As a mother who dreams of good lives for my kids someday, I am always glad to hear about advocacies that support the education of underprivileged children because, I sincerely believe, that will also be their ticket to a bright future.

Last July 25, Dell Philippines once more strengthened its commitment to support youth learning in the country by giving Childhood Asia Phippines, Inc. (CHAP) a second grant through Dell's Powering the Possible initiative. The partnership aims to further the cause of empowering young people by helping close the learning gap and providing underserved communities with access to technology.

Dell's Richard Teo and Christopher Papa with CHAP kids
The additional funding aims to give equal opportunities for misplaced youth through education and computer literacy. CHAP, which works with  underprivileged street children and out-of-school youth in Metro Manila, has programs on basic literacy and numeracy, alternative learning system basic education, computer literacy, as well as life skills, values and primary health education. 

During the turnover ceremonies in a Greenbelt 1 cinema in Makati (where CHAP kids were treated to a block screening of Wolverine after), Richard Teo, president of Dell Philippines expressed how pleased they are to be able to extend funding support for CHAP’s outreach program. "Childhope Asia has been a strategic partner of Dell under the Powering the Possible program. Since last year, Dell has helped to equip a computer lab and mobile education vans with state-of-the-art technology so that the street children of Manila have access to these learning tools." 

CHAP kids, seated in between Dell employees, excited to watch the movie
He further reported that Dell team members have also been active in providing skills training in computers as well as other creative activities like singing, dancing and the arts. "The additional funding support is intended to enable further outreach so that the deployed technology can be fully utilized by the street children,"affirmed Teo.

Every day, mobile education vans with street educators are deployed to 18 locations where street children are often found, such as parks or sidewalks of urban centers, to teach children there. The core of the partnership is to provide underserved youth and educators with access to technology so it can serve as a catalyst for lifelong learning and career readiness.

inside the mobile education vans
The mobile education vans are equipped with Dell laptops and required education software to accomplish the work of accredited programs administered by CHAP and benefits an estimated 500 kids. Through Dell's support, CHAP was also able to establish a computer lab providing digital learning and basic computer literacy classes to 120 selected street children brought to the charity’s premises. The lab also provides the educators and mentors with IT facilities to record and track the progress of the street children under the program.

Teresita L. Silva, president and executive director of Childhope Asia Philippines, Inc. shared their deep appreciation for the commitment and substantial financial support of Dell to street children's education as these "will have a life-long impact on their development and well-being as well as contribution to society as a whole."

Intel Philippines' Christopher Styling
shares gifts to CHAP kids
The additional funds given recently will moreover help CHAP sustain its efforts and continue to monitor the welfare of the children and the impact of the program to their development.

Please follow Dell on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Dell4Good and use the hashtag #poweringthepossible

* Photos with watermarks courtesy of my hubby, Nonoy, of trailsunlimited.blogspot.com




"Everything for the Jeans Lover." That's a good phrase to sum up SM Supermalls' Jeans Festival where shoppers can buy denim from their favorite brands at discounted prices.


Last Saturday, two of my friends and I were invited to SM Santa Rosa, the first SM Supermall in Laguna, to watch their Denim Fashion Show where lithe models exhibited various styles you can do with the ever popular and staple item in our wardrobes --- jeans.


The models graced the catwalk in three segments: Casual, Fab and Glam, and Pure Jeans. I like most of the outfits worn on stage because they are wearable in everyday situations. I'm sure many of the passersby and SM mall shoppers who stopped and watched also found new ideas on what tops to wear best with the denim they own or are planning to buy.


During the middle of the program, special guest Young JV performed a couple of songs to the delight of many young audiences. 


Let me just add that one of the models, who has a striking resemblance with Daniel Padilla, also made a lasting impression on the real actor/singer's fans. Can you spot him in the photos? :)


Participating brands in the fashion show included G by Guess, Girbaud, Reborn, Whoops, Mags, Humans, Dickies, and Jag.   


Aside from discounts, shoppers can also buy regular items at 50% off in the Swap & Shop promo if they trade in any old pair of jeans. Avail of this deal and save a lot on your purchases! 


SM Supermalls' Jeans Festival will run until the end of this month, July 31, 2013.

* To see a LOT more photos from the fashion show, please view this Facebook album




When the opportunity to visit Sagada in Mountain Province presented itself about a month ago, I immediately agreed to go. I knew it would be a great adventure and it was! The trip happened after  we've visited several organic farms in Benguet


Last week, our group of bloggers traveled to Sagada to visit several sites. We left La Trinidad around 4:30 am for the 5 -hour travel. The van stopped in Atok at around 5:30am so we can take pictures of the sunrise.


