Let us thank God for 2015!

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In the coming weeks, we will see a wave of year-enders from all around, your TV shows’ episodes in a capsule, 2015 lists of top sellers, box-office hits, and even breakthrough news. Looking back, 2015 has been a year that has given all of us more than enough reasons to thank God for. If you share the same set of blessings, feel free to share 2015 blessings in pictures. As 2016 approaches, it is time again to believe God for what He has planned for the year. Dare to believe for 2016.

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Answered Prayer #1: Opportunities to spend time with my husband and kids. I always say that the best time spent this year were the ones we spent at home, but, it was also fun to explore new places with the entire fam! It is when you oohh and aahhh at the same time for the beauty that God has created all around us. Most, if not all, of our best travel time weren’t the most expensive, they were as frugal as going with a long drive to somewhere we have not visited. Remember that it is the experience and lasting memories you are trying to build, in the same way, the most fun activities we have done as a family were the ones that didn’t cost us much (e.g. climbing the biggest tree in Asia, looking at the windmills in Bangui, trying halo halo in Vigan).

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Answered Prayer #2: Celebrations, milestones, and breakthroughs were shared over food for 2015! Remembering thanking God with the team over food for my son’s first mission trip, our traditional midnight birthday greetings are usually capped with a simple celebration breakfast the day after, and of course, opportunities to spend time with the best people for our Christmas traditions. It was also fun to take on food projects that took me to enjoying food to a different level. It brought the blessing of upping my taste for flavor and valuable conversation over food!

breakthrough3Answered Prayer #3: Thanking God for being part of a spiritual family that encourages, equips and empowers you. It is also a spiritual family that never go blind with the communities around it. The same love we are getting from Victory Nova has stretched to houses, families and campuses in San Jose. It has taught us how to be a better parent, a better husband/wife, reminding us that everyone is a work in progress, teaching us to respond as how God responds to us in love and generosity.

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Answered Prayer #4: Going thirteen years in marriage, it has opened our eyes to regard each other in love, forgiveness and acceptance. It has allowed us to choose which values we want our kids to have, to prioritize or limit the influences we want our kids to be exposed to, all while enjoying each other, discovering each other and not getting tired of each other. Moments when my husband would ask me to close my eyes and dream before God are priceless moments in marriage I will never trade with anything else.

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Answered Prayer #5: Just as I thank God for what my husband does as a calling, I also thank God for granting us the best mommy-friendly job I can have. I thank God for the blessings of being part of the best team at work, I thank God for allowing me to learn everyday at work, and to always be on the lookout to push for better things whether for our customers, our employees or for my colleagues. It is my prayer that we can continue to steward the best jobs we have been given whether it is work we need to do at home for our kids or duties we need to perform from our workplaces.

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Countdown to 2016: A Magical Night in Manila

Celebrate with Manila Pavilion Hotel’s Magical Evening and Enjoy Manila’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks

rsz_1mbp_pinkManila, Philippines – The business districts aren’t the only place to ring in the New Year in Style and Festivities. Just a few blocks from Manila Pavilion Hotel located at the heart of Manila, Luneta Park and its nearby sites will be having a free outdoor concert and party within walking distance of Manila Pavilion Hotel.

Luneta Park, a few steps from United Nations ave. is Manila’s well-known landmark, offering lots of space, beautiful greenery and heritage of the country, making it the perfect choice for this end-of-year fireworks celebration.

image2605566In partnership with Crossover 105.1, to those who prefer intimate yet festive cheers, Manila Pavilion Hotel’s Boulvar Sports and Music bar will showcase a magical night with wine to toast, hors d’oeuvers and a family-centric show fit for all kids and adults alike.

Party-goers can keep warm at the Patisserie after party and have delicious food at Seasons Lifestyle Restaurant or be at the scene with balloons, mime, card shows and a stage will host live entertainment. A special raffle will be given at midnight from Waterfront Insular Davao.

If you want to celebrate the New Year in Style, Manila Pavilion hotel is offering an overnight accommodation package with its Truly Filipino Theme for Php 4,200 inclusive of Puto bongbong or bibingka with Hot cocoa or Kape Barako with a limited edtion Post card, and breakfast for two.

