Category: Working Mama

Touringkitty Sings and Travels: Balesin Island Club

Up until now, I still marvel at the thought that I get to do two things I love the most, even beyond marriage and motherhood–singing and traveling.

For my first working trip this year, I was off to a beautiful island called Balesin.

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Balesin is managed by Alphaland Corporation. It is a members-only resort so it was just so lucky for me and my choir team for those two days to be invited to sing for a wedding.

We sang for a Wedding Anniversary, and what was intended to be a wedding by the beach…

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Uh, oh, dark clouds and eventually heavy rain poured over the island.

Was taken inside the chapel.

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The wedding still went well, nonetheless. It was lovely, and well, white! It was the theme for the day.

After which, we spent the rest of the evening by the beach, sans rain. Beach reception!

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Moi, in a blurry selfie of the beach set up.

We rested early and took the entire morning and afternoon the next day for swimming and going around the different themed villages of the island.

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The infinity pool and the Pacific Ocean. No, it doesn't go straight down there, but yes, I was able to touch the waters of both.
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This villa was where we stayed. Blue and white, Santorini look.
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Toscana, an Italian inspired villa, where we had most of the beautiful shots taken. This one by my tenor-friend, Ervin Lumauag.
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While inside a jeep that takes us all around the island, I took this shot of St. Tropez, the French inspired villa.
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This was the Indonesian inspired villa.
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We wish we could have Tapas, but we have to head back so as not to be late for the flight. This was in Costa del Sol, the Spanish inspired villa.

We had fun going around the world in a day!

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And here’s a photo compilation of the trip. Click this link.

Looking forward to more singing trips in the near future.

~ Touringkitty

Manila Workshops: Work at Home Expo 2015

Work at Home Expo 2015.

For some, it seems to be impossible working at home. But it can be done. I do right now.

And you may want to explore that opportunity as well.

Attend the biggest work at home expo happening once a year, organized by Manila Workshops and the WAHMderful Life Community, the Work at Home Expo 2015 on September 26.

This year, there will be more speakers, more talks, more in store for the attendees. Check out the event schedule and registration here.

The Work at Home Expo is like your one-stop shop for the freelancer in you. So, do join this one-day event and be empowered to work, even in the comfort of your own home.

In search of a Mommy bag

What’s your current bag, mommies?

Mine is like this.  

 
And that’s my ONLY bag now. For any outfit regardless of colour, any occasion, any…anything! 

During my college days, I have a collection of bags. Not that much, but enough to switch for any occasion. Now that I’m a mom, I want just one bag for everything, so that I don’t have to switch bags and end up leaving stuff behind. I look for these specific qualities of a bag:

1. Spacious yet not too big. So I could dump in everything–make up kit, personal kit, even change of clothes for the little one. 

2. Sturdy. One which can stand by itself.

3. Straps, lots of it. The bag I have now I can sling on my body and on my shoulders. They should be sturdy too. 

I even hook carabiners onto straps which I use to hook grocery bags or water bottle. 

4. Storage slots or pockets in and outside for easy access. 

5. Spill proof. Against rain and water spills. 

About time to search for a new one, with a more neutral color. I always pass by Celine boutiques and been wanting to check their items. 

Good thing there’s online shopping! CLN handbags are available online at ZALORA Philippines.

What do you look for in buying your bags? 
~Touringkitty

Achieve a WAHMderful Life through this Workshop Series

I realized I have been working at home since college. Teaching voice and piano at our home gave me that confidence to be a teacher (and that extra school baon, too!).

In the past years, I have dabbled in various work at home jobs: teaching music, writing, editing, social media management, choral arranging, blogging. Last year alone, I got short-lived gigs, big one-time gigs, and prestigious ones. I got published in a magazine and in Yahoo.com.ph, too! Amazing I get to do work in the comforts of my home, while looking after my preschooler. I got to squeeze this in between working out of home, as a voice professor in college.

Impossible? You can, too!

WAHMderful-life workshop series for the new (and old) WAHMmie.
WAHMderful-life workshop series for the new (and old) WAHMmie.

