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Southies’ own Christmas Gardens unveiled

Pandemic or not, we shall celebrate Christmas, won’t we? And, with the restrictions finally easing up, children being welcomed back into shopping malls and other family-friendly places, we appreciate it all the more how SM Supermalls has been putting so much effort into making everyone feel more excited about Christmas, not only with their pledge to give and to care Christmas countdown but also with how they decorate each SM Supermall with a spectacular theme to match.

SM Southmall’s Secret Christmas Garden

Let’s begin with every southie in the metro’s second home: SM Southmall. SM Southmall is known for its larger-than-life, picturesque Christmas centerpieces that are perfect backgrounds to our holiday photos. This year, however, SM Southmall unveiled their first-ever experiential Christmas centerpiece! 

Abundant trees in varying sizes surround the whole display with a pathway leading to and unveiling the mystery of a secret garden. At the heart of the centerpiece is a 35-feet towering Christmas tree adorned with blooms and thousands of sparkling lights with giant elegant reindeer around it. Be transported to a Secret Christmas Garden at the mall’s Food Street Concourse, too. 

There’s a lot more in store!

SM Southmall wants to bring back the joy of shoppers through fun and ‘southtacular’ activities you may safely enjoy (even with your kids)! Here are four ways you can fully enjoy Christmas with SM Southmall: 

The South Pole Express. Another first for the mall is their Christmas drive-thru experience with immersive displays and interactive moments that families can enjoy in the safety and comfort of their cars. Let us all aboard The South Pole Express starting December 1st!  

South Yuletide Markets. The Christmas bazaar will have a display of different knickknacks and gifts you can take home to the family. The South Yuletide Markets are there for the holidays so check them out at the Event Center and South Yard (near Door 4).

Santa’s Here! The pandemic cannot stop Santa Claus from visiting SM Southmall. He will be at the Door 4 driveway to bring the Christmas cheer to as many Southies as possible. Drive-thru with your kids on December 24–25 and say hi!

The Big South Sale is also something to look forward to on November 19–21. Get up to 70% off on festive finds! Check out some last-minute Christmas gifts for your family without the long wait and shipping fees, and get a chance to drive home in a brand-new MG ZS Compact SUV with every P3,000 single or accumulated receipts from any SM Southmall store. 

Spread the spirit of giving this Christmas when you purchase a pair of Bears of Joy, too. Customers get to keep one bear and the other one will be donated to the kids of SOS Children’s Villages. Just drop by the Bears of Joy booth at the Food Street Concourse and purchase a pair for only P250 until December 25.

To stay up-to-date on all holiday fun and events happening down south, visit @southmall on Facebook and Instagram for more information. #SeeYouDownSouth

SM Santa Rosa’s Whimsical Christmas Garden

Now, if you happen to live a little further down south, what better way to celebrate the holidays than at SM City Santa Rosa! Feel like royalty in their Whimsical Christmas Garden located at the Activity Grounds.

At the heart of this year’s Christmas Centerpiece, SM City Santa Rosa brought to life a fairytale like-castle together with a majestic crystal horse that will surely take you to your own Christmas wonderland. Take snaps and capture the glittering lights all around the centerpiece! Dine with friends and family in our carriage-inspired dining pods designed to make you feel like royalty!

More holiday activities awaits you!

There’s a lot in store for all shoppers at SM City Santa Rosa for this month of December that will surely knock your Christmas stockings off your feet. Here is this month’s line-up of holiday activities:

Christmas Market. Come and visit this year’s Christmas Market, where you can buy gifts or go on a food trip with your family and friends.

Santa’s Here! Christmas is not the same without Santa, but wait, here’s the twist! Starting Nov. 15, you can buy gifts for your kids or special someone, and have Santa personally give it on Dec. 25 right by our curbside. How cool is that? Tune in to SM Santa Rosa’s Facebook page for more details soon.

3-Day Sale is also something to look forward to on November 19–21 with an extra 1 Day on November 18. Up to 70% off on great finds –– certainly the best time to do some early Christmas shopping!

Spread the love and gift-giving this Christmas by purchasing a pair of Bears of Joy. Customers get to keep one bear and the other one will be donated to the CSWD of Santa Rosa. Just drop by at the Bears of Joy booth located at the Ground Level near Uniqlo and purchase a pair for only P250 from Nov. 12 until December 25.

To catch more fun-filled activities this Christmas season, especially if you’re somewhere near Sta. Rosa, visit @smcitysantarosa on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated. #GoOutGoSouth

The way we celebrate this festive season may change with the times, but many beautiful things are still the same. ❤

SM Supermalls hits 5 million COVID-19 jabs, opens more vax sites for minors

SM Supermalls has yet again marked a back-to-back milestone in its pursuit to help end COVID-19 in the Philippines: surpassing the five-millionth mark of COVID-19 jabs and the opening of more SM malls as pediatric vaccination sites outside Metro Manila.