In addition to the perks of the package, you’ll also get noisemakers and party favours for NewYear’s eve. To those who would want to reserve their wine to toast and get to have consumable munchies, tickets are being sold for Php 1,999 or just simply walk-in and enjoy the night.

No need to travel far, experience a unique Manila staycation and celebration like no other.

Visit the Manila Pavilion Hotel at United Nations Avenue corner Maria Orosa Street in Manila. Log on www.waterfrontpavilionmanila.com or call 5261212, for inquiries and reservations; Like or Follow @WaterfrontMNL for regular updates.

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Article above is an official press release for Manila Pavilion Hotel’s Magical evening.

Donate-A-Diaper Drive Project

rsz_1mbp_pinkChristmas is always about giving and sharing the same love and blessings we have received. I know that you are all on the lookout to spot an opportunity to help. What better way to share your blessings than taking part of changing a newborn’s life?
Donate-a-Diaper Drive 2015 is a collaborative project of 3rd Quarter Pinoy Babies of 2015 and Rookie Mommy PH‘s First Time Moms PH Facebook Community and Shop at Oonaghs.
You can donate a pack of newborn – small diapers or you can also donate money and we will be the one to buy the diapers on your behalf. Donate-a-Diaper Drive will run until January 15, 2016. Recipients of the diapers will be the babies who are in NICU at Philippine General Hospital.
If you’re interested to donate, you can email us at rookiemommyph@gmail.com or you can also send us a private message on Facebook.
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Joined Banahaw Elementary School Outreach

rsz_1mbp_pinkRemember when I wrote about yearly Christmas tradition that includes a visit to an elementary school for a Christmas gift-giving day? Banahaw Elementary School is a public school that has students in grades first through sixth in Norzagaray, Bulacan of Central Luzon (Region III). The school has 5 instructional rooms and 1 non-instructional rooms. Sadfully, none of the rooms has a dependable supply of electricity. With 138 students last year, class size is around 28 students. Lorie Floresca is principal of the school.

And so we joined a group of friends from church, Victory Nova, to bring the blessing of prayer and encouragement to students, teachers and their families.

As soon as the day started, kids lined up too excited to receive and SHARE. It was so overwhelming to observe kids rush to their moms, brothers, sisters to share what they have received on hand. There were countless people who willingly joined in and be part of this yearly outreach. Please know that your gift will go a long way to the hearts of the kids and their families who believe God for a better future.

Among the highlights included a puppet and kids’ show performed by excellent puppeteer Sam Fuentes. It was a joy to see smiles on kids’ and parents’ faces despite their difficulties in life. It was also heartwarming to see them celebrate Jesus’ birthday party as we all get reminded what Christmas should be about.

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Can’t Find a Cab? Holiday Non Stop Bus Service along Edsa

 

rsz_1mbp_pinkNo cabs or taxis in sight? Stuck without transport after doing your shopping? Seeing EDSA congested than ever you want to leave your cars at home? Want to have reprieve from Grab and Uber expenses while in the metro? Good news from the government as it continues to implement a Holiday non-stop bus service which started December 5 up to January 6 to encourage private car owners to leave their vehicles at home in an effort to decongest Edsa during the Yuletide Season, a ranking official announced.

During a press briefing at the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) office in Makati City, Cabinet Secretary and traffic czar Jose Rene Almendras said the express bus scheme is one of the medium-term solutions to improve traffic on Edsa especially with the Holiday rush.

Almendras said the scheme is a “way of increasing efficiency of the use of the streets.” He reiterated that with the 120,000 new private vehicles in Metro Manila this year, it would be necessary to improve the travel time of commuters.

See MMDA announcement slides below. Details lifted from official MMDA page

 

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Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos

I have always raved about the book “Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos” authored by Lynette Lewis. Although I have read the book several years ago, all parts of it still ring true to this working mom. Also, the years have somehow given me a different perspective on each page of the book. Pretty much how you would be amazed at getting new personal message from God as you pick up and read the same passages from your Bible.

