No More UPCAT for 80,000 Public High School Students? Really?

I was shocked when I saw this headline: Why new law exempts 80,000 students from taking UPCAT. According to this article:

More than 80,000 graduating public high school students will be exempt from taking college entrance examinations in state universities and colleges (SUCs), including the UP College Admission Test (UPCAT), Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said Tuesday.


“The scholars do not have to take the competitive entrance tests of state universities, including […] UPCAT. All that they have to do is apply for admission, and they will be allowed in, as long as they choose the campus in their home region, and provided that the school’s quota for the Iskolar ng Bayan is still not full,” Romulo said.

I didn’t want to comment at first, because everyone knows we are in the UPCAT review business. One might think I’m grumbling because we will lose students. That’s true, we might lose students. But so what? That shouldn’t stop me from asking the following questions:

1. UP only accepts a total of more or less 12,000 students every year. That’s nationwide. And yet 80,000 are exempted from taking the UPCAT?!?

2. If still only a certain percentage of these 80,000 get admitted to UP, what exactly would the parameters be to determine who are and who are not eligible? School grades? Uh-oh, there’s more reason to cry, “Favoritism!” (Remember the salutatorian who ranted during her speech? Many sided with her at first but upon learning that the valedictorian passed the UPCAT but the grumbling salutatorian did not, the valedictorian was vindicated). Connections? Relatives? Hmmmm! Without any unbiased exam, this isn’t farfetched!

3. Does this mean almost all of the UP students would come from public schools already? Imagine that’s 80,000 clamoring for more or less 12,000 slots. How many slots would be left for private school students, then?

4. Hate me for saying this, but face it: there are a lot of “running for valedictorian” students from several public (and private!!!) schools who are less smart than the worst students of other schools.

5. OK, so UP will be more “pangmasa” because majority of the students will come from public high schools. But because of the this law don’t you think that public high schools will start swarming with rich kids? You know, those who graduated from good (and expectedly, expensive) elementary schools will choose to go to a public school because they’ll have greater chances of going to UP. Don’t you think that would be worse? High school pa lang, nawawalan na ng slots ang mahihirap—the private elementary school students will top the public high school entrance exams and take the “pilot section” slots where the Top 10 would of course come from.


6. When exactly would the students know whether they would get qualified? Do they apply at the start of the schoolyear? If at the start of the schoolyear they belong to the Top 10 but later on they fall behind, are they still eligible? If they apply after they graduate but do not get accepted to UP because of their grades, would they not have wished they had taken the UPCAT instead? Would they have blown their chances of going to other schools (and getting scholarships) like La Salle or Ateneo or aother prestigious universities thinking they’ll go to UP anyway?

7. Will there still be UP Oblation Scholars? I think it’s fine even if there is none. However, how would UP choose the INTARMED Candidates? Would a Top 10 student of Philippine Science High School who did not take the UPCAT not be qualified to be an INTARMED Candidate?

If at the end of it all the top 10 graduating students of public high schools still need to take the UPCAT to help them guarantee a slot in UP, then what is this all for?


Disclaimer:  I’m just reacting from article I read.  Yes, my view is myopic and my knowledge is limited, as this is just a blog post written to let off some steam, not a well-researched investigative journalism article.  Feel free to enlighten me.  Thanks!


UPDATE: A reader/friend on Facebook just posted this on my Timeline:

SEC. 4. Admission in SUCs. – Any public high school student who belongs to the top ten (10) bracket of the graduating class shall be entitled to the scholarship grant provided under this Act in any SUC of choice upon compliance with the following conditions:

(a) The student has graduated from any public high school in the country within two (2) years prior to the academic year being applied for in the SUC;

(b) The student has complied with the application requirements of the SUC;

(c) The student’s rank is reported by the public high school principal or administrator in a certificate bearing the name of the school and its location, the number of students, the rank of the student applicant in the graduating class, and other relevant information; and

(d) After taking the entrance examination in the chosen SUC, the student has obtained a rating which has been designated by the SUC as the minimum rating for a student to be able to qualify for the scholarship program.

SEC. 5. Limitation in the Acceptance of Top Public High School Graduates by SUCs. – All SUCs shall provide scholarships to qualified public high school graduates under this Act: Provided, That the applicants have successfully passed the entrance examination and have complied with the admission requirements of the SUCs.

According to him, “parang mali naman yung ‘NO UPCAT’ report ng media.  

Thank you Kuya Mark Nas for clarifying!



