Saturday, July 11, 2009

What I care about

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Insurance Vs. Pre-need

Most people I know are confused with the difference between pre-need plans and insurance policies. As someone who worked in the insurance industry for several years I think I am in the authority to shed light on any misconception or wrong notion one might have about the two.

1. Pre-need plans tend to be cheaper than most insurance policies.
2.Pre-need plans do not give you protection while insurance policies do.
If one buys a college educational plan, and he dies after a year, his child will not
yet get the benefits of the plan. Instead, the child will have to wait for years, until
the plan matures, usually when he is already ready for college. Meanwhile, the surviving parent is left with the problem of earning a living enough to send the child to grade school and high school.

3.If one buys an insurance policy with savings that can be used any which way, like for college and he dies after a year, the child will be able to get the fund right away and use it for his everyday necessities or yearly tuition so that someday he will finish grade school, high school and possibly go to college.

4.Both pre-need plans and insurance policies can give pension after some time but if a holder of a pre-need pension plan suddenly dies after a week, the beneficiaries will just get whatever payment he has already paid.

If a person with an insurance policy dies after a week of getting the policy, his
beneficiaries will still receive the whole coverage amount. For instance, he has only paid one quarterly premium of Ps. 4,000.00 for a one million peso coverage, his beneficiaries will still be able to get the whole Ps. 1,000,000.00, assuming he did not lie in the medical questionnaire part of his application.

5.Pre-need companies are under SEC while Insurance companies are regulated by
the Philippine Insurance Commission. If an insurance company is in financial
trouble, another insurance company is obliged to take over, and absorb all the
financial liabilities of that company. This way, policyholders are always secured
that they will get the benefits they are paying for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How to Raise Smarter Babies

Today's parents are much more competetive than the parents of our generation. In my work as a teacher I have had the chance to meet quite a handful of these parents. I don't blame them for one really has to be competitive if he wants to succeed in the real world.

I have listed down some tips on how to make your babies smarter and I hope this post will be of great help to all the parents of this generation, competitive or not.

1. Eat all the right foods if you are pregnant. Be sure to drink milk and eat seafood which is a good source of iodine.
2. Make it a habit to talk to your baby inside the womb. Research show that newborn babies already respond to the native language of their parents.
3. Always talk to your baby even if he is just a day old.
4. Play classical music in his nursery.
5. Give him toys with different textures and shapes.
6. Read to your baby and show him the pictures on the book.
7. Remember that the first three years of your child's life is the most crucial part of his development. Give him plenty of activities that would not only allow him to use his brain but would also give him the chance to to develop his fine and gross motor skills.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Smart Spending and Saving Tips

People all over the world are suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and with the way prices of basic commodities are increasing every month it’s getting harder and harder for ordinary citizens to budget and save money. But with some smart spending we can still survive. I’ve listed five tips on spending and saving below.

1. Save before you spend. Most of us spend before saving. You have to do it the other way around. Save first. Allot at least 10% of your monthly take home pay for your savings then spend the rest on bills, daily allowance, rent, etc. During my first year of work after graduation, my salary was a little more than Ps. 5000.00. I opened my account (with an initial deposit of Ps. 2000.00) on the day my first salary was given to me and promised myself that I would deposit at least Ps. 2,000 every month thereafter.Without fail, I deposited money every 10th of the month (we got our salaries every 10th)and on my 9th month as a working person, I opened my first time deposit at BDO with Ps. 20,000.00.

Of course, I was able to do this because my dad took me to and from work, I wasn’t obliged to pay for anything at home and I usually brought packed lunch to work. I didn’t spend much on clothes or on night outs because I was so motivated to save, I was working for a goal. But what I’m saying is if you really want to save something, even if it’s just Ps. 500 every month, you’d be able to have at least Ps. 6,000.00 after a year.

2. Resist the urge to go to the malls. We Filipinos spend way too much time at the malls. Most of us go to the malls just to relax and cool off. But even if we do not have any plan to buy anything, there is still this big possibility that we would end up buying something which is not in our budget plan. Cute gizmos and thingamabobs attract us and tempt us to spend our money. Little things like these may cost Ps. 50.00 – Ps. 100.00 every mall visit. If you visit the mall around six times a month that would mean spending a minimum of Ps. 300.00 a month. This does not include the money we spend on food every mall visit and the money we spend on gas, parking or transportation. Besides, if we do not have money to spend on our wants, the malls just cause us to be more discontented with our work, with our husbands and with our life in general.

