Monday, May 22, 2017

The Learning Basket: Your Online Bookstore for Your Children's Books

Most parents would like to build a library for their children, and I am one of them.  I have been buying books for Kib whenever there is an opportunity and I also have friends who have been giving books to him on a regular basis.  I have blogged about my book loots here and here.  His bookshelf is full of books that I've already put some of his books on the overhead shelf.

I am so glad that Kib has a passion for reading.  Whenever we go to the mall, he would ask me to drop by at the bookstore because he likes to read.  He would sit at one corner and read.  Sometimes he would ask me to buy a book, but whenever I said that I do not have enough money he would not insist.

A post shared by Donna Donor (@donababe) on

A post shared by Donna Donor (@donababe) on

To be frank, books are not cheap.  I can only afford to buy brand new books when they are on sale.  Most of the time I only buy second-hand books for him.  I am so glad that there is The Learning Basket which sells quality second-hand books at an affordable price.

Originally, The Learning Basket is a blog written by one of its co-owners Mariel Uyquiengco.  She writes about intentional parenting and providing meaningful activities for children to do at home.  Eventually, The Learning Basket evolved into an online store, selling second-hand quality children's books.  While most of the items they sell are pre-loved children's books, they also sell brand new hard-to-find classics too.  The book selection from their store is not just any book; they make sure that these are highly-recommended children's books written by award-winning authors.  Aside from books, parents can buy educational toys which promotes creativity, imagination, and open-ended learning.  Thirdly, The Learning Basket also offers workshops and seminars for the family.  They teach about preschool homeschool, positive discipline, reading, and early childhood development.  Indeed, The Learning Basket is a parenting hub.  They embrace the quote, 'You are your child's first and best teacher' by making the parents realize that children can learn a lot from them.

Sanne Unson and Mariel Uyquiengco, the ladies behind The Learning Basket.  They are bestfriends since college days

And oh, should you be interested to purchase any of their books, you can click my link: You can also click The Learning Basket's logo on my sidebar found at the right side of my blog.  I can attest that the owners are very lovely people and they will accommodate all your questions about the books that you are interested to buy.  You can also request books to them should these are not currently available at their shop.      

Happy reading and happy shopping!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Our Latest Adventure: Mountain Climbing

I climbed mountains when I was still single.  I was introduced to this hobby when I was still working in the bank.  I had been to several mountains in Luzon, like Mt. Romelo, Mt. Batulao, Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Maculot, Mt. Natib, Mt. Pulag, to name a few.  I wasn't able to climb a lot of mountains compared with my friends because I also have lots of activities during weekends too.  The last time that I climbed mountains was in 2004.

Now that I'm having my milestone in few months' time, I have written mountain climbing as one of the things in my bucket list as one of the things that I wanted to do before I turn 40 (see blog here).  I really wanted to go back to mountain climbing on the premise that I can already bring along my son with me.  

Kib is already 10 years old, and I guess that this is the right time for me to introduce him to the mountains.  We did a lot of travels in the past, engaged in different kinds of adventure during our travels (ATV ride in Boracay, island hopping in El Nido, zipline in Tagaytay, several animal encounters, sandboarding in Paoay, waterfalls trekking in Pagudpud).  I wanted my son to try different activities especially those activities that involve the environment so that he will have more appreciation and concern about the environment.  

Last March 2017, my mountaineering friends organized an anniversary climb.  We went to Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas.  I also packed Kib's backpack so that he will have an authentic mountain climbing experience.  

My friends and I met at Petron SLEX.  I brought my car with me and fetched a friend in Bicutan.  From Petron SLEX, my friend drove my car.  So happy that I didn't drive all the way to Batangas, weee!  We had a short stopover at Jollibee in Lipa exit to buy our packed lunch.

At the jump-off, we registered and organized our stuff before starting our hike.  We also did some stretching exercises and prayed for a safe hike.  Kib was so excited at first  but when we already started with our ascent, he already start complaining.  My friends teased him so he challenged himself to hike until the campsite.  We had a stopover lunch at the middle of the trail.  It was a slow hike for me because it has been years since I climbed mountains and I wasn't able to do some exercise in the past days.  Anyway, we tagged this as a 'senior executive climb' because all of my friends are already in their 40s (and one just celebrated her 50th birthday), haha.

When we reached the campsite, we started pitching our tents.  We just rested for an hour before going to the Rockies.  It was my first time to go to the Rockies because I have fear of heights (ironic isn't it?!).  I conquered my fear of heights by getting to this part of Mt. Maculot and my friends encouraged me to have photos taken near the edge of the mountain.  I need to take some deep breaths before releasing my hands from the rocks and have my photos taken.

Kib didn't make it to this part of the mountain because he's really scared, and the steps are too high for him.  He just waited for us from the other side of the mountain.

