28 October 2013

Product Review: HALO Sleepsack Wearable Blankets

The month of October has been well known as Breast Cancer Awareness month. For many years now, Breast Cancer has been alleviated, prevented and treated at early detection because of several Breast Cancer advocacies. Nonetheless, another advocacy for the month of October has not yet been that known in the country, which is the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month.  

As a woman, I have never been aware to this kind of advocacy not until I became a mother. I heard and have read stories of babies sleeping and never waking up, which made me more wary when my firstborn E arrived. Thanks to my mommy friends from  the The Mommy Avenue who have been my online advisers and to Halo Philippines for advocating safe sleep for babies and extending such here in the Philippines.

What is SIDS?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant less than one year of age that cannot be explained. Accordingly, it is the leading cause of death among infants ages 1-12 months. SIDS is a type of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death: suffocation, asphyxia, entrapment, infection, ingestions, metabolic diseases, cardiac arrhythmia, traumas (accidental or non-accidental) or SIDS. In the Philippines alone, there were recorded 172,483 extrapolated incidents of SIDS, making us second in the Southeast Asia Region being next to Indonesia as per The Right Diagnosis have monitored.  

Possible Causes

According to studies of the Remedy's Health Communities, SIDS risk factors include:

  • Stomach or side sleeping - SIDS occur more on babies who do sleep on their stomachs.  Likewise, because babies can roll over to their stomachs, babies put down on their sides also are at higher risk. Because of this, doctors place an important emphasis on back sleeping.
  • Soft sleep surfaces and loose bedding - water bed, sofas, pillows, plush toys and blankets are at higher risk for SIDS and infant suffocation. Co-sleeping is a related risk factor.
  • Excessive warmth  - babies who sleep with many layers of clothing and those who sleep in overheated rooms are also at higher risk for SIDS.
  • Smoking during pregnancy and secondhand smoke - Infants whose mothers smoke during their pregnancy are three times more likely to experience SIDS. 
  • Alcohol and drug use - Similar to smoking, these activities also make the baby susceptible to SIDS.
  • Teenage Births - SIDS often occur in babies born to teenage mothers than in babies born to older women. 

23 October 2013

Eulogy for Daddy Sophie...From Mommy Sophie...

Being in the military and being a military wife in one equates to a tedious and adventurous life. But this also equates to sleepless nights once our respective husbands go on deployment...Here was the last message my dear friend Mommy Sophie (LTJG Aemy Leslie Campos-Damian) read, the night before Daddy Sophie (1LT FRANCIS DAMIAN PA) was buried... 

Note: This letter/message was posted with permission...

"I am amazed with how my husband has touched many lives while he was still alive. Pero mas nakakataba ng puso na higit na maraming na-inspire kahit sa kanyang pagkawala.
            ”Dadi, nasa frontpage tayo.”

·         Nais ko pong kunin ang pagkakataong ito upang sabihin ang matagal na dapat naming sinabi ni Chikko.

To Mommy Sol and Daddy Bing, Mama and Papa, SORRY.

            Chikko and I are sincerely sorry for not being able to begin our journey with you. We stepped on to another significant path without your knowledge and consent. We know we caught you by surprise and we could not be more grateful for the unconditional love you’ve given us. Without ifs and buts, you accepted and understood our decisions. You showed us the kind of parenting we wish to pass on to our dear Cheeky - the kind that is patient, just, keeps no record of wrongs, always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. You taught us that love prospers when one forgives.

·         Dear friends, Chikko and Chick… our not-so-ordinary love story is a tale to be told… a story that in time, Cheeky will come to understand.  Our love story will make you laugh; it will make you cry. It will make you believe that no matter how you run away, the Lord will always lead you to the one He has prepared for you. With the incomparable happiness Chikko has given me, our love will always be worth all the pain.

