Author: Em Alcantara

White hair

As I combed my Simba-like hair after my skincare routine, I saw a long strand of white hair. Make that sparkling silver. It was so sparkly, complete standout from my jet black messy wavy hair.

As a child, I earn a few coins by plucking out white hair from Papa’s head. What’s even funnier is I use two coins to pluck the tiny ones out. On the contrary, I was told not to pluck out white hair should I get one already, cos this would cause more white hair to grow.

And so the day came. I was checking out that strand, pondering about this childhood memory, and without thinking twice, plucked it out.

Questions flood my already busy brain: Was I not afraid to have more white hair? Do I want to hide the white hair with hair color? How many more could be there already?

But the one million dollar question was: Am I not afraid to get old?

Yep, life has gotten into the equation. And for now, it’s simply a matter of accepting that in less than two months, I turn 40.

Wait, was it just yesterday that I turned 30? Oh well, I definitely enjoyed this decade! This had more travels, performances, and a variety of performance and teaching opportunities, even when I had my family already, compared to when I was in my 20s.

I’ve always wondered how I’d look and be like at 40. Well, who knows and who cares, anyway! All I know is that I am happy and content more now than five years ago and ten years ago, where I met bullies in the workplace. But, no regrets! I learned a lot–one is to avoid being with people like them.

White hair is definitely a symbol of wisdom. And there is wisdom to aging, experiences, and learnings. Always.

~ Touringkitty (back to rambling on the blog!)

Women who helped me be the woman I wish to be

Happy Women’s Day! Or Month! Or Year! No matter how you celebrate today, know that you, as a woman, is entitled to celebrate yourself anytime of the year, or everyday even!

Back when I was young, I remember women were associated with fickle-mindedness, probably because of mood swings and whathaveyous, that’s why typhoons are named after women (not anymore the case nowadays, thankfully!). But aren’t women also decisive, organized, and focused? I really didn’t get that comparison!

Anyways, that’s not what we’re going to debate over this blogpost, but I just want to share that as women, we tend to look up to our own heroes as we go through the process of life transitions. And here I am again (long time no blog!) to share these women who helped me be the woman I prayed to be. Still a work in progress, as I will soon parent a teenager (Ha! Where did time actually go!), so that’s another story for another day.

Here I go!

1. Of course, my family. My mom who was widowed rather early in life, my Lola who mothered seven children and still taking care of her apos and great grandchildren, and my so many aunts, cousins, and lolas–mothers, singles, career people in their own right. Seeing them and being with them on a regular basis made me pick up the good things they did for the family, and throw away the bad they may have done in the past.

2. My friends and colleagues from the music world, and there are many. I admire those who have continued their careers even beyond marriage, and I surely picked up a thing or two from their stories. I admire as well those who chose to dedicate their lives to the families they have been blessed with, or those who met crossroads in their musical careers and chose to do other things, that’s also a challenge to choose between personal career and family.

3. My church community–fellow volunteers and mothers of my choir members. Can’t deny the fact that I spend more time doing church work nowadays and seeing fellow volunteers every Sunday and other days of the week when we’re needed. They’re the most selfless people I know, dedicating their time, talent, and treasure in the Shrine community and in other outreach activities. On top of this list is Nanay Pining(+), the mother of the Shrine’s first Rector, Msgr. Bobby, who was very supportive of Mons Bobby in his priestly ministry.

4. My few true female friends who always got my back. One message or call and they’re there for me and my family. I am truly grateful for you all!

5. My Mommy Choir, the Nawtingales, and the bigger community we belong to, the Nawies. It’s no accident that I was put by the Lord in this online group, which has been a great source of inspiration, support, and now music through the Nawtingales.

6. LATCH Philippines and Breastfeeding Pinays. Grateful for being a part of these communities strongly advocating breastfeeding and proper nutrition for children.

7. Our Lady of La Leche Movement. The devotion to Our Lady of La Leche made me a better and gentler mother. It was a unique devotion that I get to share to fellow Catholics and believers who wish to find a spiritual source of strength as they rear their children.

8. My ninangs. Principal Sponsors in our wedding. I get to message them once in a while and they are always there for us.

