Friday, September 28, 2012

2012 National Family Week: How I Balance Work & Family As A Single Woman!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Shaznay, Kyle, James, Ian and Me and our family group pictures

The theme of this year’s National Family Week celebration is “Ensuring Work-Family Balance”. In interpreting the theme, I remember a picture with my nieces and nephews where we walked along the rice paddies in my hometown in Vinzons, Camarines Norte. While Shaznay could keep her arms balanced, it was a challenge for me and the other kids - whether intentionally or otherwise. And so it is with WORK and FAMILY. Much more so if you are still single and the only family you call your own consist of 20!

In a fast-paced world in which we live, our balancing act is between providing for the necessities of life through an honest WORK and strengthening FAMILY bonds by spending as much time together as possible. Being single is not an excuse in not striving to ensure a proper balance in life between these two important gifts from our Heavenly Father.

Swimming in Paradise Ranch and our "group hug" family pictures

Sometimes it is hard to keep afloat in the waters of life ensuring a good balance between WORK and FAMILY  with the hectic demands of day-to-day life. In fact, it is common for many singles to focus on WORK and friends or social life and whatever is left in time is what the FAMILY gets for recreation and other family activities. But it should not be the case because as President David O'Mckay said "With all my heart I believe that the best place to prepare for ...eternal life is in the home".  At home with our families, we can learn self-control, sacrifice, loyalty, and the value of work. We can learn to love, to share, and to serve one another". (Gospel Principles, Chapter 36, Page 207). 

Our parents JoseLito and AniLitaMike & Amy with Mitch,JM, JA, AlliuneAllan & Belenda with Ian, James, Shaznay, Shanara; Joel & Imee with Kyle, Frannie, Justin plus 1Kenneth Adrian who is in England and Mhe-anne (plus many in a few years with Raymond lol)
With a growing family of 20 plus 1 including a senior citizen parents  and siblings living in four different households, finding time to be together can be difficult and overwhelming. But with God's help and as our family agreed on  common goal built around our belief that "creating a home where love abound is as important as providing the basic necessities of food and clothing", we are able to ensure a balance in the time we spend working and the time we allot for our family togetherness.

Here are 10 Ways Our Family Strive To Live A Balanced Life.

1. Block Out One Evening Each Week. We block out Monday evenings (as with many LDS families), for our family night where we use the time to have fun, learn and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, share and improve talents, enjoy our hobbies, discuss topics of interest, share uplifting stories, plan for important events and mingle with the whole family. As we are consistent with the time and place for the Family Home Evening, we strive to clear our schedules to be able to attend this family gathering. Each family member find it easier to say no to other activities that will keep them from being  with the family on Monday nights.

2.Have Meals Together. Each households ensure that at least one meal is shared together with everyone each day usually during dinner. As in our winning photo story for the FaMEALy Celebration , the dining table is a great venue for teaching kids important values and an opportune time in catching up on what's going on in each of their kid’s life. For the whole family we have a monthly family dining tradition when we dine out or share a home cooked meal either on a Saturday or Sunday in time for a family member's birthday or anniversaries or during occasions like Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day or New Year. I always look forward to these family dining experiences (even if as the family grows, the expense grows too!) as this is my way of showing gratitude to my parents and letting the kids learn values to help them be more responsible.

3.Attend Church as a Family Every Sunday.We see to it that each Sunday, the whole family attends church together. My parents travel early morning from San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan so they can be with the family in our church service in Deparo Ward. Knowing that all the family members are learning the same lesson every single Sunday helps improve our communication and helps our family get along better.

4.Doing Things Together.We are big on spending some quality bonding with each other by doing activities together from a simple handing out "chocolates" or playing TROUBLE on a lazy Sunday afternoons to watching Basketball Games or traveling together whenever time and finances can afford - usually during long holidays like when we the whole family travel to Cebu for our family sealing coupled with sightseeing and beach bumming! 

