A Day at KidZania Manila

When Mikaela’s Ninong Jun asked what would be a good present for the kids last Christmas, I suggested an ‘experience gift’ instead of the usual toys/ clothes/ books.  He chose to buy tickets at Kidzania Manila, a kids’ entertainment facility based on role play, and we set the date for our visit.

We had to be in BGC at 9AM, so I made sure that my little owls turned in early the night before. It can be challenging to put two kids to bed early, wake them up and then get them both ready early in the morning, so I wanted to give them a heads up. I showed them the Kidzania website and let them decide on which establishments they wanted to visit.  I also oriented them a bit about the general rules, which were a bit different from the other amusement centers that they were used to.

They have a real-world setup where each kid is given a check upon entry for 50 Kidzos (Kidzania currency), which they would have to encash at the bank (BPI).  Kids can then use their money to avail of services at the salon, department store, driving lessons, etc.  They also earn cash for working at places like the gas station (Shell), bottling plant (Coca Cola), fire station, etc. If they run out of money, Mom and Dad can’t bail them out by buying extra money — they will have to find work to earn some more. Pretty neat, huh? 😉

When we discussed the earning and spending part, Mikaela had this thoughtful look and then a flash of realization.  She said, “Is that why you work every day?” and I said “Yes, work is what I do to earn money, which we use to pay for things that we want or need.”  She nodded carefully and said, “Okay, I promise not to distract you anymore when you work.”  Riiiiiight…let’s see if she can keep that promise. 😛 They were in bed at 9PM but couldn’t fall asleep right away because of their excitement. :))

We went there with Jun and his twin nieces Caitlin and Ashley. The twins have been there thrice before, but we adults were blown away when we first walked in.  The place was AMAZING! The photos in the website were nice, but they don’t quite capture the actual experience of being there.

The check-in area is built like an airport terminal and there’s a passport issuing counter where kids can acquire passports to enjoy extra perks for an additional fee.


Kidzania’s corporate partners provide the activities for the kids and services for the adults, with excellently planned layouts of each space.  For example, there was a pizza making activity for the kids sponsored by Yellow Cab Pizza on one end of their space, an oven in the center, and an extension on the other end that functions as a small store for the hungry parents waiting outside.


Another house rule is that parents are not allowed to fall in line for their kids or go inside the establishments. That’s a plus for me, even though we had to keep reminding the girls to stay in line and had to keep telling them how many more minutes they had to wait — it’s a good exercise to teach them (and us!) about patience.  One time, Katie was in line for the next shift at the operating room but then she left the queue because she had to poop :)) Oh well, surgery cancelled due to a personal emergency. :))

One of the highlights of our visit was when they girls wanted to be doctors. The hospital setup was sponsored by St. Luke’s Medical Center and seeing the operating room setup gave me and Karlo the ultimate feels. :))  There were 3 options for medical training, they can either go to the ER, OR or NICU.  I asked each girl what kind of doctor they wanted to be, the one that rides an ambulance, operates on people, or takes care of tiny babies.  They kept changing their minds and changing lines (much like us during internship when trying to decide which specialty to pursue, haha!) but Mikaela finally settled for the OR because it’s Daddy’s work and Katie…well, Katie ended up pooping. :))

To make Katie feel better about missing her shift, I brought her around to see what else she can do while waiting for Mikaela.  We ended up at the gas station and she was an excellent (and very cute!!) gas attendant, courteously asking her customer which gas he needed and wiping down the car.

Karlo sent me a photo of Mikaela “scrubbed in” with a proud Daddy caption, “Kakay is first assist!” She was so adorable in her green SLMC scrubs, OR cap and mask, consciously holding her hands up to keep them “sterile”.

I like how Kidzania and their corporate partners made everything child-sized but realistic, from the machines, the props and the uniforms — there was even a plane setup c/o Cebu Pacific where kids can choose to undergo Cabin Crew training or have Aviation lessons using a flight simulator.


Mikaela’s favorite was the OR because she got to be a doctor like Mom and Dad, while Katie’s favorite was the Magnolia ice cream facility.  My little foodie had a happy little dance of triumph when she finally came out of the place with her cup of ice cream…AND she got paid 5 Kidzos for her work too. Total win!