9. My Ariadne. I have the honour to parent a beautiful, funny, creative, smart, and faithful child of God. Can’t wait for what God has designed her to be as she continues to discover the world she’s growing up on.

There you have it! Hope I didn’t get to miss anyone. So grateful to be surrounded by strong, courageous, women who truly make this world a much brighter place.

Happy Women’s Day! Or Month. Or Year!

~ Touringkitty

7 things I learned as a church volunteer and a tribute to MBC

Never imagined I’d develop a working and personal relationship to a priest. Perhaps I was just lucky to be in a position that I got to work closely with a priest, being a church choir conductor and eventually an organization officer.

That’s why I am very grateful to the Lord for the gift of Rev. Msgr. Roberto C. Canlas, MBC or Mons Bobby to us volunteers and the community, Lolo Mons to Aria. To me, he was a spiritual adviser and a father figure, influencing most of my adult life as a Catholic, church volunteer, musician, and parent.

To honour Mons Bobby, here are some of the best things I learned from him and from the Shrine of Jesus community all these years. There are more, but these ones I would like to share to others who, like me, might be inspired and be reminded of, too.

1. Discipline. Mons Bobby makes this a top priority all the time. As volunteers, we should be the first examples of this to the churchgoers. Discipline in arriving early at church for Masses, meetings, or other events. Discipline in proper attire. Most of all, discipline and decorum during Holy Masses. He is being misconstrued as masungit and suplado (strict and a snob), but I totally get it when I had my own child, too. Discipline must be instilled by parents first, for who else should do this to their own children?

2. Give until it hurts. For Mons Bobby, helping is the constant call of a Christian. He would always call for a second collection or for help from volunteers whenever there are typhoons and earthquakes. He has a string of outreach activities to mark the Shrine’s Fiesta celebrations, be it medical mission, building classrooms, rebuilding communities, outreach visits to our needy brethen–in orphanages, home for the elderly, the sick. One of the most remarkable was when the Shrine raised one million pesos for the PGH Pediatric Cancer ward, and this was topbilled by a concert of the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Mons made sure all volunteers and the community, regardless of the amount given, for as long as you have done your part is more important to him.

3. Planning ahead. For me, Mons is the king of planning. He would plan out church activities at least two months before. He has a clear picture of what the liturgy would be, and delegates the tasks to the council and officers to cascade to co-volunteer members. As for me, this includes planning and properly coordinating liturgical music prior the Mass. I learned to use the Ordo, too. I used to make a lot of mistakes, but I learned from them eventually.

4. Honour and love your parents. We are witnesses to this as he honours his own, especially Nanay Pining, who lived beyond a hundred years. What blessing it is for him to have served his own mother for a long time, even with his priestly duties.

5. Pray without ceasing. There are so many things I learned from Mons Bobby about praying. Sure, we pray everyday and hear Mass, but we should be specific in our prayer. Pray before and after each meeting or activity. Pray before and after meals. Pray for our departed loved ones. Pray during difficult situations. Pray during happy moments. Pray for families, friends, and other people. Seek the intercession of Mama Mary, the holy angels and saints. The holy hour and rosary during feast days help the community pray better and focus more on Jesus.

6. Honour the priests, especially the retired and elderly. Mons taught me to love, honour, and respect our priests. He has an annual activity for retired and elderly priests, and he invites us to sing for the Holy Mass and the program to sing some songs for them. Praying for the priests and the religious vocation is the best way to honour them.

7. Attitude of Gratitude. Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat. That was our theme for his tribute program. And that’s what he teaches us to do, as he also never runs out of words and ways to thank us, too, for serving our Divine Master alongside him all these years. Truly grateful for the opportunity to serve through the gift of music the Lord bestowed on us.

Walang hanggang pasasalamat, MBC! We wish you well in your new pastoral assignment. But we pray for your health and full recovery, first and foremost. Praise Jesus for the gift of new rector to the Shrine of Jesus as well as to all the churches of the Archdiocese of Manila! No goodbyes, Mons, but we will see you soon.

Will treasure that hug he gave during our wedding day which he officiated, and that hug as we were singing Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat.

(In)security Shawls

Pardon the blurry, but I just want to get back to my writing mojo. Been quite a while, but here I go, trying to find my writing voice (yet again) in the midst of all the (social media) noise.

