Family trips: Manila Zoo

I thank God for giving me a husband who is excited to give his children an amazing experience. Going some distance and over some traffic is no big deal, as long as the family gets to experience something great together.

I was amazed on one weekend that Steve decided to bring us all to Manila Zoo. I was not sure what we would be seeing but the opportunity to show real animals to the kids, especially to Joshua, meant learning! Animals in our picture books are no match to the real thing. 

The entrance fee was only P50. I was so surprised how orderly and clean Manila Zoo is. It is the oldest zoo in South East Asia and has been operating since 1959.

We were able to see the controversial elephant Mali. She is a lone elephant whose residence is a cemented structure. There were volunteers who were feeding her and showering her water to keep her cool from the heat. She is controversial because many want her to be transferred to real Elephant sanctuary (like Thailand) where she can live a more normal elephant life with other elephants. She has been in captivity for more than 40 years. It makes me wonder if she can still adapt with others after being so alone for all these years.

Daddy took Joshua to meet different animals. We got to see different kinds of birds (peacocks, flamencos, etc) and see how big ostriches are… 

The Manila zoo is a 5.5 hectare park. It is so nice to walk around because of all the trees and the greens found inside. You can also tell that the animals are also well fed.


Daddy Steve showed Joshua the deers, crocodiles, turtles, monkeys, lion and Tigers. But I think the most fun part was touching the animals while taking a photo with them!  Inside you will find a photobooth where you can take photos with different birds. Look, Joshua held a bird in his hand and Anna had one on her head! 

Manila Zoo also sold refreshments inside and for sure you will need water. Walking around the zoo can make you a bit thirsty!  

I love how Joshua now realizes the cartoon videos we watch on his tablet like “5 Little Monkeys” are just inspired from the real thing. He actually felt a little concerned that real monkeys don’t look as friendly as the one on his video.

I love Manila Zoo because it is stroller-friendly too. Even our little Anna can enjoy just strolling around this park. 


And before leaving Manila Zoo, we took another family photo this time with some albino Python snake. Joshua did not get scared, he actually held it too! 

  I recommend the Manila Zoo for family bonding trips. It was interesting and educational for our little boy, and it was good fun for us all. I was actually happy to see how clean and well maintained Manila Zoo is. 

If you plan to visit, here are some information you need:

Location: Quirino Ave., Adriatico St., Malate Manila Luzon Philippines (corner of Mabini St. and Harrison St.)

Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily 

Telephone numbers: (632) 400-1884  or (632) 522-6179 

Story! Story! 

Books are just as important as play. I’m so glad my son loves that I read to him. He would ask me to drop everything I am doing when he says “Mommy, I want story! Story!”

He has a few favorites – when he was months old my sister bought him board books for animals, colors, first words, fruits and vegetables. We went through it at least 4 times a week. He was interested with the photos. When he turned 2 years old his favorite books are the Toddlers bible, Baby Einstein series, & God’s Big promises for kids. But just recently we found such interesting books in National Bookstore and it retails at P499.00. It’s called My Busy Books.

What I love about these books are the following:

  1. Board Book with about 8-10 pages
  2. Relatable cartoon themes
  3. 12 Plastic character toys of the story
  4. Floor mat  for different scenes of the cartoon

The great thing about these books because it allows my son’s imagination grow. He continues with his own stories using the different characters. It’s fun to watch him play on his own.

They have so many themes, we just got the story of “In and Out” and “Avengers”. I also saw Frozen and there were more titles.

These have become a good past time and bonding time. My son’s love language is TIME. So to fill his love tank, story time is a one good way to accomplish that.

Family Time at City of Dreams Manila

I did not realize that it has been 5 months since I last went to Manila. This is our first travel as a family of 4. Anna who is known for her opera singing a.k.a crying spell went to Manila for the first time at 2months  old. Thank God she was a good girl on the plane! 

We looked forward to this short break to spend time with family, especially with my sister-in-law, Samantha, who now resides in Australia. They are in the Philippines for a short visit and it is an opportuned time for us to introduce our new baby Anna.

The newest buzz in Manila is the opening of the  City of Dreams complex. We have been to City of Dreams in Macau and we enjoyed the entertainment it offers the family. Unlike the old days where casinos were just for gamblers, now it’s concept has evolved to cater to entertain the entire family. 

This facade is adding flare and glamour to Manila Bay. A complex of 6 hectares is operating a hotel, casino, shopping malls, and an array of restaurants and cafes. It also has an area specific for entertainment such as night clubs, shows, and even a Dream works amusement center for the kids to enjoy.

