Sunday, October 23, 2016

5 Kid-Approved Healthy Snacks You Need in Your Pantry

Getting my kids to eat healthy is easy, maybe because I started them young. But then, I also take extra effort to serve snacks that are not only good for them, but fun to eat too. If all else fails, I get them involved in preparing their food, from cutting fruit, spreading peanut butter on bread, or sprinkling cheese over homemade pizza.

If you are serious about feeding your kids right, you don’t need to overhaul your pantry straight away. Start off with these 5 snacks my kids approve of, and then work your way to other items as your kids develop their palette. 

1. Fresh fruits

My kids love fruits, and a big plus is having the fruits cut up, portioned and packed in tiny containers if they are to eat them as baon. They love apples, oranges, grapes, dragon fruit, pineapple, watermelon, melons and berries. They also enjoy eating local fruits like bananas, lanzones, rambutan and santol. I find that to make it attractive for them, it really helps to serve fruit peeled and already cut into bite size pieces. It comes out more colorful and appetizing for them, rather than serving it as halves or peeling it in front of them. Of course, when it comes to fruits like bananas and lanzones, peeling it is part of the fun!

Our current fave of the season, lanzones straight from my parents’ farm. Part of the fun is they join the harvest, so they know where their fruits come from.

2. Milk, better yet, Chocolate Milk

I switch whole milk with chocolate milk, and Selecta Moo is a favorite. Apart from the milk chocolate-y taste, the packaging makes drinking it more fun. There are games at the back of the box, and for some reason, having their favorite characters like Ben10 and The Powerpuff Girls seems to be perceived as a stamp of approval. Nutrition wise, Selecta Moo is packed with vitamins ( Vit. A, D3, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12) and minerals (Calcium, Protein, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Zinc). And now it’s been made even better with higher level of Magnesium plus the addition of Choline to support mental functioning and ability. I’m down with that.

Selecta Moo comes in 4 sizes, 100ml at P12.50, 180ml at P18.50, 245ml at P23.00 and 1L at P70.00. Save more when you buy the promo packs.

3. Homemade healthy baked goodies

The best way to hide vegetables and grains in food is via baked goodies! They’ll undoubtedly snub that granola bar, but hide those oats in an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, and they gobble it up happily. We make muffins at home, and hide dried blueberries, grated carrots and mushy bananas in there with no complaints. I recently came across a triple chocolate pumpkin loaf and can’t wait to test out that recipe. 

Recently, I discovered @babygoodph cookies and mini muffins, and loved how the mommy baker behind it, Lara Leal, would artfully conceal flaxseed, moringa and other healthy food ingredients like coconut oil in her cookies and mini cupcakes. They taste so good, the kids wouldn’t know otherwise.

4. Yogurt Pops

We received an ice cream pop mold as a present and we did not waste any time making yogurt pops with it. My daughter would line sliced strawberries in it and pour strawberry yogurt in the mold. The result is a cool, healthy treat she’s proud to have made herself.

5. Say, Cheese! 

Like any wine and cheese loving adult, cheese is equally as addictive for kids. In a good way of course. From mini Babybel rounds, spreadable cream, your run of the mill cheddar cheese, to soft Brie and ooey gooey mozarella, cheese is a runaway hit all the time. Serve it with bread, crackers or sprinkled on pizza dough. Come to think of it, I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like some form of cheese!

Parents I have to remind you, don’t let your food biases color your choices. The journey to healthy eating can be fun, and it’s such a joy watching your kids try new textures and flavors. Eat your way through different tastes each time, it’s a great way to bond with them too!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Meet Fifi & Co

Fun fact for folks who live in San Juan! Did you know there's a chic kid's clothing store right on Wilson Street?

That would be Fifi & Co., named after the owner, Michelle Lao's two daughters who she also loves to dress up.

The store is filled with pretty dresses, t-shirts, cotton tops and culottes. Which I loved and got for Berry.

It's such a joy to shop in store too, because apart from the fact that the prices are so affordable, as in most pieces cost nothing over Php1000, the interiors feel like you're going inside somebody's play room.

Most of the items are sourced from Korea, and last I went, these were some of the pieces that caught my eye:

Went home with an outfit for Berry on the left, and that shirt and drop crotch pants for Tepper. I got Xavi a matching shirt like Tepper's  but couldn't find bottoms that would fit him. Definitely a place to get clothes for girls, and unisex items for babies, not so much for little boys.

