Monday, November 16, 2015

A Boy's Dreams Come True on His 7th Birthday Celebration

"They have to believe in their ability to achieve." 

This was a line from the book Lasting Gifts You Can Give Your Children which I read last week. It was authored by Arun Gogna.

Reading this part of the book made me smile because I know that I had been doing my best to help my children believe that they can achieve their dreams even when their dreams seem too big for their age. This is especially true with my eldest son who celebrated his 7th birthday last month with a solo piano concert and a recital as pianist in the Holy Mass.

Yes, you read it right. My son just turned seven years old and he already had his first solo piano concert. 

He has been tinkering with our little keyboard since he was a baby. But it was when he was a few months away from his 5th birthday that he started taking our keyboard seriously. I would notice that whenever we would come home from daily Mass, he would play some songs on our keyboard/digital piano. He was trying to play the songs he heard in the Mass. He kept on doing this until he was be able to play the song right. He would simply watch the pianist in the church and listen to the songs. I also noticed that once he already knows how to sing a song, he can play it in the piano.

This went on until the man who serves as pianist in our parish church became a close friend of ours. He then started spending a few minutes after each Mass teaching my son how to play the songs in the Mass. He and my son became friends right away. He was impressed at how fast my son learns after a few demonstrations.

One day, my son declared that he wants to also serve as pianist in the Mass just like our friend, Tito Ed. I told him that I'm confident he can also serve as pianist in the church. But he needs to learn all the songs in the Mass first.

That moved and inspired him to achieve what I didn't expect. In a couple of months, he learned to play at least one version of the songs sang in the daily Masses we attend! He was 5 years old then. He was playing songs mostly oido or by ear.

He continued this practice until he was 6 years old. Then, friends advised us that he is ready for formal piano lessons. So, last summer, after his 6th birthday, we hired a piano teacher for him who comes to our house two to three times a week to teach him. Thus, he learned to read notes as well and to play the piano using both notes and chords.

His passion in playing the piano grew stronger with each passing day. He would play the piano many times a day. Sometimes, he would not stop practicing a song until he gets it perfectly. Then, he would ask me to take videos of him playing that song on the piano.

A few months ago, while I was already planning for his 7th birthday celebration, I asked him how he wants to celebrate his birthday. I asked him if he had a particular theme in mind. I had a clue of what he might want but I wanted to hear it from him. 

"What theme would you like to have for your party this year?" I asked.

"Piano," he said. 

I smiled. My guess was confirmed.

Then he added, "I want to have a piano concert on my birthday." 

I felt my heart leap when I heard him say that. When I heard him rattle off details of what he wants for his birthday celebration, my blissful smile became a nervous smile.

He described how he wants his cake to look like. He said he wants tarpaulins in the venue too. He also enumerated the songs that he plans to play during his concert. It dawned on me that he was serious. 

I took a leap of faith with him and I assured him that he will have his wish for his birthday celebration. On top of that, I asked him if he wants to have a Mass where he will be the pianist as part of his birthday celebration. Of course, I already know what his answer will be. But it gives me joy to see his face light up as he hears from me that I can make that possible for him.

The joy on his face and the excitement in his eyes were priceless! I was nervous deep inside but I tried my best to only show my excitement.

I want my eldest son to know that I believe in him and in his abilities because that's the truth. What made me nervous was the fact that he is only a child and being a child, he is not as consistent, disciplined and skilled as an adult yet. But instead of dwelling on the negative, I chose to help him move towards the fulfillment of his dreams. I chose to empower him and believe with him that though his dreams are quite big for his age, it's possible to achieve them. 

I'm so glad I supported my son in pursuing his dreams! He did his best to prepare for his recital and concert. And by the grace of God, he did really well! He impressed all of us with his performance during his 7th birthday celebration, including the priest celebrant, the servants in the church and our guests.

His recital as pianist in the Mass where he played the piano beginning with the entrance song to the recessional, opened the door for him to play in the daily Masses in our parish and eventually in the Sunday Masses during the Children's Mass in the days that followed.