This investment is quite big and has the stamp of excellence just like the City of Dreams in Macau. There are shuttling of buses from airport to City of dreams.  I am very impressed with the architecture and the interiors. What was a planned lunch for the family became a 5 hour stay… Yet it was not enough! 

 Some restaurants have opened and it included a Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and continental cuisine. The family chose to eat at Erwin’s…the food served were burger, pizza, steaks, and salads.

After lunch we were given an opportunity to see the soft opening of the amusement center called Dream Play. Dreamworks characters are inspiring the themed center with rock climbing, slides and canopy walks, rides, 3D theater show, and even their own retaurants including ginger bread’s bakery. 

They were on dry run so not everything was opened. It was a look and see of what it could be. It was good fun especially for kids above 3ft! I would suggest it for 3 year old and above! 

What I loved about the place was how they considered every detail. Like providing a mothers lounge for breast feeding moms like me. I took our 2 month old Anna with us and having that mothers lounge helped me feed and change my infant while my toddler kept on playing! 

It is impossible not to return to this place because they make it a whole lot of fun for the entire family. I look forward to going back and discover more of what City of Dreams can offer.

Life photo shoot

When I gave birth to Anna, I’m so blessed because the man behind Imaginenation photography was in town… He happens to be my brother-in-law, John Ong.  His gift for photography has blessed many couples for their prenuptial photos and wedding in photos. Now, they have a new segment called Life, where they capture moments in one’s life. They take baby, maternity, and family photos.

It was Imaginenation that took my first maternity photos. We could not resist to have photos taken because we waited 7 years for this first child. We were excited and wanted to make sure we encapsulate our journey through photos. Imaginenation’s team of photographers plus the direction and styling of my sister, Monique Lopez Ong made it exceptional.





Now, John and Monique captured Anna’s first days at home! She was absolutely adorable with their direction!  Also our first family photoshoot with Anna were made possible because of their presence!




Imaginenation does not only capture photos, they are also involved in family ministries. They organize “Before I do” premarital counseling seminars. Many couples who plan to take the road to marriage and want to prepare for it should consider joining one of these sessions.  Another one is actually coming up very soon in Manila… If you are interested to know your fiance and know God’s plan for your marriage start booking today!


Watching Him Grow

In the last 2 months, I have been so amazed at my son’s development. I am so impressed with his ability to absorb knowledge.  Joshua knows numbers and knows how to count. He can identify colors and shapes.  He also memorized songs and sings them. He holds a pen very well and can draw circles and scribbles.  When I see how much he is learning, I am more convinced to just home school him so he can keep going on his own pace without limitation. Joshua now is 23 months old.

Unlike what some doctors recommend of not exposing children his age to the digital world, I seem to disagree. There are so many good videos that teach songs, colors, shapes, numbers, alphabets to preschoolers.  It is really a matter of supervision.  I do understand that over exposure is not good, but for me limited exposure has its benefits.  I will not deny that many of the things Joshua knows are because of these preschool videos found on youtube. Of course, we supplement what he watches with tangible learning tools to help him understand fully the concept presented on the videos.


I am so happy that there are many educational toys available.  I am also blessed that with Joshua, he enjoys educational toys.  He is the type that likes building blocks, play doh or home-made clay, and wooden puzzles, books, more than toys (e.g. cars, stuff toys, etc.) Let me share with you what gets Joshua busy and stimulated throughout the day.

1. Mega Blocks – These are great toys for kids below two. It helps them assemble towers and gives them imagination on design.  Joshua enjoys this so much because he can identify colors and build new designs every time. He also enjoys destroying what he builds and start over again.


2. Play Doh – I first made home-made clay. I got a recipe online made of salt, flour, cream of tartar, water, and food coloring.  He was only 1 year and 9 months old when I decided to introduce him to home-made clay and I bought a few cookie cutters to help design shapes and so he can identify them. It was fun!  Then as time passed the clay was not properly stored they became hard and we had to throw them away.  So, he probably had a month of no playing with clay.  He kept watching the youtube review on play doh and watched how they were making ice cream and food with play doh.  So, Daddy Steve decided to buy him his first play doh set.  He was so thrilled he kept saying “I love play doh”.  We still play with play doh every day and we talk about colors, shapes, and food!


3. Wooden Puzzles – I found a wooden puzzle in national bookstore that had numbers on it and as you removed the wooden piece it would show the fingers corresponding the numbers.  When I first introduced this to Joshua, he was totally enjoying the puzzle. He played with this puzzle the whole day without looking for his “baba” (or what he nicknames his tablet).  He had on his hands the numbers that he was watching on youtube.  The amazing thing is that he does not only recognize numbers, he actually can count stuff.  He actually did a count of the slices of grape fruit and it confirmed he understands.