“Breaching the five-millionth mark is a testament to our commitment to providing our communities with accessible and convenient vaccination sites. We thank our partner LGUs for this partnership are happy to provide our malls as pediatric vaccination centers for minors belonging to the 12-17 age group.” said Steven Tan, president of SM Supermalls.

During the opening ceremony of Paranaque City LGU’s “Bida Rin ang Bata” vaccination center at SM City Sucat on November 3, a total of 588 youngsters were given their first dose of vaccines. To date, SM Supermalls has vaccinated over 6,000 pediatric constituents in 15 pediatric mall vaccination sites.

Present during the launch were Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine czar; Assistant Secretary Elmer Punzalan and Assistant Regional Director Aleli Sudiacial, Department of Health; Paranaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez; Paranaque 1st District Rep. Eric Olivarez; IATF Assistant Regional Director Paz Corrales; Dra. Evangeline Labines, CESO V, School Division Superintendent; and, Dra. Olga Virtusio, Head of Paranaque CHO.

Mayor Olivarez shared that they target to inoculate 70% of their pediatric constituents this November. “To win the war against COVID-19, we will be working hand-in-hand with our partners, including SM Supermalls, in getting to a pandemic free Paranaque.” he furthered.

The phased approach to vaccinating the A3 category began last October 15, prioritizing minors with comorbidities. DOH emphasized that the rollout of inoculation among children and minors was needed to help the country achieve herd immunity.

“We heal as one,” said Dr. Aleli Sudiacal, Assistant Regional Director DOH-MMCHD. “With the intensive rollout of the pediatric immunization in the country, we shall continue working together with the private sector and LGUs since we are now in the post-recovery stage.”

SM Supermalls is the only mall venue partner as the DOH rolled out the second phase of the A3 immunization, starting at SM Megamall last October 21 and at SM Sucat on November 3. Several other SM Malls are expected to become safe and convenient Pediatric Vaccination Centers in the next weeks.

With its long-standing commitment to ensuring the health and safety of the public, SM continues to provide not just a #SafeMalling experience to shoppers, but also a convenient and accessible venue where their communities can get vaccinated.

For more information and up-to-date news on vaccination schedules at the SM malls in your LGU, visit www.smsupermalls.com or follow @smsupermalls on all social media accounts.

SM Supermalls launches The SM StartUp Package for aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs

100 Small business owners invited to set up shot in SM Malls

It has been almost two years since the pandemic brought Filipino life and many livelihoods to a screeching halt. According to a 2020 Asian Development Bank (ADB) study of 1,804 Philippine MSMEs, 70.6% were forced to temporarily close with 66.2% reported to have temporary staff cuts during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bucking these statistics and the odds created by the changes in the landscape, the enterprising Filipino found many opportunities in online businesses, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recording over 88,000 new e-commerce registrations at the end of 2020. This figure is projected to be a million e-commerce enterprises by 2022 (from 500,000 in 2020). By taking advantage of the online space, MSME owners have become unsung heroes of the economy, all the while providing for their families and making their business dreams a reality. 

SM Supermalls very well understands the potential of each Filipino to be successful business owners because of their founder, the late Mr. Henry Sy’s own inspiring story. Sy, fondly called “Tatang” in SM, started out as a small business owner with his first footwear shop ShoeMart.

It is said that because of this, it is in SM’s DNA to enable and inspire small businesses like the one it once was. This October 15, not coincidentally Tatang’s birthday, SM launched The SM StartUp Package, which aims to provide small online businesses the valuable support they need so they can set up their own shop in an SM mall. This is available to the first 100 digital-based MSME owners who currently don’t have a shop inside SM or any other physical store in general.

The package offers features such as start-up friendly rental rates and use of kiosks or carts free of charge; marketing assistance to give the brand free exposure in SM online assets and ad spaces inside malls; financial assistance with BDO; and mentorship from SM experts on operations and marketing.


The SM brand is one of the true entrepreneurial success stories in the country and because of this, the conglomerate recently launched the SM Startup Package to help enterprising Pinoys realize their potential of being successful entrepreneurs themselves by setting up shop in any of the prime SM mall locations, within 13 regional and premier malls, around the Philippines. The SM Startup Package offers friendly rental rates and use of kiosks or carts free of charge; marketing assistance is provided to give the brand free exposure in SM online assets and ad spaces inside the malls; financial assistance with BDO; and mentorship from SM experts on operations and marketing.

