Author: Em Alcantara

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

Voting for the elections

The 2022 elections are coming up here in the Philippines, and many people are planning to vote. But other than voting, we must ensure that we vote wisely and look for the right people to lead our country.

First of all, a good leader must be a good example to others. If someone has a sufficient amount of kindness, compassion, generosity, courage, and leadership, then that person will succeed in a lot of things and is someone who we should think of voting for. We, too, must learn from that person and live a dignified life as well.

Second, a good leader must make the right decisions for the country. If one of the candidates wants to improve things like sheltering homeless people, preventing crimes, or making sure people are being treated equally, then they can be trusted to lead the Philippines. On the other hand, if someone just wants to make these problems worse, then it shall greatly affect the nation.

Finally, a good leader must have proper reasons for wanting to join the elections. An example of these reasons is helping our country improve and prosper, and we should keep this in mind, too.

In conclusion, we can all make a contribution to build a better Philippines. Even if some of us are unable to vote yet, we can also help by praying for and giving guidance to others who can vote. We all have a role to play in these times, so let us not waste this opportunity to help our country, for this can affect not only us, but the whole nation and our future.

A, 11 years old

Ariadne turned 11!

We have an eleven year old! We just blinked and suddenly Aria is 11. Where did time actually go?!

We always ask Aria what she would like to do for her birthdays, or at least make her part of the planning when she was smaller. This time, everything for her celebration she planned by herself, and we just executed and supported her decisions.

On the first of August, when the hard lockdown was once again in effect, we asked her what she wanted to do. The first thing she had in mind: a birthday concert! And that she wanted to play violin, me play piano, and daddy play guitar for her.

She also asked if she can have a party for her friends online, similar to what we did last year. We cannot do this on her actual birthday, aside from it being her concert night, it was a schoolday, so we had it done the Sunday before her birthday.

Daddy chimed in the idea of sending food to her friends, so we did, with the help of Mcdonald’s McDelivery Send to Many. And since it was our first time to do this, we did it late, with some orders being made on the day of the party, but nevertheless, all orders were sent out successfully! Everyone had food to eat while the games were ongoing!

The party was a hit, kids from our different communities got to know each other and played with each other. Each of us prepared and facilitated the games – Pictionary via Zoom whiteboard, Alphabet Soup, and Kahoot, which Aria facilitated and was a big hit, that some kids played several more rounds after the party. It was so fun!

Our theme was Japan, as Aria’s latest favourite is Rurouni Kenshin, which she and her dad watched on Netflix on weekend (sometimes weekday) evenings after dinner, while I was still attending workshops or working.

BIRTHDAY CONCERT

On the day of her birthday, we had online mass and her favourite food delivered. Mommy took a day off from the kitchen! After lunch we began setting up and preparing for the highlight of her birthday–the concert!

The repertoire consisted of violin music and songs. She chose her most loved Suzuki pieces, and songs she sung with Daddy playing guitar or singing with her. We had to perform something with the three of us, so we decided on You raise me up by Josh Groban. So proud of how she put the repertoire together, and emceed a bit as well.

To make the concert more meaningful, we put up a donation drive, where viewers may donate any amount for Aria’s chosen charities. She chose Hospicio de San Jose, Philippine General Hospital, the Trappist Monastery in Guimaras, and the Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

She truly enjoyed performing! Far off from when I was eleven. I mean, I have played for piano recitals, even danced the Binasuan by myself at that age, but performing for me back then was more like a chore. Aria, meanwhile, enjoys performing and rehearsing for it.

I am just so proud of this little lady, how she’s thrived especially with this situation we have. Her creativity, positivity, and religiosity sparked all the more, and we, her parents, are just in awe.

Watch her concert here: https://youtu.be/DVDSX_8kMS8