Back in the time when masks were not the “in” thing, my “mask” was a shawl.

Hung around my neck, around my waist, or onto my bag, I have always carried a scarf. Long ones, short ones, colourful and plain ones. I got one for each occasion that would require me to dress up and be in front of people.

I loved my shawls! Some I purchased abroad during tours, others lovingly gifted to me by family and friends. Keeps me warm when it is cold. Or to cover my nose and mouth when smoke and dust hit my face as I walk the polluted streets. Or just to accessorise.

But not anymore, I have not worn one since the pandemic began.

You see, I had a realisation that the shawls were just an accessory I can easily do away without.

So, in the middle of quarantine in 2020 and when we had to go back to serving at church, I found myself not bringing or wearing any. I realised it only a few months ago, while fixing the closet.

I then asked myself, what was I hiding with these shawls? My uneven looking body? My crooked waist, my be-pimpled neck? Will it hide my huge belly?

The shawls, I realised, felt like a rope stringing around my neck while I grasp onto my feelings of doubt, envy, hate, insecurity, weakness, fear. And as soon as I let go of that shawl, the negative feelings go with it and kept in the closet. Kept, not thrown, just like moments and memories, not to be forgotten. And worn again the next day.

I never got to touch any of the shawls for quite a while, not until I had to clean a corner of the closet which was left untouched for most of the quarantine.

And there it dawned to me, I was not anymore a prisoner of the shawls. By not wearing them, I also let go of the doubt, envy, hate, insecurity, weakness, fear.

As I was refolding and tidying my closet, I held each shawl and think about the memories I had with it. Good memories. The not so good ones were still there, not forgotten, but learned lessons from.

One of the last times I wore a shawl, a few days before the pandemic hit the country.
What’s left of the shawls. Some I have donated, some repurposed as keyboard and barre cover. And hello, Sablay! 😘🌻 best college graduation memory.

~ Touringkitty

Request Civil Registry Documents online and anytime through PSAHelpline.ph

Back in the day, I used to line up very early in the morning in the Pasay NSO Office in Macapagal Avenue to request for my Birth Certificate whenever we have a trip abroad, or for school enrollment. It would take up much of my time that sometimes I need to take a leave from school just to get one, or ask my mom to get one for me.

Things got easier, eventually. Malls have offered these services, too. However, you’d have to wait for a bit longer, and there is a bit of additional charge. Still good, compared to a whole day of lining up and picking it up.

Now, everything can be done online, anytime, and from anywhere in the Philippines, using the PSA birth certificate online application.

Website’s landing page.

The website is clean and easy to navigate. That’s always a plus for me and for most of us, for sure.

Upon clicking the Order Now button on the landing page.
I requested for a Birth Certificate for my daughter.

Enter the requested details and information, and you’ll be led to the payment options.

Conveniently pay using these channels, online and over the counter.

We received the document at home after 4 days. An ID is requested to receive the document.

You can also request for other civil registry documents such as Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate, and CENOMAR.

And there you have it! Hope ALL government agencies get to this point wherein Filipinos get quality service we truly deserve. Request your or your family’s birth certificate now through PSA birth certificate online application.

Thanks to Mommy Bloggers Philippines and PSAHelpline.ph for letting us experience this service.

Cleene CLIO celebrates World Oral Health Day

Oral Health is something my parents paid attention to ever since my sister and I were young children. And I am so grateful for that, because we do the same for our own daughters.

Oral Health is also getting a spotlight, especially this World Oral Health Day 2022. With the different types of food that we take, our teeth surely needs that extra TLC.

A health care company led an initiative to reach out to families and promote oral health, especially during this time of pandemic wherein health is of top priority.

#nofilter showing off their healthy smiles.

To emphasize the importance of good oral health practices at home, Cleene CLIO has partnered with Manila Water Foundation and Philippine Dental Association to provide oral health kits to various barangays and schools as part of this year’s World Oral Health Day activities. Over 2,000 health kits containing Cleene CLIO toothbrushes and Dental Floss Premium from Cleene CLIO and PHILUSA were distributed to 12 barangays and to the chosen hygiene facility in Dinalaonan Elementary School in Pangasinan.