The Start Up Markets, as they will be called, will be situated in prime mall locations within 13 regional and premier malls in major cities: SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall, SM Pampanga, SM Clark, SM Grand Central, SM Sta. Rosa, SM City Cebu, SM Iloilo, SM Bacolod, SM CDO Downtown Premier, and SM Lanang Premier.

“We created The SM StartUp Package because we saw how Filipinos persevered in the past year. Very much true to the spirit of Henry Sy, who always said he worked harder during bad times,  many MSMEs did not let the pandemic stop them from providing good service and products — even from their own homes. We want to give them a chance to further grow their businesses and brands, and enable them to start their own SM shops which they can one day grow into business empires, just like our founder once did.,” said SM Supermalls President Steven T. Tan.

Following Tatang’s legacy

The late founder Mr. Henry Sy is also proof of an entrepreneur’s resilience and hard work. After arriving in the Philippines at just 12 years old from China, he helped sell products in his father’s retail store. When he saved enough money, he was able to open his first business in 1958: a footwear shop called ShoeMart, which would later become the foundation for today’s 77 SM Supermalls. 

The success of the mall didn’t come without challenges. A notable one was when Mr. Sy opened SM Megamall in Edsa in 1985 during a turbulent time in the Philippines. Instead of letting the political and economic climate discourage him, it pushed him to work harder to overcome the crisis. This disposition would carry over in the next few decades and would inspire a new generation of MSME owners to look for opportunities even during adversity. 

This is evident in the stories of entrepreneurs like Chizmozza founder Hannah Ramos, who sold her own mozzarella recipe online before opening her food cart at SM, Ian Darcy, who started his namesake fragrance brand after being forced to resign from his marketing job; and Oishii Maki chef Ramon Molina, who started a sushi and maki business at SM after working as an Overseas Filipino as a Japanese Chef in 5-star hotels. 


Starting with just one humble ChizMozza cart in SM North Edsa in 2016, the small business has steadily grown and now has a total of 21 branches, situated in various SM malls, nationwide. Seen in the photo is ChizMozza founder, Hannah Ramos – a true believer in the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos, as well as how SM continues to help entrepreneurs like her become even more successful with the recent launch of its SM Startup Package.  

“I took a chance to grow Chizmozza from an online store to having one humble food cart in SM North Edsa back in 2016. Now Chizmozza has 21 SM branches. They saw the potential of our unique cheese products and through our mutual hard work and perseverance, we grew, even through the pandemic.” Hannah shared

These are just some of the stories behind successful MSME owners and how they were able to succeed, when empowered with the right resources. The SM StartUp Package will allow more people to level up their online start-up, inspiring them to follow in the footsteps of “Tatang” so they can take more confident steps even during these uncertain times.

During the virtual launch of the SM StartUp Package hosted by Sam Yg last Oct 15, SM Supermalls President Mr. Steven Tan was joined by three young successful MSMEs; Nina Cabrera from Colourette, Patty Ang from Patton, and Jerald Sze from 365 Designs Retailing, who talked about how their business began online and how they successfully grew it at SM Supermalls. 

Other notable guests during the launch included Ms. Jean Pacheco, Assistant Secretary of DTI, and the SM Super Team composed of BDO Network Bank’s SVP and MSME Business Head Karen Cua, BDO Acquiring FVP Merchant Partnerships and Retail Sales Head Bob Tolentino, SM Supermalls VP for Corporate Marketing, Grace F. Magno, and AVP for Leasing Strategy and Operations, Gina T. Katigbak, who discussed details of the SM StartUp Package.

For more information, visit www.smsupermalls.com or follow @smsupermalls on all social media accounts to find out how to sign up for The SM StartUp Package.

About SM Supermalls

Starting as a humble shoe store in Manila established by its founder Henry Sy Sr. in 1958, SM has grown into the Philippines’ biggest chain of shopping malls. With its 74 malls in the Philippines, and 7 in China, SM Supermalls is now home to over 20,000 tenants, most of which carry the world’s best loved brands. It is the retail destination for family fun experiences and events.

SM Supermalls is owned by SM Prime Holdings, Inc., a publicly-listed company and is one of the largest integrated property developers in Southeast Asia.