Another update, DMed to me by a former student:

As posted by the UPLB USC Chairperson Ronald Gem Celestial in the UPLB Batch 2015 group:

  • “Points of Clarification on the Implementation of theIskolar ngBayan Act in UP: Only 5% of the incoming freshman population will be allotted to theIskolar ngBayan Program. Top ten HS graduates who took theUPCAT would be prioritized over those top ten HS graduates who did not took theUPCAT. Why? Since only 5% is allotted to the incoming freshmen, theUPAI scores (not the HS grades) will be used to rank all thoseINB applicants todetermine who qualifies for the limited slots. Fornon-UPCAT takers, they are automatically admitted to the university but this is not tantamount to qualifying for their degree program of choice. The university shalldetermine its priority programs and these are the only programs wherenon-UPCAT takers shall have automatic admission, provided that there are available slots. Also, in order for you to have automatic admission, you should come from the region where the UP campus is situated.Diliman and Manila for NCR, Baguio for CAR, Pampanga for Region III, LosBanos forCALABARZON,Miagao and Iloilo for WesternVisayas, Cebu for CentralVisayas, Tacloban for EasternVisayas, Mindanao for Davao Region and Open University for all regions. Therefore, in UP, graduating as one of the top ten in your HS does not guarantee you automatic admission. These points were clarified yesterday (21 July 2015) at the University Committee for Scholarships and Financial Assistance where I was theUPLB Student Representative.”
    Thank you, Romel Amboy for sending me that!
    So I guess…may UPCAT pa rin talaga?

Sale Alert: Ital Design Offers Dunlopillo Mattresses at Special Prices!


When it comes to matters of the home, even the smallest details count for a great deal. Dunlopillo, a certified name in quality sleep, has partnered with Ital Design, an authority in home décor, to create a one-of-a-kind showroom.

Ital Design Showroom

Known for its thoughtfully engineered mattresses, Dunlopillo has created for itself a legacy of comfort through the years. The latex boasts of being the best in the world, providing unparalleled support and high elasticity. Its mattresses allow for exceptional air ventilation and breathability for ideal temperature control. To prevent the growth and spread of bacteria, the mattresses incorporate the use of silver, which is proven to possess antibacterial properties. For minimal partner disturbance, its springs are designed to ensure uninterrupted slumber. Carefully crafted to ensure a restful night, Dunlopillo puts a premium on comfort and sleep.

Ital Design’s Managing Director, Jam Chan, is enthusiastic about their newly renovated showroom at MC Home Depot in Bonifacio Global City. “Instead of doing a cluttered display of mattresses, we decided to play with the store and make it more visually appealing to our clients.”

Ten decorated vignettes of different themes are on display to encourage customers to imagine the possibilities the mattresses and furniture hold.

Bedroom displays tastefully decorated in neutral colors and rustic accents provide a classic and homey appeal.

Nothing spells bold femininity more than bright crimson, an eye-catching arrangement with an elegant feel.

There’s also a twin set designed to symmetrically split the room between a teenage boy and a teenage girl is a practical option for those who share a space without compromising individuality, and so much more!

In line with the launch of the newly renovated showroom at MC Home Depot in Bonifacio Global City, Ital Design will be providing special prices for its premium Dunlopillo mattresses from July 16-19, 2015.

This generous gesture celebrates their one of a kind luxurious showroom, innovated to enable customers to imagine the possibilities that the mattresses and furniture hold. Ten uniquely decorated vignettes in styles appealing to every type of customer feature the Dunlopillo mattresses, which are highlighted in every display. Whether you’re a bachelor, a student, or a mother of five, Ital Design and Dunlopillo have furniture pieces and sleeping solutions for your personal haven in store.

What can customers expect from visiting the new showroom? An introductory discount for Dunlopillo’s new model mattress Elena, which will be sold at the special price of 50% off! All-time favorite mattresses Romero Premium and Firmest Luxe will also be included at reduced prices. With premium goods at reasonable prices, those who are looking to decorate and furnish their homes certainly have every reason to visit the new Ital Design showroom.

Dunlopillo is also available at the Libis Showroom, the Edsa-Cubao Showroom, MC Home Depot in Bonifacio Global City, MC Home Depot in Pasig, Ayala Center Cebu, and Abreeza Mall Davao. Follow Ital Design on Facebook and on Instagram through @italdesignph

To the Best Husband & Dad: 7 Years and Counting

I realized that two consecutive Sundays have come to remind me how blessed I am to have Randy in my life: Father’s Day last Sunday, and our 7th Wedding Anniversary today.

