Giving Back – Ang Bahay Parola Children’s Center

Yesterday, I was blessed to have been part of a giving back project spearheaded by my dear friend, Em Yambao-Dalisay. In celebration of her hubby’s birthday, she has decided to invite 22 children from the Bahay Parola Children’s Center for lunch at Jollibee Sta. Rosa.

Ang Bahay Parola in Sta. Rosa, Laguna is an all-girls children’s center that aims to provide shelter to street children. It is part of Mission to the World-Philippines, a non-profit organization affiliated with Mission to the World Church in Georgia, USA.

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I’ve spoken with one of the guardians to learn more about their mission and to get an insight on what they do for these children. I must say, I’m very impressed with their program and with the goals they aim to achieve for the kids under their care.

The center only admits girls from 7 to 18 years of age. They work with DSWD in securing permits for them to be the legal guardians of the children. Some of the kids have been turned over to them due to their family’s dire situation. Some belonged to families with 8 – 10 kids and their parents just couldn’t afford to feed them anymore. Some of them have been completely abandoned by their parents. These then are the kids for adoption.  Boys who need help are sent to Ang Bahay Parola in Bacoor, Cavite.

All of the girls go to school. They have sponsors from all over the world to help support their education, food, clothing, and shelter. When the kids turn 18, they move in with a family who can continue to support them until they finish their studies. The center only acts as legal guardians of the kids. All the children are still able to visit their parents and siblings once in a while.

The kids do devotional activities in the mornings, gospel sharing twice a week and Sunday service. No wonder all the girls who attended the party were well-behaved. I was so impressed because they were all clean and looked presentable. No one was loud or was acting out. They must be well-loved and taken care of at the center to show such composure in public. The girls are quite smart too. When asked to come up with a group name during the customary parlor games, one team chose “Gandang Level-up.” How witty is that?

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Thanks, heaps to Em-em and Gilbert for sharing their special day with us. I do hope to see the kids of Bahay Parola once again and get to know them better.

To know more about Mission to the World – Ang Bahay Parola Center, please visit their Facebook page.

2nd Birthday Fun at the Farm

Our family enjoys visiting farms, zoos and other open places where the little boy can run around freely. We love the view of grass, trees, the sky and bodies of water. I don’t particularly enjoy being near animals. However, my maternal instinct tells me that bringing my kids to petting zoos would be beneficial to them. I would have to read up on some psychology stuff about that.

So when Matty turned 2, we decided to hold an intimate birthday celebration at the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena. The place was just perfect for the theme that we picked. Since Matty enjoyed doing different animal sounds at the time, and we wanted to add a classic touch to the theme, we chose to do a Farmer Mickey birthday bash.

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Every detail of the event was DIY except for the cake, which I ordered thru Instagram. I hand sewn the table cloth, baked the cupcakes, handmade the loot bags, individually packed the sandwiches and the brunch, did artsy stuff with the utensils, created the banners, etc. Talk about Pinterest expectations vs. reality. Ha ha!

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You can choose to stay at the farm either in the morning or afternoon. We chose morning thinking it would be way cooler to start the party at 8 a.m.  So we brought ham and cheese sandwiches for breakfast and packed longsilog for lunch. We made sure to bring lots of chilled drinks to help ease the heat. I am telling you, you can never bring too many cold drinks at this place!

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The fun farm did live up to its name as the guests enjoyed their stay. Activities included boat riding, zip line, horseback riding, fishing, row boating, and carabao pulled-cart riding. They have a petting zoo, a huge sandbox and lots of picnic areas.

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Please note that it is imperative to call the farm before making any plans to get there. They sometimes don’t allow walk-ins as they can only accommodate a certain number of people at a time. Entrance to the farm costs P300 per pax. We went there by car and took the Cabuyao Exit. The farm should be less than 10 minutes from the exit. You may ask the toll gate cashiers for instructions on how to get there.

I would highly recommend this place if you are looking at spending a laid back trip with your little ones this summer. Visit the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena website for more information.

Obtaining a Driver’s License

Because el padre is overseas, I had no choice but to learn how to drive and apply for a driver’s license. Never in my wildest dreams have I thought that a time would come when I would finally drive.

I have prepared for the “big day” way back in July of 2016 when my 17-year-old daughter and I applied for a student license. Applying for one was a breeze. Processing time was only less than 2 hours. We paid around 600 pesos – 300 bucks for medical and another 317 for the license itself.

