Lily’s party



Lilys Logo


Lily turns 7 soon. Since Stella was born, she had to share her birthday parties with Stella. Their birthdays are two days apart! For this seventh birthday bash, we promised her her own party. We are celebrating it a week before her actual birthdate. Since last summer was all about Littlest Pet Shop for all three sisters, she said she wanted LPS everything. It’ll be called “Lily’s Pet Shop”.

I don’t think I was able to write a birthday story last year for Lily. As always, organizing parties for two girls at the same time leaves me with little time to reflect. So for this year, Lily gets her own day and own party, I’m writing about her before things get too busy.


Me and my Lily
I think it was Lily’s birth that taught me how to really be a mom. I loved Sophia from the moment she was in my womb. And when Lily was born, I was confused about loving two equally. She’s proof that the heart simply just grows and loves automatically.


Lily knows how to look at the camera's lens
She was born with a smile and a dimple.


The Lily Wears Prada
She had a very big personality. This was a shot I couldn’t resist – The Lily Wears Prada.


Me and Lily
Days before her baby sister was born and she became an Ate.


Lily and her cake
On her 3rd birthday, I was already having contractions. Stella was born two days later. I still wanted to give her a celebration so I organized a McDonalds birthday party for Lily a few days later, even though I couldn’t be there with the newborn. Oh my heart was so broken then. I so wanted to be with her.


Little Einsteins cake by Gel Colet
Lily was so happy with the cake, made by Gel Colet. She’s like that. She loves beautiful details.


Lily and William on an old school desk
With her best friend cousin William at Balzac’s, Distillery District, Toronto in 2010. She’s a very good big cousin.


Me and my babies
Our funny girl who also loves her quiet time.


Me and Lily
We created this “thing” between us. It’s something she claimed belongs to her. Our forehead kiss.


Lily’s life is full of pink and glitters. She can burst out in to song and dance in the middle of no where. She draws and paints with a passion from her gut. I like to keep her talent raw and untrained as long as possible. She has her own style.


Minutes before her party last year (joint with Stella). She ran to me from across the room and did our forehead kiss. She said, “This day started out not so good but now it’s the best day of my life. Thank you for this party mommy.” It is such a joy to do things for her.


Peterborough Lift Lock
I’m scared of middle child issues. I was somewhat a middle child too, being 2nd of four. Lily has found her comfortable and secure place within our family. Sometimes I think she grew up too fast. But then I remember that up to today she still wears glitter and feathers just like when she was 2.


She’s that easy going child. Like a magnet that draws in many “fans”. Lily lost her two front teeth in Canada over the spring. No drama. Just excitement.


She’s not fearless like her Ate. She carefully calculates every move. Already she knows she hates speed and heights — so much like me. After weighing things for a couple of hours, she decided to ride this baby roller coaster in Marineland last spring. Then she loved it and even gathered enough guts to raise her hand! It’s not something I could have told her to do. She likes figuring it out by herself.


She loves to dance. Unfortunately she’s only had a few baby ballet lessons. She wanted dance as an extra-curricular activity this year. I tried. But her academic schedule is just… insane. I hope to find her a dance school with a workable schedule.


This kid feels music run through her veins. Since she was a toddler Dancing Queen was her favourite. Up to now, it's still her song. Oh Lily...
Lily, our Dancing Queen.


Don’t grow up too fast, Little Miss Lily. Love you forever.



Back to school food



Comfort food
Chicken fingers


This is for those whose kids have gone back to school. I need your help please.

Every year I struggle with my kids’ lunch. They are not of the age where they can be left alone to buy food at the cafeteria. (My eldest may be capable of handling money, but I’m not ready to trust her with daily lunch choice, haha. And she prefers to bring lunch from home.)

Aside from chicken fingers, like the photo above, I need easy, quick ideas to add to our menu. We do our chicken fingers and fish fillet from scratch because the packaged ones come with artificial flavours. There are a few extra steps but everyone is used to it. Sometimes we do adobo, cooked the night before. We also do fried egg with cheese. It’s just been the third day of school and I’m already running out of ideas. Help, please. And feel free to add snack ideas.

Please post in comment section. Thanks!!!



La Pomme in the islands



Apol Lejano-Massebieau and Ito Kish


I met Apol last March at Manila FAME. I felt like I knew her already. We must have met over 10 years ago while we were both in media. She was the founding editor of Real Living magazine. She has since gotten married, moved to France, explored being a creative entrepreneur, and moved back to the Philippines with her husband and daughter to live by the beach in Bohol.