How time flew!

Salamat Facebook sa pagpapaalala!

Honestly (and sadly), I almost forgot our anniversary. And last Sunday, I was just too tired to honor Randy as a father: I was not able to buy him a gift and I didn’t have the time and energy to, once again, laud him publicly how truly happy I am that he is the father of my son. I was that busy and tired. I felt like there’s no room in my head to reminisce and be sentimental about us, puro work, work, work, work na lang ang laman ng utak ko! That’s why when Randy said he’ll be joining the dog show in Angeles this weekend, I didn’t protest.

But now I realize that having two consecutive Sundays to celebrate the important roles Randy has been playing are not to be ignored. After all, not everyone gets to snag a handsome, smart and faithful partner…

Ay mali! Hahaha! But LeBron James, Randy is very loyal to you. More loyal than your own wife. LOL!

Ito na talaga:

Kunsabagay, what reason does he have not to be faithful to me? Hihihi!

…and not all children have a loving, patient and generous father!

Ay mali uli! Si Raviv pala dapat! Hahaha! But with how he took care of his puppies, multiply that a thousand times over…that’s how he is with our son.

So let me remind myself why my husband is truly a gift from God.

Here are my Top 7 (for the 7 years of blessed wedded bliss.) reasons why he’s the best, ever!

  1. He is such a great, great dad. May aaminin ako sa inyo. A week before Father’s Day, Randy and I had a fight. I was emotional, fuming mad and irrational. So emotional and irrational that I wanted to leave him. But what primarily held me back was Raviv—I could never ever deprive him of any minute away from his Tatay. I really can’t. Sabihin na ng mga tao ang gusto nilang sabihin against Randy, but what I could never ever deny is how great of a father he is to Raviv. I woudn’t be able to forgive myself if I take that opportunity away from Raviv.
  2. He is so dependable. Randy is my North, and even though I would sulk when he sermons me, many of my newfound good traits are because of him. I am not scared of the future, because I know he makes sound decisions. And if ever he is wrong, he will work doubly hard to make it right. He is THAT kind of man. Truly, I will be lost without him.
  3. He prioritizes us. Yes, his family. Not his work, not his barkada, not social gatherings, not a drinking spree…it’s family first to him. And by the way, his family includes Raviv, me…and the dogs and LeBron James. LOL! On a more serious note, what really proves this is the fact that he tends to be more careful with his words towards me and Raviv. He is usually brutally frank with other people especially when he is cross, but he is careful with his words when reprimanding me and Raviv. ‘Di ba usually baligtad? But no—he cares more about not to offend the people he loves.
  4. He is smart and intelligent. Alam naman natin ang academic credentials ni Randy, ‘di ba? Moreso if you know of his childhood and how he became who he is. But what’s more amazing about him is that even those with “higher academic credentials” are in awe of him. I’ve often heard them say they’re astonished how Randy could pull off something, how he manages to organize things, how easily he could explain something, and many more.
  5. He is good to my family. One of the things Randy did that I will never forget and forever cherish was when he suggested we shoulder three sessions of my tita’s chemotherapy. I didn’t need to ask him to give—he just did on his own. Moreover, he never sulks when my folks are around, and even always tells me to ensure they are comfortable. I love him all the more for loving my family!
  6. He is not fat. Hehe. I’m not body shaming anyone (especially because I’ve packed a few extra pounds in the last two months myself), but I want to give credit where credit is due. Randy is among the least vain men I know, but for a long life with his family, he’s very disciplined when it comes to his diet and exercise. I’m just glad he’s not like most men who expect their wives never to get fat but allow themselves to look likeBaymax.More than a designer clutch, a handsome husband on the red carpet is a woman’s more preferred accessory.
  7. He is sappy in his own way.  It’s kinda hard for those who know Randy to imagine how sweet he is with me. Even I. When I see him in action at work, I feel special because I can’t imagine how this driven, hardworking, no-time-for-idleness man could have made me blush with his sweet words and gestures. But he is, in private. I remember being envious of other women because their husbands are very showy on social media, whereas Randy is more often reserved.


    But I felt a wave of relief because I have a Facebook friend who was what I had hoped Randy to be: he keeps on posting how lovely his wife is, how much he loves his wife, etc. But I know for a fact—yes—FACT, that he’s cheating on his unsuspecting wife. In his own words, “Huli ka balbon!”