At night, we shared dinner and had some fun conversation while drinking liquor.  It is somehow necessary to drink liquor because it is too windy at the campsite.  It'll help you warm your body and get a good sleep.

It was still windy when we woke up the following day.  We just had breakfast and after that we already packed our things for our descent.  We were able to go back to the jump-off by 11a.m.  We had a stop at SLEX to eat lunch before heading home.

Kib and I really enjoyed our first mountain climbing together.  I've asked my friends when is our next mountain climbing activity.  I already bought new shoes because the shoes that I wore got broken.  I am already excited to use my hiking shoes on our next adventure.

And before I forget, there's telco signal at Mt. Maculot!  I was able to post pictures on Facebook and Instagram real-time and was able to even do a Facebook Live to update our friends who weren't able to join our climb!  

What about you, what activities do you do together with your kids?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Give Your Mom A Day-Off this Mother's Day

Mother's Day is fast approaching, and I guess a lot of people got excited recently about the celebration of Mother's Day this year.  As early as May 1st, I have already been receiving a lot of Mother's Day greetings, and last Sunday, more people greeted me, thinking that it was already Mother's Day.  

Mother's Day is always celebrated every second Sunday of May.  However, there were historical accounts that Mother's Day was celebrated by ancient Greeks and Romans.  There are other records that Mother's Day started in UK.  Moreover, two women, Anna Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe also made this special day for mothers special too.  Whether the origins of Mother's Day came from the ancient or modern times, what's more important is that there is a special day in our calendar where we can honor our mothers and thank them for all the sacrifices they made in raising up a good family.

They say being a mother is the toughest job in the world.  They work 24/7, no holidays, does multiple roles in the family (a chef, a doctor, a gardener, teacher, driver, etc., yet not every one in the family recognizes his/her mother's efforts.  Well, this is your chance to show how much you value and love your mom!

I am proud to say that I have a wonderful son.  At times, he would cook for me and serve me breakfast in bed.  He would also give me a massage and open doors for me.  He would also gladly does chores at home.  I have written in my blog on how my son treated me like a queen on one Mother's Day celebration (read it here).  

Solane, the leading provider of LPG solutions at home and companies, reminds everyone to show their love and appreciation to the woman who ceaselessly devotes herself to the family.  This occasion is another moment that falls in perfectly with Solane's Dapat Lang campaign, a program that emphasizes the importance of doing the right thing--for the family, for others, and society as a whole.

Dapat lang we honor and make our mothers feel special, and we can definitely do so through these five simple heartwarming deeds:

  • Cook breakfast for mom.  Mothers are usually the first ones to wake up early to prepare meals and baon for the kids.  This time around, let mom sleep a little longer and prepare her favorite breakfast food.  Make it even more special and let her have breakfast in bed.  Not only will mom admire the gesture, but it's also guaranteed to be a good kick-start to Mother's Day.
  • Let mom enjoy a work-free day.  Being head of the household means overseeing if the house is clean, ensuring the pantry is stocked with food, and cooking food for the family.  Without a doubt, it can get tiring for our moms.  On Mother's Day, help her by volunteering to do the household chores and let her sit back and relax.
  • Spend time together.  Set other aside all other plans and enjoy the rest of the day with mom.  Gather the whole family together and celebrate an adventure-filled day like a picnic in the park, outdoor barbecue, a hike or swim, or an out-of-town trip.  This will definitely make mom feel special!
  • Pamper our mom.  This is the perfect time to make our mothers feel like queens for a day.  After all the chores she's been doing, treat her to a quick session of mani-pedi, an hour worth of massage, or even something as simple as putting cucumber slices on her face for an affordable at-home facial that will immediately make her feel like royalty.
  • Surprise mom with a simple gift.  Celebrating Mother's Day doesn't have to be grand or expensive.  Simple gestures like making a hand-made card with a short but sweet message, offering a long-stemmed rose, or baking a cake will surely warm her heart.  As they say, it's the thought that counts!

Whatever your plans may be this coming Mother's Day, make your moms feel special on this day!  Treat her like a queen!  Don't forget to say "I love you" and say affirmations to her.  Dapat lang!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Unleash Your Child's Creativity at Sparklelab

Now that the Philippine educational system is shifting into K-12 curriculum, one of the five strands in Senior High School is STEAM (Science and Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).  A lot of parents would like their children to go into this path as it offers a lot of opportunities to them when they eventually pursue a science-related course in college.  I'm so happy that even before children reaches Senior High School level, there are now centers which offer activities related to STEAM to help them prepare for what lies ahead of them.

One of these centers is Sparkelab.

