Of Motherhood and Gratitude

July 29th, 2014

Since June, I was contemplating on what to do to mark another year of freelance writing. Planned on throwing my first blog getaway for you dear readers or treat myself to a solo trip. After all, I will be turning 6 this month as a freelance writer. I have paid my dues and I am extremely satisfied of my hard work.

Then last Tuesday, our pediatrician advised to have my second child, Liam, for a hospital stay after seeing initial result of his X-ray taken a day before after our check-up.

Liam was sick since Friday with fever and he had a very bad cough. I was in denial because of my two boys, Liam is the “healthy” one – exclusively breastfed for 6 months and he never had fever for more than 24 hours.

No full-time help, with my husband working out of town, I was alone but not complaining- there is no reason. As long as  we can provide the best medical care to my child, I’m fine.

Went home, packed our bags, planned on Aki’s ( my eldest) schedule while I’m away at the hospital, and spent an hour conditioning Liam on what to expect for a hospital stay. My fear was Liam screaming as nurses complete all tests and procedures. Thanks to Google for giving me cute images of children in the hospital.

Liam was physically fine that day, he walked with me around the hospital, processing his admission and all those stuff but his eyes were weary and his voice gloomy.

Taken after his IV insertion, blood test and skin test. Not a single tear, thus, explaining my smile. You’re a trouper Liam!

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Nebulizer at the emergency room.

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Whenever my kids get sick, I’m always reminded on how I became a freelance writer. That 6 years ago, I prayed what I thought an impossible thing to ask – to spend more time with my son yet still earn money. So here I am, an epiphany that what I should be doing for my 6th anniversary working at home is to remain that gratitude in my heart.

It is not just the gratitude to earn while at home, but to find the thing what I really like to do. I believe that you will naturally excel if you love what you do.  Never in my consciousness that it occurred that I will make a living with words and images.

After 6 days in the hospital due to bronchopneumonia, Liam finally went home and my heart was full of thankfulness to other moms who helped me with my eldest child, Akira – buying school requirements to reaching out to watch over him. It’s a wonderful feeling that fellow moms show their support.

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Those days staying at the hospital was a reminder to be thankful each day to have the financial means to be with the kids. To be thankful of the people around you.

I don’t earn that much but it’s okay. Someday, my kids will have their own appointments but while they are little, I just want to be with them.

How about you? What are you thankful for?

XoXo,

Valerie

 

 

 

Staycation at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

July 22nd, 2014

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A couple of weeks ago, my family went on a long drive back home in Cebu for a family get together. My sister flew in from Japan with her family and it was almost 7 years since my parents gathered all their five kids and increasing number of grandkids.

When looking for where to stay in Cebu, there is only one hotel in Cebu I want to stay with my family – Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. An imposing structure in the hills of Cebu long before other tall buildings were sprouting in the Queen City, I have  wonderful memories of this hotel. We had our Junior Prom back when it was then Cebu Plaza Hotel and I’m honestly curious on what it’s like to stay at this hotel.

Tight schedule and lots of things to accomplish, I chose to just have a staycation and skip touring Cebu. Anyway, we can go back to Cebu anytime we want to, I want to maximize our time and enjoy the facilities of the hotel.

So we spent a day in Marco Polo Plaza, just went out to shortly meet my soul sisters – my best friends since high school.

We arrived just in time for check-in. Looking a little bit unkept but happy because we love traveling with the kids.

Hello Marco Polo Cebu! Reminiscing high school days..

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While I checked-in, Aki found a good spot to finish his peanuts. :)
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Boy they’re happy! They’ve been bugging me for weeks to stay in a hotel.

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Our accommodation was upgraded to Grand Deluxe Mountain View Room. Spacious and spoiled with amenities. Carpet is very plushy, neat and well cleaned.

Bathroom has a tub and my requirement – hair dryer.

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My husband was the de facto babysitter for our trip because I also packed some work to do over the weekend. Just a few minutes after we settled in our room, my kids begged to go to the pool.