I’m happy that even though Randy isn’t showy like that on social media, he has–in real life–shown me what a great husband and father is.  And I’m blogging about it not because I’m insecure, but because he deserves to be acknowledged, after all he’s been doing for us. So this blog entry is actually me taking a break and just marvelling and consciously reminding myself what a great man God gave me. It’s not that I need to convince myself—hell no—but I just want to reflect on why he’s the best husband I could ever have, so I won’t take him for granted. And more so, to inspire me to be the wife that he needs.

Happy 7th Wedding Anniversary, Sweetheart! Thank you for allowing me to soar, for always being the wind beneath my wings. However I try to “make it on my own”, I will always acknowledge that what I’ve become, what I’ve achieved and what I have are all because of your intellectual, emotional, financial, and moral support.

I love you, always and forever.

He never looks for praises
He’s never one to boast
He just goes on quietly working
For those he loves the most
His dreams are seldom spoken
His wants are very few
And most of the time his worries
Will go unspoken too
He’s there…. A firm foundation
Through all our storms of life
A sturdy hand to hold to
In times of stress and strife
A true friend we can turn to
When times are good or bad
One of our greatest blessings,
The man that we call Dad.

Related Post:

Happy 6th Wedding Anniversary, Randy!!!

When & Where a Toddler Should Go To School

Several people I talk to are flabbergasted when I tell them that Raviv started going to school when he was only 1.5 years old. It’s either they say that he was too young, or that it might backfire as Raviv might get tired of school very early. They have valid points, but I don’t regret sending Raviv to school “that early”. In fact, as I read and research more about early childhood education, the more happy I feel that I sent Raviv to school “that early”. Many studies show that the most critical stage in a person’s development is in the first three years of life when 75% of the brain is developed.

Like constructing a house, brains are built upon a strong foundation. This starts before birth, and is very important during the first three years of life. Brain cells are “raw” materials — much like lumber is a raw material in building a house, and a child’s experiences and interactions help build the structure, put in the wiring, and paint the walls.

An infant’s repeated exposure to words clearly helps her brain build the neural connections that will enable her to learn more words later on. Language can be learned a multitude of ways, like casual conversation, songs, rhymes, reading, music, story telling and much more. Early stimulation sets the stage for how children will learn and interact with others throughout life.

[…]In the brain, the neurons are there at birth, as well as some synapses. As the neurons mature, more and more synapses are made.

[…]The brain eliminates connections that are seldom or never used, which is a normal part of brain development.

[…]If a child receives little stimulation early on, the synapses will not develop, and the brain will make fewer connections.

– snippets lifted from THIS ARTICLE

Lifted from

I am just happy that in those critical years of Raviv’s life, we helped him develop his synapses, and one of them is through sending him to school. I normally don’t like to dwell on the thought that Raviv is “advance” for his age, yet I can’t help but be impressed by the things he knows: he learned to read quickly, he can recite all the planets in the Solar System (in order from the Sun, and we don’t know how he learned that!) and he knows a thing or two about each planet, he knows all the seven continents and some countries in each continent (he loves looking at maps & globes, as in he studies them!), and he is always curious about his surroundings (“Why does the moon seem to follow us?”)

Whether he is really inteligent or average, I am just happy that he has such a positive attitude towards learning.

So in my opinion, when exactly should toddlers or kids go to school? My frank answer is ANY TIME and AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.

This was applicable to my family, and may not be applicable to yours. It worked for us, but it may not work for you. Let me explain first why it worked for us, before you rush to enroll your kid to the nearest toddler school in your subdivision. [Read more…]

Bag Raid: Inside Raviv’s Lily & Tucker Bag (Traveling Essentials of Toddlers)

Raviv was ecstatic when he received his Lily & Tucker “Danny” bag. We’ve long waited for an opportunity for him to use it, because school was still out.

And then when Randy announced we were going to Dinosaurs Island in Clarkfield and stay there overnight, I knew we didn’t have to wait for school to use it.

I stuffed Raviv’s things in his Lily & Tucker Danny bag. This is supposed to be a school bag, but it’s roomy and sturdy enough as a “weekend bag” for kids’ stuff.

Let me share with you what I put in Raviv’s Danny bag during our overnight stay in Clark. These are what I consider as “toddler’s essentials” when traveling.

So what exactly are these?