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Lynette has accurately given us a picture of what moms are about, we wear different kinds of shoes for different reasons. We wear flats or even sneakers for errands, change to another pair when we get to work (one that can be worn without the public commute or the MRT crowd), then change back to something more comfy when we travel home, then change into slippers or soft soles to get us ready for the tasks at home.

It was also the book that gave me my first challenge of finding real meaning for work and from work. It has calibrated me to see that it is not always about money or bigger paycheck. It is one that allows you to juggle your other roles while delivering the best performance you can give while serving God through serving your bosses at work.

Lynette has also helped me create my purpose statement for life and work. And if you have not drafted one yet, start by answering the questions below.

1. When people explain why they want me involved or why they referred someone to me, what do they say?

2. Which of my abilities and gifts are most often noted and affirmed by my colleagues?

3. What activities bring me the most joy and satisfaction?

4. What could I be passionate about doing for the next ten years?

5. If I could have any role/position at my current organization or elsewhere, what would I do?

6. Given my life experiences, my education, and my gifts, what unique attributes set me apart from others?

Indeed, this has gotten started what I thank God for Mondays at work. It is essentially thanking God not just for workdays but also for the things that you can positively affect or change at work.

 

Do More with Less – Christmas 2015

 

rsz_1mbp_pinkCan one really do more with less? Time and again, you have all read about how this working mom is always on the lookout for building things that last for our family. Of course I have clued you in on our 2015 breakthroughs that do not need to break the bank. I have always emphasized that our greatest blessings are always the ones that need not be expensive.

Do more with less – Jesus is the Reason for the Season

It is so easy to stray away from the real reason for Christmas, it can sway you to commercialism overload and with most of the bonuses getting released in December, most people spend too much time planning for what to buy rather than planning for what to celebrate. Having kids calibrates me to check on everything we are doing for December, does it point us to a family value we have all agreed to have on our Christmas calendar or is it just another party to throw/host or a shopping spree to complete? Among our Christmas traditions this year included Banahaw Elementary Outreach, creating our own Christmas ornaments, Jesus birthday party with advent-related activities that my kids joined with their friends.

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Do More with Less – Give Personalized Gifts

With sales/bazaars/tiangges on almost every corner, sometimes we end up giving thoughtless gifts. Find time to involve your entire family in gift-giving and wrapping. For this year, we used our Christmas family picture as gift tags. You may also opt to go for simple wrappers like what we did with Manila paper, made special with yarn and our family picture.

Do More with Less – Host Purposeful Celebrations

We do not usually throw big parties as a family and so when we host a celebration, expect to see touches of love that speaks to everyone we know in a personal way. Christmas Breakfast with fellow couples from our spiritual family was made more meaningful with sharing encouragement from around the table, over food! Christmas dinner with all of our wedding inaanaks was also made special as each couple highlighted their marriage/life verse on our Bible at home. And of course, we will never forget our Sofia’s birthday celebration involving our friends and family to prepare and celebrate with us. The goal is to drive what needs to be celebrated at each time.

Even the Christmas tree and decorations do not need to break the bank. For this year, we used Christmas message cards we have received and repurposed them as colorful tree ornaments. This way we get to save the personalized messages we received while keeping them in time for next year’s tree. Also, don’t feel the need to decorate too much. Having four kids at home, it helps to just choose a spot or a nook to decorate, rather than to cram the house with too many Christmas decors.

However you want to celebrate, it is our prayer that your Christmas be filled with lasting memories that you can build with your family. Merry Christmas!

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This blog post is in support of the #DoMoreWithLess advocacy led by Electrolux Philippines.

Visited Zoocobia

rsz_1mbp_pinkZoocobia, run and managed by Zoomanity Group, has always been a family destination we have always planned to visit. Just by the name itself, we knew that we will be up for fun time and a day of adventure with animals. But we definitely got more than a visit to the zoo. For one, the zoo boasts of highly interactive animals, and the zoo offered the most natural protected home for them. Read up as I share how educational and fun our family experience was. Travel did not disappoint because we took SCTEX on our way to Zoocobia. No heavy traffic in sight, and since we left early, all kids slept almost all throughout travel time.

