What Hari Raya really means to the Muslim Community


Ramadan is a fasting month, and Hari Raya Aidilfitri signals the end of Ramadan. Hari Raya is not only a festive occasion for Muslim to be happy about because of delectable food, but there is a more important reason than that! Hari Raya is a time to ask for forgiveness, reconcile and renew relationship with others and strengthen their bonds amongst relatives and friends.


“Day of Celebration” is the literal meaning of “Hari Raya”. “Selamat Hari Raya”, which means “Happy Eid”, is the main greeting used in Malaysia and Singapore. “Maaf zahir dan batin” which means “I seek forgiveness (from you) physically and spiritually” is another greeting that we also hear during this festive season.

Today, we were invited by our colleague, Teacher Ariffah, in their house. Malay has one month of fasting, and one month of celebration to end Ramadan. On the first and second week of Hari Raya, they open their house to their family and relatives while on the third and fourth week of Hari Raya, they invite their friends in their house to have a sumptuous meal together.

It was a nice gathering today with Teacher Ariffah as our gracious host! Thank you, Teacher Ariffah and husband, for inviting us and opening your beautiful home to us!

It is always great to learn other’s culture. Learning about other’s culture is an amazing and priceless experience as you get to have a deeper understanding of how other people live.

No matter what our race or nationality is, we are all the same… We are all human! It does not matter whether you are Malay, Chinese, Indian or whatever your nationality is… we are all human beings… We are one! We all must live in peace and harmony!


Selamat Hari Raya! Maaf zahir dan batin!






Three things to do when you feel suffocated at work

No matter how driven you are and committed to the world you have chosen, there will come to a point wherein you will be overwhelmed by the heap of work you have to accomplish, and that makes you reach the highest peak of exhaustion. Worst comes to worst, it leads to unhapiness when you realize that you are no longer meeting the standards or producing the best results you are aiming for. You are feeling not happy, too, because you neglect to complete the tasks you have set for yourself.

What should be done in case you are suffering from exhaustion at work? Remember, G…O…D… GOD which stands for…

G – Give yourself a time to be alone. Drop all the things you need to do. Being alone will provide you tranquility. Introspect. Is it still the life you want to live? Are you still walking towards the achievement of your goals? If yes, then, go and breathe! Have a break. Your work will never leave you. It will always be there waiting for you until you are energized and ready to get back and sit and finish them all.

O – Out to a new place. Seeing a new environment which you have not been to gives a relaxing feeling. Sometimes, you are tired or even unhappy because of your routinary activities. Try something new! See something new! Being in a place entirely different from what you always see makes you recharged. This will make you gain back the strength and energy to do the things you need to accomplish in your work.

D – Date your friends. Nothing can beat it to be out with good friends. It drops down the stress level when you are with them laughing together and doing the things which all of you enjoy.

We are like computers. When a computer has too many tasks, it hangs. What do we do with it? We shut it down, and restart again. Just like us, when we have a lot of things to get done, we need to suspend our work for a while, gain the strength that we need, and restart again.


Behind every great person is a great mother: Famous business leaders who were inspired by their mothers

I came across this article published in Forbes about famous business leaders who attributed their success to their mothers. Let’s know some of them and see how they were inspired by their mothers!

Image via Google

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, credited her mother as the most influential role model in her life. Her mother made her feel that she could reach for the stars. If she failed along the way, it is okay. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a stepping stone to success”, her mother would say.

Image via Google

Kat Cole, Chief Operations Officer of Cinnabon, received an assurance from her mother. When she was presented with an opportunity to grow into management ranks from being a Hooters waitress, she did not believe in herself and was afraid to step out of her comfort zone. Her mother encouraged her and said, “You can do anything and I’m expecting you to do everything”.

Image via Google

Bill Gates was inspired by his mother to see the bigger picture. On his wedding day, his mother wrote, “From those to whom much is given, much is expected”. Gates’ mother “pressed her son” to get into philanthropy after Microsoft’s stock made Gates wealthy. Eventually, Gates began a program at Microsoft to raise money for the United Way.

It is true indeed that behind every great person is a great mother! Mothers are always there to inspire, assure and directs their children to discover themselves and be great at the field they chose!
Cheers to all the great mothers in the world!

A mom who chose to raise a son with cerebral palsy; son now in the world’s top university

Probably, you have already read about this story. The first time I read this story was last Tuesday, 15 May from the South China Morning Post. Then, I encountered the same story last Friday, 18 May from the SgAsianParent website.