Last night, I got a message from the Liturgical Head of our Parish. He asked me if Yanthy can play the piano during the Anticipated Mass because the other pianists were not available. I asked my son first. His reply made me truly happy because he said yes without hesitation and without batting an eyelash. More importantly, he said yes with a big smile on his face and excitement in his eyes. I admired him more for his passion. He actually just got home from practicing with the children's choir. I was thinking that he might want to nspend some time playing with his brothers. But he happily seized another opportunity that was presented to him.

Looking back, I'm grateful that I have given him wings to soar, reach his dreams and to live it out.   

I was exhausted in organizing and preparing for his 7th birthday celebration. It drained me both physically and emotionally. There were days when my eldest son simply wants to play with his other toys and would not take his piano practice seriously. It didn't help that those days were the days near his birthday celebration. It was stressful for me because I have made all the necesary preparations which included organizing a sacred ceremony, no less than the Holy Mass. I did my best to help him grasp how privileged he is to be allowed to serve in the Mass despite his age and lack of experience.

Thus, when everything went well and as I watch him play the piano in the Masses where he serves right now, I thank the Lord for helping me and my son get to this point. Right now, we're still on a high from all the good things and good breaks that are coming his way. There are challenges too like he still moves a lot and plays even during the Mass but my husband and I are hoping and praying that as he gets to serve in the Mass more often and with constant reminders from us, he'd be able to better control himself and his movements.

"Offer wings to your children" says the author of the book I just read. I just gave Yanthy wings and he looks wonderful using them in the service of the Church!

How are you offering wings to your children? How do you communicate to them that you believe in them? Feel free to share them in the comments.

P.S. Watch out for my post where I will detail how I prepared for my son's piano concert-themed birthday party.

This post is part of the GHF blog hop.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Earn Extra Income While Advocating Hands-On Parenting

I have good news for you at the start of this brand new week! 

But before that, let me share a short story when I was still a first-time mom almost 7 years ago.

When I had my first child, one of my small finance goals is to earn extra income while being a full time mom to our eldest. I started with small goals so that I would feel motivated each month. Since I love to write and I was given the opportunity to contribute to publications, one of my goals then was to write at least 1 art​icle each month and have it published. Then, as I got more used to writing freelance, I made bigger goals for myself and made it two to four articles each month. Earning additional income for our family through one of my favorite hobbies while being a hands-on mom to our eldest child made me happy and fulfilled.

But writing articles can also takes up a lot of time. Our eldest son grew older and he slept less often. Eventually, he outgrew nap time. He's awake most of the time after lunch. Thus, it has become a challenge for me to write articles because I usually did this task while he's asleep.

I also gave birth to two more children so my hands are usually full (figuratively and literally).

Another way by which I earn not from home but outside the home is by giving talks, trainings and workshops. This kind of work pays higher compared to writing but it requires me to be out of the house and to look for someone else to watch over my kids while I am working. Thus, I decided to conduct workshops and trainings less frequently because I want to invest more time building the foundations of my marriage and my relationship with my children.

As my circumstances changed over the years, I searched for new ways to earn from home that did not require a lot of my time or that required me to be away from my kids. Even though I wanted to stay home most of the time with my kids, I also wanted to contribute to the family income because our family has grown bigger. This led me to come up with a digital program or an online coaching program called iHOPE. I decided to use my expertise as HR practitioner and my experiences as a parent to develop a program that will enable me to help other parents to have a richer and stronger relationship with their children. I was happy to come up with a product that enables me to be hands-on with my kids, earn from home and be of help to other parents and families. 

I launched this product on my 40th birthday a few months ago. :) You can read about what moved me to have the courage and confidence to launch it then here in my previous post. 

Today, I want to share with you the opportunity to earn extra income each month through our Hands-On Parent while Earning Affiliate Program. Do you want to earn extra income each month without you doing a lot of work? Is this something that will benefit your family?

If your answer is YES, you need to keep on reading.


If you know of parents who may benefit from this program and who are willing to invest in their relationship with their children, I invite you to register to become one of our Affiliates. You can earn a commission every time a person to whom you shared our program to decided to sign up for it or to purchase our product. 

For example, if one of the people you shared our program to through email purchases the iHOPE Coaching Program, you earn a commission. If for example, you promoted the iHOPE Coaching Program in your Facebook Account and one of your friends signed up for it, you earn a commission.

Your commissions accrue and once it reaches the minimum amount for payout each month, you will receive payment from us for helping us spread the word about our life-changing program. 

