Make A Wish Philippines.

Make A Wish Philippines.

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Doing a Wish Grant with Make a Wish Philippines is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I understood the positive effect it has on the children. So before the holidays set in, a few of us from the Blissful Brands & Businesses Group started a simple chat thread on Facebook and started to plan a wish grant for two preschool aged kids — Ezra and Krystel, both with life-threatening illnesses — who wanted to have their wishes granted.

The “wish grant” by the Make a Wish Foundation is an experience that brings hope, strength and joy to children with life-threatening illnesses. According to their website, 89 percent of health care experts around the world believe that the wish granting experience can influence a “wish kid’s” health in a most positive way. Eighty-one percent of parents of wish kids also observed that after wish grants, their children were more willing to comply with their treatment protocols. Most of all, 99 percent of parents affirmed that the wish grants give their children increased feelings of happiness, which has often resulted in a turning point for the children during treatments (i.e., some get well or start on the road to wellness).

Who wouldn’t want to give these children all that?

Each wish grant is more about creating an magical experience for each child, giving them a day that they will remember forever. As sponsors, we were encouraged by the Make a Wish team to think out of the box to make magic happen for Ezra and Krystel.

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First in order was the venue. Earth Kitchen in Bonifacio Global City let us use their venue without needing to meet the regular rate for events (Thanks, Melissa, Pinky and the EK team!). To create a “magical” effect in the venue, we had the gracious support of White Box PH, a company that specializes in ready-made party paraphernalia that are hard-to-find or make. For this party, the ladies of White Box went with the colors of Make a Wish (white and blue) and created a “winter wonderland.”

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With the White Box PH ladies, and our wish kids

Once the venue design was in place, we sounded a call for volunteers who would want to give through talent, so that the wish kids and the party goers would be able to enjoy some entertainment. For this, we were blessed to have volunteers from among the Blissful Brands & Businesses members. The first performance was by our youngest volunteer, Yanthy Dumadag, the son of my friend Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag of the Hands-On Parenting While Earning workshops and consultancy. Yanthy is a talented keyboardist who is also a homeschooler, and has been playing the piano during daily Mass, so for this wish grant, his offering was a number of Christmas songs. So impressive!

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The next set of volunteer entertainers was Make Believe Philippines, a company dear to my heart that specializes in creating magical storytelling experiences and events for children (owned by my cousin-in-law, Lesley Leveriza). The first Make Believe experience I ever had was when they came to do a Very Hungry Caterpillar-themed birthday craft party for my son Vito’s 2nd birthday, and I remember everyone loving it so much! So for the wish grant, Make Believe prepared a moving story about Juanito, who learned how to make the world a more colorful and happy place. Both the adults and the kids in attendance were super psyched and involved during the performance, which is really a trademark of the Make Believe team’s interactive stories.

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The Make Believe Team also brought with them their trademark face painting station, so that the kids could have some colorful fun. Our wish kid Ezra had them paint his favorite superhero emblems on his arm, to his delight. Meanwhile little 3 year-old Krystel wanted lots of flowers.

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Last but not the least, the talented indie artists of World Extravaganza, led by Ms. Crystal Lin, rendered some acoustic tunes for us, including an original song. “World Extravaganza is a community arts organization dedicated to organize events and design programs with the mission to promote, advocate, and communicate music and the arts to the general public.” I suddenly remembered my days in youth group band, while listening to these guys and girls. I can’t explain how much music has an invisible power to touch the heart, especially when the musicians making it truly love their craft, as these young men and women do. (You’ll find them on weekdays at Frank & Dean’s at Burgos Circle during Open Mic sessions — check out their Facebook page for schedules!)

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We transitioned from the last song by WorldExPH into the actual Wish Grant portion, which Ezra and Krystel were not expecting. As it is done during wish grants, the wish kids were led to sit in front of the party crowd, facing the people with their eyes blindfolded. Everyone scurried to get the gifts in place while I gave some instructions on what was to happen.