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The first thing that greets you when you get into Zoocobia are the picture boards. Right from the start of the trip, the kids were all game posing around the picture boards and going goofy around them. A Zoocobia tour guide meet all visitors at this area, your tour guide is key to your educational and fun experience within Zoocobia. Glad to have been assigned one that did not rush around the place but took the time to explain everything in sight and answered all my curious kids’ questions.

20151129_09032420151129_090252The Menagerie is a unique collection of stuffed real animals, yep, real animals stuffed for kids to explore, all preserved by Zoocobia taxidermists. It was also a highly educational spot, because all displays come with the animals’ common name, scientific name and their distinct characteristics and habitat. The stuffed real animals were big hits with the kids for photo ops, there were bears, crocodiles, Siberian tiger, greater kudu, Kalahari goat, American leopard, pot bellied pig, to mention a few.

My kids did not realize all the hours we spent at Zoocobia, because of activities like My Art Work station, where kids can work with paper, wood and crayon to create art masterpieces with their own hands. Birds of Paradise will have you go into a huge bird cage with almost 50 birds you can feed. These birds are not afraid to go close as long as you have food on any of your body part! Kids fed them while on the ground or perched on their hands. The birds fly to wherever you put feeds on! Next was a long list of animals to feed: parrots, ostrich, bearcat and monkeys.

My youngest boy’s favourite was the Zooc, it is a gravity car that is patterned after the luge from Sentosa resort in Singapore. We drove it to a 400-meter track. All boys were all smiles, if it wasn’t for the climb up, we would have done it again and again. Of course, we also took the time to go through the garden maze and to take on the gigantic slides. Mommies do not need to worry because kids land on a big stack of hay, with a park attendant waiting at the bottom of the slide, too, to catch the kids.

The kids also tried the zipline and riding the horses. The camels are also up for a ride, but be ready to endure the camel’s natural scent (which reportedly does not go away even with the animals’ daily bath).

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Thanking God for this family experience. Parents who want to have an educational trip can surely enjoy Zoocobia. It was also encouraging to highlight to kids God’s creation story, as you go around the park, highlighting how we can take care of the animals God has created while enjoying the beauty of nature around us.

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Watch your Favorite Disney Stars LIVE in Disney On Ice

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You have read about our excitement to watch 2015 Disney on Ice. By now, I am sure you would have known why watching Disney on Ice has become part of our Christmas traditions. Of course, my kids have been rooting for different Disney characters each year. All the rave still go to the Frozen cast, Princesses Elsa and Anna. My boys have all the lines memorized for Kristoff and Olaf!

Kids are ecstatic when they realized that the touring show that enchanted audiences from across the globe is back with yet again another exciting run of Disney On Ice at the Big Dome.

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Starting December 25 until January 3, Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival will feature magical moments from across the kingdom with a superstar lineup of Disney royalty.

See your favorite Disney characters from The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and for the first time ever – the Academy Award® winning and number one animated film of all time Frozen.

“This year’s Disney On Ice is truly magical with Disney properties that are packed with heart and personality. We have princesses that are exuberant and strong-willed, but we’ve also expanded the roles of spirited supporting characters, so that they’re more prominent in the show,” says Producer Nicole Feld.

Expect a spectacular production filled with adventurous and comical segments shared by well-loved Disney princesses Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and never-before-seen characters Anna and Elsa!

“We are taking a fresh new spin on how we’re presenting the Disney stories. We are weaving together the four worlds of royal sisters Anna and Elsa, Ariel, Belle and Rapunzel as they each embark on their own epic journey,” says Producer Juliette Feld.

Sing and dance to popular Disney tunes with interactive and playful segments for kids to be led by Disney superstars Mickey and Minnie.

Also join Anna as she fearlessly sets off on an epic journey, together with Kristoff and reindeer Sven, to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in perpetual winter.

Dazzling costume designs, spectacular set elements, and jaw-dropping stunts are also what make this year’s show even more exhilarating.