·         Much has been said about the heroism of Chikko and of how amazing he is as a brave warrior for the country. But to me and Cheeky, he will always be “Dadi Sophie.” I have realized that more than the grief of losing him, there is also the searing pain brought by the tug of familiarity and the what-could’ve-beens.

            Mamimiss ko ‘yung morning messages niya na: “How is my Momi and Cheeky?” Pag low morale ako, may mga hirit siyang “Okay lang ‘yan Momi, basta may pumapasok pa sa ATM” o ‘yung “Life is already hard, Momi, why make it harder.” Francis was like that… alam niya kung paano kami patatawanin at patatahanin. Nung binyag ni Sophie, he surprised us when he arrived a day earlier than his supposed flight. When I opened the door, andun na siya sa labas ng bahay with his usual charming smoulder.
            Mabibilang man sa mga daliri ko ang mga pagkakataong nagkasama sila ni Sophie, Chikko made sure every moment was memorable. Bago pa man siya makagraduate sa Airborne Course niya, gustong-gusto na niya magpadeploy sa Zamboanga. At isa sa mga dahilan ay kami ni Sophie. Higit sa pagtupad ng kanyang tungkulin bilang kawal ng bayan, pinanindigan niya ang pagiging Dadi kay Sophie. 

            Upon landing in EAAB, he said, “Momi, san kayo? Makita ko man lang sandali ang Momi ko at ang Baby Girl ko. Diyan na lang sa NavForWem, before ako pumunta sa TCP ng LRB. Wag sa bahay kasi nakafull battle gear na ako. Pwede dalhin mo lang sandali ang baby girl, Momi? Kung hindi, kahit ikaw na lang momi ang makita ko bago madeploy. Naks, parang pelikula lang.”

·         I knew in my heart that Chikko would have been the best father. He would’ve introduced our God to her, carried Sophie around whenever he had the chance, taken photos of her as she grows, given her the world, taught her how to play a sport or a musical instrument, accompanied her on her first day of class and picked her up from school every day; napahirapan pa sana niya ang mga magtatangkang manligaw sa baby girl namin; he would’ve come up the stage every graduation day. Chikko would’ve walked her down the aisle, kissed her cheeks, and gave her his blessing; he would’ve watched our grandchildren grow up to be as beautiful as her.

·         When his battle bag was handed over to me, I could not stop myself from crying. I saw three (3) precious items in it:

-       First, his phone, ang wallpaper ay kami ni Cheeky. 

-       Second, Sophie’s bib na ninakaw niya. Hindi ko napansing kinuha niya pala ‘yun during our visit to Cheeky’s pedia for her vaccination. Walang laba yung bib puno pa ng suka ni Cheeky, yun ang inaamoy nya to remind him of our little girl and he carries it everwhere he goes.

-       Lastly, I found a book about being a “Father to a Daughter,” life lessons on raising a girl. I could imagine my husband reading through the book during his free time, understanding every advice there was in it, longing for a chance to apply every single piece that it said.

I turned to a page which stated that the five (5) keys to raising a girl are:

1.    Always be involved in her life.

2.    Respect and honor her mom.

3.    Treasure every moment with her.

4.    Pray for her everyday.

            In the span of time that he was with us, Chikko did all of the above. The last one struck me the most… it said:

5.    Be her hero.

            Francis may not be physically present anymore to defend and protect our baby girl; to give her a comforting hug or kiss whenever she’s afraid; and to sing her a lullaby until she falls asleep. But I am confident that he will always be there for our baby, guiding her from above.

            He is not just the country’s hero… he is our daughter’s hero; he is and will always be my hero.

·         I have to admit. I am overwhelmed by this challenge. Ang huling for compliance ko lang kasi kay Chikko ay mejas na Biofresh o Burlington, tapos foot powder at Fungisol. Ngayon, I am not just Momi Sophie, I have to be Dadi Sophie as well.