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Once the gifts were in place, we counted down before the kids were instructed to take off their masks and see all the presents before them. They were in shock at the pile! The Make a Wish team had gone to great lengths to make sure our donations from the Blissful Brands & Businesses group would go into getting Ezra and Krystel the toys on their wish list. For Ezra, a “big remote control car,” and for Krystel a Barbie and Barbie house. They ended up getting all that they wished for, and more!

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Both Ezra and Krystel suffer from blood thalassemia, a blood disorder caused by the body’s lack of hemoglobin, which is a crucial component of our red blood cells. It’s a treatable disorder, which means that both wish kids will be undergoing blood transfusions and chelation therapy for the rest of their lives. While it’s hard to imagine these two beautiful kids have such a condition to live with, it’s possible to keep helping them on a regular basis. You can contact Make a Wish Philippines on how to donate and how to organize a wish grant for other wish kids. Trust us, it’s totally worth it.

We hope you enjoyed this recap of the Ezra – Krystel Wish Grant! You can view all the pictures from the event over at our photography sponsor Amari Moments’ Facebook Page.

We’d like to thank:

Make Believe Productions for the interactive story-telling & face painting activity
World Extravaganza for the songs & entertainment
Yanthy Dumadag and his mom, Teresa Dumadag, for the piano solos
White Box PH for the venue decorations
Earth Kitchen, for letting us use the BGC venue

On behalf of the Blissful Brands & Businesses group on Facebook: Thank you, dear volunteers! You just made two kids incredibly happy with a wish grant that they shall surely remember for a long time.

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Have you had to fire yourself from your own job?

Have you had to fire yourself from your own job?

Have you ever had to “fire” yourself from a job? I’m talking about it in the context of a blogger, a freelancer or creative. This is an idea I learned from my brothers, when they were deep into their digital strategy business. They were behind big brands like Fully Booked, Jericho Rosales, DMCI Homes, and such companies. Their goal after their corporate trainings and consultancies was simple: For their clients to become so competent so that they could fire their consultants (the consultants being my brothers). When I asked what he meant, he said:

“As a consultant, your job is bring ‘smarts’ to the situation. When you do that, you should be increasing your clients’ capabilities so that as you work together, it’s a learning process for them. Within a certain amount of time, they should should be able to fly without you,” says my youngest brother, Kayo Cosio of HoneyComb Communities.

Ever since they stated this years ago during a training workshop, I’ve thought about it in the context of my own work, and being “fired” on certain occasions, plus to how “fire myself” from situations. Let me explain.

See, I’ve been blog coaching for four years now. In the beginning, when I was handling a few clients at a time, it was great. I could do everything on my own, except for the graphic design elements of the websites and blogs of my clients. Down the road, more and more clients came, and I had to hire more people to make the websites and to do the work with me.

Growing a team is never easy, and I even hired some really bad people along the way. There were a handful of projects that never saw the light because of some unreliable freelancers I contracted. Of course, I learned it the hard way: All the blame went to me, as the project manager. As a result, I fumbled up projects, made clients unhappy, wasted people’s money and time, and of course, all that ruined my reputation. I had lots of great projects, but the disappointments and failures always affected me the most.

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What my failures in consulting have taught me

I’ve seen through the years that I should have fired myself when I saw warning signs — like those I’m listing below. Looking back, my unhappy clients have been the ones whom I didn’t give value to. There were those who felt I wasted their money, others who didn’t jive with my style of coaching, and others who didn’t like their websites and blogs. These clients, I’ve since grouped into “the dissatisfied” for data purposes. Normally, I would let these glaring failures keep me down, but as it turns out they are the most helpful category of clients for me. Because it’s my failures with them that help me create something blissful out of a seemingly negative and career-killing situation.

What I’ve realized is:

1. There are clients who need more hand-holding than others. I’ve had clients who are more demanding of my time and supervision than others. If I’m not delivering their time expectations, I will of course fail them because they find value in constant access to me. I should fire myself before things get too detailed.

