It's March and you'll often see your Facebook feeds flooded with graduation pictures or moving up day videos. So here's my share this graduation season.
What's the big deal about moving up or graduation? More than the awards and the cute presentations, I see it as a reflection of how much we value education... that having a degree gives you a fighting chance for a better living.
The Food for Hungry Minds
Two weeks ago, me and my officemates went to visit the Food for Hungry Minds school. It's amazing on how we were able to transform people's lives through the power of better education. I've met some kids in their homes when this school started, and you wouldn't believe on the amount of pressure they're facing living in such conditions in their neighborhood. In school they are taught academics and character formation, but when they go home, I could say that they're already doing doctorate studies in life as they're under tremendous pressure on just being able to survive life on a daily basis.
With Food for Hungry Minds' more than 10 years of dedication, I was glad to hear stories of graduates who were able to graduate from the Philippines' top universities and pursue their dreams. As the foundation continues to help more kids, may they be a catalyst for social change for our country and the world.
ANCOP (Answering the Cry of the Poor)
Since I'm part of the Couples for Christ advocacy on alleviating poverty, we started the Be a Hero Program this school year. We raise funds to help the most needy in our Sector so their kids can have additional funds for their education. The mission is investing in the education hoping for a our country's better future by raising educated and Christ-centered kids.
Amanda's Moving Up
It's Amanda's second year in preschool and noticed that she learned a lot. Here's a brief highlight of her moving up day.
It was cute seeing her perform. This may well wrap up what she learned in school. Yes, she now starts to read simple words and sentences, writes better, creates more defined drawings, paints well. But more importantly, she's able to connect more with her classmates and be more inclusive.
One thing I noticed this year was her interest with singing, dancing and speaking in front of people. Although prior to the moving up day she had asthma, she was absent for two days of the practice. But what's interesting was her ability to stay focused and practiced on her own during those days she was out so she was still able to catch up when she went back to school for the practice.
I believe real education is not about the final grades you receive at the end of the school year, nor the medals and certificates that you get. In life, what's important is the character formation that educational institutions bring and the challenges we encounter.
The kids in HMS, the scholars of ANCOP, and Amanda made big steps in recognizing that education is more than just numbers and words but rather seeing through the obstacles they encounter everyday.
Amanda's moving up day theme is "Be a leader, be the desired change". This gave me a sense of hope for our future. As early as their preschool years, they are taught that change starts with oneself and doesn't depend on other things that you don't have control. With HMS and ANCOP's scholars, I'm more ecstatic that our kids who don't have capability to get better education to have hope. Hope to see that their dreams are a step closer to reality.
Happy birthday Mommy Cali!
Just would like to thank and honor you for always taking care of us. I know it's super difficult to stay sane with all the demands of motherhood and our growing Peek 'n Click business, but you stayed stronger and more beautiful than ever.
To my #OTL, I love you and happy birthday!
Meet Amanda and Cassie's pet.
Last month, after our weekly routine of visiting Lola Ludy -> Mc Donald's breakfast with Lolo Ador, Ate Amanda wanted to visit Mr. Bear in BGC High Street. Since it's still early morning, we figured we just dropped by and say hi.
Fortunately, there was a pet exhibit during that weekend where we saw furry chickens, colorful fish and empty dog cages. Then there was a pet shop owner who's preparing for his talk later that afternoon and he's putting all these fish in individual plastic bags to be given away after his speaking engagement. So my wife, with her usual charm just asked what they were doing. Then they were super nice to give this fish to our babies making him our family's first pet. Later on I realized that Peppa's first pet was a fish as well.
So I asked Ate Amanda, "What name would you like to give our pet?" She said, "Hmmmmm, I know... FISHY!"
One of the positive things I observed when we had fishy is that ate became more caring. She sees to it that we feed him 3 pellets per meal twice a day as advised by the pet owner. A great way to teach her about responsibility which we could already see when she protects Cassandra to prevent her from falling the bed when we need to go out for a while.
Last May 16 weekend, we were fortunate to attend the CFC Echo Conference. And this year's theme is Love More.
Some insights I got were:
My wife's already in her 37th week of pregnancy. In a race, this is what we call the homestretch. The last leg. The defining moment.
Ever noticed this in life? That all great things cannot be done overnight? And have you ever noticed that the most difficult part in a long process is always the last leg?
Here are five things our family checked if we're really ready for Cassandra.
Checking out these five areas, I think we're ready and if we missed something, I'm sure these will be areas where God will surprise our family.
Amanda's favorite past time which started few weeks ago was the "What's that sign?" game. I think this is the stage where she learned how to use the "What". So here's the mechanics of the game... everytime she sees a traffic sign, she's going to ask Mommy and Daddy, what's that sign? Cute isn't it? (like Amanda's Daddy :) )
So what are the things me and my wife observed:
Learning from Bruce Almighty
Today's my last day in my on shore assignment. Work-wise, I was able to talk to a lot of people. Generated new ideas of improving almost all areas in my work. Personally, my long wait was over and that I'm excited to see my girls.
While waiting for my laundry to finish, I opened the tv and just happened to catch Bruce Almighty again. And this idea struck me... "How can you make someone love you by respecting his/her freewill?"
In the movie, it was all about Bruce getting all God's powers. But it has a limitation... you can never use it to make people love you... because of freewill.