Let’s begin with what are inside Raviv’s Disney toiletries pouch, which you may want to include in your checklist:

[Read more…]

Raviv’s Wardrobe Diary #31: Roar for Dinosaurs! (June 3, 2015)

Ola! I’m currently preparing for a presentation next Saturday, and I’m already tired. Blogging break muna.

Anyway, our super duper short & light UPCAT review season ended last week. To mark that finally we are on vacation mode, Randy made last minute plans to go to Clark/Angeles. Raviv had been saying he wanted to go back to Dinosaurs Island and to go swimming. So Randy tasked me to book at Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks & Casino. More about Fontana in a separate blogpost. For the meantime, i-feature muna natin ang Ravivong Bata and his outfit.

We arrived at Clark at around 9 a.m. Since it was still too early to check-in our villa at Fontana, we proceeded to Dinosaurs Island. Look at how excited and “nasa mood” Raviv was, despite the long travel:

Ain’t he the cutest?!? And allow me point out the obvious: his shirt was just perfect for this trip! Kebs nang long-sleeves at pinawisan siya! Basta dinosaur!  Or should I say, dino-snoar?

But it wasn’t just his shirt that was in the theme. Notice that he’s carrying a backpack, too. We don’t usually make him carry a bag, but this one’s an exception, because he loves his bag so much. Take a look:

Raviv’s whole ensemble made him so much more excited. So of course, here are the outfit details:

  • long-sleeved blue shirt: Debenham’s Blue Zoo
  • mustard shorts: Rustan’s Kiddos
  • sandals: Chicco
  • abaca hat: from a store at Festival Mall
  • bag: Lily & Tucker “Danny” bag

[Read more…]

Day at the (Mind) Museum

My friend (and Raviv’s Ninang) Light Manuel took Raviv to The Mind Museum a day before Mother’s Day. Randy and I have long planned to go to The Mind Museum. I (as MomsterTeacher) have received invitations to go there, but my schedule always gets in the way.

Then months ago, Light told me about being excited to “spoil Raviv for a whole day”, and that included a trip to The Mind Museum.

When I realized I’d be busy in May, I realized I’d take Light’s offer so that Ravivo could enjoy even if his parents were busy. And so finally it happened on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I had classes at McKinley Hill in Taguig that day, and the plan was that our driver would bring Raviv to The Mind Museum (just at BGC) where Raviv would meet his Ninang Light.

Across The Mind Museum

On that day, I woke up really early. It was Yaya Beth’s dayoff, so I had to bathe and dress up Raviv by myself. Eh 6:30 dapat umalis na kami, because we were coming from Sta. Rosa and our classes start at 8. So at 5 a.m., I woke Raviv up—he has to bathe first before I do because if I bathed before he did, mababasa lang ako.

I: Raviv, wake-up na!
Raviv, easily waking up: Are we going to The Mind Museum today?
I: Yes it’s today!
Raviv, suddenly jumping up: Yehey, yehey, yehey!

Bathing and dressing him up were a breeze, because he was really looking forward to this day!

While I was teaching, Light contacted our driver and gave him instructions where to drop off Raviv.

During lunch break, I started to worry—pa’ano kung mapa-jebs si Raviv? Can Light handle it? Pa’ano sa escalator (because Light was planning to take Raviv to SM Aura as well)—kaya kaya ni Light si Raviv? Baka mahulog!!! And what if they cross a street and Raviv runs?!? Homaygahd!!!

But of course, I kept these things to myself and calmly texted Light.

Reading this, I didn’t calm down—I got giddy with excitement to hear about their day!

Raviv arrived just in time after my class. I hurried to the van to hear about his day.  Ito ang nadatnan ko:

Knocked-out ang bagets! I really, really wanted to wake him up, but I knew he must be sooo tired…he had been up since 5 a.m.!

Good thing that later that night, Ninang Light uploaded their photos while at The Mind Museum. With matching captions pa!

Here they are:

Raviv must have really loved this—recently, he has been obsessed with the solar system! I was really surprised when he recited all the planets from the Sun—in order! Promise!!! We didn’t ask him to memorize the planets—he’s just that passionate about them that’s why he memorized! And he even knows little facts and some trivia about each planet!

And of course, I could only imagine how amazed he was upon seeing these:

Since he was one, he has loved animals! He never tires of playing with his cheapipay rubber and plastic animal toys. And his most favorite among them all are dinosaurs! That’s why as young as two years old, he knew what fossils were! I guess that’s why he spent so much time here:

Ninang Light’s caption: “How I managed to end up with sand in my left shoe, was all thanks to explorer Raviv and his fossil digging frenzy.”

