Choosing a “Big School” for my Big Baby Boy

Randy had a parent-teacher conference with Raviv’s Pre-K teacher at Gymboree, Teacher Clarice. I wanted Randy to attend so he could give a feedback on how Gymboree Sta. Rosa teachers conduct PTCs. Moreover, I wanted Randy to know what Raviv has been doing. ‘Pag ako kasi, I’m sure I will be sidetracked by something and after a few minutes we won’t be talking about Raviv anymore but rather, Clarice and I will be talking about Gymboree in general again.

But after Randy and Clarice’s PTC, Randy excitedly told me the great things Teacher Clarice said about Raviv. Based on Randy’s report to me, Raviv is doing very, very well in school. I don’t want to brag about his “analytical intelligence”, but I want to share with you that according to Teacher Clarice, Raviv likes challenging himself and doesn’t give up on his tasks. Like when they’re shooting hoops; when Raviv could easily shoot the ball into the basket with two hands, he would go farther from the basket and try to shoot with only one hand. And when he’s playing rough with his classmates (they’re all boys in their class) and gets hit or hurt, he never complains or makes sumbong. In a nutshell, Teacher Clarice said that she thinks Raviv is super duper ready to enter big school.

Raviv and some of his classmates during their field trip

Speaking of big school, we haven’t finalized yet where we really want Raviv to go. I want Raviv to go to a school in Sta. Rosa, but Randy wants Raviv to go to a school in Los Banos. Here are our considerations:

Los Banos Pros

  1. Good quality of schools – Los Banos is an academic community, so even if there are no big name elementary school names there, we are confident that the teachers and curriculum are at least at par with the more popular ones’. At least, in terms of academics. The Los Banos schools parents community (at least the schools we consider) is made up of UP professors, international scientists and researchers, UP graduates…you get the idea. And yes, they complain when they feel that their kids’s teachers teach wrong lessons.
  2. Relatively cheap tuition fee – given that many teachers in Los Banos schools are graduates of UP, the tuition fees are very reasonable (perhaps tuition is less than half of the schools I’m eyeing in Sta. Rosa). As I’ve said, the Los Banos community is made-up of people from the academe and not really businessmen. Thus, a school with an exorbitant tuition fee will not thrive that well in Los Banos.
  3. It is home – while we have a place here in Sta. Rosa, Los Banos is our home. Our “home” here in Sta. Rosa is just a halfway house—it is really small and cramped. Our whole “house” in Sta. Rosa is smaller than our bedroom in Los Banos. We will be more comfortable in Los Banos.

Sta. Rosa Pros

  1. It is where we work – Because Raviv goes to Gymboree everyday, I’m also at Gymboree everyday. Thus, I’m able to monitor everything, and I believe my presence and being THAT hands-on benefitted Gymboree a lot. If Raviv studies in Los Banos, I will lose one very good reason to stay in Sta. Rosa often. Aside from Gymboree, Brain Train tutorials are doing a lot better in Sta. Rosa as well. We are also leasing out some office spaces in Sta. Rosa. So yes, our bread and butter these days mostly come from doing business in Sta. Rosa.
  2. More well-rounded schools – I have a feeling that the big-name schools in Sta. Rosa are more well-rounded. When I visited one prospect school, I saw several external sports clinics that the school offers. I want Raviv’s school to focus on arts and sports as well and not just on academics. If he joins a debate club, I expect him to actually learn and do debates (I remember being an officer of the drama club in high school in Los Banos, but we never even had a stage play—not a single one! Even workshops, waley).
  3. Less-to-no pressure on Raviv – If you’re from Los Banos you’ll easily get this. Mayabang nang pakinggan kung mayabang, but Brain Train has made a name in Los Banos. Why? Let’s begin with high school. In Los Banos, the most sought-after high school is inarguably the UP Rural High School. That school only accepts about 125 students per batch. More or less 100 out of 125 students per batch were our review class students. On top of that, we regularly get 8 out of 10 topnotchers of the entrance exam of that school. Same goes for UP. When Randy and I go to the UP campus or anywhere near it, we are always greeted by smiles and greetings of our former UPCAT review students, who are now UP students. Perhaps it’s not too much if I say that Randy and I are part of a team considered as an authority in helping students get into the best/most academically competitive schools. So when time comes that Raviv—our son!—takes his high school entrance exam, and, GULP, does not make it…I’m afraid that tongues would be wagging and in a hushed (but still loud enough to be heard) tone with feigned compassion, people would be saying, “‘Yung anak nga ng taga-Brain Train hindi pumasa.” I know this would happen because I remember hearing something akin to that a decade or so ago. Randy and I were checking out the passers’ list and there’s a woman beside us who said, “Ay ‘yung apo ni {owner of another review center} waitlisted lang…grabe ‘no?” Eh apo lang yun. Eto, anak namin. And I don’t even want to imagine the pain Raviv might feel in case he doesn’t make it and we have to advertise the achievements of his batchmates—when we post our Passers’ List on Facebook, layout our “Congratulations!” tarpaulin. Adolescent years n’ya pa naman ‘yun. Of course he will feign a “What-evah!” and patay-malisya kuno attitude. But deep inside I know he’ll be very sad and will always have a lump in his throat everytime that topic comes up. And it will, because we will have inquiries and it will definitely be discussed at his Los Banos school.