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From my previous post, I shared our wonderful Marco Polo Cebu dinner buffet experience featuring Sabores de España. My kids went ahead and I skipped dessert at the buffet. Instead, I enjoyed a few minutes of me time at the Continental Club Lounge.

The venue is just great that I called my family to join me. My kids have their dessert and my husband and I enjoyed cocktails.

The next day, I let the babysitter aka my husband sleep in and I joined my kids for breakfast at the Continental Lounge at 6:30am.

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Undoubtedly, this is may favorite part of Marco Polo Plaza. Located at the Penthouse, access is given to selected guests. Here you have more privacy with highly personalized service.

At the Continental Club Lounge, you will enjoy a la carte breakfast along with other offerings from bread in hand to bottomless drinks. I had my second coffee even before we started our breakfast. While waiting, I ushered my boys to an open space just outside the lounge to run and play.

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Maayong buntag Cebu!

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How Liam says grace before meals. :)

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After breakfast and while their father feasted for an hour at the breakfast buffet, we toured the hotel. We missed the Playroom, great for family visiting in Cebu.

Before checking out, I let the boys swim for the last time while I packed our things. Checking out was quick and it was indeed a nice time for my family. A wonderful time to jumpstart our weekend trip in Cebu.

Until now, my kids are raving about Marco Polo. ” Marco Polo is a special hotel because it is one of the best hotels“, Akira once told me. And I concur.

Till next time Marco Polo Plaza Cebu!

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu
Nivel Hills, Apas
Cebu City, Philippines
(63 32) 253-1111
(63 32) 234-8170

 

You may want to check out these hotels

Park Inn by Radisson Davao

Microtel by Wyndam Davao

Zempkamps Chalet, Guimaras

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s Sabores de España

July 16th, 2014

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My husband asked me weeks ago to research on what he should be doing for his September trip to Spain. My prompt reply- ” eat paella and tapa“. Seriously, Spanish cuisine is something I want to discover. As much as I seem to be familiar with Spanish cuisine, we don’t have that much venues to enjoy authentic Spanish dishes.

It was just perfectly timely that we stayed at Marco Polo Plaza Cebu last weekend and they were featuring a culinary journey featuring Spanish cuisine called ” Sabores de España” or Flavors of Spain.

When you ask where is the best buffet in Cebu? Seasoned travelers and diners will always recommend Marco Polo Plaza Cebu.

And now, one of its in-house restaurants, Cafe Marco will sweep you to Spain with every bite. Headed by Ms. Gema Pido, Cebu’s Spanish cuisine expert, enjoy and feast on authentic and delectable dishes.

My family had the chance to enjoy the feast with Ms. Kyra Cabaero, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu’s Media Communications Manager. And of course, for my husband to get acquainted with Spanish dishes.

Spain in a plate..
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Here are some tasty dishes waiting for you at Sabores de España buffet by Marco Polo Plaza Cebu..

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Calamares Rellenos
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Appetizing bites

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Ah, these scrumptious Bunelos de Chorizos Austurianos ( Chorizo wrapped in puff or filo pastry)
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Tortilla de Patatas ( Potato Omelet) 
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As the best buffet in Cebu, Marco Polo Plaza Cebu offers myriad choices on top of the featured buffet like Asian and Japanese.

My global plate of Cebu lechon, roast beef, tempura and paella de valenciana.

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Savory choices only at Cafe Marco.
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Thank you for that delicious Spanish dinner Marco Polo Plaza Cebu!

Sabores de España is a month-long culinary offering until July 20 and available for lunch and dinner. For inquiries and reservations, contact

Cebu: (63 32) 253 1111
Manila: (63 2) 887 1263

 

 

You may also like to read..

Mr. A’s Restaurant in Cebu

Cebu’s Taoist Temple

Entrepreneur Magazine July 2013: Designer Brews

July 10th, 2014

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Published my article this month for Entrepreneur Magazine! This is my fourth contribution for Philippines’ #1 business magazine. If you’re a regular reader, you may notice that the magazine revamped a little. They now have a feature entrepreneur every month and for this issue, it’s Generics Pharmacy’s Benjamin Liuson.