The Sunday Currently, Vol. 36: The one where it finally sunk in

Seventeen months after the first enhanced community quarantine was implemented and we’re back at it again just last August 6th. I just realized it’s also been nine months since I had last written something under this category. Anyways, so here I am again. This is becoming a habit now, really, i.e., me writing then not writing then back to writing again…

reading And the Mountains Echoed by one of my favorite male novelists Khaled Hosseini. If you must know, I’ve been delaying buying this book because I’ve been looking for one that’s as the same size as his two other books that I got –– The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. However, since he has another novel coming out soon, I decided to just get a copy even if it’s much smaller than the other two I’ve got. Now I’m really trying to read it slowly unlike his other two novels. Care to guess why?

writing lists of things to do and more. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed blogging until now. When the pandemic hit last year, followed by a series of heartbreaking events in our family, I just couldn’t seem to write again, when that’s exactly one of the things I should’ve done to cope. Anyway, things are much better now. I’m writing a piece about the events that happened last year and how things have also started to fall back into place. Please watch out for it…

listening to Beyoncé. My eldest child is a fan and she’s playing her songs now while doing the dishes.

thinking about how to finally start accomplishing the things I want to do in my lifetime. It’s finally sunk in, my disease got a name. I don’t understand why I only came across it recently, when I’ve been researching about it for so long now. And when I discussed it with my sister-in-law who happens to be a medical doctor, she confirmed it based on the symptoms I’ve got and the medication I’ve received in the past, but advised me to still go for the tests the neurologist I consulted before recommended. It’s called multiple sclerosis, by the way, which I only knew of as peripheral neuropathy in the past, and it looks like what I had last year was a relapse.

wishing my family would always be happy and content with each other. I just want to build happy memories with my daughters and my husband, albeit virtually, especially after learning that people with neurological disease such as mine are expected to have life expectancy 5-10 years shorter than the average due to complications. I guess my prayer, which is for the Lord to teach me to number my days, is now being answered?

hoping my husband’s health would continue to improve. I’m already looking forward to being the first to leave this earth, and I don’t want him getting sick, especially that I can’t be with him abroad to look after him. I hope this pandemic will be over soon so we could be physically together again, too.

wearing my old brown dress. Come to think of it, yesterday I was wearing a brown blouse. Not that brown’s my favorite color!

loving the feel of the keyboard against my fingertips as I’m typing this. It’s really been a while since I’ve written something for myself. I only get to use my laptop to do some required writing and nothing more. Most days, it’s my eldest child who uses this.

wanting to travel again. Have I told you that I’ve driven to Subic and back home all by myself last February? I realized then just how much I liked driving. I feel like I’m making my Papa proud whenever I’d drive well.

needing to be (more) organized again. There are so many papers in my room alone that I need to sort. Paper is obviously the number one clutter in our house.

feeling the tingling, electricity-like sensation on my toes and arms. It’s always been like this for the most part of the day for several months now. I could just never skip taking vitamin B-complex and other supplements anymore.

praying we’ll be able to finish homeschooling this year in flying colors. We don’t have much time left, but at least things are finally turning up for my girls. I wish we’ve gone homeschooling indie, to be honest; keeping up with the schedule is just so hard for our family this school year more than ever, it seems. Most days, I had to deal with interpersonal issues rather than academics.

thanking God for his provisions. We were told last year that my husband’s company might only be able to sustain its operations in the Asia Pacific region until September this year. However, a few weeks ago, he was told that he’s being promoted, not to mention he even got job offers from other companies just last summer. He’s loyal to his employer, though, and it looks like it’s a good thing ❤

Join The Sunday Currently link-up by siddathornton http://siddathornton.blogspot.com/

(Featured image by Claire Jones on Unsplash)

Top tips on preparing and decorating your house for an upcoming celebration

[Sponsored Post] Covid-19 came and it’s still here. With it also came the realization that we can live at bare minimum, and we could always be creative and improvise. DIY has become the buzz word all over the world. While the pandemic continues to rage on, we continue to have hope too.

We have not forgotten to celebrate life, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions that are meaningful to us –– we’d do it online and have virtual parties, if that’s what it takes, just to see our loved ones. We have become very familiar with the use of virtual backgrounds. Who knew we could party as if we’re at the beach or in a vast, beautiful garden, etc. just by using them, and then dressing up the part with only up to waist-length costumes, etc.?

Surely, the pandemic has made it clear how having a good relationship with our family, relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers could help keep our sanity, and so we try to celebrate the people in our lives and what little accomplishments we may have during these hard times. 

And now that community quarantine has started to ease up in various places, with the advent of vaccines, many are raring to go back to face-to-face meetings; some have even started doing that already. If you’re planning to host a party soon and you find yourself wondering how to do it again, here are some suggestions to make your house ready for an upcoming celebration and some tips on decorating it, too:

  1. Choose an area in your house where guests would have enough space to mingle comfortably, while still practicing some sort of physical distancing. After all, the virus is still around us. As much as possible, pick an area that is also airy and has a good source of natural lighting. The natural light not only adds beauty to the surroundings, but also tends to make almost everything look good in photos.