This story brought me back some memories. We had a family friend who had a daughter with cerebral palsy. She could not walk and talk just like how a normal person walks and talks. It’s because people with cerebral palsy have a problem with body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Also, cerebral palsy affects their fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. She would sit on a wheelchair and she needed assistance doing day to day activities. Because of her condition, she was not able to go to school.


A Chinese boy (or now a man) named Ding had a different story. He had cerebral palsy. Her mother, Zou, was advised by the doctor to give him up because he would be mentally retarded. The father agreed with the doctor and told Zou that their son would be a burden to their family. Amidst the father’s decision, Zou was still persistent to save Ding even if it cost her marriage. Soon, they were divorced. To survive, she took up several jobs – a full-time position at a college in Wuhan, China and part time jobs as a protocol trainer and insurance seller. Though she was busy with her job, she did not forget her responsibility as a mother. In her free time, she regularly took Ding to rehabilitation sessions. She would massage his stiff muscles. Also, she would play games and puzzles with him to improve his intelligence. From the very start, Zou was very strict with his son and insisted on him to overcome his disabilities.

ding 1

Zou’s sacrifices had paid off! Ding graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Peking University’s Environmental Science and Engineering School in 2011 and enrolled for a master’s degree at the university’s International Law School. He worked for two years before furthering his studies at the US Ivy League Harvard University last year. You are awesome, Ding! Good job! And most of all, excellent job to your mother Zou!

A tribute to a mother who supported her family with a Teacher 1 salary

Fourteen years ago, the salary of a teacher in the Philippines was around P10, 000 a month. We were that family who survived in that amount of money. It could even go lower! If a teacher had loans, the money she could get would go as low as P3, 000.

The Sacrifices


My mother was a public high school teacher; my father did not have a stable income. Basically, we were living with a Teacher 1 salary. We are four children in the family. When my older sister was in fourth year college in PUP Quezon, I was on my third year in UP Diliman and my brother was a freshman in PUP Sta Mesa (then in San Beda and transferred later on in Ateneo de Naga). Given the fact that we needed to pay for monthly accommodation, food and allowance, how would a P10, 000 salary or may be even less suffice the expenses of our family?


It was not easy to raise four children, provide their needs and make sure they finish their studies till college with little amount of money. But, my mom was able to do that! She was able to send us to university in spite of financial difficulty that we had at that time. She had undergone a lot of sacrifices so that we would have what we have today. Luckily, her hard work paid off! Now, my sister works in the Accounting department of an American company, I am a preschool teacher in Singapore, my brother is Operations Manager of a call center company and managing Atlas Finder Travel and Tours, his own travel agency, while my youngest sister works in HR department of an American company. This we owe to the extraordinary mother we have!

The Party


The hard work and sacrifices of a mother cannot be paid. But, as a sign of gratitude for having a wondrous mother, we threw a birthday surprise for her. When she retired this year, we surprised her of a birthday party at Romulo Cafe in Bel-Air, Makati. We did it so secretly that she thought we forgot her birthday.


The Encomium

To my mother, I witnessed your uphill battle and sacrifices in leading us to have a better life. We cannot reach this, we cannot have what we have now if you did not face all the tribulations. You are the epitome of an amazing mother one want to have. I thank you for standing strong and courageous during those times we needed you most. Know that, at this time, you have additional four mighty children who can stand with you in facing all life adversities. I am very blessed to have you, we are very blessed to have you! Happy, happy Mother’s Day! I love you, we love you beyond words!

Behind every great person is a great mother!(4)

How an OFW mother raises her five children: A mother’s day special

As a former Family Life and Child Development student of the University of the Philippines Diliman, I studied about children and what affects their development. It is not new to me the effects of labor migration in family relationships and dynamics. Most of the times, it is the children who are affected since they need to deal with the absence of one parent or both. If you watched the movie “Anak”, there you have seen the negative effects of parents working overseas to children.

When I worked in Cebu, I met Mrs Mia Fe Feliciano. She is a nurse in the US and is married to a high-rank military official in the Philippines. I was then one of the private tutors of her younger children so I had close relationships with her kids. The Feliciano children – Paolo, Karl, Matt, Kaela and Miggy – are brilliant and talented. In spite of coming from an affluent family, they are kind and humble kids.


I was amazed by how Ma’am Mia assumes her responsibility as a mother from afar. Every night, she would call her children and speak to them over the phone to ask how things were going. The webcam was also on so that she would be able to see what her children were doing. At least once a year or even more, she would go back to Philippines and spend vacation with the whole family either in the country or abroad. What she does as a mother is inspiring!

