Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I just wrote in my previous post that a number of local publishers are selling storybooks that are written both in Filipino and in English. I also mentioned that these storybooks are relatively inexpensive compared to those written by foreign authors.

Guess what I saw on FB this morning:

Adarna, the publisher of some of the storybooks that my children love--Isang Mayang Uhaw, Si Pagong at Si Matsing, and Papa's House, Mama's House--will be selling bargain storybooks at PhP35.00 each and brand new storybooks at PhP55.00 each. Great!

This book fair is so timely! I, together with my batchmates, intend to help Bautista Central School, a public elementary school in Pangasinan, have a library full of books. The fair would certainly be a good opportunity for me to check out and buy books at low prices!  

Come September 14, I will definitely be going to the MIBF!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Raising FILIPINO-Speaking Children

August is not just World Breastfeeding Month. For the Filipinos, it is also Buwan ng Wikang Pambansa (National Language Month). 

When I gave birth to my first child 8 years ago, my husband and I made a decision to raise her as an English speaker.

Our mistake was in thinking that in order to raise an English-speaking child, she should not be exposed to any language other than English. (What were we thinking?) We instructed the yayas not to speak to her in Filipino or in any local dialect. All the educational materials (books, DVDs) that she was exposed to were also in English. We reasoned out that she will eventually learn Filipino when she starts mingling with the other children in school.

Not knowing any better, we repeated the same mistake with our second daughter C.

It was a wake up call when I heard my then 5-year old daughter sing "Bayang magiliw, Perlas ng....what's that word again?" And we're talking about the same girl who knew the entire lyrics of Camp Rock's "This Is Me".

What have we raised? Mga banyaga sa sarili nilang bayan. (Foreigners in their own country.)

As a result of our folly (and I can't even claim the folly of youth), we now have an 8-year old girl who has to double her efforts in preparing for her Filipino class. My 6-year old daughter hardly understands, much less speak, Filipino.

Our situation is not so peculiar. Other Filipino families are experiencing the same problem. Friends have posted in FB videos of their children singing what sounded like the Philippine National Anthem. Well, the melody sounded like it's Lupang Hinirang but the lyrics were definitely not those of our anthem! And just in case you're wondering, I also have a similar video of my daughters singing our national anthem, or what sounded like one.

Having realized our error, we introduced three important changes in our household. Hopefully, the Filipino adage, "Huli man daw at magaling, naihahabol din," will hold true for us.

1. We started talking to our children in Filipino. We assumed that our children will learn Filipino from their friends and classmates. Big mistake. Most, if not all, of my children's classmates are also English-speaking kids.

We experienced difficulty at the start especially with our second child. Whenever I talked to her in Filipino, she would just stare at me as if she didn't hear anything. I had to translate everything in English. But our efforts paid off. While C is still having a hard time talking in Filipino, she could now at least understand a little Filipino.

I and my husband have also been talking to our 11-month old baby B in Filipino and in English.

2.  Make learning Filipino words fun. Our family loves to play "I spy with my little eyes something that is..." Instead of doing this in English, we started doing it in Filipino. And so I spy became "Ang aking mga mata ay may nakikitang...ano ito?" This is actually more fun than merely saying chair is upuan.

3.  We began buying Filipino story books and read them to/with our children. In my previous post, I mentioned that my husband and I are trying to raise readers. Unfortunately, while we do have lots of children's books in our home, almost all of them are written in English.

So we started buying children's books that are written both in Filipino and in English. I usually let my children choose the stories that they like. And unlike the books written by foreign authors, the books by Adarna, Lampara, Hiyas and other local publishers are relatively inexpensive. Here are some of the Filipino story books my children like:

This is a 2-in-1 book. Aside from learning Filipino,
my second daughter C also learned the importance of
sleeping early.

This book introduces problem-solving
and how to count in Filipino.

I like Dr. Gatmaitan's stories. This one illustrates a father's love
for his disabled daughter. It actually made me cry. 

When my first daughter chose this, we had a discussion on the
difference between fiction and non-fiction. And then she asked me,
"What's fiction in Filipino?"

(Picture taken from Adarna's website)

My daughter F just bought this book from her school's book fair yesterday. This book "reminds us that children who grow up with two parents in one home are raised and loved no differently than those who have two homes." (From Adarna's website) And should you need to discuss the sensitive topic of separation in a manner that children can understand, reading this book is a good starting point.

What about you? Is your child having problems speaking in Filipino? What have you done to help your child? Please share some tips.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we join the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action in its "Talk to Me!" theme where participants will share personal experiences, insights or recommendations in communicating breastfeeding intentions and goals to their support system. Please scroll down to the end of this post and check out the other carnival participants."

"Ma, did you breastfeed me when I was a baby?" my second daughter asked me one afternoon.

"I did. I breastfed you for two years."

"What about me?" my 8-year old firstborn inquired.

It took me a while to answer her. The truth is, I breastfed her for a few days only. Due to delivery-related complications, I was given medicines that the doctors said were not safe for a newborn. My first month after giving birth was spent confined at a hospital, and going back and forth the emergency room due to high fever, vomiting, and severe allergic reaction to medicines. By the time it was safe to breastfeed my daughter, my milk had dried up and she absolutely refused to latch.

