The Power of Positivity and Prayers

Hello hello!!!

I have to sleep in a few, because I have to be up early tomorrow.  Why?  Dahil may pupuntahan kami.pupunta kami sa

club-punta-fuegoImages lifted from

Pupunta kami sa Punta Fuego!!!

What made this very special is the fact that this post-summer outing almost did not happen!  Like what I had been saying on my blog in my previous posts, bad things happened.  So bad to the point that we thought everything was hopeless.  But praying really does wonders.  Strengthened by focusing on the positive pa!

Beginning last week, things started to get rosy.  It was jumpstarted by the visits of people who matter so much to us.  Aside from their ears and heart, may dala-dala pang mga pasalubong:

at touching messages:


Basta, sobrang gumaan ang pakiramdam ko. Smile

But good things did not end there.  I guess the pinnacle was Pong’s (one of our beloved and loving teachers) sendoff party.  How I wish I could share with you how we made Pong’s dream come true, but I can’t. Winking smile  Sikretong malupit!  But let me give you snapshots of that night:

10402486_10202196648906859_2785879038718194649_nImage lifted from Engr. Jeffrey Paulo Perez’s Facebook

And here’s The Math Dance number of BT’s Math Teachers:

Gets n’yo mga mathematical symbols na sinayaw ng “dancing queens” natin? Winking smile

And if I thought things were not gonna get better, it did.  After the super duper fun night, Randy and I had a date the following day: we watched The Fault in Our Stars before we fetched Dad from the airport.  I’d wanted to watch TFIOS for the longest time, and I did.  Randy did not like it that much, but I did.  So, yehey!!!

Then the following day, I had a Thursdate with my college besties.  We had dinner first.  After dinner…



If you’re wondering what the “blurring” is all aboutZaira, ‘wag kang magagalit at ibibisto ko tayo.  Ganito ang naging conversation namin

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Summer Post Script Part 2: Simple Joys

That our hectic summer physically and emotionally drained us is but expected.  A lot of not-so-nice things happened during the summer.  At first, I wanted to vent here.  But on second thought, I realized it was better to be a purveyor of joys and positive thoughts.  Tutal, nailabas ko na rin naman.  I also believe that work problems are not for the public.


So let’s focus on the positive.  There’s always two sides of the coin:  if bad things happened, so did good things.  And not-so-good-but-funny things.  So, let’s begin?

5.  Aling Aida

Since our summer is extra busy (plus Yaya Isay gave birth), we had to look for extra manpower, even just for the summer.  My tita was able to recruit two middle-aged women.  On the day they were supposed to have arrived, we waited in vain.  Waley.  Apparently, my aunt’s recruits got lost.  And since they did not have mobile phones, it was impossible to contact them.  A week after, my uncle brought one of them to us.  Aling Aida was thin and was in her 60’s.  While we knew she may not be able to help much (because of her age), we still took her in.  Whatever help she could offer, we were willing to accept to take off some load off our current helpers.

One time I was not that busy, I interviewed her—What happened to her and her companion on the day they were supposed to have arrived.  In her Batanguena accent, she narrated.

Although my tita wrote in detail how to travel from their place to ours, Aling Aida and her companion did not follow my tita’s instructions—they followed their neighbor’s.  So instead of alighting in Los Banos, they alighted in Calamba City.  They asked a tricycle driver to bring them to BRAIN TRAIN.  Alam n’yo san sila dinala? Sa riles ng tren.  “Train” eh, hehe.  And once there, they went to the barangay and asked for “Randy”, just as my tita instructed (supposedly when they arrive at our gate).  Ansabe ng brgy captain?  “

Sinong RandyMaraming Randy dito—may Randy na mataba, payat, matangkad, pandak

At this point, we could not help but burst out laughing.  And she was narrating it matter-of-factly.  Hahaha!

When they realized their efforts were futile, they just returned to their hometown (Tayabas, Quezon).  And with an angry face, Aling Aida said,

At pagdating ko sa bahay, ay aba, pag tanggal ko aking mga gamit ay puro bato ang bag ko!  P*tr!s ‘yung pamangkin ko—aba’y akalain mong nilagyan ng bato ang aking bag!  Kaya pala ako’y bigat na bigat…e-e!

I and the people around me were torn—we both felt sorry for her, but we could not stop laughing.  Hahaha!