2. There will always be people who equate service price with hours rendered. I’ve had a handful of prospects who’ve said “Your Skype sessions are overpriced” without even trying them first. But I’ve had MORE clients say that my Skype sessions were vastly helpful, even more than my offline group workshops, because of the one-on-one aspect. When colleagues and I deduced what the unhappy clients found wrong with the service, we saw that these clients didn’t really care about the price, but they made price instead of time & consulting the most important aspect of their choice to work with me. I should fire myself, because I am not valued, nor is my service.

3. There will be clients you think are great for you, but they don’t really need you. It’s important to validate a particular client actually needs you. This was one mistake I made more than once. My coaching is most valuable to clients who really don’t know what they want for their blog or website. So in the times I was hired by clients who already knew a majority of what they wanted, I should have actually let them go. Why? Because if I cannot work with them or offer them value, then they will of course feel they didn’t get their money’s worth.

So, thank you, to every client I’ve had. The successful projects have affirmed that I am a great blog coach for a specific kind of client. The failed projects on my part confirmed what I was doing incorrectly, and have since helped me to “fire myself” as a blog coach.

But this doesn’t end in failure. I’m too much of a life hacker to settle in the dust.

I will always love doing social media and blogging strategy. But just because I want to work doesn’t mean I want to keep trading hours for money. For sure, I don’t want to work until I’m 60. And so, the goal is to create systems so that I still give value to those who come for brand consulting, coaching, but spend less hours being physically doing the work. This can be achieved through my new books, some webinars that we are cooking up, and limited number of consulting spots for those truly serious about growing their brands. This means letting go completely of certain services and automating current ones. These will also help filter out my non-ideal clients (those who need hand-holding and my constant presence).

So, hello to new things! Now that I have “fired” myself from certain roles, I can breathe easier, work more efficiently (and with better results), work with clients who are really the best fit (and I for them).

Have you ever had to “fire” yourself as a coach, a consultant or service provider? How did you look at the situation? Let’s share our experiences in the comments. (Or I invite you to start a topic in our Facebook Group, the Blissful Brands & Businesses)

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Getaway home living with Serin.

Getaway home living with Serin.

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Ah, Tagaytay! I love that I did my Avida workshop there last October, because I always like escaping to this holiday city (despite its recent reputation as a traffic-riddled weekend getaway). Sadly this is true, because this hilltop city is filled to the ridge on weekends with vacationers from Manila, who all want the comfort of a searing, homey helping of authentic bulalo with a side hot rice and some tawilis, capped off with a cozy cup of coffee while enjoying a view of Taal and a clear sky.

But what if you could live here, right? The thought has certainly crossed my mind. Friends who have made Tagaytay their permanent home have advised us to consider it, because the traffic isn’t as bad on weekdays, and the city is just an hour’s drive from the beach on good days. Plus, who doesn’t love the nippy mountain air, especially when the cool season comes around this time of year?

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The new Serin development in Tagaytay offers prospective homeowners a home that feels “like a holiday, every day.” After living in mega cities all my life, I can appreciate this thought! I’d love to wake up everyday with a view of leisure farms, pine trees, and that huge world-famous lake! With the right condo space on the ideal side of the city, I can.

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During my Home Gatherings Workshop, I talked about how we should be able to design the lifestyle we want our families to have. I like to believe that we who work hard and provide for our families have earned the right to design our lives, right? Avida understood this when they created their Serin property, a hilltop, mid-rise condo residence with a strategic view of Tagaytay’s ridge and world-renowned lake, situated across the convenient Serin mall, right in the heart of the tourist city.

“What if you could wake up and every morning felt like you were on vacation?” I mused, as my blogger guests and the invited media converged in the Serin showroom suite. “Here in Serin, we can achieve that.”

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Thank you to Avida Land Corp for this opportunity. For more details on Avida’s options for homeowners, please visit their website and Facebook pages to talk to an Avida associate. 

Write now.

Write now.

Last Saturday was a bright and early day for me and ten other ladies who wanted to get their writing on. I held my second “Write Blissfully” workshop for this mix of bloggers and small business owners, where we enjoyed a whole day of real learning and straight up workin’ it!