So, just a few weeks ago, I went back to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) in Binan, Laguna to apply for a non-professional driver’s license. I went there on a Monday afternoon hoping that I  would be spared from the morning rush. It was a bad move on my part though, as I was told that the application for licenses is only processed in the mornings. They have a quota of 80 applications per day and this is easily filled as early as 9 am. Since I was required to get a recent medical clearance, I just went on to process that first in a nearby “clinic” and paid a whopping 300 pesos. They only took my height, weight and then did a vision check, where they let me read some block letters.

I went back the next day at 8 am hoping to be the first in line. When I arrived, my queue number was already 47. What?! What’s worse, officers at the LTO said they were having a system failure and operations was stalled for more than an hour. It was around 12 noon that I was able to complete the first step of my application – that is to submit my application form and get the officer to key in my details in the system. I then got my photo captured and then paid P167 for my written exam. As it was already past 2 o’clock and I was starving, I decided to come back the next day for my exams.

To prepare for the test, I have answered the questionnaires at http://www.ltodrivingexam.com. The website says if you are able to master the “mock exams”, you are most likely to pass the actual written test. I reviewed day and night because if I didn’t pass, I would have to wait for another month before I can retake the test. It came as a surprise when during the actual test, the questions were phrased differently. I was really hoping that everything would appear exactly as I have read them from the reviewer. The passing rate was 30 over 40 items. I didn’t think I would pass, but I got 35 answers correctly. Whew!

After getting the written test results, I was asked to go outside and pay P250 for the car rental. I asked the examining officer if I could go back the next day instead and he asked, “Bakit, magdadala ka ng auto?” (why, are you bringing your own car?). I told him, “Hindi po, kinakabahan ako.” (No, I’m feeling anxious).  Ha ha. That was just me being truthful. He then replied, “Don’t worry. Ako’ng bahala sa ‘yo.” (I’ll take care of you). I was almost tempted to say, “Huwag po!” (please, don’t) but I was in dire need of a license. After I paid, we hopped on to the car and he started the engine; he told me not to step on the brakes. He instructed me to turn the steering wheel to the right and then to the left, and then we’re done. Hurrah! That was a piece of cake. I’d say, I passed the test with flying colors. Lol!

Here are the requirements, fees, and steps in applying for a non-professional driver’s license.

Requirements:

  1. A valid student permit
  2. Medical clearance
  3. Filled-out application form

Fees:

  1. Medical Clearance – P300
  2. Test Fee – P167.63
  3. *Car rental fee: P250 (optional)
  4. Driver’s License: P652.63

*You don’t have to pay this fee if you’ve brought your own vehicle.

Steps:

  1. Get queue number
  2. Obtain medical clearance
  3. Get your documents verified and keyed into the system
  4. Photo capture
  5. Pay for testing fees
  6. Take the written test
  7. Take the actual driving test
  8. Pay for your license
  9. Claim your license

Visit the LTO website for more information.

Fun in the sun: Wetdreams Wakeskate & Camp

Growing up in the province, it was a norm to spend lazy afternoons at the farm; lounging in a hammock under the tree or simply killing time chatting with beloved friends. Nowadays, you will rarely find farms in the Sta. Rosa – Binan area. Everything has been commercialized, all you would see is a never-ending stretch of shops and commercial buildings.

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summer feels

It’s a refreshing change of landscape when a friend invited us to their newly-opened wake park. They were generous enough to let us laze around the park for the whole day for free! The park is surrounded by trees, giving the place a cool and breezy ambiance. They also have a mini-zoo with chickens, ducks, birds & horses. Kids will surely enjoy the scenery and the experience.

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perfect for hanging out with friends
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one of the four horses you would find at the park

They offer wakeskating lessons and you may use their boards if you don’t have one. The water is only waist-deep. I have not tried wakeskating but will definitely join in the fun when we come back. From what I’ve seen, it would take maybe 4 to 5 attempts before you can stand on the board and run the course – at least halfway! There are a lot of friendly tambays (idlers) in the park who are always ready to cheer on and build your confidence.

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looks too easy, but it ain’t!

The park is still work in progress. You’d still need to fetch some water for flushing the toilet and taking a bath. Lightings have yet to be installed as well as grills for barbecuing. I can’t wait to see the end result of this project. Surely people will come in droves once the park is fully accessible to the public.

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Photos were taken from Wetdreams Facebook page. Add them for more pics, videos, and information.