5.Give Service Together. Since we love to do things together, we take time and effort to give service during these times. In doing so, we are able to feel the joy beyond compare and teach children valuable lessons about kindness, compassion, sacrifice and giving by examples. Some of the services we have performed as a family includes tree planting in Clark Pampanga, Fish feeding, adopt a "family" during Christmas and packing gifts we handed to the needy during our Christmas caroling as a family. 

Organize and Participate in Family Reunions. The Ojeda Clan has an annual reunion on May 20 where we try to participate and have our own family reunion (the 20!) on April 29-May 1 (in line with my father's birthday). For my mom side, I spearheaded the first ever reunion last November 5, 2011 after learning from my aunts and uncles how they always wanted to have one but no one dared start. Since I am single who loves to organize parties (lol) we were able to get-to-know my cousins and uncles a lot better and maintain ties and contact with extended families even after the reunion!  
7.Make The Most Of Family Traditions. We have several traditions which strengthens the family and foster a sense of pride and stability. Easter goes beyond the usual egg hunting but is centered activities where kids learn more about Jesus Christ resurrection and His Atonement; New Year is for our Family "I Will" Game which is similar to a Bingo Game but instead of numbers several acts of kindness are indicated on the square; Christmas is for our Family Christmas program where we re-enact and read the story of Jesus Christ birth on Christmas Eve and our family Christmas caroling where we give the gift instead of receive from those we carol. We strive to continue these traditions and hope to pass them along to our children. 
8.Make Your Family History Important. We have a Personal and Family History which I update from time to time. Without this record, many of meaningful stories about my parents and ancestors could have been lost due to our limited or selective memories. Journal keeping is also emphasize in the family and I am glad to have kept a journal religiously which I hope my nieces and nephews could continue and learn as a habit.

9.Get Involved With Your Kids Activities. Obviously, I mean my nephews and nieces as I still have no kids of my own. Since I pay for their education, I am very interested  in their school, church and social activities and see to it that I am able to attend or support them in some way along with their parents. I also spend time with each of the kids looking at their grades, giving incentives when they landed on top of their classes or get medals or awards or helping them in their school projects or assignments.As a result, my nieces and nephews know that the whole family care about them and in what they're doing. 
10.Make Our House A Home and Family Together Forever .Being single is the best time we can start making our house a home - a place of tranquility, acceptance and strength. We can make sure our homes is where the spirit can dwell and will reflect our beliefs through a regular family prayer and scripture study and guarding it from the filthy media influence that enters in.  
*The Family Week celebration started in 1992 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 60 signed on September 18, 1992. The celebration seeks to strengthen family unity and relationships through meaningful celebration and promotion of Filipino values.

Source: Gospel Principles and 3 Simple Ways To Become A Happier Family pamphlet 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Images & Thoughts: Darkness, Light And Invitation!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Book of Mormon Lesson 37: "Whosoever Will Come, Him Will I Receive"
Scripture Block: 3 Nephi 8-11
Location: Deparo Ward, Novaliches Stake  

Last Monday, my friend Raymond and I found ourselves in the midst of a mist darkness as we were driving along the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) headed for Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Gloom suddenly engulfed me and then fear sank in due to zero visibility caused by the downcast sky and the thick fog. I uttered a silent prayer for our safety and before long the skies cleared up when we reached the end of the expressway. It was lovely!

This experience has allowed me in some way to understand how the Nephites felt as they went through a three - day of darkness on the American continent following the crucifixion of  Jesus Christ. It couldn't have been more fitting for our Savior to declare at that juncture that He is the only source of light who can clear up the thick darkness that befell them. He then extended an invitation to the multitudes to come one - by - one to feel the prints of the nails in His side, hands and feet, that in so doing "ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. (3 Nephi 11:14)".  