Unfortunately, I have a weakness for cold weather and scrambled back to the warm comfort of the van after just a few shots. I couldn't stand the freezing cold wind that suddenly greeted us along the highway.





Coffee is a staple in most people's daily lives. I have friends who say they can't function well without this beverage and I also know people who really spend a lot for their coffee fixes.


Me? I'm not much of a coffee drinker as I prefer to simply have a mug of Milo every morning for breakfast. But I do drink coffee every now and then when I meet with friends in coffee shops or simply feel I could use a cup at home whenever I need to stay up all night to finish my writing deadlines.


During a recent trip up North, our group of bloggers stayed in the Agricultural Training Institute dormitory located inside Benguet State University where we could grab a cup of organic coffee several times a day. Surprisingly, many of us really did like this kind of coffee because it is not too bitter and tastes really good!


When we went to Sagada, we did a courtesy call at the Mayor's office where the agricultural extension representatives there had us try their organic coffee. Again, we enjoyed the smooth blend that is a pleasure to drink especially during that very cold morning.


Later, we saw for ourselves how organic coffee is grown in the farm of Mr. Osenio Lay-os. His coffee plantation is interspersed with other crops such as passion fruits and pears. He generously offered us to try them and we had fun munching on these healthy produce.


The coffee grown in this farm is the Arabica variety, which is very apt for the cool climate. Mr. Lay-os belongs to a cooperative that has acquired machines that help them process coffee beans for roasting and grinding. 


They house the machines in a small structure where we had a really nice lunch of a traditional Sagada dish that has Pinikpikang Manok (native chicken), Etag (smoked pork), and vegetables. The flavorful hot soup was perfect for the weather.


Please read more about our Sagada adventures in other posts coming up in the next few days :)

You can view more Sagada photos here and here

For more information on organic agriculture, log on to www.ati.da.gov.ph and www.e-extension.gov.ph.




Juicing is very popular these days and many advocates say it's best to use raw fruits and vegetables for optimum health. But, did you know that food is ONLY best eaten raw if it's organic or grown using natural methods of farming?


According to Mr. Felix Tan, owner of the Garden of Life Farm in Benguet, chemically-grown food may be more harmful if eaten raw!

Mr. Tan at his composting site
Mr. Tan, who practices alternative medicine, utilizes 1500 sqm. of his 1.7 hectare-land to grow crops that can help heal people. He has been farming for 11 years and applies learnings from Mr. Pat Acosta, the owner of The Master's Garden, who willingly teaches why organic farming should be the way to go to preserve the environment for the next generations.


The Garden of Life grows anti-cancer veggies such as bokchoy, sugar beets, carrots, French beans, herbs, and more. There, we were offered to taste some leaves directly plucked from the plants. Since they're organically grown, they are safe to be eaten raw.


From Mr. Tan, I learned that an ounce of freshly-squeezed wheat grass juice a day can help flush out toxins from the body. He also told us that Ashitaba leaves (or what some call Leaves of Tomorrow), which originated in Japan, are good for people with diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer because it contains powerful antioxidants and nutrients.


Visiting the Garden of Life has once more ingrained in me the importance of prioritizing genuinely healthy food over the cheaper but potentially dangerous ones. Learn more about organic organic agriculture by logging on to www.ati.da.gov.ph and www.e-extension.gov.ph.




The Master's Garden in La Trinidad was the first farm in Benguet to be certified organic by the Organic Certification Center of the Philippines (OCCP) in 2009. The 3000sqm. area was considered by its owner, Mr. Ambrosio "Pat" Acosta, as a God-given opportunity to develop raw land. He was awarded Natatanging Organic Farmer of 2009-2010 by the Department of Agriculture.


The farm was envisioned to be an area where salad greens and vegetables could be grown. In 1999, Mr. Acosta and his workers started to carefully and manually carve his land's rolling terrain. At the same time, they gathered wild vegetation around the area to make compost. He recalled that soil restoration was very difficult that their first harvested vegetables were small and sickly. "We had to augment nutrition to the soil by incorporating animal manure, sawdust, leaf moulds, organic fertilizer, sea vegetation, and the compost we produced in the area," he described.

After acquiring a shredding machine in 2003 to make compost faster and better, the farm's soil improved. In six months, the vegetable harvests became two to three times more in size and weight. Since then, Mr. Acosta's crops stayed healthy and robust.