            Pero pangako ko sa’yo dadi, I will raise Sophie the way we wanted her to be. I will make sure that your dream for our baby Sophie will be fulfilled. I promise that she will know you better day by day. When the time comes, she will proudly tell the world that she is our daughter and that 1LT. FRANCIS G. DAMIAN of the Philippine Army, a hero of the Filipino nation, is her father.

·         I would like to take this chance to thank everyone who condoled with us in this moment of grief. Thank you for all your concern and sympathies. The coming days will be hard. While Chikko victoriously won in his fight, it is now our time to face another battle - that of letting go and beginning a new journey. Armed with faith and prayers, we will get by.

·         As I end this, allow me to share with you a few lines from the last song dadi Sophie sang to me…

            “I am all alone without you. My days are dark without the glimpse of you. But now that you came into my life, I feel complete. The flowers bloom, my morning shines, and I can see…”

            He may not be here anymore, but his reassuring voice will always be in my mind. He will always complete the song of my heart.

            I love you dadi, I will always do… till we meet again."

21 October 2013

Press Release Part I: Avoiding Childbirth Risks at the Baby & Family Expo Philippines

Brought for the whole family by the MediaCom Solutions Inc and co-presented by Cordlife, the Baby & Family Expo Philippines 2013 - Welcoming Life, Love and Care, the biggest family event of the year and dedicated to nurture family development and child care will be held on 06-08 December 2013 at the SMX Convention Center Manila, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. It will cover the stages of family growth from pregnancy to early childhood. 

One of the main topics that will be discussed during the Expo is Avoiding Childbirth Risks. According to UNICEF Philippines, every year, half a million women die because of pregnancy and childbirth complications. Accordingly, in the Philippines alone, the lifetime risk of maternal death alone is 1 in every 140 while about 11 pregnant Filipina die everyday which equates to an estimated 4,500 annually due to severe haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, sepsis and other related childbirth problems . 

This placed Philippines at number 75 in terms of maternal mortality rate, which is also the highest in Southeast Asia. One of the Baby & Family Expo Philippines 2013 aim is to inform and help mothers and expecting mothers prepare and cope with the anxiety of giving birth, This topic will also be part of the free seminars and talks by medical professionals and mom groups like the Medela Moms to give the latest insights on pregnancy and how to prepare for motherhood.

Avoiding Childbirth Risks at the Baby & Family Expo Philippines
On all three days, the event will feature educational talks and seminars with topics like preparing and dealing with childbirth as well as prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and their families, fun-filled activities and exclusive discounts from over 200 exhibitors like Bosom Buddy, Ever Bilena, Mustela, Bambino and many more.

Embrace and prepare for childbirth with this wonderful family event of the year, call +632.843.2174 or send e-mail at info@babyexpo.ph

20 October 2013

Budget-Friendly Hong Kong Trip

When I was still a cadet, one of our perks is being able to travel around the country and if lucky enough, to travel abroad. This never changed when I already joined the officer corps. Some of the places I've been aside from my home province Pangasinan and other areas in Luzon include Davao City, Compostela Valley, Cebu, Zamboanga, Bukidnon, Bicol Region, Palawan and Cagayan De Oro. More so, having a husband who loves to travel, I also found myself loving to be always on the go. Of course aside from having a happy feet and interest in knowing more of the different scenic views in our country, I believe all of you would agree that traveling outside the Philippines is also included in your bucket list. 

Travel List

For a mother like me, I would love to bring my children to the famous HK Disneyland, Malaysia Legoland and KL Petronas Towers, spending the day with the elephants of Kachanaburi in Thailand, visiting various parks and rich culture of Bali, Indonesia and Singapore's Universal Studios. I've listed down Asian countries first; visa-free countries. Hopefully, this list will be accomplished and be able to share it with you. But for the meantime, I would like to share to you my 2 days 2 nights stay in HK.