Why a writing workshop? Because even after loads of blogging workshops, people still get stuck on the writing. It becomes a challenge for people to sit down and really get to writing a quality article that they actually want to post on their blogs. 


V-Office in One Global Place was a wonderful venue for this learning event. I usually have my blogging workshops in restaurants and cafes, but since this one is about getting some real output, I have done it in professional venues. It’s also part of the mindset that if you want to grow your blog and leverage it towards building a brand or a business, you have to treat it professionally. The fun is there, of course, because it can be really fun to have a blog! But starting strong and beginning professionally can often separate the working blogs from those that really work and create opportunities for the one behind the blog. 

(I love V-Office’s functional space and speedy wifi! Everyone was able to reference the blogs I cited as examples, while they scrutinized their own blogs. Thanks, V-Office!)


Expectations are always important when starting these workshops, so that’s what we did first. Everyone had a chance to share their purpose for being at the event, which gave me a better idea of how to go through the workshop so that everyone could get something meaningful from the lessons. I love finding out about each and everyone’s mission and purpose for their blogs. I just thrive on listening to their reasons! This is why I love blogging, because everyone can really bring something new to the table. Everyone can be a storyteller, an expert in their own right, a creator of their unique profession, a business owner.


The system that I used as the framework of our blog writing lesson is something that I use in my one-on-one writing coaching sessions. It’s very different in a group setting, because everyone works at the same time, within the same time frame, to get their output for the day. Once the system was taught, everyone had a chance to clarify the components and the methods they would each use, to come up with their blog posts.

I love how everyone just embraced the process. It wasn’t an easy system to “teach,” because what I did was I “dissected” my own writing process, put it into 4 steps, and taught it as a method
During the afternoon, everyone had around 1 1/2 hours to just write. Why the time constraints? Because if we compel ourselves to write at a specific time, within a specific time frame, we can really create a habit of writing. If you want to use blogging as a way to grow your brand and get collaborations; if you want blogging to be a key component in growing your business, then the writing can’t be something you do “when I have the time.” It’s got to be part of the business, the overall plan.


I’m happy to say that everyone accomplished a well-written blog post at the end of the session, and we were all able to share the completed posts to our group mates. As an added value, I also offered each participant a complimentary blog critique and editing session, after the workshop! So each one came out of the session with (1) a system of writing posts that makes blogging easier and even meaningful and (2) a completed blog post that they can publish on their blogs.

And here is our happy second batch! Congrats, ladies!


I would like to thank Alfox Printing Services for providing our printed materiels, modules and certificates! They are such a wonderful workshop partner, and I can’t wait to have them as future workshop collaborators. (They have a wonderful online ordering system that makes it easy for business owners to create collaterals and other printed matter!)

I’d also like to thank v-Office for the wonderful venue and services. I highly recommend their instant office facility for small businesses and startups who are looking for office solutions and secretarial services!

Thanks also to our Yashica Skincare and Neutraorganics Aromatherapy for our care packages!


Make it Blissful at Avida Serin, Tagaytay

Make it Blissful at Avida Serin, Tagaytay

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I’ve always wanted a home in Tagaytay! So when I collaborated with Avida Land Corp on the second Home Gatherings event in their Serin location in Tagaytay, I secretly wished and added to my vision board that I would one day own a holiday home there. (It can happen, right?)

For the second event, I tied up with my lovely stylist-cake master-“party-in-a-box”-friend, Maricel Mendoza of A Sweet Cottage, and with Gourdo’s for the dinnerware that would be used for the table styling tutorial. Maricel’s portion was super helpful! She shared her home party styling tips with us, using her handy “Party in a Box” as her tool. “It’s handy to have a box of decorating tools so you can make simple decors when you need to,” Maricel advised. She went on to demonstrate how to set a table for an intimate part of four people, and used a variety of dinnerware and props to create a charming tablescape. “These make your guests feel special, like, ‘Wow, this place was really prepared for me,'” she added.

