Follow parentsjourney on TwitterIngredients:

  • 500 g Beef Sirloin strips
  • 2 tbsp Calamansi juice
  • 3 tbsp Knorr Seasoning or ordinary soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup Mixed Pickles with syrup
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 pcs Potato, small, cut into 2” strips
  • 1 pc Carrot, small, cut into 2” strips
  • 1 pc Red Bell pepper, julienne
  • ¼ cup Coarsely ground roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup Grated Cheese
  • ¼ cup Raisins
  • 250 g Tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 pc Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Cooking Oil


Marinate beef for at least 1 hour with Calamansi juice, soy sauce, black pepper, the first tablespoon of sugar, and pickles. Drain beef strips and save marinade. Sauté garlic and onion then stir in beef strips. Stir ingredients in pan for about 2 minutes before adding the marinade to slightly brown the beef. Add water, cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in potato, carrots and peanuts and simmer for another 5 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are almost cooked. Add tomato sauce, the remaining sugar, bell pepper, grated cheese and raisins. Stir constantly for 2 minutes after boiling to allow cheese to melt and be completely incorporated into the sauce. Serve hot.

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Follow parentsjourney on TwitterIngredients:

  • 1 whole Tilapia, about 1 kilo (scaled and cleaned but fins are intact)
  • Salt, Pepper and Aji Ginisa Mix
  • Cooking Oil

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup Vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Tomato Catsup
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Strips of Ginger
  • 1 pc Onion, small, cut into rings
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch dissolved in ½ cup water

For the Garnish:

  • 1 pc Carrot, julienned
  • 1 pc Red Bell Pepper, julienned
  • 1 pc Green Bell Pepper, julienned


Make 3 to 4 diagonal incisions about half an inch deep on both sides of the fish. Season the fish by rubbing with salt, pepper and Ginisa mix, paying close attention to the gut area and the incisions. Heat the oil and deep fry the fish to golden brown. Make sure to put the fish in the pan only when the oil is hot enough or when it starts to emit smoke. For even cooking and texture, flip the fish when the underside is done then fry the other side. Drain fried fish on paper towel and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with sliced vegetables on top.

For the sauce, place the vinegar, tomato catsup, sugar, salt, onion and ginger in a pan and let boil without stirring. Then add cornstarch dissolved in water with continuous stirring for a minute. You can add more sugar to suit your preference. Pour hot sweet and sour sauce over fish and vegetables. Serve immediately.

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Follow parentsjourney on Twitter Ingredients:

  • 1 kg Ground Pork (with a little fat)
  • 1 pc Carrot, medium-sized, finely chopped
  • 1 pc Onion, small, finely chopped
  • 1 pc Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
  • 60 g Pickle Relish
  • 50 g Raisins
  • 4 pcs Chorizo de Bilbao, finely chopped
  • 1 cup Sweet Ham, finely chopped
  • 100 g Skim Milk
  • 20 g Iodized Salt
  • 50 g Brown Sugar
  • 100 g Bread Crumbs
  • 2 pcs Eggs, Large
  • Aluminum Foil to wrap


In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Place about 100 g of mixture on a piece of foil and roll into a loaf, making sure the mixture is tightly packed and wrapped securely by the piece of foil. Close by twisting both ends of the foil. You can modify the amount depending on how big and how many you want to make per preparation. Put the embotido packs in a steamer and steam for 45 minutes. Embotido is served sliced into rings.

Freeze remaining embotido packs for longer shelf life. Now you have an easy-to-serve dish to be reheated in a few minutes before serving. To heat, steam (with foil) or microwave (without foil). Serve immediately.

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Follow parentsjourney on TwitterThis year, there will be ten of us together for the Christmas Eve Dinner and celebration. Considerations made to come up with the menu are the following: (1) Budget- the ingredients should not be too expensive. (2) Preparation requirements- some procedures can be done ahead of time to avoid cramming in the kitchen. (3) Health and variety- meat-based dishes should be balanced by vegetables and fruits. There will be pork, fish, chicken, beef, vegetables and fruits. Much as I want to have prawns or crabs in the menu, the artificially high cost of these commodities during Christmas season make me shy away from them.

Christmas Embotido

I have been making embotido for its taste and convenience. My children love them for breakfast and packed lunch. This is very convenient because one preparation can last for weeks in the freezer. Adding a few ingredients will make it a little more special for the holidays. I will make this a week in advance of the Christmas Dinner and a few loaves will be saved for the New Year’s Eve. One kilo of ground pork would be enough for the two occasions. Click here for the recipe.

