Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Husband’s Reaction to Filipino Foods

Filipino food is probably the touchstone of the culture and tradition that I grew up with. Though essentially influenced by Western culture (fries, burgers, steak and the like), there’s this part of Filipino cuisine that I wanted to share with my American husband. As a child, I heard of horror stories where families of Filipino immigrants received complaints of neighbors because of the strong smell of some Filipino dishes- most specially bagoong or anchovies which is a condiment partially or completely made of either fermented fish or krill with salt! So, here’s some interesting stuff I found out about my husband regarding Filipino cuisine.

Pork Binagoongan/ Ensalada with bagoong, kamatis, manga and itlog na maalat (Pork Flavored with Anchovies/ Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes, Mango, and Salted Eggs)

It was only recently after over a year that I bought bagoong or anchovies. I had no intention of asking my husband to taste it when I prepared them. I was too worried regarding his reaction about the smell that I was constantly checking on him while I was cooking. He survived the dinner even though the smell was so strong! As for the ensalada or grilled eggplant with anchovies and mangoes, he tried to have a sniff of it in closer proximity but of course he didn’t try it.

Pork Barbecue and Isaw

I still feel guilty about this. Isaw or chicken liver skewer is not something that I would want my husband to try since I knew what he feels about exotic food. We were having a dinner at a Filipino restaurant while he was visiting me at Jakarta when he had a bite of this on ‘accident’. We ordered pork barbecue and he liked it so much so we asked for another serving. Unknowingly, ‘isaw’ which was ordered by one of our friends was included on the platter and my husband took a bite of it. My friends and I looked at each other and nobody said anything. I knew my husband noticed the difference so he immediately put it down. I was so guilty that I decided to tell him the truth. In fairness to him, he didn’t over react and simply said he knew it tasted different. He did not have another bite of barbecue that night.

Lumpia Shanghai (Similar to egg rolls but fillings are ground pork and other Filipino flavors.)

Lumpia is probably one of my husband’s favorite. He could easily wolf down several pieces without batting an eyelash! He loves that it's crunchy.

Pancit (Egg noodles flavored with veggies, pork and shrimp)

I put too much veggies on it that my husband would simply grimace whenever I ask him to take a bite so obviously it’s a big no for him. He had a bite (After removing all the veggies) of the last one I cooked though!

Filipino spaghetti

What makes Filipino spaghetti different is its sweetness and the addition of hotdogs on it! I only cooked it once since I’m starting to prefer the recipe here and my husband obviously didn’t like it.


Probably the most famous Filipino dish. This is becoming a regular here at home and he likes this with his own version of rice (white rice with cinnamon and sugar).


Disclaimer: This photo is not owned by the site owner. 

I have never tried cooking this but my husband and I were watching a TV show when they showed the whole pig roast on the table. He almost threw up! I guess no lechon for him when we visit Philippines in the future.

Not all Filipino cuisines are exotic or crazy however you want to label it. Thankfully, my husband and I have a lot of common grounds. We both like pork chops, fried chicken, meatloaf, steak, and of course bacon!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Highly Recommended Manipulatives for Young Learners (Reading)

Raising a precocious reader takes more than letter writing practice, phonemic awareness games, learning simple vocabulary, and answering questions about stories. The use of manipulative is greatly commended to engage children in hands-on learning. This educational technique banks on the idea that learning is enhanced when students acquire knowledge through active processes that engage them (Hartshorn and Boren, 1991) and this is also supported by both learning theory and educational research in the classroom.

Aside from the strong foundation it provides, learning becomes more fun and it also offers ample opportunities for kids to be challenged. Here are some of the highly- recommended manipulatives for young learners. I also provided links on the title for more product info and prices.


These are textured letters to stimulate and enhance memory of the written language. These language symbols are an important pathway to learning how to read and spell.

Support alphabet awareness by recognizing letter sounds and shapes. Also builds early vocabulary, oral language, sorting, and fine motor skills.


Provides focus on foundational skills and concepts that are easily practiced at home. Engaging puzzle format disguises learning as fun, with immediate feedback for self-checking.