But Aling Aida stayed with us for just a month because of health reasons.  She did not complain about her workload, but said she felt ill.  Before she left, she thanked us profusely, and said that if only she did not feel as though she had high blood, she definitely would have stayed.  After she left I learned that her gratitude was truly heartfelt—apparently, her stint with us was the only time she was able to eat properly.  Back home, she had to kalkal garbage in search of food. Sad smile  She had children, but none of them wanted to take care of her.  It really broke my heart.  But I was glad even for a brief time, she was able to sleep in a comfortable bed and was able to eat decent meals more than three times a day.


4. Being a “Manila girl”.

I’ve always been a probinsyana.  I was born in a quiet little town of Kabacan in North Cotabato and lived there for 13 years.  Then we migrated to Los Banos when my parents pursued their post graduate degrees (and because of the peace and security situation there.  Or the lack, thereof).  Los Banos, Laguna is a suburb.  Kevin Arnold (in The Wonder Years) described a suburb as “a place with all the disadvantages of the city, and none of the advantages of the country, and vice versa”.  And somehow, I agree.  Don’t get me wrong–I love Los Banos for its mountains and hills and plants and UP (which magnets intellectuals).  But it is also notorious for its traffic.  With the kind of traffic we regularly experience, one would think we have at least a decent mall.  But no, we don’t.  If you want to buy new wardrobe and are stubborn in not leaving “eLBi”, then your closet will be all full of just Bench clothes.  And a sprinkle of Penshoppe.  No more other brands—that’s it.  Heck, we do not even have a cinema/movie house here!

When I took the UPCAT more than a decade ago, I remember deliberately ignoring the “UP Diliman” option.  It’s not that I was afraid I won’t get into UPD, but it was because my picture of Metro Manila was a place where I can’t breathe.  Seriously.  Plus the notorious traffic (hiyang-hiya naman daw ang traffic ng Manila sa traffic ng Los Banoshihihi).  And I really hate transferring vehicles when travelling—you know, bus from Point A to B, then jeep from C to D, then lakad, then tricycle from E to F. Golly gee I hate, hate, hate that!  I used to say that to enjoy Manila, one has to be filthy rich.

One of the things I hate the most in the Metro.  Image lifted from

And then I started liking going to Manila.  It’s not that I became filthy rich, but because I started to crave for things that are only found there.  I realized that I have already memorized the maze that is Alabang Town Center and Festival Mall.  I realized that I wanted to watch a movie in 4D and IMAX.  I realized that I wanted to try the buffet of Viking’s.  I realized that in the long run, MAC makeups were cheaper than the drugstore brands.

Image lifted from

Unfortunately, Randy is allergic to traffic.  Plus we’re both really bad at directions.  So during the rare times we are in the Metro, we are always in a rush, and Randy is always panicking.

But last summer, I thoroughly enjoyed being a Manila girl.  I was assigned mostly in Metro Manila, and thank God, we already had a condo!  Bonus that our condo is really near two big shopping malls, but is nestled in a “nature-sy” community.

Suffice it to say, I had a blast shopping—whether actually buying or just looking, I was sooo happy to be surrounded by the beautiful things that Metro Manila has to offer a probinsyana like me.


3. Finally, THE STAM.

Remember THIS BLOGPOST?  To be honest, I never thought I’d still get to have my first love designer bag.  I thought I have moved on.  But then my oldest BFF, Charissa Valdez (who celebrates a milestone birthday today!Birthday cake), sent me a link that says the Stam was going to be discontinued, so I better buy one na!  I was really shaken by the news, and I realized that truly, first love never dies.  So I had to make  quick decision.

Then one day in the middle of the hectic summer, IT arrived.

Let us all rise as we welcome what used to be just the bag of my dreams.

2014-06-10 20.44.48My hands were shaking as I was opening my package….and…

Voila!!!  Isn’t she lovely?  Sigh!  Let’s take a closer look to admire her beauty:

2014-06-10 20.46.15I wish you could also smell and feel that leather! Red heartRed heartRed heart

Hay, sobrang saya lang.  Thank you so much again Charissa Valdez for making this all possible.  Mwah Red lipsmwah Red lips mwah!!!


2. I.  LOST. WEIGHT.  Yehey!!!

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Manic Monday: Fun Field Trip at Sta. Elena Fun Farm and BT Christmas Party!

