Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Light Means Stop

'Why wont they stop crossing the street, Mama?'

MC was very puzzled when she saw people crossing the street although the light was undoubtly red.

I told her that those people doesnt care what would happen to them and to those approaching cars when and if an accident would happen because of their carelessness.

'What if we follow them?'

I told her that those people are setting the wrong example. Following them would show that you are doing the wrong thing, too. A wrong is still wrong even though a lot of people is doing it.

'That man stepped on the curb even though it is still yellow.'

Well, I told her, better go for safety. You need the red light because that means stop. And you wait for the green light that signals go for the people to know that it is safe to cross the street.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

When would my prayers be answered?


IC was rummaging around my night stand drawer.

She saw a small prayer book; and recognized it as the one that is supposed to be effective in answering prayers. I guess she observes closely when her grandparents would be on a corner, saying prayers, using the same book.

Instead of her bedtime stories, she chose to lead the prayer. Of course, I had to read what in that little book for her. Until I reached the spot where she is supposed to say her petitions, her wishes.

I told her it is time to send her prayers. But she asked first, 'would I get a fast answer to my prayers or not?'

To which I replied: 'that sometimes, prayers are answered in a second, or in a day or sometimes there would be a response after a very, very long time. Because some wishes are not so easy to give, and some might be easy but it might not be the right time to get it. But either which, you should always end your prayer wishes with a thank you note.'

That's when she closed her eyes and muttered her prayers. Afterwhich she gave me a hug and told me, 'Mama, I said thank you.'

I was hoping she would also tell what her wish were :D

Friday, March 26, 2010

How much carbon dioxide does my blog create?

I got mail. And it was something that's already been peaking my interest because I am really for saving the environment for the future of my children and it goes on and on; I have started with working on renewable or alternative energy projects. Stumbling on organization such as Kaufda.de is a lucky bonus. Thus, it got me so excited, I am going to share it to you -- word per word!

Hi Raquel,

I just stumbled over your blog http://www.homeworked.blogspot.com - nice work!

I am part of a young team in Germany, working for an initiative called "Make it green!". Our goal is to contribute our part in reducing the carbon footprint by raising awareness of the severe environmental damage caused by carbon emissions . One of our activities is to raise awareness of the carbon emissions resulting from the use of the internet - specifically of blogs. A blog with 15,000 visits a month has a yearly carbon dioxide emissions of 8lb. To neutralise these emissions we have created "My blog is carbon neutral" buttons so bloggers can demonstrate that they care about the environment and the carbon footprint of their blogs. We present them a small but nontheless worthy solution to contribute to environmental issues. Our idea is to show possibilities to make a contribution to protect the environment.

To find out how you can participate please visit http://www.kaufda.de/umwelt/carbon-neutral/how-you-can-join

And how do we actually neutralize your blog's carbon footprint? We are planting trees in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation in Plumas National Forest in Northern California for our project to neutralize the carbon footprint of blogs. Thousands of wildfires burned down many national forests over the past ten years and 88.000 acres of Plumas' were destroyed by two fires in 2007. To help replanting we need the support of bloggers all over the world! For every participating blog we plant a tree. One blog - one tree.

Why do we do this? We are a German based company called kaufDA, which provides advertisement brochures of local stores online to help consumers search for specific products and find good deals in their neighborhood. This reduces the amount of brochures printed and so the project helps the environment by reducing unnecessary paper in mailboxes. An American on average receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year. This has the same carbon footprint as burning six gallons of gasoline.

We'd be glad to plant your tree! Help us and show that you care! Every tree counts!

Best wishes from Germany,


"Make it green!"-team

Make your blog carbon neutral! For free!
Being part of the initiative “My blog is carbon neutral” is an active contribution to help the environment! All you have to do is described here. Make it happen - make it green!

“My blog is carbon neutral” is an initiative, originally started in Germany by the “Make it green” programme, that has the goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. We plant a tree for your blog and thereby neutralise your blog’s carbon footprint for the next 50 years! Everyone can make a small contribution to the environment. Every tree counts!

I am signing up because I want to have a tree planted for my blog, and for my other blogs, too. I do want a greener future! Join us, too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Could I Keep My Name?

I just realized that ever since I have been hearing from old friends, meeting former batchmates, burning telephone lines with my childhood friends, getting visits from our relatives -- my 8-year-old MC has been getting confused.

'Mama, could I retain my name why I grow-up?,' she asked me one night, after having dinner with a former high school classmate.

Her question was a puzzle to me so I asked her to explain further. To which she said, 'I hear people calling you with different names, and you all answer to those names. I just wonder if I would have to change my name later or if I could keep what I have now.'

I explained to her that you get 'tagged' with different names when you grow up. And at some point in your life, you might also want to experiment with your name; might even want to change your name. You might even hate the name that you were christened with; and would discover a cuter one.