The shopping bag is so cute too, it's pretty enough to hand over as a present when you need to dash quick to buy a gift for your kids' classmates. Prices start at about Php250 for a shirt, and goes to about Php800 and above for a dress.

Oh by the way, there are plenty of wooden toys like this balance scooter...

...and this Math board that I got for Xavi as well. Michelle's husband Patrick is a Math enthusiast and Michelle shares this was a great way to introduce math operations to kids as early as preschool. True enough, Xavi learned how to add different ways to 10 in such a short time, and has showed interest in numbers already. Being a Math geek too, I was pretty pleased with this purchase the most!

Fifi & Co
197 Wilson St cor P Guevarra St
San Juan (beside Sharetea)
Tel: +632 501 6883
Mobile: +63926 054 3962

Friday, October 07, 2016

How to Pursue Your Passion Without Going Broke with Security Bank

When Em Sulit of Game Changer PH asked me to do a talk for an event she was planning for  Security Bank, where I had to talk about my passions and how it ties in to investing, I kind of had to do a double take. I couldn't reconcile both topics.

Passions are usually equated to expenses. Like traveling, eating well, buying cars, collecting jewelry, shoes or bags, working out, even reading books or watching movies and plays. 

A slide from my presentation, it's true diba?

But Em clarified, "Like you can do KonMari and invest at the same time. Savvy shopping but still invest. Share tips in shopping mindfully, buying only what you need, then investing the rest of the money instead of going to impulse buying."

With that put into context, I said yes. While I do enjoy traveling and shopping, I like to think I do so mindfully. I believe in thoughtful consumption, and that we can live a quality life now, without sacrificing our family's future and squandering resources. 

So I prepared myself for the event, where the other speaker was Monica Manzano of My Little Globetrotters and Flow Retreats. I loved her talk. I've always been a cautious person, always calculating risks. Meanwhile, Monica is the sort of free spirit who will pack up her family and set up a home in remote Palawan, because that's what her heart tells her to.

She shared how they didn't have a Plan B, and how they had to head back to Manila when funds had run out. It was an eye-opening experience for her, that made her take stock of the realities of life, and forced her to look at how she could balance her passions without going broke.

Which was exactly what the topic was for that day.

To be honest, weeks before the talk, I started off unsure of how to tackle the topic. But then, I found myself enjoying myself as I prepared the slides. It made me reflect on what I've done and what I could do better career wise and financially. Here are some of the highlights from my presentation:

1. I shared how I was able to convert my passions in writing, fashion, shopping and recently, KonMari (aka decluttering) into earning opportunities.

2. I realized that when are passionate about something, we invest time and money in it. I spoke about how we should also invest in ourselves by way of taking courses, going to graduate school, or accepting an unpaid internship, if it means gaining valuable knowledge and experience along the way. Indulging in passions doesn't have to mean throwing money in it. If approached straegically, it could pay you back as well.

3. I also shared some of my tips on my thought process/approach to shopping and spending:

- Before buying, ask yourself, "Will this end up as kalat?"
- It's ok to accept hand me downs, or buy second hand.
- Spend only on what sparks joy.
- Buy quality, spend on things that last.
- Make it a habit to save a portion of your income.
- Donate, give, share! It comes back to you.

4. If I were to drill down my philosophy on spending, I'd echo Vivienne Westwood who famously said:

5. Of course, spending carefully and saving regularly will never really be enough to prepare us for big expenses like buying a house of having enough for our twilight years, hence, the importance of investing.

In fact, if we really want to be able to pursue our passions well into retirement, the secret really is in investing.

6. And that means, starting NOW, investing REGULARLY and investing in the LONG TERM.

While I have a working knowledge of finance and investments, I am not totally equipped to talk about the rudiments of investing with the audience. Ninotchka Sulit and Martin Belgado of Security Bank Trust Division where there to shed light on the different investment vehicles, most especially, UITFs available to depositors.

With Monica, Ninotchka Sulit and Martin Belgado of Security Bank and Bloomberg anchor, Regina Lay

What's a UITF? It stands for Unit Investment Trust Fund, which is an open-ended, pooled trust fund that is operated by a trust entity, in this case Security Bank. The pooled funds are invested by a team of professional portfolio managers in various deposits and securities. Read more about UITFs, HERE.

Martin is the head of Security Bank’s Asset Management Group’s Retail Sales and Marketing Team. Prior to joining Security Bank, he was with ATR KimEng Asset Management as a Business Development Officer and with ING Investment Management Philippines as a Funds Marketing Officer and Product Development Analyst. He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Engineering and a minor in Finance, and earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Boston University.