Limiting our mall visits to a minimum of twice or thrice a month will not only help us save money. It will also allow us to be more creative in the way we spend our time with our children. It will also help us to be more productive as we would have more time doing the things we need to do, like cleaning our room, sorting our files, learning new skills, etc. Most importantly, we lessen our use of gas which is one of the causes of global warming.

3. Shop for clothes after Christmas or in May. This is the time when a lot of the stores/malls have their sale. You can buy really nice office tops and pants at half the price and sometimes even more than half the price. Some boutiques like Mango, Zara, Plains and Prints, Bayo allow customers to fit the clothes so it’s good to check these stores out during sale season.

4. Bring packed lunch to work. A usual lunch at the office cafeteria will usually cost you
Ps. 80.00-Ps. 100.00. Multiplied by 5 days, you’d be spending a minimum of Ps. 450.00 a week, and a minimum of Ps. 1,800.00 a month but if you bring your lunch to school you’d only be spending a minimum of Ps. 200.00 a week or Ps. 800.00 a month.

5. Limit the number of your credit cards to one. Credit cards give us a false sense of bigger purchasing power. Back in 2000, I had at four credit cards. I had Ps. 40,000.00 credit limit on one, and Ps. 10,000.00 credit limit on each of the other three cards. Having these cards in my wallet made me feel I could buy anything that I wanted even if I only had Ps. 500.00 left from my take home pay. In reality, I only had Ps. 500.00 because that’s the only amount I had. But because I had all these credit cards, I bought and I bought and I bought. I was spending more than what I was making. That’s not purchasing power at all. Fortunately, I had the good sense to freeze all of the cards while I paid for my dues. I paid Ps. 3,000.00 every month for one of my cards, it took me three years before I was cleared of my debt. More than half of what I paid was only for the interest!

It’s good to have a card. We need it for traveling and emergencies. But it would be wise if we keep it only for these purposes. I keep only one card now and I never put it in my wallet except when I go to a different country.

I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ve tried them all. It wouldn’t hurt you to give them a try too. If you have other tips that may come in handy, feel free to leave me a message. I’d like to save more.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Are you thinking if a Shih Tzu can bring you joy?

There are different kinds of joy, some are wrapped in red and gold and tied with a ribbon underneath a Christmas tree. Some come wrapped in blue or pink baby blankets, wiggle their toes and make funny noises. Then there’s a joy that’s wrapped in fur like our dog Chelsea. She was a ball of brown, black and white fur when she was born. But now her fur is lighter and looks more like hair. Her big round eyes reflect the color around her. Her tongue is always out and makes her look as if she’s smiling at you. She’s a happy, lively, playful dog who loves attention. She is specially friendly even to strangers. She has a mind of her own so she can be quite stubborn. But the joy she brings to our family compensates for her disobedience. After all, humans aren’t perfect. Why should dogs be?

Small dogs have become a fad in the country nowadays. And a lot of people prefer Shih Tzu because they look so cute and cuddly. And if you are thinking of getting a Shih Tzu for a pet, you might want to ask yourself the following questions first:

1)Do you want a trusting dog that’s friendly to everyone even to thieves and robbers? If you’re
the jealous type, or if you want a guard dog then a Shih Tzu is not for you. 2) Do you want a small dog? A standard size Shih Tzu stands at around 9 to 10 inches with an ideal weight of 9-16 lbs. Some unscrupulous breeders sell tiny Shih Tzu puppies and tell you they are princess type or imperial type ( the tiniest 3 month old puppy I have ever seen). They sell them at a higher price. Don't be fooled. These tiny Shih Tzus are well below the standard Shih Tzu size and their size is actually considered a fault. They should be sold well below the regular price of a standard Shih Tzu. 3)Do you or someone else at home have time to brush your future pet dog’s coat at least once a day? 4)Do you have the money to finance visits to the doctor? (the skin of a Shih Tzu can be quite sensitive) A skin problem may cost you around Ps. 4,000.00. 5)Do you want a dog that needs lots of attention? A bored Shih Tzu has a tendency to engage in destructive chewing. 6) Do you want a dog that has a mind of its own? Shih Tzus can be quite stubborn. This stems from the fact that they used to be the pets of emperors. They think highly of themselves.
They are not natural born pleasers. Of course, there are always exceptions to a rule but you
have to be ready, you might find a dog that will think before it obeys you. 7)Do you want a lively dog, an adult dog that still seems like a puppy?