Hi everyone!!!  Today is Peter Parker’s 3rd birthday, and we have just arrived home.  Walang party, kasi mahirap maghagilap ng bisita, ergo, umalis na lang kami.  I’ll tell you about his birthday celebrations later alligator.  Kwento ko muna activities namin last week.

Last week was a Stress Drilon-filled!  I almost had no idle day, beginning on Monday.  In fact, it was a manic Mondaygood thing it was sprinkled with lotsa fun!

Sta. Elena Fun Farm

sta. elena fun farm

Let’s begin with the first highlight:  Raviv’s class field trip at Sta. Elena Fun Farm!  Randy and I accompanied our little boy to his field trip.  Randy drove the Q5, because only one companion was allowed to ride the IRRI coaster along with the kid.  It was timely because we had to drop off our tutor to our Sta. Rosa office, and Sta. Elena Fun Farm was just in Cabuyao—only 10 minutes away from our Sta. Rosa office.  We first went to Raviv’s school and told his teacher of our plan, and then traveled right away.  We were so lucky because when we arrived at Sta. Elena, the school coasters were just right in front of us!  It’s as though we left together with them—we were neither early nor latejust in time!

entrance gate sta. elena fun farm

Sta. Elena Fun Farm was indeed fun and had lotsa activities for the kiddos.  Look at what kept us busy the entire Monday morning:

farmer boy sta. elena fun farm Raviv got excited when he saw these capiz parols!

First stop: Farm animals rides!!!

Meet Choc-nut, the carabao that does not stink!  He/she gave Raviv and me our first kariton-pulled-by-carabao ride

carabao ride sta. elena fun farm

kariton ride carabao sta. elena fun farm

And then it was time for some Tatay and son bonding on a horse ride:

horse backriding sta. elena fun farm

horse ride sta. elena fun farm
Parang nasa Baguio lang!

After the rides, we then proceeded to interact with farm animals!

rabbit feeding carrots sta. elena fun farm

girl carrying rabbitFeeding the bunnies

Raviv and the guinea pigs


fishing at sta. elena fun farmFishing…pero wala kaming nahuling isda!

PC160114 PC160124

Cute quip

Raviv:  Punta ako sa London!  Sa London!

Me:  Huh?  London is far away baby!

Randy:  Ibig n’yang sabihin gusto n’yang pumunta sa bridge!

Me:  Bakit?

Randy:  London bridge!

Ay ang slow ko!!!  Hahaha!

And then something caught Raviv’s interest…

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UPCAT 2014 Results Released Two Days Before Christmas!

Alarm bells early Monday morning

Last night Randy and I slept late, as we consider Mondays our day off (we work the hardest on weekends).  More so this Monday, as we have already been bitten by the Holidays bug.  But then something roused us from our deep slumber before 5 A.M.: consecutive beeps of my mobile phone and of his iPad.  I tried to ignore it but shortly after, I heard another series of beeps.  And then Raviv, who has been waking up quite late for the past months, woke up early too.  So I had no choice but to wake up and check my cellphone.  This was what removed any trace of antok in me:

2013-12-23 18.43.44

At first I thought it was a joke, or that Arianne (the student who messaged me), was mistaken!  After all, the previous UPCAT results were released in February this year!  Way, way AFTER the release of the ACET and of the DLSUCET!  As far as I know, the earliest previous UPCAT results were released mid-January, and definitely NOT before Christmas!  But then I also saw another message:

upcat passer 2014

And then I got a notification of a “mention” on IG:

2014 upcat passer

So I checked my news feeds on Facebook and true enough, almost everyone awake was posting something about the UPCAT.

Ambivalent feelings

Like what I’ve said in the past years, I really get ambivalent feelings whenever the UPCAT results come out.  And this batch’s result is no exception.  Of course, I feel great when I receive “thank-you” messages or even when I read status posts of my students expressing their extreme elation.

upcat passer 2014 brain trainbrain train review center the best sa upcat [Read more...]

Glory of Love

Why the title?  Because one of the famous lyrics of that song is

I am a man who will fight for your honor…

Pero baligtad.  Kasi ‘yung girls ang nagfa-fight for the honor of the guys here in my stories ;)  Starring Yaya Isay and Ate Alona :)

Our household has two pairs of lovebirds.  Our helpers being couples is a double-edged sword:  it’s good because 1) They’re not kitiki-text as their “babes” are working with them; and 2) Because they’re happy that they get their dose of romance—wholesome ang ibig kong sabihin—as they go out at night and have dates on their days off.  But it’s also bad because 1) They tend to always side with their jowas; and 2) They’re a package deal—you keep one, you keep both; you get rid of one, you get rid of two.