    2015 UP Rural High School Topnotchers and Passers from Brain Train

    But if he goes to a nice, big-name private school here in Sta. Rosa, it will hardly matter. His classmates and the other people around him won’t be too obsessed about getting into science high schools. So if he fails (though ‘wag naman sana!), keribells lang. He may feel bad about it for a week at the most, but after that, wala na.

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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!

A Weekend in Cebu

Happy Wednesday everyone!

I’m down with a serious case of coughs, and the only consolation I’m looking forward to is that the “explosions” would be like crunches to help tighten my ever expanding midsection.  In short, I hope that in its own teeny, tiny way, my coughing would help me lose weight.  Because, my goodness, I’m gaining so much weight again.  Waaah!

Anyway, as you may already know, I was in Cebu during the weekend sans my boys.  Irvin and I went there for Brain Train’s Intensive ACET and DLSUCET Review.

We left on Friday morning, because prior to going to the airport, I took care of two more tasks.  First, I went to White Label Bridal on Yakal St. in Makati.  My friend Irvin is getting married in November and I am one of the bride’s maids (I have just emailed them my gown pegs and I’m so excited about them!  Thus I really need to lose weight!)  Next, I went to the office of Maid Provider to return a yaya and get a new one.  Raviv’s most previous yaya (Yaya Gigi has already left…it’s a bit saddening, but I’m more thankful because, gravity, sumasakit talaga ang ulo namin sa pagiging malilimutin n’ya!)  The first yaya I got was OK at first, but after a few days she started to get weird.  I heard from our other new helpers and Yaya Isay that they saw her hitting and shouting at Raviv.  Of course, I can’t have that.  So I called the maid agency and told them I’ll be replacing the yaya.  Thankfully, the new yaya I got seems nice.  She speaks English a lot (o diva?!)  and used to work as a teacher’s aid at a toddler school.  Raviv seems keen on her.  That’s great, of course.

Anyway, Irvin and I arrived in Cebu at around 3 p.m.  Irvin’s friend picked us up from the airport and brought us to our hotel.  We rested a bit and then proceeded to Ayala Mall at 6 p.m., because Allan and Karen Medalla—Brain Train Cebu’s franchisees—treated us to dinner.  We had a nice chat over a delectable set of food at Chikaan.

Dinner at Chikaan sa Cebu in Ayala Mall

After dinner with the Medallas, we were picked up Jessie.  Jessie was a colleague when both of us worked at Tanggol Kalikasan, an environmental law office.  He was one of my closest friends there, even though he was assigned in Pangasinan while I was assigned in Quezon Province and Quezon City.  He and Atty. Nelia Lagura (now Prieto) would graciously host my stay in Pangasinan whenever I was there.  The last time I saw him was in 2005 pa—almost a decade ago.  So when we saw each other again, it was chikahan galore.  We greeted each other with shouts of “Mama Jessie!!!” and “Oy Mama Dewmaine!!!”

And then kumustahan.