Shredder, grass, and compost
When I toured the farm with fellow bloggers, we were impressed at how the minimal land space was maximized well while working harmoniously with nature. The farming techniques we were shown are simple, practical, and involve low technology. "In organic agriculture, we have to extend practices that are simple and will not require much from the farmer aside from his effort," explained Mr. Acosta. "So everything that we will need to make this system prosper has to be within his reach already."

The size of The Master's Garden is actually very manageable that a family of four can run it easily. "Anyone can put it together, operate it, and enjoy the many benefits of comfortable living in this lifetime." Mr. Acosta emphasizes that every guest's visit is very important because, through it, "We share information that good soil, wholesome food, a healthy you, and a safe environment, is how we can ensure the next generation's survival."

Grow crops from quality seeds and transplant seedlings carefully  
All crops in this farm are free from pesticides and are very resistant to pests. Why? Because good soil + good crops = good harvest. According to Mr. Acosta, crops are a reflection of soil health. Their cells are sturdy and hard to chew for pests unlike crops raised using chemical fertilizers that may look bulky but are actually just filled with water, which makes the cells brittle and easy to munch on by pests.

Non-organic vegetables also wilt easily. Those who buy organic or have home gardens and who do not use fertilizers know that veggies harvested from their own backyards last longer in the refrigerator than those normally bought from the supermarkets. I've proven that for myself many times.


Those interested to learn more about low input sustainable agriculture and how to start their own organic farms are encouraged to attend Mr. Acosta's workshops/seminars for 2, 7, or 14  days. Fees are at P1,000/person/day. Likewise, school children are very much welcome in the farm so they can learn topics on soil, decomposition, recycling, food production, and the food chain.  

When you do drop by, make sure you order a set meal at the multi-purpose hall. The Master's Garden serves tasty dishes made with organically-grown greens and cooked by Mr. Acosta's wife. Our lunch there was sumptuous and tummy-filling.


Personally, one of the things I value most from my visit was finding out that the longer a vegetable's roots dig deep into the soil, the more nutritious it is. Now I know what veggies to prioritize when blending food for my special child's tube-fed meals. I just hope I find organic sugar beets in Manila after the supply I bought from Benguet runs out.


The Master's Garden is located at ME-133 Lamtang-Pico Road, Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet.  For inquiries, please call or text them at 0917-9258499 (Pat) or 0917-6468134 (Ana).


For more information on organic agriculture, log on to www.ati.da.gov.ph and www.e-extension.gov.ph.

* Note: You can read Part 1 of this Organic Farm Tour Series here and see more photos taken during our farm visits here.




I would bet that we all know someone who is suffering from a medical condition right now. I, for one, have friends and relatives who have various illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer. 

Organically grown vegetables are healthier and
more resistant to pests 
Isn't it alarming that more and more people seem to get sick these days? According to researches I've read over the years, one culprit originates from the food we eat. And despite the vast information online about healthy food, many of us still don't know what's exactly in the stuff we eat and how they are produced before they get sold in supermarkets or grocery stores.

Last year, I got to visit the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna and had my eyes opened to the many benefits of organic agriculture not only for the farmers but, more so, for consumers like me. Because of the things I experienced there, I became more wary of fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides that could harm my family. 


Just this past weekend, thanks to the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), I joined a group of bloggers on an unforgettable journey up north towards wellness. I didn't realize that there was more to be learned about organic farming and I was very glad to be given the opportunity to expand my knowledge.  

Our first stop was Lily of the Valley (LOV), a farm owned by Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Eliza Laruan. We were toured around the nursery and greenhouses and I was very impressed at how healthy the vegetables are, which are grown without the use of synthetically compounded fertilizer and pesticides. 


Mr. Laruan, a fourth generation farmer, told us that he started thinking about shifting from conventional to an alternative way of farming after he was badly affected by plant spray in 1977. He lost consciousness for a day and a half when his pores got clogged with the pesticide's mist. 

From 1981-1998, he chose to plant sayote but, due to the heavy sacks of vegetables he regularly carried, he had to undergo an hernia operation. By 2005, Mr. Laruan decided to go into organic farming full time. It took him 8 months of trial and error but he eventually got things right. For the past 7 years, he has been harvesting 50 kilos worth of crops every week compared to conventional farming which takes months before produce mature. He is grateful for having greenhouses that enable him to plant even during the rainy seasons.


Mr. and Mrs. Laruan grow fruits, leafy vegetables, and legumes in 6000sqm of the total two-hectare land area. They practice root crop rotation and multi-cropping and employ six full time workers. 

