Blog For Pleasure

Sitting in my mom’s dining room this afternoon, with then ladies joining me to learn about blogging…. and I am re-learning what it was like to start from the very beginning. I have to admit, the early days of blogging are now a thing of memory. I can hardly remember anything except what it was like to pull up my Acer netbook and snuggle up on our couch in our first home, blogging about whatever came to mind on my then-Blogspot free blog. I didn’t think of where blogging would take me: here, eight years later, in a room of ladies wanting to learn how to start.

It’s so different now. Blogging has evolved to more than just an online diary. Blogs have become platforms for people to talk about things that matter, where conversations take place and where politics even, become heated topics of discussion that tear up a nation. People blog to get a message out there, to talk about something they feel the world needs to hear. But sitting here in this room this afternoon, I see that there are still people who want to keep it simple:

  • To document life and leave a legacy
  • To activate a platform and talk about a passion, have a purpose
  • To compliment their business through blogging
  • To use it for their personal pleasure.

I like this little group of women here. Everyone has the purest of intentions; everyone is really seeking to learn. I’m reminded of how hungry and eager I was in those beginning days, devouring every bit of knowledge and information I could about blogging. I don’t want to take these past eight years for granted. So with these ten women today, I’m starting anew. Blogging again, this time with a new direction and passion, just to learn and re-learn again. Because times have changed, and I have changed. It’s about time my blog changed, too.

Thank you, Myka, Annalyne, Mara, Tammie, Apple, Steph, Kim, Richelle, Nish, Jill and Aireen for partaking in this workshop!

Thank you to Curves Magnolia, Daily Bar, House of Style, and Messy Bessy for the goodies our participants took home with them.

Try something different to get something different (and two workshops to help you)

Try something different to get something different (and two workshops to help you)


One of the best decisions I’ve made is to try new methods and systems to get to different results. For example: I want 2017 to be the year when I firm up our family’s passive income stream. I’ve set up different investment tools in the past, of course, but this year I am going to dedicate much of my time to building a solid system for us. It’s different, but I am expecting a different (and very good, yes!) result, of course. I have been attending training, coaching sessions, and learning new methods, some way out of my comfort zone. The thing is, I’m willing to do this because I want a different result.

Try something different

At the start of the new year, it’s normal for many of us to feel “wired” to change things up. That is why we make resolutions, set new goals for ourselves, wishing and hoping this year will be “the year” we achieve what we’ve set out to do. We try on our own to make things work, but let’s face it: most of the time, we’ve failed on our goals and good intentions, even before we’ve started working on them!

Well, I’ve seen in the past that the things I achieved my favorite goals when I deliberately did something about them. Let me cite some examples:

  • In 2011, I took up my first blogging course and started to monetize my blog. It was the first course I ever paid for, which proved successful in helping my blog earn a national award (Best Home & Parenting Blog for 2011 Philippine Blog Awards).
  • In 2013, I started being coached by Jess Lively, intention & business coach, to help me beef up my services as a “blog coach.” Simultaneously, I did two blog branding courses with Blogging Your Way, which helped me to professionalize my brand. Both the coaching and the courses were a hefty investment, but instrumental to me setting up a thriving coaching business that has lasted to this day. They also helped me build the confidence to do my own writing workshops for bloggers.

It’s important to note that when I tried something different for my blog — courses, coaching, accountability, mentoring —, I achieved different results. Each course or coaching I went through helped me to level-up in my brand and business, and they also helped me change my mindset so that I would keep going towards my desired outcome. As a working mom, I wanted to keep on working from home, do something I enjoyed (if possible) and create something sustainable. Did all of those, thanks to trying something different.

You can try something different, too.

Our workshops this January may be different for many of you. You may have not tried doing a vision board in your life, or you may not have ever had any life coaching. I get it, but, I also know that some of my biggest breakthroughs have been during times that I tried something different than just doing things on my own. Who knows? It might be the same for you.

What’s the difference between our #makeitblissful Workshops this January? Here is a short low-down:


The main purpose of this workshop is to teach the actual science, mindset and purpose behind a tool known as a “vision board.” Vision boards are actual tools to help us achieve goals, desired outcomes, and generally have a positive, proactive mindset towards your life. They are used by leaders, high achievers, and professionals in many fields. You can learn how to make your own, too!
Sign up HERE to get our early bird rate: Vision Board Workshop, Jan 21st, 8:30AM-12NN



The main purpose of this workshop is to help you launch a “passion project.” This could be a business, a blog, a book, an advocacy, a health goal or whatever it is you are feeling strongly about. Whatever passion project your declare to begin during this workshop will have a timeline of 12-months, in which you will receive monthly tips &a encouragement, as you get closer to fulfilling your project. You will be part of a 12-month long private Facebook accountability group, after completing the workshop.
Sign up here for the weekday run at the Henry Hotel, Pasay: Get Blisstified, Jan 25th, Wednesday
Sign up here for the weekend option in Local Edition, Makati: Get Blisstified, Jan 28th, Saturday


Make A Wish Philippines.