If you have answered yes to all of the questions then you are the perfect human for a Shih Tzu. But if you have answered no to one of the questions, I suggest you think it over first. You might be stuck with the wrong dog. Shih Tzus live for as long as twelve human years. Having a dog can be so much fun and rewarding but if you and your dog are not well suited, it can cause you a lot of headaches and may cause the dog anxiety and depression. You have to remember, your relationship with your dog is also a two-way relationship. Your dog will love you more than it loves itself but you have the duty to keep it healthy and happy.

note: I'll be posting a collage of my Shih Tzu very soon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Causes of Deafness

Last year my 9-year-old son started having trouble hearing. He would often ask us to repeat our sentences. This became too frequent that we started getting worried. We went to an ear doctor who told us to have his ear tested with an audiogram. Thru the test we learned that he had already lost almost 50% of his hearing and that he had a condition called otitis media. From what I understood, the cause of his partial deafness was mucus that goes to his ears whenever he blows his nose. My son was given antibiotics which didn’t improve his condition. We then decided to seek out another doctor. This doctor was quite strict and suggested unconventional remedies which she said we should follow if we wanted her to continue treating my son. After a month of inhaling steam every two hours, sniffing and swallowing mucus instead of blowing it out, sniffing nasal sprays and taking antibiotics my son’s sense of hearing got back to normal.

To a mother, being told that your child could go deaf is really scary. There is nothing wrong with a deaf child but of course, we as parents would want our children to have normal senses so that it would be easier for them to live normal lives.

For parents and those who are planning to have children, I have listed down several causes of deafness:

Prenatal causes:
Toxic condition – drug involved on the part of the pregnant mother who is
Taking medication especially those with abortive effect
Viral diseases – mumps, influenza, German measles, maternal rubella
Congenital malformation – such as lack/closure of the external ear
Maternal bleeding especially during the first trimester of pregnancy
Perinatal causes:
Traumatic experience during delivery such as pelvic pressure or injury, use of forceps and intracranial hemorrhage
Anoxia or lack of oxygen due to prolonged labor
Heavy sedation
Blockage of infant’s respiratory passage
Severe jaundice
Posnatal causes:
- meningitis
- measles
- other viral infection like mumps, chicken pox, influenza and viruses from common colds
- impacted cerumen or hardened wax which may lead to infection Accidents/Trauma
- falls
- head bumps
- undrained water in the ear
- overexposure to high frequency sound and externally loud explosions

Other Causes
- heredity
- prematurity
- malnutrition
- overdose of medicine
- aging

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happiness is all around.

The world we live in has become too materialistic that people oftentimes find it hard to be contented and happy. We tend to focus more on the material things that we do not have and not on the things that we have. But if we spend but a moment each day to look around us and see what is there, what we have, we would realize that we have everything to make us happy.

As for me, here are the things that make me happy. Scan the list and you might see something which also makes you feel the same way. Feel free to add to the list under comments.

- a kiss or hug from my son
- rainbows
- a love letter from the man I love
- a walk in a park or garden
- colorful flowers
- trees after a rain
- sunsets
- sunrise
- ocean glittering under the sun
- my dog wagging its tail
- my son playing the violin
- my son’s laughter
- my dog licking me
- Zambales mangoes (yummy!)
- grass wet with morning dew
- a starlit sky
- broadway music
- a beautiful love story
- babies
- bunnies
- colorful lovebirds
- tulips
- scent of a sampaguita
- butterflies
- Taal lake
- clear blue sky
- lychees
- fruit salad
- wonderful memories
- romantic moments
- green mountains
- cold water
- yellow roses
- surprises
- poetry
- swings
- picnics
- Christmas
- making sandcastles
- birds chirping in the morning
- cherry blossoms
- ripples

These are only some of the things that make me happy every day. Most of them are free. God has given us everything we need to make us happy and we would only realize this if we open our eyes and see, really see.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sesame Seeds: small in size, big in calcium

If you’re worried about osteoporosis and yet you cannot bring yourself to drink milk, I may have the answer for you.

