How to be a better Filipino for the New Year, Part 1

As the previous year comes to a close, now is a great time to reflect on the year that was and make plans to make the incoming year a better one.

If you’re a Filipino, that would also mean becoming a better Pinoy.

We are all very well aware that the Philippines has problems, some big, some small; but I believe that the state of the country largely depends on the individual excellence of every Filipino. When the people improve, the country improves.

Sadly however, we have a very self-defeatist and unpatriotic attitude. It’s reflected in the way we behave in social media, how we perceive ourselves and our country, and, perhaps most importantly, in our wallets.

In my humble attempt to inculcate change into my countrymen, here are some tips on how to be a better Filipino for the New Year.

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The best gift ideas for those who are clueless

The Christmas celebrations are around the corner, and with that comes the occasionally stress-inducing responsibility of choosing gifts for people, lots of people.

While choosing a gift is an easy task every now and then, oftentimes you can’t help but end up confused or clueless on what the best gift idea actually means.  It could be because you drew someone you barely know in the company Kris Kringle; or because you need to get a gift for that person “who has everything”; or, let’s face it, the opposite gender will always be difficult to buy gifts for (I’ve been married for almost 20 years, yet I still struggle on what to get wifey every Christmas or birthday).

Whatever the reason for your gift-choosing struggle, maybe some of these tips will help you in your quest to come up with the best Christmas gift idea.

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How to optimally fuel your travelling athlete

The kiddo had a blast travelling with these guys…till he got sick, that is.

My son has just arrived home from a week long absence as he played a huge soccer tournament in Cebu. He is often travelling to play the sport he loves, competing in the biggest junior events of the Philippines, like Thirsty Cup (this trip), Ceres Cup in Bacolod, Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, and Pilipinas Cup in Clark…not to mention many cities he goes to in-between those big ones.

Sadly, he got sick during the trip and played all his matches with a fever. In fact, the on-site medic did not allow him to play the last match, where his team lost to the eventual champions in a tense and heartbreaking quarterfinal match.

While I could blame many factors for his sudden sickness, like the city’s dirt, the multiple-hour video game binge he had with a cousin the day before the matches started, the heat, and so on; I cannot ignore that we forgot to pack some things for his performance and health, things that he badly needed.

This unfortunate turn of events made me reflect: what are the travelling essentials needed for my son’s optimum performance? Soccer is an intense sport often played under intense heat, and so every trip has to be planned carefully so that he’s peaked and ready to win.

Of course, perfect planning doesn’t always happen (like this trip), even after years of travelling the circuit; but what does it look like when you nail it? Here’s what I think should be packed to optimally fuel your favorite athlete. Ready? Let’s go!

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Three tips on how to make those New Year’s Resolutions stick

We just stepped into a new year, and you know what that means: New Year’s Resolutions.  If you’re reading this a bit later into January 2018, are you still on track; or have they already been thrown out the window?  According to New York Times best-selling author, Jon Acuff: only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are fully realized, 92% don’t see the light of day. What a dismal statistic; but a dismal statistic that hits home, I’m sure.

Speaking of Jon Acuff, I’ve just attended a webinar of his, where the author and speaker himself went live (technical difficulties and all) and gave three tips on how to crush your goals for 2018. I would like to transfer some of these golden nuggets to this blog, as all of us, me definitely included, need all the help we can get.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s three tips on how to make those New Year’s Resolutions stick.

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Ditch commercial sports drinks and make your own

I am not a fan of sports drinks.

For one, they’re not a frugal choice at all. Each of these bottles cost P40-60 and after a hard soccer match, my son can guzzle down one whole bottle in a single sitting. In a festival-type tournament, he plays 4-5 matches in a single day, so I can spend P300 a day just on the sweet stuff! Now, if it’s a tournament that my teen daughter also competes in, that amount can easily double: P600 per day for sports drinks alone!! That’s nuts.

But that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is reserved for what they actually are: basically non-carbonated soda. They’re full of sugar (almost as much as actual sodas), artificial flavors and colors, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or even artificial sweeteners like sucralose, and not much else outside of the electrolytes they’re touted to provide the thirsty athlete.

But don’t take my word for it. Studies have vindicated my opinion on these drinks. Check out this article, as well as this one.

What I do instead is to come up with my own electrolyte drink that’s much better for my kids and for my wallet as well. I have two recipes, which are:

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Sunscreen? Not a fan. Here’s why.

A few months ago, I came back from a trip from the nearby town of Camp Phillips, Bukidnon as all three of my kids competed at the Del Monte Cup soccer tournament. Since we arrived a bit early, when things were still being set up, I was able to observe people do their thing to prepare for the competition ahead.