2. Clear the clutter in your house, paying extra attention to areas where your guests are bound to set foot in, such as the hallway, living room, and the bathroom. These are the spaces where anyone new to your place should feel welcomed or relaxed, and it goes without saying that they should be clean like the rest of the house, disinfected even. More, as you put decorations or centerpieces in such areas, you’d definitely want your guests to see them instead of the clutter or dust, right?

3. Add a little life to your party by using (live) plants as decorations. They could be potted plants, fresh flowers in a vase, or a variety of tiny plants in a terrarium. Gardening has become one of the most popular hobbies during the pandemic that everyone seems to have a deeper appreciation for plants now, not to mention plants help clean the air, act as natural decors, and yes, they can be a good conversation starter too. 

4. Make sure the decors you choose reflect the party theme or motif, especially on the wall that would serve as the main backdrop, as well as on the serving and/or dining tables. These decors may include balloons, banners, ribbons, photos, paintings, toys, stickers, etc.

5. Make the room more festive with fairy lights, candles, or colored light bulbs. Even if it’s in broad daylight, fairy lights and candles could still make the room brighter and help set the mood, did you know?

6. Create your own DIY decorations by recycling/reusing any available material you have, as well as downloading printables online.

This is very practical, especially when you want to be on top of everything, when you want to make sure that your decors would follow a cohesive theme, at the same time reflect your personality or the personality of the person you’re celebrating, as well as if you enjoy crafting and designing and if you want to avoid overspending.

One good source of printable materials is designbundles.net. They provide affordable digital products, such as graphics, templates, mock ups, patterns, illustrations, and craft files. At Design Bundles, you can browse over 150,000 marketplace products and save a lot of money on their curated Design Bundles with up to 96% off the regular retail price. Their turtle clipart and puppy clip art collections, in particular, are on sale now! You may use them on your invitations, souvenirs, banners, and other decors.

7. You may dress up the seats by tying balloons, ribbons, tulle, etc. on to them. You may also decorate wooden chairs and benches with stencils, especially that stencil templates are also available at Design Bundles.

8. Remember to use food as part of your decoration. Find ways to make them look attractive, especially these days when people like to take photos of their food first before eating them. Of course, make sure that they taste as good as they look too, or even better!

With all these tips in mind, I hope that you will now be able to prepare your house and decorate it without overwhelming yourself on your next family celebration. Cheers! ❤

BPI’s Balikabayanihan Program Gives Hope to Returning OFWs

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew of the bittersweet stories of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Often, they go abroad for high-paying jobs so that they can save and send money to their families back home. But migration stories don’t always guarantee a happy ending, and they need help when they are forced to return home.

“Dahil ang pagkakaakala ko ay ang pagiging OFW ang sagot sa lahat ng naging problemang financial namin at gusto kong maiahon ang aking pamilya at mapagtapos ang aking anak,” said returning OFW Marites Coronado. The journey, however, wasn’t simple. 

Take the case of another former OFW, Alma Palafox. She recounted: Hindi po ako sini-suwerte sa napupuntahan na bansa. Laging may masamang nangyayari po sa akin. At minsan na rin muntik na akong hindi nakabalik ng Pinas ng buhay. Kaya hindi ko po natatapos kontrata ko.

Gerlie Austria shares a similar experience but remains grateful despite the hardships she endured abroad. “Hindi man po ako naging maswerte sa ibang bansa, pero nagpapasalamat po ako sa Panginoong Diyos at ako po ay nakauwi nang buhay.”

Myrna Peñosa Corporal recalled the gloom she felt when she decided to go back to her family. “Noong nagsabi ako sa amo ko na ibalik na ako sa agency, dinala po nila ako sa Labor. Ang unang pumasok sa isip ko at naiyak ako, ‘Paano na ang pamilya ko? Uuwi ako na walang pera at naipon.’” said Corporal. 

Coronado, Palafox, Austria, and Corporal are among the OFWs who had to return home even if they haven’t achieved yet the financial goals they set for themselves. 

The Balikabayanihan campaign, a program supported by the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), seeks to help these OFWs whose dreams were interrupted for various reasons.

Spearheaded by NEDA-Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and Atikha — a non-government organization working with OFWs and their families to maximize the gains of working abroad — Balikabayanihan calls on the spirit of volunteerism of Filipinos to help returning OFWs. 

It is a call for partnership by the Overseas Filipino organizations with government agencies, local government units, and the private sector to help OFWs by providing the needed resources — manpower and funds or mobilizing their volunteer network to serve as mentors to the OFWs. 