Know the ABCs of WAHMming through this power trio of speakers and veteran work at home professionals, Marge Aberasturi, Fitz Villafuerte, and Martine de Luna. Sign up here and don’t forget to input the Referral Code, TKEAWAHM2 so they would know you got the info from Touringkitty.

Good news!  Anyone who is interested in working at home can attend. You read it right, you need not be a mom to attend this!

Start a career in the comforts of your home. You can do it!

 

~ Touringkitty

CCP Hands-on Choral Workshop 2014: Training ground of choral champions

Last October, I was fortunate to be part of the team of trainors for the CCP Hands-on Choral Workshop.

This annual workshop is held on the last week of October.
This annual workshop is held on the last week of October, done in partnership with the Philippine Madrigal Singers.
Some present and alumni members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers were trainors for the five-day workshop. Marivic Llamas, Krystl Buesa, yours truly, Joel Aquino, Paolo Pardo, Bianca Lopez, Mark Carpio.
Giddy people early in the morning: some present and alumni members of the Philippine Madrigal Singers aka trainors. Marivic Llamas, Krystl Buesa, yours truly, Joel Aquino, Paolo Pardo, Bianca Lopez, Mark Carpio.

The workshop is now on its 12th season, and has attracted choral groups and conductors from all over the Philippines as well as other countries. This year, we had a choir from Kuala Lumpur participating in the workshop.

Mark Carpio conducting all participants of the choral workshop. They filled the entire stage!
Mark Carpio conducting all participants of the choral workshop. They filled the entire Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo stage!

This was not the first time for me to join as trainor, but everything seemed new to me this time around.

With the God's Heritage Chorale from Bulacan, the choir I handled back in 2006. Along with Sheen Sanchez, another Madz alumnus.
With the God’s Heritage Chorale from Bulacan, the choir I handled back in 2006. Along with Sheen Sanchez, another Madz alumnus. Photo credit: Churchill Garcia-Natoc.

This choir joined the workshop again this year, with some familiar faces and new ones who got to experience the Madz training through the workshop. I guess they find something good and new in each workshop that they’ve participated three times already!

Early this year, the Cultural Center of the Philippines called itself as a Center for Choral Performance, where major choral events are lined up in the Center until next year, the highlight being the second Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Festival in July 2015.

This year’s choral workshop was made even special because of several factors. Aside from the fact that it had been in hiatus for two years (there were no choral workshops held in 2012 and 2013 because of Madz trips abroad–incidentally, the years I worked for the Center), the workshop also featured a special Artist Talk by no less than Mr. Ryan Cayabyab, who created a new arrangement of one of his songs, premiered by the participating choral groups.

In Mr. C’s talk, he took the audience back to the days when fate had prepared the road for his musical journey, as a son of an opera singer who did not encourage him to take the same career his mother took, as a young UPIS student who was just tinkering on the piano, and as a teenager who would try out different careers–from winning a painting contest to applying as a disc jockey, and eventually getting the biggest gig that paved the way for his musical career. His story was unbelievable, humble, yet very inspiring.

The participants were fortunate to premiere a Mr. C work, Ikaw pa rin ang mahal ko, the theme song of Sa Ngalan ng Ina, originally sung by another OPM hero, Basil Valdez. Here’s a sampling from the Madz Facebook page:

Choirs from various schools, communities, parishes, and companies joined the workshop. Individual conductors, or choirless conductors as they called themselves, who want to be better conductors learned through the sessions with Madz Choirmaster himself, Mark Carpio.

The choirs assigned to me were the MBPS Chorale of Manulife and Musica Chorus of Quiapo Church.
The choirs assigned to me were the MBPS Chorale of Manulife and Musica Chorus of Quiapo Church.

The trainors were assigned two choirs each, who each sang a song of their preference, and one song which came from the trainor and will be performed together. I chose What the World needs now is love, a really simple danceable arrangement of the Bacharach song with piano. As they’ve easily learned the piece, I also gave short pieces as some sort of exercise for them.

I was surprised to know that trainors will also conduct, as I cannot remember doing that during the previous workshop I was part of. I even confirmed this to Sir Mark, to my surprise and excitement. It was my first time to conduct on the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo stage!