Sweet and Sour Fish

Sweet and sour sauce will be prepared a day before and will only be reheated before pouring over the fried fish before dinner is served. There are many kinds of fishes suited for this dish. They are the white flesh type and usually the more expensive ones. Tilapia is a more affordable option. One medium-sized Tilapia weighing about 1 kilo will be bought for this dish. You can find the recipe here.

Roasted Chicken
Pollo Iberico or Roast Spanish Chicken appealed to me but I was not able to complete the herb ingredients listed when I tried it 3 months ago. The recipe was further modified when I got tempted to incorporate other ingredients I normally use to marinate the local ‘Lechon Manok’ or Pinoy Roasted Chicken. It turned out great and everybody who tasted appreciated its unique pleasant flavor. One whole chicken will be marinated a day before so what’s left to do on the 24th of December is to put it a broiler. I’m sharing the recipe with you through this link.

Cheesy Beef Caldereta

This is another family favorite. Kids love this dish because it catered to their preference for cheesy, sweet and not too spicy sauce. Half a kilo of beef strips will be marinated and tenderized a day before. The rest of the procedure to be done on Christmas Eve is simple. For the recipe, click here.

Buttered Vegetable

Broccoli, being a very expensive vegetable in this part of the country, is not always served in regular meals. For the Christmas Dinner, the inclusion of broccoli will make this dish so special. Other ingredients are carrot, green beans and corn kernels. My sons will surely dig in to this dish first before anything else.

Sliced and Chilled Fruits

Rather than making fruit salads or floats that would require the use of creams and sweetened condensed milk (my favorite), we will savor a variety of colorful and freshly sliced fruits. This is a healthier and cheaper option I would think…less sweet, less fat and less cost. Fruits more likely to be included are pineapple, watermelon, mango, banana and pomelo. This will be chilled in the afternoon (around 2 pm) of the 24th.
Sliced Fruits photo: / CCBY-SA2.0
Roasted Chicken photo: / CC BY 2.0

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Thinking of a unique bonding moment with your children? Try vegetable gardening. Many parents would attest to the numerous benefits consequential to this activity. Now let me share with you our family’s vegetable gardening experiences. 

Even before we got married, my husband and I have dreamed of establishing our own organic vegetable farm. Being both advocates of environment protection and healthy lifestyle and young professionals who wanted to make money for a decent living, we started tilling a small piece of land only to realize that business doesn’t mix with advocacy. We gave up the business part but the advocacy portion lingered in our hearts.

Wherever our family resides, vegetables are grown in the backyard whenever feasible. This is quite difficult especially for working parents, but we always try to give it time and effort because the harvest is more than the vegetables as you can see later in this article.

To guarantee harvest with less effort and minimal input (no pesticide and no synthetic fertilizer), we choose local varieties and low-maintenance vegetables like sweet potato, okra or lady finger, native pechay, native tomatoes, spring onion, radish, eggplant and string beans. We were also successful with an open pollinated variety of sweet corn. We tried cucumber and a cold-loving bean variety...we harvested some but lost many due to insect infestation and poor growth. Still worth the try...we had no regrets because this is how we learn and validate theories.

When our kids were smaller, they only observed us as we work in garden. But the best part of this journey was when they were old enough (4 years old in their case) to join us and also when the garden space got bigger. We usually spend time working together in the garden during weekend mornings, when everybody is available. It is in the process that they learned many things and we parents got to know them better.

For direct seeded crops, like sweet corn, they were asked to put 3 seeds per hole and to cover it thinly afterwards. Looking at the few holes available, they asked why 3 only and not 10 so they can have more corn later…well, good thinking kids! Lessons regarding competition and how plants obtain their nutrients from the soil were given to answer their query. The life cycle of plants, the importance of sunlight and water were also taught while they wait for the seeds to emerge as seedlings.

Asking them to water the plants that have emerged or wet the soil where they placed the seeds was never a big issue. At a very young age, they became aware of the needs of plants and how to provide for those needs. They became more gentle and caring as they realize that even plants have needs, too. Besides, this is a chance to play with water…hmmm, what a nice excuse for them to wet their feet, legs...and oh no their shorts as well! Pretty clever eh!

In the beginning of our every gardening session they are too active and overjoyed because they feel like playing, exercising and getting them dirty (that’s how we put it), yet accomplishing something. Towards the end, they get so sweaty and feel so tired. This is the time they reflect and appreciate the farmers’ hard work to make sure the rest of the people can have food on their tables. I feel so proud having heard that from my own children. 

Patience is observed…of course planting is not like magic that you get to harvest in one flick. They visit the garden from time to time waiting for the fruits of their labor. They observe the insects visiting to pollinate or to get a little share filling their tiny tummies with the veggies or to feed on other insects feeding on the veggies. This is also an opportunity to introduce trophic relations and other ecological concepts. You might think that it is too early for these concepts, but they are actually very receptive.