Of course before leaving, you must have a quick check list. So here was mine:
- Passport (This must be updated of course. Mall annexes are already provided for new passport applicants.)
- Visa (If and only if you will be visiting a visa country i.e. US, Australia, Japan.)
- Plane Tickets (Of course for obvious reasons.)
- Identification Cards (Aside from passport, it's better to bring some of your IDs i.e. driver's license, postal ID.)
- Traveling Bag (The weight/size depends on how many days will you be staying in the area.)
- Wardrobe (Check first what's the season of the country you are visiting. You can't wear summer dresses in a cold weather can you?)
- Toiletries (I know women can't live without their kikay kit.)
- Small Blanket (You will need this while on the plane.)
- Medicines (If you have maintenance, be sure to bring it.)
- Of course, POCKET MONEY or your CARD. You should also find out the currency exchange.

HK Day 1

This was an unplanned short vacation and unwinding/bonding session with my two favorite aunts (my mother's sisters). So here was our itinerary for day 1:

0700H - Our departure from the Philippines.

0915H - We arrived at HK Airport. Luckily I chose the right airlines (Tiger Airways) so no delays occurred to and from Clark Airport. Piece of advice, if you will be travelling from Manila, you may choose Manila based airports. If you will be coming from Northern Luzon or Central Luzon area, Clark airport is nearer.

(Note: Prepare Php1620.00 worth of travel tax per person.)

Upon arriving at the airport, we bought a 3-day tourist pass. We chose the Airport Express Travel Pass worth HK$300 (includes HK$50 refundable deposit). It is a less hassle type of pass which allowed us to enjoy unlimited travel on MTR, Light Rail and MTR Bus. The good thing is, you get to pay just what you have spent during your stay in HK. At the end of your trip, you return your tourist pass and  are able to refund the deposit and the remaining balance of your card. Sulit right?

We then rode the train and travelled from the Airport Station to Kowloon. From Kowloon Station, we took a cab (from Kowloon Station to Argylle Street, it costed us HK$45) to enroute to our hotel at Mongkok.

1000H - I was able to finally locate our hotel in Mongkok. We particularly stayed at Hongkong Budget Hostel, a budget hostel for travellers. We paid HK$430 per day. We stayed for 2 days and 2 nights so that makes HK$860 in all. Take note, the room we got was good for three people with personal bathroom.

After settling our things, we then had our brunch then went back to the hotel to rest.

1300H - We went to Avenue of the Stars and had a non-stop walking in the area. Using MTR cards we bought, we rode a train from Mongkok to MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui and walk through Exit J.

1600H - We left Boulevard of the Stars and went back to Mongkok. We went back to the hostel to rest and freshen up.

1700H - My aunts and I went down the hostel and had our dinner at a nearby noodle house. Technically speaking, the whole day was a noodle day. The serving was really big that two persons could share a bowl of noodles. Surprisingly, as I have observed the people, even the ladies, they really can consume the whole of it!

Aside from numerous noodle houses, what I also loved was their "street foods." Comparably, our street foods here in the Philippines are literally mobile and are located in the streets. What I liked about HK street foods is that they do have their own stall and you really have a lot of choices. You also get to see how the dimsum are made. This actually became our favorite merienda during our stay in HK. And..it was just below our hostel!
1900H - Aunt Sally, Aunt Fe and I went directly to recon the Ladies Market. For shopping aficionados, which is closely similar to our very own Divisoria, where a lot of items can be found particularly  a la mode clothing, bags, shoes, accessories etc. It was a long street market place where different races and culture meet: Filipinos, Chinese, Koreans, Americans, English, name it!

My aunts decided to shop that night so our second and last night in HK will be allotted for another walking escapade in the other shopping areas of Mongkok. We were able to purchase a lot of souvenir items for pasalubong: t-shirts, polo, shoes, skirts, display items, wallet, bags, and of course, food stuff! I loved HK naicha! I am not a tea connoisseur but I can attest that HK naicha is the best! With this, I ended up buying BOXES of milk tea. Aside from milk tea, my little prince E loved HK misua so I also bought a lot of it.