Here is my article..

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Under the Start Up section ( page 42), I wrote about Urban Island Winery Inc. This assignment was an eye opener, I was educated in the world of artisan winemaking. Likewise, the potential of local fruitwines from Marang (bread fruit) to Mangosteen. I think it is really awesome.

To know more about Urban Island Winery and the craft of making artisan wines using U-Brew Technology and get inspired as well from other articles to be your own boss, please do grab a copy of Entrepreneur Magazine. Available in bookstores and magazine stands for P140.

Check out my previous contributions

Entrepreneur Magazine: Make a Living With Freelance Writing

Mabuhay Magazine: Isla Gigantes

Couple’s Retreat in Isla de Gigantes

July 6th, 2014

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There are many reasons to visit Isla de Gigantes or why you’ll love the place. Blogs that you might have read all celebrate the beauty of Isla Gigantes which of course I agree, but  I prefer to hail Isla Gigantes as a destination for couples.

Romantic? Absolutely yes but that the massage-by-the-beach type or those sunset cruises, but personally, our weekend trip was a fruitful time between husband and wife. You may ask why and I have a rather offbeat answer…..

there is no celfone signal and a 24-hour power source in Isla Gigantes.

And that my dear readers make Isla de Gigantes one of the most romantic destinations in the Philippines. :)

Now what makes it romantic?

If you are married to a corporate slave who seems to go crazy without checking his laptop or calling people, then you know what I’m saying.

I can’t blame my husband, it is natural now for people I guess, but when you are left with a destination that doesn’t offer this now-basic services, then you will be “forced” to maximize your time together. In other words, he was forced to throw all his attention to me ( insert wicked grin here).

And I’m not innocent either. I often find myself at the mercy of social media and our trip to Isla Gigantes gave me some social media weekend detox. Funny because we went there to work on my assignment for Mabuhay Magazine, but there was no pressure. We just enjoyed it like we were penniless in college. haha!

Though the weather was not that perfect, we had the place for ourselves. No phone call interruptions while enjoying this view. Husband was enjoying taking shots even if it means climbing the rugged cliffs of Tangke.

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We were lucky that our guide was not intimidated with our bulky camera. It is really rare  for us to have couple photos because either one of us is the designated photographer. Again, the weather was not that good as you can see from the photo above, but a little prayer and God sent me a spotlight of sunshine. For 10 minutes. Just enough for me to get better shots for my travel article.

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It rained when we went to Antonia Beach until we back to our base camp, which was was fine, we didn’t take the kids along anyway. There was one room with air conditioner but we opted to stay in a fan room. Isla Gigantes is not humid, and as I said, it is nice to rekindle our times when we still can’t afford to stay in hotels.

For our meals, we feasted on seafoods during our overnight stay at the island. Queen scallops harvested from the “wild”.

Queen scallops growing in the "wild", not cultured

We also had saltwater crabs and the mister was an eager slave to get all the meat for me. haha! The next day ,before we left, we visited their lighthouse. It was not far, just as I like it.

Though some upscale resorts offering couple’s retreats do not offer Wi-Fi unless requested or do not place TV in guest rooms, in Isla Gigantes, it is naturally that way. People especially couples are busy making a living and you forget to just enjoy each other’s company. Because Isla Gigantes is a humble fishing community, you will be reminded that being together matters the most, not the material possessions or career positions.

Talking with the locals was also a treat for both of us, a break from negative people you often deal in your daily life. Enjoying light conversations over unlimited instant coffee never felt so indulging…that’s why we love Isla Gigantes!

If you are couple who wants to spend time with your significant other, pick Isla Gigantes. There are posh couple destinations but if you want an off-the-beaten path or backpacker type, Isla Gigantes is a good choice.

Have you visited Isla Gigantes with your loved one?