Make A Wish Philippines.


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.


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.”






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!



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.







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.






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!)



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.




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!



make-a-wish-x-mib-20 make-a-wish-x-mib-11



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.





Getting Blisstified, twice over

Getting Blisstified, twice over


I wrote to announce the Get Blisstified workshops a few months ago. Little did I know that I would be starting on a journey that would get me on my own personal path to healing and wholeness. (I’ll get into that later in the post).

How do I describe this amazing workshop that has touched over 40 women in just two runs last September? (We were overbooked both times, by the way.) I can go on and on about how inspiring both workshops were, but I know you expect something specific and useful. So I gathered some of my thoughts after processing the workshops and have written them down here. You tell me if these are useful and informative, OK?


1. A passion project doesn’t have to be a business.

Forgive me if I’ve let it come across on this blog that your passion project should be a hobby that you should monetize; that’s not what I’ve ever meant by “following your bliss.” In the Get Blisstified workshop, we are very clear to our classmates that having a passion project means committing to achieve within a time frame, something that we feel strongly about that we should take action on. For some, it’s a business. For others, it’s an advocacy. For the handful who happened to be moms, it was to work on their parenting, or possibly raise a family/get pregnant. The point of the workshop is to infuse each person with such a great sense of possibility and purpose, that they will pursue this passion with a full heart and mind and spirit. (I believe we all felt this way after each class, wouldn’t you agree, classmates?)



2. “Wherever you are, be all there.”

This isn’t advice from the workshop, but it could have well been. This quote is famously attributed to Jim Elliot, a Christian missionary who was killed for his faith in the 1960s. He also said, “Live life to the hilt.” And these mindsets don’t just apply to missionaries, they apply to everyone. During Get Blisstified, we always tell our class participants, “You are meant to be here, because you are here now. Some people couldn’t be here, even if they signed up, so maybe they are not meant to be here, but YOU are.” And so during the workshop, everyone is fully invested in the activities, everyone is committed to beginning (and finishing) this year-long support system we have set up so that everyone can really hit the finish line for their passion projects. Being all there, wherever we are, means we embrace everything in that moment and squeeze the purpose out of it. Such an important mindset to have for anyone beginning a passion project!



3. Thinking positively isn’t about faking happiness.

One of the things people have an issue with me throughout my blog’s life (and recently, my Instagram @makeitblissful, would you believe) is that “it’s too positive. No one and nothing is ever that positive.” Yes, it’s true. Nothing and no life is ever free of all negativity and downsides and setbacks. In fact prior to launching the workshop, I experienced an onslaught of self-doubt and personal defeat. Weeks before the workshop, I was reminded of all the people I’d let down, of my “annus horribilus” last year as a blogger, and I had all these haters of the blog resurface. I felt super small and and felt like I had no reason to keep on going. So Kimi “blisstified” me for some days, over chats and over Whatsapp (can you imagine), and she brought me to a place of possibility. This quote by Jordan Belfort was my “word” for that time:


Isn’t it so true, if you believe it? I claim it for everyone who thinks they cannot start something or begin again. When you are blisstified, nothing can keep you from moving forward! Basically, you can decide to stay in your place and let things keep you down OR you can create a new outcome that you would like to achieve, create the steps towards that, work on those steps daily, and step into your new possibilities. We definitely learned how to shatter many of our limiting beliefs!



4. Community is key.

After each batch of Get Blisstified, Kimi and I created a secret Facebook support group where the entire class could meet each week. We have weekly check-ins so that we are accountable to each other for the goals we’ve set. It’s an addicting group, you always want to log in to see how everyone is, what everyone is up to and how everyone is progressing. I’m filled with joy each time I log in. I love seeing everyone working hard, or barreling through seeming obstacles. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more vibrant, active and intentional group that is committed to see everyone succeed. My heart is full.