What a wonderful witness of our Savior's love and personal, intimate involvement for the 2500 people (the more righteous Nephites who were spared)! This is the same invitation that our Savior Jesus Christ extends to all His children on earth. For members of the Church, He invites us to come and have eternal life (3 Nephi 9:14) by pressing forward placing the Savior at the center of our lives and building a more personal relationship with Him. For those who are not yet of our faith, Jesus Christ invites you to come as a little child (3 Nephi 9:20) with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:22) by accepting the missionaries invitation to be baptized and be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"Sunday Images & Thoughts 2012" Series are lessons from the Book of Mormon that I shared in the Deparo Ward, Novaliches Philippines Stake as its Adult Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Teacher coupled with a related picture from my travel. This is my way of accepting the challenge of  President Ezra Taft Benson to the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter - Day Saints to share the Book of Mormon. He said: “The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of “The time is now!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1988, 4; or Ensign, Nov. 1988, 4–5).

Monday, September 17, 2012

"START BEING" Monday Series: QUIET

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

QUIET.(i.e being calm, still, in an untroubled state, and having a disposition free from stress or agitation). Music, hearts and being Quiet always seem to go together. As music can be heard when heart is quiet, being quiet (or in other words being calm and free from agitation no matter how stressful life could be) allows the heart to make music". Red has just showed me that is so true with his second composition for me entitled                  "Whisperings of Our Hearts" which took him only a few minutes to compose during his quiet time. Surely the song will help me start being QUIET from now on! 

(P.S. click the video to listen to the music and for some laughs...
Whisperings of Our Hearts
(Lyrics by Red and Mhe-anne/Music by Red)


I have love you from the very start (oh oh oh)
But couldn't find the right words to say 
I woke up we've drifted far apart (oh oh oh)
And didn't know how to ask you to stay

Oh yesterday was just a dream
But together now we can shout and scream 


Just from the whisperings of my (our) heart(s)
Now reality comes alive
And it's only you and me
That I (we) could see (that I could see)

From the whisperings of my (our) soul(s)
And it is your (our) love that I want more
And it's you in my (our) forever 
That I could see 
(I could see)


To this day I could still not believe (oh oh oh)
We were back at each other's arms again
Promise me you'll never leave again (oh oh oh)
Come what may I'll be here to stay

Oh yesterday was just a dream
But together now we can shout and scream  

*This is part of a series of 2012 Monday post inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant's Stop DoingStart Being article on Family Circle Magazine April 1, 2005 issue. What she said about having so many "to-do" list and trying hard everyday to check off the list hit so close to home! I agree with her that what I need is a list to help me be who I want to be, both for myself and others. Click on START BEING Monday Series to see other list of cool virtues we could emulate.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Travel Spotlight: Europe Transport in Colors

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda
Europe is a popular tourist destination, with good reasons and having a good transport system is definitely one of them. With cars, buses, trains, boats, cruise ships and airplanes you can easily go between cities and villages or go sightseeing in and around the various European countries. 
So for this long - finished blogging contest entitled Capture the Color, I summoned Aleah, the Solitary Wanderer to tag me along so I can focus in one post the color BlueGreenRedWhite and Yellow of the transportation I encountered or rode on while in AmsterdamFinlandNorwaySwedenParis, and England (LondonLincoln and York- a few countries I have been to in Europe!

Netherlands/Sweden/France (Paris)

Amsterdam in the Netherlands is not all red light districts and coffee shops, but also about BLUE Planes operating under its flag carrier KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the oldest airline in the world! The standard body feature for KLM planes is sky blue with a white tail and there are about 204 of these aircrafts that use Amsterdam Airport Schiphol as a hub. As a Flying Blue member, I have flown on these BLUE airplanes four times during my European vacation in July 2007 and have received a wide range of special benefits and privileges with my Elite membership on this forefront of the European airline industry. 

Around London, England

I spotted this London's famous GREEN Double-Decker Bus  last February this year! Alright this bus is not actually painted with the color GREEN but it has a gust of greeness along it sides, with the message: "another red bus going green for London!" And that's not all. With a combination of diesel engine, using a 336 volt battery pack and electric power via a 120 kilowatt electric motor, the green bus offers a quieter, cleaner, more fuel efficient and more environmentally-friendly ways to travel around the capital of England. The green bus scheme is a pet project of London's Mayor, Boris Johnson aimed at reducing carbon emissions and getting London’s streets a little greener."