What. An. Experience. To conduct at the CCP Main Theater! With Musica Chorus and MBPS Chorale. MBPS' conductor, Ms. Orquias, assisted on piano.
What. An. Experience. To conduct at the CCP Main Theater! With Musica Chorus and MBPS Chorale. MBPS’ conductor, Ms. Oquias, assisted on piano.
Sir Mark handing over the certificate to me. It's as if I've graduated all over again! Thank you, thank you.
Ninong Mark handing over the certificate to me. It’s as if I’ve graduated all over again! Thank you, thank you.

The choral groups may have different backgrounds and reasons for participating, some of them have mentioned this during the opening ceremonies. But to me, they are definitely champions by just being a good solid group, thirsting for knowledge that will help improve themselves and their choirs as they sing for God and for their schools, churches, companies, and communities. They’ve worked hard for those five days, which seemed really short, but all did and went well.

For us, trainors, nothing is more gratifying than seeing the choirs take what you’ve taught them to heart. We’ve witnessed this during the culminating activity. And as we look back at the first day we met them, a lot of good had happened. We’re successful enough to shared a piece of the Madz way. And we hope we could share this to more choristers in the generations to come.

Huge thanks to the Madz family for the opportunity to work with these great choristers and for what seemed to be a reunion of sorts among us alumni especially during break times. Likewise to my former workmates at the CCP and the Artist Training Division for being a venue for these choirs to create more wonderful choral music.

*All photos, save for one, are from the CCP, as posted in their Artist Training Division Facebook Page. Follow them on Facebook and be updated with their upcoming projects.

~ Touringkitty

Mom’s Basket: A basketful of stories through cookies

Sharing is caring.

It all started with sharing her homemade lactation cookies to someone who is a total stranger, but was in dire need of foods which will help increase her milk supply.

Dea Macachor-Mesa is the mom behind Mom’s Basket, her small home business which she started last year. Visit her Instagram feed and read actual testimonials of moms who have benefited through her yummy, healthy, lactation cookies.

 

Mom's Basket logo (taken from her Facebook Page).
Mom’s Basket logo (taken from her Facebook Page).

I got her to answer some questions (thanks, Dea!) for us to know how she started and what does she plan to do with her blooming business.

Touringkitty (TK): Is Mom’s Basket your fulltime business? Any other ventures/jobs?

Mom’s Basket (MB): This is just my sideline. I’ve been working full time as a writer for a US-based website for almost three years now.

TK: Why the name Mom’s Basket? How did you start it?

MB: A few days after I gave birth, my mom came home from the wet market carrying a bag full of veggies and meat; she planned on making a lot of soup to help increase my milk supply. I remember the feeling of reassurance I got from seeing her come home with all those ingredients for me. That day came back to me while I was thinking of a name for the cookies. Okay, she actually used a green SM ecobag, but Mom’s Ecobag didn’t have the right ring to it, so Mom’s Basket it is.

I started baking my own lactation cookies when my daughter turned 6 months old. My milk supply dwindled as soon as she started eating solids. I always made extra for my sisters-in-law and a couple of close friends. One day, a mommy posted in the Breastfeeding Pinays Facebook group desperately asking for help on how to increase her supply for her premature baby who was still in the NICU. Since I had a lot of extra cookies that day, I offered to send her some. That mommy posted about the cookies on the BFP forum, and that day I got a lot of private messages asking me if I took orders. I replied to every one to say that I don’t and gave them the recipe instead. At that time, I could barely meet my work requirements because I was too busy with the baby. However, I thought of nothing else that night. I thought to myself, “Why not?” The very next day, I set up a Facebook page, did costing on the cookies, and messaged all of those moms back to say I was ready to take orders. They were some of my first customers. That was October last year.

TK: What products do you currently offer?

MB: I have classic oatmeal (P299), chocolate (P339) and chocolate chip (P339), and red velvet (P339). They come in packs of 28 pieces that are good for 1 week. I ship nationwide.

(My personal favorites are red velvet and chocolate chip!)

TK: Plan for the product for 2014? What should we watch out for?