What happened to my different name tags? My parents used to call me 'anak' (child), then resorted to baby me with Kengkeng (in response to the Philippine tradition of nicknames ringing like a bell ;D), then when I was in school I shortened it to 'Keng' because I told them I am not a baby anymore. My siblings would call me 'Ate' (big sister).

But then again, classmates would call me Raquel or Raq or Quel or Rocky. When I got my own clique, we teased each other with funny names, exploring our weaknesses. A real skinny friend would be named 'Bonessa' as in 'full of bones. I forgot what they called me!

When I started working, I kept my real one. Then when I left for Thailand, where they dont have 'Q' in their alphabet. I ended up again called 'Rak' or 'Raki' or 'Rachel.' That carried on until I landed in Germany where I was named 'Rachel', 'Rakel', 'Raquel', added to that, being called 'Mrs.'.

With my husband, I am 'schatz' and 'liebling' - all terms of endearments. When I became a mother, I answer to 'Mama' or 'Mami.' When I started blogging, my fellow bloggers use my blog personalities. And now that we have started our own business, our partners would call me 'partner' and the people working for us refers to me as 'Ma'am.'

No wonder MC's getting confused. Yet she enjoyed my 'name tag' story and could be plotting her own, too!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why are you crying?

Please dont!

It hurts me more to see you cry.

Especially if I know I couldnt do anything. Because there are demons that I dont really see teasing you.

Well, I could hold you tight. I could offer you something to wipe your tears. I could announce big words.

I could proclaim again and again my love for you.

In the hope that it would ease up your worries. In the hope that it shows my support to you. In the hope that it would keep your burden lighter. In the hope that I would be helping you. In the hope that it would open up your heart to make you realize that --- money is not everything!

We dont need wealth, if our health would suffer. We dont need materials things, if our happiness would depend on it.

We only need you. Together we would conquer the world.

So, please stop crying. We love you.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Suffer the Children

Monday morning, in front of the school gate.

Uniformed policemen and security guards of the school sorround a man giving out leaflets to passers-by. We also got one.

Before I read what was written, I looked back and realized that the man is one of the parents of a schoolmate of MC.

MC recognized him, too.

We brought the girls to their respective classrooms and left, driving past the man who is still giving out leaflets and still being sorrounded by policemen and security guards. I noticed that he's got for photos of kids plastered on his front and back.

My husband and I reached for the leaflet. Written there was the story of the family. Written there was the desperate appeal of a father to his partner. Written there was the main point according to him: what was best for the children. Written there were things that should have been private.

Everything was posted there. Everybody now know what's happening to their family. Everyone would want to find out who his kids are, who his partner is, who he is.

And the children would suffer. And the kids really suffer.

MC's class werent able to start regularly because their classmate is crying. The kids could not shake off what they saw. They have questions. Especially since, the class were provided stickers by the man outside. Only because, he knows they are his child's classmates!

But I am glad that their teacher handled it with care.

She answered the kids' questions; yet refused to give any comments. She let the children comfort their classmates; because it was needed, not only by the one affected but by all of them. Because although they received explanations, they are still confused on what has transpired. What just happened is not easy to understand.

How do I know all of this? Because MC told me. I encouraged her to talk to me because I want her to let all those confusing thoughts whirling around her.

In fact, she asked me to read the letter; as IC did, too. I read parts of it to them, skipping very delicate matters. I tried to explain. And I reassured them; as I reassured myself.

My husband said, 'the kids should not suffer.'

I agree, wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Mom = A Wife

When something goes wrong,

A mom must keep her cool. Hugging her kids to her. Telling them it is alright.
A wife must keep her cool. Hugging her husband to her. Telling him it is alright.

When something goes right,

A mom must cheer to tears. Hugging her kids to her. Telling them they are the best.
A wife must cheer to tears. Hugging her husband to her. Telling him he is the best.

When nothing goes,

A mom must find her cool and her cheers. Hugging her kids to her. Urging them to go and have fun!
A wife must find her cool and her cheers. Hugging her husband to her. Urging him to go and have fun!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Opportunities in Renewable Energy

Slowly but surely, I am going back to being a working mom.

The first project I worked on is something that is very close to my heart because it means helping mother nature. I am talking about opportunities for renewable or alternative energy.

And here's an invite for all of you who are in the Philippines and in Thailand:

The Philippines in 2008 became the first Asean country to enact a milestone renewable energy law, which mandated both renewable portfolio standards and feed-in tariffs for wind, solar, biomass, small hydro, and ocean power. The RENEWABLES GLOBAL STATUS REPORT cited the Philippines as one of only 46 countries with such law in 2009.

Just last month, February, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded 112 service contracts for the development of renewable energy sources, with investments expected to reach as much as P66.8 billion. The 112 service contracts are expected to generate a combined 2,264.1 megawatts (MW) in additional capacities. The latest contract signing brought to 206 the number of service contracts that have been awarded by the DOE since 2009.