Source: Eco

Around Sweden/Trondheim, Norway

Top up or top down, it was a comfy, superior ride from Sundsvall, Sweden to Trondheim, Norway aboard this RED 2008 Volvo C70  in August 2007!  Behind the wheel of this RED hardtop convertible, which my Swedish friend owned a year prior to market launch,  I felt quite aggressive and painted the town RED in Europe! Check out my post  - 2008 Volvo C70 In A Hotseat to see the actual transformation and the inside trimmings of this modern, classy, refreshing and comfortable RED Car!

Stockholm, Sweden/Helsinki, Finland

My dream summer cruise vacation in Europe came true aboard a WHITE Cruiseferry owned by an Estonian shipping company operated on a route connecting Helsinki, Finland to Stockholm, Sweden via Mariehamn. MJ Silja Serenade is European's 6th largest passenger cruise ship with WHITE seal's eye and  blue outline steel funnel livery.  Its outer decks are painted green and the light box with the ship's name is blue. Its mascot moomin (the cow!) is all WHITE !
Source: Wikipedia

Paris,France /Amsterdam, Netherlands

I have seen this YELLOW coach train while I was in Amsterdam, Netherlands waiting for someone dear on board from Paris. The VIRM (Verlengd Interregiomaterieel) or Regiorunner is a train which consists of one or more combinations of 4 or 6 double deck coaches with electric motors and running high speed.  With YELLOW Regiorunner, the cities of Paris and Amsterdam is just four (4) hours away and the cheapest way to go!  

Monday, September 10, 2012

"START BEING" Monday Series: (e)XCITING

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

(e)XCITING (i.e. causing excitement or stirring and stimulating interest or holding the attention.) As a single person who loves traveling, an exciting life means being able to travel to many new destinations, meeting new faces, learning various cultures and taking in the pleasures of checking off bucket lists - with a traveler beau. For 5 years, this has kept me upbeat and full of life. But a sudden turn of event has caused me to be gloomy and sad and let my life feel like in a rut for sometime. But "Out Of The Blue", a song composed by a long-unseen old flame who knows me from Adam, has got me singing now to a different - but much more fun, and maybe twice as eXCITING take on life, finding him a little more inventive and truly romantic in his own way (to have composed a song for me on his 41st birthday!). Like its title, the song has literally gotten me out of being gloomy or depressed in a rather unexpected time and I melted! 

Out of the Blue
(Music and Lyrics by Red with some inputs from Mhe-anne)

Seeing you again
after all 'of these years
Memories of you keep coming back to me

Nothing really changed 
Nothing really faded
Coz the same old feelings for you remains

I never thought that 
I could see those smiles again

I never thought that  

I could hold your hand again


Out of the blue
And out of the hue (I'm out of the blues)
Under the sky I flew

There's only you
who could take all the blues 
Before the night and day is through

(Repeat Chorus - 


Now that you're here
My heart is filled 
With dreams eternal, of you and me

I won't let go
I will never once more 
Lose all my dreams to be with you

I never thought that 
I could feel your heart (love) again 
I never dreamt that 
I could kiss those lips once more

*This is part of a series of 2012 Monday post inspired by Leigh Anne Jasheway-Bryant's Stop DoingStart Being article on Family Circle Magazine April 1, 2005 issue. What she said about having so many "to-do" list and trying hard everyday to check off the list hit so close to home! I agree with her that what I need is a list to help me be who I want to be, both for myself and others. Click on START BEING Monday Series to see other list of cool virtues we could emulate!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Visayas: Retracing Our National Hero's Steps & Side Trips...