Ninotchka is VP and Head of Sales and Marketing for Security Bank Trust Division. She has over 20 years of bank sales and relationship management experience in both Asia and North America with focus on high net-worth clients. Prior to SBC she worked in the financial services industry in New York for 15 years. She was with JPMorgan Chase New York for 11 years as a Relationship Banker, VP for Personal Financial Services with over 150MM dollars in managed relationships and Chase Private Client Mortgage Banker with over 100MM dollars in booked complex loans. She also worked in HSBC New York as AVP in their Premiere Relationship Department and was a Financial Advisor in Morgan Stanley New York. Her investment credentials include Capital Markets Qualification, Life and Health insurance license, Investment and state licenses and managed futures. She graduated from University of Asia and The Pacific with a degree in Business Administration. 

At Security Bank, you only need Php10,000 to start investing in a UITF, which can be topped up in increments of Php5,000. All of us moms here opened a UITF account that very same day. Kasi diba, invest NOW.

If you are serious about preparing for your future, consider investing and opening a UITF account.

For existing Security Bank clients like me, it's just a matter of filling out a UITF Account Opening Kit.

If you don't have a Security Bank account yet, just stay put, go to your computer and Click to Switch at An account officer will go to you and help you set up your account.

So there ha, no excuses not to invest because it's so hassle free!

For more about Security Bank and their hassle free services, visit, Like them on Facebook and follow @securitybank on Instagram and @securitybankPH on Twitter.

For more information on UITFs, email or call 8887371 or 8887372.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Creativity and Lifelong Learning with 79 Light Bulbs + Supporting the High Ability Kid

As a mom of three young kids, I sometimes ask myself, "What have we gotten ourselves into?" Parenting is not an easy task. It's a HUGE responsibility. It's more than just feeding, bathing, playing, educating at home and then sending our kids to school. Those are just the rudiments of parenthood. On a deeper level, I believe that God gave us our children to teach us how to love unconditionally, and at times it may seem, to test our faith. 

I look at my three young kids and see them as untainted works in progress. But as well-meaning parents, we cannot shield them from what is wrong with the world. Instead we should raise them to not just survive, but also thrive in an environment that is uncertain. It is our job to nurture them in a home where they will feel safe, where they will be taught to discern what is right from wrong and then think for themselves, learn to accept consequences, disappointments and failure with grace, have a strong faith system that allows them to understand God's wisdom and concept of timing. On the practical side, we also have to guide them to discover work that brings them fulfilment, teach them how to handle finances, how to deal with different people, how to think creatively and work around problems and never back down from a challenge.

If we are mindful and deliberate about raising our kids to fulfil their life's purpose, hone and support their talents, guide them so they can overcome weaknesses and accept them for who they are, I think we can rest safe in the knowledge that they will be happy with themselves and can stand on their own, and that we have done our job well. Yes, even in these uncertain times when it seems many people  are not thinking right and doing right.

I think it is this desire to raise my kids right that led me to meeting Joy Sua Go of BrainRX, KIT101 and now, 79 Light Bulbs. She has come up with the most amazing programs that are a blessing to both parents and children alike. Why a blessing to us? I asked her to share how her passion for learning and love for her kids have come together to offer these programs that will allow us, in her own words, "courage in self-expression and an open, adaptive mindset" which she believes will allow us to continuously grow in mind and spirit in the best and worst of times. This also serves as an invitation to attend their first ever event, "Supporting the High Ability Kid" which will help parents and educators understand and support gifted children. Please read on.

Creativity and Lifelong Learning with 79 Light Bulbs + Supporting the High Ability Kid 
By Joy S. Go

There is something about being in the driver’s seat of my mini-me’s uncharted lives that I find so daunting yet exciting. 

I’m a mom to a young teen and a tween. Balancing that desire to respect my kids’ wants and that conviction to do what my husband and I think is right and needed for our kids’ future is a tough yet delicate work-in-progress. One thing is sure: I discovered I very much enjoyed teaching my kids, understanding how their minds work plus why they act the way they do, and guiding them to improve what needs to improve. This revelation came only after I became a mom, and it totally changed my perspective on my values. Eventually, this paved the path for me to introduce the BrainRx cognitive training program from the US,

BrainRx brain training programs consist of intense mental exercises that sharpen the core skills the brain uses to think, learn, read, reason and pay attention.