By doing this, you not only partner with me in encouraging more parents to become hands-on with their kids, you also help me help more families to be stronger. You're helping me help more children to become happier and more parents, fulfilled! Now, while you are advocating hands-on parenting, you earn at the same time. Isn't that great?

You can register to become one of our Affiliates by clicking this link. The details of the Affiliate Program are in the Terms of Use. Just hover your mouse over these words and click that link and you will be taken to the page where you can read all the information about our Hands-On Parent while Earning Affiliate Program.

Should you have any questions about our Affiliate Program, feel free to email me at with subject Affilliate Program.

You may also read more about the iHOPE Coaching Program here.

I look forward to having you as our fellow Hands-On Parenting advocate and Affiliate!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

6 Ways to Maximize Your Visit to the Manila International Book Fair (#MIBF2015)

The 36th Manila International Book Fair is here again! Do you have plans to visit the book fair? Book lovers like me usually look forward to this yearly event and mark our calendars so we don't miss it. There are many exciting things that happen every year at this fair: book launches, storyteling sessions, book signing, meet and greet with authors and illustrators, seminras and workshops and BIG discounts from publishers! 

Photo source here.

I love going to the bookstore. The prospect of finding good books to read make my heart beat faster. hahaha Thus, going to the MIBF where there is a sea of books makes me feel ecstatic. ;) 

So, with two days left of the book fair, how do you make the most of your trip to SMX? Let me share some ways based on my previous visits in the past years.

1. Get FREE tickets to the MIBF through the bookstores or publishers who will be exhibitors at the fair. You don't need to spend on tickets. Publishers and bookstores usually give away free tickets either at their branches or you can download from their websites. We got our free tickets this year from Fully Booked BGC. 

For example, you can print this ticket from OMF Lit and present it as your FREE pass.

Here are some links where you can download FREE tickets to MIBF 2015.

Adarna House
CSM Publishing
St. Matthew's Publishing

2. Make a list. Make a list of topics where you plan to get new books. Then, check out what books (old and new) you'd like to get for these topics you have in mind. Or if you have book titles already that you are interested to buy, make a list of book titles.

3. Check out publishers for promos and events. Once you already have a list of topics or book titles, I suggest that you check out the websites or social media accounts of the publsihers of these books on your list. That way, you would know if they have promos like discounts or book bundles for the books that you like. You might also find interesting activities related to the books in your list like book launch or book signing, meet and greet with the author or free pass to special events by the publisher for those who will buy copies of their books.

Here's an activity by Scholastic for the Geronimo Stilton series.

Check out my post about Geronimo here.

Here are some examples of promos you might want to avail of.

Source: OMF Lit's Facebook Page.

Here are some book launches you might find interesting.

The official book launch of this book by one of my brothers from CYA
will be on Sunday. Grab a copy if you are a leader! Launch price is P325!

This is the first book of my friend Jomar Hilario.
It will be launched on Sunday together with other new titles
from Shepherd's Voice Publications. Take advantage of its P250 launch price!

4. Get the exact location of the publishers whose booths you want to visit. Get their booth number as well as their location. You can find this at their websites or social media posts also or at teh entrance of SMX where this is usually posted. This helps you plan your route around the book fair. Believe me, if you haven't been to the past MIBFs, you can easily get lost and overwhelmed and forget where you want to go or what you really want to buy. This brings me to my next suggestion.

5. Set your budget. After considering the promos, you need to edit your list of books that you want to buy based on how much you are willing to spend for your visit. It might be difficult to stick to your budget once you are already at the book fair (especially if you are a bookworm like me) but having a budget would at least caution you or remind you not to buy too many books or all the nice books that you will see. What you can do is make a list or mental note of the nice books you'll see and plan when to buy them. Make them part of your next shopping list or wish list for Christmas for example. You can also ask the publishers or sellers if they will have future sales and promos in their stores or branches. This will give you an opportunity to save up for these future promos.  

You can get this discount couplon when you post a photo
of yourself at OMF Lit's booth. 

6. Enjoy the experience of going around the book fair. The place might be crowded especially during weekends but you can still enjoy going around the venue by taking your time to browse through aisles and aisles of books and other educational materials that you will see at the MIBF.