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A full house listened intently to Maricel — around 30 or so bloggers and media — as she gave her talk on homemaking and making home gatherings beautiful. Such practical tips! Her party in a box was part of the “challenge” for participants that afternoon, who were all tasked to make tablescapes using the props that were laid out for them by our sponsor and partners, Gourdo’s, a household name in home gatherings, naturally!

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In addition, Ton and Shophouse Coffee team did a full coffee demo for everyone, especially the media who had never been introduced to the specialty coffee scene. (They sure had lots of questions, which Ton gamely entertained — good job, babe!)

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We generally followed the same format as the previous Nuvali event for the workshop portion, with the addition of a short talk by me on “creating a meaningful home.” I shared three tips that I learned from my own mother on how to make a home, at least to my mom. I see how much sense her wisdom makes now that I have my own family to make a home for.

(By the way, here’s me assisting the hubby in his coffee demo.)

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Basically, my mom’s tips are:

1. Your family should be the real “guests of honor” in your own home. We always had nicely-kept homes growing up. Not fancy, not luxury homes, but comfortable homes where things all seemed to come together nicely. That’s because mom always believed that the “nice things” in our home should be for us, those who lived there. Things weren’t meant to be kept in glass cupboards, to be viewed as decor or untouchables. We always had nice plates and flatware to use everyday, because what’s the point of keeping them locked up for company or for show? “Nice things are meant to be used,” Mom says.

(Speaking of nice things, I’m so glad Gourdo’s was our partner for this run, because my mom is a huge Gourdo’s fan and shopper! So appropriate!)

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2. Always make sure you are ready to welcome people in to your home. Growing up in her family, my mom’s siblings were used to welcoming people to their homes. During her teen years, she recalled their home always being the place of choice for family reunions and get-togethers, mainly because it was fairly large. (She was the fourth out of 11 siblings.) Their home would host all kinds of barkadas, naturally, and was always ready with merienda for guests. When my mom made our home in Hong Kong and got heavily involved with women’s counseling in church, our home was often visited by Filipinas who came for sessions, or by other fellow expats. “Always have something to offer, even if it’s just biscuits and water,” mom always instilled in me. So today, I always have something small to offer to those who want to visit us. I may not have much, but you’re always welcome to drop by my teeny-tiny home! It’s what my mom taught me.

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3. Teach your family tips 1 & 2, and they will be prepared for life. This is more about passing on a mindset of giving and gratitude. I can’t say I’ve done this perfectly, especially in they days I went through my “hermit phase” as a mom and homemaker, when I would escape into my home and not really want to see anyone. (I still struggle with those days sometimes, honestly.) But mom said that if we learn tips 1 & 2 and really live them out, we’ll be able to get through life and put up a decent home. I believe her!

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Want to see what the guests that afternoon came up with?

Wine & Cheese Night theme

Wine & Cheese Night theme

Tea Time Theme, using powder pink and floral

Tea Time Theme, using powder pink and floral

Filipiniana Theme

Filipiniana Theme

Nautical Theme

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We’d also like to thank our Blissful Brands & Businesses Group on Facebook, for their gift contributions for this special media event. Here are their Instagram handles so you can look them up!

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Shophouse Coffee (bottled cold brew): @shophousecoffee | Neutra Organics (skincare): @neutraorganics | KSigns & Designs (acrylic trinket trays): @ksignsanddeisgns |Chunky Chewelries (custom necklaces): @chunkychewelries | Blooming Hobby (succulents/flower buckets): @bloominghobby |  Nanay Dulces (cookies): @nanaydulces  |  Treen Manila (tealight blocks): @treenmanila  |  A Vanilla Story (room spray / bug-off spray): @avanillastory  |  The Paper Menagerie (postcard/print): @thepapermenagerie  |  The Drunken Florist (fragrance diffusers: @thedrunkenfloristph  |  Gourdo’s (small vases): @gourdos

Thank you to Avida Land Corp for this opportunity. For more details on Avida’s options for homeowners, please visit their website and Facebook pages to talk to an Avida associate.