To keep the momentum going, private companies will need to sustain the continuous inflow of technology and investments in the renewable energy sector. It would really help if we can also learn and tap into the strengths of other Asean countries. Philippines is number one in geothermal, but Thailand is the biggest producer of ethanol in Asean, Indonesia the leader in hydropower and so on.

All of these: technology sourcing, finding of potential investment partners, sharing of experience and exploration of business opportunities in the whole of Asean will be presented at a seminar on “Opportunities in Renewable Energy.” The presentation is a preview of the full exhibition Renewable Energy Asia, set for 2-5 June 2010, in Bangkok, Thailand.

We wish to invite you and your organisation to this presentation to be held on 27 April 2010, 3-6 pm, Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

The seats are limited so please confirm your attendance per email (raquel.erhard@gmail.com) or call/text 0915-3305977.
This is for a greener future!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Erste Beichte: First Confession

MC's started her lessons in preparation for her First Communion last December.

At first, she was very hesitant. But we urged her to join because her very best friend is the only girl in the group. Next year would be another batch.

That was the deciding factor, although she wasnt enthusiastic about it until she realized that her very bestfriend needed her in the group of boys!

They were only seven kids; taking part in all the German masses that were offered; sometimes even taking the center stage. And most of all, everyone were enthusiastic about their lessons.

Last week, it was their First Confession (Erste Beichte).

We learned about it because, we always get weekly updates on their lessons. Of course, I cant resist asking: 'Are you ready for your First Confession?'

(I could remember feeling nervous and cold during my First Confession, and I wonder if she feels the same.)

She casually said, 'yes, I know what to do and what to say.'

I teased her and said, 'Would you tell me then?' She acted as if she didnt hear me :D

Well, how should they feel nervous?

It turned out that after their First Confession, they were promised pizzas and sodas!

They were right to treat it like a celebration, though. Because First Confession is a turning point in life. And like kids that they are, they breezed through it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

She must learn to say NO

Big sister MC is bothered.

She said that IC always gives her toys away; even if she still likes them.

'I see IC being bullied by her friends. If her friend likes her toy, they would pester her. They would ask and ask until IC would say yes. That is not good,' she declared.

I asked MC what we must do and she stated, 'We must teach IC how to say no!'

Her suggestions?

1. IC should not display all her favorite toys
2. IC should say 'No' and proceed to hide her toys
3. MC would monitor regularly when IC is playing with her friends
4. MC will practice with IC on how to say 'No' and mean it
5. If the toys were not returned, MC would ask the friends' parents for assistance
6. MC would stick with her sister and urge her when it is time to say 'No'

'Does this mean you would IC's protector?,' I asked.

MC answered with an embarrassed yet loud, 'No.'

Well, I guess MC knows what she's talking about, right?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Why is money important?

Early one morning, IC climbed into our bed with a question that made us woke up real fast.

'Mama, papa; why is money important?,' she said.

I nudged her papa to answer and he said, 'You need money so that you could buy food.' Well, that's a good answer considering he's still half asleep :)

Because I am not yet ready to answer, I threw her question back to her, 'what about you, why is money important to you?'

And IC told me, mirroring her papa's take, 'so that I would not be hungry; and so that I could buy all the bigs toys that I wanted.'

Well, it was my chance to put a stop to all these food and toys, all material things.

I told IC money is not really important. If you have a garden full of fruits and vegetables, you could grow them and you would have food on your table.

If you are creative enough, you could also fashion toys from things by recycling them.

'Oh yeah, like the kitchen paper roll as a telescope or I could cut out paper dolls from old magazines,' she smiled.

Money is important, but not really needed to make one's stomache full and satisfied.

I think I am right, dont you?


I am proud to inform you that my first article in Tagalog that talks about Filipinos working abroad at thepoc.net is now online.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Turn-Off the TV, Please

My girls, like my husband and I, are not really TV watchers.

Sometimes, it would take almost months, before they would realize that they havent watched TV for a long time. And then they would say, 'Mama, we havent watched TV for a long time!'

'Well, that's good to know,' I told them. Informing them that they were probably busy on mini bike tours around the village or playing with your friends or creating crafts to be shared to your friends or reading your books or having fun with your birds, etc, etc.

To which list they both nodded enthusiastically. 'Oh yeah mama, we all did those things!,' they said.

The girls have their own rules about TV watching; and when to turn-off the TV:

1. Nobody is allowed to watch the TV while dining

2. Nobody is allowed to watch the TV early in the morning (once, their grandma turned-on the TV at 6 am because she wanted to catch a breaking news, but MC turned it off saying it is still too early)

3. Do not leave the TV on when nobody is watching

4. Nobody is allowed to munch chips while watching the TV (only chopped apple is okay)

5. Nobody is allowed to watch longer than one program

6. Always unplug the TV when not in use

7. Nobody sits near the TV. There is an invisible line there :)

And if you dont follow their rules? You wont get any quiet until you turned-off the TV. They are very strict, indeed :D