Melanie Labera, a returning OFW whose plan to resume her work abroad was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, benefitted from the program. “Nang umuwi ako ng Pilipinas, nagkataon naman na pandemic. Gusto ko sana bumalik [abroad], pero di na ako makabalik. Kaya malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa programang ito, pati sa BPI. May konting puhunan naman ako sa aking tindahan, pero konti lang. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako na nadagdagan dahil sa inyo.”

For her part, Austria, also a program beneficiary, said, “Nang makabalik po ako sa Pilipinas, isa po ako sa maswerteng napili ng Atikha na mabigyan ng tulong upang ako’y makapagsimula ulit sa aking buhay. Naging masaya po ako at nagkaroon ng pag-asa sa buhay. Ngayon po ay natupad ang isa kong pangarap na makabili ng makina.”  

Financial empowerment 

As one of the program supporters, BPI aims to empower repatriated OFWs by helping them manage their finances through learning webinars and by mobilizing volunteers and sponsors. BPI implements their programs through its business units BPI Foundation, BPI-Philam, and Remittance and Fund Transfers. 

“This pandemic has been hard on everyone, but repatriated OFWs and their families have been particularly affected. OFWs have done so much to uplift our entire nation’s economy over the decades. It’s only right that we stand by them now and help them get back on their feet and establish a financially secure life for themselves and their families,” said Reggie Cariaso, BPI Head of Corporate Banking Strategy, Products, and Support.

“Napakaganda po ng aking karanasan dahil nagkaroon po ako ng pag-asa sa buhay at talagang ipinangako ko po sa aking sarili na pagbubutihin ko po itong tulong na ibinigay sa akin ng Atikha at BPI Pamana Padala. At ang nagustuhan ko po dito ay ang mga taong kasapi dito na maaayos ang pakikitungo at napakamapagkumbaba at napakababait upang matulungan kaming lahat,” said Coronado. 

BPI Foundation holds mentoring sessions for OFWs with BPI Unibankers as volunteer mentors. For its part, BPI Philam provides free COVID-19 insurance coverage worth P200,000. BPI’s Remittance and Fund Transfers offers financial grants and monthly mentoring sessions for chosen OFWs  and instills the value of saving using their BPI Pamana Padala account.

With opportunities such as the Balikabayanihan, returning OFWs are more empowered than ever to try their luck in their home country. 

Palafox said, “Dito nalang po ako sa Pinas. Kahit mahirap po basta’t sama-sama kami ng mga anak ko. Kaya nagpapasalamat kami sa Balikabayanihan at sa BPI. Ang tanging hinahangad ko po sa aking sarili ay mapaunlad ko ang munting negosyo at magkaroon pa ng maraming kaalaman.”

Two in a row

11 November 2020. Typhoon #UlyssesPH has hit Laguna and other nearby provinces, as well as Metro Manila. As I write this, in less than an hour, I’ll be turning 43. Instead of feeling excited, however, I feel nothing but trepidation. All I could think of now is how much longer our roof would hold with the heavy rains and strong winds raging outside.

I feel so foolish for not trying so hard to get a carpenter to work on our roof! Two weekends ago, Typhoon Rolly, another storm signal #3, hit us and did our roof. Some parts of it started to get unhinged. I looked for a carpenter, but every one I met seemed busy fixing other people’s houses… and I was content to just wait for them to become available. Who does that? Certainly not the Proverbs 31 Woman (in the making) because she would have made sure that she would have no fear for her household.

This is not how I had expected to feel in the middle of a storm. I never had to worry before about the state of my household. This is not how I had envisioned spending my birthday either. In fact, I think this is the first time I’ve experienced a storm on my birthday and worry about such matters. Come to think of it, I can only recall only one time when it rained on my birthday and I was on my way to Singapore then to be with my husband. The rest, my daughters and I were always celebrating outdoors.

Speaking of outdoor celebrations, I had planned on driving my family to Tagaytay and inviting our close relatives to join us for some sightseeing and food trip for my birthday this year. Well, I guess even if it had not rained we still won’t have done that because of the pandemic, so there’s really no point in getting worked up for being stuck at home on my birthday, eh? Plus, I still can’t drive because there’s still this problem with my vision that remains untreated at the moment.

I pray that this would be the last storm the Philippines will experience this year, and there would be so much less of them in the future. I hope there will be no casualties this time, and the government would learn to really prepare for any storm that might hit any part of the country, just like I am learning now to be truly prepared for different storms in life.

12 November 2020. It’s officially my 43rd birthday. I couldn’t sleep last night out of worry that our entire roof might get blown away and rainwater would start seeping through the ceiling. Yet for some reason, before I went to bed and as I kept on praying, urging Jesus to just say the word and the storm would leave, I kept being reminded constantly of the story Jesus Calms the Storm.