And so today, as we celebrate Mother’s Day, I requested Ma’am Mia to share with us her secrets in raising her five wonderful children despite being far away from them. (Well, she is may be far in terms of location, but not far in terms of being a loving mother to her children!) I am happy that she granted this interview! I hope you will get some tips on child rearing straight from an OFW mother herself. Here you go…

You came from a well-off family – your father is a lawyer and your mother is a doctor. What made you decide to work abroad? How long have you been working outside Philippines?

I took up nursing as preparatory for med school. But then, I was the only one in the family denied of a US visa because I was still a nursing student that time. This drove me to make nursing as my career with a goal of getting a working visa.

I was on my way to the US when I met my future husband then. He was an intelligence officer who wanted to marry me. Despite that, I pursued my American dream but it lasted for 2 years. I decided to go home to get married. We started a rattan business and we had my 3 boys. The business fell apart. My eldest son Paolo just started to go to school. I did not want to rely on my parents so I decided to move back to the United States.

In a nutshell, I worked in the US in 1993 till Feb 1995. Went home to get married and had my 3 boys Paolo, Karl, Matt. I came back to the US in 2000 until present and had my daughter Kaela and Miggy the youngest.

What was your family’s reaction when you decided to work in the US? Were they against it or were they in favor of it?

My family was supportive of my decision as they have always been. My husband of course did not agree but I convinced him that it was the best decision. I cannot have my family suffer in dire need when the opportunity to provide them with a good life is just at my fingertip. I wanted to prove to everyone that I’m not just this little spoiled person I guess.

There are some parents who think twice of going abroad because they do not want to leave their children. They are apprehensive of working abroad thinking that their children might become delinquent. What can you say about that?

I had that fear as well but at that time our financial situation was our biggest problem so I decided to solve that first. My greatest fear was  always not being able to provide the needs of the kids. My goal has always been to be able to provide my kids a life like mine. So I was coming back here to work and bring my family when the visa allows. But with my husband’s career and believing on what he does, I have decided to keep the kids with him and the rest is history.


Your children are studying in prestigious schools. Your eldest son Paolo has finished Business Management at Ateneo de Manila University, Karl is in De La Salle University and the rest of your children are studying in Centre for International Education. They are intelligent and respectful children. I am curious how you raise up such lovely children despite the distance. What was your secret? How do you ensure that your children are well-brought up given the fact that you are far away?


Communication was the most import thing for me. I have always addressed my children individually according to their needs and wants. I made my children understand why I had to be in the United States depending on their level of understanding. Example when they were young I said I’m here so I can buy them toys. I did not say because I have to pay up the debt. Technology was a big help. And of course my husband and family’s support was the biggest factor.

My husband made sure that they were able to visit me here. This provided us with an opportunity for quality vacation. Being able to bring them to Disneyland was the highlight of their young life. I made photo albums of our adventure out of hobby. I later discovered that these albums were utilized by my husband to keep the kids connected with me. I guess it reminded them of a happy place with me.


I’m also very thankful that I have a very supportive mother and two sisters, Ilang and Golda. They visit my family in Cebu from Pagadian and spend time with my children. In my absence, they are willing to be there for my kids unconditionally.

When I’m home, I always have a family forum which includes the yaya’s. I make everyone speak up for all their concerns and complaints. All the issues are brought out in an open manner and we try to address them the best we can. I try my best to follow through even when I’m here. The kids know they are accountable. I stay firm and strict with them. I am lucky to have very caring staff.

One of my few famous quotes with the kids are:

  • “Just because I’m not there does not mean I’ll go easy on you guys. When I say NO it means NO”.
  • “Sometimes I have to be mean to be kind to you”  This is borrowed from my mom.
  • “Mommy never bluffs.”

This is my final question. What is the advice you can give to other OFW mothers and to those mothers aspiring to work abroad regarding family life and children upbringing?

To communicate. Listen and Observe. Ask around and believe on the observation of others. Do not be defensive about your kids. Take the observation as an opportunity to learn about that side of your child. The best feedback is in school. Usually when there is a change in grades or attitude, there is issue. Dig deep to find out what the issue is all about. Then address it with a no blame attitude. Make your love and support be known to your child. Show your love at all times. And stay positive.


When you are physically home, make it count. Make them feel that they are the priority and not anybody else. Do not be afraid to say no and mean it when you do. Just make sure they understand why you said no. Have rules at home and make sure it is imposed. Make the children be accountable at all times with their action. Follow up and follow through.

Avoid comparison between siblings. Address them in their level of understanding. Each style and manner is definitely different from each child. This I have discovered. What is effective in one child can be not effective in the other one. That’s why it’s important to study and learn their behavior. Nothing is perfect so don’t put too much expectations. But always be supportive. Do your best and believe on your kid’s greatest potential. Be sensitive to their needs. Give them what they want and not what you want them to have. Within reasons of course. Never stop making them understand.