Funny thing is, they came out of Kidzania with more money than they initially had because they weren’t so keen on services like shopping or getting pampered at the salon.  They said, “But we already do that, it’s boring!” :)) O sige ha, pwede pati sa totoong buhay?

More than the realistic props and costumes, what I like about Kidzania is that it initiates social awareness in kids at an age when they are used to having people do things for them. Unlike places that offer freestyle play, they get to experience the actual work that goes into service-based jobs and get acquainted with real-world rules.  They get to see how their food is made and then get to enjoy the product of their labor afterwards.  The best part is seeing them come out of each establishment looking so accomplished, beaming with pride and saying things like “Did you see me work, Momma? I helped put out the fire!” or “I saved that patient!”.

We were all so very tired afterwards and I still had cataplexy episodes despite having doubled my prednisone dose that day, but it was definitely worth the effort.  The girls kept remembering that they didn’t get to try a lot of the activities on our original itinerary, so I promised them that we will schedule another visit.  For now, I think I need to put my feet up and recover from a whole day of walking and standing.



Do You Say “Millennial” with a Fist Up in the Air or with a Sneer on Your Face? Read up.

Mil·len·nial (miˈlenēəl) noun. A person reaching young adulthood around the year 2000; a Generation Y-er.

In the recent days, social media has been teeming with news concerning the recent burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  There have been statements from government officials, church figures, rallies and demonstrations on major streets, and of course, personal rants on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Differing opinions have been voiced in varying tones ranging from being vehemently nationalistic to being cynically apathetic.  And in the middle of all this complex web of issues, this set of photos caught my attention:


I’m appalled that people choose to express themselves this way nowadays.  How will you be able to initiate change if you’re just aiming for low blows that’ll piss people of instead of making them want to listen to you?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. – Proverbs 15:1

Some who have reshared this link might have also come across other articles on how Millennials have been caught in the cross-fire of politics.   Older people may have some pretty condescending opinions:  Millennials know nothing about history.  Millennials are socially irrelevant.  Millennials only care about the shallow temporal things like food, photos and travel.  Others are more hopeful:  Millennials are starting to care.  It’s good to see young people out on the streets again.

Millennials this, Millennials that.  Quite frankly, I’m sick of the word that lumps together our youth into a category that does not fairly represent their individuality.  And by the way, some of us who utter the word with disdain fall into the same group by age or year of birth.  So yeah, be careful with what you say because when you point one finger at someone, three of your own fingers are pointing back at you 😉

Now, about all this “millennial” talk… instead of nitpicking and outright dismissal, how about we aim to gently correct what we can?  One of our responsibilities is to make sure that the information they receive is accurate.  That involves fighting for the truth, not just in our history books, but also in the current news.  One way is to sign this petition here.  And now the trickier part – we need to train our youth on how to process the available information, how to express themselves with self-control, and how to conduct themselves with dignity.  Don’t attack them, teach them to THINK.  And while you’re at it, teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.  Forming an opinion is everyone’s personal homework.


To be able to address the real issues at hand, we need to clear out the cobwebs one by one.  Can we get over this age divide? Can we quit drawing a line between the “us” and “them”?  Can we quit thumping our chests while sneering at the people who will have to deal with this dysfunctional world long after we’re gone? Can we try to recognize our own contribution to the apathy and misinformation that is so rampant in society nowadays?  That is the only way we can ever hope to raise a more discerning generation.

Focus on the individual person.  Focus on YOUR own young individual person.



PS: By the way, I’m 32 years old, so technically I am a Millennial but then that’s not part of the issue here since I’m not aiming to side with, or defend whichever part of the age divide.  Just wanted to clarify that bit.

Education Starts at Home

A few days ago, my husband and I were talking about our daughter’s upcoming Parent-Teacher Conference and wondered if it would be the typical PTC where the focus would be on the child’s academic development.  But considering the fact that she is just in preschool, I have to admit “academic development” sounds too overreaching.