I must admit it took a while before I figured out what I was missing. It must be because I was only focusing on the fact that Jesus is Lord of all that even the winds and the sea obey Him. I wanted so much for Him to calm the storm that I missed the bigger picture: since He is Lord of all, I should trust Him completely. As long as I am with Him, He’s in the same boat with me, then I have nothing to fear and I can sleep soundly and rest easy no matter how fierce the storm, just like He did in that story.

What a birthday! What a blessing it is to realize that despite the storm, I am blessed in infinite ways by simply anchoring my life to Jesus…

Though I had to clean a puddle of water in one area of our house, since water seeped through the floor, and the toilet would not flush, I am grateful that we are safe and no part of our house was actually submerged in water (I know what it’s like to have a flooded house; I used to experience that in my parents’ house). No part of our roof was also blown away, and our pets were all safe. We didn’t have electricity for more than 12 hours, but we’re good, and water supply didn’t get cut off. My daughters were even able to prepare a birthday dinner for me, which was attended by my in-laws, and I am grateful. (They knew didn’t have the heart to order food or prepare my own birthday dinner, knowing many Filipinos, including some of my friends and relatives were going through a worse experience because of this calamity.)

Still, God is good ❤

(Featured image by Angèle Kamp on Unsplash)

Sama-sama tayo sa Pasko at SM!

The pandemic may seem to be taking so many things from us, and at one point, we all have probably wondered how we’re going to celebrate Christmas this year. I know I have. But I have also stopped asking questions because truth be told, I, we, are still blessed in so many ways that it would be impossible not to find something to be thankful for, big or small, every day. Right now, I am grateful and already excited about Christmas, especially after having attended the SMagical Christmas Launch online! In fact, all throughout November and December, SM has prepared exciting holiday surprises that are bound to dazzle its mall goers:

  1. Christmas Launches. On November 6, SM Supermalls treated everyone to a virtual, magical feast. Twelve different SM malls lit up their magnificent Christmas displays — from SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall to SM Seaside City Cebu and SM CDO Downtown Premier! SM truly brings the magic of Christmas online through fireworks, orchestra, and whimsical characters! All the SM malls nationwide follow suit with their own magical Christmas light up on November 7 and 8. Mall goers will be delighted with a special lighting ceremony for hope and inspiration amid the pandemic, as well as singing flash mobs, cute Christmas characters, and surprise gifts.
  2. Christmas Chorale. What’s Christmas without some music? Feel the merriments of the season by watching Holiday choir performances at select SM malls this December. Meet up with your family and friends at SM and enjoy some Holiday tunes! It will surely be an awesome experience! No need to worry because strict safety protocols are in place at SM malls, so you can just focus on the magic of the celebration.
  3. Christmas Markets. It’s the season of giving! Help MSMEs bounce back from the negative impact of the pandemic by buying your Holiday essentials and gifts at SM’s nationwide Christmas Markets from November 9 to January 3. As part of the Kasama Ng SM campaign and DTI’s Buy Local, Support Local, the Christmas Markets will feature unique local products and goods so shoppers can buy from small businesses and help them bounce forward and recover.
  4. Selfie with Santa. Don’t fret – SM has made sure you won’t miss your annual selfie with Santa this year! You can pose with a virtual Santa Claus safely and via augmented reality at SM. Wanna give it a try? Simply scan the AR markers located in select areas in SM malls and have a photo with virtual Santa. Don’t forget to share your Holiday snaps online to your family and friends!
  5. SM Bears of Joy. Starting November 4 until Christmas Day, SM Supermalls is giving back through its annual Bears of Joy campaign. This time around, shoppers can collect special medical frontliner Bears of Joy. Throughout the Christmas season, you can buy a pair of bears for P200.00 – one bear for you to keep and the other for charity.
  6. TikTok Fam Contest. Have fun with your family and spread some Christmas joy by joining the TikTok Fam Contest. Simply showcase your dance moves to your favorite Christmas song in your favorite SM mall and you can get a chance to win exciting prizes!

Indeed, Christmas is almost here and not even the pandemic can take away the beloved tradition of Filipino families to celebrate this joyous occasion at SM. Let the wonderful, magical, and truly merry Christmas at SM drive away the blues! Sama-sama tayo sa Pasko sa SM!

For more information, visit http://www.smsupermalls.com or follow @smsupermalls on all social media platforms.