It is a manipulative-based phonics program that supports essential components of reading first and is a distinct hands-on manipulative to teach literacy. Color-coded, interlocking language manipulatives is the ideal supplement to all phonics and reading programs.

An essential word building manipulative that can be used in any reading program.


Set of 48 CVC cards with picture and color guides for building 3 letter CVC words with CVC Tri-Blocks® Tub. Children follow the progression as they learn to sound out and build words. 3 levels to follow: blue, orange, violet. Teach phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, spelling. Cards are self-checking with answers on back.


Make hundreds of sentences with these color-coded dominoes featuring nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, plus punctuation marks. 

Familiarize kids with different words while developing mathematical skills. Tiles feature upper and lower case letters along with illustrations to add to the matching fun.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Filstop Review- A Filipino Online Store

Today, I finally received my online order from Filstop. I chanced upon this online store through a Facebook ad. 

Today, I finally received my online order from Filstop. I chanced upon this online store through a Facebook ad. I’ve been looking for a more convenient way of shopping for Filipino foods and Filstop was the answer. For somebody who lives thousands of miles away from familiar cuisine, it’s a joy to find this. I used to shop at the Asian store about 35 minutes from where we live but the number of Filipino products at Filstop was just amazing. Here’s a review about my first order!

Web Usability:
The presentation of information and choices was clear and concise. The buttons for ordering were easy to understand and there’s no ambiguity since they also provide information about the products. Check- out was also stress-free and I was able to navigate the whole process without difficulty. Several clicks and I was done.

Product Price and Availability:
I personally think that price of the products was fair enough. Comparing some of their products to Amazon, it shows that Filstop is way cheaper. In terms of product availability, I guess it exceeded my expectation. Who would have thought that I'd find ‘itlog maalat’, ‘alamang’, ‘Bagoong Balayan’, and even ‘Quizon pancit’? I was too excited whenever I type the name of the product and they have several choices available. There are some products marked out of stock but it also happens even in other online stores. I removed my frozen products order when I saw that there’s a charge for special frozen package.

Delivery Process:
I placed my order January 22 and received an email confirmation the same night that my order was completed. Several days after that, I tried checking for an update but heeded no info when I tried typing the order number. On January 27, I received an email informing me that a ‘Fedex label was printed and order awaiting pick-up’. Expected delivery was late in the afternoon of Wednesday. Using the tracking number, I was finally able to check for updates of my package until I received it though FedEx today, January 31, Wednesday, 9:40 a.m.

Packing and Completeness of Ordered Items:

Packing was excellent. There were no broken bottles and all my items were in perfect condition. I received all my ordered items and the arrangement was meticulously done. I am a bit disappointed that some products like Argentina corned beef and sandwich spread were not made from the Philippines but I think it’s not really a big deal.

Is it worth the wait (January 22-31)? I think it is. Nothing beats the taste of food which reminds me of the Philippines. After enjoying my pork ‘binagoongan’ tonight, I am definitely going to have my monthly order.

Note: Filstop is more than an online store. Check their website here for more info. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Life’s Greatest Lessons from the Preschool

Choosing the path to be with the four and five-year-olds could be full of plethora of challenges but it’s definitely refreshing to listen to their words and experience their sweetest gestures. Almost 14 years of teaching and here in their small world, I learned life’s greatest lessons from little people with big hearts.

On Being Different

Five months of working at the preschool, not one kid asked me why I look different or why do I have an accent. There was only one time that my being ‘different’ was mentioned. I was reading the book entitled ‘It’s Okay to be Different’ to a five-year-old kid, when I pointed to myself and said, “Your hair is blond and mine is black. We’re different.” He looked at my eyes and told me with all the sincerity he could muster, “I like you because you’re different.”

On Friendship and Forgiveness

A kid screamed and I asked what happened. She said that her best friend told her that ‘She’s breaking up with her and they’re no longer friends’. I tried to explain that when she says those words, she hurts her friend’s feelings. She answered me, “It’s okay. I only said it but I still love her.” After a while, they were playing happily again. For them, forgiveness comes easy.