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Last August 1-4, 1896, Dr. Jose Rizal found himself in DumagueteCebu and Iloilo ohis way back to Manila from his exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del NorteI believe this was the only time and the only places our national hero had been out of the 16 provinces that comprise the Visayas or Visayan Islands, the third largest geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao
In reversed juxtaposition with that of Dr. Jose Rizal and my umpteenth time in Iloilo,  Dumaguete and Cebu, I culminated mLakbay Jose Rizal @ 150 Passport Heritage Trail last May 17 - 21, 2012  and finished at No. 65. Collectively and with side trips to Bacolod City, San Carlos City, Sipaway Island, Siquijor Island, and the Santander - Oslob - Boljoon stretch to Cebu City,  I had a taste of history, fresh air, pristine white sand beaches, cheap adventures, and I can't get enough!

Itineraries: May 17-21, 2012 
  1. Fly via Air Philippines to Iloilo International Airport 
  2. Van Ride to Molo, Iloilo 
  3. Ride ferry to cross to Bacolod City, Negros Island
  4. Bus ride to San Carlos City,  Negros Island
  5. Ride boat to Sipaway Island and back to  San Carlos City,  Negros Island 
  6. Bus ride to Dumaguete City, Negros Island
  7. Ride ferry to cross to Siquijor and ferry back to Dumaguete Port 
  8. Bus ride to Sibulan Port, Negros Island 
  9. Boat ride to Liloan, Santander, Cebu
  10. Bus ride from Santander-Oslob-Boljoon- to Cebu City and then to Cebu International Airport
  11. Fly out  Cebu International Airport

1 Iloilo City, Panay Island  
       May 17, 2012 Arrival: 5:50am
Profile:Better known for its beautiful Spanish colonial Churches,  Iloilo is a province in the Philippines bounded in the west by Antique and Capiz and considered as the largest marshland in the Western Visayas. With its capital Iloilo City, Iloilo used to be a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era.
Rizal Site Visited:Molo Church (St. Anne's Parish) & Escolta in Molo District, Iloilo CityBuilt in 1863, the church boast of a Gothic - Rennaisance architecture which Dr. Jose Rizal found admirable last August 4, 1896, remarking "La Iglesia Bonita".
My Travel Notes(worthy!): Iloilo Airport. My post Take 4 in Iloilo says it all about my third visit in this province in the Western Visayas to kick start the Visayan Leg of my Lakbay Jose Rizal Heritage Trail. But something can be told of the new Iloilo International Airport located in Cabatuan and Santa Barbara, which replaced the old Manduriao Airport in June 2007. The airport is not only large, modern and beautiful but it is also tourist friendly  with maps and brochures at the tourist counter that started us out in the right direction!
Side Trips: I chose Bacolod City as a jump off point for our bus travel to other cities and towns of the Province of Negros Occidental, the Sugarbowl of  the Philippines. Since I have been in the City of Smiles for many business travels and have seen much of its tourist spots then, I was only looking for a good (but cheap) hotel to spend the night away! I was in luck to find the Saltimboca Inn in Lacson Street, Bacolod City. Check my post  Take 4 in Bacolod City to find out the kind of pampering I got without leaving a hole in my pocket! 

Missing the bus bound to Dumaguete from Bacolod City allowed me to discover a unique tour and a new place in the Visayas! Check my post  Ceres Tours Supershots to see how I went sightseeing with a "green" twist from Bacolod City to  San Carlos City feasting on the sights for 2 1/2 hours during my first provincial bus ride!
San Carlos City maybe a crossroad city being in the middle of four major cities in the Visayas - Cebu City, Bacolod City, Iloilo City and Dumaguete City, but the location is not all that it offers. I was really impressed with its People's Park that overlooks the Sipaway Island and features a giant swimming pool, gazebo, promenades, children's playground and picnic areas ideal for the much needed relaxation. For downtown eats, never miss out on their Crispy Pata
And if you just can't get enough looking at Sipaway Island (geographically known as Refugio Island), go head there and you can do just that by crossing aboard outrigger boat for 15 minutes from the city proper.  For only Php 20 boat fee and a tricycle ride of Php 20 each (if with 4 more passengers), you can have fun at the Whispering Palm Island Resort. For Php 300 inclusive of a day tour entrance and lunch, you can breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy a dip at its cool water, feeling its white sand and feasting on the beautiful tropical sights! 