The Sunday Currently, Vol. 36: The one with both goodbye and welcome

reading The Screwtape Letters, Taming Your Family Zoo, and The Power of the Praying Woman still. I’ve been reading at least one chapter a day of each book, and hopefully I’ll be able to finish them all simultaneously soon.

writing down some ideas and rewriting a press release

listening to Christmas carols, especially while I was preparing dinner earlier. After attending the virtual media launch of SM last Friday evening, I became more excited about Christmas and I just wanted to keep listening to Christmas songs.

thinking about the best way to confront certain people about certain issues without them taking things as a personal attack

wishing my husband could come home this Christmas… Because of the pandemic, it won’t be practical for him to come home for the holidays since he would only be spending most of his vacation leave quarantined. More, he’d have to allot extra SGD2,500 for hotel expenses during his quarantine when he gets back to Singapore.

hoping my eyesight will be fully restored ASAP, or at least before my birthday! I just hate having to ask relatives for favors to drive me around. Hiring a freelance driver doesn’t sound like a good option either since there might be no way for me to determine the person’s medical history these past few weeks and months, not to mention I’m not really comfortable having a stranger (or anyone else except my brothers) drive my car.

wearing comfortable clothes as usual

loving how my double chocolate fudge cookies turned out this afternoon –– they were neither over- nor undercooked, and they weren’t too sweet either! You see, I bought a brand new electric oven last summer online via SM’s Call to Deliver, which turned out to be defective. Every thing I baked there at first turned out to be undercooked. I brought it to the authorized service center, only to have everything I cooked in it afterwards become overcooked. I finally decided to return it and good thing SM Sta. Rosa agreed to take it back. They gave me a voucher so I could get a new one of any brand at any of their mall branches. After almost a month, I was able to get a new one, and I’m loving it so far –– no more raw or burnt food! Thank you, SM, for being so considerate and having helpful and attentive staff, especially at SM MOA, where I got my latest oven 🙂

wanting to be able to drive my car again. I enjoy driving, really, and I wish I could go out of town with my daughters on my birthday this coming week.

needing to do some serious planning about my 43rd year

feeling tired but content. It’s been such an eventful week, and there were things that happened that I’d rather forget. Nevertheless, I am putting my confidence in Jesus, that things will be all right, that all things will work together for good… (Romans 8:28)

praying for better days. I’ve made some poor financial decisions and I am (together with my family) now reaping the consequences. Though I was able to make wise investments too and save a little, things could still be better.

thanking God for how He has been blessing me on my 42nd year so far. This pandemic actually showed me how blessed I am, plus I have learned so many things and overcame a lot of challenges and fears this past few months alone. I couldn’t be more grateful! In fact, I’m going to write about it in a separate post ❤

Join The Sunday Currently link-up by siddathornton http://siddathornton.blogspot.com/

(Image photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash)

The Sunday Currently, Vol. 35: The one just like the first volume

It’s the first day of my birth month and it’s a stormy day. Ho-hum! I thought the storm last week would be the last one to hit us, but obviously I was wrong. Come to think of it: around this time every year, storms are rather common but we still tend to be unprepared for them somehow, if not surprised by the damages they would often leave. I wish I have the power to command the storm to just go away just because I am a daughter of God. But whenever I would think that way, I would be reminded of the LORD answering Job out of the storm, and then all I could do is just pray… Anyways, here’s what I’m up to this Sunday currently:

reading M.O.T.I.V.A.T.E. and The Power of the Praying Woman, along with several academic books for our homeschool lessons

writing translations for a specific project as well as lesson plans for the coming week

listening to the laughter of my husband and daughters as they play Among Us with each other. Seriously, their online playmates won’t know what hit them!

thinking about the best way to help my daughters in their respective studies and personal concerns

wishing this storm would go away now and that it would leave very little, if not no damage at all

hoping my eyesight will be fully restored ASAP. I’ve been experiencing blurred and double vision and couldn’t drive these past few weeks. I’ve already seen an optometrist and a neurologist-ophthalmologist recently, and I’m thinking of seeking a third opinion this coming week.

wearing loose blouse and pants in monochromatic colors, which were given by my mother –– certainly the best way to keep me warm and comfy in this cold weather

loving and appreciating my husband more for being more intentional in parenting our girls. He’s been consistently planning our family weekend activities and would join me every weekday morning in conducting the Bible and Character class ❤

wanting to help a lot of people, but financially and physically, I am unable to do so at the moment

needing to do some serious cleaning around the house again as well as financial planning, too

feeling uncertain as to how I would push through with my business plans, or whether I should. I’ve come up with several plans, but after getting sick, I started feeling stuck again.

praying for wisdom, grace, good health, and provisions as we continue to homeschool and navigate daily in this pandemic (and stormy days) among other things

thanking God that my husband has survived the third wave of retrenchment (last Thursday) in their office since the pandemic started, and more

Join The Sunday Currently link-up by siddathornton http://siddathornton.blogspot.com/