We fondly ran through some of the things that we’ve noticed about her ever since she started going to preschool – her expanding vocabulary, her budding love for singing and dancing (it amuses me to no end when she suddenly bursts into a song and tries to teach the words to her younger sister), and most of all, her attitude.

Whenever I pick her up from school, she is not allowed to simply hop up and run off with me – her teachers always patiently remind her to pack away the toys she played with while waiting, erase the scribbles she made on the blackboard, and to throw her trash in the bin, before she is allowed to get her things from her cubby and put on her backpack without assistance.  Whenever she struggled with any of those tasks, her teacher would gently say, “Kaya mo yan.” (“You can do it.”) with an encouraging nod.

Then Karlo said, “You know what they should be teaching in schools nowadays? Manners.  Before anything else, kids should learn manners.” And my reply was, “I don’t think so. Kids should learn manners even earlier, before they get to start formal schooling.  Values and manners are taught here at home, by us parents.  That’s OUR job.”

Sending our kids to school does not relieve us parents from our responsibility of educating them at home.  Them reaching a certain age does not excuse us from exerting the effort of continuing to shape their minds.  “They are too old to listen to me” is a lazy catch phrase for giving up, and giving up on anyone you truly love is unthinkable.


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

3Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. – Psalm 127:3-5

See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. – Matthew 18:10

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

36 He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:36-37

Frustration Fix: Working with What You Have


I have always admired people with calligraphy skills.  I can watch doodling videos over and over again and not get bored, appreciating every perfect little stroke of the brush or nib.  It’s something that I’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t had the time to pursue.

Calligraphy is one of the items in my Things-to-Learn-in-My-Free-Time (what is ‘free time’?) and I originally planned on using this skill (which I currently lack…!) to make reminders for myself around the house using my favorite Bible verses.  I have this big notebook full of verses that have helped me cope with various life issues and I’m trying to make it a habit to transfer my highlights from the Bible app to this notebook for quick reference whenever I’m feeling unsettled about particular problems.  I’m sure you’ve encountered similar graphics or images on the internet (usually on Pinterest), but I get frustrated when I’m looking for a specific verse and I can’t find it, or I don’t like the font or the background, etc.

Yesterday, I was feeling particularly thirsty for God’s word and my usual daily dose of devotionals just couldn’t cut it.  I had a really long day with multiple out of the house errands, and I think I’ve gotten used to being a hermit that going out for an entire day really overloads my neurologic circuitry.  Yep, multiple cataplectic episodes capped off my day.

I felt overstimulated and wanted, nay, NEEDED to feel calm, preferably without meds.  But that’s just my personal thing because I know I can manage without them, having been able to do that for years without any problem.  It’s different for everyone though, so some may need medications for anxiety for a time or all the time, and I’m not judging anyone here. Just do what you can to make yourself functional and well, okay? Except illegal substances.  As for alcohol…it wouldn’t hurt to try and find healthier ways to cope. (#Anxiety #MentalHealthAwareness #ThatEscalatedQuickly)

ANYWAY. Home improvement and my lack of calligraphy skills.

While I was reading my recent verse highlights yesterday, I felt so moved that I wanted to MAKE something beautiful out of them.  But I didn’t have the calligraphy skills and that frustrated me.  I tried to get over it and kept reading my highlights, and I was reminded of Romans 12:6-8 (NIV):

6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully

And that got me thinking, hey, I’m pretty good at finding things on the internet; I love pretty fonts and know where to get them for free; I have a knack for being creative with simple programs like MS Word, etc.  So I decided to work around my frustration of not having the manual artistic skills using my emerging techie (naks!) skills for my pet project.  Here’s my work so far:



Amen and amen!


One of my all-time personal favorite verses.


I always read this verse whenever fear creeps up on me because of the current events in our country and around the world in general. #LordHealOurLand


Here’s me being a little more adventurous with gradient colors 🙂 Ugh, colorful pretty things make me so happy!!!

