, there is this guy who is so annoying.
Mom: Who was the guy?
Johan: He is a tricycle driver, a service of a girl from school.
Mom: Why is he annoying?
Johan: He keeps on telling me to come with him to McDo and Burger King, He'll buy me burger. Sometimes he says he'll bring me to the canteen and I can buy anything I want.

At this point, my very sleepy self was suddenly alert and all ears to his story.

Mom: Who is the guy, where were you while he was talking to you? Was he inside the school? Did you get out of the gate?
Johan: No, I was inside, The guy was outside the gate waiting for the student. He was speaking to me thru the gate.
Mom: What did you do?
Johan: I just stay inside my classroom and wait for Kuya Amang to pick me up. (Kuya Amang is his service driver)
Mom: Does this annoying guy always talk to you?
Johan: Yes, everyday. He keeps on asking me to come with him to McDo and Burger King. That's why I just wait inside my classroom so the guy won't see me and sometimes I just run to Kuya Amang if I see this guy.

I was in panic and messaged my husband on Facebook and relayed to him what Johan just told me. We were both fearful for Johan's safety and decided that the Yaya will again accompany Johan to and from school. Yaya will talk to the school admin the next day and I will do it again on Thursday when I go to school for Johan's Buwan ng Wika presentation.

While me and the husband were planning what to do, I remembered to ask Johan:

Mom: Why didn't you go with the guy to McDo? Di ba you liked going there for the chicken?
Johan: Because the guy is a stranger and I am not supposed to talk to strangers di ba, Mom?
Great job, Johan!

Anyway, as planned, Yaya went to school with Johan the next day and informed the school admin and the guard on duty what happened. She also waited for the annoying guy during dismissal and it turned out that the guy used to be the same tricycle driver that serviced them a few times the previous year and Johan just didn't remember it was him.

It was relief to know that the annoying guy was not really a stranger but I am more at peace knowing my son is smart enough to remember what he taught him and to not speak to people he does not know.

This is why it is necessary to keep on reminding our kids not to talk to strangers, paulit ulit kahit makulitan sila. Times are different now, evil people are everywhere and we just cannot sit back and assume our kids know what to do. We have to teach them and prepare them.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Recipe: Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa and Crispy Fried Liempo

Gusto ko na magbagong buhay and maging typical wife na marunong magluto. My sister recommended the Panlasang Pinoy Facebook page for recipes as these are fairly easy to follow. Upon browsing the page, natakam ako sa Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa.

So, early Saturday morning, I went off to our neighborhood talipapa to get all the ingredients. I was deciding what to partner Ginataang Kalabasa with - Fried Fish or Pork. We had Fried Galunggong the previous weekend, so Fried Pork it is. I am using the recipe that my sister shared with me. I will also be including prices of the ingredients with this post.

Here goes:

Crispy Fried Liempo

Cooking Oil
2 packs Laurel Leaves
Whole Pepper
3/4k Pork Liempo

I got three slabs of Pork Liempo from the market, asked the manong to chop into three slices per slab. Put all slices in a pan and boil together with 2 packs of Laurel Leaves, salt and pepper. Boil until meat is tender. Take out the meat and let dry. Once the meat is dry, rub each side with salt and pepper and fry until golden brown.

I only have to buy the following since I have the rest of the ingredients in stock.

Laurel leaves ........................ 4 php (2 php/pack)
Garlic .................................... 5 php
3/4k Pork Liempo ................. 135 php (180 php/kilo)
Total: 144 pesos

Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa
For the full recipe, please proceed to the Panlasang Pinoy website here.

3 Squash slices, cubed
1 bundle String Beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 k Pork, cubed
1 cup Beef broth or pinaghugasan ng bigas
2 cups Coconut Milk
1 1/2 tsp minced Garlic
1 medium Yellow Onion, sliced
Cooking Oil
Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsps Shrimp Paste (I used the Sweet Chili variant of Barrio Fiesta)

Saute the garlic and onion. Add the ground black pepper, stir and add the pork. Cook the pork until color turns to light brown. Since I didn't have Beef Broth at the time, I used the 1st pinaghugasan ng bigas water, pour this onto the pork and let it boil. Add the coconut milk. Stir and allow to boil once more. Cover and cook until the pork gets tender. Add the squash. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the shrimp paste and stir. Add the string beans. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes.


Squash slices .................... 30 php (10 php/slice)
String Beans ..................... 10 php
1/4k Pork .......................... 45 php
Coconut ............................ 20 php
Garlic ................................  5 php
Onion ................................  5 php
Total: 110 pesos

And the verdict? The kids loved the Fried Pork, well they like all things fried anyway. But the husband, though nonverbal, looked like he enjoyed the Ginataang Sitaw at Kalabasa. I noticed that he got another batch when he finished the first and he even ate the same thing for dinner! Yay, success!

My realization here is kaya ko naman pala and there really is no harm in trying. Plus, I enjoyed my short trip to the market ha. Ang saya mamalengke! But, the greatest joy here is seeing my family enjoying the meal that I prepared for them. Mauulit ito talaga!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Johan's First Quarter Exam Results

I've been sleepless for days leading up to Johan's exams week because I have been preparing reviewers for him. Since Nursery, we have been struggling with his Filipino lessons and now that he is in First Grade, we are having difficulty not just with one Filipino subject but with three subjects - Filipino, Araling Panlipunan and Mother Tongue.

Imagine how stressful it was to think of techniques on how to improve his Filipino vocabulary, on how I will make him understand what pangngalan, katinig, patinig, pangungusap mean. I never thought we would struggle this much in school.