I came across a wonderful book years ago entitled Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. It was written by a famous American nutritionist, Gaylord Hauser and was filled with information about how one can be beautiful by eating the right foods. According to the author of the book, sesame seeds contain a good protein and B vitamins but most of all it is also a great source of calcium which is badly needed for good teeth and bones. One can get 1,125 milligrams of calcium from one hundred grams of sesame seeds, while you can only get 600 milligrams of calcium from milk. So for all of you out there who dislike milk as much as I do, you may want to try this recipe. I like it a whole lot better than milk.

Sweet Sesame Milk

1 cup washed sesame seeds
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons of honey
2 drops of vanilla extract

Put ingredients in liquefier-blender and mix until smooth. If it is too rich, just add more water. Keep it in the refrigerator and serve it chilled. It’s not only nutritious, it tastes good too, a little like almond milk.

Other rich sources of calcium are cottage cheese, yogurt, molasses, almonds, sesame seeds, turnip greens and broccoli.

Reference: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall by Gaylord Hausser

Heavenly Dessert

My favorite dessert is mango refrigerator cake. I used to make refrigerator cakes using fruit cocktail but four years ago I experimented with mangoes from our farm in Zambales. I've always used mangoes ever since. Zambales by the way has one of the best tasting mangoes in the world. This is why it would be great if you could get your hands on Zambales mangoes when you make this recipe. I promise you it is pure heaven. There is no other way to describe it. I always sing in anticipation when I make it. It's totally addictive so be careful. You might get fat.

Making it is simple. Just follow the recipe for refrigerator cakes. Just graham crackers and mangoes instead of other fruits when you make it. If you do not know the recipe here's how to make it.


2 cartons of all purpose cream (chilled)
1/2 can of condensed milk
graham crackers
ripe Zambales mangoes peeled and cut into slices (the more mangoes the better)

1. Mix the all purpose cream and the condensed milk in a bowl.
2. Grease the base of an aluminum pan (pan should be at two inches high) with the mixture then lay the crackers on the pan until the base is totally covered with crackers.
3. Pour a good amount of mixture on the crackers.
4. Lay the mango slices next.
5. Make another layer of crackers on top of the mangoes, repeating steps 3-4 two more times.
6. Refrigerate for two to three hours.

Serve in small slices but I bet you'll be going back for more. Enjoy!

Alum: My partner for life against seborrhaic dermatitis

Alum or tawas has been known to help whiten skin and reduce underarm perspiration. Few people know that it can also be used to clear the skin if you have what is called seborrhaic dermatitis. This is a recurring skin problem that produces itchy red spots on the oily and hairy areas of the skin like that under the eyebrows, the hairline, the side of the base of the nose. These spots become rough and scaly as days go by. They can be very unsightly if left untreated.

I have had this problem ever since I was in second year high school. I have been to different dermatologists and all of them said that there was no permanent solution to the problem and that I would just have to live with it, avoid stress and avoid the foods that I was allergic to. Of all the treatments I have gone thru and of all the remedies I have been asked to do, one thing stands out. This is the alum compress. Here’s what it does: it dries the spots faster, healing the skin in three days or less (it usually takes around five days for the skin to clear when using ointments). Since it is natural it is safe and has no side effects unlike if you have to use one particular ointment every day for the rest of your life. Aside from that, because the alum has a whitening effect, your skin would be lighter after regular use.

What you need:

alum crystals or alum powder (you can buy from Mercury Drugstore)
fresh clean water
face towel

1. Boil one and a half cup of water.
2. Pour the boiling water into a bowl.
3. Put 1 tablespoon of alum crystals in the water.
4. When the water gets warm dip the face towel into the water.
5. Lie down and cover the affected body part with the face towel for 15 minutes.

Do this twice a day every day until the itchy spots are gone. It works for me. I hope it works for you too.