5. Documentation delights.

Each classmate in Get Blisstified documents her passion project progress in these pretty, personalized journals. We started the first page during the gathering, because it’s such a great way to concretize the personal branding aspect of this workshop. I know “personal branding” sounds very market-y, but for the workshop, personal branding was all about getting our core values and harnessing them towards a tangible expression. Everyone’s pages looked different, and were very personal to them, naturally because the colors, the photos and the styles each one chose reflects her personal values, her core beliefs. As a blogger, I’m a big believer in documentation, so having everyone do so with a journal is part of making the passion project completion deliberate and delightful. We get to share our journal pages in our secret group, yay!



We’ve only just begun our journey “getting blisstified.” I can’t describe the details of the rest of the workshop, except that everyone who attends is equipped with the ability to see their passion projects completed, right here, right now. Thanks to Kimi’s training in neuro-linguistic programming and hynpotherapy, we can all “call into the present” this state of having completed our passion projects, we “see” it already, therefore we can do the work we need to do so that we can “actualize” it, make it come into being. And we have the next 11 months to do it, together. Because together, we are a force and we can be strong when others are weak, we can be an encouragement to each other, we can cheer each other on.

So. Would you like to Get Blisstified?

Would you like to have the mindset tools, and the strategies to help make your passion project a reality?

Then reply below in the comments and let us know! We’re planning the next one and we’d LOVE for you to be there!

A thank you to our Sponsors!

We’d like to thank the special brands who sponsored goodies for our first two Get Blisstified classes!


Batch 1: Thank you Origins (@originsPH), Simple Mama (@simplemamaPH), Wishlist Studio – journals (@wishliststudio), Balay Kandila – candles (@balayKandila)

Batch 2: Thank you BC Scent Studio (@bcscentstudio) for candles, Eden Street (@edenstreet) for the fun stationery, Wishlist Studio (@wishliststudio) for more journals, 360 Fitness for 1-week all access passes, and Little Whisk for the word cookies.


gentle birth story philippines 1

When I look back at the births of my children, I remember being absolutely happy, nothing could bring me down. The first birth, of course, was an experience like no other as I had no idea what was going on most of the time. I only remember being under a lot of lights, breathing through an oxygen mask and then hearing Vito’s voice for the first time before sinking into a feeling of elation. With Krista’s, I had more clarity and presence, having done everything according to my birth plan, thanks to the support and education of my doula, Irina Otmakhova of Conscious Birth Manila.

As part of her post partum services, Irina is again pioneering a new artisan craft, “DNA jewelry.” What makes these jewelry charms unique is that they are crafted using either preserved dried placenta, dehydrated breastmilk, umbilical cord or even baby hair. These precious articles are molded into charms of different colors and are suitable for bracelets and necklaces.

Here are the charms that Irina made as a way for me to keep my children close to me.

 These are using the breastmilk I currently give to Krista. I sent a small batch to Irina, who dehydrated it and formed these sweet pendants.

 This K & V charm bracelet contains a blue charm with Vito’s baby hair, clipped from when he had his first haircut at four months old. The pink charm contains placenta powder. 

Another charm containing placenta powder, which Irina accented with this tree pendant to symbolize the circle of life.


Thank you, Irina, for these beautiful reminders of my children and of my goddess mama power! I always feel affirmed by your positive and life-giving energy, and now, by your talent with these creations.

 To order your own set of DNA jewelry, contact Irina through Conscious Birth Manila.

Blogging + faith: Why I write about my beliefs, not my religion

Blogging + faith: Why I write about my beliefs, not my religion

I didn’t think I’d be writing at all while taking this blog sabbatical. I was looking forward to just getting the new branding done and enjoying some months of writing arrest. But, in the times I find myself needing to get my thoughts out there, this space still is the perfect place for it! And this is one of those times.

People have asked from time to time, “Why don’t you write more about your faith on your blog?”

I always reply to them with the same answer:

“Because my faith is personal to me. And I don’t want to get that personal on my blog. It’s my blog, after all.”

I want to talk about this whole faith-sharing issue on this post once and for all so that it’s out there. Not so that people should stop asking me about it, but so that there will be a clear understanding of why I keep things like faith and religion private.

1. I do have a faith walk. 

I was brought up a born-again Catholic. All that means is that I stayed a Roman Catholic and then lived a born-again life within the Catholic religion. I went to prayer meetings, Bible studies, youth ministry, homeschooling, and everything that went with a normal church upbringing. I believe in God, Jesus, the universal church, heaven.

But I don’t openly talk about it.