Be the person your kid needs you to be at that significant moment. Meaning be a mom, a friend, a teacher and even a punisher when that moment calls for it. 

Allow the kids to talk and really listen to what they are saying. Sometimes it’s not even the words. I don’t know, Teach. I’m just lucky to have great loving kids despite the distance. I do ask them if they mind me being away. They usually say “You’re not really mommy. You’re always here”.

Indeed, your children are correct! You may be physically absent, but your presence as a mother is and will always be there!… That ends our interview with Mrs Feliciano! I would like to sincerely thank her for sharing with us some tips on what we can do to strengthen family relationships despite distance!

From this interview, we can take a lot of points:

Take-away #1: Let your child understand why you need to work abroad. State it in the level that they can understand. For example, instead of saying “paying debt”, Mrs Feliciano told her young children that time… because she needs “to buy toys” for them.

Take-away #2: Maximize the use of technology. Mrs Feliciano emphasizes the role of communication in maintaining relationships. With technology becoming ubiquitous, distance is no longer a barrier.

Take-away #3: Have a good network of support. Mrs Feliciano identifies having her husband, mother, two sisters, “yaya” (nannies) and other caring staff as the biggest factor in raising up well-brought up children. She shared that she conducts family forum (joined by yaya and the kids) so that they will be able to raise their concerns and have solutions to those issues. She also stresses the importance of listening to teacher’s feedback in school and act on it when there are changes in children’s behavior or grades.

Take-away #4: Spend quality time together. Mrs Feliciano’s family will either visit her in the US or she will visit them in the Philippines and make sure that every second counts!

Take-away #5: Be a hands-on mom; know what is happening and address right away if there are any issues. Mrs Feliciano will ask around how her children are doing and find out more if there are problems. Even though she is far away, she ensures that she knows everything that is happening with her children and she takes an active role in dealing with whatever issues arise.

Choice Theory: The ten axioms

When I attended the “Mentoring Novice Teachers” workshop, our facilitator had said a bit about “Choice Theory”. It was sketchy though, so I did some research on Choice Theory to know more about it.

All throughout our lives, we make choices. According to William Glasser, the father of Choice Theory, we make choices that help us get along with people or make choices that harm us or other people. Glasser advised to make choices that are mentally healthy choices, and these mentally healthy choices are the Seven Caring Habits. I have already mentioned these helpful, caring habits in my previous post.

In this blog, I will be listing down the ten axioms of Choice Theory.  Here you go…

Ten Axioms of Choice Theory

  1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own.
  2. All we can give another person is information.
  3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems.
  4. The problem relationship is always part of our present life.
  5. What happened in the past has everything to do with what we are today, but we can only satisfy our basic needs right now and plan to continue satisfying them in the future.
  6. We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World. Quality World are the “pictures” in our minds of our own personal, ideal world.
  7. All we do is behave.
  8. All behavior is Total Behavior and is made up of four components: thinking, acting, feeling, and physiology.
  9. All Total Behavior is chosen, but we only have direct control over our thinking and acting component. We can indirectly control our feeling and physiology only by the choices we make in our acting and thinking.
  10. All Total Behavior is identified in verb forms and named by the part that is most recognizable.


Choice Theory: The cause of relationship breakdown

In my previous post, I shared with you the five basic needs identified by William Glasser. Of these five basic needs, the most important need is love and sense of belonging. When there is love and sense of belonging, all the other needs will be fulfilled. This need of love and sense of belonging is strengthened by the Seven Caring Habits. These Caring Habits should replaced the Seven Deadly Habits, which cause relationship breakdown – whether it is relationship with parents, kids, spouse, colleagues, siblings, bosses and friends.

Seven Caring Habits

  1. Supporting. This caring habit is helping the other person to achieve what he/she wants to achieve. If your child wants to draw, do not discourage your child by saying, “You do not know how to draw. You better choose other things to do”. Instead, let him/her try to do the things he/she likes to do. Give him/her the assistance that he/she needs.
  2. Encouraging. This caring habit is doing an action to gently push the other person towards the achievement of his/her goal. Instead of telling the child that he/she got failing score in his/her subject because he/she does not study, sit with him/her and help him/her to understand the concepts in his/her lesson.
  3. Listening. This caring habit is giving your time and listening ears to the other person. Instead of criticizing the employees for not submitting work on time, listen to them what prevents them from doing their work and come up with solutions together on how to address the problem.
  4. Accepting. This caring habit is having no judgment on what the person is doing or not nagging about what he/she is doing. Instead of telling the children to fold their clothes by themselves, accept that they may not be able to do it yet. Let them try again after how many months.
  5. Trusting. This caring habit is believing the person that this person feels the same – he cares as much as you care and both of you can open up to one another. Neither of you is more powerful than the other.
  6. Respecting. This caring habit is allowing the person to be himself/herself without giving judgment. Respect your child to make his/her own choices.
  7. Negotiating differences. This caring habit is solving conflicts without falling into the Seven Deadly Habits. It is when you agree to disagree without having hard feelings.