Same is true with parenting. Now that Amanda is still a toddler, I know it's easy for her to love us as her parents. It is a given that all of us, when we're young, we all go to our parents since we're highly dependent on them. Maybe 10 years down the road, things will change. She maybe fully independent and as all parents may fear, we don't have control if she'll love us back..
So then came my thought, how can we make our kids go back and love us?
It was and always will be a work in progress. I think that if I could just plant tiny seeds of love everyday in what ever way that she may or may not feel may be the answer. Like, when we're apart, we always say I love you. Or simply take time to appreciate her crooked that are supposedly straight line drawings. Or drop a conversation with an adult to just listen to her telling "look at my minion castle"
Little things, when compounded might just be the way to raise loving kids. Just pure theory for now, after all I'm just a rookie dad.
Why send your kid to summer school?
I think most new parents are very anxious on leaving their child to a person whom they don't know personally for some hours to interact with other kids. Some doubts that kept on wondering in a parent's mind could be, "what if there's a bully who would hurt my child?" or "what if she starts looking for me and frantically screams the whole session?" or "what if she becomes bored as she doesn't have interest with their activities?"
Before the summer began, we were still having some doubts if Amanda is too young to go to school. Imagine, from three years old up to well 22, she'll be undergoing a rigid routine of waking up early, commuting to school and then being preoccupied with all the schoolwork with greater pressure as she becomes older.
Maybe I was thinking way advanced and looking at the disadvantage more than what the benefits we could get from having her attend school.
Two Fridays ago, it was Amanda's end of summer school. And guess what? I realized six surprising things that happened to Amanda as a result of her schooling:
It was amazing to see how Champee has grown in her communication skills after just three weeks of her summer class.
Last Tuesday, Champee was able to narrate her dream to Cali after waking up from her afternoon siesta. She told her that she had a very bad dream. "So what was your dream?", Cali said. "There was a giant hotdog that was running after me!", was Champee's reply with her eyes seemingly starting to cry. But then mommy was quick to respond that she's there and offered her something to eat to distract the fear from her dream.
It was a good plan, however, Cali forgot that the food they bought was "sopas". Yes, it was Champee's favorite, but everytime she eats it, she takes away the hotdogs as she really doesn't like the taste. Supposedly when we cook sopas, we dice the hotdogs so it doesn't look like one but unfortunately from where they bought this soup, you can easily recognize the hotdogs. So the distraction suddenly became a reminder again of her dream :)
I got curious how could a hotdog be so scary aside from being big so I googled up "giant hotdogs" and found the image above. And yes, it's scary indeed! Why would he put ketchup on his head? Is he planning to eat himself?! I don't have any idea who created this mascot but I'm sure I won't invite it on Champee's next birthday as it might trigger nightmares for her. (no offense to the creator it's just that my daughter doesn't appreciate giant scary hotdogs for now)
I don't think that I have inspired my wife enough on all her efforts for her motherhood. So I'm writing this week's blog to affirm all the sacrifices she made for me, Amanda and our little baby.
Prior to going full time mompreneur she has a great career in finance. She even got featured in a news feature for her retail stocks experience. She's also in a lead position where she's beginning to handle people and critical processes in the company she's working.
Since both of us are working we had no choice but to hire a nanny to take care of her while we're gone.
But then we had to decide... One night when we went home from work, we found Champee's face with bruises on her forehead and cheeks. Of course the nanny didn't admit what happened and that she made up stories of how that happened such that our daughter got crazy and hit her head with a remote multiple times. Take note she was just a year and a half years old then.
Trauma. Dishonesty. The real meaning of life.
Faced with such situation, I don't think any parent would still have the guts to hire another nanny and leave her child in the custody of someone we rarely know.
We also assessed why are we spending more than 12 hours of our time at the office, well in fact we're doing these to earn more money for Amanda and our future kids. Is the additional income of having both parents work really worth the time we're missing knowing that childhood can never be brought back when they are already grown ups?
Maybe for some couples it's a yes.
For us... No.
So now the question is who will take the sacrifice? Is it me or Cali?
In this patriarchal society the default should be the wife. But we were both open, of course at the back of my mind if I took the dive, I'm happy thinking about unlimited hours of playing, sleeping and doing something stupid so maybe that's what my wife thought ahead of me before I say yes. So to save our family from doom :) she took a hard decision and gave up her corporate life.
That sparked a change in our family life. Family is now on the top spot of the priority as we believed this is the primary calling of all moms and dads.
Luckily we have PnC photography that served as Cali's sideline. From corporate to mom - entrepreneur (mompreneur). From full time employee of taking care of the company's cash flow to witnessing the amazing daily transformation of Amanda with some financial benefits of the business on her own phase. From being in the comfort zone into taking risks and letting God do that math for the family's needs. Take note that being a full time is never easy. And top that with client meetings, sleepless nights on photo editing and being a CEO is harder than it looks. So with this I salute my wife for her hardwork.
Aside from her career, she pretty much deprioritize her shopping. Not that we don't gave budget on it but it's Mother's instinct to instead buy something for herself on her new clothes or shoes she ends up buying for Champee.
Unconditional love, commitment and hardwork. These are the values that made Mommy Cali the best mom in the whole universe for our little family. I may not have expressed my gratitude enough to tell all these but I just wanted to take this time to tell how much I thank Cali for all her sacrifices as a mom. We love you so much!
I'm a technology geek, photographer, musician and a rookie dad trying out to speak my mind through writing my daily experiences as a young Pinoy dad.