Thursday, August 20, 2015

Enjoying the Art of Taking Time with Swift Premium Corned Beef and Hand Lettering

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The company of friends. A sumptuous, specially-designed Spanish dinner menu by Chef Chin Gallegos of Pio's Kitchen. Intimate, hand lettering session with popular hand-letterer Abbey Sy. All these were served up to us in one evening by Swift Premium.

Pio's Kitchen, located at Sct. Reyes corner Sct. Fuentabella (in front of Piagetian Learning Center) looks like one of the residential houses in the vicinity. But unknown to many of us, it had been turned into a private restaurant by the Gallegos couple, with Chef Chin holding intimate events here by arrangement.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Scholastic Readers Cup helps build a nation of readers and gives recognition to academe's heroes of education

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A nation's global standing can be measured in many ways. Some will look at economic data; others will gauge a nation's infrastructure progress. But there is another way to check just how far advanced a nation's citizens are, and that is LITERACY.

Coming from a family of bookworms (from my Mom to my siblings and now, from me to my kids), it is pretty hard to imagine NOT loving to read. But the sad truth is - in a country where even the most basic of needs are not easily met - getting kids from lower-income families to read books is not easy. On the other extreme of the spectrum, because of easy access to video games and social media, those who can afford to be in the digital space are more preoccupied online than with a book. My boys are gamers so I can fully empathize with parents wondering how to get their kids to pick up a book.

There are 2 clear instances where a book series captivated my kids' reading interest.

The first was the Magic School Bus which began as a TV animation series. When the series saw print, we began collecting them like crazy (I actually still have them up to now, very reluctant to let them go), and even my sister-in-law gifted us with Magic School Bus PC DVDs when she found out the kids loved the series.

The second book series, one that took the world by storm, happened when my boys' reading began to wane -- the Harry Potter series. As soon as a new book came out, all 4 kids were already bargaining with each other as to who got to read first. My youngest son read and re-read each of these books voraciously and became the family expert on even the minutest details about Harry and his friends.

Guess who the common publisher of these 2 book series was? SCHOLASTIC.

Scholastic is the world's largest publisher and distributor of over 600 original titles annually and many of these are popular assigned readings in all levels in schools and one of their more recent programs, The Readers Cup, is an interschool competition among educators to get their young students to read as much as they could. The Readers Cup is a tribute to the countless teachers, librarians, principals and school administrators whose efforts result in more readers and learners in schools.

The Scholastic Readers Cup awards
Reading brings a lot of benefits and, for me, is the great equalizer for the lower-income groups. It impacts all areas of academic achievement, leads to higher student achievement, make children better readers, and gain higher content knowledge and better school performance.

Participating educational institutions used Scholastic's Assessment and Enrichment Program (AEP) and Independent Reading Program (IRP) to keep tabs of their students' reading progress. After finishing a book, students would take a short online comprehension quiz. Their books would be counted once they passed the quizzes. The  competition ran from February to April  2015. And it was time to announce the winners.

For 2015, the second year of the Readers Cup, a number of educational institutions garnered awards. I was running through the list of institutions (too many to list down here) as well as the statistics on how many books each student read and I was truly amazed.

Look at the slide below, for example. First place went to OSJ Holy Family Academy where students read an average of 86 books EACH!!! 

Some other institutions that received awards were OSJ - Sto. Rosario Academy, St. Thomas Academy, Dr. Yanga's Colleges Inc., St. Paul College, Balayan, Iloilo Scholastic Academy, OSJ - Saint Joseph Institute, Saint Mary's Angels College of Valenzuela, OSJ - Saint James Academy, OSJ - Joseph Marello Institute, Sta. Teresa College, Notre Dame of Greater Manila, MGC New Life Academy, and Falcon School. There are so many more such institutions around the country who likewise received awards from Scholastic Asia President, Frank Wong.


Truly, educators are heroes in their field. If we can succeed in raising a nation of readers, this country's next generation will be in a much better place than the current one. Fritzie Salem Cruz, General Manager of Scholastic in the Philippines, says: “Our teachers, librarians, principals and school admistrators are doing a fine job at helping us raise a nation of readers, and we should all be grateful to them. The Scholastic Readers Cup is just one way of giving recognition to these noble educators. They are the real heroes in our quest for a more globally competitive Philippines. We hope to continue this tradition every year. By shining the spotlight on these individuals and institutions, we hope to inspire other educators to raise more and better readers and good learners too."