I’m still in the process of selecting some nice frames, backgrounds and clip art and then I’ll be ready to print and post them around our home.  I’m so excited!  If anyone else wants to have a copy (of the end product, fonts, etc. whatever), just email me at iamjustasecretary@gmail.com and I will gladly forward them to you.  All the resources that I’ve used so far are freely available on the internet, no bootleg versions, I promise.  Thank God for generous and talented artists around the world!

Have a great Sunday!


A Breath of New Life




My recent home improvement project was set in motion after my fourth hospital admission, when I realized that I had to make my environment more fall friendly.  I needed to have a regular spot in the house where I can dump all my work things, be able to concentrate on my projects, and at the same time crash somewhere soft when fatigue triggers my cataplectic episodes.  The only remaining unowned spaces were the Study room, Daddy’s den and Daddy’s bedroom.  I’ve left the “Daddy spaces” mostly untouched since he died in February partly out of respect, and partly because I was bracing myself for the physically and emotionally draining task of clearing out his things.   It felt wrong to immediately clear out his stuff and take over his space like some greedy kid eager to step into the Boss of the House shoes.  Over the past couple of months after his death, I only changed the physical arrangements and brought some things to the den as needed, and tried to keep everything as he left it.

The “Daddy spaces” were originally the master units of our home, located in the front of the second floor with its own balcony.  It is the same balcony where Daddy and I used to spend hours talking about random things when we both woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time going back to sleep.  In hindsight, I really am convinced that he was an undiagnosed narcoleptic (and possible cataplectic), like me.  It’s the same balcony where I watch the sun rise at the break of dawn, or gaze at the stars when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  It is the same balcony where I spend quiet moments reading my Bible devotions.  The den is a corner room with its own door to the balcony, and a hatch covering a spiral staircase going down to the Study room.  It’s been my nifty escape route for when I need to dodge my hyper kids to get something downstairs 😀  Sorry kids, Momma’s gotta work sometimes 😛  The den’s door to the balcony had been locked for years because we couldn’t find the key and the bar lock seemed to have rusted shut by now.

I realized that the inevitable time has come; I needed to move into Daddy’s room so I can have a bed near a quiet workspace.  With a sigh and a prayer, I sat down on the den floor and started opening drawers and shelves and sorted through Daddy’s things.  It took me a few days to go through everything – it was like Pandora’s box of memories.  I went through every bit of paper, taking photos of old photos and cards that made me laugh, cringe, and cry all at the same time.  And then they all went in a box in the attic, until my sisters and I have the common time to decide on a more permanent disposition.  I literally went down on my hands and knees to scrub the whole top balcony (floor, walls, railing, everything!) which has not been properly cleaned since our maid left in January.  Cleaning took longer than I anticipated because any chore is made a million times more challenging when your adrenals refuse to cooperate.

After cleaning out the shelves, I moved my stuff in and had the lock to the balcony changed so that the door is functional again.  It took me more than a week to finally be able to step back and survey my progress.  The end result was a far cry from the dark, dank, smoky den where Daddy used to hunch over his laptop watching movies until he fell asleep.  The windows are opened wide, and the cold morning air freely circulates around the master bedroom, den and top balcony through open doors.  It’s like a breath of new life that the key spaces in our home sorely needed.  I like how the atmosphere became more free, open and inviting.  My kids love running around the new passages, “visiting” me while I’m working just to say hi; Karlo loves hanging out in the balcony to have coffee and enjoy the fresh air with the added assurance that he can see me working on my desk (Oo na, ingaangkin ko na).  Even my sisters have dropped by once in a while to check out the den, or lounged on the beanbags that I temporarily dumped on the master bedroom floor.

I never used to be a morning person, but now I wake up at around 5 or 6 AM without any alarms.  Every morning feels so full of hope and excitement as I walk up to the master bedroom with my coffee and start opening the balcony doors.  Every morning, I thank God for fighting the battle of keeping our home for us (a story for another day).  Every morning, I thank Him for the energy, inspiration and encouragement that He gives me on a daily basis.  And every morning, I promise Abba that I will not waste this gift; I will always dedicate our home to serving Him.


“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”– Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain”Psalm 127:1 (NIV)

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”Joshua 24: 15 (NIV)