For most of them, this included slathering on the sunblock or sunscreen.

Since virtually everyone was doing so, it got to the point that even when I was standing quite far from people, I couldn’t get the chemical scents of various sunscreen brands out of my nose. We’ve just had summer vacation here in the Philippines, so I assume that whether you’re hitting the beach or hitting the sports fields, it’s been the season to slather on the sunscreen.

You might be shocked to discover that I am not a fan of the stuff, and I advise you to ditch it as well. Now, I understand that I am a minority here…and right now you’re probably looking for your jaw that just hit the floor. Even my children succumbed to peer pressure during the tournament and used the stuff before their matches began. Nevertheless, I say no to sunscreen and I will give three reasons why; ending with alternatives to use instead.

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12 Filipino brands that my family supports – part 3

First of all, I would like to greet you a Merry Christmas, and I hope you are using the holiday season to relax and chill with loved ones.  This is the third and final installment of my article on the 12 brands that my family supports, and if you haven’t yet checked out the first two, here’s Part 1, and here’s Part 2.

If you are a Filipino, but most of the stuff you regularly buy is imported, I suggest you consider doing a similar exercise as I have done: replace 12 imported products that you regularly use with Filipino counterparts.  Here’s a maxim for good citizenship: If you want to build your country, buy what your country builds.  It’s not rocket science to realize the difference between our hard earned money staying here on these shores vs. our hard earned money going elsewhere.

But what do most Filipinos do?  Our colonial mentality takes control of our wallets, and so our kitchens, our cupboards, our bathrooms, and our closets are filled with products from America, Europe, even other parts of Asia…with hardly a Filipino product in sight.  Surely, we can be better Filipino citizens than that, and so how about making Buy Pinoy a mantra for 2017?  The three-part article gives 12 products or brands to help you get started, with below being the final group of products.

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12 Filipino brands that my family supports – part 2

This is the second of a three-part series on the Filipino products that my family supports (see the first one here).  I got the idea for this article from a Buy Pinoy assignment that I give my students: they make a list of 12 products that they currently patronize and replace them with Filipino counterparts.  After a month, they will come up with and compare-and-contrast paper about their experience.

As you can imagine with our colonial-minded brethren, my students included, there were groans and complaints about the supposed inferior quality of our products, to which I replied that (a) you can very well be wrong, and (b) with our support, they can become great.  Want examples of lowly local products that are praised worldwide, especially since we Filipinos support them so much?  San Miguel beer is lauded as one of the best beers in the world, and Emperador brandy is the world’s best-selling brandy.  Of course, I do not encourage my students to include these products as part of their assignment, and I’d like to think that there’s more to great Filipino products than alcohol; but I think they get my point.

While many students said they will never ever make the switch with some products (I understand…I love my Oreo cookies, too), by and large, they found the local products as good as their more expensive imported counterparts.  Yet many students do not use Filipino goods to the point that they do not even know what they are, and therefore had great difficulty finding 12 Filipino products.  Some even mistakenly switched a foreign brand with another foreign brand (guys, Del Monte is not a Filipino brand, neither is Safeguard).  In response to this, I made this three-part blog entry on the Filipino products that my family supports.

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Tis the season for Balikbayan Boxes! Here are the best items to send, IMO.

Now that we are in the “ber months,” which here in the Philippines means that it’s the start of the longest Christmas Holiday season in the world; it also means ‘tis the season of the Balikbayan boxes coming from abroad to the motherland.  For nearly every Philippine-based family, receiving these boxes from their generous relatives abroad is a cause for celebration.  Though very much appreciated, for me, it does give me some reason to groan, unless the relatives abroad know the right things to send through Balikbayan boxes, at least my opinion of such.  Read on.

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12 Filipino brands that my family supports – part 1

(Note: this is the first of a three-part series.  To see part two, click here.  For part three, click here.)

To this day, one of my most commented-on and beloved articles is the Buy Pinoy experiment article made way back in 2011.  It tells of a favorite assignment I give my students, based on one of the chapters of Alex Lacson’s bestselling book (required reading in the school12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country.  For a certain time (now about a month, but in the article it was just a week), my students have to list down 12 imported things that they usually patronize, and replace them with Filipino counterparts.  Read up on my students’ thoughts on this project here, the aforementioned blog post.

It’s about time for another update for that article; and this time, it’s about 12 Filipino brands or products that we personally patronize as a family.  We feel good that these products are made by Filipino hands, and the making of which brings much-needed sustenance to Filipino families.  Sadly, one of the reasons I came up with the idea for this article is that many of my students have absolutely no clue what a Filipino-made product is.  You’re probably like them, too; and so this article is for you as well.

So, here’s my 12 Filipino products or brands that my family supports:

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