Anyhoo, I just want to share with you how bemused I was how proud our Ate Alona and Yaya Isay are of their Kuya Peter and Kuya Dodong, respectively.  Adonis na adonis ang trato sa kanila nina Yaya Isay and Ate Alona!  And that’s great of course.


Yaya Isay + Kuya Dodong

992947_381557251950567_702714627_n Ansaveh ng KathNiel sa inyo?!?

Nanay Dew: Si Ate Vi (referring to Raviv’s Cousin Yoona) takot sa boys no?  Ayaw niyang sumama sa mga lalaki.

Yaya Isay: Pero kay Dodong sumasama ‘yan Ma’am.

Nanay Dew:  Oo nga e.  Kay Dodong niya lang gusto.

Yaya Isay:  Siguro Ma’am mga gwapo lang ang gusto niyang samahan (sabay ngiti).  Marunong mamili si Ate Vi, ‘no?

Ano’ng say n’yo?!?

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Familia BRAIN TRAIN’s Post-Summer Summer Outing in Tagaytay Highlands

Being in the education supplement business, we only get to have a vacation after everyone’s vacation.  To cap off our summer UPCAT Review Season, Familia Brain Train went to…the exclusive, members-only Tagaytay Highlands!  Too bad because several members of the Brain Train borgata (hehe, mafia ang peg namin) cannot make it.  The notice was quite short and several have already made plans.  We cannot afford to move this outing to another date because everyone was also swamped.

Anyhoo, the outing must go on.  We cannot let this chance to unwind go by.

We started off by having our traditional picture-taking against the most recent Brain Train UPCAT passers.


Against the iconic yellow tarpaulin

On our way, we picked up more Brain Train teachers.

Because our Sta. Rosa office was en route to Tagaytay Highlands, we stopped there to have breakfast and of course, for some photo ops.

The fairest of them all

As we were waiting for the other vehicles to arrive, Randy realized something: nagkasama-sama sila ng mga ka-level niyang teachers!  Magka-level ng ano?  Ng kaguwapuhan daw.  So he said it deserved a moment.

2013-06-05 07.40.52

L-R: Melvin Acio, mi amor, Engr. Marco Lao

(By the way, I posted this on Facebook.  Sabi ko, “Sino’ng pinakagwapo? Like if Randy; Comment if Marco [the one showing off his biceps] and Share if Melvin [the Budoy and Boy Pick-up Lookalike].  Puro Likes.  Haha.  Panalo si Randy [though ‘yun naman pinakamadaling gawin.  Hihi])

But then we realized someone was missing…another handsome lad was missing!  In fact, I think he’s the most handsome in all of Brain Train.  So of course, picture again.  This time with the soon-to-be Brain Train capo…

2013-06-05 07.55.07Now we’re talking!  The picture was complete ;)

And before finally leaving, another picture-picture!


Welcome to Tagaytay Highlands!

And then finally, we have arrived at Tagaytay Highlands!

Before we did any activity, we first—you guessed it right—took even more pictures!


Tagaytay Highlands was really a sight to behold.  The first time Randy and I visited the place (another Brain Train outing about four years ago), we were in awe.  It was as though we were in Europe!  The rolling hills, the cool crisp air, and the well-manicured grounds really took our breath away.





First Stop:  The Clubhouse

Our first destination was supposed to be the Tagaytay Highlands petting zoo.  But we got lost along the way, and ended up at the Clubhouse.  It was a welcome distraction because it wasn’t just Raviv who played around.



Raviv enjoying the Tagaytay Highlands playground


Second Stop: The Petting Zoo at Tagaytay Highlands

Not long after we got to the zoo.  Entrance fee to Tagaytay Highlands zoo was about P130++ per head.  There were the usual and not-so-usual farm animals, plus snakes, tortoises, monkeys, fishes, etc.  Here are photos of the animals:


The cute animals of Tagaytay Highlands. Hihi

Hukhukhukhukhuk!  Joke!  Anyway our favorite part were the cockatoos that perched on us.