And as a special treat for World Oral Health Day, selected Cleene CLIO products will be sold at 20% off exclusively in Mercury Drug stores nationwide until April 15, 2022.

Cleene CLIO continues to be the partner of every Filipino family in promoting good oral hygiene by offering a wide range of affordable and quality toothbrushes.

Cleene CLIO toothbrushes are made with MicroFine Soft Bristles that help penetrate and clean hard to reach areas for better interdental cleaning and a gentle brushing experience. The tapered bristles penetrate between teeth and gums for thorough cleaning, while the rounded shape of the bristles remove plaque and prevent teeth and gum damage.

There is a Cleene CLIO toothbrush for every member of the family that is affordable and has world-class quality. For those wanting extra care and protection for your teeth, Cleene CLIO offers its Refreshing Green Tea and Ultimax Charcoal under their Special care line. While for those needing specialized care, Cleene CLIO has its Kiddie and Junior as well as 40+ for sensitive gum and teeth. It also has its economy toothbrushes for general oral health care for any age.

Cleene CLIO is available at Mercury Drug, leading supermarkets, drugstores and other retail stores nationwide as well as on all leading ecommerce websites: Shopee, Lazada, and the PHILUSA Online Store.

A product of proudly Filipino company PHILUSA Corporation, Cleene CLIO has been an ardent supporter of this global oral health initiative, especially with oral care given less priority during the pandemic when accessibility to dentists and visits to oral health facilities were challenging at the height of the lockdowns.

Touringkitty is a part of the Mommy Bloggers Philippines Community.

Virtues over virus: A Christmas Essay

By: Ariadne M. Alcantara

Christmas is not just about the decorations and the presents we get each year. There is something much more important than all of those, and it is celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. He came into our world to save us from our sins and lead us to everlasting life. This season is a great way to make ourselves better people and to help others do so as well, and we can by spreading hope, peace, joy, and love — the virtues of the four Advent Candles.

The first candle is hope. Many of us have been affected by fear of a dangerous virus for almost two whole years. In order to help the world rise once more, we all must spread hope and continue to pray and stop the spread of COVID 19. Following health and safety protocols, getting a vaccine, and staying at home can make a small but vital contribution.

The second candle is peace. Each and every one of our lives have been drastically impacted and changed, from our career, school, and everyday life. We must try not to get too overwhelmed by all the bad things happening and maintain peace in ourselves, the family, and the world.

The third candle is joy. It is true that these are very hard and trying times and the only ways we can help are by sympathizing and praying. But even through all of this we have to stay positive and help others be happy, too. Ways of doing so are by singing to our favorite songs, reading, talking to friends — anything to brighten up the day.

And finally, the greatest commandment, love. The Bible says to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). If we love something or someone, then it means something important to us and we will do everything to protect it. This Christmas, let us learn to be more grateful for all of the blessings God has given us, and to learn to love others, too, especially those in need.

If we continue to spread these things, then we will get through every single problem and lead a meaningful life. Merry Christmas to all and happy holidays!!!

Pandemic and beyond with trusted rubbing alcohol

As the world slowly opens up, despite the pandemic still in full force, moms should also be ready. Armed with the right information and the right “tools,” I am assured that my family is always safe and healthy.

With the nationwide vaccination program in full force, Filipinos can slowly enjoy various activities such as more dining options as well as doing physical activities by going to the gym. However, health experts continue to remind everyone to not let their guards down even as we gradually go back to normal. 

As there are reports of new and potentially more contagious variants, everyone must remain vigilant through following established health protocols and getting vaccinated so we can all continue to live safe and prevent the cases from surging again. That’s why when we do essential errands such as buying groceries, exercising outdoors, or simply going outside, disinfecting your hands and any surface you interact with goes a long way to ensure living safely for you and your family.

One way to prevent the spread of the virus is by always carrying a trusted rubbing alcohol brand that contains at least 70& alcohol solution whenever you go outdoors. 

With Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, I am assured that my family is protected faster (kills germs on contact), longer (up to 12 hours) and better (kills 99% of common germs). We are also protected safer (hypoallergenic and moisturizing properties). Defensil is also recommended by the Philippine Society for Microbiology and passed the strictest quality standards of the Philippine Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Skin dryness from too frequent sanitizing will also not be a worry as Defensil has moisturizing properties and is hypoallergenic, giving you one less thing to worry about when going indoors. 