We spent three days studying for his nine subjects and concentrated on the three he is having the most difficulty with. Math has always been his strongest one, English is quite easy, Science is average while the new ones like Values Formation, Computer and MAPEH were fairly easy to review. We mainly spent more time with the Filipino ones.

I thought he's ready to take the exams and I was hoping he'd get good grades. The results came out today and it came as no surprise that he did very well in Math, the rest of the subjects got good grades but the three Filipino subjects just showed how much Johan needs more guidance. 

After all those sleepless nights and hours we spent reviewing, his grades are below my expectations. He did not get failing grades but I know that he can do better. I don't want to pressure him too much about getting very high grades but I don't want him to get low grades either. We tried so hard studying his lessons but I guess, we need to do more next time. Right now,  I am frustrated, tired and dispirited. 

I am being too hard on myself as usual. It's a relief that I have a bestfriend who I can talk to anytime and air out my grievances without judging how being unreasonable I am.

Kahit madalas luka-luka tong babaeng to, may sense naman sya paminsan-minsan

First quarter exams may be over but we still have three more quarters left. We will try harder on the coming months and we will not give up until MATATAS NG MANAGALOG SI JOHAN. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kita Kita: Unexpectedly Good (A Movie Review)

credits: Kita Kita

The movie is now on its third week and it is only today that I got to see it together with my sister. All the people I know who have seen Kita Kita have nothing negative to comment, they are all praises for the movie and the actors. I'm so glad that we chose to watch it in the movie house instead of watching online through the link that trended the other day. I paid a measly 181 pesos for my movie ticket and I tell you, I would have gladly paid more than that for Kita Kita. It is that good and here are some reasons why I am gushing about Lea and Tonyo: *some spoilers included so if you haven't watched the movie yet, stop reading now*
  • Alessandra is phenomenal. The first time that I watched her was in Azucena, way back in college when we needed to watch it for movie review. Even then, I saw her potential, she is a great actress at her early age. Ang galing lang ng mga mata nya. Here in Kita Kita, the scene where her fiance stood her up for their anniversary and she took a photo by herself in a photo booth, ramdam mo sa mga mata nya na may pinagdadaanan sya. 
  • Empoy was surprisingly great. I only saw this guy in a few TV appearances, I find his jokes okay but not enough for me to pay for a movie. In all honesty, he is the reason why I was hesitant to watch Kita Kita. I don't know the guy, his kind of humor is just normal for me, nothing fancy. But, gosh, that normal, nothing fancy thing is why this movie is earning a lot to this day. Empoy is so natural that I would like to believe some scenes where Alessandra is laughing is not acting anymore, I believe she is laughing in real life because Empoy is unmistakably funny. Sobra, first scene pa lang na pinakita sya tumatawa na kami. I'm glad to be proven wrong on how I see this guy. Ang laki ng ikinagwapo nya sa movie na to!
  • The script, I have no words. Not the typical, commercialized Rom-Com that I was used to watching - I love Popoy and Basha, Laida and Miggy - but Lea and Tonyo's story is a different genre. Kalmado the entire movie, walang rollercoaster of intense emotions. I felt warmth the entire time that we were watching it. Gusto kong mag slow clap for Kita Kita director and screenwriter Sigrid Bernardo. \
  • The setting. Sapporo, Japan is never heard of, at least for me. The movie depicted the town as a peaceful, laid back place. I liked that the movie did not use a setting that is too well known. Sapporo is just perfect for the flow of the movie - tahimik, malalim. 
  • The twists and turns of the story is clever. Nung nagback track na how Tonyo met Lea, ang warm talaga sa pakiramdam. May lungkot but not naman to the point na hahagulgol ka, lungkot na tipong reminiscing lang of the good old times ang pakiramdam ko and panghihinayang. I said before no rollercoaster of intense emotions, hindi sobrang lungkot hindi sobrang saya. Tama lang talaga ang timpla.
  •  I've heard reviews saying the movie's ending is not that good. It was unexpected yes, kasi ang una kong naisip "Ay, tapos na? Yun na yun?". Very abrupt kasi nag black screen bigla but it was okay for me. Lea lost Tonyo, she looked back at all their good times, cried for her loss, the end. There's nothing much to say after that and ayoko naman na like most Rom-Com's pahahabain pa ang istorya for the sake of humaba lang. 
  • The song Two Less Lonely People in the World. I am not a fan of cheesy lovesongs. Highschool pa ata ako nung huli kong nagustuhan yung mga ganyan but KZ Tandingan's version of the song added a different flavor. Ang ganda ng areglo, ang ganda ng boses nya. It was on repeat on my Spotify on my way home from watching the movie and now as I am writing this post. Listen here: Two Less Lonely People in the World by KZ Tandingan
  •  Alessandra and Empoy together. What an unlikely pair. They are the perfect unfits. I did not expect the two of them to have chemistry - ang ganda ni Alessandra, ang simple ni Empoy, ang lalim ng acting ni Alex, very comical si Empoy. One balances the other and their tandem is one reason why this movie is a success. 

I only have great things to say about the movie, I cannot think of a single thing na hindi ko nagustuhan. Their gross earnings of 230M on their second week is proof enough that this movie is not your ordinary Pinoy rom-com. I hope more people will watch it and pay for it instead of just watching through the pirated ones uploaded online. Give credit where credit is due and Kita Kita is worth the credit. Let's pay for movies like these so that more producers will invest on quality Filipino movies. 

Go watch Kita Kita, hindi ka magsisi, promise!


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