Related posts

Isla Gigantes’ Tangke

Isla Gigantes for Mabuhay Magazine

Restaurants in Davao: Claude’s Le Café de Ville

July 3rd, 2014

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Two things that I’m really weak at – heritage homes and food. Combine these two and I’m on a sweet surrender. Claude’s Le Café de Ville is the only full-service French restaurant in Davao City and I personally think this is one of the best restaurants in the country from ambiance to food.

I am fortunate to dine at Claude’s as part of Davao Food Appreciation Tour 2014. The restaurant is housed at The Oboza Heritage House. While sipping coffee offered by Chef Claude Le Neindre, he gave us a short history of the house and their business as well.

It is actually their second location, their original restaurant was just across the street and they are currently leasing the house. Chef Claude is such a sweet fellow and no wonder, the Oboza family, one of Davao’s prominent and pioneering clans entrusted their home to the Le Neindres.

The interior of the house impressed me so much. I’m sadden though remembering my favorite restaurant in Iloilo, Afrique’s, used to be in an old house. Iloilo City is home to many heritage homes and attempts to make them into restaurants sadly failed.  Just sad because it really adds charm to your restaurant.

Enough of the sad vibes and let’s go back to this Davao City foreign restaurant.

After coffee and short background of the house, Chef Claude then toured us to their kitchen and met his lovely wife, Tess and their granddaughter. We then started our French dining in Davao with bread served with butter and salsa, followed with Shrimp Cocktail and Baked Imbao Clams.

 

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In Davao, I learned other recipes for imbao – not just for soups. Likewise, the poor girl in me never thought that salsa goes well with bread.

Next we had Jambalaya Gumbo Soup and Mussels Mariniere ( see picture below). It is very creamy but not too greasy  like what other restaurants serve.

 

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We then went to the main course. Claude’s is famous for their steak and oh boy, look at this Claude’s Pepper Steak!

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Another main dish is the light yet delectable Grouper Fillet ala Meuniere with Rice Pilaf.

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Both beef and fish are juicy and moist – perfectly cooked. For dessert, Chef prepared us fruits with cream. He said he decided to give us a light dessert because he knew we’ve been eating all day for our food tour. Now I remember the French paradox!

This is one of the best restaurants in Davao! If you love wine, this is the best place to enjoy a glass or two.

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Meet Chef Claude Le Neindre with the Oboza family portrait.

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Do you also find yourself loving a restaurant because of its owners? Same feeling with Claude’s. Chef Calude is such a sweet gentleman, he is very lively and jolly, personally taking care of all his diners – even bussing tables! He lets you enjoy your meal and treat each one as his guest.

Claude’s Le Café de Ville is a highly recommended place for those asking where to eat in Davao. French dining set in a cozy lovely ambiance – this is a must!

Claude’s Le Café de Ville
The Oboza Heritage House
143 Rizal Street, Davao City, Philippines
Tel No. 222-4287/227-9405
claudes_cafe@yahoo.com
wwww.claudescafedavao.com

More on Davao

Day 1 Davao Food Appreciation Tour 2014

Japanese Tunnel in Davao

Aldevinco Shopping in Davao

Megaworld Fast Tracks Constructions in Iloilo Business Park

June 30th, 2014

 
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Megaworld, the country’s leading real estate developer, is fast tracking the construction of office, commercial, and residential towers in the 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park due to the strong demand, brisk sales and rental inquiries for residential, commercial, and office spaces.

This year, three office towers, namely One Global Center, Two Global Center, and Richmonde Tower are scheduled to be completed. The three towers, with a total of 25,000 square meters of leasable spaces, will be able to to accommodation around 10,000 full time employees (FTW) for the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies.

Megaworld will also start the construction of another two office towers by August this year: One Techno PLace and Two Techno Place, which will generate an additional 8,000 FTEs in the township. Both towers, with a total of 19,000 square meters of leasable spaces, are scheduled to be completed in early 2016.