Selling Stuff Online

I love browsing through local Instagram shops and have even purchased several hard to find items through the app. Luckily, I have not experienced getting scammed. As I am a regular shopper, I wondered how much money those online shops earned and how promising the stint was. So I thought of launching an online shop myself to see if I’ve got what it takes to be the next highest-grossing online retailer.

Since it is summertime, I decided to sell swimsuits. You would find hundreds of summer apparel vendors on Instagram but what would separate me from the rest, is that my goods would cost so much cheaper. I can already imagine the customers flocking to my account and buying everything posted on the page. But by golly, it is not as easy as I thought it was!

I have searched for a supplier online and found one that sells the swimsuits at more than 50% off the market price. I couldn’t believe how cheap the swimsuits were from the wholesaler. I can only imagine how much the retailers must be earning as most of them are selling the goods for more than double the (wholesale) price.

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taking individual photos and posting online takes a lot of work!

This is what I am talking about…I have created the Instagram account on the 5th of March. Since then I have uploaded 36 photos. So far, I have gained 28 followers. LOL! What would it take for me to get more followers? I really have to up my marketing skills.

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Well, it’s not really as bad as it looks. I actually made this into some sort of an experiment. Not wanting to brag, I am also managing another account with more than a thousand followers in it -I will be discussing this in a future post. What I wanted to see was, how “viral” would my account be if I relied on family and friends to help with the promotion.

It may be too early to tell as it has not yet been fully a month since the shop was introduced. But I’m starting to get a bit disappointed with the results of the “experiment”. Would you help me in obtaining more followers?

gypseas.ph

Please support my online shop by following Gypseas.ph on Instagram  (@gypseas.ph) #wearereadyforsummer!

Tali Beach

Summer is definitely here! The temperature has started to rise, it’s time to head to our favorite summer destinations.

One of the go-to places that my family enjoys is Tali Beach in Nasugbu, Batangas. It is just around 2-hour drive from Sta. Rosa.

Tali Beach is an exclusive gated community filled with beautiful vacation homes. You have to make sure that you have booked yourselves an accommodation before heading to the place lest the security guards stop you from entering the village gates. Once you are booked, the renter would usually send you an email addressed to the guards granting permission for you to enter the village.

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our rented vacation house

If you are on a budget, consider renting homes that are not by the beachfront. Usually, the rate is P1,000 per pax for 15 pax for such rentals. I would recommend renting a place with a pool since the beach in this part of Batangas is not ideal for hanging out. I’ll tell you more about that later.

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relaxing view of the poolside

The long drive to Nasugbu is indeed very relaxing. One of the perks of traveling to Tali is that you have to pass by Tagaytay. It’s always a bonus to get a view of the Taal volcano and to be able to get fresh produce from the Mahogany market. On top of it all, the road leading to Tali is so smooth and even, it’s every driver’s heaven. Be wary of the traffic from Sta. Rosa to Tagaytay on weekends and holidays, though. Things could then easily turn into a nightmare. Another piece of advice, make sure that you have everything that you need before you reach your destination as there is no supermarket or 711 nearby.

Tali beach is best known for its cliff jumping spots. The very first time that we’ve been there, we were surprised to see that there was no one to give us tips on how and where to jump, if the water was safe for jumping, etc. We were on our own. That adds to the thrill, I guess.

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the crazy bunch surveying the diving spots

The best time to jump, based on research, is before lunch time. The sea is calm and the view is just breathtaking. The very first time we tried it, my brothers and I jumped from a cliff that was only 8 ft high. We felt so accomplished and proud. We found it really funny later on when we saw our videos. It was such a shallow drop, even little kids can jump from that height.

When we came back, we tried jumping from the 25-ft cliff. The experience was extremely terrifying. I remember surrendering my life to God before finally jumping into the sea. After the jump, it took maybe 2-3 seconds before my feet touched the water. It felt like forever but OMG! Once you hit the water, the feeling was just awesome.

There are several beaches that you can visit. We particularly liked the main beach because the shoreline was longer. We also didn’t have to walk all the way down to the shore. The beach is full of rocks, better wear your swim shoes. It is not ideal for sunbathing or for building sand castles. The shore is too narrow for doing anything else other than a quick rest from swimming or smashing the waves.

Tali beach is a relaxing and fun destination, perfect for an overnight getaway with family and friends. We will never get tired of visiting this awesome place!