Seven Deadly Habits

  1. Criticizing. It is the opposite of Supporting. Criticizing is being critical of what others are doing, sharing your negative opinion about others and finding fault on someone.
  2. Blaming. It is the opposite of Encouraging. For example, you blame someone that you were late because he/she was so slow!
  3. Complaining. It is the opposite of Listening. Complaining is the expressing of disappointment and unhappiness incessantly.
  4. Nagging. It is the opposite of Accepting. It is telling people to do what they do not want to do.
  5. Threatening. It is the opposite of Trusting. It is creating fear in someone else through punishment and any possibility of negative outcome.
  6. Punishing. It is the opposite of Respecting. It is taking away something from someone for them to follow what you want.
  7. Bribing or rewarding to control. It is the opposite of Negotiating Differences. It is a form of manipulation and takes away the power from someone.

We cannot control other people; we can only control our own behavior. When we use the Seven Deadly Habits to control people, it will only lead to disconnection. This Deadly Habits should be replaced with Caring Habits to enjoy a happy relationship!

Requirements for Preschool Teachers in Singapore

Singapore is very particular with teaching requirements before one becomes an eligible teacher or an educarer. A qualified teacher or an educarer should meet all professional and academic qualifications and language proficiency requirement. What does it mean?

For Singaporeans and PRs, qualified teachers should have:

  • Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (professional qualification)
  • 5 ‘O’ level credits in 5 different subjects (academic qualification)
  • B4 in GCE ‘O’ Level English Language 1 (language proficiency)

When you meet the above requirements, you will be considered as L2 teacher. L2 teacher can teach all levels in preschool such as Kindergarten, Nursery, Pre-Nursery and Playgroup (18 months – 6 year old children).

Those who have Certificate in ECCE, 3 ‘O’ level credits in 3 different subjects and C6 in GCE ‘O’ Level English Language 1 will be considered as L1 teacher. L1 teacher can only teach Nursery, Pre-Nursery and Playgroup (18 months – 4 years old). For more information, click here.

For foreigner English teachers like those preschool teachers from the Philippines, Malaysia and other country, they should also meet the teacher certification requirements. This means that they need to have Diploma in ECCE and should get an IELTS band score of 6.5 or better in order to be categorized as L2 teacher. Those who were assessed at certificate level will be labeled as L1 teacher, and can only teach early years (up to 4 years old). To know more details on teacher certification with foreign Early Childhood qualifications, click here.

If the foreign English Teacher has degree in his/her home country, it will be assessed whether it covers the following topics:

  • Principles and  Practices  in  Early Childhood  Care  and  Education
  • Child  Development and  Learning
  • Curriculum  Studies  and  Pedagogy
  • Personal Growth and  Professional  Development  :  The  Reflective  Teacher
  • Safety,  Health, Hygiene  and  Nutrition
  • Partnership  with Families  and  the Community
  • Supervised  Teaching  Practice

If it does and it qualifies as diploma or certificate in Singapore, then he/she does not need to study DECCE or CECCE.

Once you become a full-fledged preschool teacher, you are required to complete at least 20 hours of Continuous Professional Development per year. You have the option to attend CPD courses or participate in Professional Development (PD) programmes conducted by ECDA. You can also consider other modes of PD such as web-based learning, learning journeys and sharing sessions amongst peers.


Sinigang na Salmon (Salmon Soup): A Filipino Cuisine

I usually eat in Kabayan Restaurant, which is located at the 3rd floor of Lucky Plaza (in Singapore). I know what food they always prepare; I know which recipe is new to the restaurant.

Last week, I brought my boyfriend for the first time in Kabayan. The restaurant had “sinigang na salmon” or salmon soup. Salmon is my favorite fish, and so, without a second thought, I ordered it. It was very delicious when I tasted the dish!

I searched the internet how to cook sinigang na salmon. I came across a recipe that says need to “saute garlic and onion” as the first step. I did not follow that. Instead, I had my own simple version. I boiled water. Then, added the salmon fish. After 5 minutes, I added okra. I also seasoned it with Magic Sarap.


Lastly, I served it hot… and all the words that came out from my boyfriend was “Perfect!”, “This is very tasty!” and “Best soup ever!”