In Beauty and the Beast’s “Be Our Guest,” the theatrical elements of the glitzy napkins and silverware costumes will astound audiences. “The costumes are designed to emphasize the overwhelming amount of table décor that appears in the movie. The napkins unfold to increase their size and the forks tower over the heads of the performers. This is a big moment for Belle; the costumes need to reflect that,” says Costume Designer Cynthia Nordstrom.

Moreover, lighting plays a crucial role in giving the overall production a truly magical feel.

“The colors really pull you into the different worlds of the princesses, but it’s how the lights are arranged that command your attention when the characters are performing their acts. For example, when the Daughters of Triton are introduced, the lighting individually highlights each of them. Your eyes follow the spotlights,” says Lighting Designer Sam Doty.

Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival features an astounding display of creativity and talent, with spellbinding Disney stories we have all come to enjoy and love! Buy your tickets early and visit TicketNet website or call 911-5555 for more details.

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Sinag Maynila films continue to make waves here and abroad

Independent film festival Sinag Maynila was born from the vision of Solar Entertainment Corporation, CEO Wilson Tieng and renowned festival director Brillante Mendoza’s wish to have a festival that not only inspires but educates and enlightens Filipino movie audiences. Made up of five homegrown filmmakers handpicked and closely collaborated with by Tieng and Mendoza, the festival produced feature films that presented social issues currently faced in Filipino culture. After a successful run last March, the films have gone on to garner attention both in the country and abroad thanks to their compelling narrative.

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Winner of the Best Picture Award at Sinag Maynila, “Imbisibol” by Lawrence Fajardo was invited for a screening at the Stockholm International Film Festival in Sweden last November 11. It also premiered at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto, Canada as it vied to win in the Contemporary World Cinema Programme last September. A screening was also held at the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival and Focus on Asia Fukuoka International Film Festival in Japan. The film trains the spotlight on four undocumented Filipinos in Japan and their plight to escape deportation. The cast is led by JM De Guzman, Ces Quesada, Bernardo Bernardo, Allen Dizon and Ricky Davao.  Imbisibol will have screenings in Iloilo: Dec 1-6 Davao: Dec 15-20 and Baguio: Dec 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 30.

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Another Sinag Maynila film “Balut Country” by Paul Sta. Ana is invited for a screening at the All Lights IndiaInternational Film Festival in India this November. It also premiered at the 28th Tokyo International Film Festival last October which was also attended by the film’s main actor Rocco Nacino. He stars as an heir to a duck farm left to him by his late father in “Balut Country”. The movie follows his difficult decision between selling the property for his own financial peace or keeping the land and sparing the farm’s loyal caretakers from displacement.

 

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“Bambanti” by Zig M. Dulay recently won best film at festival international du film de Brussels. It has also been invited to compete in a series of film festivals this November— Ourense International Film Festival in Spain, the Asian Panorama film competition of International Children’s Film Festival in India where actor Micko Laurente won The Golden Elephant Trophy for Best Actor, Festival Des 3 Continents at Nantes, France, and in the Ajyal Youth Film Festival in Doha Film Institute, Qatar. The film bagged the Best Film award in the recent Festival International du Film de Bruxelles. Bambanti looks at the prejudgment of the rich towards the poor as mother and son embark to uncover the truth behind a missing watch. Stars Alessandra de Rossi, Micko Laurente, Julio Diaz, Shamaine Buencamino, and Lui Manansala.

 

Invited at the recent Minsk International Film Festival in Belarus was “Swap” by Remton Zuasola. This film is the only Asian film to be invited for screening at the Zabaltegi section of the 63rd San Sebastian International Film Festival in Spain last September 18-26. Swap is also poised for another international screening in Japan for the upcoming Tokyo Filmex. Shot continuously with no cuts, the movie narrates the tale of a young father who is torn between solving a crime and committing another crime in order to save the life of his kidnapped son. Dionne Monsanto, Matt Daclan and Mon Confiado star in this action-drama.

 

The 2nd Sinag Maynila Film Festival will run in May 2016. For more updates, look for Sinag Maynila on Facebook (SinagMaynila), Twitter (@sinagmaynila), and Instagram (@sinagmaynila).