"There is a place called Sparklelab where strange and wonderful things happen.  Where Lego's, sewing kits, code, motors, pipe cleaners, inflatable pools, and solar cells converge in peculiar and compelling ways.  It is our maker shed at Sparklelab where kids, teens, and adults are able to move through inspiration, play, design, media, and lounge spaces seamlessly, as they work individually and collaboratively to create unique toys, games, wearable fashion, and gadgets."

Sparklelab was founded by Rosanna Lopez in 2013 and this year, Jacqueline van Ende joined as CEO.  Both women have good background in teaching and promoting creative thinking among children and adults.  

Sparklelab designs play-based learning experiences mainly focused on STEAM.  They offer a year-round program for children and teens (after-school during school days and summer workshops during school vacation).  Sparklelab aims to prepare kids for success in the future by teaching the 21st century skills such as Imagining, Research/Finding inspiration, Exploring, Tinkering and Experimenting, Designing, Procedural Thinking, Collaborating and Connecting/Sharing, among others.  Sparklelab wishes to create creative problem solvers, innovators, and lifelong learners by making learning extraordinary.

Here are the year-round programs that Sparklelab offers to children ages 7-18 years old:

GAMEMAKERS--Gamemakers is a series of workshops that focus on game design and development.  Young people play games, modify games, learn how to play critically and reflectively.  

Children will learn how to create objectives, define rules, develop mechanics, and scaffold challenge thus designing unique, playful experiences in physical and virtual worlds.

Gamemakers are divided into two programs.  Gamemakers 1 will teach kids to create board games, card games, and role playing games.  Gamemakers 1 will also give children an overview of developing digital games on which Gamemakers 2 will concentrate more on.  On the other hand, Gamemakers 2 will teach children how to create digital games using Scratch, a programming language.  Children will learn to write the narrative of their own game, design core mechanics, components, and the likes, and eventually build their own video games.

TOY MILL--Toy Mill workshops lie at the intersection of arts, designing and engineering.  Young people will play with toys, study them, tear them apart and put them back together again.

Children will experiment with a variety of materials, discover their properties and imagine the possibilities that each material affords.  Young people learn about circuits and bring their toys to life, making them talk, move and see.

GET REEL--Get Reel is a series of workshops that focuses on storytelling.  Young people explore the concept of narrative as expressed in films, games, animations, books, graphic novels and performance art.

Through the course of Get Reel, young people learn about character, setting, plot and point of view.  They develop their own narratives and express them through their medium of choice.

SPARK--Spark is Sparklelab's program on robotics, electronics, and physical computing.  Tinker with little treasures like motors and sensors, speakers, and LEDs.  Children will learn how to build their own robots and meet quirky little creatures who run on AI.  Furthermore, children will come across greater challenges and earn new skills--like coding, soldering, and creating with Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

STITCHES AND CIRCUITS--Stitches and Circuits is a program that focuses on e-textiles, wearable technology and soft circuits.  This course is perfect for every geeky fashionista!  Children can create light up shoes, solar-powered head gear, or hoodies equipped with joy sticks that can redefine games on the go.

All programs mentioned above consists of 6 sessions of 3 hours each session.  One workshop costs Php8,500 with a class size of 5-12 kids.  Children are welcome to have a free trial, just contact Sparklelab for appointment.

While most workshops at Sparklelab are designed for older kids, they also offer program for younger kids ages 3.5 to 6 years old.

BYTE SIZE--Byte Size is Sparklelab's flagship program for young tinkerers, scientists, artists, and engineers!  Byte Size class is for two hours for 8 sessions and can only accommodate maximum of 8 kids per session.

Sparklelab's summer program is ongoing until June 10!  Inquire with them for the schedule.

While Sparklelab is holding their own classes, they are also working with other schools, companies and organizations.  They organize pop-up Sparklelab events during school fairs and mall activities.  They also conduct teacher trainings about play-based education in STEAM related subjects.  Sparklelab also help museums and companies design play-based educational experiences to their visitors and employees.

Kib had a taste of what Sparklelab is.  He tried the Get Reel class together with our children.  Their group used Lego, blocks, cars, and other toys in their story, while the other group used clay for their animation.  After both classes created their stop-motion animation, they presented it in front of other children and mommies.

Check out the photos below about Kib's learning experience at Sparklelab:

At present, there is only one Sparklelab branch, and it's in San Juan City.  They will be announcing their new home in San Juan on their website and social media accounts so stay tuned!  They will also open to other places in Metro Manila very, very soon!

Never be afraid to discover something new!  Who knows, you might be raising a future Einstein or Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg :)

Visit Sparklelab's website at for more info.  To register to any of their classes, you may visit  You can also visit their Facebook page.  You may also inquire via mobile at 0917-8014778

Monday, May 8, 2017

Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center (GAOC) Newest Branch in S Maison, Conrad Manila

Dental care is one of the most neglected part of our health.  Most Filipinos cannot afford to go to dental clinics due to its high cost.  Despite of this, dental practitioners do not give up on educating people about the importance of taking one's teeth because when we have good teeth, it gives us the confidence to be with other people.  We can also give the best smile to others, as the saying goes, 'a smiles costs nothing but it gives much.'  In addition, some dental problems can be one of the symptoms of a serious disease. 