I was delighted to find out that the farm offers lodging amenities to guests who would like to get away from city life for a while. Their Homestay and Coffee Shop is a beautiful place where visitors could have a meal and stay for a night or two. They have rooms for rent and common areas where friends can stay up late and chat the night away. One can have the option to build a bonfire outside or stay cozy beside the fireplace inside. Out on the balcony, one can even pick mulberry fruits directly from a tree!


As I was wondering how people could go there if they have no private vehicle, Mrs. Laruan said they can bring guests to and from the bus station in Baguio City. Someday, when I feel the need to unwind and find a serene place to stay in without the trappings of modernity, I would love to come back to Lily of the Valley and simply enjoy healthy food and fresh air in a soothing environment. 

Know more about Lily of the Valley Organic Farms. Visit http://lilyofthevalley-organicfarms.webs.com, email lilyofthevalley.benguet@gmail.com and jclaruan@gmail.com, or contact 0949-3997126. 


For more information on organic agriculture, log on to www.ati.da.gov.ph and www.e-extension.gov.ph.




This 2013 marks my, and my husband’s 20th year of marriage. Looking back, I realized that I’ve also been washing clothes for my family for the past 20 years! From just two persons, we have grown to include four precious boys who continue to bring us joy and make us proud parents every day.

Family group photos from 1999 - 2012 
Over the years, I’ve experienced washing clothes by machine and sometimes by hand when our washing machine would break down and take time to be repaired or replaced. Seldom do I entrust clothes washing to others. Anyhow, we’ve been maid-free (and stress-free from house helper-related problems) for more than five years now so it’s really up to me to ensure that my family of six has clean clothes all the time.

We used to have a fully-automatic washing machine, which made doing the laundry much easier. Unfortunately, it gave up working after more than 10 years. We went back to the semi-automatic type a few years ago as, at the time, we didn’t have a lot of budget to buy the pricier and more high-tech ones.


It’s quite bittersweet though to notice that many of the tiny clothes I used to put in the wash have now become heavy jeans and large shirts with manly smells. Only one kid’s clothes remained small – those worn by our child with special needs. Whereas his brothers have outgrown their tops and bottoms without the colors fading, James’ shirts and pajamas would last for years before we can shift to slightly bigger ones. 

Sometimes, I can’t help but feel sad about how he will probably never grow up as big as his brothers nor get to wear their big clothes. But I remain grateful that he is still here to remind us every day how precious life is and why we should always treasure each moment that passes by. 


Speaking of treasuring time, I have been wanting for so long to get us a really good washing machine that won’t make my head ache every couple months or so. Last week, I learned about the features of the Electrolux Time Manager front load washing machines and I knew one of those would help make laundry time way easier for me so I’m planning to save up for one soon.

Andrea Pionilla, Group Product Manager of Electrolux Philippines, shared that Electrolux’s Time Manager washing machines are fully equipped with the latest technology that will allow home makers to do other chores and spend more time with their family. I'd like to experience that firsthand!

Electrolux's Andrea Pionilla
How? Here are some of the Time Manager’s cool features that I would love to see in the next washing machine I’ll buy for our home:

1. A Load Sensor feature that acts like a built-in weighing scale will guide users to select the perfect cycle and detergent recommendation for each load thus saving you time, energy, and water.
2. The Vapour Action feature that helps remove household allergens in clothes by up to 99.9%. This is great especially if you have allergy-prone loved ones!
3. The Jetspray Wash System which increases water circulation during washes to ensure that laundry will come out spic and span.
4. The Refresh Cycle that relaxes the fibers and steams out the wrinkles in clothes, therefore cutting down on ironing. 
5. A Lily Drum Leaf Lifter, designed to ensure soft tumbling of clothes while in the drum, gently lifts laundry while its specially perforated Lily Drum patterns increases surface contact with clothes, enabling dirt and stains to be removed with gentle care.
6. An easy-to-use intuitive panel called IQ Touch which makes instructions and program settings easier to follow. Now that’s what you call user-friendly!
7. The new Time Manager’s Inverter Drive System also comes with a Noise Reduction Pack that minimizes vibration and noise levels to below 50dB for an even quieter wash. It would be nice not to bother the neighbors when you only have time to do the laundry past bedtime!
8. The washing machine’s Sustainable Design further means this is a product brings together the best of functionality, design, and innovation that will have the least possible impact on the environment while maximizing washing performance.


Another good thing about buying an Electrolux product is that customer satisfaction doesn’t end after the purchase. “Our goal is to help new and existing customers get the most of their investment by providing support activities before, during, and after purchasing an Electrolux appliance,” affirms Pionilla. 

