Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Teaching Filipino using Visible thinking routines

I told myself at the start of the year to be more intentional in teaching our kids my language and culture. Teaching them through songs is one approach that I have been using and have added some new Tagalog songs but it still feels like they are missing on the essence of the language because they are memorizing more the lines than what it means.

This made me reflect on what we normally say to the kids and an "ahuh!" moment occurred when I realized that I should be teaching them the daily questions/prompts that we use in our daily conversations. I am a big advocate making thinking visible at home and given the fact that we use these thinking routines/lines regularly then it is a good way in introducing them Filipino words and phrases. Here's a list of questions we normally ask  and how it's translated in Filipino:

a) What are you thinking? Ano ang iniisip mo?
b) Why did you say that? Bakit mo yan nasabi?
c) What if....? Paano kung?
d) What similarities/differences do you see? Ano ang nakikita mong pagkakahawig/pagkakaiba?
e) What else can you do? Ano pa ang puede mong gawin?
f) What's next? Ano ang susunod?
g) What got you happy (change to other emotions) today? Ano ang kinasaya mo sa araw na ito?
h) How did you feel? Ano ang naramdaman mo?
i) Why do you like (don't like) it? Bakit ayaw mo?
j)  What do you think others feel? Ano sa tingin mo naramdaman ng iba?

Some of these questions I wrote in my article for International Almere on Introspection. I am hoping that by teaching children to think about their thinking in another language, it  will elicit more understanding for our kids than teaching them basic concepts like colors, shapes or numbers.Let's see how the year unfolds with this technique!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Teaching gratitude through service

As a child you have probably played the game “Simon Says”. It’s a very ideal game to teach children to listen carefully and at the same time do the specific tasks mentioned. But along with instructions like  “touch your nose, touch your elbow, touch your ears, have you ever heard someone say “Simon says, touch your heart?” Probably not huh?

But why is it that it is quicker  for us parents to look forward to the time when we will be teaching concepts like the alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes to our young children. Eager to get them reading and writing. Now, how much did we put emphasis on teaching our children about emotions and how best to recognize and manage them? Or introspection and how they can reflect on their own thinking?  Or empathy and how it is important to be adept at perspective taking? So what if Simon says, show an angry face? Or think about what makes you excited? Or show how can we understand another person? What if the rules of Simon Says is not on listening and blatantly following but reflecting and understanding matters that are not tangible? What if Simon says, how do you touch somebody’s heart?

As parents of young children, we are very intentional in our approach to parenting. The activities that we provide at home and the interactions we promote serve a purpose and a reflects an understanding of the kind of values that we would like to share with our children. Values that we hope they will appreciate and value as well. One of such values that we emphasize on is about gratitude.
When the news about the devastating effect of Typhoon Haiyan came, I was distraught. I am grateful that my family are spared from it but after I saw the news and kept updated on what was going on, I felt helpless. What got me on my toes was helping projects related to raising funds for the victims. But it was not just me that was into it, the entire family got involved. Showing some of the clips to the children, we decided on what we can each do to help out. The kids turned to their art and made some thank you art pieces for some of the businesses that provided some donations. We also went as a family to the Giro 555 aktie and helped give food, lovingly prepared by other Filipina friends and with my husband's baked pandesal (Filipino breakfast bread rolls, yes a Filipino food prepared not by me but by my husband!), for the volunteers manning the telephone during that day.

Kids (Katie and Milos with their friend Rhean) presented their artwork to Henri van Eeghen, the chairman of De Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties (SHO)

What we got out of the experience as a family was encouraging. I immediately saw how the children are more aware of what is going around them and takes on another person’s perspective/experiences especially when they see something in the news. I knew that we were on a good track in nurturing reflective empathy – their ability to take another person’s perspective in order to understand what they’re feeling. The kids kept asking about how it is in the Philippines and at one point, Katie even made a wish that there will be no more storms to hit the country! With the simplest of activities, we can see how their empathy is working. There were even situations where they would cover their faces while watching embarrassing situations! 