“With the heavy influx of inquiries from BPO companies who want to be part of Iloilo Business Park, we see the urgent need to hasten the construction of more office towers to meet the strong demand,” says Jericho P. Go, senior vice president, Megaworld.

StarTek, Inc., a US-based BPO company, has already started its operation in the Richmonde office tower this month of June and is poised to launch its standalone BPO office building at TWo Global Center by 4th quarter of this year.

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As the first BPO company opens in Iloilo Business Park, McDonald’s also opens its standalone store in the township. The branch will be the biggest McDonald’s store in Iloilo City, with a total seating capacity of 250. It will have two floors with play place, party area, drive thru, and parking area.

“We are excited to be the first fastfood chain to open in Iloilo Business Park, and we are very happy to serve the Ilonggos who are working and visiting, including those who will be living in this world-class township,” says Eugene Reducing, managing director, Choice Gourmet Banquet, Inc., the franchisee of McDonald’s in Iloilo Business Park.

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Aside from office and residential towers, Megaworld has also started the construction of the Megaworld Central Mall and Festive Walk, a 1.1kilometer commercial and retail strip parallel to Iloilo’s Diversion Road. The mall and the first phase of Festive Walk are expected to be completed by second half of 2015.

Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, a 151-room business hotel, will also open early next year, just in time for the city’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) side meetings. The other hote, Courtyard by Marriot, has started its construction and is expected to be completed by end-2015.

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The 3,700-seating capacity Iloilo Convention Center has also started its construction and one completed, it will be the biggest and most modern convention facility in Region 6.

Dubbed as the biggest business and tourism hub in Western Visayas, the Iloilo Business Park is expected to bring Megaworld’s pioneering ‘LIVE-WORK-PLAY-LEARN’ township to Western Visayas, following the success of other townships such as the 18.5-hectare Eastwood City, known to the Philippines’ first IT park; the 50-hectare McKinley Hill, 34.5-hectare McKinley West in Fort Bonifacio; the 15.4-hectare Uptown Bonifacio and the 5-hectare Forbes Town Center in Bonifacio Global City; the 25-hectare Newport City in Pasay City, home of the famous Resorts World Manila; the 12.3-hectare Woodside City in Pasig City; the 11-hectare Davao Park District Lanang, Davao City; and the 28.8-hectare the Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

                                                                                                                   - press release

More on Iloilo Business Park by Megaworld

Megaworld Launches New Condo Project in Iloilo Business Park

Megaworld’s Surging 35B investment in Iloilo

Megaworld Partners with Gettys for Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

Could This Be the Best Piaya?

June 24th, 2014

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Taking care of my two kids without full-time help while trying to earn a living as a freelance writer can be chaotic. To ensure I’ll be sane, I need to have two “me” times – coffee after picking up kid1 from school and writing when the boys are asleep. And oh, Candy Crush really helps.

Coffee can get lonely if you drink it alone and for today, I enjoyed my cuppa with piaya, a Negrense delicacy of flatbread with muscovado sugar filling. I realized that I forgot to blog about this piaya – seriously, this is the best.

You may have tried BongBong’s ( I love their ube piaya) or Bailon but you should try this. I’m sharing an old photo I took when I first nibbled this treat.

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I was gifted with two packs of this organic piaya during the Panaad sa Negros Festival. Take a look at the handwriting..

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I know it was good because my husband ate piaya for the first time. And I got lucky, a friend bought this Piaya from Bacolod for us to enjoy this afternoon. Yummy!

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My friend bought it at Robinson’s Bacolod but she won’t tell me how much she paid. :)

What I love about FreshStart Organic Piaya? First, the flatbread is not that flaky. My usual complain when eating piaya is the mess but not this one. Of course, it is organic – for those who are into healthy living. And lastly, the taste! I think they added honey, the sweetness was just right and pure.

I sent one pack to my sister in Japan and she liked it. So if you want to let your family and friends try piaya, give them the best impression by letting them taste the best piaya in Bacolod.

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So there you go, if you are looking for pasalubong, look for this brand. By the way, THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED post. Just sharing!