I:  San ka na work ngayon, Jess?
Jessie: Provincial Manager ako ni Cong. *****
I:  E si Mama Nelia, saan na?
Jessie:  Hay ang lola mo, lawyer sa Office of the Ombudsman ditto sa Cebu!
I:  Ano sya dun?
Jessie:  Aba ang Lola Nelia natin ay Graft Investigator na!!!  Sabi ko nga sa kanya, “Huy Nels, ‘wag mo kaming imbestigahan ha!”


LOLS!  Typical Jessie.  We further our chika over coffee and green tea latte at Starbucks at IT Park.



The following day was Day 1 of the Brain Train Intensive ACET and DLSUCET Review in Cebu.  Our host school was Sacred Heart – Ateneo de Cebu.  That same day was card giving at this school, and there were lotsa parents.  One thing I noticed was that there were so many fashionable moms carrying to-die-for bags.  If only I were not shy, I’d have taken snapshots of the fasyon moms. 😉

Anyway, most of the Cebu kids were sweet, and gwapo ug gwapa pud!

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My UPCAT Experience 2: Engr. Pau Perez’s and More!

Part Two of My UPCAT Experience

Hello hello!!!  Gravity, two days to go before Day 1 of THE DAY!!!

Anyway, you nervous UPCAT takers are in for another treat, because three other successful UPCAT takers have been so generous with their time to encourage you with your upcoming endeavor.

Let’s begin with Engr. Jeffrey Paulo Perez’s (who insists on being called “Jeffrey” from now on, because mas tutyal daw pakinggan ang “Jeffrey”, bilang papunta na siyang Belgium in a month..Huhuhu!) UPCAT experience.

Engr. Jeffrey Paulo “Jeffrey” Perez

(took the UPCAT inbasta a not-so-long time ago; graduated cum laude from UP Los Banos with a degree in Chemical Engineering despite:

1. being president of three student organizations

2. and moments like telling the jeepney driver “Para!” prematurely just to give another Chem Eng student lascivious looks while the latter was playing volleyball at DL Umali Freedom Park, and of wearing eyeshadow to class)


I only had one dream in high school—to get into UP. Back then, I believed that being an Iskolar ng  Bayan will be an affirmation of my insatiable hunger for knowledge, a validation that I am meant for greater things, and, most importantly, a proof that all of our family’s sacrifices have finally paid off.

Just days before UPCAT 2014, let’s see how terrorific I was during that fateful day.

My UPCAT schedule was set on a Sunday at 6:30 AM. I did not have that much sleep the night before.  I was very anxious even though I have prepared myself academically.  I was assigned [to take the test] at the CEM Function Hall, which I decided to visit a day before just to make sure that I won’t get lost.

On exam day, I arrived at the assigned room 30 minutes before the examination starts so that I will have time to calm my nerves.  There were already a lot of students when I got there.  I felt so out-of-place because everyone had someone to talk to (or someone to panic with).  They also crammed extra topics that they think will be essential for UPCAT.  I had to plug-in my earphones and blast some feel-good music so that I won’t feel nervous and distracted.

Then, a few minutes before 6:30 AM, the examiner asked us to enter the room and proceed into our assigned seats.  My seat assignment was near a tower-type air conditioning unit.  Fortunately, I brought a jacket with me because I heard there was this kid who peed in his pants while in the lecture hall.  The first subtest administered was Science. In our batch, most of the questions came from General Science and Physics, a few from Chemistry and a little bit on Biology.  Of course I was very happy with the question mix since it was like competing once again in Science and Chemistry Olympiads.  Furthermore, there were questions on optics and sound, my two favorite topics on Physics.  Nevertheless, I was very confident with the first subtest.  There were a few items which I was not really familiar with so I had to use my powers of deduction (Naaaaaaks! In short, hinulaan ko.).

I was aware of the “Right Minus 1⁄4 Wrong” rule, but I still decided to guess the answer for the other questions.  Why, you ask?  Statistically speaking, there is a very high chance of getting the answers correctly if you can eliminate other choices.  While reviewing for UPCAT, I noticed that most of the choices in college reviewers can be narrowed down into two – leaving you with a 50:50 chance of getting a correct answer.  As one of my colleagues in Brain Train, Sir Jhabs, pointed out, the deductions we would incur will be trivial if we “scientifically” guess the answers.  I am not saying that you guess the answer for every blank item.  I think it would be better if there are SOME questions that you choose to answer. If you feel guilty because you guessed “too many” items, most probably the others did the same thing.  Remember that your UPCAT scores are in percentile so guessing MAY increase your rank.