Reflective Empathy is important in teaching pro-social or altruistic behaviours (engaging in activities simply for another person and not because they can get something out of it) and encouraged by what we shared during the Giro 555 aktie, we made it a point to put  giving back as a form of service or to show gratitude as an important part in our family values.

Hence, it was no surprise when I read of a post on volunteers needed to cook for the homeless. After someone posted of the Koken in een andere Keuken activity at the Stoelenproject at facebook, I knew that it would be a perfect opportunity to give thanks again as a family. The only day they had for January happened to be a day before my birthday and serendipity is definitely pointing me to grab the chance to give back and give thanks. 

Too bad we cannot exactly take photos of the event but I did got a photo of my husband washing the dishes and the little ones helped in getting the food ready. Armed with trays of food prepared by me and good friends, we had a very special time sharing what we have with the homeless who are part of this project (about 45 or so of them!) and gave thanks for another blessed year. My husband and I can only hope that we can continue to put the value of gratitude as an essential part of our lives. 
Served Filipino food! Something most likely different from what they are used to getting.

My husband doing the dishes.

This post is my simple contribution as we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service by challenging our readers (and ourselves!) to take the time to do service with our children. Today some wonderful, wonderful bloggers are sharing ideas about the kinds of volunteer work they have done with their kids. Share your own ideas in the comments or by linking up below! You can also join the discussion in our Google + Community! For some ideas on doing volunteer work with kids, browse our list of family-friendly service projects or great organizations to support. You can also follow our Teaching Global Citizenship and Black History boards on Pinterest.

Participating Blogs

Share your own posts below!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Putting cultural understanding in the daily grind

This year I resolved to be more deliberate in teaching our kids about their heritage. This means I am choosing the daily interactions that we have as opportunities for them to learn about our values, language and culture. Since I sing for them in the evening and they do love it a lot! I decided to expose them to Tagalog songs. I haven't been singing children's songs in Filipino for a long time except to sing some family favorites like Leron, Leron Sinta and my made up lullabye "Tulog na".

So what's a mama got to do? Look at youtube of course! Here are a few links I found and will be singing for the next few weeks:

I am sure to get back to these videos for other songs especially from Filipino for kids and Tagalog Lang's Awiting Pambata. Mama Lisa's world offers a lot  of other songs and in other dialects too! It would be nice to make a video of the kids singing these songs. Well that might be for next month! :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Finally a New Post for the New Year!

2013 was a wonderful year for our family and for my personal growth. It meant though not being able to blog as much as I would have wanted. But I am starting the new year with a new direction to 365 days of Motherhood. This year will be a year to get the kids more aware of  their heritage. This year I will be teaching them more songs in Tagalog and Kapampangan (oh my I would need to brush up on that!) and speak to them more in our language. It also means opening them to other cultural values (like teaching them "pakikisalamuha" since we love entertaining and mingling with others). They also love the book Onze Manieren (Our Manners) so I can move forward with this and get them into understanding and appreciating the Filipino psychology.

Well for now, I will sit back and enjoy the day while I await the thrills and excitement for this year. Expecting that there will be a lot of good things and challenges to come our way and I am ready for it. Like my journal says I will Keep Calm and Carry On :)

P.S. I know it isn't Christmas but it sure was a proud moment when the kids sang this:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning to say " I AM ENOUGH"

I couldn't recall a time that I was slim.  All my life, I grew up thinking and seeing myself as fat. Nowadays I call myself curvaceous and voluptuous in all the right places that my husband adores. Still there are days when I struggle, when I look in the mirror and tell myself, if only I were slim, if only I were so many kilos lighter, if only I can wear sizes that are not double digits...if only, if only, if only. My struggles also carry forward to conversations with my partner starting with lines like "do you still find me attractive?" and the need to be reaffirmed that no matter what the weighing scale says has nothing to do with how he sees me and feels for me. I also struggle to keep these thoughts away from my mouth. Thoughts that shouldn't be blurted within ear shot of the kids for I know how it can affect them. I know full well how damaging it would be for them to hear words of self-doubts when I (we, including their father) cheer them on every single step of their way.