Harvest time is fun time!!! My children get to pull their veggies from the soil, or remove them from the stalk. They can’t hide the thrill…the proud feeling that they contributed a little something for the plant to grow from seed to an edible vegetable. For us parents, we relish on the peace of mind that what we are going to partake is safe even if eaten raw. This gardening activity also helped encourage healthy food preference in our children. They are always excited to eat vegetables, especially their own harvest.

Why did I say we got to know our children better with this experience? It became clearer that our daughter is more of a conformist or a parent-pleaser and a hardworking fellow. She has consistently been very cooperative and strictly follows our every instruction on how to do things in the garden. Our son on the other hand, spends some time observing us first and how we do things before he decides to work with us. Apparently, he was figuring in his mind how to make the tasks easier for everybody. It was the innovator in him refusing to do things the hard way. At the age of 4, working in a small garden, he was thinking of having machines to plant the seeds and to water the plants so we people don’t get too tired. Was this plain laziness or an amazing gift that my son have? I sure hope it’s the latter =)

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Follow parentsjourney on TwitterThe current practice of handling newborns contributes to the high incidence of neonatal death and illnesses in the country. Doctors are introducing a new way of caring for newborns in the first few minutes of life, which could cut by almost half the number of newborn deaths estimated at 40,000 each year according to this report.

Important points in the new program of the Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization that should be imposed are as follows: 1) dry the newborn immediately after birth (instead of washing) to prevent hypothermia and the risks related to it, 2) initiate skin contact with the mother by placing the baby on the mother’s chest or abdomen to provide warmth, increase the duration of breastfeeding, and allow the “good bacteria” from the mother’s skin to infiltrate the newborn, and 3) delay the cord clamping by two to three minutes after birth (or wait until the umbilical cord has stopped pulsing) to increase the baby’s iron reserves, reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anemia and improve blood circulation. These are basically in line with the Essential Newborn Care (ENC) protocol.

When I read about this, I had mixed emotions. On one hand, I got disappointed for I know it was not strictly observed when I gave birth to my 4 children. On the other hand, I felt grateful that an effort is being directed towards its strict implementation. There are only three hospitals in the Philippines currently subscribing to the ENC protocol so far—Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, and Fabella Memorial Medical Center and Philippine General Hospital in Manila.

In all of my childbirth experiences, the umbilical cord was immediately cut before the baby is placed on my tummy or my breast. Then my baby was only allowed to ‘kiss’ my nipple because we were not given long enough time for the baby to latch on. They wash the baby and when they bring the baby to the room to be with me (room-in as we always specify), I usually notice red spots are on my baby’s face. They said that it is the result of the cotton rubbed on my baby’s face and will wear away in time. True enough the spots were gone in few days. But with the ENC protocol this should not happen to newborn babies in the future.

Most babies do not experience hypothermia even when washed immediately after birth, but a lot end up staying in the nursery for days just to be heated by lamps. Isn’t it because they were washed even before they get acclimatized in their new environment? I am just wondering. When this happens initiation of breastfeeding is delayed, making the situation worse for both mother and baby. Delaying the start of breastfeeding by one day could make the newborn 2.6 times more prone to infection as also mentioned in that report.

I am posting this to help spread the information about the ENC Protocol. To those who are about to give birth, discuss this with your Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB). Know the hospital policy on this as suggested in my previous blog on childbirth preparation. If they are not yet implementing the ENC protocol and you want it for your child, ask if they will accommodate your request.

This is also a good chance for me to highlight the various practices beneficial to the health and well-being of the child with less emphasis on cleanliness: (1) passing through the birth canal to get in contact with microorganisms necessary to prime his/her immune system and (2) allowing the child to play and get dirty as explained in my previous blog on natural immunity builders, (3) skin contact with mother for the good bacteria to infiltrate newborn, (4) delaying washing of the new born to prevent hypothermia as washing removes the vernix or baby’s skin protection. Apparently, too much emphasis on cleanliness is also detrimental to your child.

Director Honorata Catibog, head of the DOH task force on the rapid reduction of maternal and neonatal mortality, describes the new program to implement the ENC protocol as “paradigm shift”. I call it going back to basics...our natural survival strategy.

photo courtesy of

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About Us (circa 2009)

Our journey led us to this place. A little more than 10 years ago we began our journey as husband and wife. Three years later, we found ourselves with two bundles of joy- a daughter and then a son. They're the children we've dreamed of having.

About five years since the birth of our son, an unexpected gift came- a younger brother to our school-age kids. And soon enough, a baby girl arrived to round the family membership.

Brave was a term used by a friend to describe us. Challenging... and loving it -- yeah, this journey is not for the faint of heart.