4. Magnet alphabets and numbers – This is such a great educational tool too! We would stick letters on the fridge and say its name and sound.  We kinda have to stay near the refrigerator but that is fine.  He finds it quite interesting that he can stick them one by one and pull them out. Its pretty stimulating.  I also bought a smaller version with a magnetic board for travel because its just good fun!

5. Colored pens and papers –  Joshua was holding a pen quite early.  A little after he turned one, we have been making him scribble on the white board.  Then later, I decided to buy him a set of colored pens so he can start drawing on paper.  He likes to write, and its part of his daily routine to either go on the white board or to scribble on paper. He really enjoys it!

It is never too early to introduce our children to explore new things.  I really suggest to my mommy friends to go ahead and try… dont wait for your child to enroll in a pre-school to learn something new. You can do it at home together. As I watch my son grow, I am so blessed to have this opportunity to be part of his development and not miss it!


Training to Potty

Sometime ago, I wrote about buying that toilet seat for kids that you place above the adult toilet. My son was able to poop on it and I was so mighty proud. Little did you know that he did that only once. Since then, that toilet seat has become just an point of reference on where people should sit when they need to go to the bathroom .

For months since that successful event, we have tried to make him sit on that toilet seat and see nothing happen. We would still end up with soiled diapers for he refuses to poo sitting on that high toilet seat.

Now at 1 year and 9 months, I need to get some intervention. My son’s change of diapers have increased and that’s because he urinates more and poos as much as twice in a day. I know my son is very smart, but on the potty a bit lazy.

It was last week that I went to the baby store to see the kind of little potty they had. I needed my son and husband help me make the decision on what to buy. And we finally did our purchase — the Safety 1st Comfy Cushy 3-in-1 Potty.

We brought it home and Josh kept playing with it like a new toy. He would open and sit and then close his potty. We also kept instructing, “this is where you pee and poo”.

However in the evening, I got frustrated because despite the push to use his potty he still chose to soil his diapers. I decided to not let him wear any diaper and just walk around the house in his shorts. It was only then that he wet himself and the floor. It became our teaching moment. We explained to him that when he feels like peeing to go to the potty. His daddy also demonstrated what Josh should do.

In my frustration, I really prayed out loud. “Lord teach me what to so I can effectively teach my son to potty!” I was losing my patience over this, so I rested from the potty training obsession.

The next morning, after Joshua wakes, he tells me to change his diaper because it is “puno” or full. When I was changing him I saw he was ready to pee again. So I raised him out of bed to his potty. Then with time and encouragement he finally succeeded! His smile was ear to ear with all the words of praise and high fives.


He was so happy with his achievement he called his Yaya and showed her his potty. Then on his own, he sat on the potty and also poo-ed on it. What a bonus! I thanked God for the blessing and I pray that my son will be potty trained fully. As they always say repetition makes perfect!

TANG Sweet Orange Baby Teethers!

If you are a mommy like me, you know exactly that a baby going through teething is no joke. Our babies get cranky, they often want to have those itchy gums soothed by pacifiers, or even toys.  Well my little boy is growing a new tooth again and though he is pretty sport about it, it still makes him drool alot and want to bite on toys.

This week, I was privileged to join my other blogger friends to the launch of Tang’s new product.  They introduced something really interesting… A TANG powdered juice formulated for the Mindanao palate.  They brought their own food scientists to study what a Mindanaon wants in their orange juice.  7 out of 10 Mindanaoans seem to agree that they want a sweeter flavor in their orange juice.  So, if you like your orange juice sweeter, guess what, you can now buy the TANG SWEET ORANGE.  The only catch is, you can only buy it in MINDANAO groceries and sari-sari stores! 

Think about this —  An international brand willing to formulate a new variant just for Mindanaoans … willing to adjust to the taste and the culture of Mindanaons???   I say, “Its just super cool!!!” 


Well, my son is a true Mindanaon. He was born in Mindanao and most likely will grow up in Mindanao.  Therefore, it will be highly possible that he will develop a Mindanaon palate.  Good thing that TANG Sweet Orange it is fortified with Vitamins A,B, C, Folate and Iron, and is Halal certified (meaning clean food and organic).  So I have decided to be creative, and use TANG Sweet Orange to make a Baby Teether suited for my Joshua.

It is suggested to mix one 25g sachet of TANG Sweet Orange with 1 Liter of water. I still find it very sweet.  So, to adjust to my little one year old’s taste, I mixed the sachet with 1.5 Liter of water.  Then I started storing it in Ice Plastics and placed it in the freezer overnight. This TANG Sweet Orange teether is ready to soothe my baby’s gums.  Also since its summer, it is another great popsicle to cool off the hot sunny days!