But my favorite posts of Ninang Light were these:

Read Ninang Light’s caption:

‘Di baaa? Remember when I shared with you my sadness over Raviv’s shyness? Well, he was in a strange place with several strangers, with a ninang he sees very rarely. But my oh my oh my! Apparently, my nerdy boy loses his inhibitions when it comes to science! #ManaSaTatay #PeterParkerAllTheWay Oh how I wish I were there to have seen the fire in his eyes (ooops, pun not intended. Seriously!)

Ninang Light’s caption: “Our little scientist is so serious, LOL.”

So I guess he also enjoyed these other science-y stuff:

But because he’s still a kid, he also had to explore the playground at The Mind Museum:

…and apparently made his Ninang enjoy the playground, too!

But Raviv isn’t all Randy—like his Nanay, he also likes giving names!

Ninang Light’s caption: “He named the fishes he caught Rusty, Dusty, and Melvin. I do not know where those names came from, LOL.

By the way, here’s another amusing kwento by Ninang Light:

Kaya pala when I saw him sleeping in the van, the bracelet was still intact:

Perhaps our toddler boy figured that Nanay & Tatay also want to go to The Mind Museum, and that we won’t have to worry about buying his ticket. LOL!

(But seriously, I hope Randy and I could also go there!)

And to further spoil Raviv, Ninang Light brought him to SM Aura…

Ninang Light’s caption: “Raviv pretending to play piano. He was amazed at the piano with keys moving but no piano player.”

This one’s amusing:

Hahaha! Actually, up to now, he’s convinced that Superman is inside that telephone box!


…to go to Toy Kingdom where he was made to choose any toy he liked! Light ended up buying him two toys that IMHO were both expensive!

Pero teka, ano itong hanash ni Ravivo?!? Look:

Until now, I have the same reaction…Whaaaat?!?!? Kaloka ang “no new clothes” mo, Anak! Just the day before that I shopped lots of new clothes for you!!!


Randy and I were truly touched by Light’s generosity. Neither Randy nor I am the “Marami ka nang utang sa inaanak mo” or “Pasalubong Ninang, ha.” type. Kahit pa-joke, we don’t say that. Honestly, we find it tacky. And we feel that’s an insult to Raviv’s natural charm (hehe). We don’t want Raviv’s godparents to ever feel they’re obligated to love our son, or to give him gifts. But when they do, we are super duper ultra mega grateful and happy. #ILoveEveryoneWhoLovesMySon

So, thank you Light for making Raviv very happy! I’ll make sure that Raviv never forgets your goodness to him. And I’ll make him promise he’ll take care of you when you grow old and alone.

JOKE LANG!!! You’re going to be cool mom, Light, I can tell. 😉  And a good wife, too! 😉

Four Decades of Good Times & Great Memories!


I have mentioned that I’m not a pizza person. Never was. So when I’m out with my family and friends, and they ask for suggestions where we would eat, they’re all surprised whenever I would suggest Shakey’s.

Bakit nga ba Shakey’s? Because it’s more than just pizza (although I fell in love with one of its new flavors, Pizza Bianca!)—I love its mojos, salads…and its fried chicken is among the best fried chickens I’ve ever tasted!

I love Shakey’s mojos and chicken!

I also love the ambiance. The seats are comfortable, the toilets are clean, the air is festive yet subdued. That’s why aside my family, it’s also where my friends and I eat when we want a wholesome evening just catching up on our lives. And of course, to enjoy good food!

Randy meets his high school batchmate for the first time since after their high school graduation at Shakey’s!

We had dinner at Shakey’s to celebrate a friend’s birthday and to send-off another friend to UK.

Truly, there are so good memories I have made with my loved ones at Shakey’s!

Since it first opened its first store 40 years ago in 1975, Shakeys has become a family restaurant, encouraging hearty eating and family bonding over delicious meals they have made famous: Pizza, chicken and mojos. With their restaurants serving as a haven for Good Times and Great Memories, each and every one of their Guests definitely have their own wonderful Shakey’s story to tell.

[Read more…]

Dreamy Pictures from Dreamy-Garden Portraits

Guys, I’ve been meaning to share these super duper wonderful photos of our family with you for the longest time! These were taken by the very talented Nadia Vieira, with the help of Tamami Kretzschmar, of Dreamy-Garden Portrait!