BrainRx is especially helpful for struggling students, kids with ADHD, seniors who want to sharpen their memory and those who have had brain injuries and just about anyone who wants to stay sharp, as the exercises help improve thinking, memory, reasoning, and focus.

the KIT101 art program

Tin: This was Berry during her trial class at KIT 101. She was first taught the fundamentals of drawing a face using grid lines. Then she moved on to actually painting a portrait. 

I was amazed at what she could do in one session, with guidance from the art teachers at KIT101 of course

She was made to choose the colors she wanted for her portrait, they even taught her the concept of shadowing.

With Teacher Taka of KIT101, guiding Berry through the finishing touches of her portrait. We signed up for the Exploration program right after. It was amazing seeing how Berry's drawing and painting skills improve in just one class. 

and now, 79 Light Bulbs.

79 Light Bulbs offers quality activities promoting creativity and lifelong learning. It aims to inspire new ways of thinking and living, so we can be "the best persons we can be by our own standards." According to Joy, it will help us parents in our journey to raising our kids to become happy, productive and creative adults.

Friends ask how I come up with these ideas. To be honest, I just do what I feel is right. While I love being curious and learning so I can improve myself and my kids, it turns out that I have been incorporating the same passion in the three programs I’m doing—albeit subconsciously at the start. Beyond their common goal of improving minds, they’re really all about empowering parents and kids.

If there’s a ‘reason for being’ for 79 Light Bulbs, it’s this phrase that popped in mind one day: “Creativity is the wellspring of authenticity.” When we listen to our inner voice and let our creative essence (a.k.a. soul, creative spirit, chi, or mojo) flow and shine in the way we think, speak and act, through our choices and decisions, we honour and are being true to our selves. 

I created 79 Light Bulbs to help promote the value of creativity and lifelong learning, with the underlying goal of empowering ourselves and our children. It really takes a village to raise a child, much more a creative child. I hope to engage friends, parents, teachers, support personnel—all guides in our children’s lives to participate in a learning journey to raise our children into happy, productive, creative adults. With courage in self-expression and an open, adaptive mindset, I believe we can continuously grow in mind and spirit in the best and worst of times. 

Our upcoming event “Supporting the High Ability Kid” on October 15 focuses on an area where few trainings are available locally. This is not about making the brightest kids become brighter but rather, learning how to support and manage them as they experience their challenges.

Our speaker, Ms. Clarinda Choh, is the gifted program director of Hwa Chong Institution, one of the 6 known independent schools in Singapore that attract the top 5% of their national cohort.  With over 16 years of experience in teaching, administration, policy and leadership programmes in various schools, she is most happy to engage with us.

We hope to attract parents and educators to listen, learn, converse with a highly knowledgeable resource speaker, and get ideas that we can perhaps use in our lives and communities. What does it take to guide and support a high ability child? How should we address their cognitive, social, and affective needs? This workshop will take both parents and educators towards understanding the pathways of a high ability child including the foundation support for holistic development.

For details & registration, please visit

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ten Things You Should Know About TICKLES

Back during my time, when you're a student with a limited budget, Tickles was the place to go to for retail therapy. It was not uncommon for my friends and I to head out to Tickles to pick up a stuffed flower (it's a flower made out of stuffed toy material heehee), stationery, or whatever fun, unnecessary tchotchke they had in store.

So when Tickles finally opened their 80 sqm circus-themed flagship store in Megamall this month, it wasn't a suprise at all that my mom friends all suddenly had Tickles on their Instagram feed. It was the original wasteland of our youth. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, which I doubt, here are ten fun facts about one of my favorite stores in the 90s.

1. Tickles brings out the feel good vibes.

“It seems that a lot of people are rooting for Tickles, because it’s a homegrown brand that carries a lot of fond memories,” says Carlo Tanseco, Creative Director of Tickles. 

True enough, the site of a boarded up store in Megamall with the Tickles logo on it was enough to send me spiralling back to memory lane, back when I was in high school and my friends and I would visit the store in Greenhills and come out with stuff we don't really need but had to have because they were so cute!

2. It's steeped in history and the founder's love for retail.

For my millennial readers who are not familiar with Tickles, you're gonna love the heritage and history behind it. 

Tickles was established in 1979 by Yoya Tanseco, Carlo’s mom, who is still its chairman, chief visionary and master shopper. A creative soul, intrepid businesswoman, and social butterfly rolled into one, Yoya dove into several successful business ventures before finding her true niche in retail.