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BT Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 4): Birthing Pains and the Joys of Seeing the Baby

Continued from BT Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 3): The Comfort Zone and the Signs of Labor


Birthing Pains

I mentioned that we were able to practice as a complete cast just once, remember?  In fact, on the day of the event, the cast was supposed to do a run-through and blocking practice on stage for the first time in the morning (yes, the day of the performance was also the day we stepped on the stage).  Again, SUPPOSED is the operative word because, guess what: our SUPPOSED run-through practice did not materialize.  So talagang one full practice lang ang cast!  I was soooooo nervous and agitated.  I really wanted that run-through!  One of the reasons was because, the night before the other cast members suggested required me to dance ala-Indian belly dancer, while I thought that all along I’d have been just sitting as a judge!  So I wanted to practice that, plus my exag rampa as the Bb. Pilipinas winner-judge.  I calmed myself by primping, hehe.

In the dressing room just a few hours before the start of the program

Until the last hour before the start of the event, I was still hoping against hope we could do a run-through, but it never materialized, I dunno why.  So minutes before we let our hundreds and hundreds of audience in, we got together on stage, prayed, and wished each one luck.

And of course, picture-picture.

The cast plus other BRAIN TRAIN teachers just minutes before the show.

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BT Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 3): The Comfort Zone and the Signs of Labor

Continued from BT@20 Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 2): Conception and Morning Sickness

(Sorry for my blogging hiatus.  The Ladagas went to Mindanao sans a yaya and I took care of Raviv the Raging Tornado full time!)

The Comfort Zone: Hormones Stabilize

When the event sponsors have already handed in their sponsorship; the script of the teachers’ presentation was already put together; the film rights, projectors, screen, and other paraphernalia suppliers were already finalized and the ticket sales were rolling, we were all able to sigh a breath of relief.  But these few days of semi-petiks mode was short-lived, for just after a few days after…

Ticket to BT@20: Going Neh-she-nuhl

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BT@20 Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 2): Conception and Morning Sickness

Continued from BT@20 Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 1): Ovulation & Fertilization


Although we have already identified the parts and the highlights of the program, we still do not know the specifics.  Most pressing was, what exactly will the teachers do?  Early on, I kept on saying that the teachers’ performance should not be something boring…you know, it should never be the typical “basta-lang-makaapak-ng-stage-ang-teachers” performance, which I (and definitely everyone else) hate so much!  It ought to be something that EVERYONE in the audience would enjoy, whether the person in the audience reviewed at BRAIN TRAIN or not.  I actually thought of doing away without a performance from the teachers, for fear that the non-BRAIN TRAIN audience will boo us because our boring performance will just delay their watching of what they were there for: to watch UPCAT the Movie.  But since we have a pool of seasoned theater actor-teachers (including yours truly, though I don’t belong to the “seasoned” category, for I only starred in one play in college), sayang naman.  Moreover, Irvin said that we need to put the BRAIN TRAIN stamp on the event.  Speeches were definitely a no-no!  From the start, I ruled having opening remarks, message of thanks and the other usual ho-hum “program red tape” (hehe) that would have made the program boooooo-riiiiing.  Being boring is so un-BRAIN TRAIN, ‘di ba?  So I consulted the “master storyteller/hari ngimpromptu”, Oscar Laborem “Pong” Garcia on Reg Martinez’s birthday celebration to give the story line.

Regina Martinez’s birthday celebration at the BRAIN TRAIN HQ (L-R: Jayson Relevo, Irvin Domingo, Pong Garcia, and Regina Martinez)

He suggested an American Idol-style BRAIN TRAIN-teacher application auditions concept, with Randy, me, and Edu Jatulan as the judges.  Randy would have been Simon (parehong mean, hehe); I would have been JLo (pareho kaming fab), and Edu would have been Randy Jackson (er, do I need to say why?)  But Randy immediately begged off.  You see, my husband HATES the spotlight!   [Read more...]

BT@20 Went Neh-she-nuhl (Part 1): Ovulation & Fertilization

Dankë, merci, gracias, grazie, arigato, toda, mahalo, thank you, maraming salamat–here are international ways saying how grateful we are for making our event, BT@20: Going Neh-she-nuhl (“National”) a huge success! With just about two months of “gestation period”, we were able to fill the 700-seat capacity of DL Umali Hall…in fact, there were even some who were already sitting on the aisles!  Puno kung puno!

DL Umali Hall

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