2 Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
    May 19, 2012 Arrival: 9:00am
Profile:Nicknamed The City of Gentle People, Dumaguete is the capital, and the largest city of the province of Negros Oriental. It is a principal seaport being a coastal city bounded on the east by the Mindanao Sea serving as a natural border for the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor. 
Rizal Site Visited:Dumaguete City and Rizal Boulevard, popular seafront promenade. Aboard the steamer S.S. Espana Dr. Jose Rizal arrived in Dumaguete City at midnight and visited his friends including Governor Regal, whom he met in Dapitan and former classmate, Herrero Regidor, a provincial judge.
My Travel Notes (worthy!):Since I have been around Dumaguete, my itinerary only includes a general sightseeing for my brother's sake and finding a hotel with desirable amenities and a reasonable price tag for a good night sleep. Harold's Mansion Inn (Add: 205 Hibbard Avenue near Siliman University) fits the bill. The Php 900/night for AC room, hot shower for 2 pax also comes with a free wireless connection and a breakfast of bread and jam (and coffee) . There is also a small coffee shop where you can use the internet for 30 minutes at no cost if you didn't bring your own laptop. Food is tasty, huge and wallet friendly too. The Sans Rival and other product of this store is a must-try!
Side Trips:Oh well, I forgot to tell you that the main reason draw of being in Dumaguete again is to be able to jump on the bandwagon of claiming that I have been in the mystic island of Siquijor!  Dumaguete port is a jump off point to get to any of the 6 municipalities of this so-called Island of Fire. But with a limited time on our hands we stayed in San Juan! The beach looks stunning and picturesque if you are only after taking pictures and admiring the views, but not recommended for those looking for a good swim since the sand is muddy and soft. Good thing the resort we chose has a swimming pool (using water from the beach!) and a hammock for the needed break away and relaxation while at the same time checking off my 64th out of the 80 provinces of the Philippines!

3 Cebu City, Province of Cebu
        May 21, 2012 Arrival: 12:00 nn
Profile:One of the most developed province in the Philippines, Cebu is a long narrow island stretching 225 kilometers from north to south and bounded  to the east by Negros and to the west of Leyte and Bohol islands. Its capital is Cebu City, which is considered the oldest city in the Philippines and the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas
Rizal Site Visited:Fort San Pedro in Pier Area, Cebu City. For a routine one-day stop over, the steamer S.S. Espana docked in Cebu City where Dr. Rizal was taken into custody by Commander Ricardo Carcinero and brought to Fuerza de San Pedro, a triangular fort used as a military defense structure built under the command of Miguel Lopez De Legaspi. At present, it is a museum that housed Spanish artifacts.
My Travel Notes (worthy!):  Although not our first time in Cebu City, getting there is an experience dubbed with a lot of "firsts". First time to cross the Sibulan, Negros Occidental - Liloan, Santander channel on an outrigger pumpboat that lasted for 30 minutes and first time to appreciate the jetty ride, finding myself taking lots of pics of the panoramic views on a sunny day like that. The ferry crossing cost P45 each (inclusive of terminal fee). First time to pass through Santander - Boljoon - Oslob (places on a hot seat recently because of the whale shark issues) and finding the views exhilarating that I couldn't keep my camera away while inside the super cold AC Ceres Bus (that cost P176/each). Merely looking at the sights, these towns in southeast Cebu has so many things to offer sans whale shark watching. I hope to check out the Spanish period stone churches like Patrocino de Maria Church in Boljoon, Tumalog Falls in Oslob, and white sand beaches in Santander.


This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for September 2012 with the theme The Visayas Round Up hosted by the Pinoy Explorer, Ding Fuellos. Check out the previous blog carnival topics in Estan Cabigas' Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival.

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My Lakbayan grade is A!

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