Reading this piece by Kasey Edwards entitled "When Your Mother Says She's Fat" reminded me of that resolve to love myself to every bit, every line and every curve. Quoting one of my favorite lines from the article  "Just like you, I have spent my whole life feeling fat. When did fat become a feeling anyway?" No, really when???

Listening to the everyday declarations of love and adoration that my children give to me, I feel so blessed that they can see me even further than I can see and appreciate myself. So starting this day I resolve to leave all my bodily insecurities behind. Starting this day, I resolve to say I AM ENOUGH and be more gentle, be more kind and be more appreciative of my beauty and my body. Am I so glad to find inspirations from writers like Kasey Edwards who can put to words things I need to remember. What I find extremely helpful too is finding Amanda's blog  Kind over matter and to get inspirational freebies like her Lovenotes to Myself which is just a perfect reminder and a booster for days when I slip and struggle. I can't say there won't be any more struggles on feeling less about myself because of how I look. But I am hoping that by loving myself more those slip ups will be few and far between.

Click on the photo to download the pdf file.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why Mother's Day is Difficult

Written May 14, 2013
8:30 am

 My mom in her wedding dress

Why mother's day is difficult... I lost my mother to breast cancer, she was just 49. Every year that we celebrate Mother's day, I take some moment of my morning to grieve and be grateful. Grieve for the many days and years that my mom will never physically see her lovely grandchildren, grieve for all the rite of passages that our lives (my brother and mine) are going through and that we would like to share with her, grieve for not having the chance to greet her and pamper her during Mother's day in ways that I can provide for her now, in ways that she so deserve. Last Sunday, my daughter saw me weeping, minutes after I was presented with breakfast in bed and hearts made by her and her brother. She came to me with her distraught in her eyes and asked what was the matter. I told her how I , too, would like to greet my mom. She hugged me and with her 6 year old wisdom told me that "I only have to dream and I would see her." Yes, Mother's day will always be bittersweet but with all that I have now, I owe it with whole gratitude to my mother and my grandma for they have and always will be my women of strength and my inspiration.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My mantra


  1. (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) A word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
  2. A statement that is frequently repeated; a characteristic formula or refrain. 

My mantra has always been a beacon of light that guides my actions. I am not deeply religious but I do take the time to be reflective not just as a parent but also as an individual. I can remember that during some tough moments of my life the mantra I used is "This too shall pass" and true enough they did. A very dear friend of mine, while consoling me after what I thought to be a tremendous loss, said that the sun will always shine no matter what. At that point, teary-eyed and all I held on to those words and the repeated "this too shall pass".

Fast forward more than a decade after, I still have my mantra. But the wonderful serendipitous events that occurred after those dark days were replaced by memories that cannot be fully captured by pictures or transcribed to pen. More than a decade after I started "Following thy bliss" and yes, true enough life is a bliss. Waking up wrapped in my husband's embrace, listening to the giggles coming through the next door, looking at the vast sky from our bedroom window, truly grateful that I resolved to find my passions and traverse the path to this blessed life, this space in the world and amongst the lovely people that I meet personally or virtually, day in and day out.

As I reflect now of how my mantra leads me, I am reminded of Gandhi's words:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
   Your thoughts become your words,
 Your words become your actions,
 Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
   Your values become your destiny.”
Perhaps now is the time to add another mantra, one that can go beyond me and my family. Seeing the Mantrabands I fell in love instantly with the mantras. But what appealed to me the most is "Be the change".
I can't wait to get my hands on this lovely reminder. Aysel I will be counting the days :)

So what is your mantra?