“From dressmaking and designing wedding gowns, to catering and making cakes for children’s parties, name it, I’ve done it! I’m the type who can’t sit still,” recounts Yoya. “But ever since childhood, I’ve always loved retail. When we would make bahay-bahayan, I would be the treasurer and the purchaser. Mahilig ako sa kaha and purchasing.“ 

And so together with her sister and a good friend, Yoya she set up the very first Tickles in Shoppesville, Greenhills, stocking it with all sorts of cute gift items and adorable finds from travels to New York and Japan. “That was the time Hello Kitty was popular, and all the ballpens were so cute. In school, yan ang weakness ko—notebooks, ballpens… And so I enjoyed shopping for Tickles so much kasi ‘cutie-cutie.’” Everything she picked out would fly off the shelves, and she realized she was able to turn her love for shopping and travel into something that brought happiness to others. 

Soon, the store was no longer just a hobby, and when her sister and friend migrated abroad, she ran the store on her own. Later on, she enlisted the help of her children (and eventually, Chun-chi Soler, Chief Operating Officer) to help with the store’s expansion. 

3. It's a bounce back from the ashes (or in this case, basics) sort of story.

Branching out from the original shop in Greenhills, Tickles set up stores in Shangri-La Plaza, Robinsons Manila, Glorietta, and Alabang Town Center in the 1990s. However, with a struggling economy and the kids busy with other ventures, the stores dwindled to one branch in Glorietta. Even the goods on display were a sign of the times: “Everything was just very basic and functional,” shares Carlo. “But we didn’t want my mom’s dream to die; the brand was still strong, and so with Chun-chi’s help, we focused on reviving the store.” 

Fast-forward to today: Tickles is back and bigger than ever, now with 11 stores across the metro.

4. It's worth checking out their sister stores: a'postrophe and ROY & BIV.

Tickles has also spun off into two other concept stores: a’postrophe, featuring more “grown-up” fashion and lifestyle items, and the bright and cheery ROY & BIV, where quirky gift items are categorized into the colors of the rainbow. Tickles, a’postrophe, and ROY & BIV also all carry the sub-brand Elemenopy (“Made from 100% genuine letter,” Chun-chi quips), which creates a distinct line of monogram- and letter-inspired merchandise for each of the brands. 

5. It continues to be the go-to place for fun, gifts and novelties

From your go-to gift shop for special occasions, Tickles has evolved into a novelty shop for all seasons—and generations. “The line is more curated, and yet now appeals to different markets,” says Carlo.

6. Most of their products are original designs.

In their effort to offer unique items you can’t find anywhere else, the Tickles team now designs their own products, and also collaborates with other brands. Which shouldn't come as a surprise because I remember my former officemate Sabs Cacho once told me that Carlo has an impressive background in industrial design.

“Now, most of the items in the store are proprietary, which means we make it ourselves. Some of the items are still sourced, or made exclusively for us by international suppliers, but our focus is to design our own items. Our goal is to be 100% Tickles-branded,” Carlo reveals. “We also try to find the best sources to make our items affordable,” adds Chun-chi.

7. They will keep evolving, and moving on to next big hit.

In a market where nothing stays original for long, the team’s challenge is to come up with items that will tickle the fancy of their customers before anyone else. “We always think, what can we offer that is unique, that is not out there yet?” shares Carlo. “It’s inevitable that people will copy our items; it happens. But my perspective is to keep moving forward, design more, be ahead of the trend.” 

8. Expect something fresh and new each visit.

New items are introduced every week, so there’s always something fresh to discover at the store. At the heart of everything they source or create for Tickles is the mission to bring “Happiness All Year Round.”

9. Tickles knows what we want.

From all-time favorite cute Japanese pens and notebooks with humorous sayings, to this season’s bestselling eye masks and food-inspired plushies, the Tickles team lead by Yoya Tanseco seems to know exactly the “kiliti” of Pinoys—perhaps the secret to why they’ve outlasted local and foreign competitors alike.

10. Heritage, forward thinking and a desire to keep it's customers happy is the key.

“I’d like to think that it’s the memory attached to the brand, and the feel-good items in the store, that have made us last all these years,” shares Carlo. “We’re just here to put smiles on their faces.” 

Tickles is located at Glorietta 4, Greenbelt 1, Power Plant Mall, SM Megamall A, TriNoma, UP Town Center, Alabang Town Center, Market! Market!, Marquee Mall, Fairview Terraces, and Ayala Center Cebu. Follow @tickles_PH on Twitter and Instagram, or visit Tickles_ph on Facebook.
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