At about 2200H, we went back to our place and rested.

HK Day 2

0800H - We went to breakfast bakery and had our breakfast. We bought a lot of bread that day. we were also able to eat rice for breakfast (can't stay away with our staple food) and of course, 2 cups of hot naicha.

0900H - We went back to the hostel to freshen up then left to continue our second day of tour. Our mission: To be able to visit Disneyland, to take a cable ride to one of the highest peak in HK and to  see the largest sitting Buddha.


We rode a train from Mongkok to Lai King Station. The second day was a lot of rides. We then transferred to Tung Chung Line still at Lai King Station. From Lai King Station Tung Chung Line, we reached Sunny Bay Station then once again transferred to (finally) Disneyland Resort Line (you will be able to clearly differentiate Disneyland Train because of its peculiar appearance).

From the Left: My aunt "mamita" Sally and I at MTR Tsuen Wan Line, my
aunt Sally and aunt Fe at Disney MTR, bottom: different disney figures to see
at Disneyland MTR.
Needless to say, here are some of the photos taken during our short tour at HK Disneyland.

From Upper Left: MTR HK Disneyland, HK Disneyland MTR seat, HK Disneyland MTR safety handle, first figures to see at the entrance: Moby Dick and Mickey Mouse.
From the Left: SMC at the different parts of the entrance and bottom right is the window design of HK Disneyland MTR.
Checking for the rates especially if you are on your own and not part of a tour package? Here's the update pricing as of 1st quarter 2013. Most of the time, price rate changes every year at a minimal amount.
Afraid to becoming lost? Here's HK Disney's Directory. 
For further details, they have guest relations office just near the main gate of the amusement park.
We really did not spend an hour in HK Disneyland for the sole reason that we don't have kids as company. So I promised myself to go back here and bring my little E and A.

Main Entrance of the Amusement Park
My favorite photo in HK Disneyland. This was actually a stolen shot. They were both surprised and was not really aware of their sweetness as siblings (something I missed since I'm an only begotten child). 

Second Stop: NGONG PING

From Disneyland, take the MTR Disneyland back to Sunny Bay Station. In Sunny Bay Station, transfer back to Tung Chung Line then unload at Tung Chung Station. From the station, you are to walk about a hundred meters to reach the ticketing office of famous Ngong Ping Cable Car ride.

From Top Left: first mountain top to traverse, the waters separating the Ngong Ping ticketing office to the first mountain top, typical view while inside the cabin and the view from the top of Ngong Ping Village.
There are three types of cabin you can choose from: Standard, Crystal and Private Cabins. All cabins look similar with small different features. For standard (costs HK$135 per head), you get to have 360 degrees view; for crystal clear cabin (costs HK$213 per head) you get to see even the view below the cabin, which is not really advisable for those who has fear of heights like me; and, the private cabin on the other hand comes with a package (the prices I posted are for adults).

Meanwhile, here are some photos taken at Ngong Ping Village:

Souvenir Photo. This costs HK$ 100.
Freebie shot we got upon arrival in Ngong Ping Village.
1100H - We opted not to climb the Buddha. Maybe next time I will be able to climb it. After the hyper walking, we went back to Mongkok. Ride the cable car back to Tung Chung then ride MTR at Tung Chung Station to Lai King. Transfer to Tsuen Wan Line Lai King Station then unload at Mongkok Station.

1200H - We had our lunch and then back to hotel.

I am amazed with this type of bus but I really do not have any
intentions of riding such.
1300H - We checked out the Jade Market and Jade Street. To go there, ride MTR Mongkok Station then unload at Yau Ma Tei Station. You may also take the double deck bus if you want to. But personally, we do prefer the MTR than the buses.

1500H - We went back to hostel and took a nap/rest.

1800H - after recharging our energies, we went out to have dinner with a family friend, Aunt Nancy, who has been living in HK for a decade or so. She did treat us for dinner and once again accompany us to have our final shopping before we go home the next day.