The next subtest was Mathematics. Now, this one is a tricky subtest. Many questions were from Algebra and Geometry (especially the shaded areas). I think the subtest was constructed so that many students won’t be able to finish. I, for one, finished just in time, meaning I had no time to review some of my answers. So you better be fast and not think twice if you want to finish the exam in time! Just remember all the shortcuts and techniques we taught you so that you won’t be MA-BA-GAL (Hi Sir Mark!).  And, yes, that’s the Brain Train Advantage!

For Language Proficiency and Reading Comprehension, they were a combination of English and Filipino questions and passages.  Also, there were some editorial cartoons and caricatures that were asked to be interpreted. I can say that the difficulty of the last two remaining subtest during our batch was moderate, not too easy but not too difficult.

I did not bring food during the exam because I know I won’t have time to eat. Just like what I did in my Philippine Science High School Entrance Test, I brought a chocolate bar and bottled water, in case I got hungry. I also did not eat heavy breakfast so that I won’t feel drowsy or go the comfort room to do some “dirty business”.  After the most grueling five hours of my life, I emerged feeling victorious in the depths of that highly academic lair. I felt like a winner because I know I just conquered one of the most difficult college entrance exams in the country. And, most of all, I felt satisfied because I know I am already one step onward to a bright future, no way but UP!

20140624_234719Engr. Perez with the object of his lascivious glances

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My UPCAT Experience

Hello students (and parents)!  I’m sure you are anticipating this coming weekend with dread.  Those who are well-prepared are eager to take “THE” UPCAT to get it over and done with, while those who aren’t spend more time getting scared than doing actual studyingam I right or am I left-handed?  (Well, I’m both!  Hehe)

I hope you were able to read the UPCAT tips I gave.  I actually wrote it some years ago, but I believe the tips are still very much applicable.

Since you jitterbug UPCAT takers lot want to read anything and everything regarding the UPCAT, I have decided to go on a trip down memory lane and recall the exam that made me a true blue and proud Iska.

Image lifted from

MomsterTeacher’s UPCAT Experience

During our time, I was among the first batch of UPCAT takers—that is, I took the exam in the morning of Saturday (so no chance to get a leakage from friends, hihi).  This was unfortunate because I sleep late and of course, I wake up late.  To add insult to the injury, I always have MORE trouble sleeping when I know I have to wake up early.  Knowing that, I made sure I was prepared for it the day before my exam:  before going home, I bought my snacks (Konjac Jelly—tanda ko pa!) and lunch (my favourite spiced beef meal from Shanghai Expresstoo bad sarado na ’tong SEx!).  Of course, I also brought water.   I also checked and rechecked my test kit: school ID, test permit, pencilSSSSSS, eraser, and sharpener.  So the following day, after an uneasy sleep, I woke up just in time.  I took a bath (which took away some of my grogginess), stuffed everything I needed in my bag, tried to eat a “safe” breakfast (no milk, no greasy food, no caffeine)and wore a new blouse.  Baket kamo?  Because I anticipated that there may be a cute boy in the same room as where I would take the UPCAT, hehe.  HOWEVER, that proved to be a major blunder.  First, the blouse I was talking about wasn’t really new, as in newly bought.  I’ve had it for some time but refused to wear it because it somehow showed my “baby fats” and was not made of cotton ergo it wasn’t too comfortable.  Anyway, it was a good thing I arrived at the testing site early (I made myself comfy and did not have to panic).  And if at first I tried to suck in my stomach so my bulges would be hidden, I realized that none in our room would care about my protruding belly anyway.  So I just made myself comfortable and answered the exam confidently.  Of course, I uttered prayers:  before I started the exam, during the exam, and another prayer of thanks as I finished before time was up.

Anyway, since my UPCAT Experience dates back to2010 (joke!!!), I also asked some of my former students to share with you their own UPCAT stories, so you would have an idea how theirs went.  Of course, these are all UPCAT passers.  Let’s hear their stories:

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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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