So, how does one discuss breastfeeding with a child who was formula-fed? How does one emphasize the importance of breastfeeding to a daughter who, in a brood of three, happens to be the only one who was not breastfed?

I distinctly remember that while I was thinking hard and fast on how to answer her, there were three things that I wanted to be clear about. 

First, I love her very much and my actions and decisions have always been guided by that unconditional love. 

Second, breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances and had it been medically safe for her to have my breastmilk, I would have willingly and lovingly breastfed her.

Third, while I intend to breastfeed B, her youngest brother, for as long as possible, my breastfeeding goal is not limited to that. As a mom of two girls, it is my long-term goal to raise daughters who, when the time comes, would choose to breastfeed. But I know that it would be difficult to do that if F perceives breastfeeding negatively as a result of her being the only one who was not breastfed. 

With the "what I want to say" being clear in my mind, I began to answer her question both in words and in deed. 

1. Honesty is still the best policy. "Yes, I breastfed you but for a few days only," I told F. I could have just answered her yes because technically, that is true. (Ah, have you noticed how lawyers often resort to technicalities? But I digress.) I've always tried to be honest with my children. I wasn't about to start lying to her by omission.

2. It's all about love. I emphasized to her that I love all three of them--her, my firstborn, her little sister and the bunso. Because I love all of my children, I want to give them the best milk. And breastmilk is still the best for babies under most circumstances. 

This, I told her, is the reason why I breastfed her sister for two years and am still breastfeeding her baby brother who is now 11 months old. And my unconditional love for her is also the reason why I breastfed her for the first few days of her life. 

3. I never assumed that she would not understand me. I explained to her that while I've always intended to breastfeed her, I would never knowingly put her at risk. Unfortunately, because of all the medication that I was taking after giving birth, it was not advisable for me to breastfeed her (or at least that's what my doctors told me).

"I get it. You were sick and you didn't want me to get sick also," she said.

Come to think of it, that perfectly summed it up.

4. I let her (and my other daughter) be a "part" of my breastfeeding relationship with baby B. I always make sure that she feels welcome to stay with me while I'm breastfeeding B. I also pointed out that my breastfeeding B benefits not only the baby but the entire family, including her and her sister. How? Since breastmilk is free, she knows that Mom and Dad don't have to buy formula milk. Instead, we can use the money to watch movies or buy her favorite Geronimo Stilton books.

5. I discuss breastfeeding with her and correlate it with her experiences. For example, last December, she and my second daughter had a terrible bout of cough and cold which necessitated frequent visits to the doctor. She had to drink nasty-tasting antibiotics in order to get well. And then she remembered that B did not get sick at that time. She concluded that it must be because B was drinking breastmilk!          

I am happy to say that most of my breastfeeding pictures were taken by my daughter F. And when she started doing this, I knew that she understood my message--that breastmilk is still best for babies.

But more importantly, she knows that I love her, breastfed or not. 

*On hindsight, how I wish I knew then that relactation is possible. This is why being informed about breastfeeding is so important and crucial to a successful breastfeeding experience.

**My daughter is not only a part of my support group. Had she felt bad knowing that she was the only one who was not breastfed, it would probably be difficult for me to continue breastfeeding B openly.

Please do read the posts of the other blog carnival participants:

Communication and First Time Breastfeeders 
Creating a Pro-Breastfeeding Culture in the Family
How to get others to support you in breastfeeding
Pre-Natal Pediatric Consultations Are Necessary
On breastfeeding: Say it, claim it, get support!
My Best Breastfeeding Support System — My Husband
Communication through Breastfeeding
Escie's World: Ready, Get Set, Go! for Breastfeeding
I'm breastfeeding, and that's that.
BreasTALK : Text, Retweet, Share your Knowledge and Experiences
A Shout out to My Breastfeeding Buddies
Talk and Make It Happen
How I Taught the Family to "Breastfeed"
Effective Communication Bucket List
6 persuasion tips for breastfeeding moms and advocates
How I recruited my top breastfeeding buddies
Couple's Decision and Communication: Key to Successful Breastfeeding
A-S-Ks (On Breastfeeding Questions, Help, Support)


Monday, August 08, 2011


A non-essential but a must-have? Isn't that a contradiction?

If you are a nursing mom like me, you most probably have experienced hair pulling, arm pinching, and having little hands touching your nose, your lips, you name it. Not to mention the times when you have to deal with a fussy, distracted baby. 

That was until I discovered the Mommy Necklace, a stylish but SAFE accessory that is both Mommy and baby-friendly.

Why non-essential? Because even without it, I CAN still breastfeed B.

But with the Mommy Necklace, this Mom gets to be more fashionista-looking without compromising the safety of her baby.

Wearing the dangling donut necklace.

With the Aurora Flat Rock.
I like it so much that I wear it even though B is not with me.

Wearing the Allure Flat Rock in the office.

Aside from being nice, the Mommy Necklace is functional. No more hair-pulling and arm-pinching while nursing. And it also helps keep B quiet and busy.

B is playing with the donut necklace while nursing.

Most importantly, it is SAFE for babies. No lead. No phthalates. And it's guaranteed from breakage.

No wonder that my Mommy Necklace has become a non-essential nursing must-have!


Note: All of the necklaces shown here were paid for. I decided to write a post about the Mommy Necklace since I've been receiving a number of comments and questions about it.



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