She told me about her online shop La Pomme Kids selling crafts she designs and makes herself, as well as products created by other Filipino artists and artisans.

Check out La Pomme Kids at their pop-up shop at KISH on Friday & Saturday June 21 & 22. Here’s an idea of what LPK has and a glimpse into Apol’s creative life in Bohol.


window invite jpg 600


A fabric castle tower.


Baskets made by the artisans of Antequera, Bohol, painted in juicy colors.


An art doll made by Anna Rosete.


What’s the story of La Pomme Home & Kids? Did you really plan on pursuing this creative endeavour or was it accidental as a result of your move to the island?

La Pomme Home has been around since 2007, a handmade home décor endeavor I started in France that in the beginning was more about objects for children, before I ventured into grown-up stuff. I got back to the Philippines knowing that I’d continue doing that, but this time instead of using French linen and vintage cotton, working with materials from here. La Pomme Kids is a happy accident, because when I got back here I also felt the urge to return to making things for children, with the added bonus of working with Filipino artists and artisans.




I know a lot of people who dream of taking their north american/european retirement packages and buying a beach or an island in the Philippines. Was this your dream life as well? What did you and your husband have to do to attain this “dream life” far from the western world?

Our ideal life had always been to live creative lives with a certain measure of freedom from that sad lifestyle conveyed by the French expression “métro, boulot, dodo,” meaning a life all about routine and work. We lived in a quaint provincial village in France, and worked for ourselves, so we already had what we wanted. Except that France really is a very structured society, where life is almost too predictable. When we had our daughter, we knew that we wanted her to experience a culture different from that. We wanted her to grow up not being afraid to take risks, to be able to think out of the box, abilities we feel are not prized by the French culture. So this move back here. Our thinking is, even when we move on, maybe find ourselves back in Europe, she’d already have been immersed in a different kind of being, and be conscious of the fact that life is not necessarily a well-ordered set of events.




Three things you learned about yourself when you decided to do this major life switch.

That I’m not quite as cool as my husband. I need a certain measure of order and security in my days.
That I need to work. I can’t be lolling around on the beach all day!
That I really like cool weather.




Describe a typical day.

I wake up around five a.m., do e-mail and some work on the computer. My daughter is up around 7 a.m., so we make breakfast. My husband comes straggling in an hour later. Then they go to the beach, or to Lilou’s preschool, while I stay home, get photos done for the shop or take care care of orders. They’re back for lunch. Afternoons we’ll probably be with people who work with us, maybe artisans or home crafters, to discuss products. Often this involves long drives to faraway towns, and stops at places like swimming holes you’d find in caves, or waterfalls, or lakes, anything to escape the heat. Once we found a restaurant that served crocodile. But usually we’ll just stop at a market to see if we can’t buy some fish for dinner.




Tell us about your sewing hobby. How did it start? When do you find time to sew?

I had always been involved in making things with my hands. Before I left Manila a decade ago, aside from working in media, I was also making jewelry. When I got to France, knowing that I could sew, my mother-in-law gave me a hand-me-down portable sewing machine with 60s-style orange and yellow flowers decorating its plastic body, and funkily named “Singer Starlet.” I’ve not looked back since! I find the time at night, when my child is in bed and my husband is at the computer.




Upside of living the way you do? Downside if any?

Upside is we get to spend the whole day with our child. Downside is we rarely get to spend quality couple time alone.


Three things you miss about living in France.

Springtime and cherries. Good meat and cheese. The way people are frank and verbal.




Three things of France you brought to Bohol.

The language, which we speak at home when there’s no one else around.
A certain “jusqu’a bout-ism,” which means going to the very end to get what we want or push our point. My family is a very stubborn lot.
My Laguiole knife, a gift from my husband. Very beautiful, but also practical. It’s indispensable for cutting into those barbecued pork bellies and delicious tropical fruits that we eat a lot of here.




What do you want Lilou to learn about this experience?

That she can create the life she wants.




Where is home?

We’ve only been here less than six months, so I still miss France. Bohol is very pretty, but I think the language prevents us from really feeling at ease here. I like it every time I’m in Manila, but the pollution and sheer density of people living there are a bit scary. So, uhm, can you ask me again in six months?


Apol’s website La Pomme Home and Kids.



Beluga whales



One of the most incredible experiences we had recently was our encounter with beluga whales at Canada’s Marineland. My little three year old nephew Alexander has been so in love with these Arctic mammals since he was a baby. I knew they were adorable but I didn’t realize how much cuter they were in person. And very intelligent. They were extremely sociable interacting with people – dancing, reacting to movements, popping their head up. And that perma-smile just makes me want to… smile forever.