MB: As far as my offerings go, these are probably it. My husband keeps telling me to expand to other baked products, but limiting my product list to just cookies means my production is more efficient, there’s less cleanup to do afterwards, and there are fewer ingredients to stock. I will probably come up with limited edition flavors every now and then because I like to experiment with new cookie recipes. Personally, I would like to be trained as a lactation peer counselor within the year. Majority of my customers are mothers like myself who have issues with their milk supply, and I would love to get the training to be able to support them and help them out as best as I can. I’m in the process of registering my business.

TK: How do you juggle motherhood and the business?

MB: I get by with a LOT of help from my family. My husband, my mother, and my siblings take turn watching over my baby girl so I can do some writing and bake cookies. I have no yaya, I don’t want to get one, so I have to rely on my family to help me.

Also, I have to prioritize, and at the end of the day, my baby is my #1 priority. Many times, I’ve had to postpone deliveries because I’m not able to bake or buy ingredients. It helps that my customers are all mothers and are very understanding. But I make it a rule to always, ALWAYS be honest with my customers if ever I won’t be able to deliver.

TK: Top three tips for breastfeeding working moms?

MB: 1. Don’t give up. Breastfeeding and working are not mutually exclusive. You can accomplish both if you’re determined to do it.

2. Get all the help you can get. Involve your husband in your breastfeeding journey so he can support you. Connect with other breastfeeding mothers so you can also get support from them.

3. Learn how to hand express.

This is a sample pack with all the flavors. Thanks for sending some, Dea! The whole family loved it.
This is a sample pack with all the flavors. Thanks for sending some, Dea! The whole family loved it.

~ Touringkitty

Visit her Facebook Page and Instagram account to know more about her products, to order, and to read the many testimonials of moms!

Find your bliss through a weekend retreat

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Dear Woman,

Have you found your bliss?

Make it Blissful and the Exuberant Life might be of help!

Join the Life Bliss Weekend on May 24-25 at Casa Luminaria in Lipa, Batangas. Spend two full days of finding your bliss, knowing yourself more, in a beautiful garden backdrop.

Learn more about the event here: http://makeitblissful.com/life-bliss-weekend-a-creative-living-retreat-for-women/

Invest in something that will give you another perspective in life, work, and the things that matter.

 

~ Touringkitty

Touring tales: Pasinaya 2013

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Before, I was part of Pasinaya as a singer of one of the Center’s Resident Companies, the Philippine Madrigal Singers. For the past two years, I was behind the scenes as stage manager. It was tough work, coordinating with 13 different groups through email, phone calls, and endless text messages to put up the Little Theater shows.

So please catch this one-day multi-arts festival tomorrow, February 3. We’re celebrating Chinese Filipino culture, in time for the year of the Snake. Check out details here

See you at the CCP!

~ Touringkitty

Sharing my bit of pride today

In both English and Filipino vernaculars, pride could mean good or bad. I did research as I’m doing this post, and found out that pride is positive according to some philosophers, and negative to some religions! It can even be a sin.

But of course, we’ll be talking about the positive pride, which I felt today!

I should just have this tweeted (follow me!), but I want to share the whole story. So, I must not end tonight without telling you this: I played with some members of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra today.

Repeat: I PLAYED WITH THE PPO TODAY!!!

I’m so giddy, happy, honored, and privileged to play piano with some PPO members–Ms. Bonnie on Viola, Ms. Vicky on cello, and Sir Hercules on flute. It was actually for the First Friday Mass at work, held at the Main Theater Lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines!

Wow. It was a dream to play with an orchestra, but I don’t know any orchestral instrument. This experience, though, is far better than none!

With just an hour before the mass, we practiced the songs and I felt so blessed during the mass, especially during our playing. I mean, who am I to play with these great people?! Thanks to the training I got since grade school, reading notes and chords is a breeze!

Ms. Bonnie also told me that it’s a blessing that she was able to chance upon me at our office. The usual pianists– my boss and one from another department– were both absent. Ya, it was a blessing for me and a great honor! I used to just sing with the orchestra–as soloist and as a chorister, but now, I played with them, and for Him!

And that ends my story of pride.

Have some “pride” story to share? Let Elmo and the Goo Goo Dolls inspire you to share yours!

~ Touringkitty