More on Scholastic's Literacy Programs

Scholastic Literacy Pro - This is an online monitoring program which gives teachers accurate and timely reports on their students' progress and performance. It promotes reading through an individualized reading plan, complete with teacher reports. With Literacy Pro, students' Lexile Reading Proficiency -- a measurement showing if a student is reading on-grade level, above or below -- allows teachers to plan how to develop further their reading skills by providing them with the right books that would encourage them to read.

Students can choose their genre interests inside Literacy Pro

A sample question - one of several to determine one's Lexile Reading Proficiency

Scholastic Literacy Pro Library - This is an ebook library which gives readers of different proficiency levels unlimited access to more than 650 fiction and nonfiction ebooks. 150 new titles are added every 3 months with LitPro quizzes for all titles.

MGC New Life Academy in Bonifacio Global City and De La Salle-Zobel in Alabang, Muntinlupa City are among the first educational institutions to implement the LitPro programs from Scholastic.

PR1ME Mathematics - This is a world-class program based on the teaching and learning practices of Singapore, Republic of Korea and Hong Kong where the pedadogical approach and instructional design features are used. These countries have always been known to produce the best mathematics students who performed consistently better than most other students. By introducing the techniques here, our mathematics students will gain a great advantage.

Some features of PR1ME Mathematics:

* Teaches problem solving - The learning-by-doing concept is used. Problem solving then becomes a process the student works through, not just the end goal of learning mathematics.

* Develops a higher order of thinking - Students are able to plan their approach to a given problem, monitor their comprehension, and evaluate their progress.

* Effective, measurable, diagnostic - Students develop conceptual mastery and procedural fluency; teachers have the tools to evaluate progress and identify remedial areas.

* Incorporates professional learning into the curriculum framework - Teachers are provided with a systematic, comprehensive program so that they can spend more time attending to their students' needs.

* Uses technology to deliver innovative instructional content - The program can be installed on a computer or accessed online through Scholastic Learning Zone.

For more info on Scholastic and its products and programs, email or contact (02) 944READ (7323). You can find them online also here:


Sunday, August 9, 2015

What it was like to make a Yellow Cab Dear Darla pizza + an extended promo from Citi Credit Cards

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I can now say that I have prepared my very own Yellow Cab Dear Darla pizza!!!

It's true! One of our family's favorite pizza brands, Yellow Cab, gave me this chance. They made me don an apron, wear a hair net, put on gloves, and make my own healthy Dear Darla pizza!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Introducing…a rebranded My Starbucks Rewards, new Starbucks cards, and lots of promos!

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The second half of 2015 is starting off with a lot of new and exciting stuff from Starbucks. Hold your breath because July 28, 2015 is when they introduce a whole range of new items - a rebranded My Starbucks Rewards program, 4 new Starbucks cards (including the second Pilipinas commemorative card, and a slew of promos that go with the launch.

Whew! Let's get to them one at a time. Read all the way down to see all the promos waiting for you!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Alpabasa is the winner of the 2015 Pharmaton Life Changers' Challenge

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Several months ago, I attended the launch of the search for Pharmaton's newest Life Changers. Pharmaton was looking to award PhP 1 million to the best social enterprise idea that would have a significant life-changing impact on the community it aimed to serve.

Recently, I attended its Finals Night and watched as 9 inspiring social enterprise groups made their final pitches to the judges before the final decision was made. That honor, with PhP 1 million seed money for their social enterprise idea, went to Oras Na Para sa Alpabasa - a group of 3 young lady educators with a huge vision but needing funding support. Congratulations!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Review: Cleaning with the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop

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I clean my own room and for health purposes, I try to walk around barefoot as often as I can. So it is really important to me that my floors are kept clean. Recently, I was sent a new, innovative kind of mop to try - the Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop.

I've actually tried a couple of different types and brands over the years. I started with those cloth mopheads but they easily tore off and thinned out. Besides, they were not exactly absorbent. Most times, it would just make turn the floor dirt into wet clumps but it would transfer the clumps from one place to another as you moved the mop back and forth. I needed a broom to sweep up all the damp clumps to finish off the cleaning.

Next, I shifted to a more expensive kind, the one that had sponge-like mop bristles. This was more dirt-absorbent and came with a plastic bucket. But still, after a while, it would thin out as the sponge strands would come off due to wear and tear.

The Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop which arrived at home was HUGE!!!

My first thought: It looks like my vacuum cleaner!