There are around 40 beluga whales in Marineland. Belugas were among the first whale species to be kept in captivity as early as the 1860’s. It has since been regulated.


Stunning space. It was like a dream. I think this is my favourite place now. The Arctic Cove in MarineLand.


Two belugas prop their heads up. Some defining features – the compartment at the centre of the forehead called “melon” contains oily, fatty tissue.  The melon is bulbous and visible. It is actually malleable and changes its shape during the emission of sounds. Belugas also seem to have a neck. They have seven vertebrae that are not fused together, allowing them to turn their head laterally.


Each kid got to feed a beluga whale. Here’s Stella feeding her beluga named Lily!!! We were able to pat its head.


Three-year old conversations. Stella and Alexander. It was like heaven for them.


Beluga kisses. Sophia, my animal lover baby.


Belugas seem very sociable. They travel in pods in the wild. Here’s a playful one with Lily.


Stella with no idea that the beluga behind her was doing somersaults and was scratching its back.


Can’t get over how adorable they are. Look at this one trying to get Soph’s attention.


Unforgettable experience for the girls and for me and my parents.


Soph took a gazillion photos.


This photo is so cute it almost looks photoshopped. They have been able to breed in captivity. Here’s a little beluga calf. They are born grey but turn white as they age.


Sophia was also chosen to interact with the beluga during the show. She was picked among hundreds of people raising their hands. Lucky girl.


The science of beluga whales. Video from Marineland website.



Marineland is located in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada. It is closed during the winter. It opens on Victoria Day weekend. We went just a week after opening and purposely chose a Monday (May 27th) to avoid the weekend crowd. The kids enjoyed all the rides. They were able to ride over and over. For rates and tickets, click here.



The Joy of Adoption



Motherhood is the one thing I was so sure I always wanted in my life. Since I could remember, I always included it in my prayers. In my 20’s whenever I would see babies, I wouldn’t be able to help it, I’d talk to the parents and ask if I could touch or hug them. I was like this crazy woman who wanted a child of her own and didn’t know how it would actually happen. Haha.

In 2000, I almost died. I was on a live-aboard dive trip in Puerto Galera. After our first dive, I felt severe pain in my abdomen. I bore the pain for as long as I could. Since doing other dives was impossible, I stayed in the yacht. After 8 hours of lying in pain, my friends noticed that I looked seriously different (pale and passing out). There were angels on board. Three doctors – one a female obstetrician and two male surgeons. Turns out I was internally bleeding. The yacht turned back and to make a long story short, I had surgery in St Lukes QC. Imagine the ordeal of traveling by yacht, banca, ambulance and all that to get from Batangas to Quezon City. By the time I had my surgery the next day, the bleeding had almost reached toxic levels. One of my ovaries erupted while I was under water.

There I was, in severe pain, with doctors in the emergency room. I literally was dying slowly. If you have been in a near-death situation, you’d know that it really is just between you and God. So I kept praying. I didn’t stop praying. I asked God to guide the doctors to find a way to a) make me live, and b) allow me to still have a child in the future. Those were my last words to the surgeons. I begged them and told them that I want to have children in the future.

When I woke up, the doctor whispered, “We saved a part of your broken ovary. You’ll be ok.” And two years later, we got pregnant with our first child, Sophia. And two more beautiful little ones, Lily and Stella. I was blown away by the depth of the love, commitment, devotion and happiness. So much emotions and surprises. And continues to be so.

I’ve been a mother for 10 years now. Every day is a learning process. It is wonderful and it is also frustrating. There are daily little stressful moments. But I like to see the big picture. This is our family. We are kind to each other. We fill our home with love. I had long forgotten about the broken ovary. The birth stories are celebrated when I get nostalgic. For the most part, being a mother is about the every day little nothings with my kids. That’s parenting.

A few days ago I came across my friend’s Facebook post on adoption. I have a handful of friends who have adopted children. I was also involved in a friend’s adoption process in the past- vouching for their characters. Parenting is a gift that comes in many forms.

Watch these stories of some amazing families…


For more information on the adoption process, contact Norfil Foundation.

Happy Mothers Day to all those who love children and all who hope to love one or more.

It takes a village to raise a child. To my village – thank you for supporting me and allowing me to be the kind of mom I want to be. And to my siblings and friends, thank you for making me a part of your village.