As part of the commitment to its “Thinking of You” philosophy, Electrolux helps its customers get the most out of their purchases via the newly opened Customer Service Hub, a one stop facility where consumers can buy spare parts or consumable items for Electrolux and White-Westinghouse appliances that you won’t normally find in supermarkets and hardware stores. 

Mommies Know Best! Group shot of several moms who blog
with the Electrolux and Fleishman Hillard teams
The Electrolux Customer Service Hub is located at Grundfos Building, 5548 Osmena Highway, Brgy. San Isidro, Makati City. You can also reach the Customer Care Team through wecare@electrolux.com or 845-CARE (2273), 556-7012, 828-1860, and telefax 519-2119.

Electrolux customers in Cebu, on the other hand, can go to Lyfstan Trading & Services at 1209 Clavano St., Capitaol Site, Cebu City or call telefax (6332) 253-3046.

==

To thank this blog’s loyal readers, Write, Breathe, Live and Electrolux are giving away a Wash Loads of Love Laundry Set containing: an IKEA silver laundry basket, a set of IKEA children's clothes hangers, a bottle of Surf Liquid Detergent, and a brand new ESI 515 Electrolux steam iron


Here are the mechanics:

1. Like The Electrolux Little White Book and Write, Breathe, Live Facebook fan pages so you can tag us later.
2. Leave a comment under this post and share what feature of the Electrolux Time Manager front load washing machine you like best and why.
3. Share this photo on Facebook and copy and paste the following highlighted statement as your status: “Check out the cool features of the new Electrolux Time Manager front load washing machines and get to win a cool #WashLoadsofLove Laundry Set! http://www.mommywrites.blogspot.com/2013/07/two-decades-and-wash-loads-of-love.html" then tag The Little White Book and Write, Breathe, Live. This is what it should look like (sample below):


Make sure your status is set as “Public” so we can see it.
4. Posting of comments and statuses ends on August 18, 11:59PM
5. One winner will be announced one week later to be chosen via a digital draw of all valid names/entries (those who posted a comment on this blog AND posted a status on Facebook) through Random.org. The prize will be sent to him/her by Electrolux via courier. 

Edit - September 8, 2013

Congratulations Catherine KJell Buama! You win an Electrolux Wash Loads of Love Laundry Set! Please PM me your complete address and contact number via the Write, Breathe, Live FB fan page. Sorry for the delayed announcement. All bloggers who hosted the same contest had to submit names of winners to Electrolux first to make sure that there are no duplicate names.




It is very seldom that we get to meet the executives of the hotels we stay in. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to directly communicate with them in case we want to provide feedback, ask questions, or air other concerns and be sure that we are really heard?

I just had to take a photo of this beautiful chandelier
at New World Makati Hotel's Glass House 
Now we can! New World Makati Hotel has just embraced the most popular and effective social media platforms to actively communicate with all its clients from all over the world. The hotel's Facebook fan page, with more than 8,000 likes to date, has already become a way for people to keep updated on the hotel's latest news, promotions, and offerings. 

GM Farid Schoucair
This month, the hotel launches two Facebook apps that aims to provide more interactive and personal connections. The "In Touch" Facebook app, for one, allows everyone easy access to the hotel's front liners. Regular and potential clients are encouraged to send their messages to significant representatives of the hotel's various departments.


Among those who await to receive and respond to messages are New World Makati Hotel's:
General Manager - Farid Schoucair
Resident Manager - Eddy Sarton
Director of Sales and Marketing - Jann Delgado
Director of Communications - Nini Icban
Director of Rooms - Joy Barleta
Director of Food and Beverage - Paawan Engineer
Director of Human Resources - Geuel Auste, and
Club Epicure (the hotel's privilege card)

Ms. Nini Icban
The hotel is likewise inviting everyone to harness their creativity and join the #IHeartNewWorld Photo Sharing Contest in Instagram. Simply roam around the streets of Makati, take unique photos while doing the "I Heart" pose, and post them on Instagram with hashtag #IHeartNewWorld. Entries with the most number of likes win prizes such as lunch and dinner buffet gift certificates and free overnight room stays. To join, follow the registration details and mechanics found on the hotel's Facebook page.


In Touch and #IHeartNewWorld can now be accessed online. Keep updated for the latest news by liking New World Makati Hotel's Facebook Fan Page and follow the hotel's Twitter and Instagram accounts @newworldmakati. For additional information, you may also call 811-6888.

  
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