The first time I saw this duo’s works, I gasped. The pictures that they produce are pure magic!

View More:

For some reason, their photos stir up something in me. I feel nostalgic, I feel in love, I feel warm, I feel tingly, and I feel happy! Nadia not only captures the essence and soul of the models, but she also mesmerizes those who look at her photos!

When the creative duo invited our family (that includes our extended family—our bullmastiffs!) to model for them, we readily said, “YES!!!” And boy are we glad that we did, because it was a fun experience. Which of course, resulted to having photos we will cherish for a looooong time!

Tamami (wearing the hat) and Nadia (holding the camera) behind the scenes during our photoshoot

Let’s get to know the 411 on the Nadia Veiera while I show you some of our wonderful photos.

5647_1514313668794682_1057637968_nNadia Vieira, the talented photographer of Dreamy-Garden Portrait!

How did Dreamy-Garden start?

Nadia: Back in Ecuador, I used to run a family portrait business. But then my husband had to work here in the Philippines, and our whole family came with him. Since photography is really my passion, I decided to replicate my business here. I asked my neighbor and new friend, Tamami, to join the adventure because of her artistic skills and kindness to children.

Nadia’s partner, Tamami Kretzschmar is soo good in set design! And yes, she also is a fantastic graphic artist!

There are lots of photographers and photography studios out there. What sets Dreamy-Garden apart and what makes it special?

Nadia: We are a boutique studio. This means that we have a very personalized attention to each client.

On our first consultation, we even discuss the goals of the Portrait Session (what it is for, etc.), and we talk about the location, what to wear, etc.

Nadia taught me how to crane my neck, emote and speak with my eyes!

Each photo session can be arranged at our studios (in Los Banos and in Manila) or at our favorite: outdoors before sunset! We can also arrange for an make-up artist if requested.

After our photo session, we meet again to look at the photos together. At this point, we discuss the custom design wall portrait pieces that we create for each client.

At Dreamy Garden, we look to create an heirloom that will be cherished by the families, and that is possible because we devote time and attention to our clients. That also means we have limited booking slots.


What is your specialty?

Nadia: We are a family-oriented portrait studio. That includes special sessions like pregnancy, newborns, and grandparents…and even pets!

Fun fact: Tamami is also a pet whisperer!

We provide not only portrait photography. We specialize in create pieces of art to decorate our client’s homes. Our products are museum quality: canvas, fine art paper, and wooden canvas. We partner with a framer that offers custom hand-made wooden frames.

I love the photo, and I love the wooden frame!!!

A portrait on wood presents an organic way to display some of life’s most fulfilling moments. Your photos on wood will become a focal point in your home.

We normally ask to our clients to send us pictures of the walls where they plan to hang their portraits. We then design and advise our clients about the color and arrangement of portraits on their wall.

Dreamy-Garden offers high quality canvas prints: strong material against UV that makes the color last your lifetime. Portraits wcreate a one-of-a-kind masterpiece!


What’s your favorite subject?

Tamami’s eye for design complements Nadia’s photography prowess!

[Read more…]

Remembering Paul Sargei Azurin

Guys don’t worry. As far as I know, Paul Sargei Azurin is still alive. He’s just really MIA because of his community work in far-flung areas with poor cellphone signal and no internet connection.

Anyway, it was my dear friend & protege Sargei’s birthday two days ago. We tried calling him to greet him a happy birthday but alas, he can’t be reached. Several people have also greeted him on Facebook, no response. Busy-busy ata talaga ang lolo natin.

Tonight, his other two closest co-teachers (Patty and Abe) and I bonded over dinner. Nasali siya sa usapan. And then we can’t stop talking about how much we miss him! Kulang ang summer sa Brain Train Sta. Rosa nang wala si Sargei!

Achtung! Sargei and I

It’s an open secret that Sargei is “my guy”. As in he’s one of my favourites, even if he has had a lot of bloopers. Irvin told me that he noticed I’m often biased for Sargei. I don’t know why, but he has really endeared himself to me. So I was surprised when I learned that Sargei is often misunderstood and people get offended by him.

Tonight, as we remembered and missed Sargei over dinner, we had a run through of his famous lines, guaranteed to offend people who do not really know him.

Sargeism 1

I was telling Sargei how fond Randy is of ladies who are ladylike and gentle. And then…

Sargei: Eh Ma’am kung mga ladylike at demure pala ang type ni Sir Randy, ba’t n’ya kayo nagustuhan e ganyan kayo?