On Marriage
For being small, they could be very persistent.
1st Kid to the 2nd Kid: I love you and I will marry you.
2nd Kid: I will marry you, too!
3rd Kid to the 2nd Kid: No, I will marry you!
4th Kid to the 1st Kid: What about me? I will marry you!
5th Kid: My mom and dad got married yesterday. I will marry, Ms. Nina!
Me: I’m already married.
5th Kid: I don’t care. I will marry you.

On Love
The purest love that you could ever receive will come from these little people with big hearts.

A five-year-old boy almost asleep takes my hand, puts it on his heart, and hugs it, “I love you and you’re my family.”

A five-year-old girl was talking excitedly about going to her grandma’s house, “My grandma has the best house! Can I bring you with me, please?”

On Settling an Argument
Three kids were talking after an argument.
Kid 1 to Kid 2: You hurt my feelings. That was not so nice.
Kid 2: No, you hurt my feelings!
Kid 3 to Kid 2: Stop it. You’re hurting her feelings. You’re being mean.
Kid 2: No, you’re being mean.
Kid 1: I’m sorry. Let’s just play.

On Death
Death is simple. It's about losing but looking at the brighter side of things.

Kid: Ms. Nina, you have four dogs, right?
Me: No, we have three.
Kid: So, if one dies it's okay. You will still have two.

Monday, September 04, 2017

10 Months, 4 Seasons, Countless Life’s Lessons

The memory was still vivid like it happened not eons ago- multi-colored works of arts, a riot of colors mostly shades of yellow, red and orange, and views from above with objects that glistened like lilac hue. It was autumn and the scenery was painted distinctly on my mind since it was my first time in United States. 

The smell of ripe earth and the feel of mellow, golden sun on my skin left that taste of nostalgic reminiscences of so many firsts as soon as the plane landed on the airport. The joy was immeasurable when I saw the ‘Michigan’ sign. The first few days were days of tears as my husband and I would stare at each other still in disbelief that we were finally together.

The frigidity of winter rain came so fast as soon as I had my first ever celebration of Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, it was also marked by another first- my first taste of turkey.

Soon, I watched my boots over the frozen sidewalk. Not long after, my first glimpse of the white snowflakes as they fell from the sky. My husband watched me as my eyes grew huge in bewilderment, and like a child, I jumped up and down trying to catch the soft pieces but they ended in my mouth instead.

My first Christmas with my husband couldn’t be more perfect- carols playing softly, his arms around me, and miles and miles of trees blanketed in snow.


Just as I thought it couldn’t get any colder, the snow melted away. From the once barren brown trees sprang new signs of life. The air was scented with flowers blooming. The air was warmer and the cold breeze finally became gentler and breathed new life to once desolate landscape.

Again, my first glimpse of the magical fairy tale where brilliant rays of new life emerged. It was also my first birthday here marked by another first with a ten-mile-walk at Pictured Rocks and an eight-mile-bike at Mackinaw Island- two of the top destinations in Michigan.

The old adage hit me with reality again. Time indeed flies so fast. As I basked at the scorching heat and the ball of fire in the sky blazed a brilliant amber, there was this dawn of realization that summer completed my four seasons. Though the word ‘firsts’ probably capped off everything, I could not deny the fact that my new life here is also a collection of new learning experiences.

Countless Lessons
Yes, there were myriads of lessons. Cleaning the table after eating at fast-food restaurants would be on top of the list. Then the rest could just be summed up with the seasons- raking leaves during fall, plowing snow during winter, and mowing grass during spring and summer. Yes, starting anew was a bit scary and definitely was not easy but so long as you fill your hearts with faith, hope and love, then life is worth basking in the beauty of the four seasons. Officially celebrating my ten months here in the U.S.A., four seasons, and countless life's lessons. 

"This life is an enduring and complex journey, but finally I have reached the point in my story where I am appreciative of where I've been, proud of where I am, and excited about where I have yet to go.”


Click to Subscribe to My YouTube Channel

Click to Subscribe to My YouTube Channel
Free English tutorial videos.

Free Worksheets, Flashcards, and Other Educational Materials

Free Worksheets, Flashcards, and Other Educational Materials
Visit my educational website and download English worksheets, lesson plans, spelling flashcards, writing prompts and others.