Thanks for reading!

XoXo,

Valerie

    More post on Bacolod and Negros Occidental Gen. Aniceto Lacson Ancestral House Balay ni Tana Dicang O Hotel Bacolod

10Monkeys Math World

June 21st, 2014

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I don’t know any parent who does not want their child to excel in class. I myself aim that my child will be good in Mathematics because I ‘m completely useless with this subject. Yeah, it sounds very selfish but it’s the truth.

 

My husband, who is my exact opposite in many ways starting with Mathematics, always tell me that practice is the key to excel in Math.

How can you let your child practice Math without boring him? While other kids are playing on their iPads, your child is answering some workbooks.

I did it before and it was a struggle. But not anymore, thanks to 10Monkeys Math World — a web-based application for your child.

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This is the answer to all parents who is always on a challenge to let their child practice Math. My son’s first reaction when using 10Monkeys Math Program is , “Wow, this is fun!“.

This web Math program caters to kids from kindergarten until Grades 1-3. Just perfect for my kids – a third grader and a preschooler.
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The interface is very easy to navigate.
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I’m very impressed that all contents because they all  coincide with my child’s  lessons in school. In no time, we were practicing his multiplication. During summer vacation, I bought some flash cards, but I knew it started to get boring. 10Monkeys Math World makes Math more fun. Talk about learning while playing!

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This program has all Math exercises that we all need like Geometry, problem solving, just to name a few. 10Monkeys Math World is not only for practicing, parents can keep track courtesy of its Evaluation Tool feature.
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Impressive isn’t it?

Rewards that your child will be getting. Very interactive and appropriate to their preference.

 

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For my preschooler, the content applicable for him is the number recognition and it is fun time. We do this before his nap time.

 

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Studying math is more fun and that means, less stress for us parents telling them to practice. I think it is also a good time for us to train our kids to study on their own- this program is very user-friendly. Of course, we supervise them.

After school, my child “plays” 10Monkeys Math World while I enjoy my afternoon coffee or while I’m preparing for dinner. As a writer and a mom, I salute the people behind this program. The instructions were designed by Lisen Häggblom, PhD, a didactics expert.

For those on school breaks or every weekends, this web program guarantees proactive and educational pastime for your kids. 10Monkeys Math World is an educational web program that you should have on your device.

Join 4.5 million registered users now! Get this web-based Math practicing program starting at $5.99 a year per child. After your purchase, you will be asked to activate a license key that gives you access to the program for 12 months.

10Monkeys Math World is also available in Spanish and works on desktops, laptops, mobile and other devices. Stress-free, enjoy Math with a smile everyday!

Get to know this amazing Math program for your child!

10Monkeys Math World – www.10monkeys.com 

RoRo Schedules for Iloilo-Bacolod, Vice Versa

June 18th, 2014

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RoRo ( roll on-roll off) is one of the reasons why I’m one of the few who thinks Gloria Arroyo is a good president. Inter-island travel made easier and you know how comfortable and convenient it is to have your own car during your trips.

However, in our case, we often miss the ship because we have no idea about the different schedules whenever we plan to take RoRo from Iloilo to Negros or going to my hometown in Cebu. If you are planning to take RoRo from Dumangas ( Iloilo) to Bacolod or vice versa, hope this post can help you out.

I took these photos at Bacolod port for our personal travel and I hope you’ll find them useful too. As of this writing, the schedules are correct and still serving.

Montenegro Lines

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Tri-Star Lines
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We took this ship for our Bacolod-Dumaguete road trip. The ship is cleaner though smaller than Montenegro. Tips for traveling by RoRo is to call for a reservation. Here is the contact number – +63 0920 947 8500

 

Millennium Shipping with contact information

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Travel time from Iloilo via Dumagas to Bacolod is 1.5hours. Fees depend on vehicle type.

Thanks for reading!

XoXo,

Valerie

 

Related posts

Scenic San Lorenzo, Guimaras

Why I Love Road Trips

Jilla’s Roadside Cafe

 

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