At ang gusto mong ipahiwatig Sargei ay?…


Sargeism 2

Sargei was directing a short play. He was inviting me to do a cameo role.

Sargei: Ma’am, sali ka sa play namin. Saglit lang ang rehearsal, promise.

I: Naku Sargei busy kasi ako these days…

Sargei: Ma’am sige na. Kasi lahat ng artista ko puro estudyante. E kelangan namin ng matanda na. E ikaw lang ang kilala kong matanda na.

Boom! Ang galing ng convincing powers, ‘di ba?


Sargeism 3

We were teasing Sargei because apparently, our driver Dodong scolded him for not being “frefared” (Dodong’s version of “prepared”) when they went to visit a school during the time they were doing the marketing of Brain Train. At that time, Yaya Isay was pregnant (unplanned) with Dodong’s baby.

Irvin: Naku Sargei buti pa si Dodong, “frefared” lagi sa mga byahe ninyo. Ikaw lagi kang hindi “frefared”!

Sargei, rolling his eyes: OK lang. At least hindi naman ako nakabuntis!

Uhm, connection Sargei? Hahahaha!


Sargeism 4

After some time, Dodong and Sargei met again. Yaya Isay has just given birth to her and Dodong’s child. With a huge grin on his face, Sargei excitedly greeted Dodong…

Sargei: Kuya Dodong!!! Nakita ko na ang anak mo…puro rashes!!!

Yes, ganyan talaga. Wala man lang, “Ang cute!” o “Ang ganda!” Rashes talaga ang binati! Hahahaha!

Sargeism 5

When we were doing BT@20: Going Neh-shu-nehl, Sargei lived with us in our house. He was roommates then with Irvin (who also used to live with us).

Sargei: Naku Sir Irvs, ubos na pala ang shampoo mo!

Irvin: Ha? Hindi, marami pa ‘yun!

Sargei: Hindi, ubos na talaga! Kelangan mo na bumili nang bago!

Irvin: Pa’no mo nalamang ubos na?

Sargei: E ako ang nakaubos.

Irvin: Grabe ka naman! Libre na board and lodging mo dito tapos tingin mo libre rin toiletries mo?

Sargei: Oo Sir, parang hotel!


Sargeism 6

Sargei was telling me that one of his new rakets was hosting. He was proudly telling me that he thinks he’s doing a very good job. Since Irvin was also a professional host, I asked him to compare himself to Irvin.

I: Sarge tingin mo, level mo na si Irvin sa hosting?

Sargei: Tingin ko po.

I: Sino sa tingin mo ang mas magaling sa inyo?

Sargei: ‘Yung totoo Ma’am? Tingin ko, ako.

I: O talaga ganun ka na kagaling? Pa’no mo naman nasabi?

Sargei: Eh mas charming ako kesa kay Irvs.

I: Bakit naman?

Sargei: S’yempre po kasi maganda ang built ko e siya mataba siya!

Irvin’s reaction when I told him about this conversation: Isang malakas na halakhak!


Looking back, onga, may pagka-tactless nga ‘ata si Sargei, hehe. But I haven’t been offended by him because it’s either I am tactless myself or because I just know Sargei too well. I think it’s both, actually. But let’s focus on the latter reason.

I am proud to say that I love Sargei because I know and appreciate the real him.

Yes, he may be tactless, but he’s the most honest person I’ve ever known. I love him because of that refreshing honesty that came with the candor many people frown upon.

Other people may also get annoyed by his being overcompetitive. But that competitive spirit of him is truly inspiring! He’s passionate about the things he does, and it’s contagious! Lethargic people around him suddenly do not want to become mediocre anymore.

And even when he’s bragging about his abilities, he’s also the most humble person I know. He commits errors, yes, but he is quick to apologize for any mistake. He does not fabricate any excuses. He would also readily accept a scolding and not bear any grudges. He just moves forward and tries to rectify his mistakes.

Now, it’s getting clear to me why I love Sargei despite and in spite of what other people may think of him: Sargei is one-of-a-kind, and he has a pure heart.

Sarge, kung nasan ka man ngayon, know that we are with you in spirit on your birthday and all the days to come. Don’t ever, ever change, because we love you just the way you are.

Ay wait. I think Randy will love you even more if you wake up earlier than usual.

Happy birthday, Sargei!!! We hope to see you soon. May our virtual hugs keep you warm always!