2. My religion is very personal to me.

I’ve never written about it, but in my final years in the born-again movement, I experienced several forms of verbal and emotional abuse from people in that world. Within the church world, we call it spiritual abuse. In a nutshell, everything I knew and believed to be true about being a Christian would be one-by-one negated and refuted by the actions of certain people whom I cared about (not family, to be clear). I experienced personal attacks on my beliefs, my life choices, and in several instances believed the I would never amount to anything in this world. I dealt with nightmares that my dreams would never come true, that my abilities to find work would be limited to ministry work within the church community center and its subsidiaries. And the worst was I even thought God would not “bless” me anymore, if I stepped out of living a life in ministry. It was that deep.

One statement that haunted me for years was that “God will only give you your dreams if you remain here,” ‘here’ being that community and place of worship. It was a statement that rattled my world and belief in God. They were also the words that drove me out of the 20-plus years I had spent in that place. In 2010, I stepped out of the world I had grown up in — the born-again church community world– and I stepped into (what they would call) “the worldly world.” A world I virtually knew nothing about, only that I was among the “unsaved” (as they would call it).

I repeat myself: Religion was and is very personal to me. It has been my foundation ever since I was nine years old.

3. My beliefs are more than just my religion.

If you want to ask my anything more about how I grew up in the church life and how I grew out of it and made an exit, then that’s the stuff for coffee dates. Contact me, let’s be friends, haha! I think more need to hear that story, but not here on my blog. I will not mention names or institutions, and I also don’t want to mention anything more than what I have shared above, because the past is the past. No need to relive it either in conversations or in posterity on the blog. It was my personal experience, unique to me.

Why not share it here, you might also be asking? “It’s your blog, Martine,” some people say. “You should tell your story.” See that’s the thing: This is my blog. Aside from this space being beholden to what I think it should make available for you to read, my religion is a private matter. So are people in my past. I don’t think I am being less of myself or less honest for not publicly talking about it. I lived it for 20+ years. I know my experience, and it’s a part of my life journey that I am not going to change because it’s made me into who I am now. I’d rather keep specifics between my closest friends and family, and instead just talk about my beliefs, which encompass so much more than the God I believe in.

4. Separating religion from beliefs here on the blog, helps me to reach people who don’t feel comfortable about religion.

In 2010, I went back to my Catholic roots, and stopped the usual practices of a born-again believer. I started going back to the Sunday Masses and viewed the devotion in a much different light, with more heart and understanding. I honestly struggled internally at first with my self-concept and concept of God, because of the abuses I experienced in the “care” of church people. It took some years before I recovered,and while I didn’t explore other religions, my belief in God had been  damaged by the born-again experience.  (Caveat: I love the born-again movement and I have lots of born-again friends. Because I know what “talk” can do though, I prefer not to talk to them about what happened to me because everyone’s experience is unique, not always ‘bad’ or perceived as unfortunate, which is how I viewed my personal experience. It’s my policy to “not talk, unless asked” by people in that lifestyle.)

I don’t talk about my religion here on the blog because, well, I am still dealing with aspects of being a Christian/Catholic/believer in Christ in my own way. I have embraced Catholicism fully though, that you should know, and have a newfound passion for its universality. It still is imperfect, but then again no religion is. But just because I am the editor of a Catholic teens publication doesn’t mean I speak the Bible or the catechism in every breath. God knows I strive everyday to “live” those. And that’s that.

I’d rather talk about my beliefs and values because they are universal. What are those? They are things like making things blissful. What does that mean for me as a belief?

It means seeing the possibilities in people. Hoping for the best and working hard for it. Believing in the power of positivity. Believing in the courage that is inside everyone, to make something better of themselves, to not settle for “just-so”, to have dreams and do the work to achieve them. This for me is “making things blissful.”

5. I have faith in people, in dreams, in possibilities.

You can have faith in all these things and more, without religion or church as their umbrella category. People are not “less blessed” if they don’t have church or religion. In fact, I’ve met some very wonderful atheists in my time, all salt of the earth, and I couldn’t care less about converting them because they are awesome, haha! It’s also not my duty or business to change people’s beliefs or tweak their faith.

As for me? If people want to know more about my religion, then I repeat again: Let’s have coffee. Really! Let’s talk about it away from the blog, which I have stressed is no longer a personal blog about this female anymore. On the blog, I’ll talk about mindsets, about journeys, and soon even about money and more. These are things I can’t box into one religious belief system, even if my personal belief system is that of the Catholic faith.

And so, there. I hope it’s sufficient for those who have asked or wondered.

How about you? Is it an issue for you to keep faith and blogging separate or united? I’d love to know, we can chat in the comments below.