“We are 100% behind the government in their efforts to prevent further spread of the virus. Defensil encourages everyone to remain vigilant now more than ever and do our part in this fight towards eventually resuming our normal way of life by adhering to social Distancing and sanitation protocols, especially when doing essential errands outdoors,” shared Nikko Cruz, Brand Manager of Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol.

For more information on how to stay protected, you may visit the Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol’s Facebook page at facebook.com/defensil.philippines.



Get your Defensil Alcohol in Robinson’s, Puregold, and other leading supermarkets. #LiveSafeNow #ProtectionThatIsReal #DefensilIsopropylAlcohol #MommyBloggersPH Defensil Philippines Mommy Bloggers Philippines

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*Defensil 70% Isopropyl Alcohol was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli or E. coli and Candida albicans

OperaJuan ends 2021 Season with Two-part duo concert

Following the success of its 2021 opener, “At The Movies”, OperaJuan
closes its fourth performance season with yet another special online
concert in collaboration with the Manila Pianos Artist Series: The two-part
duo recital entitled, “Seeing Double”, will feature beloved solos and duets
of the classical and musical theatre genres.

Its first act, “Neri x Michael”, is a presentation of some of the most
enthralling art songs in the world of classical vocal music and will be shared
by soprano and tenor duo, Nerissa De Juan and Michael Del Rosario. The
performance will showcase the perennial compositions of Mendelssohn,
Bellini, Elgar, Boulanger, Hahn, Quilter, and more.

Formally closing this back-to-back song recital is the tenor and baritone
tandem of Nathan Josiah Sasing and Renz Nathaniel Cruz in “Nathan x
Nathan”. Highlighted in the show’s second installment are captivating
musical theatre works of the modern era written by acclaimed songwriters
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Stephen Schwartz, Alan Menken, Stephen
Flaherty & Lynn Ahrens, Marvin Hamlisch, and more.

This exciting event is spearheaded by Manila Pianos Artist Series’ Director,
Richard Sy-Facunda, and OperaJuan’s Artistic Director, Renz Nathaniel
Cruz. Nerissa De Juan and Aindrielle Madelo serves as the show’s
production managers, while Reynaldo “Raki” Gendrano takes on the role of
pianist and music director.

“Seeing Double I: Neri x Michael” will premiere on November 14, 2021,
Sunday, 8pm, while “Seeing Double II: Nathan x Nathan” will premiere on
November 21, 2021, Sunday, 8pm. Both shows will be streamed for free on
YouTube.

Follow the official social media accounts of OperaJuan and the Manila
Pianos Artist Series for more updates:

OperaJuan’s FB: www.facebook.com/OperaJuan
OperaJuan’s IG: @operajuan
Manila Pianos Artist Series’ FB: www.facebook.com/ManilaPianosArtistSeries

The importance of getting a vaccine

New covid 19 variants are rising, and it turns out that these new variants can infect a lot more people at once. Because of this, we must continue to protect ourselves from getting sick, and a way of doing so is by getting a vaccine.

Whether covid vaccine or not, vaccines are essential in giving you extra protection against a sickness. They usually give you a high chance of being immune. But even if we are vaccinated, we must not be careless and still follow health protocols. It is really difficult to get sick, especially in this time of pandemic, so we must do everything we can to stay safe.

Another reason why we must get vaccinated against covid 19 is because we must protect our friends and family. The new covid variants are much more infectious than the original virus, so we must get vaccinated to keep our loved ones safe.

Whatever covid vaccine is available, we must take any opportunity to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and, of course, we must make sure it is approved by our doctors and health workers. It is also important to remember not to judge a vaccine by its brand. Having a vaccine is vital to protect ourselves, and doing this is better than having no vaccine just because you do not like the brand. And of course, we must have the freedom to make this decision and not let others force us.

Still, many people are afraid, so we have to spread truth and hope to others by sharing true news about what is happening around the world, politely reminding others to follow minimum health standards, and to get vaccinated to end the pandemic.

~ Aria