Apart from budgetary constraints, another reason why people do not like going to the dentist is because of fear.  Most people do not like visiting the dentist because of the pain that they will feel when the dentist starts on doing some treatment.  Fear is also created by the movies: whenever we see people sitting on a dental chair, they feel excruciating pain.  Parents also tell their children that when they misbehave and do not take care of their teeth, they'll bring them to the dentist and the dentist will pull all their teeth.

Gan Advanced Osseointegration Center or GAOC, a premier dental clinic in the Philippines, has opened its latest branch in S Maison, Conrad Hotel Manila last Sunday, April 23, 2017.  The opening of GAOC's latest branch was attended by celebrities, politicians, and businessmen.

GAOC in S Maison, Conrad Manila

GAOC (pronounced as jee-ay-oh-see and not gah-ok) offers the state-of-the-art dental technology in the Philippines and is the forerunner on providing dental implant surgery as well.  Aside from this, GAOC offers other dental services such as general dentistry, oral surgery and periodontics, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, and laser dentistry.

GAOC's first branch was opened in 2001 by Dr. Steve Mark Gan.  Dr. Gan is known as the 'dentist to the stars' because he has lots of celebrity patients.  Dr. Gan earned his degree in dentistry at University of the East and took residency in Advanced Prosthodontics in University of Southern California-School of Dentistry and Prosthodontic Osseointegrated Implants at University of California-Los Angeles.  He was a former board member of Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Board of Dentistry.  Currently, he is a member of American Society of Osseointegration and American College of Oral Implantology and a visiting professor at University of Genoa in Italy.

Dr. Steve Mark Gan

Dr. Gan's desire to raise the dental practice standards in the Philippines encouraged him to open up his first branch in Medical Plaza, Makati City.

To live up with his standards in providing world-class dental services, Dr. Gan has a team of highly trained dental team.  His dental team regularly attends trainings and seminars locally and internationally to keep up with the latest trends in the field of dentistry.  Dr. Gan is proud of his dental team because they are caring, gentle, and professional in dealing with their patients.  

Some of the dental team in GAOC in S Maison, Conrad Manila

With his success, we can assume that Dr. Gan is only taking care of the business side of his dental clinics, but in reality, Dr. Gan is always in the pursuit of knowing the latest in dentistry and is always attending dental conferences and symposia abroad and he never hesitates to immediately bring the latest tools and equipment in the field of dentistry to his clinics here in the Philippines.

Below are some of the state-of-the-art tools and equipments at the newest branch of GAOC at S Maison, Conrad Manila:

GAOC clinics look modern, sleek, immaculate.  Patients are given the best service whenever they have an appointment and the dental team patiently explains the procedure to the patients so that they will feel at ease whenever they sit on the dental chair.

Just like what GAOC's tagline says, "it's not just a smile; it's a statement," it means that we should also be paying attention to our dental health.  Once our teeth becomes permanent and when we lose it, our smile will never be the same.  Let us take care of our teeth so that we can smile with full confidence.

***GAOC's other branches are located at Medical Plaza, Makati City; St. Luke's Medical Center Global City, Taguig City; The Residences at Greenbelt, Makati City; Trinoma Mall, Quezon City; Robinson's Magnolia, Quezon City; SM Seaside, Cebu City; and Asian Residences Condotel, Civic Place, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.  Other branches will open soon. You may also visit for more info.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Kids Had Fun at Kids Fair PH

Just like adults, our children also needs a time-off.

While we are training our kids to make their time worthwhile, they also feel stress from schoolwork.  They also need to just have a time to relax and have fun and not thinking of any school deadlines and exams.  Apart from that, we also wanted our kids to learn something new so that they will discover their hidden talents and skills.

Last April 21-23, 2017, Artiste Space organized the first-ever Kid's Fair held at Megatrade Hall 1, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong City.  The event's theme was "Bright! Right From The Start" because the event set an environment of learning, discovery, and fun for kids.  The event provided various activities for children which could help them improve their creative and thinking skills.  

At the registration area, children were given a task card on which they need to complete so that they will receive a prize.  Aside from that, there is also a program at the main hall on which parents and children can participate.  

Check out the photos that I took at Kid's Fair:

Apart from the activities, there were booths where parents can buy something for their kids.  Food booths were also available should parents and kids get hungry while enjoying the activities inside the fair.

The event has lots of potential!  I do hope that next year there will be a bigger Kid's Fair event so that our children will have a wonderful time!